New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day 2003
By Felisha Foster
Marty and I were wine buyers at a boutique wine shop in Baltimore. We devised a champagne quest for our own personal drinking pleasure. The goal was to see how many bottles we could have donated to our cause throughout the holiday season. We managed to finagle over a case of wine from our sales reps before the year’s end. It was now time to enjoy it.
New Year’s Eve- The Birthday Dinner
New Years’ Eve rolled around and we had managed to consume all 16 bottles of donated champagne, including a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee, which is always a big, toasty, yeasty style but always very elegant. Since it was also my birthday we dug into our war chests and pulled out more bottles from our tiny private collections. My two closest friends, Everly and Gilles, had prepared a superb birthday spread for the four of us. They always manage to set the perfect ambience through lighting and music. Unfortunately, the importance of these two aspects is all too often overlooked. The right lighting and music makes all the difference in the energy, flow, and overall success of an evening. The lights were dim and there was the funky Euro chill music of Stéphane Pompougnac playing in the background. Check out his Hotel Costes series of inspired mixed cds (especially Volumes 2 & 3). The entire evening was centered on the food and wine pairings. We started with a carrot and ginger soup, followed by shrimp in crazy water, on to grilled halibut and roasted potatoes, followed by molten chocolate cake, and of course, no meal is complete without a final cheese course. The two chosen bottles of champagne for the evening were Billecart Salmon NV Rose and the 1990 Bollinger RD. The Billecart Rosé never disappoints with subtle nuances of raspberries and strawberries on the nose and a very feminine style that dances across your tongue. The Bollinger 1990 was big, bold, and toasty with crisp pear and apple flavors. We did switch to a beautiful, aged, cream sherry to accompany the molten chocolate cake. We departed at an astonishingly reasonable hour.
New Year’s Day: The Real Deal
We awoke around 10:00 am and immediately set the tone for the day with dill and goat cheese omelets with a glass of bubbly. One of my favorite things about New Year’s Day is laying in bed watching College Football Bowl games. The top football priority for the day was watching LSU play. For this is no ordinary game, this is serious business. I bleed purple and gold. It was a very mellow day spent laying in bed, sipping Champagne, and watching football. The day started with a bottle of 1988 Krug followed by the 1988 Krug Rose. I could write an entire piece on these two wines alone but I’ll just say that they were both stunning. Now, we move on to the highlight. We bought an ounce each of beluga, osetra, and sevruga caviar. For those of you who do not know much about caviar I will give a brief description. Caviar is graded according to size and color of the egg. It typically comes from one of the three species of sturgeon: beluga, the largest of the fish; osetra, the second largest; or sevruga. These types of caviar all come from the Caspian Sea area; however, there’s American and Chinese caviar, which also comes from sturgeon but from different varieties than their Caspian cousins. Beluga is commonly thought of as the highest-quality caviar. It is light or dark gray with the largest roe, very silky and rich. Osetra is golden (occasionally light gold) or dark brown with large eggs and a stronger, nuttier taste. Sevruga roe are small and dark gray with a fresh and firm texture. I think caviar is best enjoyed right out of the jar having nothing else competing with its flavors. The time had finally arrived to consume what we had been looking forward to for weeks. We lay in bed with all three jars resting on our stomachs and slowly dipped our mother-of-pearl spoons in feeling every individual roe pop and spread across our tongues. I never knew three ounces of caviar could be quite so filling and deliver such pure pleasure. Looking back on this day, I often find myself laughing and shaking my head in amazement that something so simple could bring such divine ecstasy. Asked if I would do it again? Absolutely….