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We had some simply "nibbles" to start our evening...a homemade "green sauce" based on parsley, garlic, anchovies and good olive oil...perfect for dipping the fougasse breads.


Some grissini from San Francisco's Cuneo Bakery...

We enjoyed some Delamotte Champagne...

Kareasa, Ralph, Mark, Connie, Eric and Mao.


The famous Eric Lecours.

The Poonster then assembled a beautiful platter of fresh figs and Prosciutto...

...with some Mozzarella.


A Venica Sauvignon was absolutely perfect with this starter...beautiful aromatic, mildly citrusy and lightly herbaceous.  The stony notes in the Sauvignon were apparent alongside the ripe, sweet figs and the salty Prosciutto.


Mao...
Ralph...


I had enjoyed a range of antipasti while dining with our friends Lara and Massimo at a restaurant in Italy's Veneto region earlier this year.

I was inspired by one of the plates and came up with this idea for a starter...

There's a wedge of Grilled Polenta, surrounded by Smoked Trout and some cherry tomatoes...atop the polenta is a green olive tapenade with a dice of roasted red peppers and some lemon thyme.

We opened two Venezia Giulia IGT white wines with this dish...
The famous Jermann wine called Vintage Tunina (a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Ribolla Gialla and seasoned with a bit of Malvasia and a drop of Picolit)...the 2008 vintage showed a mildly honeyed note and it seemed quite mature.

The other white is another proprietary blend...this one from a small producer in the Carso region (not far from Trieste).  Skerk's wine is called "Ograde" and it's a wine made by fermenting the various white grapes with the skins.
Ograde is a blend of Vitovska, Malvasia, Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio.
This wine has a touch of a pinkish tone from the Pinot Grigio...it's bright, fresh, crisp and stood up well to the smoked fish and the olive/tapenade 'sauce'.

Everyone was digging in...


Mao regaled the group with some jokes!
Who knew she was a comedienne?
"According to inside contacts, the Japanese banking crisis shows no signs of ameliorating. If anything, it's getting worse.

Following last week's news that Origami Bank had folded, we are hearing that Sumo Bank has gone belly up and the little Bonsai Bank plans to cut back some of its branches.

Karaoke Bank is up for sale and is (you guessed it!) going for a song.

Meanwhile, shares in Kamikaze Bank have nose-dived and 500 back-office staff at Karate Bank got the chop.

We heard a report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank and staff there fear they may get a raw deal."

 

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, the Risotto with Morels, Porcini, Chanterelles and Champignons was nearly ready...

 




2004 Barolo with a Wild Mushroom Risotto...

The E. Pira from the Cannubi cru was exceptional, showing nice fruit and a woodsy tone.  It has fairly firm tannins and is still a youngster, but it was nice to see this wine developing so beautifully (having followed it since it was in barrel).

Robert Voerzio's 2004 "La Serra" was excellent, as well, with a nice dark fruit note and some oak.  It was at about the same stage of evolution as the E. Pira, so it probably needs another ten years, but you can certainly enjoy it at this stage.


Mark tried topping Mao's joke and he simply mentioned "The Milwaukee Brewers in 2013" but nobody laughed.
"Okay then...let me tell you about medieval history..."

"Okay...never mind.  I'll drink some Barolo then."



To cleanse the palate, we had a little Lemon Sorbet laced with some fresh cilantro.


Connie was amused as Ralph prayed for his baseball team, The Oakland Athletics.


We then brought out two bottles of Guigal's Cote-Rotie to pair with the next course...


Lamb "T-Bones" and some Sausages...



Braised Veggies (Artichokes, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Peppers, Mushrooms) and Potatoes roasted in Duck Fat.

 


Mark surveys the landscape...



Ralph...a gentleman!



"Who? Me??"


Kareasa gets right to work, sniffing the two Cote Rotie wines...


"Ralph, Lamb?"
"Not baaahhhhd!"

 


The 1996 Chateau d'Ampuis of Guigal was exceptional.  The wine showed beautiful spice and fruit notes with a touch of oak.
The 1997 "regular" bottling of Guigal's Cote-Rotie was showing its age and I felt it was pretty much at its peak or just slightly past...The wine showed itself as a warm vintage Syrah and was fully developed and then some.

We had some Lamb T-Bones, a lamb sausage, braised veggies and the roasted potatoes...

For dessert, The Cutie Pie baked a QT* Pie:  Olallieberry.

*QT = Quite Tasty

 


The Olallieberry Pie was delicious and the crust flakier than me!

I made some Vanilla Gelato to go with it and the Cascina Gilli Malvasia was exceptional, showing lots of berry-like aromas and flavors, mildly fizzy and sweet without being heavy or cloying.


We had a lovely evening and at a late hour, called an adjournment to the proceedings!

Thanks everyone for coming....



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