Un sabato da leoni (Big Saturday)

Does anyone remember the film Big Wednesday? Arguably, one of the greatest surf movies ever made. In Italian the title was translated as Un mercoledì da leoni, literally, a Wednesday for lions.

This weekend I had a Saturday for lions of sorts: I was invited to take part in a birthday celebration for a friend, an Angeleno wine collector.

Here’s a little photo essay and some notes and highlights: a window into a rarefied world of raw hamachi flown in from Tokyo, served as sashimi and tartare, dressed with colatura di alici (the juice of white anchovy), and paired with R.D. 1975 Dom Perignon and 1982 Krug; Nova Scotia lobster soufflé paired with Grand Cru white Burgundy; and creamy risotto and semolina gnocchi topped with shaved white truffles from Piedmont and old Nebbiolo — 13 dishes in all and a flight of 20 wines.

The celebrant’s mother, who lives in New York, hand-polished the family silver and had it sent it to him for the occasion.

In Los Angeles, it’s even harder than in NYC to get great truffles. These were among the best I’ve ever had, with aromatics comparable to those I’ve eaten in situ. Look at the size of that sucka!

Not every course was as photogenic as the garganelli but each dish (and only one serving was allowed per Bacchanalian) inspired orgasmic oohs and aahs among the all-male crowd. Chef Angelo Auriana’s ragù was ethereal and the pasta sublimely light yet firm and rich (my camera didn’t do justice to its egg-yolk color). But the risotto mantecato alla fonduta di cipolla bianca (onion fondue risotto) topped with shaved white truffles was my personal favorite.

My top wines (but, then again, I’m pretty predictable) were: Krug 1982, Lafon 1989 Mersault-Charmes, Giovannini Moresco 1979 Barbaresco, Robert Arnoux 1993 Romanée-Saint Vivant, Giacosa 1989 Santo Stefano Riserva, Giuseppe Rinaldi 1989 Barolo Riserva (magnum).

Some found this 1979 Barbaresco by Giovannini Moresco tired but I thought it was drinking great. The vineyard where the fruit for this wine was grown now belongs to another winemaker who blends Nebbiolo from this famed growing site with Merlot and Cabernet. Quel dommage! (If you don’t get the joke, click here.) This was the wine that intrigued me the most.

I was blown away by the youth and power of this 1989 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva. Barbaresco at its best — and this was one of the greatest expressions I’ve ever tasted — combines grace and strength. Diana never pleased her lover more…*

At the end of the night, I felt like Rubens’ Bacchus. It’s kinda like the old joke about the Rabbi, the Priest, and the ham sandwich: the 1992 Krug was one of the greatest wines I’ve ever tasted but I don’t need to drink it — well, at least not every day!

Click the image to read a label on the painting, which resides at the Hermitage. Note the color of the wine — white not red.

* Petrarch, RVF, madrigal 52 (translation by Mark Musa)

Diana never pleased her lover more,
when just by chance all of her naked body
he saw bathing within the chilly waters,

than did the simple mountain shepherdess
please me, the while she bathed the pretty veil
that holds her lovely blonde hair in the breeze.

So that even now in the hot sunlight she makes me
tremble all over with the chill of love.

12 Responses to Un sabato da leoni (Big Saturday)

  1. vocativo says:

    Accipicchia e che sabato da leoni (anzi, da “beoni”!). Complimenti per essere riusciti a reperire la colatura d’alici! ;)

  2. Terry Hughes says:

    If only from you I realize that I hang around with the wrong people.

  3. rstark says:

    Anyone who was lucky enough to Angelo’s cooking during the great old days of Valentino (Italian restaurant in Santa Monica, not the silent movie star), know that you had a meal for the ages. Without Angelo, the restaurant is now just a shadow of its former self.

  4. David S says:

    As this is a food and wine blog, I thought your readers might appreciate seeing the full menu and list of all wines poured for the eight of us:

    JAPANESE HAMACHI CRUDO, COLATURA DI ALICI
    BURRATA CLOUDS, RADISH CONFETTI

    NOCE DI CAPESANTA, CAULIFLOWER CREMA
    CANDIED BEET SALAD

    NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER SOUFFLE’ AL MONTRACHET

    QUAIL EGG IN CAMICIA DI TARTUFO BIANCO
    PARMIGIANO REGGIANO SAUCE

    RISOTTO MANTECATO ALLA FONDUTA DI CIPOLLA BIANCA
    SHAVED WHITE TRUFFLE

    SEMOLINA GNOCCHI AL PROFUMO DI PORCINI, GUANCIALE CROCCANTE
    SHAVED WHITE TRUFFLE

    SAFFRON GARGANELLI, TRADITIONAL BOLOGNESE

    FOUR STORY HILLS FARM VEAL CHEEKS “STUFATE IN BIANCO”

    BRYAN’S 40-DAY DRY AGED PRIME RIB CAP ROTOLO
    SAUTEED BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND PARSNIPS

    BONELESS SONOMA SADDLE OF LAMB ARROSTO ZUCCHINI MINT

    FRACOSTA DI MANZO STRACOTTA AL BAROLO

    HONEY ROASTED D’ANJOU PEAR,
    TOASTED PUMPKIN SEED, PISTACCHIO GLAZE

    CIOCCOLATINI

    1975 Dom Perignon RD
    1982 Krug Brut
    2002 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne
    2001 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet
    1989 Lafon Mersault Charmes
    1999 Bouchard Montrachet
    2000 Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet
    1979 Giovannini Moresco Barbaresco
    1993 Joseph Roty Charmes Chambertin
    1993 Robert Arnoux Romanee Saint Vivant
    1991 Leroy Les Beaux Monts
    1990 Aldo Conterno Granbussia (Magnum)
    1990 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis
    1989 Giacosa Santo Stefano Riserva
    1999 Rousseau Clos de Ruchottes
    1989 Guiseppe Rinaldi Barolo Riserva (Magnum)
    1990 Guigal La Landonne
    2002 Harlan Estate Cabernet
    1959 Solaria Jonica Primitivo
    1997 Huet Cuvee Constance

  5. Brooklynguy says:

    sick. just sick. clearly i’ve been hanging around strappo too much. how was the cuvee constance (do you remember it?)

  6. David S says:

    I only have a vague memory of it. The dinner started at 7 pm and we drank the Cuvee Constance at 3 am with the honey-roasted pear course. (It took a long time for eight people to get through all that wine.) Also, our palates were pretty blown out by that point since we took a one hour break after the last meat course to smoke Cohiba robustos.

  7. Strappo says:

    huh. brooklynguy, it’s all your fault!

  8. Lyle Fass says:

    Great wines. Although I could do without the Harlan. Seems out of place in that lineup.

  9. Lyle Fass says:

    MY bad. It was the ’89 I had that was closed.

  10. David S says:

    We opened the Harlan because we needed a big, fruity, unsubtle wine to drink with our cigars. We did not have it with the food. It was the only bottle with wine remaining in it at the end of the night.

  11. susannah16 says:

    How was the Guigal? Any memory of it? Rubens is such an unpleasant painter in my view. BTW, never tell a woman she looks like a Rubens…. Sounds like a grand time was had by all. Life is tough out there in Cal I suppose.

  12. David S says:

    The ’90 La Landonne was spectacular in my opinion. It was served with the saddle of lamb, went very well with the course (although it might have overpowered it a little bit) and was still drinking very young. Very dark and complex with lots of cassis, black pepper and leathery/earthy tones to it. We thought it would be fun to drink at least one wine that was very stylistically different than the majority of the burgundies and barolos/barbarescos we were having. It was well-liked by the group (although maybe less so by Jeremy) and it was very clear why the wine has received high praise from the pundits. This wine certainly proves the point that, even if one has a preference for more restrained, less extracted, higher acid, non-barrique-aged wines, one can still really enjoy a wine made in a completely different style when it is done so very well as this wine was.

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