Food Wine & Friends Page 286
The culprits returned to the scene of the crime one year
later...and we prepared another little gastronomical marathon.
Unfortunately Kate "The Great" Radburnd was unable to participate this
year, but Dr. Valery Uhl was in town and George Skorka (and his little pup Hugo)
made it to Burlingame.
The festivities began around 7pm with the arrival of Rowald Hepp, Jim McMahon
and Wendy & Jim Harré. A while later George Skorka and little Hugo
Valery had been a big help with the various kitchen work and we began
celebrating this year's San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Preparations for this event began months earlier and the
actual kitchen work initiated over the preceding weekend.
Everyone was bummed out that Kate would not be able to join
us...something about arranging alphabetically the barrels in the Pask Winery
cellar according to cooperage name...or adding up the numbers in the "dry
extract" column of the wines in tank from the recent harvest...or
perfecting her carpet-cleaning techniques...or something about packing her
suitcase for an upcoming global sales tour called "Kate Continues to
Conquer the World."
We somehow plundered ahead in her absence, though, knowing
she's envious of us in celebrating the upcoming wine judging.
I posted some "welcome" signage.
It was then time to pop the cork on a magnum of Roederer
Estate's 2006 L'Ermitage bubbly...
So we hoisted a glass in honor of Kate The Great.
We had a few little nibbles to accompany the sparkling wine...some pâte on
In the kitchen, we had some prawns wrapped with fresh basil
and San Daniele Prosciutto skewered and on the grill.
Everyone dug in and we polished off that magnum...the wine is brilliantly crisp
and dry so it was a good foil for the various nibbles we enjoyed.
The table was set.
There was a little surprise on the chair for everyone.
We then poured the Delille 2013 Chaleur Estate White wine from
Washington...It's a great stand-in for top French white Bordeaux from, say,
Smith Haut Laffite.
We paired it with a terrine made of Sea Scallops and Salmon.
The wine has a nicely pungent grassy note and it's dry and mildly oaked.
The crowd was surprised by this pairing...surprised that the wine matched this
The terrine was made with a mousseline of scallops...one "plain" and
the green layer being enhanced with peas.
The middle tier was made of salmon.
It's served on a bed of arugula and mixed greens with a tarragon-infused
The next course featured a locally-made pasta with a Napa Zinfandel made by Ray
Coursen at the Elyse winery.
I made a little tomato sauce using San Marzano tomatoes...these are beautifully
intense and have a great fragrance. The sauce was quite simple...just some
onions, a touch of garlic and the tomatoes...nothing terribly fancy but quite
George brought a rare bottle of Sine Qua Non's 2010 "Five Shooter," a
blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Roussanne and Viognier. This is one
of those rare works of art made especially for critics and collectors.
It was great to taste such a bottle, as it had some nice, sweet red fruit notes
and a touch of spice.
The Elyse Zinfandel shows a charming wood spice note and tones of black pepper
thanks to its Howell Mountain origins. The spice and berries of the Zin really
dove-tailed handsomely with the tomato sauce and the mildly spicy pasta which
are stuffed only with minced onions and ground beef.
Hugo Chandler was waiting patiently for a more interesting course, though.
I had the next course rolling by this stage...
Last year they all loved the Dungeness Crab Cakes, so we had to prepare another
round of these.
Knowing we were attempting to pair some of Rowald's Spätlese Rieslings with
these, I incorporated a bit more chili pepper in the crab cakes...
Jim Harré provided a bottle of a favorite New Zealand white, so we tasted the
Maude Riesling before the crab cakes hit the table.
We had two vintage of Schloss Vollrads Riesling Spätlese:
2012 and 2007
The 2012 was spot-on, being fresh, moderately crisp and very
floral and fruity.
The 2007 was prematurely aged, likely a result of mistreatment during its trip
through the chain of distribution. The wine was brown in color and showed
notes of oxidation.
Rowald told us he had tasted a 2007 recently and the wine was still quite
We needed a palate cleanser at this stage...
A mint leaf adorned this little Garnacha Ice...a refreshing little taste!
We were soon ready for the main course...
Roasted Baby Yukon Golds with herbs...
Asparagus with Morels
Golden beets with chopped chives
Grilled Duck with some Duck Sausages
We passed the serving dishes around the table...
1999 Cabernets from Napa:
Bryant Family and Araujo's Eisele Vineyard.
The Araujo was slightly corked...damn!
The Bryant displayed a ripe fruit note and it was fairly supple on the palate.
We opened and decanted a back-up bottle of Dunn 1999 Howell Mountain Cabernet
and that was more complex with dark fruit and a mildly earthy note. It had
a bit more tannin, too.
Hugo was asking if he might have a taste of the duck.
He said the duck was pretty good, in fact.
The "back up" bottle.
George brought a lovely Sonoma Pinot Noir...
Rowald brought an old bottle of a German Pinot Noir "weissherbst"...a
1969 vintage which was, as you might expect, showing its age.
I opened an old California Riesling to see how that was doing.
A 1980 Chateau St. Jean "Johannisberg Riesling." as it was called in
The wine came from a notable vineyard in the warm Alexander Valley, yet it had
The color was brown and seemingly over-the-hill. Yet tasting the wine, we
found an amazingly zesty level of acidity which gave the wine its remarkably
Rowald was astonished by this wine.
"I cannot believe this wine comes from California," he told us.
"It's remarkably good!"
He was not the only one who was shocked.
I had wanted to bring out these wines before serving the next
course, as the chocolate in the dessert would kill a late harvest Riesling.
We followed up the Riesling with Cascina Gilli's magnificent Malvasia di
Castelnuovo Don Bosco.
I prepared a Chocolate Hazelnut Torte.
And I'd made a batch of Nutella Gelato.
The merriment continued as Wendy began singing Sharon O'Neill tunes, much to the
amusement of Rowald and Valery.
"I didn't know she could sing like that!"
Another bottle of wine was opened...
And soon Hugo went to go lie down where it was quieter...
And the hour was quite late (or early, depending upon your perspective)...
We called for a taxi and everyone headed off to dream-land.
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