Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Birthday, Birthday

It was my birthday last weekend. Yes indeed, time is surely flying. 33 years have past by already. Wow.

Kelly took me to dinner at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in East Memphis. This place is definitely a welcome addition to the Memphis dining scene. Locally sourced product with a authentic Italian flavor. They aren't afraid to really go old school either (read: snout to tail, oh yeah!) I started with a Basil Limonata cocktail made with Ston Vodka, lime, basil & club soda. It was bright, citrusy & lightly spiced from the fresh basil; a perfect aperitif to open up my palate. My first course was a fried green tomato salad with pickled watermelon rind, Allen Benton's bacon, Bianco Sottobosco cheese (mmm, truffles!) & arugula tossed in lemon juice & truffle oil. Damn it was delicious!

My main course was braised pig cheeks with garbanzos, demi-glace & fried pig ears. The cheeks were super tender & melted in my mouth that texture against the snap of the pig ears was perfect. To pair with this lovely dish I brought along a bottle of L'Aventure Optimus 2003 Paso Robles. This beauty has been a favorite of mine & Kelly's for years now. The '03 was my last bottle from my cellar so it was kind of bittersweet but what better time to pop it than Birthday, right? The Optimus was drinking beeeauuutifully! It was blue/purple in the glass with a licorice, blueberry, smoke, black currant & a hint of earthy spice on the nose. The palate was rich & round & supple bodied...all sexy & voluptuous. I know it might be strange to describe a wine as sexy but sometimes that just fits. Instead of just hitting me on the palate it rippled through my body like some sort of sensual, velvet electricity. I know you hear me on this, Sam!

We left the restaurant & headed back to Midtown to lounge in the backyard of our very wonderful friends Marlinee & Max. Feeling festive, I popped the cork on my one & only bottle of Benegas Lynch Libertad Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2003 Mendoza. This 100% Cab Franc is one of the most spectacular that I've ever tasted. It was heady with dark, dried violet & tarragon. The palate was rich, sumptuous & luscious with notes of black raspberry, fennel, clove, violet & vanilla. At 6 years of age it showed no sign of slowing down, in fact I almost feel guilty for popping it. This bad boy could go for at least another 6!

We finished up with a Domaine Tempier Bandol 2006 THANKS RICHIE!!! What they say is true about this little wild number. Its musky, wild, spicy & funky on the nose & I just love stuff like that! The palate was very approachable given the aroma, it had moderate tannins with a dark meatiness, peppercorn & plum notes. I could tell immediately that this wine wanted some braised lamb shanks with black olives. We sipped away on our Bandol, as black as night, & smiled at how lucky we were to be all together on that beautiful night.

By the way, sorry I haven't posted in forever & sorry for no pics on this one. I was too caught up in it all to snap photos.


Samantha Dugan said...

What a lovely birthday dinner Michael. Happy to hear you loved the Tempier, one of my favorites and with a few years on it, stunning. You got it right though, they are "wild" which can be a bit much for those not used to it but damn, I love em!

Michael Hughes said...

It was soooo good. I want more!

Benito said...


Happy birthday, and I think it's cool that we were born one week apart back in the old Bicentennial year.

Thanks for the tip on the restaurant--I've never even heard of this place. Pig cheeks and ears? I'm there!

I'll be writing up the Dogfish beers in the next couple of weeks with a tip of the hat to you and the good folks at Joe's.


Michael Hughes said...

Ben-thanks again for bringing all those bitters in, very cool.