Friday, July 14, 2006

Bastille Day Eve Dinner

Les Bleus may have lost the World Cup final, but we were still in enough of a Francophillic mood to celebrate Bastille Day Eve last night with a four-course dinner. It was, in fact, something of a Cask 79 reunion dinner as we were joined by co-blogger Jonathan, our first guest diner at the new house.

Dinner began with Stephanie leading the group in a rousing chorus of "Chant de guerre de l'Armée du Rhin," aka La Marseillaise. After the singing, we sat down to a course that I have been hoping to make for some time: Roasted Marrow Bones with Parsley Salad. The bones are soaked overnight in cold water, then dried and roasted for 20 minutes in the oven. The gooey marrow is then scooped onto toast with a bit of parsley salad. After debating with Charlie over what to serve with course, I chose a bottle of Henriot Champagne Souverain NV, hoping its acidity would cut the richness of the marrow. It did just that, and it even nicely matched the shrimp Stephanie grilled in lieu of the marrow.

The second course was a hearty lentil soup garnished with lardons and lavender. The lavender added pleasant flavor in addition to clarifying the French theme of the dinner. The main course consisted of grilled quails served over mashed red-skinned potatoes with creamers full of collard-green sauce on the side. I had prepared the collard sauce once before and again found it worked excellently with the gamy quail. The quail, and the soup before it, were paired with 2002 Volnay-Santenots 1er Cru from Thierry et Pascale Matrot. I love the values offered by pinot noirs from the Cotes du Beaune in southern Burgundy, and this one was no exception. It was only medium-bodied, but its red-fruit flavors, silky tannins, and background acidity made for a delicious gustatory chord. Like some of the others wines we've tasted recently, this one promised to confirm my belief that even medium-bodied wines can age exceptionally well.

Dinner was capped off with a wedge of Roquefort and a half-bottle of Carmes de Rieussec Sauternes 2003, the second wine of the famous Chateau Rieussec. It was rather light-bodied and not terribly sweet, but it showed hints of botrytis and nice acidity. This is one to drink early and often.

Someone then suggested that we storm something; I believe I recommended the National Guard building around the corner; but the mood passed and we finished the wine. Vive la France!

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