Sunday, July 14, 2013

Birthday celebrations

On Thursday it was my turn to clock up 40 years on the planet, so some celebrating was in order. G and I met up outside La Maison du Chocolat on Piccadilly and walked to Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental for dinner. En route, G was approached for directions by several lost tourists which we deduced was because he was looking very posh in his suit and therefore the tourists thought he was a local.

I went to Bar Boulud last year with my friend M and regretted not having the Piggie burger, as I was too embarrassed by the silly name to order it. I didn't let that get in the way this time, and it was utterly delicious and definitely the thing to go for on all future occasions.

To drink, we had a glass of Ayala rose each and then a bottle of Auxey-Duresses from Coche-Dury. We had the 2007 last year and it was one of the stand-out wines, so when I was reading the Bar Boulud wine list on the internet and saw the 2005, I knew this was the wine for me. But it turned out they only had the 2007. We asked the waitress if any of the 2005 was still available and full credit to her, she said she wasn't sure and would get the sommelier. He told us that an alarmingly high proportion of the 2005s had been duffers, so we were better off with the 2007. Decision made. Once again it was absolutely wonderful and lived up to my very high expectations with its heavenly heady sweet berry fruit nose.

After dinner, we hopped into a taxi and arrived home for a marc tasting!

I currently have three marcs on the go (sound of tumbrils rumbling in the distance) - the Felettig vieux marc de bourgogne, which we believe is about 25 years old, the Lamarche 1961, and the d'Angerville from the 1930s which G gave me for my birthday. This is the same one that I got him for his birthday and which we consumed over the course of that long weekend away.

It was amazing how similar they were in colour! The verdict was that each was very good of its type. The Felettig was relatively rustic compared to the other two, with raisins on the nose, while the Lamarche was smoother and had more sultanas going on. The d'Angerville had lost the fruit on the nose but had turned into a very fine old spirit, still quite fiery. G repeated his theory that with old spirits you can't really tell what they were originally - if someone had told us it was Calvados, for example, we would have believed them. For once I think the price differentials genuinely reflected differences in age and hence quality.

Lurking in the background on the left was a bag from La Maison du Chocolat containing pieces of chocolate-covered orange peel, an extra surprise present from G. These will join my recent discovery, Willie's Sea Salt Caramel Black Pearls ("It's a journey of endless surprises with these rare and precious pearls" according to the back of the box), in future assiettes de chocolat.

Then last night it was off to the Perseverance for a small celebratory dinner with family and friends. We had the room upstairs to ourselves, which was great.

We got there in plenty of time to get the wine sorted out, as there were things to be decanted and things to be put in ice buckets. Fortunately for me, G took care of all that stuff.

It was quite a line-up!

Alfred Gratien champagne 1995 "Cuvee Millenaire" en magnum with some gougeres as an aperitif.

Corton Grand Cru 2005 from Domaine Parent with our starters - poached sea trout with samphire and cucumber in my case.

Chateau Latour 1960 with the beef - 50 day aged Dexter. A stunning combo, absolute highlight of the evening! Once again I think I have taken my sister-in-law's claret habit up a notch and my brother probably won't thank me for it.

Auxey-Duresses 2005 from Domaine Prunier en magnum with the cheese - Stinking Bishop and some lovely oatcakes.

Chateau Rieussec 1976 with the lemon tart and raspberry sorbet. We brought a second bottle just in case and G was amazed that the first bottle whizzed round the table and was empty in seconds, so it was just as well we had the second!

And finally, the Lamarche 1961 marc de bourgogne and coffee, which brought the evening to a fine conclusion. I forgot to tell my friend L a joke I made up specially for her - what's a pirate's favourite digestif? Marrrrrrrrrrc.

I've just had an email from my mother saying that she and my father both "woke up feeling completely clear-headed" which just goes to show that the good stuff is good for you.

All in all, it was a really good dinner and went exactly to plan - nothing was corked or faulty, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Now I need to get cracking and start planning my 50th!

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