Sunday, August 13, 2006

Return to RISTRA, good, but less rousing than '03

Our final night in Santa Fe was my client dinner which we had with three wonderful opera singers all performing at the Santa Fe Opera this season. Three years ago during our last visit, we had this "client" dinner at RISTRA (Agua Fria Rd)and we were all totally impressed. This time, the service was excellent, but the food was not at the same level for all three courses.

The appetizers were, sadly, the letdown course. Will attempted the RED GAZPACHO with Croutons which came nowhere near the amazing Gazpacho we had the previous night at AQUA SANTA (just a block away). My LOBSTER TAILL with POTATO GNOCCHI & Basil in Almond Sauce was a wonderful preparation and concept, but the tail was not of the quality it should have been for a $17.50 appetizer; a bit too stringy and overcooked, so that 1/4 of it stuck to the shell.

Our first wine was a 2003 POUILLY FUME VIEILLES VIGNES from Regis Minet, which I believe we also had 3 years ago (check those Google group archives if you have time) and was adored by all, but could not compare to the amazing TALBOTT "Sleepy Hollow" CHARDONNAY 2000. It is rare to get a six year old chard, and even rarer to get one of this high quality, since I consider Talbott one of the best in California; what a treat for us all. Our red was the J.L. Chave 2001 ST JOSEPH "Offertus which again was adored by all; a truly wonderful medium to full bodied Rhone wine that always excels.

The entrees fared much better and we all seemed VERY happy with our choices from POBLANO RELLENO to GRILLED SPICED DUCK BREAST with Cauliflower Gratin, Swiss Chard & Apricot Sauce-Pasilla Sauce which was perfection. The STUFFED FREE RANGE CHICKEN BREAST Bwith manchego, Mascarpone Orzo, Green Patty Pan & Harissa Sauce as well as the ALASKAN HALIBUT with Parsnip Puree, Asparagus and Madeira Sauce also seemed to all come in winning first prizes. We WERE happy.

We could not decide on desserts so we shared two: The CHOCOLATE FONDANT was a real dud, looking like a giant turd under a piece of crust--need I say more? The BANANA HAZELNUT NAPOLEON with White Chocolate Mousse and Hot Fudge Sauce fared much better for all our taste buds as we went home from our final night in Santa Fe.