Tuesday, March 17, 2009

chewing on chanters with mugsy and the millman

~ how we celebrated Friday the Thirstteenth ~

about as lovely as a lazy lunch can be...

me and Bob Millman at Chanterelle—two wines times three hours equals six courses—

while time hung suspended outside the elegantly understated room in Harrison Street.

creative and engaging cookery—
'twas the perfect place to showcase a couple special bottles whose number was up:

2001 Randersackerer Marsberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Schmitts Kinder

1993 Musigny Vieilles Vignes, Comte Georges de Vogüé

devilled quail eggs
poached Blue Island oysters with spinach in curry cream
seafood sausage
sweetbreads with carmelised leek and orange, framed in bok choy, with a little potato gratin as an afterthink
kumquat mascarpone torte with mandarin sorbet

the quail eggs were pretty and dainty...

the oysters were ideally prepared, perfectly poached, and the only problem was that there were five of them and two of us...
Bob being the instigator of this particular foolishness—as well as age-before-beauty—earned him title to the odd bivalve.

the elegant choice of two butters—du maison, with- and without sea-salt—was welcome, and the service was attentive and unobtrusive.

*  I don't think I've ever dined or lunched at Chanterelle without ordering the seafood sausage *
...the importance of detail in unfussy fine cooking—the impact of the pignole tucked away among the various textures within the skin...
...the soft depth and slight tang of the sauce—

Bob had the forethought to phone ahead and order sweetbreads off the dinner menu—an excellent anticipation.
...thoughts about the remarkable versatility of bok choy—
sweetbreads with just the right relationship of crunch to chew within the various morsels...

the cheeses were all American but spoke French well enough to be described as bien-affinés... Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Wisconsin was particularly satisfying

the mascarpone was nicely balanced in sweetness and texture, while the coffee was delicious and scalding hot.


... the Bocksbeutel looked great, sitting pertly perched on the tablecloth in this swish French joint. Franconia is not known for great riesling. It's not even known much for riesling at all, except for schwarzriesling, and that is pinot meunier... I visited at Schimitt's Kinder for the first time several years ago as a stopoff between my plane landing in Munich and my destination in the Pfalz. And I was immediately taken with the quality of the riesling, particularly from the Marsberg, a limestony site on the Main river. On this occasion the Randersackerer sacked every Rander in its path, all the way from the first thirst to the last swipe of the sausage sauce on sourdough. It had grown a nice medium gold colour, bright acid into a tart finish, nice pearsy apple aromas and flavours that grew increasingly citric as the afternoon went on. The texture showed itself only a touch sharp at the first pass, but then grew increasingly rich and creamy—and in company of the brown sauce around the seafood sausage, the fruit took on an enhanced sweetness, even as some of the 13.5% alcohol showed as well.
This is very fine riesling. Is it as great as a Spätlese from a top address in the Rheingau or Mosel? Not really, no. But it had a nice heft and a rustic charm to it that was quite pleasing.

and our other bottle was a Côte de Nuits red Burgundy that's pretty hard to beat. Big wine. “Enough tannin for nebbiolo,” Bob said early-on. If I wished to be a great compiler of tasting notes, I could follow Bob around and write down everything he says like a modern-day Boswell.
Great producer in a big vintage. Yes, the 1955 was better. So was the 1962. Did it matter? No. This was one of two bottles I bought across the street at Tribeca Wine Merchants, some five years ago. I drank one as soon as possible with Peter Ross and his wife and my friend Laila—which was mostly protesting we were drinking it, only showing its true colours toward the very end.
Five years later, we have achieved the point where both of us were happy enough with the aroma for nearly ten minutes before we took the next step the first sip—big wine. Lovely texture, more satin than velvet, with just a bit of grit, loads of grip, beginning to show flattering secondaries, and having a long life ahead of it. Very deep in the nose, penetrating and inviting serious fruit, griottes and plums and dried blackberries, without much in the way yet of sauvage or du gibier... length and persistance a-plenty. What it did with the orange in the sweetbreads was remarkable, although perhaps something from Gevrey-Chambertin does that better...

and an email from Bob adds the following:

“...I can say that you did a fine job of describing the food and the wine. The remarkable aspect of Chanterelle is its undemonstrative committment to excellence. No ego-centric displays of attention grabbing virtuosity. In this sense Chanterelle reminds me of Lutece. Fine ingredients, perfect executions, flavors and textures that make sense, a calm, relaxing, spirit lifting environment, a peacefulness that is difficult to find in this city. A restaurant for adults who have some serious experience with food and wine going back to the 1980s. I liked the Musigny more than I expected to. It is a wine which needs 15-20 years in the bottle to shed its haughty demeanor. I would like to revisit the 1999 in 5 years”

and what do we talk about on such an elegantly misspent afternoon? what is on our minds and moves ‘round the brains of two such hardened aesthetes?

wer liebt nicht Wein, Weib und Gesang
der bleibt ein Narr, sein Leben lang ~

No comments: