April 5, 2021

97 in the hood

Pin It

DaRC and I have been planning a tasting of 1997 Napa cabs since last year, and now that the situation with the pandemic has stabilized somewhat, we figured this was a good time to finally get it done.  The Man in White T-shirt has always taken good care of us, so we decided to do this at Neighborhood, with the added benefit of sharing the wines with the boss.

As usual I had no idea what was coming our way, but secretly hoped that a couple of dishes I had seen on social media would be coming our way...

Chicken liver mousse with black truffle - always happy to start with a little liver mousse, and the black truffle chiffonade on top makes it even better.

Of course this was meant to be taken with some sourdough bread, and once I started, I had a tough time stopping myself from digging into the cup for more.  And that meant chomping on more bread, which is generally not a good idea when there's a ton of food coming your way...

Fried Hokkaido sweet shrimps - at these with the shells on, and even the heads, too.  Surprisingly, even Sankala liked the heads... and the only other time she's ever enjoyed prawn heads was at Baan Ice a few years ago.

Mochida Farm fruit tomato / Amela tomato / strawberries / basil flowers - the tomatoes from Mochida Farms (持田農園) came in slices while the Amela tomatoes (アメーラトマト) were served as wedges. Both tomatoes were ripe and sweet, as were the strawberries. The acidity from the vinaigrette balanced the sweetness very nicely, finely diced marinated onions added some crunch, and basil flowers added aromatics.  Variations of this tomato / strawberry dish over the years have always been nice and refreshing.

Smoked sakura trout - the cherry salmon (桜鱒) had been smoked and confit in pork fat, and made into a roulade wrapped with its skin.

This was then topped with kaluga caviar from Nomad.  I could taste the smoky flavors of the fish, and it was certainly very tender.  The fish eggs seemed to work very well with the cherry salmon.

Abalone à la bourguignon - we've seen the familiar sauce drenched over ingredients such as pigeon eggs, babylonia, etc...  But this was the first time I've had it with South African abalone.  Gotta say that I really dug it.  The abalone was tender enough but retained a good amount of bite.  Would love to have this again.

Roast beef marrow / veal tail / "N25 schrencki sturgeon caviar - bone marrow and caviar is, by now, a staple on the menu here.  Tonight, though, there was also some meat from a veal's tail in the mix.  

OF COURSE this needed to be taken with some bread.  And yes, it was FUCKING GOOD.

Beef brisket / sansho flowers - I've seen people post about the beef brisket in clear broth (清湯腩) here, and I'm so happy to have gotten a bowl of it for myself.  There was some debate whether there were two different types of skirt steak here - with 蝴蝶腩 and 崩沙腩 - but whatever.  They were both tender and delicious.  Looooove that beefy flavor.  The icing on the cake were the generous use of sansho flowers (花山椒), which worked so, so well here.  I really, really wanted a second bowl.

Spring lamb / asparagus / ramps / garlic - surprisingly, this was our only "main course".  But man!  This was so, sooooo tasty.  The Provençal green asparagus were pretty big, but the white asparagus from Landes were pretty damn thick and still tender.  The morels, ramps, and whole roasted garlic were nice.

But this was some amazing spring lamb from Pays Basque!  The ribs, of course, were fatty and tender.  But the shoulder was absolutely beautiful, as it was fatty and very, very lamby.  And I loooooove that lamby taste.  This was the kind of lamb I live for.

Canelés - I skipped the desserts since I knew we had canelés coming our way, but what the hell happened here?!  Only one of these turned out "normal", and at least one of these looked like Mini-Me.  Thankfully the cat anus still tasted pretty good.

Tonight was, of course, all about the wines. We ended up with 8 different Napa cabs, with a dessert wine thrown in at the end.

2012 Franck Bonville Les Belles Voyes, dégorgée en octobre 2019 - smooth and easy to drink.

First pair: decanted more than 4 hours after opening, and served 15 minutes after decanting.

1997 Barnett Cabernet Sauvignon Peacock Family Vineyard - minty, fruity, rich on the palate.

1997 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Selection - initially a little more closed, more barnyard, smoky, leather, pungent.

Second pair: decanted more than 4 hours after opening, and served 45 minutes after decanting.

1997 Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard - surprisingly concentrated, some oak, smoke, and black fruits. More elegant and very well-integrated. After 1½ hours in decanter this was really lovely. About my favorite wine tonight.

1997 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - smoky, more concentrated, the fruit was still going strong, and the tannins were still here.

Third pair: served more than 2 hours after decanting.

1997 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 4 - initially more muted, more balanced, with a little less fruit.

1997 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 - minty, smoky, leaner. Later on more fruit, almost a hint of savory notes. Ripe and almost jammy towards the end.

Fourth pair: served more than 2½ hours after decanting.

1997 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23 - nicely balanced, a little smoke, a bit of leather, and still got good concentration. Just about my favorite wine tonight.

1997 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Blend - some smoke, a little riper, and definitely sweet on the palate.

1997 Philip Togni Ca' Togni, from half-bottle - lychee, floral, a little dried longan. Very sweet on the palate.

A very, very happy evening. It's not easy to put together a tasting like this, some 24 years after the vintage - especially in the pandemic era where social distancing must be observed. Many thanks to The Man in White T-shirt, Shirley and the team, and of course DaRC for putting this together in the first place.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map