Food, Wine & Friends Page 217
Signor Downing hopped on a bus and came to San Francisco from
his normal haunts in Hollywood for a tasting of some vini Italiani.
Chuck Hayward booked a table at the wine-centric restaurant SPQR (I think that
stands for "Some People Question Ratings" as the wine buyer/sommelier
Shelly Lindgren isn't a fan of 100 numerical wine scores) and we congregated at
Our evening began with a flute of Prosecco as we perused the menu, tasting menu
and wine list.
Chuck ordered a bunch of starters for us to share as we began our little wine
& food marathon...
A little crudo of shrimp with crispy onions...
I think this is the ôterrina en consommeö guinea hen, duck
liver, tea soaked plum, turnip.
John had stopped by Ceri Smith's biondivino and picked up a bottle of a
minerally, stony Etna Rosso.
Paige and John.
64░ farm egg, celery root, SPQR bacon, white shrimp and American ham
Warm Ballotine of local rabbit, black apricot, mustard and quince saba.
Our server brought some warm rolls for us with this plate...
This photo might be interpreted by some as Chuck Hayward being a real "locavore"...you
know, someone who gets "close" to his food, dining on locally-sourced
But, in fact, this shot demonstrates Mr. Hayward is a real "locovore."
By this time, we were pouring a "mystery wine," a
bottle of red I'd asked to have decanted.
I lead the group to consider if the wine was some sort of "Super
Tuscan," as it was lavishly oaked.
Squid ink Spaghettini, Crab, Sea Urchin...
People sniffed and swirled and sipped, running through various possibilities in
identifying the Mystery Red.
(Chuck Hayward has often been referred to as a "Mystery Red," come to
think of it.)
There were numerous guesses...maybe something from
Piemonte? No...perhaps Tuscany...
Chuck, though, said the wine really reminded him of some of Penfolds red
wines. Australian? Could this be possible?
How about that!?!
Chuck nailed it.
We were sipping a 2003 Penfolds Grange.
The next decanter arrived and we sniffed, swirled, sniffed
some more and sipped...
It was a youthful bottle of Barolo, a 2003 E. Pira made by our friend Chiara
More food began to arrive tableside...
At this stage, another bottle was being decanted as we enjoyed the Barolo.
I enjoyed a wonderfully prepared pork entree...
And Chuck poured another glass for Signor Downing, who was doing a good job in
downing the wine.
But what did we have in this new decanter????
1998 Gaja Barbaresco.
Still young and developing beautifully.
(Paige or the wine, you ask?)
There's a nice bit of wood
showing, still, but it's a really fine and elegant Barbaresco with a bit of
muscle. It is still on the incline, I'd say and you need not be in a hurry
to open remaining bottles.
And to finish off the evening, a little bit of a wonderful
Having had a sufficient quantity of vino and vittles, Giovanni
showed off a little ticket or coupon he had..."valido per un Vafanculo,
And on that note, we adjourned the proceedings until John's
next visit to civilization when we'll host this crowd for more vittles and vino
Thanks to one and all...
And a special thanks to Shelly Lindgren and her marvelous crew at SPQR (Serving
Patrons Quite Rightly) for their considerations and professional service.
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