A benefit dinner was held by Tita Bella Yuchengco at her residence night before last, the 8th August 2013, for a good friend who is bravely fighting the good fight. Fourteen friends got together for the very good cause.
The table setting, as usual, was elegant, understated, and in excellent taste...
|...much like the ever generous, svelte, and chic hostess herself.|
|The evening's reds lined up for service...|
|...carefully opened by Rene under watchful eyes...|
...were: 2010 La Sirène de Giscours (2 bottles from Rene), 1999 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti La Court, & 1999 Prunotto Barbaresco Bric Turot (from me). The 2009 Mission Hill Legacy Series Compendium (from Jim) was saved for a later Mamou meal.
For cocktails was Bugey Cerdon Caveau de Mont St-July -This amiable, very accessible non-vintage sparkling rosé is from the Cerdon AOC, a.k.a., Bugey-Cerdon, located in far eastern France's Ain department (bordering Geneva, within the Jura region) - composed of the area's gamay and poulsard grapes, the spontaneous fermentation of which is halted in order to leave enough sugar for a charmingly festive off-dryness.
This isn't locally available, I brought these in as part of a batch for the IWFS Ladies as a favor. We quickly went through 3 bottles last night. The abv% is quite low, so no danger of getting hit too fast before dinner. One could drink this all day at the beach.
|Migs' eyes are really hopeless under flash photography.|
|Catha, Maite, Nena, Mayette, & Katrina...|
|...here photo-bombed by Enki.|
This substantial amuse bouche of "Shrimpcargot" was an instant and unanimous hit. We all loved it. Thankfully, as always, Tita Bella had extra helpings for all. From the first bite, I said "I can eat at least a dozen of these". Most all of us got second helpings. Lucky Jim managed to get a third.
|Tita Bella personally helps serve...|
...the second substantial amuse bouche: a refreshing and cleansing Chilled Cucumber Soup with Lemon Oil, in tandem with a delicious, precisely executed Cauliflower Purée with Caviar. With this, we had already started on Rene's 3 bottles of fresh, racy, zippy, minerall, slightly off-dry 2011 Dönnhoff Riesling Qba - a bit fuller and riper than past vintages of the same I've had, but still a reliably nice and versatile wine with lip-smackingly bright acid balance.
|My 2nd helping of the Cauliflower Purée w/ Caviar.|
The first of two appetizer courses was an earthily indulgent Pan-Seared Foie Gras, Caramelized Mushroom Tart. Oh my, so very good, but I stopped at only one serving as I had to make it through to dessert. The 2011 Dönnhoff Riesling Qba Riesling faltered a bit here, needing to have been a spätlese at least, but, not a problem.
With the second appetizer course of Mussel Soufflé with Chardonnay-Saffron Sauce - an addictive, heavenly sauce on a heftier, more substantial kind of soufflé, we started on Alex's 2 bottles of 2009 Thevenet Domaine Émilian Gillet Quintaine Viré-Clessé. The chardonnay producing Viré-Clessé AOC (since February 1999) lies within the Mâconnais district of the Burgundy region. Relatively recently gaining fame, its vibrant, minerally, well-crafted wines are comparatively reasonably-priced alternatives to the whites from the Côte de Beaune. The subject wine is medium-bodied with clean lines and fair balance, in a subdued, minerally style which somewhat reminds me of a cross between a young village Chablis and a young village Meursault.
|A tender, honest, hearty, deeply flavored Wagyu Veal Cheeks...|
|...with Rissoni & Horseradish Gremolata.|
With this honest, rustic treat, I paired mainly the 1999 Prunotto Barbaresco Bric Turot, the savory, mature flavors and typical acidity of which made for a nice counterpoint to the veal cheeks' earthy richness. Alex also favored this wine for pairing with the main dish, while Catha & Rene preferred the fuller, fruitier, richer, riper, more oak-enriched 1999 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Nizza La Court.
Dessert was a delectable Layered Mousse atop Strawberry Soup. In a word - wonderful - especially for chocolate-berry dessert fans such as I.
Enki had a second serving of dessert. He's been dieting lately, but I reassured him by saying that strawberry is fruit anyway, and chocolate comes from cocoa beans, so the dessert qualifies as healthy fare. I was too busy enjoying myself, chatting with everyone to remember to take my usual, closing toast group shot. Anyway, it was a great dinner for a worthy cause. Thanks, again, Tita Bella! Loved the dinner! Until the next!