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Experiences: Chef’s Tasting Dinner at Hotel Fauchere

October 22, 2010 7 comments

This is the last post in the series about our experiences at Hotel Fauchere in Milford, PA ( previous two posts can be found here and here). Have to warn you upfront – if you thought that there are too many photos in my posts, this one will be extreme – there are way too many pictures I want to share. Here we go…

Culmination point of our weekend getaway was chef’s tasting dinner, long anticipated and planned for. The dinner took place at The Delmonico Room at Hotel Fauchere – for historic reference behind the name and relationship with The Delmonico Room in New York, you can click here. Anticipated is fine, but what’s up with planning? Considering love of wine in the group, we decided to take upon the pairing of the tasting menu by ourselves. For the tasting and pairing experience, this was a good decision, for the service part – not so much. Not that I can really complain about service, all the plates, decanters, glasses and silverware were flying around properly, but the service was delivered in the stark contrast with “everybody smiling” (if you read my previous posts), I would say it was delivered with the stone face. There can be some objective reasons to that ( we brought our own wine, therefore I guess we questioned the level of wine service)… Anyway, let’s talk about food and wine

So we had 7 course tasting menu with two very small “single byte” dishes at the beginning and in the middle of the dinner. Menu focus was on the local, seasonal and fresh ingredients, and I think mission was accomplished quite well. We selected 7 different wines to pair with the dishes – 4 whites, 3 reds.

Here are the four whites:

2009 Domaine Eugene Carrel & Fils Rousette de Savoie Altesse, France

2007 Staglin Family Vineyards ‘Salus’ Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley

2009 Jorge Ordoñez Málaga Botani Sierras de Màlaga

1995 Domain Cazes Ambré Riversaltes Languedoc-Roussillon

We made a lot of good decisions with this set – but more about it later.

And here are the three reds:


2007 Mara Pinot Noir Laughlin Road Ranch, Russian River Valley

2005 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley

2005 Chateau La Grange Clinet Premier Cotes de Bordeaux

This was also a great selection, all worked very well with food – so lets get some details.

The first dish in tasting was Tortelloni A La Zucca (Seared Diver Scallop, Black Walnut, Sage Butter). Wine pairing – Rousette de Savoie Altesse.

I would honestly question composition of the dish, as pumpkin tortelloni didn’t do anything to the scallop, tortelloni looked almost as a presentation piece. At the same time, wine worked very well with all of the components in the dish – apple, leeches and earthiness worked well with pumpkin filling, and wine had enough fruit and acidity to complement scallop. One important thing to mention here – with this wine I was able to make a progress in the treble journey, as Altesse is a grape from Savoie which I never tasted before. Color me happy – 273.

The next dish was Foie Gras De Canard (Porcini Mushroom, Brussles, Pear, Pomme Maxim). Wine pairing – Staglin Salus Chardonnay.

As we didn’t miss a single pairing ( pat on the shoulder), at least in my opinion, I will omit redundant [great pairing] in front of each description.

Salus is produced by Staglin Family, one of California cult wine producers from Napa Valley (Staglin Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 just got WS 98 rating). Salus was one of the most beautiful chardonnays I tasted lately. Vanilla, butter, caramel, toasted oak and acidity of the wine worked perfectly with heavy but creamy texture of the foie gras.

Next dish was Roasted Black Sea Bass (Caramelized Sunchoke, Garden Chard, Cabernet Franc Emulsion). Wine pairing – Mara Pinot Noir.

In case you wonder, there are actually two reasons why there is a wine label above instead of picture of the dish:

1. It was one of the best versions of Roasted Sea Bass I ever had. So, by the time I realized that I didn’t get a picture of the dish, it was too late.

2. And I guess it was also too late because everybody got carried away after taking a sip of Mara Pinot Noir.

Mara Pinot Noir was really a centerpiece of the tasting. “Oh my god” was major phrase at the table after the first sip of the wine. I don’t think that wine should be described in terms of color, fruit and acidity. This wine should be described in terms of opulence and decadence it cast upon the table. “Total and absolute balance” would be the right way to put it. Anyway, if you can find a bottle, you should experience it for yourself ( about 250 cases total production). In my “drinkability” ratings it is defnitely a 9+.

Next dish: Sautéed Squab (Confir Potatoes, Red Peppers, Serrano Ham). Wine pairing – Bradford Mountain Zinfandel.

Deep earthy and gamey flavors of the dish ( tasted almost like a fried liver), were complimented well by spices and acidity of the wine. This was definitely a good combination.

Following on, major entree: Duo of Farm Raised Rabbit (Bacon Wrapped Loin, Rabbit Scrapple, Chestnut, Garden Carrots, Natural Jus). Wine pairing – Chateau La Grange Clinet Premier Cotes de Bordeaux.

Bordeaux had being nicely decanted, so it was open enough in time for this dish being served. Coming from magnificent 2005 vintage, this wine can be drunk right now, but will improve with some time in the cellar. The wine worked well with the flavors of the dish – combination of tender, a bit gamey loin and fresh garden vegetables was well complemented by dark fruit flavors in the Bordeaux.

And now it is time for desserts: Cheese Soufflé (Pinot Noir Must, Grape Aspic, Rose Champagne Granite). Wine pairing – Botani Sierras de Màlaga.

I discovered Botani Muscat at the dinner at The Capital Grille. This wine delivers incredibly bright acidity and fruit combination, every sip feels like it is full of live. That acidity was instrumental in this pairing. The wine worked quite well with both Granite and Souffle components of the dessert.

And last, but not least, one more dessert: Gala Apple and Granola (Apple Jack Caramel, Foraged Crabapple Confit, Cinnamon Gel, Pecan Brittle, Mulled Cider Ice Cream). Wine pairing: Ambré Riversaltes.

If Mara Pinot Noir was best of tasting, then this was the most interesting wine. This wine, made out of White Grenache, is made in the Solera style – it spent 7 years in the open tubs, developing delicate flavors. Ambré Riversaltes exhibited fresh and balanced flavors of toasted apple and caramel, which perfectly worked with “apple many styles” flavors of the dessert.

That’ s all, folks – it is time to conclude the report on the Hotel Fauchere experience. All in all, we had a great time, and will gladly do it again. The life journey continues…

 

Hotel Fauchère
401 Broad St
Milford, PA 18337
(570) 409-1212
http://www.hotelfauchere.com

Delmonico Room on Urbanspoon

Experiences: Bar Louis at Hotel Fauchere

October 20, 2010 2 comments

Continuing the subject of experiences at Hotel Fauchere (previous post can be found here). Can bar deliver an experience worth talking about? You bet. Experiences are personal, they are not universal. Things which are total routine for someone, can be a source of a great excitement for another person. My case is very simple  – but I have to tell you a secret about myself. I’m very intimidated in the bar. I’m usually at total loss. I can never remember names of the cocktails, never mind citing the ingredients. Those which I remember by name, like Manhattan or Rusty Nails, I usually have no desire to drink. So I have to ask. And then there is a person, very intimidating one – a bartender. When I start mumbling my order, I usually get a look which says: ” such a low life shouldn’t exist”. And so I retreat saying “I guess I’m fine for now” or “what beer do you have on top”.

Luckily, experience at Bar Louis at Hotel Fauchere was totally different. The atmosphere was casual and nice. The bar itself was beautifully set and lit up, with bottles literally filled with light. The selection was good. Of course Norma Jean in Tel-Aviv has much bigger selection of scotches – but shelves and content at Bar Louis are more presentable:

To put things in perspective, literally the he most important part of experience for me is service. Generally, I have a habit of asking people for their first name and then use it when talking with them. I was really disappointed with myself, forgetting to ask our bartender for the name. She was impeccable – knowing what she is doing, smiling and having enough patience to deal with someone who is at a complete loss in the bar (should I also mention generous pours?). Great service – nothing more, nothing less – and this is what translates into a great experience.

Drink menu was short but not ordinary, and drinks tasted really authentic. Then of course there were all the single malts, cognac and tequila. But my personal favorite and personal discovery was Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal. Smokey flavor, supported by some herbs and soft alcohol, this was truly unique drink. It is described as “magical” on the web site – who knows, it might be. I would love to compare it with the Kings of smokey alcohol – single malts from Islay, such as Lagavulin, Caol Ila and others – that would be one fun tasting. I highly recommend that you will get your opinion, though – which only requires finding the same bottle and tasting it… (of course, let’s compare the notes). Whether you will like it or not, I guarantee you an experience – and this is what counts.

And then the dinner time arrived – so long until the next post…

Experiences: Hotel Fauchere, Milford, PA

October 19, 2010 9 comments

This will be the first post in this blog (if I remember correctly, of course), where wine, or alcohol of any kind will not be discussed. Total surprise, right? This is talk a Vino blog after all?

Well, this post definitely will be about life and experiences. This past weekend, we went with the group of friends to the small town called Milford in Pennsylvania. The goal was to stay in the nice Hotel Fauchere, experience the special chef tasting dinner at The Delmonico Room, and to do sightseeing and enjoy beautiful fall colors of East Coast. We definitely got a complete range of experiences – enough for few blog posts, as if I will try to cram it all into one, I will lose my readers.

Let’s talk about those experiences, one by one. Hotel Fauchere is a beautiful boutique hotel, belonging to Relais & Châteaux group of luxury hotels. The interior is nice, at the same time, the rooms don’t stand out (for the same price, you can find amazing accommodations at many Bed and Breakfast). So where is the “experience” part you ask? It’s in the service. I’m traveling quite a bit, and yet I had not being at the place with so many genuinely smiling faces. The key words are “Genuine” and “Smiling” – it really puts the whole stay in the perspective. Service at Hotel Fauchere is definitely something to experience – attentive, accommodating, focused on YOUR needs.

What else is there to experience? Well, one is the Bar Louis, which we will talk about in a separate post, and another one is a continental breakfast.

Yes, you are not mistaken – continental breakfast. If you got a picture of corn flakes pack and tiny milk box, try to scare that thought away. We are talking about continental breakfast as Experience.

You start with the french press coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice at a beautifully appointed table.

Next element of experience – home made vanilla yogurt and granola. It’s too bad that picture doesn’t convey the taste – and if you like the picture, you have to trust me that the taste is few levels above:

Then comes a choice of raisin scone or lemon muffin, and it makes me a lazy photographer, but that picture I missed. And to finish, here comes a grapefruit with caramelized top:

Delicious! And if you in a mood for something different than continental breakfast, you can get a traditional omelet which comes with thick sliced country style bacon (amazing, by the way)

Or a french toast:

All in all, Hotel Fauchere is something to experience – and while I will continue to report with the next post, nothing will replace the real thing. Reach out for that GPS already…

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