Roasted Lobster Tail with Champagne Vanilla Reduction
It's no secret how much I adore My Baby, and I wanted to treat him to something mind-blowingly unique for Valentines Day. I'd been dreaming up this dish for months, ever since I surfed across the 1995 New York Times recipe for Lobster in Vanilla Sauce. I could image a few adjustments to the recipe (I'd want to swap the the white wine for a more romantic champagne, and would rather roast a lobster tail then a whole lobster, for example) and set to planning the rest of the meal, wines and champagnes around this centerpiece.
Oregon and French Cheeses, Rosemary Bread and Toasted Oregon Hazelnuts
Like any good American, I opted for an inside-out Euro-Oregon experience, choosing to serve dessert first: A beautiful cheese plate. From France, lush St. Andre triple-cream and barnyard-y Tomme de Savoie, made urbane with a drizzle of dark honey and a freshly cracked white peppercorn, along side an Oregon Rogue River Blue with a twangy, musty flavor that gives way to an unusual sweetness. The cheeses were surrounded by a wonderful rosemary loaf (from Trader Joe's, this was a really nice bread that you'll see again soon on these pages) and freshly toasted local hazelnuts.
Meriwether 2005 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Nothing could have been a better match than the Domaine Meriwether 2005 Pinot Noir. Oregon is so very blessed with our impressive selection of classic world-class Pinot Noirs, and this one fits right in. And, this was a good warm-up to the Domaine Meriwether Sparkling Ros
éthat I had planned for the main course. Still or sparkling, Meriwether produces delightful wines.
Sipping this wine brings to mind dark, ripe cherries, damp peat and mushrooms on a composting Douglas Fir log. A great Valentines Day start!
Blood Orange and Avocado Salad, Dressed with...We then moved on to a salad course, again out of step with our European friends.
I wanted champagne and honey to be a gently reoccurring theme throughout the meal, and incorporated both into the salad course.
Honey Champagne Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons champagne
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
juice of half of a lemon
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dark honey
sea salt and coarsely ground white pepper to taste
6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
Place all ingredients in a recycled jam jar, screw the lid on tightly, and shake well. This is great over a salad of baby greens, sliced avocados and supremed blood oranges.
Champagne and Lobster
I won't bother you with too many details about the lobster dish, other to say that it looked better than it tasted. I usually reserve these pages to pass on only the best of the best, and this didn't hit that mark. Why? Too much vanilla, a poor choice to serve it with saffron pasta, and our lobster tails were overdone. The lobster wasn't stellar, but let me wax on about the champagne.
Domaine Meriwether 1999 Prestige Brut
I've told you how lucky we are to have such culinary and enological delights practically at our doorstep, and Domaine Meriwether is one such joy. Precisely 44 miles from our house, Domaine Meriwether is an easy country drive on a Sunday afternoon, and provides our main source for bubbly. Making sparkling wine via Methode Champenoise is highly labor intense and costly. Only a handful of Oregon wine-makers produce "champagne" (or to be legally accurate, sparkling wine methode champenoise) and it just so happens that we are neighbors with one who makes some of the best. Happy Valentines Day to us!