Last night my wife, son, and I spend a great evening at Equinox with 22 serious wine drinking friends for the first DC off-line wine/tasting/dinner. Most of us had never met before and thanks to the able organizational skills of a couple of fellow chowhounders, Thomas Jaehnigen and his wife Debbie, we had a great time.
Todd Gray and his staff prepared a tasting menu for us that was exceptional.
We started with canapes of lightly fried oysters and asparagass with a lovly dipping sauce.
Our first course was was seared Maine scallps. Served with a creamy polenta, appplewood bacon, and citrus butter. They were wonderful. The sauce complemented the scallops with just a hint of citrus to bring out the freshness of the shellfish. The presentation (as it was with every dish) was beautiful and very tasteful.
Second course was a red snapper filet with wilted spinich, saffron coulis and roasted shallots. Very good, the spinich and shallots making a wonderful counterpoint to the coulis and the snapper cooked perfectly. It was firm yet flaked easily and was delicious.
Third were medallions of Cervena venison served with caramelized root vegetables and a Cabernet wine jus. If any course was a disappointment, it was this one. The venison was cooked perfectly, medium rare and very tender. The vegs. were nicely caramelized but the sauce was just not quite there. It seemed a little salty and didn't quite have the oompf that it needed to complement the venison. Of course it may have just lacked by comparison.
Next was a pinenut crusted rack of lamb. This was perfect. It was served with a white bean ragu, red swiss chard, and roasted garlic. Nicely rare, it was so tender you could cut it with a fork. Absolutely delicious, the second best course of the night.
The fifth course was the killer. A frisee salad with lardons and crispy duck confit. It is by and far one of the finest duck confits I have ever been privilaged to eat. So tender it just fell apart as your fork touched it. Perfectly flavored with a slight smokeiness. My son declared that we had to come back as soon as possible just so he could order the duck again. Every bite melted in your mouth and made you want more.
Next we had a sorbet course of tangerine sorbet and red wine soaked pear. It was exceptional. Absolutely the perfect way to clean the palate for the sweet course. Last was a mocha Napoleon with hazelnut meringue. It was very good, if just a little cool. However, by this time we were so stuffed and had consumed so much wine, with several dessert wines to come, it may have been more me than the dessert.
The main focus of the meal was the wine. Each participant brought Bordeaux blends and we tasted them all blind thruout the meal. Chef Gray's menu had been designed with that in mind and he did a great job.
(Thank you Thomas for listing the wines on VinoCellar.com so I didn't have to try to decipher my tasting notes.)
Dinner was prefaced by a 1988 Veuve Cliquot Champagne (gold label)that was exceptional. I am not a big Champagne drinker, but this was a true example of why vintage Champagne is so wonderful.
The first course was accompanied by two Chablis: a 1999 Bessin Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru and a 1999 Chateau Cabonnieux. Exceptional examples of a very good year.
The next 4 courses were accompanied by blind tastings of:
1997 Ferrari-Carano Tresor
1997 BV Tapestry
1996 Grand Puy Lacoste
1998 Rosemount Estates Cabernet Mudgee Mountain Blue
2000 Chateau dAiguilhe
1998 Chateau Behere
1996 Chateau Smith Haut Lafite
1994 Ridge Monte Bello
2000 Finca Dofi (Priorat (Alvaro Palacios)
We ended with three dessert wines:
1998 Rieussec Sauternes
1993 Disznokos Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos
1999 JJ Prum Spatlase
I can't say enough about how well we were treated by Equinox. We tied up 4 large tables for the entire evening, brought over 25 bottles of wine, had a grand time and thru it all, they staff were efficient and inobtrusive. The restaurant provided glasses, decanters, and dump buckets for us. They kept the water glasses full (a must when wine drinkers are having a large tasting) and the bread baskets full. The food was wonderful, the company a blast, and the meal a great success. Equinox did a great job of making it so.