Friday, December 31, 2021

Marco's Kitchen LaGrange

Marco's Kitchen LaGrange (IL) for fabulous fine dining experience

We were invited to join son Sean and Michelle and new grand-baby Lavender for an early New's Years Eve dinner at Marco's Kitchen in LaGrange (IL)

I pulled from the cellar a special aged Pauillac that we took BYOB for the occasion. 

Marco's Kitchen is new to downtown LaGrange, just south of the Metra rail. 

This was our first visit to Marco's Kitchen and we will look forward to returning again. The warm ambiance and stylish setting has a chic upbeat vibe atmosphere with a menu of delectable artfully crafted cuisine selections with hospitable service. 

Chef Marco brings 44 years of cooking and restaurant experience with an imaginative and artfully crafted international cuisine - as noted on the menu, "From Rome to the Amalfi Coast, From Paris to Barcelona, and from Napa Valley to Puerto Vallarta!".  

There is a large bakery oven in which they bake fresh breads daily.

The seating is limited, but nicely arranged and spaced to be cozy and comfortable. With limited number of tables and Covid sensitive social distance spacing, reservations are a must.

There is a limited but carefully selected winelist offering appropriate selections to accompany the menu and they provided skillful attentive BYOB service as well with quality glassware and appropriate decanting of our vintage wine in light of what follows.

Server Jorge was unfazed and handled gracefully the unruly cork of our 22 year old bottle that crumbled and came apart on extraction.

We ordered a broad selection of starters and everything was wonderful, delicious, delectable and artfully presented. 

For starters we had:

A Dozen Bevan Prime Oysters on the half shell, fresh, large. 

The highlight of the evening for me was the Chicken Liver, Shitake Mushroom Cognac Mousse Pate that was delicious and a perfect accompaniment to my aged Bordeaux. 

Gorgonzola Stuff Black Mission Figs Wrapped in Proscuitto di Parma and Escargot served in a pastry and an imaginative brown sauce. 

Our dinner entree selections were the Pan Seared Idaho Rainbow Trout Almondine (above), Oven Roasted Pistachio encrusted Australian Lamb Chops, and from the starter list, Maryland Lump Crab and Polenta Cakes, and the Pan Seared Cinnamon Chipotle Rubbed Diver Scallops (shown below).

There is an extensive dessert menu with several offerings of Creme Brulee, tart pastries, Tiramisu, dark chocolate fruit tartlet and a combination medley plate (shown below).   

We ordered from the winelist this Chardonnay for white wine selection - a perfect pairing with the seafood choices. 

Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2018

This is from David Ramey, one of the best known and most highly regarded winemakers in California. He is widely acknowledged to be among the pioneers who raised the bar for American winemakers and brought California to the forefront of the international wine world. 
David Ramey spent his early career creating benchmark wines for such wineries as Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill, Dominus and Rudd. At Dominus Winery, Christian Moueix agreed to allow David to "make a little Chardonnay on the side".
David and wife Carla founded Ramey Wine Cellars in 1996. David left Rudd following the 2001 vintage to go independent but continues to consult with a number of well known wineries and brands.

Ramey's groundbreaking work with indigenous yeasts and malolactic and barrel fermentation yielded a new California style that was richer, more lush and silky smooth than previously known, a new benchmark style now emulated by many.

He produces Ramey Chardonnays from the Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, and Carneros, as well as single vineyard efforts from the Hudson, Hyde, and Ritchie vineyards.
This label and vintage release combines grapes from a selection of five sites planted from 1978 to 2006, the biggest contribution from the producer's estate Westside Farms, as well as Dutton, Woolsey Road and Rochioli Allen vineyards, among others.
This release was awarded 95 points by Wine Enthusiast, 94 points by Wine & Spirits, and 93 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Jeb Dunnuck. 
Light straw colored, medium bodied, vibrant fresh, clean crisp acidity with spice and floral notes, hints of stone and citrus, almonds and white blossoms, silky with mineral and freshness on a long finish. 
The bright acidity was almost overpowering for standalone casual sipping but when paired with the food it was a perfect complement that amplified the enjoyment of both the food and the wine. 
RM 91 points.

Ch√Ęteau Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac Bordeaux 1999

Celebrating the New Year and for this special dinner occasion I selected and brought BYOB a special memorable wine from our cellar. Linda and I walked the grounds of the magnificent Chateau when we toured Pauillac and the Medoc of Bordeaux during our Bordeaux Wine Experience in 2019.

I liked this wine such that I last opened it on my birthday back in 2015. Tonight's tasting experience was consistent with the notes I published at that time when I wrote the post below.

"Following the last couple UGC Bordeaux tastings where this wine was one of the standouts, I selected this from the cellar to showcase my birthday dinner. This is classic Bordeaux at its best. Even though we PNP - pop and poured this without decanting, it immediately resonated from the glass with classic Bordeaux bouquet and flavors of dark berry fruits, graphite, violets and hints of smoky tar, tobacco and cassis. Dark ruby  colored, medium bodied, polished and nicely balanced, soft and almost delicate for a Pauillac, the tongue coating fine tannins are silky smooth on the lingering finish. At sixteen, this is likely at its prime drinking now."

This was awarded 91 points Wine Spectator and 90 points by Vinous.

Vinous wrote, "Slightly earthy, featuring tobacco, cigar box and dark fruits. Full-bodied, offering super velvety tannins and a long, rich finish." 

Tonight this showed a slight bricking on the edges indicating it is past its apex, but still drinking very nicely. Very pleasant and ideal with the pate' above. 

At 22, the cork was dry and came apart upon extraction using a traditional server's corkscrew.

In 2010 Vinous wrote: "Plenty of subtle things are going on here in the glass, with lots of wonderful fruit underneath. Can't wait on this. Showing beautifully now. Better than ever." It was probably at its peak from then through my tasting in 2016.

RM 90 points, one less than before, taking into account the aging and slight diminution in color. 


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Ivy Wheaton festive holiday setting - Orin Swift WBTG

Ivy Restaurant, Wheaton (IL) for a beautiful, festive holiday setting - features Orin Swift WBTG 

For a festive holiday celebration dinner, we dined at Ivy Restaurant in adjacent Wheaton (Illinois). 

I can't imagine a more suitable, beautiful, picturesque setting - an old church sanctuary with a large wood burning fireplace, stained glass, cathedral ceilings and warm wood trim. 

We hosted our family for our gala holiday celebration dinner back in 2016. Having a holiday season dinner at Ivy has been an annual event for many years. 

Knowing we were going different paths for our entree selections, Linda opting for seafood, hence white wine accompaniment, and me going for their BBQ ribs, hence a bold big Red, we didn't bring BYOB, rather, we each ordered WBTG - Wine-By-The-Glass for our individual selections. 

Linda ordered the Parmesan Crusted Herb Salmon served with citrus butter, sautéed green beans, and jasmine rice. For her wine selection she had a glass of Pieper Heidseick Champagne

I ordered the Ivy Signature Specialty, Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs with a glass of Orin Swift Abstract

Orin Swift Palermo
label - I don't get it.
Ivy feature a WBTG selection from the broad portfolio of Orin Swift wines. I wrote recently about these wines and their weird branding strategy with inventive and sometimes oft-putting, even weird labels. I understand a restaurant featuring a producer with a broad diverse portfolio of wines for their winelist offerings. 

Being focused on, arguably perhaps obsessive in these pages about wine branding and marketing, I find Orin Swift an unfortunate choice for the signature collection for a fine dining restaurant and the imagery and ambiance provided by Ivy. Never-the-less ... case in point ...

Tonight, while the Orin Swift Palermo (shown right) might have been a more suitable wine choice for my entree, the creepy label turns me off, hence, I went for the Abstract Red Blend for my wine choice. 

Orin Swift Abstract Red Blend 2020

This is a diverse blend of Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah, sourced from a "patchwork of individual lots that retain some of their character but meld seamlessly togetherlike the collage"— hence the name abstract and the label, a collage of disparate faces and other imagery artifacts. 
Orin Swift prides himself on weirdness, noting he'd rather spend his time in the cellar crafting wines than tending to branding, messaging and promotion.