Restaurant: Il Grano [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Location: 11359 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. 310.477.7886
Date: January 23, 2013
Rating: Not boaring in the least!
As any frequent reader knows, I feast all the time with my Hedonist buddies, and recently, our fearless leader Yarom hunted down his own boar. Yeah, that’s right, here’s the bloody proof.
On the left above is Yarom posing with his boar. On the right is a friend of his, who shot a monster of a male boar. Yarom went for a nice juicy sow because, well, they taste much better. The fellow on the right is probably tough and gamey as hell. And that is the point of this post after all, to talk about food. Namely, the epic feast the above boar turned into. Yarom had her butchered and gave different parts of the meat to different restauranteurs. A big chunk went to Il Grano’s Sal Marino to turn into a spectacular Italian meal.
As usual we Hedonists brought some stellar wines to go along with it.
Ron, the master of bubbly and white brought this. Parker 94+, “The 2002 Brut Coeur de Cuvee is absolutely stunning. This young, towering Champagne bursts from the glass with layers of mineral-infused fruit, showing fabulous intensity and purity from start to finish. Hints of tropical, opulent fruit are very nicely tempered by the wine’s underlying structure. Think Montrachet with bubbles. The Coeur de Cuvee is made from 50 year old vines in Les Blanches Voies Hautes. The blend is 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Dosage is 8 grams per liter. Disgorged May 2010.”
Really one of the best champagnes I’ve had in some time.
Our boaring menu for the night.
We sat in the private room at a nice round table. This is the same spot where I hosted my birthday sixth months ago.
Burghound 93-95, “It seemed relatively supple and forward, indeed more or less ready to drink. To be sure, there was no obvious secondary nuances in evidence and still good freshness to the rich, intense and vibrant flavors brimming with minerality on the impressively long finish. Impeccably stored bottles might need another few years to arrive at their peak but absent this bottle being an aberration, I don’t think that opening one today would be infanticide.”
Parker 95, “The 2008 Echezeaux is flat-out great. It is a deep, dark wine graced with exquisite balance, lovely inner perfume and a layered, eternal finish. Here the slightly higher percentage of new oak (70%) gives the wine an additional measure of volume.”
Burghound 92, “A ripe, spicy and relatively elegant aromatic profile presents a fruit array that is primarily red-fruit based. The rich and full-bodied flavors possess ample volume and the tannins are really quite fine but dense and as such, the persistent and solidly well-balanced finish is firm and mildly austere. This will not be an early drinker.”
This was a great wine and just didn’t taste 5 years old, more like 15!
House made mini boar meatballs. These had a wonderful simple flavor: meat, with just a few spices.
From my cellar, Parker 96, “The fabulous 1998 Barolo Falletto del Serralunga reveals intensity and volume. A dark plum color is accompanied by a classic Nebbiolo perfume of rose water, melted tar, truffles, and cherry jam. As the wine sits in the glass, aromas of spice box and cigar smoke also emerge. Full-bodied, dense, and powerfully tannic, yet extremely harmonious.”
House made boar sausage, mozzarella & rapini pizza. Like the ultimate sausage pizza!
Parker 94, “The 2004 Barolo La Serra reveals a generous personality in its dark red fruit with notable depth and richness that carries through to the persistent, sweet finish. With air, floral notes develop to round out this particularly multi-dimensional, full-bodied and beautiful La Serra. 2004 is a great vintage for this wine, which can sometimes be austere.”
Then Sal gets funky, straying from the Italian beat. Boar empanadas! Really yummy.
Parker 96, “Two great back to back vintages are the 1990 and 1989. The more developed 1990 boasts an incredible perfume of hickory wood, coffee, smoked meat, Asian spices, black cherries, and blackberries. Lush, opulent, and full-bodied, it is a fully mature, profound Beaucastel.”
… except, it was corked. Bummer, but it happens.
With homemade guacamole and salsa (not pictured).
Parker 99, “Marcassin Estate continues to grow, although still ever so tiny, with just over 20 acres of tightly spaced vineyards on the Sonoma Coast. They also supplement their estate bottlings with purchased fruit from vineyards owned by the Martinelli family which they help manage, the Three Sisters Vineyard for Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir from the Blue Slide Vineyard. Their dominant Chardonnay clones continue to be based on the old Wente clones taken from the Hudson and Hyde Vineyards, and the Mt.Eden clone. The Pinot Noir material is dominated by California heritage clones. Little changes under the firm’s leadership of Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer (now married 42 years), and as someone raised in Maryland, I am proud to say they were schooled at the renowned St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. They have always been committed to the highest quality of wines possible. It is akin to being tutored by a great master to sit down and taste through their series of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. They added a few wrinkles this time by throwing into the tasting a 2005 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet, which was completely obliterated by their own Chardonnays, and with the Pinot Noirs, a highly rated grand cru red Burgundy from the 2005 vintage that didn’t fare particularly well either. Their point was that not only are their wines superior (and I would certainly agree with these comparisons), but also that some of the most famous names in Burgundy have more sizzle and snobbery behind them than actual quality. The Pinot Noirs are very complex and need lots of aeration/decanting to strut their stuff. They continue to remind me of grand crus from Morey St.-Denis, especially wines such as Ponsot’s Clos de la Roche because of the following. NOTE: Prices noted are from the winery’s mailing list. These wines sell for 2 to 3 times more in the secondary market.”
I don’t know what Parker is smoking, but this sure shows he doesn’t know Pinot Noir. This was over oaked and my least favorite wine of the night. Not that it was bad, but I just don’t like the new world style of Pinot.
To the right, and much more to my liking, Parker 91, “The 1996 Barbaresco exhibits a dense ruby color as well as a forward nose of cherry liqueur, earth, truffle, mineral, and spicy scents. Rich, full-bodied, and seductive, with its moderate tannin largely concealed by the wine’s wealth of fruit and extract, this gorgeously pure offering gets my nod as the finest Barbaresco produced by Gaja since 1990.”
Then the best “sausage and peppers” I’ve ever had. The meat had this succulent game spiciness.
Parker 99, “The 250-case cuvee of 100% Merlot, the 1999 Redigaffi has an astonishing 36 grams per liter of dry extract, which exceeds most top Pomerols in a great vintage! Unfined and unfiltered, it is as close to perfection as a wine can get. The color is a deep saturated blue/purple. The powerful, pure nose offers smoke, licorice, black cherry, and blackberries. It boasts awesome concentration, a fabulously dense, viscous mid-section, and a finish that lasts for nearly a minute. This is riveting juice.”
Polenta with boar ragu. This was pretty stunning too with a wonderful soft texture.
Parker 90, “In 2003, we will finally see several releases, including his 1997 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Marie Beurrier. Although this is an outstanding effort from a difficult vintage, Bonneau is used to producing wines that are far better out of bottle than from barrel. This 1997 has gotten better with each year of aging, and from bottle, it is an outstanding example of Chateauneuf du Pape. A heady concoction of kirsch liqueur, licorice, pepper, and ripe black cherry fruit is offered in a rich, full-bodied, surprisingly intense style. The acid is low, the fruit ripe, and the wine plump and juicy. Typical of many Bonneau efforts, it offers notes of smoke, beef blood, earth, figs, and prunes.”
Again Parker misses, as this was a wonderful wine.
And the classic: Pappardelle al Cinghiale. Sal makes this normally and it’s fabulous, but this one might have been extra good.
Parker 95, “If it were not for the prodigious 1996, everyone would be concentrating on getting their hands on a few bottles of the fabulous 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases, which is one of the vintage’s great success stories. The wine boasts an opaque ruby/purple color, and exceptionally pure, beautifully knit aromas of black fruits, minerals, vanillin, and spice. On the attack, it is staggeringly rich, yet displays more noticeable tannin than its younger sibling. Exceptionally ripe cassis fruit, the judicious use of toasty new oak, and a thrilling mineral character intertwined with the high quality of fruit routinely obtained by Las Cases, make this a compelling effort. There is probably nearly as much tannin as in the 1996, but it is not as perfectly sweet as in the 1996. The finish is incredibly long in this classic. Only 35% of the harvest was of sufficient quality for the 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases.”
Boar chops, peal barley, and pea tendrils. Wild boar isn’t the tenderest pork chop you ever tasted, but it does have a great flavor.
Parker 96, “The prodigious 1997 Insignia (83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 3% Petit-Verdot) lives up to its pre-bottling promise. Tasted on three separate occasions, every bottle has hit the bull’s eye. The color is a saturated thick-looking blue/purple. The nose offers up explosive aromas of jammy black fruits, licorice, Asian spices, vanillin, and cedar. Full-bodied as well as exceptionally pure and impressively endowed, this blockbuster yet surprisingly elegant wine cuts a brilliant swath across the palate. A seamless effort with beautifully integrated acidity, sweet tannin, and alcohol, it is still an infant, but can be drunk with considerable pleasure.”
Then the leg. This reminds me of Jose Andres’ “secreto” which you can see here.
Parker 95, “L’Evangile’s sublime 2005, a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, is the first wine made in their brand new cuverie. Sadly, there are fewer than 3,500 cases of this deep purple-colored offering. A gorgeous nose of meat juices, black raspberries, chocolate, espresso, and notions of truffle oil as well as smoke is followed by a full-bodied Pomerol displaying sweet tannin, a flawless texture, and stunning complexity. While surprisingly showy and forward for a l’Evangile, it will undoubtedly shut down over the next year or so.”
A slice of the leg. Really gamey and tender.
Chef/Owner Sal surveys the carnage.
This wonderful medium old maderira “served” for dessert.
And for dessert itself, this orange tart which was a lovely finish to all the meat.
Check out what we did to the table!
This was another knock down great evening and it was fun to see Sal cook in a different style. He really rose to the occasion and treated the boar right.
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Yarom pigs out on some knuckles.