John MacTaggart, food spokesman, did an excellent job as ever with descriptions of the savoury beef roll and jelly, beetroot marinated salmon on pumpernickel, and “L’escargot dans l’escargot”. Brendon Winter, our wine spokesman, was not quite as fulsome with his praise of the Xarel-Lo, his opinion with which I concurred.
Dining in earnest started with a colourful presentation of Duck confit “Pâté en croûte”, red onion jam, pickle, and mustard seed sauce. John loved the pastry crust and the pâté, and its accoutrements. Promised by Thomas Boedinger (our wine Fuhrer) to be a contentious choice, this was served with 2015 Claus Preisinger Pinot Noir (Austria) which Brendon came to like more as the lunch proceeded and the wine warmed up. Beef consommé, braised oxtail and porcini came next. I personally would like to see consommé more often on our tables and this was a fine example of how it should be prepared. It came with 2012 Cederberg Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa) which proved to have been an excellent find “from a bin-end”.
Begrudgingly but truly in jest, Kiwi Brendon said it was “not bad”, easy on the nose, with a great body – exactly as many African ladies have been blessed.
To match this, we found 2014 Orma (Italy), a “Super Tuscan”. Still a little young and therefore a little acidic, Brendon commended the wine which he found to be an excellent match for the beef.
For cheese (for once arriving ahead of the dessert) a classic Lyonnais cheese, Cervelle de canut, and a special concoction of fresh cheese with shallot and fresh herbs, accompanied by fig bread. Tom Whitcraft will celebrate his birthday shortly so the imbibers were faced with a choice of 10-year old Sandeman port or 2014 Domaine des Enfants Perdu (France) both of which turned out to be great matches for the cheese and dessert. Overall, Brendon complimented the pairings proposed by Thomas and an excellent meal.
We have to be grateful to Philippe’s grandmother for the recipe for summer tiramisu with berries, which made a very nice finish to an outstanding meal. ‘Twas not quite over because Andrew MacDowell was at hand to celebrate his birthday with the gift of Remy Martin Le Club cognac.
Proceedings continued with Tom making the rounds to collect gratuities and Andrew to deliver them with our profuse thanks to GM Francis Zimmerman, Executive Chef Philippe and the Rib Room team for a great lunch and first-rate service.