Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Birthday Dinner

Feel like it’s been weeks since I posted, you know aside from the pissy post about the too thick conditioner, just been really busy, wanted to spend every second I could with my sweet son, (leaving tomorrow…sigh, heartbroken) top that with the fact that my uterus has been behaving like some demonic Pez dispenser, (sorry dudes) I’ve not felt at all like posting…but there have been some amazing wines that I have been lucky enough to taste in the past few days, had to get something up....

So Saturday night I ran home from work, tossed the curlers in my hair, washed my face and slapped on a new, slightly more made up face….we were going out to celebrate Jeremy’s birthday. Back in December a few of us hit up Craft, (Tom Colicchio’s place) in Century City, and had one of the finest meals any of us had ever had, when we knew Jeremy was to be home for his birthday we knew exactly where to take the starving student to get his grub on.

“My names Ralph, I’ll be your driver this evening” nice guy Ralph, really nice but…a few tacos short of a combo plate if you know what I’m saying, that and he had slightly alarming gash on his forehead….kinda strange feeling to have the person in charge of getting you safely to your destination looking like he had recently been in some tragic accident. Head trauma might also explain why he kept getting lost…dude, GPS, look into it.


We picked up Amy, who looked like a princess, (so tiny and sweet which of course is complete bullshit, that little girl is a monster and can drink most men three times her size under the table…but she looked beautiful) and her hubby Sexy Bitch, who loaded up the limo with Gin and Bourbon. Amy had also brought a Burgundy for dinner and two bottles of Champagne for the limo…good thing since I had only brought one bottle of bubbles for the ride up, long drive from Long Beach to Century City…like 30 to 40 minutes, what would we have done without those extra bubbles…we could have perished….or been thirsty and junk. One more stop to pick up Merritt, (also brought a bottle of wine) and we were on our way to Craft.


The first bottle we opted to open in the limo was the 1999 Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs, ($74.99) that I brought. The glasses were shity but still this wine was spectacular, elegant, refined….so savory with its bread dough and toast, bright citrus on the palate with a long seashore like brininess on the long, gently floral finish. Bottle was gone way to freaking fast so we had to crack into bottle number two.

NV Gonet-Medeville Brut Tradition 1er Cru, ($41.99) took a second to adjust from the more powerful Pierre Peters but once our palates were reconciled, well….this wine was absolutely stunning! Slightly weightier on the palate and much more fruit forward, red fruit, with biscuits and cream. The acids were soft and the texture so delicate….I wish we had started with this wine and left the vintage Peters for the bounty of oysters we were to consume as a first course.

The second we walked in the restaurant two things became pretty clear, one we were going to have yet another earth shattering meal, and two, my sweet birthday boy of a son had maybe one too many Bourbon and Cokes…awesome. We were seated and proceeded to order 3 dozen oysters, cocktails and asked that they open the other bottle of wine I brought, a 1983 Raveaneau Grand Cru Blanchot Chablis, a gift from coworker Bennett….um, yeah, that was how we were rolling that evening.

After a brief walk around outside with the kid, we were back at the table with two GIANT silver platters, loaded with crushed ice and succulently, meaty bivalves, each variety, so sweet and delicate…they were gone in less than 15 minutes. Jeremy preferred the cocktail sauce for his slurping pleasure but I am wild about the mignonette at Craft, rather than shallot they load it up with fresh cracked pepper…something about the silky feeling of the oyster and the bite from the pepper, sexy as all get out.

But the Chablis, good God…..that Chablis, if I could smell or taste like anything, I would want it to be that…I was spellbound by its complexity, layers and balance between sweet and savory, a truly stunning wine to say the very least…roasted, salted caramels, freshly sweating skin and seashells…the palate was even more alluring, the weight, texture and volume on this perfectly aged wine, well it even outshone the meal for me.

For the next course, poached lobster and avocado we opened Merritt’s wine, a 2004 Cherisey Puligny-Montrachet. A much more explosive wine, nervy and positively vibrating with fresh ripe pears and nutmeg. On the palate the wine was full but more ethereal or lacy, to the others the wine may have been a bit of a letdown but I thought it beautifully refined…needs more time to put on weight and grow into its flavors but still lovely.

Now this is where the night gets a touch, “hazy” if you will, I know we had a 2000 Clos de la Roche but I cannot for the life of me remember from whom, that’s so bad….may have been the Hendrick’s Martini that created such a haze but none of really remember the red Burgundy…we were in full food geekdom, laughing, moaning, in awe of the perfectness before us, and that Burgundy could not match the food or our enthusiasm.

Best Dishes

Roasted Chicken- best any of us had ever had. Crunchy, salty skin, super moist flesh and a richness unlike anything I have had outside of France.

35 Day Dry Aged Sirloin- amazingly marbled, perfectly seasoned and cooked to a brilliant medium-rare.

Flat Iron Steak- crunchy on the outside, deep meaty, beefy flavor with a melt in your mouth texture, a favorite of the night for a few of us.

Prawns in Cucumber Vinaigrette- plump, just barely crunchy flesh, sweet almost lobster like with a vibrant lift from the freshness of the vinaigrette.

Assorted Roasted Mushroom- tender, salty, earthy and perfect.

Suckling Pig Charcuterie- rustic, luscious, crunchy bits of course salt, velvety texture, served with succulent apricots.

Diver Sea Scallops in Salted Butter- melted in our mouths and was heart pounding with the Chablis.

Lemon Artichoke Risotto- creamy, zesty, tangy and sublime.

Pureed Potatoes- almost like soup, soup that tastes of butter, cream, salt and potatoes.

Melon Sorbet- like fresh melon, just icy cold with a creamy palate coating texture.


There were other lovely things at the table but let’s face it….I was looped, this was the best my saturated mind could do! Jeremy said it was the best meal he has ever had and will remember this birthday for the rest of his life…guess it turned out being a gift for me too….


Benito said...


Wow, that looks like an incredible lineup. You may have a ton of budding wine fans asking to be adopted soon. :)

And kudos on the oysters! For some reason I have the hardest time finding people that like them. A local restaurant was doing a special--25¢/oyster. A friend of a friend that I barely knew ended up helping me consume six dozen oysters, and that was before the actual meal. Pure heaven.

Cheers, and happy birthday to the boy,

K Claret said...


Ya'll sure know how to throw a party!! I am so curious about that 83 chablis. I knew chablis could age but damn 26 years! I was totally jealous about the oysters! When I was in Napa in June I ate at Go fish in st helena and had some rocking pacific sweetwaters from hog island. Happy you had such a good time!


Samantha Dugan said...

Twas an incredible evening, cannot say enough about Craft and the wines....dude. Okay we must now scrap the taco plan and do oysters and Champagne, maybe some Chablis if you ever make it out this way. I'm an oyster freak, have even been known to order an extra 6 for dessert, chocolate schmocolate...give me briny, fatty bits from the sea!

Yeah, not sure when it happened but birthdays are big around these parts...it's all pretty much a ploy for all of us to eat well and drink even better. The Chablis was a Grand Cru from one of the very best producers in Chablis so it was absolutely stunning.

Jessica said...


Looks like an awesome dinner!!! I am in LA this week and headed to San Diego for the weekend - do you work on Friday AM? Was thinking about stopping by to check the place out and finally pick up a couple of the Roses you have raved about! Easier than the shipping to Colorado gig!

Would love to meet you after so much time spent laughing hilariously at your blog. Let me know...

Samantha Dugan said...

Okay, your comment could not have come at a better time, all bummed about my baby going back to school, totally out of sorts this morning....then I read this, you made my day! I am in Friday morning and would love to meet you!
Come on by lady...yay!

Richard said...

Not sure which I am more jealous of; the Raveaneau or the plate of oysters. At least I can get oysters readily. Sounds like an awesome meal. I haven't been to any of the Big Name Chef places in a while, but I'm excited as my favorite restaurant here in Sacramento is supposed to be getting a new chef from Gary Danko in SF.


Samantha Dugan said...

Hey Richard,
Um, that Chablis was wicked...I was NOT kidding when I said I wish I could smell like that, reminded me of eating caramels on the beach, sigh. Awesome news on the new chef, hope you have many mind blowing meals in your near future.

Michael Hughes said...

Champagne + oysters = heaven.