Grizzly cub, Snow

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Northern rations

While the northern campaign can in no way be characterized as a stunning success it did have its few small moments.  One of them was dinner with my friend Michael at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Creola in San Carlos. After all, an army can not march on an empty stomach.

I should start this post with the proviso that am in no way an oenophile. If it is red I will generally drink it and mostly enjoy anything beyond the gallo stuff that comes in a cardboard box.

Michael does know his wine and brought out a special bottle that has been in his cellar for decades, a 1961 bordeaux Chateau La Lagune. This winery from the Haut Medoc region is one of fourteen Troisièmes Crus (Third Growths) in the historic Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.

He explained to me that '61 was one of the two best vintages from the last century, the other being the '45. (My checking around says that the '49 wasn't too bad either)

While the bottle has lost a lot of fluid in the neck, he told me that it was possible that I would be drinking one of the greatest wines to ever trickle down my throat.

Michael had called Edwin, the owner of Creola a few hours earlier. Unbeknownst to us he stayed an extra couple hours to properly serve and decant the wine for us.

We arrived and he had a little operational room set out in the kitchen to deal with the evening's star libation.

He found the perfect tool for extracting the 53 year old cork, a cork that has stayed surprisingly moist in Michael's cellar.

We were served corn muffins. I ordered the shrimp fennel bisque with sherry, spiced up a skoche with a little black pepper.

Michael had a salad, something that Creola has always done exceedingly well.

For an entrée my dinner companion chose the filet, something Creola does better than anybody else around, in a very unique way. I have written about it before, you will just have to try it.

Edwin told me that duck was back on the menu and I opted for the canard l'orange.

The host brought the decanter out with three glasses. The owner graciously accepted a taste. The color was a bit murky but not brackish. There was no trace of cork. I sniffed the violaceous liquid and there was no hint of acridity or tannin. The first sip was soft and luscious. Wow!

Michael, who has a much better nose than I do, isolated the individual smells. He characterized it as a tobacco box nose, in the best sense of the word. I detected a faint note of anise or licorice.

The meal was fantastic and the wine just got better and better throughout the evening. Even the color changed into a deeper red. I don't think a half century old wine could be any more perfect. One of the very best I have ever tasted. Still had all the necessary structure and shape.

I have a '59 Chateau Margaux that I think I will open with Michael later in the year. I hope that it is still drinkable, we will see.

Finished the meal there as we customarily do with the cafe du mond style beignets. Rather epic evening. Thank you, Michael, thank you Creola for a great meal!

344 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 654-0882


Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Epic indeed. What a wonderful evening - you are very fortunate to have a good friend who also happens to have a great wine cellar. Love the photo.

Anonymous said...

You've immortalized me, purple haze!