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FOOD WINE & FRIENDS PAGE 155

SANDY OBESTER'S BIRTHDAY


The menu





Henry opened the first bottle of 1988 Clicquot Gold Label, a nicely toasty, mildly bubbly Champagne.


At 20 years of age, the first bottle still had a fair bit of liveliness.  The second bottle, though, showed a bit of oxidation and it was less bubbly.

Farmer Ellen arrived with a nice bouquet....

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Bob and Paul were busy working on the Cioppino...

We toasted the birthday girl...

Bob, though, was up to his elbows in the kitchen...


Alexia always has her eye on Champagne.

Bob prepared a lovely Caesar Salad....


Homemade croutons are but one of the 'secrets'...

Bob explained the 'secrets' of which there are several...


The two white wines were magnificent and everyone easily identified which was which.
The 2005 Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux was fresh, stony, minerally and focuses on fruit rather than oak.
The Tement 2005 "Zieregg" Sauvignon Blanc was mildly herbal and citrusy, with a nice bit of oak seasoning.
Both wines showed relatively warm vintages as they didn't have angular features...the acidity was less pronounced than in cooler years.
Both were delicious and paired wonderfully with Bob's Caesar salad...


Back in the kitchen after the salad, Paul and Bob were busy pounding crabs.

As the kitchen crew labored on our behalf, we tasted a series of Dolcetto wines.
I brought the stellar 2006 Cascina Morassino Dolcetto d'Alba to "set the pace."
We then had a Bonny Doon Monterey Dolcetto...nice, simple, berryish red wine.  It might be a bit difficult to pin it down as Dolcetto, but it was a good, simple, pleasant red.
The 2006 Naughty Boy Dolcetto came from Mendocino.  I had sent them a "recipe" from a top Piemontese vintner and chided Jim Scott for not bottling the wine when it was young and teeming with fruit.  This was standard "red wine winemaking" with a varietal that, in my view (and our Piemontese winemaker friend) needs bottling when it's fresh and fruity.
The 2007 Duxoup Dolcetto from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley was a delicious and magnificent red wine.  This was bottled young and fruity.  I detected the blueberry/blackberry fruit we find in Charbono wines (for which Duxoup is well-regarded), so I couldn't tell if, maybe, a bit of Charbono was incorporated in this wine.  

 

 

 

And a short while later the polenta is ready and so is the massive cioppino.

We had a range of Barbera wines to pair with the cioppino as has been our custom.  Barbera, with snappy acidity and low tannin, is a perfect partner for this dish.

Bob used a bottle of "Rivetto dal 1902" Barbera d'Alba for the cioppino and we opened a bottle to put on the dinner table.  This was just as good as most of the other bottles, but I will say the Bruno Giacosa 2006 was perhaps a shade deeper and a bit more complex.  Still, you can have one bottle of the Giacosa or three of the Rivetto...

 

 

A range of cheeses came next...Sandy's a big fan of Gorgonzola.

Nino Negri's fabulous "Cinque Stelle" Sfursat accompanied the cheeses.  This is a deep, complex Nebbiolo from the Valtellina in northern Italy.
 

 

Birthday cake from Dianda's Bakery put the finishing touches on the meal.

We had a Domaine Piquemal dessert wine from the 1988 vintage, a Grenache that's sweet and rich.  This was followed by La Montecchia's  fizzy "Fior d'Arancia" bubbly.

Alexia, apparently, is a big fan of Dianda's Black Forest cake.

Whodda thunk it?

Sandy then opened a few birthday gifts...



Bob, then, brought out a platter of cookies....

Alexia was the first to dive in...

And then we all made tracks for home.

Thanks to Bob Gorman for another splendid evening of wonderful vittles.


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