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Food, Wine & Friends   Page 218

We were delighted to have in town, not just one celebrity visitor from Europe, but two!

We had, visiting from the UK and France's Savoie region, the inimitable wine & travel writier Wink Lorch.  And, from France's Southwest, we were graced with the presence of La Reine Simone, Simone Daubin.

I tried to assemble a meal featuring rather "local" vittles and vinos.

We began with a 2003 Roederer Estate bubbly, their L'Ermitage Rose.


Nathalie Neal takes care of pouring the bubbly...


This was a nice bottle of California sparkling wine, though it's not hugely expressive of Pinot Noir.  I found it more similar to their normal bottling of L'Ermitage, though it's not particularly toasty or yeasty despite its age.  The wine was dry and reasonably crisp, though not quite as austere as good Champagne.

A few nibbles...



The Winkster, Nathalie Neal, Mark O'Poon, Connie's arm and La Reine Simone Daubin.


And adding to the festivities, Chewie The Wonder Dog.


I got busy in the kitchen, preparing a salad of Romaine lettuce adorned with some fresh Dungeness Crab.



Connie hoists a glass in toasting the arrival of Queen Simone and The Winkster.


Wink Lorch at the head of the table.


Charles brought a bottle of white wine from France and we put it on the table with the first course.  It's from a smallish estate in St. Remy, south of the Rhone and our dear friend Betta Currado (from the Piemontese family at the Vietti winery) is a consulting winemaker.  
The estate is the Abbaye de Sainte-Marie de Pierredon and we enjoyed their 2009 Prima Luce white wine.  It's made entirely of Rolle (Vermentino if you're Italian) and the wine was fermented and aged in wood.  There was a woodsy, oaky element to the wine, so it was contrasted nicely by the lighter, brighter 2010 Zocker Gruner Veltliner from California's Central Coast.

The Zocker is fresh and fairly light, showing a bit of the spice and grapefruit notes we enjoy in Austrian renditions of Gruner Veltliner.  It worked nicely with the lemony vinaigrette and sweet elements of the crab meat.

The next course featured clams and two more divergent wines...

Chester's Anvil is a Napa Valley white wine blending Roussanne and Marsanne from the Stagecoach Vineyard.  It's a wine which sees some oak, so it had a richness and woodsy, along with a measure of power and intensity.

The Pierce is a favorite non-oaked dry white made of Albarino grown in southern Monterey County.  It's fresh, light, dry and has a floral aspect and hints of a spice note.



Simone was busy fishing for clams, which she found in abundance.


We then had a granite made from Grenache...

 

The Popovers had "popped" and soon we were assembling platters of food for the main course.

Wink said "Popovers?  Aren't these Yorkshire Pudding?"

Quite right, m'lady.

 

The Roast Beast came out nicely cooked...not too rare, not too well-done!


Accompanying the beef were Roasted Cauliflower and Oven-Roasted Taters.

Nathalie insisted on taking a snapshot...


Mark explains the history of Popovers and their evolution over time since 1737 when they were mentioned in a prominent book "The Whole Duty of a Woman."
Only Mark would know these factoids.

As Nathalie is wont to do, she made the rounds, offering people more food.


With the Prime Rib we had two 1999 Napa Valley Reds...
 
The Dunn 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon showed some elements reminiscent of some Bordeaux.  It had a mildly leathery tone, suggesting it had a bit of Brettanomyces.  I thought it was similar to some 1990s vintages of Gruaud Larose with an herbal note.  It was medium+ bodied and had light tannins in the context of the beef.

Paired with this was a 1999 Viader Napa Valley red...Cabernet Sauvignon and 39% Cabernet Franc in this vintage.  Mildly leathery, too, but with a touch of cocoa and some oak.  Quite ready to drink and probably at its peak.

Charles was busy quizzing Wink about all manner of personal history and such...

...while Simone paid exclusive attention to the cuisine et vins.

At this stage, Wink was trying to recall if she remembered to put a bottle of aspirin in her purse.

As we'd drained the Cabernets and finished the roast beef, it was time for something completely different.

We had a nice selection of Northern California cheeses.

Connie was disappointed we didn't have any of Jonathan Tolmach's breads...

"They're way better than Acme!" she noted.

Simone was impressed by some of the local cheeses...

"Il y a des signes de culture en Californie !  Ce et fromage de chŔvre."

That's when Nathalie asked, "Mom, say what!?!?!"

We then passed around a bottle of D-Cubed 2008 Napa Valley Zinfandel.


With these cheese board running its course, we then moved on to dessert...


Homemade Apple Crisp with homemade Vanilla/Cinnamon Gelato.

We had this with Schramsberg's 2006 Cremant Demi Sec.

The Winkster brought a nice little gift box of Chocolates filled with Genepi liqueur and we passed these around...

These were dangerous!

Connie decided this Genepi is an acquired taste.

"And I don't think I'm buying!" she choked out to the amusement of others.

Simone was then bragging about her famous son Bernard The Chef.



The famous Bernard Daubin is one of the great chefs included in this book.


Connie and Mark were apparently sending each other text messages.


Chewie was having a lot of fun!
In fact, he was worn out by the end of the evening.

And with that, as midnight approached, the mighty band of gourmands stood up from the table and made their way, homeward bound!

Nathalie is planning the weekend in Las Vegas with her Mom...
And Vegas is ready!

 

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