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Food, Wine & Friends Page 198

SANDY OBESTER'S BIRTHDAY FEST 
Featuring Bob's Fabulous Cioppino

We began with a magnum of Roederer Estate's "L'Ermitage" from the 1997 vintage.

Henry opened and poured for us.

Bob had some nibbles ready for us...

Jonathan had brought some exceptionally good home-baked breads...

Jonathan, Paul and Sandy

Bob was busy preparing the Cioppino sauce as the rest of us guzzled the L'Ermitage bubbly.


Sandy and Alexia were discussing their Fantasy Football League teams...

...while Lucy and Henry talked about race cars and brake bias on the track.


Paul got busy in the kitchen, helping Bob with the Cioppino and Polenta.


As Paul stirred the polenta, Bob was adding some good Barbera to the Cioppino sauce.

Fratelli Ponte Barbera d'Asti.


Polenta.


Bob had a beautiful salad bowl of mixed greens...

We selected a couple of dry and soft whites to pair with the salad.

The La Miranda Garnacha Blanca was nicely fruity and delicious.  It has just a touch of wood.
The William Augustus 2009 Viognier-Marsanne from the Rogue Valley in Oregon had more wood, but still plenty of fruit.  Lots of melon and peach notes...dry...
The salad featured all sorts of bitter flavors and these wines were a nice counterpoint.


Brian gave the salad a "thumbs up," while Ellen and Lucy were thinking "Bottoms up."

Jonathan got up to have a look at the sauce...

Bob then began his wrestling match with the crabs...

I think he took Round One, but the crab pinned him twice for best two outta three.

Paul was helping Bob crack the crab pieces...



We then opened a range of Italian Barbera wines.
Alexia was shocked right from the start.

The Cogno 2008 Barbera d'Alba was a stinker, though.  Lots of H2S and the wine should have been cleaned up before bottling...I was, frankly, as shocked as she was.

Jonathan brought some fantastic breads...


Bob was busy cooking up a storm.


Soon he and Paul were to begin plating the Cioppino.

 


The 2007 Cigliutti Barbera d'Alba was its usual rustic self...a nice red that tastes more of the Serraboella vineyard site than of the Barbera grape.  If you taste the Barbaresco from Cigliutti, you'll notice the family resemblance.

The Massolino Barbera was from the 2004 vintage.  They are located in the Barolo sub-region of Serralunga.  This wine, dubbed "Gisep," a Piemontese dialect name for Giuseppe, displayed a lot of oak from its maturation in small barrels.  It was a showy bottle of wine, too.

I think, though, most people found the 2006 Vietti Barbera d'Asti from their La Crena site to be the best of the bunch.

The camera caught Henry! in a speechless state.


Brian and Ellen.

Then, for some reason, Bob began gesticulating like crazy.


We didn't know if he was aiding airplanes land at nearby SFO, or what.

Henry!  Want to know how many schlucks of grappa I had last night?
Let me count...

Henry! Want to know how tall the Chanterelles were in the Lost Forest near San Bruno?

They were up to here.

Want to see something rare?

An official at a 49ers game signaling a touchdown for the home team at Candlestick!
(You didn't know Bob was a football fan, did you?)



 


Bob realized at this stage that we did need Cioppino "bibs" for this event and his shirt has crab, shrimp and tomato stains to prove it.
No calamari stains, though.




One of the bright lights of the group...Lucy Tolmach.

Bob then brought out some cheeses.


Sandy is a big fan of Gorgonzola and we had three or four of them on this occasion.


Bob was no longer Gesticulating, but Fromagelating.


Brian is a big Cheese fan.

We had some cheeses with truffles, too.

 

We then had a couple of Barolos from a favorite estate...E. Pira.

Henry! was speechless once again.

"Damn, these are good!" he was finally able to whisper.

The 1996 was remarkably youthful, much like the winemaker, Chiara Boschis.
The wine is well-structured and is still in an early state of evolution...beautifully fruity, mildly smoky with a hint of berry/cherry and a light accent from the oak.

The 2003 was also young, but a bit more open and easy...it's a softer rendition, though still having some spine and needing more time.

Dessert featured a Chocolate Mousse Cake and Raspberry Sorbet.

And Alexia brought some 1994 Graham's Vintage Porto.

The 1994 Graham's was showing well...nicely developed, beautifully fruity and easily able to match up with the chocolate and raspberry.




Soon it was time for Sandy to open a few birthday gifts...

 


This card reads "I see you're not taking this aging thing too well..."

She received a nice little French press coffee maker and a pound of Peet's Coffee...And also a couple of lovely mugs.

Alexia and Henry! presented a little indoor gardening project for Sandy...

Bob was passing around schlucks of post prandial potations...


Henry!

 

Ellen and Brian gave Sandy a nice little Tyler Florence cookbook and Jonathan and Lucy gave her some chocolate...as did Bob...Apparently Sandy is a chocoholic!

Thanks to everyone for making this such a wonderful evening...




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