Pretentious. That’s the word that came to my mind when I was getting ready to go to dinner with Doug at Gary Danko in San Francisco. Visions of snooty, uptight waiters who thought if you didn’t come in wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci purse you didn’t belong there, were dancing through my head. When we got there however I discovered I could not have been more wrong.
We arrived at Gary Danko’s for our 9pm reservation, every table was full and there were only 2 stools available in the bar. They apologized for running behind on the reservation and invited us to wait at the bar. The bartender came over and we started talking…apparently as busy as they were this was considered a slow night at Danko. When he told me that, I literally had to pick my chin up off the bar! We discussed some of the wines they had because I wanted to start with a nice red and it came down to a choice between a 2009 Rosso di Montalcino Sangiovese, Poggio Antico and a 2005 Dehesa La Granja Tempranillo, Alejandro Fernandez. The bartender gave me a taste of each and I decided as good as they both were, the 2005 Tempranillo was definitely the right choice.
This Tempranillo comes from the Castilla y León region of Spain and is grown just outside of Zamora. The Dehesa La Granja Tempranillo vines were planted in 1998 and this wine spent 24 months in American Oak. It is a dark wine that shows dark fruit and smoky coffee on the nose just as obviously. The flavors are layered full of currant and dark berries with hints of cocoa and black pepper and is a strong tasty wine with an intense full body.
Now, I am blessed to be married to a very patient man that loves to spoil me and every once in a while I let him. Eating caviar is a ritualistic, ceremony steeped in tradition; requiring pomp in it’s presentation and the use of specific accoutrements. Each morsel is to be savored and experienced, it is DEFINITELY not to be rushed! In essence caviar is unfertilized Sturgeon roe and is a highly prized, elegant dish, that is served with a reverence that most other foods can only dream of obtaining. The two best and most expensive types of caviar are Beluga and Osetra (Ossetra). Gary Danko carries two styles of Osetra: Golden and Black, I being a bit of a traditionalist chose black. As I mentioned ordering caviar is a ceremony, first it can be served just as the caviar and blini or with toast points (crustless pieces of toast cut into triangles) or you can order it with what’s called Caviar “service” which at Gary Danko includes: the buckwheat blinis, miniscually chopped hard boiled egg whites and yolk, finely chopped chives and red onion, and Crème fraîche. The caviar itself comes in it’s jar housed atop crushed ice on a chilled metal “chafing” dish with a beautiful mother of pearl caviar spoon. A mother of pearl spoon is used because it is chemically neutral and doesn’t affect the delicate flavor of the caviar where as a metal spoon is thought to impart a metallic flavor to the roe.
For me you can’t properly eat caviar without a glass of bubbly accompanying it, it’s almost sacrilege not to pair the two. So since I hadn’t finished my Tempranillo I reluctantly handed what remained over to Doug to enjoy with his Roasted Pork Belly and Tenderloin with Bacon and Pea Stew, Roasted Peppers and Maple Cider Glaze which turned out to be an inspired pairing for him. For me that night I asked our delightful and very indulgent server what he would recommend to go with my” little appetizer” and he suggested a Le Vigne Di Alice Tajad Spumante brut, it’s a lovely sparkling wine that paired nicely with the little black beads of heaven topping my blini and fixin’s. The continuous bubbles highlighted the tiny bursts of brine from the caviar without over whelming the delicate flavor.
The Le Vigne Di Alice Tajad Spumante brut is an Italian sparkling wine made in the Charmat method and is farmed sustainably from the Veneto wine region of Italy. It is made from 3 varietals Prosecco, Verdiso, and Boschera which composes a more unique nose than other common Proseccos, calling in apples and pears with overlays of honey. It’s a perfect apertivo which awakens the palate so that while on the tongue the wine, with it’s soft flower and fruity notes of peach and apple can also appreciate the hint of salt that mirrors the exquisite briny taste of the caviar for a rich, delectable, pairing experience.
I continued to drink this lovely sparkling with my Roast Main Lobster with Potato Puree, Pioppini Mushroom , Corn and Tarragon more of which you can read about in Doug’s post San Francisco Strikes Again – Restaurant Gary Danko Is Worth the Weight.
What can I say about this evening at Gary Danko? Well to start, it will go down in my history book as a gastronomically splendid evening with the man I love, surrounded by my favorite dishes and drinking the gifts of Dionysus in a dreamlike setting. If that doesn’t say it all I don’t know what will.
A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine and becoming viands.