John McDowell, Morningstar's sous chef, is now heading the kitchen at Blue Velvet. In my opinion he is heading the kitchen to good effect. It may be my imagination, but it seems as though the food is heartier and a touch less precious. In addition to the wonderful food we ate, an issue with the wine we ordered was handled beautifully and with such politesse that we will surely visit again sometime soon.
I don't understand or really appreciate French wine in the way that I understand New World wines. I have taken classes on Old World wines. I drink French wine on a somewhat regular basis. I have visited France more than once, and I go to wine tastings at a shop that specializes in European wines. Nevertheless, my taste buds out me consistently as a rube. My mouth is accustomed to bold, Oregonian reds & rich California whites. For some reason D decided we needed to try a French pinot Friday night, and it did not sit well with me. This 2005 Chambolle-Musigny was so tart that my face screwed up every time it hit the back of my mouth. My eyes watered. I know an off wine when I taste it, and this was not off. It just did not suit me. The waiter asked if he could decant it, and we agreed, hoping the not inexpensive wine would open up and soften. In the meantime we downed martinis and ate these appies.
I noshed on the above piece of pork belly. As fatty as pork belly is, I don't typically order it. But after watching several contestants from Top Chef have a go at it over the last few seasons, I was intrigued. And it was good. Very good. It was served with sour cherries with a cherry glaze drizzled on the plate, and accompanied by the short seasoned and much loved squash blossom, lightly fried.
D has come to love frisee au lardons, or anything mimicking that, this summer. This particular version used pea tendrils as the green, and it was a lovely rendition.
About this time the waiter swings by and we try the decanted and oxygenated 2005 Chambolle-Musigny yet again. I pull a sour puss. We assure the waiter that there is nothing wrong with the wine, rather there is something wrong with us, and we will happily pay for it, but we really need to drink a different bottle of something else. He sends the manager our way, and the manager offers to bring us something different and eat the cost of the offending wine. We assure him this is not necessary, but he convinces us in such a lovely way that I left feeling both very pampered and very drunk. Goldilocks ended up with the above Oregonian pinot noir and it tasted just right.
Goldilocks also ate the above guinea hen, wrapped around caper berries then wrapped in what I believe was its own skin, served with long beans and a variety of mushrooms. The menu mentioned a cream sauce, but knowing how sparely sauces are used in this kitchen I ordered it anyway, and I guessed correctly. There was just a trace of cream sauce to accent the mushrooms rather than drowning the bird.
D predictably ordered the scallops from the prix fixe menu. I didn't taste the shellfish, but I sampled what looked like vermicelli on his plate. It was actually some sort of radish type veg cut to mimic pasta, it tasted wonderful and added a lovely acidity to the dish.
After martinis and red wine, on a much needed Friday night...