Blowout Birthday Bash

The start of a really good night.

This weekend we were invited to our friend’s house for his birthday. As he is a wine geek, too, there were bound to be some good selections. Of course we RSVP’d that we would be coming, and as they live an hour away, we would also be staying over. (I know these people and the wine focus of the meal, there was no chance we would be driving home. Oh, and can we also bring Babka?) We arrived for one meal and one quick sleep with gifts, clothes to change into, a dog bed and, of course, the dog.

We got there a little early to get the dogs acquainted. Normally, I arrive early to help: cook, set the table, make truffles, whatever.

HAppy birthday, Jack!

But, this time, my genius friends had the meal catered byKenny Weintraub, an awesome personal chef. So when we arrived there was nothing to do but introduce the dogs (which took two seconds – they were instant pals) and crack open some wine.

Chef Kenny had some appetizers on the way including a macadamia nut hummus with pita, tuna tartar with guacamole on a rice cracker, pizzas (“Here you go, this is the kosher one, without bacon.” Love that),  little brie and pistachio things and shrimp and lobster fritters, which I hear were outstanding.

I would eat these tuna things every day if I could.

The appetizers were plentiful as we enjoyed some Sanford Pinot Noir, a 1999 Clos  Des Goisses Champagne and a 1988 Krug. The Krug was amazing and one of my wines of the night. Plus, it pared nicely with the tuna tartar. Once the sit-down part of the meal began, everyone was in for a real treat.  Plain and mushroom filled gnocchi in a tomato cream sauce with olives, duck confit, polenta cakes, double-cut, pistachio crusted lamb chops, mashed purple potatoes with black truffles, mashed gold potatoes with goat cheese, braised short ribs and risotto.

Everything was expertly prepared and served by a waiter that Babka seemed to bark at with every course. Perhaps she was jealous. After all, she did spend much of the evening (when I was not watching) trying to stick her nose into the garbage to see what goodies she could find.

The meal was created specifically to pair with some amazing wines. After we indulged in the

Yes, I can still see you!

champagne, we enjoyed a 2001 La Meal Chapoutier Hermitage (amazing), 1997 La Turque Cote Rotie (one of my wines of the night), 1995 Grange, which did not show so well next to the La Turque, but was still yummy, 1981 Vega Sicilia Unico (another one of my wines of the night – there were too many to just pick one!), 1999 Madinna del Piano Brunello (too young). What, you think that is all? Nope… We also had a 1959 ChateauPichon Longeuville Comtesse de Lalande which was madeirized and tasted like port, a 1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet (holy crap – this was a 33 year old California cab. Delicious) and then a few gratuitous bottles: 2008 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Harvest Moon, 2009 Stefania Split Rail Syrah and a 2006 Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos. I had plenty by the time the dessert wine came around, so no opinions on that one.

Lamb and not one, but TWO mashed potatoes.

Overall, it was a memorable evening with great wines, great food, even

I am done. The end.

better friends and zero cleanup.