Last Wednesday our wine group got together for a much anticipated Foie Gras dinner at Lolo Dad’s Restaurant in the old Malate district of Manila. Slightly more expensive than similar establishments but with a chef who likes to experiment and, crucially, a very enlightened corkage policy which is free. They also provide good wine glasses and as many as needed.
Amuse bouche of foie-ham crouton with melon slush. This was like a small sandwich of foie and ham between two very thin croutons. This sandwich was placed on top of a shot glass of watermelon slush. This dish worked very well except that the melon slush didn’t really add anything to it. Paired with this was:
Roederer Cristal 1988 – This was my contribution for the evening. Very fine bubbles. Medium bodied. Freshly baked bread. Despite the age, very fresh tasting with a good dose of acid on the finish. This can probably still age a bit more although it’s drinking very well now. A neutral match for the amuse. Perhaps a sweet sparkler would have been better. Maybe Moscato d’Asti?
Goose Liver sushi. This was 3 different pieces of sushi-goose liver and caramelized eel, foie salmon mango maki, and kani foie roll. 2 Gewurztraminers were tried with this:
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve 2005 Gewurztraminer from Okanagan, British Columbia – Quite light in color. Smells remarkably like Sauvignon Blanc with a prominent guava character. Good attack but a weak finish. Paired well with the unagi. The second Gewurztraminer was from Alsace:
Meyer-Fonne Kaefferkopf Gewurztraminer 2000 – Roses on the nose. Soft and quite sweet. A beautiful wine! Very long and excellent with both the eel and salmon maki. Best white of the evening by a long shot.
Steamed seabass and foie gras on wilted Romaine lettuce, sauteed mushrooms, ginger and truffle cream sauce. This dish was virtually perfect. One might be excused for thinking all the ingredients might end up a big mess but the chef pulled it off masterfully, creating something quite light with all the flavors seamlessly integrated. There was much debate about what to pair with this dish due to the varied and strongly-flavored ingredients. I suggested a demi-sec Vouvray or a substantial Chardonnay while others said the Gewurz might do double duty for this. We finally ended up with two wines for this, the first being:
Kanu Limited Edition Wooded Chenin Blanc 2004 from South Africa – Lots of wood on the nose. The oak seemed to overwhelm the varietal character. Candied ginger on the nose after a bit of airing. A fair match for the fish. The second wine for the fish was:
Blue Mountain Gamay Noir 2004 again from Okanagan – Light and fruity but with a slight bitterness. A good Beaujolais copy. Again, a good match for the fish. After the sorbet, we moved on to the main course.
Confit of duck wing with glazed onions, grilled duck breast with relish and pan-fried duck liver on chestnut muffin. Actually this was more like 3 tasting portions rather than one integrated dish. Another excellent dish. I was skeptical about the guava relish but was relieved to see the chef used unripe guava which gave a piquancy to the dish. I didn’t think the sweet chestnut muffin contributed anything to this course and would have preferred a more conventional starch (potato or rice) to go with it. After many whites finally the red wines came out:
Patz and Hall Pinot Noir 2002 – Arnie, who contributed this bottle, brought this wine to 2 previous dinners, each time having been frustrated in not having it opened. This time he made sure it would drunk up by uncorking it himself as soon as he sat down. Good, very fruity nose and flavor. Has an obvious sweetness and a bit of spiciness to it. A friendly wine, straightforward and nothing complex but a good match for the duck. Next bottle opened was a Chateauneuf du Pape Janasse Cuvee Chaupin 1998 which, unfortunately, had a spongy cork which broke upon extraction. That little problem didn’t matter as the wine was oxidized. Fortunately a back-up bottle was produced:
Chateauneuf du Pape Domaine Pegau Cuvee Laurence 1995 – Much better! Spicy and meaty although quite soft already. Better to drink this up if you have it. Continuing the Rhone theme, we then had a:
Domaine La Soumade Rasteau Cuvee Prestige 2002 – A somewhat fat wine but with still aggressive tannins. Not quite integrated yet. Some spiciness made an appearance after 30 minutes of air. Finally, we came to dessert:
White chocolate foie crème caramel, candied foie gras, and foie gras ice cream. Why ruin perfectly good dessert by putting foie gras in it? The dessert was good because the foie gras was totally overwhelmed by the other flavors. It provided some textural substance to the ice cream but otherwise could have been left out. Our last wine was a Sauternes:
Chateau La Tour Blanche 1999 – Very nice with a good acid lift to keep it from being cloying. Refreshing. Not a heavy weight Sauternes. We offered some of this to the chef who was dining at another table but he politely declined. One of our group went to talk to him at his table and saw he was already having some Sauternes but in his case it was Chateau d’ Yquem although the year could not be discerned. No wonder he spurned our humble offering!
Except for the dessert, the dinner was judged a success and the wines, for the most part, stood up to the challenge.