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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Night I'll Always Remember...

It was quite the dinner we had, the other night at Murray Circle in Cavallo Point (Fort Baker).  I went with my buddy Grant who knows this place inside out.  We immediately were sat at the money table and drinks were a flowing.  I decided to have a cocktail before I started ordering food.  And the Blood & Sand sounded right up my alley.  It had Achentoshan 12 yr, Roi Rene, Carpano Antica and orange.  Basically, that translates into scotch and vermouth and other goodness.  And boy, was it good. Just what the doctor ordered, to get the meal on it's way.

We had a bottle of Burgundy brought over as we made decisions on the vast menu. And then came some amuse bouches.  The first, was the sweet pea tortellini with Domestic Oscetra Caviar and a sweet pea gazapacho.  I have had that sweet pea gazapacho before and I just love the Serrano Chile and citrus ice they use in it's preparation.  But that tortellini was something else.  Man, with the Caviar all up-in-it.

The decadence continued when another amuse bouche arrived.  This time we had Halibut and foie gras.  Sassafras salt-cured Halibut, Carpaccio wrapping a Halibut Crudo, a little fresh fennel, served over a vanilla-roasted pineapple, finished with shaved foie gras and a sherry vinaigrette. It was bite size but I ate both, as my friend Grant does not care for fish.  It was presented and executed in such a great fashion.  I was thoroughly impressed.

I had already tried all 5 types of bread in the bread basket by now.  There was the whole wheat sourdough, a ciabatta, some Japanense seaweed bread, a spring onion semolina and fennel mustard seed bread. They were all pretty fantastic.  I used some of the bread to soak up the wild foraged porcini's that were braised and served "a la grecque with a pecan vinaigrette and aged sheep's milk cheese on top.

Along with mushrooms came an order of the coal-roasted baby beets with a crispy quinoa cake, a little dill puree, fresh ricotta cheese, sherry vinegar and a beet green tapenade. And the summer squash served over a Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio with lemon verbena vinaigrette.  These dishes were both beautiful to look at and delectable to the palate.

To finish up the fruits & vegetables, I also had the green garlic vichyssoise served with a smoked paprika oil, spiced almonds, grilled grapes and grilled Spot Prawns from Oxnard, California. And this was just the robust beginning to a even fuller meal to come.

Grant gave me a bite of the chicken & foie grais, which is  a country style terrine served with porcini mushroom, chicken foie gras vinaigrette with mizuna greens and a smoked sweet tea brined chicken breast. Normally, you can find this dish on the Grand Tasting menu.  We had a special portion made just for us. It defined the term specialty.

As the Burgundy continued to pour,  the Pacific Cod from the Fishing Vessel, Linda Ann, (Bolinas) arrived. It was served with Madeira glazed veal sweetbreads, tempura battered shiso and a sugar snap pea salad with a peanut vinaigrette. It was a perfect pairing of meat, fish and vino! 

Grant ordered a double portion of the wood grilled Marin Sun Farms grass fed beef.  It was ribeye served with a mytoki mushroom & mizuna salad and a parmesan potato gratin with a Cabernet Gastrique. I had a bite, it was tremendous.

My lamb dish was young pasture raised from Red Hill Farm in Petaluma. It consisted of a lamb chop with merguez sausage that is wood grilled and a leg served with a dry cured black olive paste. Finishing the dish off, was a neck and shank cannelloni that had been braised in a sheep's milk yogurt and served with compressed cucumber. It was a three-way done remarkably.


When the dessert menus hit the table, so did glasses of a fine sherry, a Moscato d'Asti and a Madeira.  Grant insisted we try several selections.  So we had a butterscotch souffl√©, baked to order, with a butterscotch blondie and served with vanilla ice cream.  The next dessert was a strawberry tart served over a chamomile cream with strawberry preserves and a formage blanc sorbet. Then came a lemon creme brulee served with pistachio whipped cream, limoncello granita and grapefruit segements. Suddenly, a chilled cherry consume came out, served with roasted cherry sorbet, creme fraiche ice cream and pistachio tuile. Lastly, a short stack of blueberry pancakes with a blueberry caramel came out.  Grant insisted that I needed to experience it's blueberry sorbet and the citrus butter.  I experienced it all.  I was a cochon, but I loved it.

We walked the grounds and my dog after the meal to let it all digest.  I was blown away by the service, the quality of the food and the libations.  But, I was equally moved by the night itself.  It was one of those magical evenings that will remain in my memory bank forever.  Thanks to Grant for making it happen.

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