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Melanie Wong | Jan 20, 200210:57 PM     3

The focus of a recent evening at my friend Vince’s home was a tasting of Cabernet Franc wines. Yet some of the more interesting topics of discussion were the various snacks we tried that evening. Here are the chow tips that circulated around the table.

Sushi-grade tuna and salmon at the Sunnyvale farmers market on Saturday morning – Vince showed off his new Global knife by preparing a plate of beautiful maguro sashimi. We couldn’t believe it when he told us he’d bought the fish four days ago! Absolutely pristine. He said that he keeps it on ice in the refrigerator (changing as needed). After about six days, he’ll sear whatever is left over for tataki or cooked dishes.

Maison Raguin Cancoillotte a l’Ail – This was a oozy white rindless cows milk cheese packed in a glass jar that Natalie brought home from visiting her family in the Franche-Comtois region of France. Similar in flavor to a young Vacherin Mont d’Or, it seemed less creamy and more elastic than Vacherin too. Natalie called it the “glue cheese” and there was a certain Elmer’s like quality about the color and viscosity. We spread it on slices of olive bread. Delicious with a mild yet cured milky taste and a hint of garlic, I wonder if it can be found here?

Made in France, Inc., SF sales – Julie described her expedition to the by-invitation public sale at this usually wholesale only supplier of specialty food products. Her advice was to bring shopping bags to carry the stuff you can grab in the aisle and to run for the cheese counter first thing before the good stuff disappears. She had sampled a variety of chocolates there and brought a couple bars of the one she liked best, El Rey “Bucare” 58.5% cacao Carnero Superior Chocolate Amargo, which is from Venezuela. Our Venezuelan friend, Robbie, was surprised and delighted to see his favorite chocolate available here. Even though the percent of cacao is not in the ultra-rich category, we found this to have a pure flavor with a clean finish that makes it nice to snack on.

Casa Dalle Valle Cabernet Franc - Robbie added this wine to the tasting. It’s a winery-only bottling from Dalle Valle made of declassified Cab Franc that doesn’t go into the Maya blend and goes for a song compared to the price of the top cuvée. The 1992 was full-bodied and thick with plumy black fruit and cigar box. It seemed like a much younger wine and will offer many more years of drinking pleasure. Highly recommended.

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