I opened this wine to accompany a baked ham. Visually, the wine was a deep amber, almost the color of a tawny port. The nose was woody, with ample citrus. The taste was rich with apricot and orange zest, backed by a strong oak structure and underpinned with dry, limestone, minerality. A heavier wine than I expected. Unfortunately, I don't think I gave it enough time to warm in the glass and open up more. Alas, the bottle was already fully divided among family, so I didn't get another glass to taste. I'd rate this about 90 points.
This isn’t exactly a “recipe” per se—more like a presentation idea for serving caviar that not only makes it easier to maneuver from plate to mouth, it also ensures an adequate amount of toast. (Because, as James Bond astutely observed in Casino Royale, “The problem with ordering caviar in a restaurant isn’t getting enough caviar; it’s getting enough toast to go with the caviar.”)
To make my “caviar cups” I just took a small metal serving cup (probably about 2 ounces in volume) and used it to cut circles from white bread. (I find toasted Pepperidge Farms thin-sliced white bread the best for caviar—but not much else.) The cup is tapered toward the bottom, so I used that as a form, pressing the slightly larger circle of bread down around the upside-down cup to form a small pie-crust-like shape. Placing a dozen or so on a wire-mesh baking rack, I toasted them in a toaster-oven until light brown. If you don’t have a toaster oven, you can use a broiler—browning one side, then flipping them and browning the other side.
Once the cups cooled, I scooped in a small dollop of crème fraiche, then topped them off with a spoonfull of various caviars.
A little while ago, I popped a bottle of Pichon Comtesse to accompany a dinner of filet mignon with melted bleu cheese and French string beans. Here are my notes:
First off, the capsule was slightly corroded, but the fill was low neck, so still quite good. The cork was weak, but intact when I removed it. I decanted the bottle, then poured a bit in a glass. There was a faint mustiness at first, but that cleared quickly, and, as the wine opened up, the nose became much fruitier.
The taste was amazing. There was moderate fruit—the usual cassis notes of a good Bordeaux, with notes of something like ripe plums or blueberries. The fruit was balanced with low to moderate acidity, but what really struck me was the overall structure, maintained by wonderful tannins that were matured, but still strong. The finish was lovely, if only moderate in intensity.
Conclusion: This is one of the best Bordeaux I’ve had for a while. I guess if I had to give it a score out of 100, I’d give it a 95 or so. It was that good.
This sandwich is my integration of the Italian beef sandwich and the more common French dip. The former, popular in Chicago and its environs, is served with pepperoncini and sometimes includes chopped Spanish olives. The latter, in the version served at the excellent Cuts Steakhouse in Atlanta, skips the olives, but melts asiago cheese on top. I put the two together to create my version, and, since Monaco is the closest thing to a hybrid of France and Italy, I’m calling it a Monaco dip sandwich.
Ingredients (to serve two):
3/4 lb tri-tip sirloin (dusted with salt, pepper and roasted garlic powder (from Penzeys Spices)
4-5 oz Spanish olives diced (from the deli counter rather than jarred or canned, if possible)
4-5 oz shredded asiago cheese
2 rolls (brioche, baguette cut to 6 inch length, or other roll)
16 ounces water
4 Tbsp. beef or veal demi glace
(Amount approximate; amount varies depending on concentration of demi glace and personal taste. My personal favorite is Schreiber's.)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dried toasted onion flakes (from Penzeys Spices)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
Salt to taste (may not need any, depending on saltiness of demi glace)
Simmer for a few minutes
Dust steak and broil on both sides until medium rare inside
Cover with foil and let rest. Slice thin across the grain when cool enough.
Place sliced steak on open-faced rolls. Spread diced olives then grated cheese
Broil until cheese melts and begins to darken
Serve with jus to dip and pepperoncini on the side
Note: You can substitute the steak with sliced roast beef from the deli, but, if you do, try to get slices from an actual roast (as they do at Whole Foods) vs. pressed beef in shrink wrap.
Given the intensity of the flavors, pair with a red zinfandel/primitivo, syrah/shiraz/Rhone or Chateauneuf du Pape
Note that duck breast can be hard to find in a typical grocery store. A wide variety of duck (as well as other meats and specialty foods) is available online from dartagnan.com.
Trim the edges of the duck breasts of excess skin and fat.
Remove any remaining connective tissue on the meat side.
Score the skin with a sharp knife being careful not to cut all the way to the meat.
Dust both sides with salt and pepper.
Brown skin side down in a hot cast iron skillet. Turn breasts and brown on the meat side.
Drain excess fat and transfer the skillet to a 300 degree oven and roast until 150 degrees in the center.
Plate breasts and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with cherry sauce.
Saute a shallot in 1 TBSP butter.
Add 1 ½ ounces of duck demi glace (available from savoryspiceshop.com) dissolved in 2 ½ ounces of warm water, 12 pitted cherries, 1 TBSP black cherry balsamic vinegar (available from thespicyolive.com), and 1 TBSP Contreau. Reduce to a syrup. Salt to taste.
The classic pairing for duck is pinot noir, whether a red Burgundy, or a nice domestic varietal.