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My wife and I had dinner at Charlie Trotter’s a couple weeks ago for my 40th birthday. I thought I’d post the courses and the wines they paired with the Grand Tasting menu that night. All pairings worked well and the meal was a memorable one, although it should be for the price tag of $550 (including tip):

Amuse Geule (a cube of smoked salmon and caviar on top of a smoked bell pepper sauce)
Paired with Bollinger “Special Cuvee” Brut NV
The Bolly was sleek and balanced, and cut through the richness of the salmon nicely.

Terrine of Guinea Fowl with Spring Onion Relish & Kumquat Vinaigrette
Paired with 2002 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese
The Prum was a bit spritzy and somewhat underwhelming. The terrine was fantastic. Probably the weakest pairing, though.

Steamed Maine Halibut with Horseradish, English Peas & Braised Suckling Pig
Paired with 1997 Josmeyer "Le Fromenteau” Pinot Gris
The halibut was firm but juicy and the English peas gave the dish a terrific freshness. My favorite part was a single fried pork rind made from the suckling pig. The Josmeyer was long in the tooth and exhibited petrol notes, but its minerality and farm field profile meshed well with the dish.

Roasted Squab Breast with Maitake Mushrooms & Anson Mills White Corn Grits
Paired with 2001 Sokol-Blosser “Twelve Row Block” Pinot Noir
The highlight of the menu for me. The squab exploded with flavor and the earthiness of the mushrooms brought out the terroir of the pinot noir. The grits provided a nice counterpoint to the richness of the squab. The Sokol-Blosser was a stately and focused pinot noir, that was much better with the food.

Grilled Dakota Bison with Chanterelle Mushrooms & Red Pepper-Black Cardamom Puree
Paired with 2002 St. Hallett “Blackwell” Shiraz
The bison was succulent, and was a tenderloin cut. Who doesn’t love chanterelles? The Blackwell had some soy/brown sugar elements that worked nicely with the Asian components of the sauce. Excellent pairing.

Rhubarb Sorbet with Sweet Fennel, Gooseberries & Chervil
New Zealand Passion Fruit, Crystallized Carrot & Buffalo Yogurt with White Pepper Sorbet
Paired with 1999 Oremus Tokaji-Aszu “5-puttonyos” and 2001 Quinta de Roriz Vintage Port
The desserts were stunningly presented and very unique, especially the white pepper sorbet. The accompanying wines were paired well, but were nothing special on their own. Of course, we also brought a bottle of 1965 Fonseca Setubal Superior that overshadowed them by a large margin. TN is here.

On our way out, the server took us on a tour of the restaurant and kitchen. I must say that the service was exceptional. Very attentive and not obtrusive. They waived their normal $50 corkage fee for my bottle of ’65 Fonseca in recognition of the occasion. I wish Charlie had been around to try it, but he only made a brief appearance and did not get to our table.

Bottom line is that I’m glad I went, but I’m not sure if a return trip is necessary.


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I am woefully unqualified to comment incisively on port. I did not even finish my glass of Roriz, so I only had a couple sips. It seemed a bit warm and a tad volatile. It probably could use some cellaring.

The Blackwell, on the other hand, was showing quite well. Primary fruit and oak are on the forefront, of course, but the smoothness and balance were notable.



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