Thursday, March 08, 2007

Le Pigeon Love!

Growing up isn't so bad after all. Back in the day, boy's night out meant a couple of half racks of beer, stale chips and clam dip that is just over its pull date, and a basketball game on TV. That was then, last night is now!

Boy's Night '07: A gathering of five food and wine loving friends at Le Pigeon. The mission: eat our way through the menu and put a dent in their wine list. Chance of Success: 100%!

So it was as we met at Rontoms bar a block away from our destination for a predinner cocktail and catching up. The big news to come out is that my friend Randy announced that he is signing a lease for a space to put in his long dreamt of gastro-pub out on SE Foster. Look for more on Cava in the months to come. Then it was a short walk up the street into the welcoming bustle that is Le Pigeon's tiny dining room. I always feel good when I walk in here. It's warmly comforting feel, cozily lit, and always has a nice buzz in the air. We settled into our chairs, grabbed the menus, and hit it. The four starters we shared were all excellent. Twice cooked sweetbreads (left) were soft and delectable. I'm no doctor, but is the thymus gland good for anything other than eating?; oysters on the half shell with a deliciously inventive riesling-apple gelee; a richly decadent parsnip and foie gras soup; and a grilled pigeon atop a Spanish macaroni salad. We washed these treats down with a bottle of '05 Taille aux Loupes Vouvray that was crisp, racy, and still young. I can imagine it blossoming in about 2-3 years. David spied a lovely looking 2001 Paul Prieur Sancerre. I love Sancerre, which with its crisp, racy acidity and bright, grassy freshness is usually about as good as sauv blanc gets, and this one didn't disappoint.

Then it was time to get serious, as the entrees were on the way. Everything on the menu was looking good, so hard decisions were in order. I chose the Strawberry Mountain Flatiron Steak (below), not so much because I was in a meat mood, but because it was served with Crab deviled eggs. I love the deviled egg. It reminds me of warm weather and childhood picnics. Add crab to the mix and what could I do? And leave it to chef Gabriel Rucker to up the ante by taking this already tempting treasure and then tossing the whole thing in the deep fryer....incredible!! Mom's eggs were never like this. The other thing calling to me off the menu was the Veal Blanquette, again not so much for the smooth, super-rich creaminess surrounding the meat, but for the fact that it came with a foie gras raviolo. Luckily, Jeff ordered it, so I got a bite. My mouth was swooning. We also sampled the Potato Crusted Sea Bass and the Pan roasted Duck Breast with blood pudding. Both were spectacular. More wine? Of course. Andrew made the wise choice of a peppery, full-bodied '04 Cairanne from Domaine Cros de Ronet. It was simply awesome, and was nearly Chateauneuf-like in it's intensity. Great red wine. Then I went the other direction with a bottle of 2005 Champs-Grilles Saint Amour, a cru Beaujolais that was a bright, luscious bottle of gamay goodness.

And if you think we were too full for dessert, you'd best think again. We piled into our already stretched tummies their signature one-of-a-kind bacon cornbread with maple syrup and ice cream that is so crazily wonderful, a perfect crème brulee (below) with a coffee pot de crème, and one other thing, something tart-like, that I'm losing track of right now. I think I still have a food hangover. All were really nice, remarkably not too heavy, and made better by the fact that we shared a bottle 2000 Pietri-Geraud Banyuls, which is a rare, grenache-based dessert wine from southwest France's Rousillon appellation. A perfectly fitting finale to a night of overindulgence. Again all I can do is feel fortunate that I am able to enjoy these things with an amazing group of friends...thanks guys! Beats the hell out of half racks of beer, doesn't it? Here's more evidence....Blanquette de Veau with that crazy foie gras raviolo; luscious Banyuls; and something tart-like!

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