The dinner was progressing to the fourth course, and the Maitre’ D stopped by and we started to have a discussion about Foie Gras and wine. Since he felt that Foie Gras began in Bordeaux, he really entertained that he thought that it should be paired with Sauternes and since I have had chats with other wine lovers and that seemed to be a universal theme we decided to order a couple of glasses of Sauternes with our ensuing course. We were going to have Foie Gras Ravioli with Black Truffle, Onion Spuma, Watercress and a Black Truffle Macaroon. Most of this dish is rather self explanatory, except for the dollop of Onion Spuma, which is made from rendered lard seasoned with onion and salt, hence it is very soft and creamy, and I found it to be on the sweet side and a unique taste mingled with the Foie Gras.
Chateau Partarrieu Sauternes 2011 was the wine that was suggested with this course and it was probably the youngest Sauternes that I have ever tasted, so it did not have all of the nuances that I normally get, but I think it was because of its youth. Sauternes is foremost made from the Semillon grape, but there can also be Sauvignon Blanc, and sometimes complimented with Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris. The wine tends to be more amber in color and tends to get darker as it matures in the bottle, and it also tends to be a very long lived wine and it is because of the Botrytis or “Noble Rot” that is what the vineyards wait to attack the grapes before harvest. Sauternes is one of the most expensive wines to produce because the vineyards gamble on leaving the over ripe grapes for an extended time for the Botrytis to attack the grapes, then they must have skilled pickers who will make multiple passes in the vineyard looking only for the grapes that have been attacked by the Botrytis, and then the wine is aged in oak barriques from between eighteen and thirty-six months. Sometimes the Botrytis is not obliging and just recently Chateau d’Yquem did not issue a 2012 vintage.
We finally came to the final entrée for the evening. Joseph Decuis Farm Wagyu Beef with Rotisserie Sweet Onion, Salt Baked Sugar Beet and Carrot Bordelaise. Wagyu Beef if you haven’t heard or tried it, refers to several breeds of cattle from Japan that are naturally predisposed for intense marbling and producing a high percentage of unsaturated fat. In Japan the beef is referred by the area that it comes from, like Kobe or Sanda. In the United States the Wagyu cattle were bred with Angus cattle, and some of the ranches have become famous for their husbandry, as in the Joseph Decuis Farm in Indiana. Even the lesser cuts of beef are exceptional in the hands of a Master Chef, and the meat is always considered above the grade of Prime. For our dessert as if we needed it, with our coffee we had house made Cinnamon Stick ice cream in a Chocolate Soup.
Our final bottle of wine with this meal was Domaine Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf du Pape 2011. The area is called this because it was the “New Castle of the Pope” in Avignone in the Fourteenth Century, and it is one of the oldest appellations in France. This famed wine from the Rhone Valley is made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah varietals. This area is known as the driest area of the Rhone, and in extreme cases, the wineries must ask for special permission from the French Government to water the vines. As I have a natural fondness for Rhone wines, a Chateauneuf du Pape holds even a higher degree to me, as I always find it to offer more richness to the glass. After all the wining and dining my Bride was satisfied that she had given me a fine Birthday present and before we left, the Maitre’ D offered to take us into the wine cellar and take our picture for posterity. Now all I have to do is figure out, how to have a birthday once a month, to have a dinner like this monthly, of course when my Bride reads this, she will give me “hell.” Thank you my dear, for a wonderful gift and memory.