Several members arrived early, availing themselves of the opportunity to try some of the Belgian beers on offer before the proceedings began with canapés around the bar. Delicious morsels of Beef Tartar on toast and Tuna with Lemongrass on Endive (Bangkok meets Brussels) were served with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner from Fritz Wieninger (2018) as aperitif. Wine Spokesman Robert Lea, admittedly not a big fan of white wines, still found this a suitable, if not awe-inspiring, complement to the food.
Robert was more pleased with our second white wine, a Cantina Terlan Gewurztaminer (2018) from the Südtirol, Alto Adige Region of Northeastern Italy. He appreciated the slightly spicy richness of this wine, which was paired with Poached Asparagus with Truffle Vinaigrette, Marscapone Cream and Pickled Mushrooms. Our Food Spokesman (and Club Wine Master) Thomas Boedinger said this crisp and fresh starter was, for him, the best dish of the day.
We next enjoyed a Salmon Mi-Cuit with Tarragon Crust on Braised Lentils and Petits Legumes. It was a beautifully delicate preparation – the fish was perfectly done, with just a hint of the duck fat in which it was cooked sous-vide style and served with a reduced sherry vinegar sauce. It was accompanied by Two Paddocks Fusilier Bannockburn Pinot Noir (2017) from the South Island, New Zealand. Robert expressed surprise that such a red, with its spicy cherry notes, would go so well with the salmon. He also felt it was perhaps a bit “young” but some others thought it actually tasted nearer the end of its life.
As we continued with the Cab Sav we were treated to a selection of fine gourmet cheeses brought from America by Mark Guthrie. All were produced by Jasper Hill Farm in the remote northeastern corner of Vermont, including their Cabot clothbound cheddar, award-winning rich creamy Bayley Hazen Blue, and gooey spruce-bark wrapped Harbison (favorite of the day for most), along with their versions of bloomy-rind Brie-style and mid-elevation European mountain-style cheeses.
Our final wine was a Tenuta Sette Ponti’s Crognolo (2015), a Tuscan red made from Sangiovese grapes. Robert declared this to be his favorite wine of the day, and it went well with both the cheeses and our dessert course, Chestnut Mont Blanc, a meringue served with chestnuts, kirsch, and vanilla ice cream, garnished with shaved chocolate.
Birthday boy Alex Fisken also contributed two bottles of a nice Tawny Port that members enjoyed either along with or in lieu of a coffee, thus topping off a fine dining experience. For his efforts, Alex was asked to present our thanks to Peter, Nicolas, and their superb staff who did so much to make our day special.