Friday, June 29, 2007
Red, White, and Bubbly. The Dinner.
Doug and I went out to Chef's Table last night for the wine dinner. I wore a black sheer slinky something. The kind of something where you hope your areolas aren't showing through the fabric. (I was assured they were not, and no, I did not take a picture). It was one of those dresses that I bought before children and has therefore shown me that it is not my imagination that my hips are now quite a bit wider. Oof.
We were one of the first people there (Of course. It is our curse to be on time and early to everything). From 6 to 6:30 PM there was "Pre-Dinner". We were served passed hors d’œuvres of Beef Tartare Quenelles on Rye Chips with Chili Oil, Figs with Gore Dawn Zola Blue Cheese and Marsala Caramel, and Scallop Cake barded with Prosciutto. All that was most awesome (I kept going back for more, especially the figs, even though it seemed like I was the only person doing this). What was most surprising was the wine. It was a Gruet, Blanc de Noirs, NV from...New Mexico. This worked really well with the food and it definitely had what they call "aggressive mousse" (nice foam). If you can get your hands on this, it is fabulous and the history of the winery is interesting as are their methods. I have a feeling anything you got from this winery would be the bomb.
We then had an Amuse Bouche of Pacific Oyster with Gruet Rose Sparkling Gelee. Doug and I sat there staring at the oysters because we weren't exactly sure what to do. We were a little intimidated. I have a sort of handicap with seafood because I really haven't cooked a huge variety of seafood, nor eaten it. This is something I really need to immerse myself in, but later. Of course, we did slurp them down (and chewed a bit) and it was marvelous and briny (alas, Doug did not like it, but he does not like most seafood). Oh, and that white stuff underneath the shell? That is salt (it looked pureed, like a mousse, but it was still salt) holding your oyster on the plate. I know that is really obvious. I know you won't dream of taking a bite of this. I just mention this in passing. No, Doug did not take a bite of it. I will say no more of this.
Then, on to the micro greens salad with grapefruit chips and rose petal vinaigrette. I had read about micro greens in Gourmet, so it was neat to eat some. This went perfectly with the Sokol Blosser Evolution #9, NV from Oregon. Doug tasted the muscat grape first, but I got a strong grapefruit flavor (even before the salad). Later on in the meal, the wine seemed more and more like a dessert wine. (I'm sure this was also because the wines were getting bigger and bigger as the meal went on). The wine was complex, but light. This is something else I would buy on a regular basis. It went really well with food, of course, but I think it would also be nice on its own. But perhaps on its own you would miss some of those complex layers.
For the second course, we had Duo of Quail, Vanilla-poached Endive (the star of the plate), and an Apple Pear and Golden Raisin Chutney. This really brought out the vanilla in the Mer Soleil Chardonnay, 2004 from California. I am not usually a big fan of "Monster Chardonnays" that are malolactic fermentation butterballs, but this. This was so tropical and rich and full of butterscotch that I was really blown away. They kept referring to this wine as "unapologetic" and it was an apt description. Another great pairing.
The Intermezzo was a pineapple lychee sorbet, which was the size of a melon ball. It was cute. It tasted like fresh pineapple, with an undertone of lychee. Doug thought it tasted like fish. So that was interesting.
The third course was Sockeye Salmon with a Mushroom Duxelle Stuffed Pasta Roulade and a Cherry Pinot Noir Beurre Rouge. This was served with Cristom Sommers Reserve Pinot Noir, 2004, from Oregon. Salmon and pinot noir you say? It was an excellent match and unexpected (unlike, say, duck). This pinot noir had lots of cherry in it and you could tell it was rather higher in alcohol as well. Quite tannic and a bit tight. I think this is a bit young, but still enjoyable. As good as the salmon was (and even Doug ate it), we both swooned over the mushrooms. I love when wines are paired so well with foods from the region in which it's grown. It feels very satisfactory.
The fourth course was Vermont Aged NY Strip Steak, with Red Wine steeped Napa Cabbage (which I liked, but Doug thought it tasted like cheap pickled cabbage...), Chateaux Potatoes (Crisp, golden outside, creamy center. Like french fries for a goddess.), and Mole Sauce. This was served with Bridlewood Estate Syrah, 2003, California. Wow. This wine screamed blackberry jam (they decanted it 2 hours earlier). This was yet another fantastic pairing with the food.
Dessert was a delightful Citrus Baba With Strawberry Compote and Champagne Sabayon. This was paired with Schramsberg "Mirabelle" NV from California, which really brought out the citrus flavors.
After that, we had coffee (decaf for me). You may wonder we could walk after all of that, but we didn't actually finish all of that wine (probably most of it, however). It went on for quite some time as well and all of that food must have helped. It was all in small portions and I had absolutely no trouble finishing every last valuable morsel of food.
It is true and everyone was much chattier and jollier after the meal (we even ended up talking to the couple next to us).
If you see any of these wines in your store, I do recommend them all. Maybe the Pinor Noir should be aged a bit, but I think I would have to try it again to be sure of that.