Saturday, May 10, 2008

Most Excellent

Friends were in town from Illinois for the weekend, arriving Friday evening. It's an annual event on this weekend in May and we do have a great time.

We started with a great rose' champagne. The wine was a Lombard & Cie brut from Epernay. Beautiful salmon color, nice tight beads with a lot of fruit and yeast in the nose. Strawberries and some tart cherries were the predominant taste and the finish was crisp, flavorful and refreshing. It's exactly what a rose champagne should be.

There were assorted snacks to go with the wine, but the big hit was a bowl of very lightly buttered popcorn sprinkled with black truffle salt. The earthiness in the truffle salt and the fruit in the champagne just totally complimented each other. It was jokingly referred to as the ultimate San Francisco hors d'ouevre since a mutual friend from the bay area informed us that it was quite popular. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

For the main course we ground black, white, green and Szchecuan peppercorns in a grinder with a little salt and rubbed it into both sides of a flat iron steak. It marinated, wrapped tightly in the refrigerator, for 24 hours, and was grilled quickly over a hot fire on the barbecue. It was sliced thinly and served simply with the accumulated juices.

With that was a room temperature pasta dish of asparagus, fettucine, and fire roasted red peppers served with an anchovy, grainy mustard and olive oil dressing.

My friends brought the dinner wine, a 1999 Mazzocco Matrix from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley. The wine is blend of 64% cabernet sauvignon, 18% malbec, 13% merlot and 5% petit verdot. A nose of deep fruit, currants and dark cherries was matched by a full body. The acid levels were good, as were the tannins. A nice long, wonderfully smooth finish was a perfect ending. The wine was totally balanced, fully mature and a delight to drink. 13.5% alcohol.

We finished off the evening with a sampler of two gelatos, hazelnut and chocolate with orange. A small cup of freshly brewed coffee made for the perfect accompaniment.

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