Saturday, June 17, 2006


You must excuse the delay of this write-up, but we have been so busy with Samuel's 3rd birthday party, visiting friends and family and the ultimate 50th Birthday Benefit this past weekend, that I could not get a second to jot down our thoughts of my 50th Birthday PLUS one month dinner at the LABORATORIO del GALILEO with one of our favorite chefs in town, IRON CHEF AMERICA winner ROBERTO DONNA presiding!

The meal started with several bottles of VEUVE CLIQUOT Yellow Label N/V which is a great way to cool off on a bloody hot summer night (which we seem to be having way to many of lately!). A SALD of BABY ARTICHOKES & LOBSTER with FRIED BABY ANCHOVIES and Orange Dressing was an excellent starter with luscious chunks of tender lobster and superbly fried and crunchy anchovies on top. We opened a magnum of 1997 IRON HORSE CHARDONNAY Cuvee Joy from Sonoma that we brought with us and its Fench style and mineral hints made it the perfect foil for the lobster. It lasted a while, but we switched to a 1990 CHATEAU GUIRAUD SAUTERNES with the ROASTED DUCK LIVER in PEACH SAUCE. The foie gras was SUPERB, simple and totally faaaabulous, and the amber wine was drinking so perfectly it was a match made in heaven.

We had several duds with wines from my cellar: a totally off 1990 Charbonneau from Woodward Canyon in Washington died a long time ago (although, oddly the sommelier, Matteo thought it fine). Second disaster was a 1985 Morey St. Denis which was also completely gone (what a shame!).

So we ordered some of the yummy MonFerrato Rosso 2000 which is a combination of Barbera, Pinot Noir and Merlot that would work with almost any medium-style dish! We drank it with the tasty and slightly spicy PAPPA POMODORO with Shrimp, a yummy soup made of tomato and bread that is a winner anytime in my book.

REGINETTE of Home Grown Swiss CHARD & RICOTTA, Barrage, a MOREL MUSHROOM RAGU with Parmesan Cheese Sauce was our first of three heavenly pasta courses. There is no question that this is always the highlight of a Chef Donna dinner; he must be the best pasta person in the world! If we thought pasta #1 was great, it got even better with PAPPARDELLE with SAUSAGE & RAPINI Sauce next, and we served our smooth STAGLIN SANGIOVESE 1995 from Napa that was in (finally) perfect shape. RISOTTO with RED BEETS in PEA SAUCE which was a completely new idea for me; the risotto sitting in an thick almost souplike sauce with red beets peeking through the gorgeous green pea sauce.

We switched back to white with my own MINER WILD YEAST Chardonnay (forgot the year--1999, I think) which is one of Napa's biggest yeastiest chards I have ever had. A perfect match for PAN SEARED SOFTSHELL CRABS with Black Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic Confit. This was a stronger sauce than usual for crabs, but the beautiful battered darlings stood up to it, as did the wine.

We opened a 1992 CHATEAU le GAY Pomerol, that never quite came to the light, although it was not bad, so we polished off the superb Sangiovese with the GRLLED MARINATED RIBEYE of LAMB with Grilled Fennel, Grilled Onions, Asparagus and Bagnetto Rosso.

The Le Gay worked a bit better as it tried to open up for the CHEESE COURSE of BRUSS (made with Grappa), Manchego, Stilton, Carmen (a Wisconsin Cheese), and one creamy goat--sorry, I lost count at this point.

A LEMON GRANITA cleared our palates fro the delicious dessert consisting of three parts - CHOCOLATE FLOURLESS CAKE with TRUFFLE (so what was on the third side of the plate?), and we polished off the rest of that magnificent GUIRAUD Sauternes as we munched the Bomboloni and headed home.

It was a wonderful evening, that did move a bit too fast at first, be we managed to slow down and we all had a truly memorable experience with Washington's Iron Chef America!