Monday, May 30, 2011

Le Jules Vernes Part Deux, Eiffel Tower: PARIS

Date: samedi 14 mai 2011
Location: Eiffel Tower

A lovely three hour eating affair. Saturday lunch on a sunny day in an Alain Ducasse Michelin Star restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Two Grand Crus. Lovely dishes, and very charming staff. Most of all, replete with a delightfully fun and cheerful eating partner sitting across from me while I took in the view of all of Paris. I loved it. It's just as anyone would dream it to be, a perfect stroll down the Seine River in the morning, croissant snack for breakfast under the beautiful sunny partly cloudy sky during Paris Spring. Then, upward into the private elevator for a quiet and relaxing Saturday afternoon lunch amidst light hearted and good humored conversation, with the sun coming in all the while. I think everyone should try to experience this restaurant at least once in their life. Book far in advance so as not to be disapointed!

By the way, their attentive staff become ansy if you are not already seated when the meal arrives. They want you to eat it warm. "Madam, your meal is already served and waiting for you, it is warm," (as I was coming out of the restroom). Then, my eating partner got up to leave briefly also - "Madam...?!?! Where is Messieur???" I like this attention to detail.

Update:  dimanche 29 mai 2011
Two weeks have passed and I am still thinking on this majestic, hedonistic, Chablis.  Our 2006 Vincent Davissaut Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos still resonnates in my brain, spinal cord, and palate. This wine opened up my senses just as well as it implanted itself in my taste buds, and left its little shrapnels of rocks imbedded in my palate forever to remember. This dry Chablis had a ton of minerality on the nose and palate, with light fresh lemon and toasted oak flavors. An astonishingly beautiful wine that opened up even more beautifully after three hours decanted. I long to taste this wine again, in the perfect environment and perfect company... 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Corton: New York

Date:  samedi 28 mai 2011
Location:  239 West Broadway
New York, NY  10013
Tel:  +1 212 219 2777

I guess, eating around the world with a critical approach has its positives and negatives.  Constantly on the search for that next best, or similar experience.  For this long holiday weekend in NYC, I was looking forward to a great meal after a solid month of non-stop carbon jet footprinting.  The month had started in London, onward for two weeks in Milan, a quick hop through Paris, then back stateside to NY... SF, and finally a weekend to rest once more in New York.  Mind boggling.  A great meal and some amazing wine was well deserved. 

Resting in NY this weekend, I was able to secure a last minute reservation at Corton, a Michelin 2 Star in the Tribeca neighborhood.  With a name like that, I knew the wine list would whet my burghound palatte.  After having some great meals in the aforementioned cities in quick sucession, with high hopes I was expecting a grand experience in New York.

The high of the evening was choosing my wine.  There was a nice list of solid whites that immediately caught my eye.  Our gracious Sommelier, Hiromi from Japan, connected with me (love when that happens!) and helped me narrow down my choices.  I noticed she also had her Master Court of Sommelier Certified Level pin on her collar - ah, a fellow mate!  So, we started to speak the same language.   I was wavering between a Grand Cru Chablis (which I adore) and the usual white burgundy1et Cru or Grand Cru Montrachets.  I've been a fan of Chablis for many years now, known for its bone dry and lively yet lightly fruity and refreshing acidity characterisitics.  Chablis certainly its weight when it comes to representing the Chardonnay grape.  Somehow, my instincts told me to choose the Grand Cru Batard-Montrachet this evening knowing it would be softer than the Chablis, since I did not know how the dinner would pair with such a mineral driven, dry, Grand Cru Chablis.

I was to choose the Grand Cru 1999 Bienvenues Batard Montrachet Domaine Marc Colin.  I was so excited when Hiromi brought this bottle over to our table, as was she.  When she poured the first tasting into my glass, she stepped away and said to us "She needs to concentrate" - remarking on my need for a bit of focussed attention between me and my wine.  She was right.  When it comes to tasting my wines, I need to take a moment in silence to reflect on what my sensories are experiencing in sight, nose, and taste. 

And so there I was, with my very pretty, yellow glass of Grand Cru Chardonnay.  The nose - typical old world Chardonnay with steely minerality of limestone, was tight and needed decanting.  I was very excited to see how this wine would open up through the course of the evening.  Somehow, instead of carrying its weight across beautifully (as I expect of all Grand Crus), this one fell in structure somewhat, and that remarkably oiliness that initially lingered on my palate also fell thin.  It still gave a strong nose, though a bit less complex than within that first hour.  Still though, a pretty wine.

The rest of our dinner experience did not stand up to our beautiful Chardonnay...  which was a pity as I was expecting the same kind of pomp and circumstance to celebrate my wine.  I guess, one of the downsides of eating around the world is that it has led me to grow accustomed to the precise, prim and proper yet effortlessly graceful service of Michelin style restaurants in Paris.  I could not escape the fact that I was dining at a quote unquote "star" restaurant in a New York City minute - since I was constantly reminded of that whenever the servers interrupted us while my guest and I were mid-conversation.

I would like to take note however, that Corton's Foie Gras is just beautiful.  It is prepared with a beet borscht gelee, mustard apple, and black olive.  They served the foie gras in round mini-sphere like shapes, encased in a thin, beet shell.  It was truly an art piece, ready to be eaten!  I always order foie gras on any menu that I see, and this was certainly no exception.  I am glad I did so, and highly recommend this dish if ever you should visit.
Overall, food was good but I will not likely return.  Michelin's in Paris are operating at an entirely different level than the muted shimmer of a star in the US... I will save my hopes for that level of cooking and experience in Paris, je t'aime.

Beautiful foie gras.

Friday, May 27, 2011

2007 Domaine Bernard Ange Crozes-Hermitage

Date Tasted:  jeudi 26 mai 2011
Location:  New York

"Northern Rhone to the rescue" quotes my similar palated friend upon reading my blog.  100% Syrah and opens with LOADS of complexity and character!  A great bargain for the price conscious - and I love the fact that this wine still has my brain thinking on it the next day.  I am a big fan of Crozes Hermitage Appellation of the Northern Rhone, and usually these wines are also very affordable. 

The first time I took the nose on a Crozes Hermitage (blind) - my senses immediately woke up.  I still remember that summer day, two days of intense blind wine tasting over 22 wines in very quick succession with 6 Master Sommeliers as my mentors.  Wow, what was this???  Intense dark berries, smoky (I almost want to say inky), extremely round fragrance that reached into the backs of my nose and eyes, if I can describe it that way!  And my first taste - incredible.  The best way I can describe the taste of this wine, as I dared think in that class full of 100 other blind tasters, is that it is similar to chewing on a big, red, juice, rare roast beef steak with fresh cracked Tellicherry peppercorns!  However do not mistake - this wine is not your super fruit forward California style Syrah that punches you in the mouth and leaves little on the last to remember.  This is a French Syrah - smooth and velvety, opening up with sophisticated layers of typical French style complexity with a very long, elegant last.  Juicy, spicy, violet, black wild berries. 
Thank you Peripherique and Jesse B, for making this splendid recommendation.  My palate has been tantalized once again.

I plan on trying the 2009 Domaine Combier Crozes Hermitage next!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A16: San Francisco

Date:  samedi 2 avril 2010
Location:  2355 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 
Tel:  +1 415 771 2216

Italian in San Francisco.  Spent quite a bit of time in Italy the past 6 months (two visits) - so I guess, my palate knows the rustic Italian fare.  A16 was "good" but... frankly I was expecting a bit more considering so many people had raved about it.  Wine list was indeed very good for the affordable price point, as was the wine service.