Amuse-Bouche

Monday, June 20, 2005

I Scream for Ice Cream!

As an undergraduate at Stanford, I lived in a house called Storey with my now-husband. Storey was known for having the best "open kitchen" on the row and a fabulous cook named Diana. From time-to-time we'd have "special dinners" at Storey to which we were allowed a guest and for which Diana cooked up a fancy meal (at least by college standards).

On one occasion, Diana had the novel idea of having one of our special dinners at her boyfriend's new restaurant in the city, rather than at Storey. Her boyfriend's restaurant is The Blue Plate, which has received quite a few good reviews since our special dinner there.

To make a long story short, my old Storey roommate Elizabeth was in town this weekend, so we thought it would be fun to hit up The Blue Plate, along with some of our other ex-Storey friends who live in the city. The food itself was dinner party good, but not awesome restaurant good. We shared some fava bean bruschetta and a nice plate of fries to start. I had skate which came with some purple potatoes. Good, but nothing special.

The food highlight of the evening was our post-dinner stop at Mitchell's. I had only had the famous San Francisco ice cream at work, so it was nice to actually pick my own flavor from the full list. I had a scoop of rum raisin, my childhood fave, believe it or not. It was creamy and delicious. Future flavors to try include a white pistachio and a thai tea.

Ice cream rocks!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Our Wine Route, Part II

Domaine Dujac (Cote de Nuits)

Domaine Dujac's pride and joy is its reds. Our guide explained that their 2003 reds are not representative of what they typically produce. 2003 was an unusually warm year, so the wines they produced are more alcoholic than usual.

Our visit was rather short -- we tasted a handful of wines, loving the reds we tasted. We were disappointed to find out that they were completely sold out of their wines. We, however, were referred to a distributor in SF: chambers@chamberswines.com.

Chateau Fuisse (M√Ęconnais)

Chateau Fuisse is one of my two favorite wineries from our trip. Chateau Fuisse was also one of the few places we visited where many of the vines were on the property we visited for our tasting.

The land in Maconnais is not classified into crus a la Burgundy, but Maconnais still uses the notion of terroir. Fuisse wines are harvested according to "climat," a plot of land with its own personality. For example, we brought home a bottle of wine from "Le Clos," a tiny plot of land adjacent to the property.

Georges Duboeuf (Beaujolais)

Once upon a time, a Beaujolais was a good table wine, thirst-quenching and light-hearted, but not particularly nuanced. This doesn't work well for Americans who like big, tannic reds. In his Adventures on the Wine Route, Kermit Lynch explains that Beaujolais winemakers have sold-out, adding sugar to their wines to increase alcohol content (ie, chapitalization).

Wanting to form our own opinion of the current generation of Beaujolais, we scheduled a stop at Georges Dubouef's. George Dubouef not only created a winery, but also what he calls Adventures in Beaujolais, a museum, winery, and park in one. He should have actually called it Adventures in Crazy Crazy Land. He must have planned the whole project while drunk on his own wines. The museum was so bad that it was funny. It included a video projection of the first winemaker against a diorama. Who is the first winemaker you ask? Noah from ark-fame of course! The video includes Noah's animals and all the sounds they make. Unfortunately for us, the 3-D film starring Paul Bocuse wasn't functioning the day we revisited. Too bad -- it would have been nice to hear him talk about himself.

We neither ran into other visitors in the gigantic museum nor in the lavish tasting room/bar. The gentleman pouring wines seemed confused when we asked for a spit bucket. I guess Dubeouf's visitors typically prefer to chug the five glasses of wine offered to them. I suppose I don't blame them if they just came out of the museum of madness!

Caves Yves Cuilleron

Yves Cuilleron was my other favorite winery from our trip. I'm a sucker for dessert wines, so we ended up bringing two late harvest bottles of Condrieu home from the winemaker. Since I've been home, I've noticed Yves Cuilleron on SF wine menus -- lucky for us and you (well some of you)!

Paul Jaboulet

Much of our tour at Paul Jaboulet consisted of viewing the bottling line. The line is incredibly mechanized, requiring few human workers.

Our tasting took place in what looked like a middle school science lab! Since Jaboulet ships many of its bottles to the US, we asked whether the winery makes any special wines for the US. Our tasting guide mentioned that they've done this on one occasion, bottling a more tannic wine for US-only consumption. We tasted this wine --I gave it two thumbs down. I enjoyed all the other wines we tasted, notably their Condrieu, which is the only wine that isn't carried in the US!