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Food, Wine & Friends Page 216

Everyone gathered on a Superbowl Sunday to celebrate three Super Birthdays:
Henry! Moore, Paul Obester & Lucy Tolmach


The weather, considering it's the middle of winter, was more like summer!

We began with a little bottle of bubbly...a 1990 Veuve Clicquot "La Grande Dame" in magnum...
A friend had told us she'd tasted this twice recently and that it was more "over the hill" than the two birthday boys at tonight's fest.
In fact, though, both Henry! & Paul were doing quite well and so was this magnum of Champagne!

Bob, meanwhile, was busy showing off some home-grown Belgian Endive.

Master Baker Tolmach brought some fantabulous breads.


And we had some nice little nibbles to go with the Champagne.


As you can see, Henry! is a two-fisted Champagne drinker.
But he had an excuse:  "Hey, it was a magnum, not a regular-sized bottle."

Alexia was busy chatting about Smurfs.

And Jonathan showed off his last "catch" in funghi.

Chanterelles and Black Trumpet Mushrooms.


After the Champagne, we sat down to a little salad with some large prawns...

Joanthan brought some nice mixed greens and we added in Bob's Belgian Endive, adorned the salad with some freshly poached prawns and, voila!

We paired the salad with a Thurnhof Gold Muskateller...

I should have had a bit of orange juice in the vinaigrette, but did incorporate some grated orange peel, lemon and a bit of lime...still, the whole ensemble worked nicely together.




Running over a bag filled with Foster Farms Chickens in the grocery store parking lot were not included in the count.


After the salad, we steamed a boat-load of clams.

We toasted everyone's birthday, including our ami in France, Philippe Raynaud (who was busy celebrating with his entourage in Nimes!).

We had two interesting white wines with the shellfish...
Torre dei Beati Pecorino from Italy and Espor„o Reserva from Portugal.

The clams were steamed in a broth featuring pancetta, onions, garlic, ceci (garbanzo beans) and dandelion greens.

The Torre dei Beati was mildly stony with a faint floral note to its character.  It was dry and light and a bit overshadowed by the Espor„o from Portugal.  The Espor„o was marvelous, showing nice fruit and a minerally quality enhanced by a touch of toasty oak.

Lucy then got busy, steaming the Brussels Sprouts quickly and then adding the Black Trumpets...


I had all the burners going...grilling chicken and sausages....

...and broiling the lamb in the oven.

We had a wok full of Chanterelles.

While things were perking along in the kitchen, we had a little palate-cleansing ice...

The 1974 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet was quite old and past its prime...the Caymus 1974 was more vigorous, but, alas, it was corked!

Backing up the 1974s was a 1984 Joseph Phelps "Insignia."

This wine was still alive and showing nicely.

Lucy finished her platter of Brussels Sprouts, a veritable work of culinary art.

Jonathan helped plate the broiled lamb chops.


The Chanterelles were singing nicely...

And we had some Braised Fennel, too.

More toasting at the dining room table...



The Stag's Leap was a bottle with shoulder high fill...it was from its original case and had been stored upside down, as it had been packed in that box...Brown in color, it was a faded, old, tired bottle.

The Phelps was brighter, fruitier and still showing signs of vitality, though it was definitely mature.

*******

Next we had a trio of cheese platters.

 

Brian was busy cutting the cheese.

 

And soon Bob joined in the chorus.

The Epoisses was a favorite of many as it was nicely aged and just right...

Paul had his priorities right...

 

We had two really fine bottles for the cheeses.

The Meo-Camuzet 2007 Clos de Vougeot was really nice, showing dark cherry and a bit of forest floor earthiness, but it was a bit overshadowed by the Gros Frere Clos Vougeot 2008.  This wine, from a tiny plot called Musigni (it's close to the border of Musigny within the clos) had sweet red fruits, cherries, strawberries, raspberries and lovely toasty, smoky oak notes.  It was quite showy and thoroughly enjoyable.

HENRY!

Henry! sure enjoyed both of these Burgundies.

Having decimated the cheese boards and nearly emptying Jonathan's bag o'breads, we moved on to Ellen's masterpiece.

A homemade Hazelnut/Chocolate Cake.

Bob poured the 1986 Colheita Porto from Pocas.

This Porto was bottled in 2011, so it was a light tawny color and had a lovely nutty character on the nose.


Ellen then lit the birthday candle (the EPA asked us not to use the required number to celebrate so many senior citizen's birthdays) and we gave our rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song.



Ellen also whipped up a batch of Nutella Ice Cream to accompany the cake.

Bob began singing Broadway Show Tunes,

as he was delighted by all the vittles and vino.
In fact, he may have been more lit up than the birthday candle, come to think of it.

This year we had a "no presents" policy, but we still found some interesting birthday cards.

Henry appreciated the advice in this card...

1.  Don't drink on an empty stomach.
2.  Don't fart in a wet suit.

Others were also amused by the sentiments expressed in various birthday cards being passed around the table.


And as it was nearing the witching hour, we adjourned the proceedings with Sandy and Paul advising one and all that we will continue the merriment in mid-March, when they host the next installment of 2012 Birthdays.

Many thanks to one and all for attending, helping and eating and drinking!

Best wishes to the birthday kids, too.



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