Monday, December 04, 2006

Dinner with Friends

The weather in Chicago was almost as cold as Reggie Ball's performance in the ACC Championship game, but it was nothing that couldn't be warmed up by a some good food and wine. Dinner with John and Jonathan proved to be the bright spot between dreadful performances by my favorite teams.

We began the night with an amuse of Fried Oysters with two sauces - chive aioli and roasted red pepper. Stephanie has prepared these oysters in the past, and they were just as good as usual. Next, we made good use of a recent house-warming gift from Charlie and Lauren by serving escargots in their traditional bowls. The snails were topped with an equally-traditional garlic butter and proved rather tender and tasty. For the main course, I braised rabbit in white wine and rabbit jus and served it with buttered egg noodle "tagliatelle." The rabbit was moist and tender, and the noodles, from Del Cecco, proved more satisfying than the standard egg noodles. We concluded with delightful treats provided by John - including goose supreme, fromage d'affinois, Humboldt Fog, and Bleu d'Agur - and some excellent foie gras secretly imported into Chicago by some to-remain-nameless friends. I would mention that the blue cheese was particularly stunning, but then it would be even harder to get than it already is (because, of course, as soon as something is approved by Cask 79 its sales jump).

Wines for the evening were provided by our guests. We began with a 2004 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre that readers of this blog would already know of if Seebany had finished her post about Bouchon. The wine, which Jonathan and Seebany had shared at Bouchon, was both racy and rich, allowing it serve as both complement and foil for the buttery snails. Next we enjoyed the accidentally overchilled (my bad) Domaine Saint-Martin Marsannay Les Grands Vignes 2004 imported by Patrick Lesec. Lesec is a well-respected negociant known more for his Rhones than his Burgundies, and this bottle, as it warmed, showed both the grace of a pinot noir and the earthy core of a syrah. It was really excellent both with the rabbit and alone. The cheese course was accompanied by a wine sourced from John's personal cellar, the 2003 Chateau de Myrat Sauternes. I had tasted this wine without food previously, and it seemed even more profound when paired with the goose supreme and blue cheese. Full of botrytis yet perfectly balanced, it was quintessential Sauternes. We ended the night with some post-prandial YouTubing and a bottle of Chateau Henye Tokaji Furmint 2000. While it didn't have the botrytis of the Myrat (it probably should have been served first), it did offer an excellent purity of tree fruit that was refreshing after an evening of such almost but not quite gluttony.

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