I took a quick trip to the city last week, and was lucky enough to line the trip up with a little shindig at Kris' place (Ken is out of town for a big chunk of every summer.) Mary was there, of course, with her guy and another friend. Kris put me in charge of salad, so I brought down a bag of various things and tried to get there a little early so I could prep them into something presentable. The salad was to be the base for some scallops- the second course, so the extra time I had allowed me to add a few steps that helped make it into something more interesting.
First up we had a deeply decadent, creamy corn soup with tender chunks of coconut-crusted lobster. The corn was spiked with a nice variety of pie spices and had a super-silky texture. It met a perfect match in Mary's 2004 Müller Catoir Himmeldinger Mandelgarten Riesling Kabinett (try saying that after a few glasses). Just gorgeous.
The salad included chioggia beet, cucumber, fennel, cherry tomatoes, purslane, nasturtium leaves and flowers, green beans, and anise hyssop. Since I had a bit of time, I made quick pickles out of the thinly-sliced beet and rubbed thin strips of seeded cucumber with salt and let them sit for a few minutes before rinsing them. Once the beets had steeped for a bit, I took them out and added the chopped green beans into the same liquid (sherry vinegar, water, salt, anise hyssop leaves and flowers). Then I plated it all up and made a mustardy vinaigrette to drip around- just a little, since the seared scallops were the main attraction. The extra steps of salting and pickling a few things plus the interesting variety of ingredients made for a pretty wonderful dish. Kris had made a spiced dice of apple as a condiment, so we spooned that on the corner of every plate.
For this, we opened a 2004 Condrieu "La Chambée" by Vins de Vienne- the négociant co-owned by Cuilleron, Gaillard, and Villard. It started off kind of strange, smelling not a little like the purple photo emulsion we used to use in silkscreening, but over time it got pretty sexy- best of all, by the end of the meal everyone else had moved on to cognac so I got to finish it all by myself.
Kris always seems to overcook the lamb when I come over (which he blames me for) but this time around he fully broke that streak- the gorgeous herb-crusted racks came out of the oven perfectly rare, and he served them with roasted potatoes and zucchini stuffed with cheese. For this, we tried the 2000 Cortese Barbaresco Rabaja that I brought- it was a little too warm, but still good, and better after we stuck the decanter in the freezer for a few minutes. Kris, typically, guessed the vineyard correctly on the first try. It's an elegant wine, but it tasted positively slutty in comparison with the last and best wine of the evening- a 2002 Gevrey-Chambertin Villages from Denis Mortet. It's the first over $100 Village-level wine I've had, and worth every penny. Just beautiful. It didn't last long, but the subtlety and definition were breathtaking. And, like all great Burgundy, it got BUSY with the cheese (always the last course chez K&K).
Here's Kris plating the corn soup; in front are the salads waiting to be dressed and adorned with scallops.