October 30, 2008

Harlan on top

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We had another MNSC gathering tonight, held at Tuscany by H. I haven't dined here since Harlan Goldstein became the chef here after some shuffling among the group of restaurants that bear his name, but I'm happy to report that the concensus among MNSC members is that the man is back!

It was a pretty awesome meal. We started with a plate of antipasto, with a huge chunk of very soft and yummy buffalo mozzarella on top of a slice of tomato, some sweet Italian sausage, and parma ham with melon. Everything was simple yet delicious.

Next up was a bowl of pasta with wild boar ragout. This was simply awesome as I love wild boar ragout. Harlan also added little chunks of pancetta to give it added texture, which was a very nice touch. I think most of us inhaled or wolfed down the pasta in no time.

We also really enjoyed the ocean trout with hazelnut crust and caramalized onions. It's easy to mistake the trout for salmon due to the appearance and the texture. The trout today was oh-so-tender and melts in your mouth.

I was very, very full by this point, and so could not finish the lamb chops I asked for. The meat was soft, tender and juicy - done perfectly. The black truffle mash was amazing - for a guy who doesn't eat mashed potatos, I found myself scooping it up again and again because I couldn't resist the perfume of the black truffles. My only gripe (if I am allowed one) is that the lamb wasn't smelly enough... I love the distinctive flavor of the lamb fat, and this was the "sanitized" version which appeals to a wider audience. I guess I have to go back to areas populated by Muslims to get the yummy lamb I want...

I finished with a bowl of pistachio and latte gelato. The gelato was light and airy, and worked well with some fruit topping. A perfect way to end the meal.

Now onto the wines served blind by our host:

2003 Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne - very smoky and lots of toasty oak, tons of minerals and petrol over ripe fruit. Initially the wine tasted flat on the palate, but the sweetness came out later and this grew into a wonderful wine. The toasty oak is still a bit heavy given the young age of the wine, but I am sure this would be a beautiful wine in another 10 years.

1999 Shafer Hillside Select - lots of concentration here with sweet fruit and a classic Californian nose. Tannins very firm. My style of wine but a little too young. 96 pts.

1999 Dalla Valle Maya - nose was initially a little funky and stewed, with orange marmalade and a bit of smoke, somewhat rustic. Tannins were firm, but there was also a lot of sediment floating in the wine. 94 pts.

1998 Ornellaia - smoky nose with good amount of sweet grass and also grilled meats. 95 pts.

1998 Solaia - minty with a bit of smoke. Silky tannins. 94 pts.

1990 Angelus - very smoky with brett, a bit of sweet fruit and coffee in the nose. A delicious wine and a classic Bordeaux. 96 pts.

1990 Palmer - classic brett and smoky nose of a Bordeaux, with a bit of sweetness and orange, coffee grounds and sous bois. 96 pts.

We finally ended the evening almost 4 hours after we began, and I was once again both stuffed and inebriated. Looking forward to another 3 tastings in December!

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