March 12, 2010

The 5-year old

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I went back to Caprice tonight for another round of cheese dinner.  For two of us the evening had started earlier in my office, where we nibbled on some jamon iberico chased down by a bottle of 1998 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz.  But the focus was clearly on the remainder of the evening, where we would be introducing a new group of friends to the cheese dinner experience.

Jeremy announced that he would be changing the format of the dinner.  Instead of 2 flights of four, we would be getting 5 different flights.  I think we all looked at each other in amazement while I was secretly licking my lips in anticipation.

Flight 1:
Tomme d'Elgines - this cheese from Auvergne was served with focaccia which had black olives, tomato and Spanish ham inside.  The cheese was creamy, milky, nutty with a little acidity.  The combination with the wine pairing brought out the acidity of the wine as well as the fizziness.

2007 Albert Mann Auxerrois Vieilles Vignes - pretty sweet, ripe nose with minerals and ripe pear notes.  Also ripe on the palate.

Flight 2:
Bonde de Gâtine - acidic as well as salty on the palate, creamy in texture with full flavors.  With the wine pairing in the mouth, the strong goat cheese flavors were enhanced and ammonia developed.

Pic de Bigorre - nutty and creamy, slightly salty and acidic.  With the wine pairing the finish was a little bitter.

2005 Prager Grüner Veltliner Achleiten - nose was very floral, a little mineral, with ripeness like apples in the fall.

Pavé de la Ginestarié - runny texture, acidic on the palate. Very nice.  This one kept running to merge with the Anneau du Vic-Bihl on the plate, no matter how many times I tried to separate them with the knife.  We joked that they are an inseparable pair of lovers like 梁祝...

Anneau du Vic-Bihl - creamy and runny, slightly acidic with a bit of salt.

2007 Jacques & Nathalie Saumaize Saint-Véran La Vieilles Vignes des Crèches - made from old vines that are more than 50 years old, this was ripe on the nose of honey, marmalade and grass notes.  Sweet on the palate but a little tart with some acidity at the same time.

2007 Couly-Dutheil Les Chanteaux - this beautiful golden wine was not paired with cheese after Jeremy decided it wouldn't stand up to them, but we got a taste of it anyway.  Ripe nose with honey and orange marmalade notes.

Flight 3: a trio of Comté
We got three thin slices of Comté, each at a different stage of maturation.  After the visit by Jean-François Antony last year, Jeremy decided to switch to thin slices for old Comté.

3-year: accordingly to Jeremy this is actually 3+1.  Still has some sweetness underneath.

4-year: apparently four-and-a-half...  full-flavored now.

5-year: this was the one I've been waiting for... Jeremy's been aging this for the last year and I've been wanting a piece of this for a while.  When I arrived tonight, he actually told the staff to tell me that they had consumed the entire wheel without me... I was in shock.  Fortunately they've still got plenty.  While others feel that it's been aged for too long and is now too salty, I don't mind at all.  Yes, the salt crystals are a little heavy, but I'm happy to take more of this any day!

2000 Rolet Arbois Blanc - grassy and nutty nose, with a bit of ammonia on top of the marmalade.  Heavily oxidized nose typical of vin jaune.

Flight 4:
Munster - served with grenaille potatoes and cumin seeds.  Smoky flavors, pretty salty but really nice with the cumin.  The starch in the potatoes balanced out the salt in the cheese.

Gorgonzola - served with French pear drizzled with olive oil and sweet pimento.  Salty and rich like a blue should be.

2005 Albert Mann Pinot Gris Hengst - pretty sweet on the palate as one would expect from this wine and the ripe vintage.  Definitely honey notes in the nose.

Flight 5:
Langres - this cheese from Champagne-Ardenne was very ripe and salty.

Mont d'Or - with a generous helping of chopped black truffles on top...salty but oh-so-beautiful... Speechless.

Bleu de Termignon - I remember this cheese from a dinner last year, where I was blown away by the flavors produced by the wine pairing.  This time around, the flavors of the cheese seemed to be pretty different, as it was a little sweet and fruity on the palate.

2005 Geantet-Pansiot Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes - drinking pretty nicely, with plenty of fruit, iron and minerals.

2008 George Hansen Vineyards Pinot Noir - one of my friends really liked this wine, and why not?  It WAS drinking very, very well... Very typical Cali Pinot, with tons of sweet fruit, caramel, orange and berries.  Very small production of 999 bottles.

Finally, we get to the dessert.  Wild strawberries are in season, so we had a sampler.  There was a mound of strawberries with pastry cream and a pastry bottom...essentially a one-layer strawberry millefeuille!  Very, very nice...  Then a series of Korean strawberries with holes bored into them, and filled with sabayon.  A very nice yuzu sorbet followed, and finally a shot of strawberry consommé with berries.  What a way to finish the meal!

As usual there were a bunch of nice petits-fours.  Predictably I gobbled up (or was it inhaled?) the île flottante, and found the guava jelly especially yummy.

Many thanks to Jeremy, Benny, Sebastien and the staff at Caprice for their hospitality.

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