Sunday, December 23, 2012

McCrossen's 'All Things Sparkling'

Between work getting busy and my increased time spent in the country, it has been a while since I partook in one of McCrossen's wine/cheese/food events. LW asked me if I wanted to go to one a few weeks back and I steadfastly said no, mainly due to funds and a need for some R&R at home. But as the days went by and suddenly the event was at hand, LW asked me again. The menu for the event had also been posted to the restaurant's Facebook page, and unfortunately for me it was very promising. All sparkling wines? Those are so often my favorites! Delice de Bourgogne and Taleggio as some of the cheeses? Ditto! So while rest and a bigger bank account would have been nice, I accompanied LW to McCrossen's for an evening of tasty treats. We met up with two others, one a cheese/wine/food vet, the other purportedly a big fan of cheese, though  not so big a fan that she had ever tried goat cheese. Our welcoming wine was a Spanish Cava Rosé, Conde de Subirats. Frankly I don't think I disliked any of the wines but this was a nice start. The first full round started with Riesling/Chardonnay "Brut" from Brazil, which I recall being a bit dry but in the best way? With that we tried a Nettle Meadows Kunik cheese from New York, which was a mix of goat and cow milk and oh so creamy.
And then there was this. They went hard with the food this time around. I told T. later that I felt like a few of the past events that I had attended served wonderful dishes, though it seemed like some of them were reiterations of similar plates from previous pairing nights. This particular night it seemed like he and his wunderstaff had found a little new passion/were rejuiced creatively (which is a term people use all the time). So. Maine lobster risotto with lime zest, shellfish emulsion and black truffles. Y'all. Come on. Do I need to tell you that the creaminess of the risotto matched with succulent bites of lobster and complemented overall with that rich emulsion was just outstanding? Do I? Well. I just did.
And it kept coming. I believe this was my actual fave sparkling of the night: Cremant de Loire, Baumard, NV, from the Loire Valley area. Paired with Taleggio, which is a cheese that will never steer you wrong.
And then there was the oyster-leek chowder with pont neuf and paddlefish caviar. I had to look up pont neuf. It basically means pomme frite, only  suggests a thicker cut fry. You're welcome. So this here chowder. We all commented on its richness. There is no doubt that heavy cream played a big part in its overall luxury, but there was depth to the flavor. Heavy cream used with a heavy hand but no especially creative mind will just be fatty. Yes, it will taste good but it won't be all that special. This, on the other hand, had the oyster/leek element going on. Leeks. When I was a kid, we'd go to a family friend's for Thanksgiving. I feel like my mother or the hostess would often make leeks, usually baked with cheese or cream of some kind. But as a kid I didn't get it. I didn't even try them. I stuck to creating mashed potato mountains with secret reserves of gravy hidden beneath their peaks. I've lately been ruminating on leeks, and their specific taste and just how unlike any other of their onion cousins they are. All to say, yummy. The fried oyster was so great I exhibited significant self-control when it came to not devouring it in one bite. And the 'pont neuf' was a nice touch too.
This is LW turning her eyes to the heavens in appreciation for the meal she had already begun to receive.
And here is the Coach Farms Peppercorn Brick goat's cheese. I liked the addition of the peppercorns, which certainly added a bit more of a kick to the whole shebang.
With the goat's cheese we enjoyed Brut Rosé "Timido," Scarpetta from Italy. It was a very pretty wine and perhaps my second favorite.
The hits kept coming with the food. Here you'll see crisp pork belly with quince mostarda and rose-vadouvan. Words I also had to look up. I'm not as big a fan of quince as some. My feeling towards them is similar to my feelings on figs. I understand that there is hype and but I don't 100% buy it. That personal preference aside, damn, look at that fatty tasty piece of pork won't you? A little unwieldy when it came to eating (the crisp part was hard to cut) but that only made the pay off more worth the while.

Final glass was Champagne "Cuvee Sainte, Anne Brut," Chartogne Taillet. Actually maybe this was my favorite. Ha. So basically they all were. The cheese with this was the above Delice de Bourgogne, which I think I first found and enjoyed back in my Chicago days.
Our last dish was roasted monkfish with snapper saupiquet and marjoram. Snapper in this instance, unless I totally misunderstood, was turtle. While my faves were - unsurprisingly - the dishes featuring heavy cream, lobster, truffles and oysters, this little plate was a delicate reminder that you don't always need loads of fat to make something delightful to the tongue.
Another great event that introduced me to new wines, gave me the change to reacquaint myself with a few of my favorite cheeses, and gave me a renewed appreciation for the collective creativity of McCrossen's kitchen.

1 comment:

nc catherine said...

So cool about Taleggio, since we had some here. Would have loved the Cremant de (I forgot), but the Moet bubbly was good. And I was happy that you and I shared the lion's share!

What a lovely combination of cheeses and wines you had on your Sparkling Extravaganza!