From the moment we drove up to the valet parking, to the uniquely sourced French and German wines to the personalized take-away goodie bags, the standing-room-only 2014 Table 1006 Sweethearts’ Dinner was a masterpiece, to say nothing of the stellar company.
Created by the one and only Chef Francine Parker, she of the grace-under-pressure fame, we joked that based upon the last event at Table 1006, we fully expected to be met by fire and/or a plague of locusts. A few hors d’oeuvres did get sacrificed at one point to the fire alarm, but thankfully there were no flying insects or flooding this time around.
Chef Parker’s thoughtful menu included five exceptional courses, the first being an array of three hors d’oeuvres made with the freshest of ingredients.
Pumpernickel, smoked salmon and cream cheese with fresh chives thoroughly complemented the Blanc de Blancs. And then there were the ‘bacon roses’ with kale – how else to say ‘I love you’ to that special someone? The champagnes also loved the wild mixed mushrooms on crostini with garlic butter. Seriously, who are we kidding though – champagne loves everything and everything loves champagne (well, almost).
The first was Collard-Picard, Cuvée Domaine Picard, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blanc, 12.5% abv, US$49.91, apparently very similar to ‘Salon’ (although having never had any myself I cannot guarantee this).
Clear and bright this champagne is pale lemon with aggressive and persistent bubbles. It’s clean and youthful and has medium intense aromas of citrus (pomelo, yellow grapefruit and lemon) with biscuit and brioche.
Dry with medium plus acidity, medium alcohol and creamy yet assertive mousse, it offers medium minus body and medium plus intensity with flavours of lemon creme, lime zest, grapefruit and baked apple danish. The lingering medium plus finish signals the WSET ‘very good’ rating.
The evening’s second champagne was a stunner from Guiborat Fils a Cramant, Les Caures 46, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Millesime 2005 Grand Cru, No. 0677/1300, Disgorged Sept. 3, 2013, US$59.80
This wine gives new meaning to handmade with a traditional seal and tied cork, limited edition bottle number and a disgorgement date to boot! After my embarrassingly geek-worthy display of dribbly bubbles excitement, I’m sure my fellow patrons thought I’d gone nuts.
With only a hundred bottles released to the US market and from the final harvest of this 60 year old vineyard, Chef Parker spirited one across the border from our friends at Garagiste Wines especially for this evening. Apparently it’s equally interesting to drink after being open for a few days. I can’t understand how that could ever happen though – it disappeared rapidly.
Clear and bright, medium lemon with a finely delicate mousse, on the nose it is clean and youthful with medium minus intensity and aromas of apple and fresh lemon, lime and yellow grapefruit. Light brioche and yeast envelop the fruit.
The palate is dry with high acidity, medium minus alcohol and medium plus flavour intensity of ripe green apple, lemon curd and fresh baked bread on the back end. It’s got a long and friendly finish and is WSET ‘Outstanding’. This is a unique and special wine – we were lucky to be able to try it. What a treat!
Our salad course, a stunning combination of hazelnut-encrusted goat cheese served on a bed of fresh salad – including dandelion greens – with blackberries and basalmic and simple salt and pepper seasoning was happily paired with the Loire Valley.
Les Romains, Sancerre AOC, Domaine Vacheron, France, 2011,13%abv (C$60) is clear and bright, pale lemon and has light legs. On the nose, intense minerals with peach and stone fruit, gooseberry, honey and a slightly pungent green tone grew as the wine warmed. Youthful and slender. The palate is dry with medium plus acidity and medium minus body with intense flavours of stone fruit, gooseberry, acacia and honey and a medium finish.
This wine is WSET ‘very good’ – the nose is strong but the palate so balanced and elegant it wrapped itself around the salad and especially the cheese; it’s completely subtle and yet complex.
Our main course of lemon garlic roasted chicken with dijon roasted potatoes and Farmer’s market haricots verts. Now, we’ve had these potatoes before – dubbed ‘sex potatoes’ and the highlight of the evening for one certain diner, they have been known to cause a little seat dancing. They did not disappoint and the chicken was tender and juicy. Delish.
Two sensational wines complemented our main – the first an intensely floral and herbal Beaujolais Cru Gamay noir from Fleurie AC, Jules Desjourneys, Red Burgundy, France, 2007, 12% abv, (US$42.99).
This 100% bio-organic wine is clear and bright, medium ruby with legs. Clean and developing, the wine has pronounced intensity and aromas of light raspberry cordial, red cherry, crab apple, serious cedar frond and clove with nutmeg, green tobacco leaf and garrigue.
Dry with medium plus acidity, medium minus body and the low end of medium alcohol (it’s an elegantly slender 12%), medium ripe and lightly grainy tannins, medium plus intense flavour aromas of raspberry, red cherry, more cedar and spice box including cinnamon with tomato vine and dried herbs. The finish is long.
WSET ‘Outstanding’ – shorter body (possibly due to the semi-carbonic maceration method?) it’s intensely aromatic, quaffable and tasty with well-integrated alcohol, nicely concentrated fruit and beautifully ripe tannins. The garrigue completed the absolutely masterful combination with the roasted chicken and sex potatoes (oh my!).
Some guests preferred the white option, Chablis Grand Cru Valmur AC, Grand Cru, Domaine William Fevre, France, 2009, 13%abv and raved endlessly about the combination it produced with the beans and chicken.
Clear and bright, pale lemon with legs, it’s clean and youthful with medium minus aromas of lemon, pomelo and light yeast with minerals and clover honey.
Dry with medium plus intensity, medium alcohol and medium minus body. Medium intense flavours of lemon, cooked apple, green melon and lime curls with biscuit, almond and wet rocks. The medium plus finish was wedded perfectly to those green haricots. WSET ‘Very good’ with excellent minerality, delicate fruit and balanced alcohol.
Chef Parker then presented the cheese course consisting of St. Augur from Auvergne, a triple cream Brie and a Morbier from Franche-Comte with dried apricots and figs. This is getting truly ridiculous. I have reached my limit of superlatives to describe these delectable morsels of goodness.
But wait, the piece de resistance, the crowing glory, the cherry on top – the fresh apple galette with homemade cinnamon ice cream. Bring it on, Chef Parker.
Served alongside Dr. Loosen’s German Riesling, Beerenauslese, from the Mosel, Germany, 2006, 7% abv, 187 ml (1/4 bottle), the medium sweetness went swimmingly with the elegantly spiced ice cream, apples and pastry.
Clear and bright, pale lemon with deep legs, the Dr. Loosen is clean and developing with medium plus intense aromas of black tea leaves, pear juice, honey, ripe apricot, sage and minerals.
Medium sweet with refreshing, high acidity and low alcohol, the wine has medium plus intense flavours of more pear juice, apricots and nectarine, minerals and honey. The medium plus finish completes a WSET ‘very good’ rating. This wine will happily age 5-8 years more; its acidity and fresh fruit will see to that.
Risking a Python-esque “Mr. Creosote” scene, the evening concluded with oh-so-delicate macadamia nut cookies that were “only wafer thin”. Suffice to say, cookie mission accomplished, no harm, no foul, and no cleaning lady required.
What an evening – no pestilence, no floods, no (real) fires – just seriously outstanding food, absolutely lovely company all around, great service (although someone did remark that Chef Parker shouldn’t allow the staff to speak with the patrons) and gracious wine sharing. Wondrous.