December 17, 2012

The 4x100

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It was the end of the season, and Pineapple's turn to host the final MNSC event of the year.  As usual the fight for last place was intense, and experience tells us that anything can happen at the very end of the year.  There was a lot at stake as I headed to The Principal for dinner, and after the lesson learned from the last tasting, we had a full house present...

My first visit earlier this year made a good impression, and I was really looking forward to coming back, especially now that they've taken down a well-deserved macaron.

The snacks are always interesting, and as with last time there was some sweet popcorn, although tonight we also had sweetened deep-fried pork rinds, which I inhaled and then tried to steal from the rest of the table…  The pecans were also good.

Caviar: bacon custard, pancetta - absolutely no surprise that our host Pineapple was trying to screw with our palates.  French caviar with red wine… no doubt a match made in heaven.  This was sitting on top of bacon-flavored custard, with a piece of pork lard in the middle.  Guys, when there's no lean meat, I think it's lardo, not pancetta

Tartare: roots, pickles, mustard, brioche, sorrels - thank you, dear host, for dealing another blow to our palates.  You've got the acidity coming from the sorrel and finely diced pickles, then overloading the system with the spicy flavors of the pickles plus the pungent spiciness from the mustard sorbet.  Was it delicious?  Absolutely.  The fine balance between the sweet beet root cubes and the acidity was remarkable, and the cool temperature of the dish was very refreshing.

Truffle: beef and pork truffle pilota, consommé - not a bad meatball at all, with plenty of spicy black pepper to boot.  And a little white truffle.  Damn you, Pineapple…

Pigeon: Bresse pigeon, semolina, cacao - with this dish, all was forgiven.  O-M-G!  It's been a long, long time since I last had a pigeon this delicious.  It was perfect.  Pink and succulent, with a wonderful springy bite.  The cocoa sauce was interesting, and it worked well here.  I just might have to come back again soon just to have this…

Venison: Jerusalem artichokes, chanterelles, chestnuts, grelots - wonderfully done, in lovely pink and so tender.  Love the chestnuts and chanterelles, and the artichoke purée.

Chestnut: Araguani "rocks", chestnut purée, spiced white chocolate, apple, Jack Daniel's oak ice cream - the Valrhona Araguani was pretty tasty, although I honestly thought the ice cream was made with salted caramel… A sure sign of how inebriated I must have been…  Yum.

I guess putting pop rocks in dessert is still kinda fun for some, so I could taste the subtle reaction as the lollipop melted in my mouth…

The white truffle macaron was pretty good.

So, what did our ever-generous host have in store for us?  As it turned out, this was a theme that Dr. Poon had showed us a few years ago… Pairing 100-point Parker wines with their second labels.

1992 Moët and Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - drinking very nicely.  Nose of caramelized sugar, a little straw, mineral and custard.

First pair:
2000 Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion - opened for 3 hours and decanted just prior to serving.  Sweet, smoky, a bit metallic, pine, wood, a hint of coconut, minty.  93 points.

2000 La Mission Haut-Brion - opened and decanted for 3 hours.  Sweeter than the Chapelle, with mineral and dried herbs.  94 points.

Second pair:
1996 Carruades de Lafite - opened for 4 hours and decanted just prior to serving.  Smoky, grassy, toasty, chalky and black pepper.  94 points.

1996 Lafite-Rothschild - opened and decanted for 3 hours.  Pimento, bell peppers, a bit ripe on the nose, a little dusty later, with savory minerals.  96 points.

Third pair:
1990 Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux - opened for 3½ hours and decanted just prior to serving.  Savory minerals, a little gamey, really grassy, smoky, vegetal, green pepper.  98 points.

1990 Margaux - opened and decanted for 3½ hours.  Really salty, soy sauce, black olives, served really cold and warmed up in glass.  A bit of leather, and a little sweet.  96 points.

Fourth pair:
1982 Les Forts de Latour - opened for 3½ hours and decanted just prior to serving.  Really ripe, smoky, brett, mineral, pencil lead.  Lovely.  95 points.

1982 Latour - opened for 3½ hours and decanted just prior to serving.  A bit smoky, pencil lead.  94 points.

There was one final bottle for us to taste, which was a bonus.  1966 Lafite-Rothschild was a bit ripe and oxidized, with savory nori seaweed.

What a way to spend an evening!  Great food, and awesome wines.  A very nice way to close out the year… and I'm pretty I managed to dodge a bullet, too…

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