It's been a whirlwind of a week for me, between frantically preparing my crazy 5-course Chinese dinner and blog post for Project Food Blog Round 3; recovering from jet lag (kept falling asleep so early every evening - couldn't find the energy to blog!!); celebrating TWO birthdays (more on that shortly); and catching up on work, I'm really looking forward to the weekend!
Onto the birthdays! As you may know, this past Wednesday was Bryan's birthday and we celebrated with a fantastic "Ultimate Chef's Tasting" at Craigie on Main. The last time we tried it was three years ago when Tony Maws was still at the old location. I will definitely be posting about that meal shortly.
Well, Bryan's birthday happens to be only about a week off from his best friend, Peter's birthday. Peter was the best man at Bryan's wedding, and he and his wife Chia Chi are often our food buddies. In fact, Peter has guest posted on this blog a few times, and he and his wife were very helpful in helping me out with my Project Food Blog Round 3 luxury meal.
Peter picked out a few special wines from his personal collection and asked Bergamot to create a tasting menu that would go with the wines. Lucky for us, this was a joint celebration in honor of both Peter's and Bryan's birthday and Peter and Chia Chi's anniversary! Yippee! Here's a look at the fantastic courses we enjoyed.
Warm pear salad, walnut, greens, sweet potato crisp, balsamic reduction
Beautiful marriage of flavors here - we absolutely loved this amuse, which, I believe, is just a smaller version of one of their appetizers right now.
Salt Cod Croquette
Picholine Olive, Tomato Sauce, Saffron Foam, Chorizo Dust
Complex mix of tastes and textures here, though the dish was just a tad too salty for my personal taste (keep in mind, I tend to be pretty sensitive to salt).
Gold Beets, Honshimeki Mushrooms, Celeriac, Shiso Aioli
I really liked this course. I love shiso, and the flavor comes out strongly in this dish. The deep fried hot pepper also adds an interesting component (thankfully it wasn't TOO hot!), and overall the dish worked.
We enjoyed the first few courses with a Mount Eden 2006 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains (WS 96, WA 93). Beautifully crisp taste, lots of nice fruit on the nose.
Peter: I am convinced that white wines are underappreciated and undervalued, but I think there are as many perfect pairings of food with white wines as there are with red wines. As a result, I have been slowly stockpiling a wide range of whites in my collection to round out my cellar. The Mount Eden is one of the more exciting whites I have picked up recently. It has a buttery and silky mouthfeel and is not too heavy in oak. A full-bodied white with a long finish and a great deal of character. You get fruity notes of peach and pear that transforms to have more mineral and floral elements. It is very good now, but feels like it can cellar.
Peter: I have been looking forward to popping this wine for two years. The Cote Rotie La Mouline is the wine that Robert Parker says he would drink if he had only one wine to drink. The '97 La Mouline is best described as seductive and sensual rather than powerful or racy. Drinking this aged masterpiece made me realize how often I drink wines too early and how much my selection of reds favor cabernet. The tannins are soft, there is almost no acidity and the balance is perfect. You get casis fruit, smoky coffee and chocolate flavors and the finish is elegantly long. The wine paired very well with the risotto and the pork butt. Both dishes had subtle flavors that would have been drowned out with a more intense wine. Thanks Jen and Bryan for this amazing gift!
The braised rabbit risotto had a deep rich flavor with perfectly cooked rice that was nicely al dente in flavor. It paired really nicely with the wine, which nicely cut the richness of the dish.
Confit of Boston Pork Butt
Creamed Spinach, Delicata Squash, Chestnuts, Pork Jus
This pork butt, which had been cooked for hours, was super soft and easily cut with a fork. Because it was cured, it was quite salty on its own, but worked very well when enjoyed together with the squash, chestnuts, spinach, and the wine.
A nice palate cleanser - yogurt with huckleberries!
Peter is a huge fan of Bergamot's pastry chef, Stacy Mirabellois, and personally requested that she make the lemon cake. The cake was delicious, with strong lemon flavor and decadent buttercream frosting. Peter didn't expect this, but the cake actually paired surprisingly well with the sauternes, a 2001 Chateau Suduiraut (WS 98/WA 98, WS 2004 Top 100 #9), that he had brought.
In general, I'll let Peter comment more specifically on the wine pairings, maybe in the comments or an updated post!
Peter: Believe it or not, my first experience with sauternes was about two months ago, and I had the great privilege of having a 1999 Chateau d'Yquem (WA 92). The d'Yquem left an impression and no doubt you have tasted something special. I was certain if ambrosia existed, this is what it would taste like. The finish was minutes and the sweetness was perfectly controlled. I knew from that single experience that satuernes would be one of my favorite wine varieties and that I had to get more.
The 2001 vintage of satuernes is one of the best in recent history. So even lesser vineyards like Chateau Suduiraut put out a great product. This wine did not have the finish of the d'Yquem but it did have great notes of honey, pineapple and lemony citrus allowing it to pear perfectly with the lemon and lemon curd cake. It's sweetness complemented the tang of the cake. Overall, a fantastic wine.
After dinner passion fruit caramels
Overall, we had a fantastic time at Bergamot. The folks at Bergamot love doing this kind of stuff. Keith Pooler (executive chef/proprietor), and Kai Gagnon (wine director) had a lot of fun creating this birthday menu with the wines that we gave them. They are always open to doing this, so definitely contact them if you're interested!
The tasting was only $60 per person, which we thought was quite reasonable for such a quality meal.
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