Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mock Turtle's Birthday Dinner

I don’t usually write restaurant reviews – and well, this isn’t so much a restaurant review, although Mock Turtle’s Birthday Dinner did occur in a very enjoyable restaurant.  It’s really more a tale of a fabulous wine and some interesting wine pairings.  It all happened in December, in celebration of Mock Turtle’s Birthday, at Garcon! in San Francisco
MT brought along her bottle of Artiste Winery’s Reflection – an amazing blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah which they bottled in 2007.  MT and I visited the Santa Ynez Artiste Impressionistic Winery and Tasting Studio during our annual New Year’s wine trip which rang in the year of 2008.  During that visit, we enjoyed a number of Artiste’s delicious wines, but were particularly enamored of the Reflection bottling, which turned out to be the standout wine of that trip.  It was a stunner of a wine to bring to the Birthday Dinner, and we were excited to see how it would pair with our dishes.

The wine was tight at first, but softened and improved over the course of the meal.  It had notes of big red currant and black pepper, perhaps a hint of cranberry in the finish, and a lovely texture.  It paired beautifully with MT’s French Onion Soup Gratinee – the wine and soup each improved with the pairing.  Meanwhile, my Lychee Martini actually paired pretty nicely with my Beet Carpaccio Salad with goat cheese and fennel relish. 

This salad had delightfully fresh flavors, not too tart, perfectly dressed and balanced.  We also decided that the salad would be wonderful with a Pinot Blanc, or perhaps a Sancerre.  Our waiter, Josh, brought us a taste of the 2008 Domaine Auchere Sancerre to test this theory.  We enjoyed the Sancerre – it had honey in the nose, a round mouth feel and notes of pear and Meyer lemon. 
MT ordered the Chef's Menu salmon on a mushroom duxelle with truffle oil, served with pearl onions and Brussels sprouts.  It was amazing how well this dish paired with the Reflection.  The dish softened the wine so much, it was like a pillow in the mouth, and brought out notes of cocoa.  Delicious!

The wine paired reasonably well with my outstanding Coq au Vin.  This dish was a true taste treat, the chicken and vegetables melt-in-your-mouth tender, the sauce thick and rich.  I adored it so much that I vowed to make Coq au Vin my next recipe test.  We thought it would pair a bit better with a cabernet franc or Bordeaux blend.

The meal was capped with a lovely Crème Brûlée, silky smooth, swimming in vanilla, the caramel topping perfectly crunchy.  In yet another gesture of generosity, Josh brought us samples of a wonderful Muscat which was perfect with the brûlée – very floral, imbued with orange blossoms.

We went home full and happy, having enjoyed a wonderful wine and food, as well as superb service from Josh at Garcon!, and grateful to have shared birthday wishes and great friendship.
Visit Artiste if you can!  Go to Garcon!  And feel free to send me your favorite Coq au Vin recipes – I promise to try them!


Mock Turtle said...

Wonderful post! And thanks for a wonderful birthday dinner!


GourmetGal said...

Food looks great, I am hungry now....