Thursday, April 21, 2005

Highlights of the Canterbury Hotel/WFYI Dinner

I'm sure I'll get a few of the dishes wrong and I'm not sure I noted all the wines, but here were my highlights of Tuesday's dinner. (Keep in mind that my notes get a little fuzzier toward the end and the handwriting gets a bit hard to read. We had a terrific waiter who kept bringing each bottle over for notetaking.) Many thanks to Bob Graham and Chef Browne for such a terrific group of pairings.

Reception: Scallops wrapped in bacon and a pastry stuffed with quail
Iron Horse Russian Cuvee (one of my favorites)

Amuse: A near perfect Olympia oyster with tobiko caviar and a sprig of flat leaf parsley. Such a nice presentation with the cleaned oyster shell, the roe and the leaf -- plus the parsley was such a nice flavor hit at the end of the bite. Served with a lovely Brice Bouzy Champagne.

Fish: Ahi tuna tartare (done in a very French style, to me anyway, very dense and thick almost like a paste) layered on wontons with a cured salmon and seaweed salad. Served with a Bishonen sake the way premium sakes should be served -- very cold, clear and pure.

1st Course: Grilled quail with a sweet/savoury wild rice. The sauce on the rice was dark and rich, but not overpowering at all, not too sweet, plus thyme and mushrooms (morels, possibly?) that were rich and slightly bitter. There was such a nice mineral quality to the rice and mushrooms that this dish came together nicely with the Vinum Cellars Viognier. I was expecting a big, crisp wine and found, instead, a rich white with the great viognier nose and a round, nutty finish since it's fermented on the lies.

By now, we were four wines and three courses in, so here's where my notes start to get fuzzy. At some point, I think, instead of sorbet, we had a lovely chestnut, honey and thyme granita for a palate cleanser.

2nd Course: Tenderloin with sweatbreads. Really, that's all there was to say about this course. Fantastic. Rich. Stacked slices of perfectly cooked tenderloin topped with tender, succulent sweetbreads. Wine was a lovely 2003 Amisfield Pinot Noir from New Zealand. Notable as the second vintage from a newish winery and also notable as one of many higher end southern wines using a Stinsen closure (the much maligned screw cap). The technology has progressed and if marketers can get past the public stigma, it's going to catch on.

Salad Course: Looked like frissee or arugula (I always get all those salad greens mixed up) with a creamy cheese dressing. The cheese was fairly mellow and savory and was a knockout with the wine -- a Michael Havens Boroco that was two-thirds cabernet franc and one-third merlot. (Here I encounter some indecipherable ravings, underlined with the words "cab franc" written next to it. This may have been my wine order.)

Dessert: A lovely sabayonne with fresh raspberries and strawberries served with an Italian 2000 Nicolis Recioto. This wine is pressed from three different kinds of dried grapes -- essentially raisins -- and was a lovely, dark dessert wine.

All in all a fantastic evening. Tough pairings that worked on some surprising levels. And some lovely new discoveries. Look for that Michael Havens wine at my house soon!

No comments: