Restaurant: Dinner at the Borgese’s [1, 2, 3]
Location: Santa Monica
Date: February 6, 2020
Cuisine: Italian influenced gourmet home cooking
Dinner at the Borgese’s is a special house dinner in Santa Monica cooked by the stunning pro-level home chef Borgese couple. Tonight’s theme is UNI!
The dynamic Borgese team. Rocco in the center, his lovely wife (and the main kitchen chef on the left), his daughter (helping out with service) on the right of her and our Somm on the far right.
Their house has not only a wine cellar, but a cheese and meat larder!
Plus all this incredible wood fired oven set up.
Rocco apparently shucked 20-30 fresh Santa Barbara Unis in preparation for this dinner.
Some live lobsters twitch in the bowl too.
Steaks ready for the cooking.
Since it was a “wintery” Febuary evening, we ate inside in the dining room as opposed to out on the lovely patio.
Our special Uni menu.
NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée Edition 163eme. VM 95. The NV Grand Cuvée 163 Edition is wonderfully open-knit and giving, qualities that make it a terrific choice for drinking now and over the next 30 or so years. Pastry, apricot, lemon confit, chamomile and white flowers, along with soft contours, give the wine its inviting, alluring personality. There is more than enough energy and overall freshness to support several decades of fine drinking. Even so, the 163 is virtually impossible to resist at this early stage. (Drink between 2017-2037)
Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée Edition — unknown edition.
Riccio di Mare con Tartufo. Sea urchin with truffle. Two ways, one close to plain with sea-salt and the other with truffles. I think I actually like the plain more, but both were great.
2009 Dom Pérignon Champagne Luminous. 94 points. We are not sure if they play with the dosage on the Luminus given its designed for Party time but this felt softer than the usual 2009 (Papies 93) more approachable and lusher in a way. The fact that we had this in a club does not qualify for a full TN and hence no score but we do have to say that for party purposes the Luminous reigns supreme and definitely has a start & wow factor like no other.
Trish brought (thanks!): 1993 Dom Pérignon Champagne P2. 95 points. Light Amber color, good nose, nice palate feel, good bubbles and good finish.
Crostini con Burro al Riccio di Mare. Sea urchin butter crostini. Really nice crostini with a good bit of acidity to balance it out. This was even yummier than the bites.
2007 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé. VM 96. The 2007 Dom Ruinart Rosé is another brilliant wine from Chef de Caves Frédéric Panaiotis in his first vintage at the house. Delicate, nuanced and wonderfully polished, the 2007 is airy and gracious in feel, with superb aromatic intensity and exceptional balance. Sweet floral notes, mint, spice and crushed red berries are all laced together in this very pretty, gracious Rosé. More finesse than power, the 2007 is positively sublime. (Drink between 2019-2037)
From my cellar: 2007 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut. VM 97. The 2007 Comtes de Champagne Rosé is a total knock-out. Racy and exuberant in the glass, the 2007 wraps around the palate with stunning textural depth and resonance. The 15% still Pinot adds structure and persistence to a creamy, inviting Rosé Champagne that will leave readers weak at the knees. Hints of rose petal, dried cherry, cinnamon and dried flowers meld into the sublime finish. This is about as good as it gets. Wow! (Drink between 2018-2038)
2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut. VM 96. The 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé is at once rich and refined, a simply fabulous Champagne Rosè I won’t soon forget. Intensely perfumed, with the Pinot Noir-derived red berry and cranberry flavors that are not just concentrated, but also remarkably pure. It is one of the better Rosé bubbles I have had in the last year. (Drink between 2018-2036)
Brodo al Riccio di Mare. Sea urchin bisque with spiny lobster. This was incredible. Lovely presentation in the shell too and featuring a super rich sea urchin bisque — much like a lobster bisque — with lots of lobster.
2012 Louis Jadot Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 93. There is a hint of menthol sitting atop pretty aromas of acacia blossom, spiced pear and white peach scents. The delicious, muscular and pure broad-shouldered and powerful flavors possess fine size and weight that continues onto the concentrated and impressively persistent if presently compact finish. Those who enjoy their white burgs young should note that while this is very promising there isn’t great complexity at this early stage so I would very much be inclined to allow this to age for at least 8 to 10 years first. (Drink starting 2020)
By Allen Meadows
2013 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. BH 91-94. A background whiff of SO2 is barely noticeable and does not compromise the attractiveness of the layered and intensely floral nose of almond, white peach, pear and softly spice-infused aromas. There is good volume and richness to the appealingly crisp, stony and energetic medium-bodied flavors that possess a clean, focused and beautifully textured finish. (Drink starting 2021)
2006 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. VM 95. Bonneau du Martray’s 2006 Corton-Charlemagne (magnum) opens with a super-classic bouquet of slate, crushed rocks and hints of reduction. Bracing and intense and energetic, the 2006 flows with superb focus and pure mineral-drenched cut. From magnum, the 2006 is simply dazzling and appears to have many years of fine drinking ahead of it. 95 (Drink starting 2014)
Rocco shows off the live lobsters.
Aragosta con Crema al Riccio di Mare. California Spiny Lobster with Sea Urchin Cream. Delicious “lobster salad.” Really a fabulous dish.
2017 Sine Qua Non Tectumque. VM 93. Just bottled, the 2017 White Wine The Tectumque is rich, unctuous and full of character. Dried pear, almond, honey and wild flowers all infuse this rich, flamboyant wine. The 2017 is built on a core of co-fermented Roussanne and Petit Manseng, which yields a white with intriguing layers of savory complexity. I find that the Sine Qua Non whites need time to come together in the cellar and show their best with at least a few years of bottle age. I suspect that will be the case here as well. (Drink between 2021-2029)
From my cellar: 2012 Paolo Bea Arboreus. 94 points. Complex and unique, but also, like, whatever. It is basically watered down sherry. Quite honeyed nose. Dry. Oily. Seaside wax texture. Etc. Oxidized in the manner of the style. Gained weight with time open. Perfect pairing for uni.
Pasta al Riccio di Mare. Sea urchin pasta. Scrumptious creamy pasta. Not super urchiny, but amazing all the same. A bit reminiscent of this one.
From my cellar: 1985 Nicolas Potel Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes. BH 91. A very fresh yet mature nose of citrus, white flower and lightly toasted nut aromas combines with round and vibrant middle weight flavors that possess a seductive and rich mouth feel, all wrapped in a sappy and mouth coating finish. This is really a lovely effort with complexity and ample finishing punch and is a wine that will continue to hold well if not improve. (Drink between 2007-2009)
agavin: Lovely. Also a good uni pairing due to its maturity.
Risotto al Riccio di Mare con Halibut. Sea Urchin Risotto with Halibut. The risotto was delicious, maybe just a hair thick or “dry” (just a bit shy of perfect), but delicious. Halibut is a plain fish, but the risotto offset this nicely.
Marcassin Fake pinot (can’t read the vintage).
2005 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. VM 94. Good deep ruby-red. Wonderfully sweet, aromatic nose combines currant, chocolate and cedary oak. Fat, lush and silky, with atypical volume to the flavors of plum, tobacco and chocolate. Wonderfully supple, plump wine with layers of flavor, thoroughly sweet tannins and compelling aromatic persistence. Today the wine’s substantial baby fat is masking its impressive underlying power. According to Borie, this 2005 combines the best traits of the chateau’s 2003 and 2000.
2007 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape. VM 95+. Deep ruby. Powerful, pungent aromas of kirsch, dark berries, smoky herbs and spicecake, with notes of black olive and tobacco coming on with air. Chewy, palate-staining dark fruit flavors are complicated by bitter chocolate, licorice and black cardamom. Acts like a 2005 today, with serious structure but also superb depth of powerful, densely packed fruit. A hint of cherry skin adds grip and refreshing bitterness to the long, smoky, focused finish. Not an easy read right now: this demands cellaring. (Wines of France , Mountainside, NJ)
Bistecca Fiorentina. Giant slabs of rare beef. Nicely salted and bloody delicious.
Optionally, we gussied the steak up with more truffle!
Roasted eggplant with olive oil and salt. I loved these.
My first gelato as an intermezzo.
Coconut Lime Sorbetto — bright lime flavors — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Thai Coconut, Lime Juice, and a touch of Dark Vanilla Rum — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #coconut #lime #rum
Almond cake by the Borgese’s.
By coincidence, my second gelato was a perfect pairing.
Almond Amaretto Truffle Gelato — Amaretto Zabaglione (egg yolk, amaretto, and sugar custard) Sicilian Almond gelato base with stacked layers of house-made Valrhona Almond Amaretti Ganache — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #almond #amaretto #amaretti #cookie #ganache #ChocolateTruffle
So we plated the almond truffle and the cake together. Match made in heaven.
The wine lineup. Not too shabby.
On the left our too awesome young servers, in the center our somm, and to the right the real chef, Lady Borgese.
Overall, this was an amazing dinner, probably my favorite of the three Borgese dinners — mostly because I love uni and seafood.
First of all, the Borgese hospitality was awesome, the house lovely, and the food absolutely incredible. Best “home cooked” meal I’ve had. Maybe ever if you restrict it to chefs cooking in their own home kitchen. Just amazing. Every dish was great. Rustic but extremely delicious style. Superb homemade pastas. My gelato was darn good too :-).
Service was handled by the youngest Borgese (teen daughter) and her friend (both pictured above) and was better than most restaurant staff. Super friendly and you can tell they do this a lot.
Wines were good. Not AS good as at the previous two events. Mostly whites and champagnes, which I love, but not everyone else has as deep a cellar in this department. My favorite was my whacky Umbrian white, the BEA Arboreus because being partially oxidized it’s an amazing uni pairing.