Food, Wine & Friends Page 204 March Birthdays, Mostly
Early in March of 2011, we celebrated the birthdays Lucy
(missed hers in January), Ellen, Bob and Gerald.
Dinner was prepared by Sandy and Paul and hosted at the home of Sandy's Mom,
Ellen and Brian had prepared some nibbles to go with the Champagnes.
They even made some sushi rolls!
Lucy and Jonathan arrived with a number of breads and some
Henry! opened the Champagnes...
The first bottle was a 2003 Vintage Brut of the Louise Brison label. This
was a warm vintage and the wine was a bit like a sparkling white Burgundy more
than classic, austere Champagne.
Everyone made at least one pass around the nibbles table...Ellen had some pâté
and Bob provided some pickled mushrooms, since Henry! forgot his bottle of
Jonathan's Bread Artistry was on display...
Paul was busy slicing onions in the kitchen...
Jonathan noticed the absence of bacon on the menu this year...
The young sommelier was put to work in opening the two Spanish Verdejo wines to
pair with the salad starter.
Paul returned to the kitchen to build the salads.
Bob was pleased to see some bottles of his favorite H-Two-Oh!
on the table.
We paired the starter with two different versions of Verdejo of the Shaya label
from Spain's Rueda region.
It's apparently the work of Spanish wine importer Jorge
Ordonez and some producers. They've hired, as we understand it, a
winemaker from Australia who's a white wine specialist.
The Shaya 2009 was lovely, showing mildly citrusy notes with perhaps a hint of
peach or nectarine.
The 2008 "Habis" is a wood-aged version...bigger, riper and with nice
oak, but some of the Verdejo character is shadowed by the wood. It was
still a nice wine, but the wood gives it the oak many Chardonnay drinkers
Back in the kitchen, Paul had sautéed some black
...and he was working on the saffron sauce for the ravioli.
Paul made an exceptional sauce for the homemade seafood ravioli.
There were two large trays on the counter filled with the seafood ravioli which
Sandy and Paul had made.
The sommelier was busy opening the next bottles...
And Paul and Sandy were sliding the ravioli into the heated swimming pool for a
And plated and sauced...
This was a delicious work of art!
Paul explained they made these ravioli with Swiss Chard, Salmon, Clams and
We enjoyed two Rhone Valley Viognier wines, both from the Condrieu appellation.
Both were 2007 vintage wines...
Clusel-Roch started a bit slowly, showing its alcohol at the start and finally
blossoming into the apricot/peach sort of wine we expected. As it
blossomed, this was a really nice bottle. There's a touch of oak there, as
The Jean Michel Gerin Condrieu started quickly out of the gate, with bright
peach and apricot...good intensity and lots of charm.
Both wines, ultimately, were showy with this magnificent course.
Everyone was happy to have some of Jonathan's delicious breads to soak up the
last bit of sauce.
As Sandy and Paul were back in the kitchen to prepare the duck
main plate, I was busy opening the Bordeaux and Cabernet.
I took this shot to illustrate something perfectly normal and natural on many
bottles of wine...
...there's a powdery, moldy fuzz on top of the cork. "Scuzzy" is
the technical term, I believe.
We have had people return bottles because they encountered this sort of dynamic.
A damp cloth is helpful and you simply wipe the top of the bottle...
And we extracted the cork from the 1973 Mouton-Rothschild and the 1972 Heitz
Martha's Vineyard with little trouble...
And then we decanted each of them.
The 1973 Mouton Rothschild was a lovely Bordeaux...a true "claret" in
that it was not a big, ripe, jammy red. It was a classic Bordeaux from a
"small" vintage. Still, the wine was nicely alive and showing
red fruits and a touch of a cedary undertone. The tannins were mild and
the wine elegant and easy to drink.
The Heitz was from a much-maligned vintage. I recall, though, it was the
first year for Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and their was a really handsome
wine. So was this Heitz: mildly tarry and showing some resiny notes
(it's always described as having elements of mint and/or eucalyptus). The
wine was deeper in color than the Mouton and seemed to be a bit fuller on the
palate. It's certainly as good as it's going to get, so drinking remaining
bottles when the occasion presents itself is a good idea.
Sandy and Paul made some gnocchi...acorn flour and potatoes
A cheese course came next and Sandy & Paul had visited
Burgundy many years ago...
So they shared two bottles acquired on that vacation excursion.
Jonathan and Brian scoped out the selections...
Bob is a Big Cheese and he jumped in immediately...
Then...dessert...and a lovely, old bottle of Porto.
You can see the color has lightened up a bit.
At this point, of course, it's past some people's bed time.
I'm not naming names, but I'm just sayin'....
Jonathan was wide awake, however.
Lucy was surprised that we'd celebrate her birthday, so she
was a bit unprepared...
Still, she made a wish before blowing out the candle.
"Okay...wait...maybe I should give this more
Chocolate Soufflés and Graham's Port!
Oh...and the soufflés were perfect!
Alexia remained full of...surprises...
Paul then began explaining Einstein's Theory of Relativity...
After solving that mystery, it was time for some birthday
Bob had recently found a sea gull imbedded in the grill of his
He had been motoring around the Bay Area and was unsure precisely where he
encountered this winged beast.
Earlier in the week Bob arrived at the shop and had one and all come out to take
a look at his van.
Ellen made light of this with a little plastic birdie.
We suggested to Bob that he venture over to the Humane Society
offices near the shop and ask if they might remove his recently-acquired
"hood ornament," but Bob was more intent that afternoon on having his
customary lunch-time nap.
Ellen was especially amused by giving Bob the bird.
Lucy and Jonathan brought some seedlings for Ellen to plant in
her Spring Garden.
Bob received a novel gift...a "fire alarm"...
Bob was thrilled by Sandy and Paul's gift of a splendid bottle
of Barolo Chinato...
Vajra...a wonderful spicy little number!
I didn't capture a image of Alexia when she jumped onto the table and started
dancing, but I did manage to get this shot of Paul.
Ellen was busy opening a gift...
...a yogurt making machine!
Bob received a splendid birthday card...
Bob then found another nice little gift...
Brian called it a "Wrist Rocket."
Bob is unclear on the concept, apparently.
Lucy was busy unwrapping a Chicken-themed monthly calendar.
Given that Bob was having difficulty in precisely identifying
what it was he'd run over, he was gifted with a little guidebook to help in
The Original Road Kill Cookbook!
There's one for Bob's amazing culinary library.
Now when Bob runs over something, we'll probably respond with "No
But, in reality, shit happens.
And Bob, ever the avid hiker and mushroom forager...
"How to Shit in the Woods."
And he did receive a collection of DVDs of his gastronomic mentor...
At this stage of the evening, it was getting late and so we adjourned the
"meeting" until next time!
Many thanks to Sandy and Paul for their culinary wizardry...
...and cellar offerings!
And to Sandy's Mom Sally for allowing us to celebrate in style...
And to everyone for coming and making it such a memorable evening.
We gathered at Chateau O'Poon in Burlingame and Kareasa took care of opening the
Lallier Zero Dosage Champagne...
A Grand Cru, too.
Very fine and dry, yet not screamingly austere as the base wine has some weight.
Constance and Mark.
We brought a little host/hostess gift...
Connie, who's of Asian heritage, has heard the term
"Chop, chop" on numerous occasions.
Cauliflower Soup with some special adornment...
Mark checked on his salt-crusted prime rib roast...
We then pulled out a bottle of Venica's 2009 Friulano...
Very nice. Dry. Mildly floral.
We had a platter of Kareasa's Crudités.
Mark then checked on the roast again...and unveiled it.
Chewie, meanwhile, said he was going to have his version of crudités
before getting down to business.
Some nice accompaniments for the roast...
We brought the mix for Yorkshire Pudding...Three of them were
done with olive oil and the rest with beef fat...
The three olive oil Yorkies puffed up bigger than the beef fat versions!
Both kids knew there was food...
The wine wasn't bad, either...
The 2005 Michel Gros was still a bit tannic and tight, but the 2002 is
It was fairly supple on the palate and showed nice oak and fruit.
After the beef, Connie brought out some cheeses.
Ralph knows how to say "Cheese!"
...So does Kareasa!
There was even a birthday cake!
Well, Toohey couldn't resist birthday cake, so he jumped out
of his bag...
And we had some nice Port...
Young and intense.
Many thanks to Ralph & Kareasa and Connie & Mark.
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