May 6, 2011

Cheese, lard(o) and cream

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My original dinner plans for tonight were ruined - by myself - since I had burned my oxtail stew.  I was pondering what to do about dinner when the Specialist asked me if I wanted to join her for dinner.  They had been trying to book a last-minute table without much success when I suggested that we should go to Cipriani.  My last visit was more than 6 months ago, and it seemed to be the perfect solution for us.

I was looking at the menu when I saw a familiar item - tiger prawns wrapped in lardo di Collonata.  Show me lardo on any menu, and I'll make a beeline for that particular item.  These were really good... big, juicy prawns in a layer of crispy pork fat.  Perfect.

This creature of habit decided to go for his usual dish of baked green tagliolini with veal ragu.  Well, normally I'd order the version with ham, but I thought I'd try out the veal ragu tonight.  Loads of stringy, delicious cheese covered the plate, and it was so much fun twirling it with the pasta!  The ragu was good and a nice change of texture.

Having had some rich dishes, we decided to share a slice each of the sabayon cake and the vanilla cream cake.  Both are favorites of mine, and both were delish.

But let's not forget the booze!  There's always plenty of wine whenever I'm around the Specialist, and tonight was no exception.

1996 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame - this pretty bottle bears the touch of Emilio Pucci, with the signature pattern trim around the label as well as the box.  Salty and plummy nose, caramelized, ripe and sweet.  From the nose I would have guessed the wine comes from an older vintage.  Ripe and slightly bitter on the palate.

2003 Domenico Clerico Barolo Percristina - this was a tough one.  The Specialist had opened it in the office, knowing that it would take a while to open up, but it wasn't quite enough.  It needed to be chilled to rein in the 14.5% alcohol.  As the Specialist put it "Cristina was too hot".  Nose was alcoholic with notes of forest, sweetness, vanilla, a hint of pepper and star anise.  Still pretty tannic.

2001 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso Ca' del Merlo - I knew this would take a long time to open up, so I decanted it in the office 2 hours before dinner started... and it helped tremendously.  Minty, fruity, forest, a little smoky and medicinal.  Later on it smelled a little like cough syrup, with sweetness and vanilla coming out 5 hours after opening.  Reasonably good to drink.

I was pretty happy at the end of the evening, having forgotten all about my original dinner plans...

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