Last night, Neal and I attended a very nice wine dinner at Roy's at Harbor East, an outpost of Roy Yamaguchi's eponymous Hawaiian-fusion restaurants.
Robert Kacher, an importer of French wines, worked with chef Ray (I didn't catch his last name) to put together a lovely selection of dishes and wines.
The dinner was held in the back room, with guests seated at communal tables for 12. We had an odd assortment of people at our table, including a couple with extensive tattoos and odd piercings, their friends who arrived half an hour late and still expected to sit at our table despite it being full (one couple left and joined another table), and a couple in which the female partner obviously had issues with certain types of food and should have been left home with a hamburger and Coke.
We started the dinner with an aperitif glass of Sauvignon Blanc and Roy's warm sourdough rolls. I was famished, and the wine went straight to my head.
The first course soon came. It consisted of:
Citrus Butter Poached Maine Lobster
Green Papaya Salad & Summer Truffles
and was served with
Chateau Puy-Servain, Huat-Montravel, Cuvee Marjolaine, 2003
I was looking forward to trying butter-poached lobster, and this was surprisingly more citrusy than buttery. The green papaya salad could have used more aggressive seasoning, as the tiny slivers of red onion pretty much overpowered the flavor. The "summer truffles" were infused into a quenelle of a creamy substance (was it creme fraiche? farmer's cheese? mascarpone? all of the above?) and perfumed the entire room. The wine was light and refreshing and made an appropriate accompaniment.
The second course:
Pan Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast
Thai Chili Spiced Pomegranate Jam & Foie Gras
Andre Brunel Chateauneuf du Pape 2003
The foie gras was crusted with panko crumbs and served crusty on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. It was topped with slices of extremely rare duck breast and a large dollop of very spicy pomegranate jam flavored with star anise. I could have eaten more of the foie - yummy! But instead, I had two glasses of the Chateauneuf du Pape. It was a rather light red, somewhat like a pinot noir.
The woman across the table from me too a bite or two then proclaimed that she could not eat the dish because it reminded her of the ducks near her home, "and of Donald." She complained so vociferously, I couldn't help myself. I leaned forward and said in a stage whisper to her husband, "if she can't bear to eat Donald, she's really going to hate eating Bambi!" She heard, as was intended, and looked distraught.
"Shhhh!" the husband admonished, "I had her convinced that 'venison' was another word for 'baby.' She'll eat lamb."
Personally, I'd be worried if using a euphemism for "baby" would entice my spouse into eating something.
The third course:
Tomato Molasses Barbequed Sika Venison Lamb Chops
Porcini Mushroom Polenta Frittes & Baby Pepper Confit
Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas 2003
And there you see the confusion with venison and "lamb chops." The venison chop indeed resembled a lamb chop, replete with large frenched bone attached. It was sliced and served on a pool of sauce that tasted not of tomato nor molasses but was reminiscent of a cherry- or plum-based fruit sauce. The "frittes" were astonishingly delicious. They resembled cubes of brownies, dark brown and crusty, but they were actually porcini-flavored cornmeal, fried to a crispy finish.
Ms. Baby-Eater took two bites and then complained, "it tastes like dirt!" It most certainly did not - the venison was extremely lean and not at all gamey. Pork and beef have far stronger flavors than this delicate meat. Ms. B-E was looking forward to dessert, however, as it was cheesecake. I couldn't wait until she found out it was goat cheesecake.
Chevre Cheese Cake in a Cocoa-Nib Florentine Cup
Port Poached Pears & Black Pepper Sabayon
Domaine Beaumalaric Muscat Beaumes-des-Venise, 2004
I love florentine cookies, but was afraid the bitter cocoa nibs would be too harsh a flavor. I was wrong - the cookies were buttery and flecked with chocolatey bits and slivered almonds. The cheesecake was a small thimble-shaped timbale of the dry and crumbly cheesecake variety, and nicely goaty. The poached pear slices topped with a spoonful of sabayon was a sweeter addition to the variety of flavors on the dish. And I loved the Muscat - it was extremely fruity and had a crisp quality, not at all like the honeyed muscats I've had in the past, and very sweet. It was not unlike a Brachetto d'Acqui in flavor, but, of course, without the effervescence and pink tint.
We were handed a price list for the wines, should we want to purchase any from the one local retail outlet that carried them. Honestly, apart from the Muscat, I wasn't entirely impressed with the wines. They were not mind-blowing, although they did pair well with the food. In this case, however, I think "pairing well" mostly means that they did not interfere with the dishes; they certainly did not *add* anything.
The price for this adventure was a very reasonable $75 per person. I think it would be great fun to do this sort of thing with a group of friends - provide they arrive on time.
Gee, do I even know anyone who has any sense of time? :::pondering::::