Monday, March 24, 2008

A Thursday, with Friday Style

So, I should have known I was in for an evening of delight when I got the missive "Gentleman, Start Your engines." I was running late, that fateful night (new job), and truth be told, I needed a drink. When I arrived the gang had been merciful: waiting to unleash the tasty bits until my big fat ass pushed through the door. Little did I know that my taste buds were about to be...ahem...serviced. Johnson delivered my medicine in the form of a sparkling red- yes, you read that correctly, a sparkling red, and we were off...

The first course was Pea, Ham, and Garlic Soup. The soup was very flavorful- both creamy in texture and complex in flavor. The 
roasted garlic gave up a much subtler flavor than I would have imagined: delicious. And who can stay mad at smoky hunks of ham? Anyhow, a great first course. 

The second course I was particularly looking forward to: Smoked Eel with celeriac, beet root, and horseradish remoulade. It is easy to overlook how regal beets look for presentation; Jon had pretty impressively (and uniformly) julienned the raw beets by hand, and created a tasty remoulade under the smoked eel. Again, great choice pairing that truly earthy root with the smoky goodness of the eel. All good. By the time we were winding down on the second course, we naturally sped up and completed our first series of wines. It is at this point that I realize how grateful I am that THIS Thursday Club is celebrated on a Friday. 

We uncorked a series of reds for the unveiling of the main course: Slow Roasted Lamb with minted mashed potatoes and Aubergine Caviar. Oh man. It was obvious that Jon took his time with this one--each tender bite just relented its former relationship to its bone, and fell right on to the fork. Just delicious. The minted mash was creative: mint is the perfect companion to lamb, but I don't think I've ever had the two combined.  I think the potatoes were boiled with mint and removed, then fresh leaves were later added, for a deeper mint flavor. The minced aubergine caviar was a good complement, as well- one would normally expect a standard "green" vegetable next to the meat and potato. The caviar was a great, light addition and departure to complete the plate. 

For dessert, Jon served up some Chocolate Pots : ramekins of deep, rich chocolate, served with cream. I was delighted to find that the dessert was not traditionally "sweet", but instead a true chocolate-lovers experience. After the chocolate pots, Jon served up a glorious Stilton cheese, and we cracked open a few bottles of Sauternes. That friggin' cheese was ruthlessly good. 

To polish of the evening Jon opened a special wine, courtesy of his father, and we toasted a fine-ass meal. All in all, a damn good showing. 

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