Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A friend's 40th birthday celebration (3 ladies, me and 5 wines)

This past Saturday night Christine Huang joined us in NYC to continue the cross-continental celebration of her birthday. She was in the mood to hang out with people she's met through the wonders of the Internet and share some good bottles. So we organized a little dinner at 11 Madison Park with some fantastic wines and good friends.
Now this woman knows how to fete herself!
So myself, my lovely wife Catalina, Christine and our friend Sarah grabbed our bottles and headed over in the crisp NYC air. There is absolutely nothing more pleasant than dining with 3 beautiful women on a Saturday night.
Once again, the restaurant went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and WOW us with Chef Humm's innovative and delightful cooking. And they did this on a very, very busy Saturday night. These guys are doing great and are really impressing me!
We arrived, handed our wines to the hostesses, and sat down to relax and enjoy the ride...
Pictures are HERE.

1-Wild Langoustines
"En Gelee de Bouillabaisse" with Peekytoe Crab
2-Spanish Mackerel
Marinated with Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Oil
1996 Jacques Prieur Montrachet

Oooh, if this is the first wine, the others are going to have some serious stepping up to do! This was a beautiful light gold color, with no signs of oxydation visible. It was redolent of white flowers, peaches, stones, smoke and honeyed nuts, on a heady, almost muskily sexy frame that made me want to draw lines on the table and start snorting. Serious juice, it was thick yet precise in the mouth, with a sexy mouthfeel and a tight, crisp finish that showed it was still very, very young. The finish went on so long I think I'm still tasting it on Monday morning.

3-Foie Gras
Terrine with Poularde and Black Truffles
1990 Chateau d'Yquem (one half of bottle)

And the hits keep coming!Another wow. Thick and golden yellow, it seemed to ooze into the glass. I sniffed it carefully and had to sit back in happy, nearly woozy wonder. Amazingly thick aromatics of dried peaches, honey, light caramel, dried oranges, with a hint of herbs and stones. This was so thick yet crisp in the mouth, it just filled every crevice and nook and cranny with its flavors on a phenomenally staining frame, just bursting with excitement at being let out of its bottle like an impatient genie.
Life doesn't get much better than this.

4-Alba Truffle
Risotto of Acquerello Carnaroli Rice with Parmigiano Reggiano
1964 Leroy Grands Echezeaux

This was my last bottle and I'd been dying to find the right occasion to open it. Well, Christine's birthday was the perfect time for this. At first a bit shy, it showed nothing more than pleasant soft earth with hints of very, very soft cherries. The palate was rather similar, with more earth and sois-bois than fruit. But as it sat in the glass, it began gaining weight, with some gently funky strawberries and soft, sweet cherries accented by some smoky sous-bois and earth. I was surprised at how soft it was on the palate, with a distinctly low acidity that was rather different from previous experiences. Elegant but gracefully aged.
Very nice but I'm happy I popped it now.

5-Millbrook Farms Venison
Herb Roasted with Salsify and Black Trumpet Mushrooms
1990 Chateau l'Evangile

Even though this had been decanted, it was still shy in the glass, with notes of plums and roasted chocolate poking their heads up every now and then, with some earth thrown in. I swirled and swirled, finally opening it up slightly to reveal a wonderfully ripe dark berry aspect on a silky, feminine frame that showed tons of tannins on the end. This was very tight tonight. Still, it went perfectly with the venison and was a pleasure to watch evolve.

6-Cave-Aged Gruyere
Beignets with Frisee Salad and Pancetta Vinaigrette
1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle

Oooh, vive la difference! Big and brawny where the Evangile had been slight and subtle, this smelled of roasted, BBQ'd filet mignon covered in a sauce of blackberries and chocolate on a plate of freshly baked earth. Wow. On the palate there was an amazing balance between the ripe fruit, the earth and the acidity despite its size, and a long and fruitily tannic finish. Absolutely fantastic, and delicious with the cheese.

7-Sheep's Milk Yogurt Cheesecake
Roasted Pineapple, Kaffir Lime and Kili Pepper Shortbread
1990 Yquem (the rest of the bottle)

Slightly more evolved now, the Yquem was still just jamming juice. Wow. I could bathe in this all night if it were socially acceptable. Amazing. 11 Madison showed again how it's been really stepping up lately, with excellent service and food of fantastic quality. I know I walked away quite happy.
Happy Birthday Christine and thanks for sharing it with us!

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