Morel Mushroom Madness at the Plumed Horse

The Plumed Horse Restaurant, Saratoga, California
Tasted Friday, May 30, 2008 by rjonwine@gmail.com with 796 views

Introduction

I had been looking forward to the pairing of wines with fabulous dishes using fresh morels since Renee and J.R. mentioned it to me a couple months back. As planned, J.R. and Renee made their annual trek to Eastern Washington over Memorial Day Weekend, and collected about 4 & 1/2 pounds of grey morel mushrooms. They had arrange with Chef Peter Armellino at the Plumed Horse to prepare them, and his ideas of what he was going to do with each course dictated our wine flights, which included white Rhones, Chardonnay, red Burgundy, an intermezzo flight of Pichon Lalande, Syrah, and a couple of sweet wines with desert. The food was fabulous, and very creative and flavorful as usual from Chef Peter. Most of our wines also showed very well, especially our two Burgundies with Peter's take on Salad Lyonnaise, all of our Syrahs and our sweeties.
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Flight 1 - Champagne with passed appetizers (1 Note)

The passed appetizers included caviar and creme fraiche on tiny blinis and chicken salad served on endive.

Flight 2 - White Rhones (2 Notes)

The flight that TCA and oxidation did a number on, but Chapoutier Chante-Alouette still emerged as an elegant young beauty. Served with a delicious course of oxtail consomme that included foie gras stuffed morels, finely chopped snail, spring onion and a green garlic flan.
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Flight 3 - Chardonnay (3 Notes)

This flight was served with a succulent, flavorful and amazingly balanced dish of Maine Diver Scallops with asparagus salad and morel mushroom ragout in a duck jus sauce. While this might seem an odd combination, the flavors not only jumped but somehow complimented each other. The dish went particularly well with the Meursault.
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Flight 4 - Pinot (3 Notes)

Our flight of Pinot, which included two excellent Burgundies and a Cali Pinot that I've been reading about on eBob, was served with Peter's interpretation of salad lyonnaise with morels. This meant sweetbread croutons, a slow-cooked (over three hours) egg yolk, morel beignets and mustard vinaigrette. Definitely another stunning dish. And the Burgundies, especially the Leroy "Beaux Monts," were also delicious. The Morlet Pinot was overripe and a little hot in this company.
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Flight 5 - Pichon Lalande vertical (4 Notes)

We then had a wine intermezzo, a generous mature vertical of Pichon Lalande from J.R. and Renee. The '85 was the best of the flight for me, but the '86 was also impressive, especially since this vintage has taken so long to come around.
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Flight 6 - Syrah (4 Notes)

This was a very satisfying flight for me, with the La Chapelle and SQN For the Love of It showing particularly well. Our course for this flight was a prime onglet of beef on a bed of morel risotto and ramp greens.
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Flight 7 - Sweet wines in honor of Alois Kracher (2 Notes)

I'm a huge fan of Kracher's sweet wines, and this was the best of SQN's sweet wines that I've had. I'm starting to think the Noble Man series is capable of long aging, and that they will get even better over time. Our light and smart dessert with this flight was warm beignets that we dipped in a truffled hot white chocolate sauce.
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Closing

All in all, a very tasty and delightful evening with more creative, stellar cooking from Chef Peter Armellino, and admirable service from Josh and his crew. A big thank you to Renee and J.R. for collecting the precious gifts of nature that inspired this feast.

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