Way back before Christmas, Mark and Maggie Malick, owners of Maggie Malick Wine Caves, and Jim and Betsy Dolphin, owners of Delaplane Cellars, came to dinner at the restaurant and at least for a few minutes, we got to catch up. If you're not in either the winery or the restaurant business, you might not know how little free time either business affords you. There just isn't much spare time to catch up and our usual catching up means that at least one of us is working. While we were catching up, we kicked around getting together for a group dinner in the near future.
The idea of having a dinner is one thing; actually pulling one off is quite another. Just trying to find the intersection of free time among a group of constantly busy entrepreneurs is tough, hence the name of the wine dinner that Mark and Maggie hosted at their house just south of Harper's Ferry in Loudoun County: "We Finally Got it Scheduled!" The earliest date we could all find was about six weeks in the future, the 27th of January, that happy convergence of slow times in the wine and restaurant businesses with a non-football weekend (Maggie, in her infinite spare time, plays in the Loudoun Symphony and the Redskins band).
Some weeks ago, Mark sent out food assignments and there have been dozens of emails back and forth talking about dishes and wine pairings. I was getting excited just reading some of the ideas going back and forth.
|Maggie's Cave (note Abby on the roof!)|
We took advantage of the relatively mild weather to get a tour of the new cave from Maggie. Out behind the house, the cave is a quonset hut dug into the ground so that it has a turf roof. This is a precursor to a full winery that will be built up on the hill several hundred yards to the north, overlooking the vineyards. Maggie plans to open to the public this spring. I don't know where she plans to put people, the cave is jammed with barrels!
|Full to the Gills Already!|
|Chef Mark Making Crêpes|
|Myret, Beautiful as Ever!|
|Jim and Karen Hamming|
|Mark Showing off the Volnay and Beaucastel '88|
|Fourteen People with Ease at This Table|
|You Will See These Grape Cluster Napkin Rings Again|
|Brillat-Savarin, the King of Maggie's Cheese Board|
Over the course of the late afternoon, everyone arrived and at some point, Maggie started putting out cheeses while Terry started decanting and tasting the wines for dinner proper. The big platter of cheeses included the excellent Brillat-Savarin that you see above. The traditional pairing for bloomed rind cheeses is Champagne and no complaints about Terry's choice of Clicquot, though I actually liked my cheese better with a sip of a fruity Paso Robles Rhône blend (One Time Spaceman Moon Duck) that Mark had us open.
|Now This is a Glass of Champagne!|
I would have loved to have had more than a taste of Champagne, but with a long night ahead of us and a 45-minute drive home after dark, a taste was it. Clicquot is always delicious. Terry said he would have rather poured Bruno Paillard, but that he happened to have a case of Clicquot on hand. Poor him. So we "suffered" through the Clicquot, though it has been 20 years since I tasted Bruno Paillard and it was good stuff back then. I would love to revisit Paillard soon.
|Mark's Seafood Crêpes with Sauce Mornay|
|Porchetta with Bagnat Verd in the Background|
|A Slice of My Porchetta with Bagnat Verd|
To go with the porchetta, I made a traditional salsa verde called bagnat verd (green bath) in Piemontese. To make it, I soaked crustless white bread in red wine vinegar, boiled a couple of eggs to get hardboiled yolks, and then pounded the bread, egg yolks, garlic, anchovy, capers with a lot of fresh parsley in the mortar. To this, I added red pepper flakes, salt, and olive oil to taste. I had no idea that we were doing a formal plated dinner (being a wine dinner "virgin" with this crew), or I might have given some thought to plate presentation rather than just a stripe of salsa. Who knew?
Pres brought a 2007 Louis Boillot Volnay 1er Cru "Carelle sous la Chapelle," carelle referring to the square parcel of vineyard downslope from the famous old chapel. Just for grins, I brought a wine that I wanted to pair with the porchetta, a 2007 Thomas Mayr Lagrein Riserva Alto Adige, a sturdy high acid wine that I thought would fight through the fat of the pork belly. I love Burgundy and I loved every sip of the Volnay, but I liked it better on its own than with the belly. The porchetta was a bit too assertive for the delicate wine. I thank Pres for bringing it because he knows that I love Burgundy above all else and on my chef's budget, cannot afford to drink it very often.
|Maggie's Citrus and Ginger Sorbet with Limoncello Drizzle|
During the intermezzo while Austin was outside grilling his lamb racks over charcoal, Ann had the distinction of getting to decorate the busty statue named Arenalla Bella, after the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica whence came this curvaceous sculpture. This is apparently a distinction of dubious nature, born of long tradition, and afforded to wine dinner virgins at the Malick household. Using only a scarf and a feather boa, the hapless victim must decorate the sculpture to amusement of the table. I would say that with the strategic placement of the grape cluster napkin rings appropriated from the dinner table that Ann carried off the mission with nothing short of aplomb, much to the amusement of all!
|Decorating the Sculpture|
|Austin's Lamb Chop with Cannellini and Watercress|
Between courses, Mark pulled out a bottle of 1988 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape and sommelier Terry obligingly poured it around. I thought it had aged quite well and the Brett that I thought might have overtaken the fruit had not. It reminded me that I should probably get to opening the remaining 1988 CdPs in my cellar. I better find out if Brett has got the better of them.
|Chucks' Beef Tenderloin|
My palate was really tired by the time we got to this course, so Jim's Syrah was kind of lost on me. Fortunately, I had tasted it first thing in the afternoon when Terry was decanting it so I got a good handle on it. It has big tannins for a Syrah along with abundant dark fruit. While I wouldn't usually think of pairing Syrah with beef, this is a big meat wine and the pairing was great. Jim should be proud of his new Syrah!
|Betsy's Meringues with Crème Anglaise|
Thanks to Mark and Maggie Malick for hosting us and inviting us to one of their infamous wine dinners. Thanks to Terry and Karen Sewell, Jim and Betsy Dolphin, and Preston and Myret Tyson for bringing fabulous wines. And kudos for Mark and Maggie as well as Austin and Faythe Rippeon and Chuck and Ana Cardamon for great eats. We had a spectacular evening!