Yitzchok Bernstein does it again – a 19 course culinary kosher tour de force
A few months ago Heshy Fried, Yitzchok Bernstein’s sous chef and frum-satire blogger, was at the house for a shabbos dinner and he said that Yitzchok Bernstein, was back on the scene. Bernstein is the culinary mastermind behind the epic haute cuisine event that lasted some 27 courses, and which was one of the most often read posts on my blog, in the past year. Bernstein was lurking in NY for a few months – but he returned to Oakland after a short, yet successful, stint at Pomegranate.
So, when I heard that Mr. Bernstein was back – we agreed that a dinner was in order. Fried was not sure what the actual cost of a multi-course dinner was, but after a few back and forth discussions with Bernstein we were set. Well, while the dinner was set, the next two hurdles were a bit complicated; finding and arranging with 10 other participants and then locking down a date. Throughout the process, Bernstein was as professional as they come, and responded almost immediately to our correspondences. Getting the final gang together had a few missteps along the way, but while the overall process was a bit long to arrange on my end, the final outcome was an absolute delight, but more on that in a bit.
Once the gang was roughly worked out, we agreed that the date was not going to work until after Passover. So once that was decided the next step was agreeing on a final date – which took a few emails. After that we were set and then came the fun part, deciding the food and wine menu. The dinner does not include wines, which is fine with me as I am picky about my wines, but wow were the dishes impressive! Initially, there was some interest in lamb, but in the end that did not work out, as I am not that in love with lamb. In the end the set of dishes were truly innovative and fascinating and unique – so I am happy we passed on the lamb for the dishes we got instead.
I laughed so hard throughout the process because initially, the number of courses was set at 12 or so, which was 100% fine. However, throughout the process of setting the menu Mr. Bernstein kept adding courses – it was HILARIOUS, I could not help from laughing whenever I would read the revised menu. It turns out that we were very lucky, Bernstein was trying out some new recipes and we were the beneficiaries of some wicked cool imaginative dishes. To be fair, some worked really well, some were awesome, and some were just 100% off the charts.
If you were crazy and actually read through all of the 27 courses that I wrote up in December, of last year, you would have realized that this menu is based upon the same approach. Half of the dishes are fish based and the rest are a combination of fowl and beef. There was an option for lamb, but again, I was the one who nixed that one. Of the 27 courses of last year’s event, Bernstein explained that many are flat out unavailable right now. We were lucky to have duck, but there seems to be a serious shortage of kosher duck. The cost of goose has sky rocketed and is one that requires far too much work to really get its beneficial favors out. Then there were dishes that though the product is readily available, many do not always love them. For example, during the tasting in November, we enjoyed a crazy fun dish called lardo, which was veal fat cured and then massaged until it was turned into a lard looking product – very inventive and unique and a dish that is capable of freaking people out – which is their loss!!
Anyway, who cares what is not out there – what is available in the very capable hands of Bernstein are all a gift! The fish options right now are off the charts. The meat dishes are equally unique with chicken and duck being two of the best fowl options out there. Veal and beef are also great. There is venison, elk (here and there), lamb and others – but the best bang for your buck (no pun intended) – is beef and veal, with chicken and then duck (all with liberal usage of goose fat)!!
The cool part about having a dinner at your own house is that you get the chance to look behind the wizard’s curtain and watch the pre-process work, and to taste some really cool stuff that chefs “whip together” for lunch. So, after delaying the magicians for a bit, as we were out and about and they wanted to get in and unpack, and then go and pick up more goodies for the dinner. Well, once unpacked they left and returned with more things to put in the fridge – which was already PACKED to the gills! Hilariously they did find more space and then started to make lunch – a “simple” lunch of ramen noodles and slow roasted veal breast in chicken soup, with accompanying Soy Sauce tapioca balls and a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg – quite lovely!
After that, it was work time and Hesh and Yitz worked for the next 5 hours straight, on top of God knows how many hours before that, to break down the fish, get the vegetables and flowers sliced and diced, roasting some meat, and overall getting the place ready for humans to arrive. It was great watching him thinly slice the Carpaccio that was frozen. It turns out that it is really the only way to cut the Carpaccio meat to the thickness he desires. He was also cutting up the Bone Marrow Torchon for the goose fat brioche dish. Besides that, there was tons of chatter and he put up with us bugging him, I hope we did not annoy him too much! Finally, it was time for plating and by then I was long gone, as I was photographing wines, drinking wine, and getting ready for the dinner.
This may be highly biased, as the man was in my house for an entire day, but it gave me a very clear view into the world of Bernstein and his style with food. To him the garnish that is on all plates, is not there just to look at, which it is, but it is there to add a balance of flavors and texture. A great example is the great care he takes to find only the very best and lovely looking garnishes for the dishes, as seen here on the left. That is a container of beautiful micros greens, flowers, small carrots, and onions. Truly lovely to enjoy and to take in visually!
In terms of wine I think we did a solid job overall of pairing the wines with the courses. Still, you can never be 100% correct and there was one wine pairing that was an epic failure (more on that below). The pairing of the dish in question may have failed, but the dish and the wine were great apart. Unfortunately, together they were like water and oil (without an egg/emulsifier to be found) – no redeeming value – just two flavors clashing together!
Many of the wines came from Jonathan Hajdu (pronounced HAY-DOO), those being all of his new wine releases – which were a total joy to drink. Gary Landsman flew from NY for the event (yeah yeah, I know you have family in the area, but be honest – you came to the Bay Area for Bernstein and his mad creations!!!) and shared many wonderful wines with us, including many of the blockbusters! RL also shared a bottle with us, but let us say that the French bottle he brought, the 2006 Haut Brion Blanc, lived up to its country’s perceived flag (just remove the blue). The second we opened that wine, it threw up that white flag so fast, it gave itself whiplash! It was a very kind and nice gesture, but one that unfortunately did not work out! To be fair, I have not yet had a WHITE French wine that was ever very enjoyable – such is the life of French wine and kosher – the combination is rarely enjoyable (unless you have big bucks). One of the best wines of the evening was wonderful, and French, and joyous – but not a wine I would buy – being it goes for 100+ bucks a pop. The 2004 Domaine Chateau De La Tour Clos Vougeot – was lovely and may well have been the table favorite. Like I wrote in the wine note, this is the second time I have enjoyed this wine, the other time it was with Andrew, Hajdu, and Shimon Weiss (from Shirah Wines). It tasted very much inline with what I had then, though the nose seemed to be taking a step backwards. Which could be a factor of not giving this wine enough air. Still, in the end, like I write in the notes, this is the ONLY kosher FRENCH Pinot Noir (Burgundy) that has been consistently enjoyable – maybe one worth investing in.
The other wine winners were the Clos Mesorah, which once again – was a blockbuster, and may well have been the best pairing – given the decadent dish it was paired with and the wine itself! The 2003 Galil Mountain Winery Yiron was NO slouch, as was the 2004 Four Gates Winery Syrah, or 2005 Galil Mountain Winery Yiron Syrah.
All the images I have attached here were shared by the participants and by Bernstein – thanks so much guys for the images!!! This post has far fewer of my images, as I really wanted to enjoy the experience and not be bogged down with tweeting every step of it. That did mean that I did not take as many images as I would have liked – so thanks again guys for doing all the hard work for me!
One cannot close the preamble before thanking all the gang for coming and enjoying the epic culinary treat with my wife and I. The gang was awesome! Like a Shabbos meal at the table – though one where I could write my notes! Thanks guys for making the meal all that it was! Of course, super thanks to Bernstein, Hesh, and his lovely wife for making the entire experience – as bombastic and insane as one could possibly hope for. After a 27 course masterpiece, I thought I would be jaded and not into each and every course. Well, the human mind has a way of forgetting things quickly, and once the first course hit the table, I was once again transported into the mad Bernstein express bus to hedonism and culinary excellence – thanks so much my man!
Finally, you too can have Bernstein come over and whip together a gourmet meal for you and your gang. You can contact him at Epic Bites or Isaac Bernstein Catering – they both point to the same man! Hey it even comes with a Heshy and his wife – they are fun to be around.
Many have asked me what was the best course and things like that – to me that does not work. If I must break down the entire meal, I would say that the first 9 fish courses were an example of finesse and tactical precision. The fish fat escalated from dish to dish, and with each Pisces dish, the novelty and accoutrement were ratcheted up. The fish dishes were wonderful, and unique, and clearly showed Bernstein’s technique, but fish is fish. No matter how fatty that fish gets, there is not enough place on the small plates to truly grab your attention and keep it – it is the life of fish – what can we do. The meat and fowl courses were some of the best courses I have tasted in my entire life – period!
And to all of you who were expecting another thirteen thousand-word epic – dream on, I will let the pictures be my words!!!
So, without further ado – these were the dishes and their accompanying wines listed in the order they were lavishly enjoyed:
Before the evening started we opened a bottle of 2011 Tulip White – made from Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Some do not like the idea, and find it a bit too sweet. To me I LOVE the wine and being a hot day – the wine was refreshing, unique, and downright yummy.
2011 Tulip White Tulip – Score: B++
This wine is a blend of 70% Gewürztraminer and 30% Sauvignon Blanc with the sweet and floral notes of the Gewürztraminer showing nicely with guava, and banana, while the green apple and bright lemon notes from the Sauvignon Blanc blend together in a unique manner, along with mineral, and bright lemon. The mouth is nice, almost viscous, and honeyed with light petrol, and tart citrus. The finish is long with both sweet lemon creme and bright lemon at the same time, along with fig, and tart notes. This is a great wine that would go well with fish or sushi.
The first course was Gin Cured Salmon, Cucumbers, Lime, and Mint that was perfect paired with a bottle of N.V. Drappier Champagne. Honestly anything with Champagne cannot be bad! That said, the Gin cured Salmon belly really worked well with the Champagne and the dish itself worked as well. The belly fat with the gin and citrus acid paired perfectly with the chile pepper and the cooling green notes of the cucumber and mint.
NV Drappier Champagne Carte Blanche Brut (France, Champagne) – Score: A–
The nose light gold colored wine is explosive with rich toast, fluffy white chocolate, herb, grapefruit, bright green apple, malting yeast, and minerality. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is super rich with an energizer bunny small bubble mousse, more toast and brioche, nice yeast, rich herb, super bright and tart green apple that mellows down to a creamy apple sauce, and grapefruit. The mid palate has super bright acid, herb, grapefruit, white chocolate, and mineral. The finish is long and rich with more small bubble mousse, white chocolate, tart green apples, herb, more yeast, and mineral. This is a lovely and balanced wine that does like more time in the glass. Even better leave a few glasses of wine in the bottle, cap it with a normal cork and try it the next day – quite lovely!
The second course was Salmon Belly, Pickled Apples, Watercress, Ginger that was paired really well with a bottle of 2011 Carmel Riesling. The ginger and lemongrass worked so well with the Salmon and the wine paired perfectly with the ginger, salmon belly, and watercress! The wine’s ripe nose and mouth went well with the sharp and round flavors of the fish dish.
2011 Carmel Riesling, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi Vineyard – Score: B++
The nose on this light gold colored wine screams with rich and vibrant floral notes, wild mineral, ripe peach, kiwi, vanilla, and grapefruit, and more citrus. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is drier than the 2010 yet crazy rich and gives you a sweet perception from the very ripe fruit, the floral notes flow well through and mingle beautifully with the bracing acidity, along with more sweet fruit, herbal notes, and good spice. The finish is long and spicy, with nice melon, great slate, and lemon fraiche.
The third course was Local Yellowtail Hamachi, Candied Kumquat, Raw Cumquat, Shiso, Chili that was paired insanely well with a bottle of 2012 Makom Grenache Blanc. People look at this dish and they forget and miss how sick this one was!! The fish was awesome, but the killer was the perfect balance between the candied Kumquat, the tartness of the raw Kumquat, and the chili! The wine paired perfectly with it and – WOW was what I wrote for this dish! This is the first white wine from Hajdu and he put it under the existing Makom label.
2012 Makom Grenache Blanc – Score: B+ to A-
This one did not do it for me as much as it did from barrel. It has now been filtered and bottled and SO2 added, so there may be bottle shock involved here. The nose is rich with quince, kumquat, rich slate, nice mineral, great floral notes, ripe lime, lemon, grapefruit, jasmine, and herbal notes. The mouth is ripe and medium bodied, with a great bone dry body, fig, green and yellow apple, lemon fraiche, good strong and balancing acid, and ripe peach. The finish is long and mineral, with rose notes, white chocolate, cloves, and spice.
The fourth course was Maguro Tuna, Radishes, Olive Oil, Wasabi that went well with a bottle of 2009 Yarden Chardonnay. The dish was Maguro tuna with 3 way radish! There was also powdered olive oil (magic baby!), wasabi, and tapioca soy sauce balls. This dish was clean, herbal, bitter, and balanced well with the sweeter/oak driven Chard.
2009 Yarden Chardonnay, Odem Organic Vineyard – Score: A-
The nose on this darker gold-colored starts off with oxidized notes, rich oak, brioche, and nice green apple, with pineapple, and pear in the background. The mouth starts off reduced and a bit oxidized, but with time that recedes to show a full mouth, rich and mouth coating, almost glycerol, with, melon, freshly baked brioche, creme brulee, heavy toast/char, all wrapped in an envelope of toasty oak, sea salt and bracing acidity. The finish is long with cloves, spice, baked apple, fig, crazy butterscotch, pear/apple baked pie, and yeast that lingers. This is a wine that should be consumed soon, I agree with Elie on this one, Odem Chard does not get better with age! Drink them young and the fruit is more vibrant and alive. With age comes the brulee and butterscotch – if that is your thing drink later on.
The fifth course was Kampachi, Thai Bail Chili, and Basil Granita that went horribly BAD with a bottle of 2012 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc. The dish was lovely, especially the granita, and the Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc was equally lovely. But together – like I said above – #Epicfail! The tart fruit on the SB could not keep up with the sweetness of the granita. This should have ben paired with another white riesling with a bit more sweetness, like a Hagafen Riesling with 6% residual sugar, that would have done it well.
The dish itself was really nice with sweet ice that cooled the fatty fish nicely. The fish melted in your mouth – another great example of Bernstein technique.
2012 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – Score: B++
Another great bracing acidic Sauvignon Blanc from Goose Bay – drink this within a year. The nose on this almost water colored wine is screaming with classic New Zealand notes, gooseberry, piss, fresh cut grass, herbal notes, insane vanilla, and lovely lemon curd. The mouth is rich and bright and sweet, with not perceived residual sugar, tons of bracing acid, great citrus notes, grapefruit, melon, kiwi, litchi, and stone fruit. The finish is long and grassy, with with nice sweet herb, oregano, all wrapped up with great mineral and slate.
The sixth course was Hirame/Fluke, Siracha, Coconut, Avocado, Yuzu Tapioca Pudding that went well with a side-by-side tasting of two Spanish Rose, the 2011 Elvi Rosado and the 2012 Capcanes Rosat. Like I say in the notes, the Elvi Ness Rosado will freak some people out, and many on the table were bothered by it. They did not like animal flavors in their rose – I get it! The Capcanes was nice, but still not enough bracing acid to take my breath away. The fish came from the east coast and is a cool fish flavor, a fluke which you can read about more here.
For those not in the “foodie know”, Yuzu fruit is tart, closely resembling that of the grapefruit, with overtones of mandarin orange. The pudding made from it was delicious and the fish was moist but with a bit of give. A lovely dish with good balance, though the Rosado crushed it and the Rosat did not stand up to the sweeter tones – so a miss on the pairing – but not horrible.
2011 Elvi Wines Ness Rosado (Rose) – Score: B++
This is clearly a wine that will elicit strong feelings one way or another. The wine is a rose made from 100% Syrah grapes, and the color is more pomegranate than rose. The nose is where things get interesting with clear red syrah leanings mixed together with Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc leanings. The nose is rich with roasted meat, many on the table picked that up, along with gooseberry, stone fruit, quince, kumquat, and cat pee. The mouth is all rose style with medium body, great acidity, and reduction notes, along with nice spice, peach, and great citrus pith. The finish is long and mineral laden with bitterness, and more good stone fruit.
2012 Capcanes Rosat (Rose) – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this dirty cherry colored wine is filled with lovely dirt, cherry, rose hips, and strawberry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is filled with good acid, nice red fruit, along with peach, apple, tart cherry, and great spice that together coats the mouth nicely. The finish is long and lovely with Kirsch cherry, floral notes, passion fruit, and more good spice.
The seventh course was Hamachi with Citrus, Beets, and olive oil that we tried to pair with the 2005 Haut Brion Blanc (Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) – but the wine was dead, still a very unique experience. Hamachi is one of those fish that truly embody the term “all things in moderation – even moderation”! Gosh I like Hamachi! But too much of a good thing is really bad for you. In this case Bernstein showed his technique again with a thinly sliced piece of Hamachi- oily, fatty, and lovely fish that melted in your mouth, served simply with olive oil to add complexity, and beets to dampen the fat a bit. Nicely conceived and executed.
2006 Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc – Score: C+ to B
The nose on this wine is clearly oxidized, though the cork is not affected in anyway. The nose continues with nuts, honey, white chocolate, and oak. The mouth is filled with quince, apple, unfortunate reduction, along with fig and a nice viscous mouthfeel almost oily and rich. The finish is long and oxidized, with nice mineral, slate, dirt, and so much more dirt.
The eighth course was lovely Hawaiian Albacore (Tombo), smoked Watermelon Tar Tar, Chili, Mint, Cucumber that was paired perfectly with the lithe but delicious, and newly renamed, 2011 Hajdu Grenache. This was another of my Bravo/Wow fish dishes, that I noted down anyway. The tombo was fatty and fresh, while the sweet watermelon balanced with the chili heat, and the green flavors of mint and cucumber all balanced out in your mouth for one of those perfectly balanced WOW moments – way to go! The dish’s presentation and execution were top notch.
The wine paring worked well as the Grenache is not a powerhouse (like the 2007 beast). Instead the 2011 Grenache, as you can read below, is balanced and rich – but not overpowering.
2011 Hajdu Grenache, Eagle Point Ranch – Score: A-
The nose first starts off with ripe black cherry, black fruit fleeting in the background, nice loamy dirt, blood orange, and very floral. With time the wine explodes and becomes insanely redolent with a perfumed nose of blueberry, rich boysenberry, plum, peach, guava, and more black cherry, along with the loamy dirt now taking up back stage. The mouth is medium to full body with nice ripe and concentrated raspberry, plum, dark currant, more earthy notes, rich tannin, lovely oak, and rich extraction. The finish is long and mineral laden with good charcoal, chocolate, and more loam. Some will feel the alcohol on this, but do not be afraid – the wine does not show it on the mouth as much as it is apparent on the nose.
The ninth course was toro with fresh chickpeas, green olives, and lots of olive oil. This was the last, most aggressive, and hedonistic fish course of the bunch. It was fresh and insanely marbled toro with fresh chickpeas, green olives, and lots of olive oil that paired so perfectly with a killer bottle of 2004 Chateau De La Tour, Clos Vougeot, Grand Cru! That wine is insane and really needed more time than we gave it to air out. By the end of the evening it was losing its steam, but with an hour or two of air – that wine is perfect. It has not failed me three times now, so it is clearly a wine that may well be the best kosher Pinot out there, and clearly the best Burgundy out there.
Dish wise – this too was insane. It was simple, with great fish taking center stage, the olive oil adding a bit more earthy complexity to the fish and the chickpeas adding body and texture – BRAVO! Some were bothered by the fact that the cut had a bit too much connective tissue – so the fish did not melt 100% in your mouth. To me a bit of bite in fish is what I like – so to each their own.
Pairing wise – the fish’s mouth coating oil madness was managed and handled mono-a-mano by the Clos Vougeot! The Vougeot’s crazy mouth coating tannin – went head to head and worked in great tandem – was a truly awesome pairing and dish!
2004 Domaine Chateau De La Tour Clos Vougeot – Score: A- to A
This is the second time I have tasted this wine in a short period of time, last tasted in August of last year, and already the nose is heading more to dirt, earth, and mushroom. The wine starts off with rich and ripe nose of mad dirt, earth, coffee, along with deep ethereal notes of red fruit. The light to medium bodied wine is still very rich and layered with pomegranate, strawberry, dark cherry, blackberry, dark currant, and more mushroom. As the wine opens more it shows candied kirsch cherry. The wine may be light but it has a heavy styled mouth, with massive and not yet integrated and still searing tannin, along with a nice controlled usage of oak, that gives the mouth a nice mouth coating feel, but one that will be better in a couple of years when this all comes together. The finish is long with bell pepper, green notes, more searing tannin, sweet notes creep in over time, along with rich leather, kirsch cherry, espresso, toast, nice tobacco, and a touch of raisin on the long rise. I am really excited because of all the of the previous vintages of this wine – this is BY FAR the best and most reproducibly good Pinot Noir from France – BRAVO for that I guess. Otherwise, a lovely wine, and one that is true to its varietal – in so many ways.
The tenth course was Surf and Turf Salad- Fried Chicken Skins, Sea Beans, Nasturtium, Pansies, petit onions, root greens, Romaine Puree, Spring Green Pea Gazpacho, Morels, Fiddlehead Ferns, Poached Baby Potatoes, Shaved Chorizo. To say this dish was beautiful to behold, as it was to consume – would be an understatement. This dish was where Bernstein turned on his turbo boosters, and started coming out with plates that exceeded even the foodie-est of us in terms of originality, flavor, and gorgeous visualization.
This dish paired insanely well with a GREAT bottle of Hajdu’s N.V Besomim, which is essentially a 50/50 blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. 50% Petite Sirah from 2012, 50% Zinfandel from 2011 (same grapes that went into the Landsman Zinfandel) and a drop of 2011 Syrah. The dish was oily and salty, from the fried chicken skin, and calmed and balanced wonderfully by the dish’s flowers, Morel mushrooms, Fiddlehead Ferns, and Poached Baby Potatoes. The wine’s sweet notes balanced perfectly with the oily and salty chicken skin – this was truly insane. All in all this was two dishes – placed on one and I loved it. The second that thing hit the table – we knew that Bernstein had taken us to an entirely new level! BRAVO!!!
NV Besomim – Score: A-
This wine is a 50/50 blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. 50% Petite Sirah from 2012, 50% Zinfandel from 2011 (same grapes that went into the Landsman Zinfandel) and a drop of 2011 Syrah. This wine starts off all Zinfandel all the time, in your face zinfandel. Over time the two grapes blend together nicely and show more of a blue and red face, with mounds of spice and good tannin. The nose starts off with rich animal fat, crazy smoked notes, followed by licorice, insane floral notes, dates galore, and spices from all over the place, black pepper, cloves, spicy paprika, and nutmeg. The mouth is richly layered and full with a clear date bomb, rich ripe fruit, blackberry, raspberry, plum, cedar, and soft tannin that are round and plush. Over time the blueberry and boysenberry take over center stage and bring with it a sweeter side, less extraction and more roundness – with the tannin adding structure. The finish is long and rich with good milk chocolate, dark fruit, cigar notes, boysenberry that lingers with mounds of spices. Over time the sweetness comes out on the finish with more nutmeg, cinnamon, and blueberry liquor.
The eleventh course was Beef Rib Eye Carpaccio, Bone Marrow Torchon on shmaltz Brioche, and Cherry Mustard Tapenade that went insanely well, maybe the best pairing of the night, with a bottle of 2009 Clos Mesorah, a plush, rich, and concentrated blended wine from Moises Cohen’s own vineyard, near his home. This course was three parts painstakingly put together. There was the lovely Beef Carpaccio – rich, mouth coating, melting and luscious. Then there was the goose fat brioche that was baked and then cut into small round pieces, and then pan fried to add crunch and complexity. Finally, there is the bone marrow that was made into a Torchon – sliced, and then blow torched until it was perfect! The Torchon was decadent, while the brioche added body and crunch the party. The Beef Rib Eye Carpaccio was more decadence – and may well have been my favorite dish overall, though it is hard to beat the Short Rib Pastrami (course 14)!
The wine paired so well with the dish – it was plush and decadence versus decadence – which to me was perfect!! BRAVO, WOW, and SICK! That is how I would classify the dish and wine!
Here is a video of the course being plated by Bernstein, Heshy is in the background. This was kindly donated to the cause by SA, and I slightly edit it:
2009 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah – Score: A- to A
The wine is a blend of 40% Carignan made from 90 year old vines, 30% Grenache, and 30% Syrah. This is the first release of the Clos Mesorah wine in a kosher format and it is well worth the wait. The wine is lovely and personally edges out the Capcanes Peeraj Ha’bib and makes it the best kosher Montsant out there, by a hair. The reason why I say this is because the Clos Mesorah has a more controlled nose and mouth that is devoid of raisin and date and also does not have the overly loud toasty/burnt oak. The wine has a crazy rich and perfumed nose of ripe but controlled fruit, floral notes, along with rich mineral, loamy dirt, earth, animal notes, blackberry, black cherry, plum, red currant, charcoal, and crazy loamy earth. The mouth is rich and crazy with concentrated and layered fruit, lovely integrating mouth coating tannin, along with a massive attack of spice, dark ripe fruit, good cedar that fills the mouth and makes for a rich mouth-feel. The finish is long and spicy with lovely mineral, ripe blueberry, and blue fruit, mounds of dirt, earth, leather, chocolate, and butterscotch, with fruit and butterscotch lingering long on the palate after the wine is gone.
The twelfth course was Duck Breast, Oats, Balsamic, Strawberry Reduction that went insanely well with a bottle of, still very alive, 2003 Galil Mountain Winery Yiron. The dish is a classic setup of earthy, meaty, and chewy protein with sweet and candied strawberry, with oats to add a dollop of texture and balance! The duck was lovely, it looks overcooked – but it was not for me. Loved the bite, the flavor, and the classic balance. The 03 Galil went so well with it because of the Yiron’s deep fruit and lovely flavors.
2003 Galil Mountain Winery Yiron – Score: A- (plus a bit more)
The nose on this wines is a wine that shocked me that it was still alive. The wine was supposed to be over the peak, but this wine to me is at peak or a drop before it, so why wait? This wine is a Bordeaux blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, and 7% Syrah. The nose is rich and redolent with tobacco, black pepper, ripe green notes, bell pepper, heavy spice, and cedar. The mouth is quite surprising with searing tannin, bracing acid, nice date notes, ripe blackberry, black cherry, and good extraction with nice mouth coating tannin, currant, and lovely sweet cedar. The finish is long and bracing with acid, and is a very unctuous mouth feel, with nice tobacco, leather, chocolate, lovely dirt, licorice, spices, herb, and more loamy dirt. This is not a wine that is a fruit bomb any longer, this wine is now more about richness, fruit, leather, and lovely dirt – but a wine that is still unctuous, chocolaty, and rich with great fruit and spice/herb. Drink NOW and be very happy.
The thirteenth course was Pastured Chicken Thigh, Cornbread Puree, Yam Fritters, Charred Spring Onion, and Petite Onion that went insanely well with a bottle of, still very alive, 2004 Four Gates Syrah.
This dish was made of chicken thigh meat – reconstituted into a sausage like structure and then cooked for days at 140 degrees in a sous vide machine (picture is above). Then the chicken was pan fried to add depth of flavor. That was paired with a LOVELY yam fritter! I told Bernstein, even before the dinner was conceived that fritters HAD to be on the menu, at least once! They are crunchy, sick, oily, sweet goodness – insane and yummy and indescribable. He also put some charred and sweet onions on the dish, along with cornbread puree and some lovely micro-greens. The puree was what brought all the parts together. The chicken was mouth watering and melted in your mouth soft, while the fritter was crunchy and delicious, but without the creamy sweet cornbread sauce – it would not have worked. With it – BAM BABY! Home run – but I am biased, as the fritter is SICK!
Wine wise the richness of the Syrah and the earthiness that is has balanced perfectly with the sweet and crunchy dish. This was a home run dish and a very solid triple to home run pairing.
2004 Four Gates Syrah – Score: A- (plus a bit more)
The nose on this wine explodes with rich animal notes, garrigue, nice blueberry, boysenberry, blackberry, rich earth, eucalyptus, menthol, and blackcurrant. The mouth is extracted, concentrated, with layered with layers of black cherry, mint, blue and black fruit, loamy earth, cassis, nice sweet oak, and crazy tannin that is now mouth coating and integrated. The finish is long and balanced with good acidity, more earth, lovely tobacco, chocolate, rich leather, vanilla, and butterscotch. Over time the wine also shows black olives and hints of tar. This is a lovely wine that has another two years ahead of it and may well be at its peak, while probably not evolving much better than right now.
The fourteenth course was Shortrib Pastrami, Sauerkraut Foam, Deli Rye Gnocchi, Roasted Ramp, and Rye Crumbs. This was a dish that was pure decadence, a may well have been the best thing I have tasted in a very long time! With all the foodie activities I have been part of these past few years – that says a lot! It was paired with a lovely (and my last) bottle of 2005 Galil Yiron Syrah. After the 2005 vintage they started blending the Syrah into their new label; Meron.
This dish was sick! Period! There was charred ramp (a vegetable), sauerkraut puree (are you kidding me!), Rye Gnocchi, sick and insane smoked short rib pastrami cooked for 48 hours in Sous vide, along with rye bread crumbled. As you can guess – it was a deconstructed and re-imagined Reuben sandwich. The Pastrami was so insane – all I can write is one of the very best things I have tasted. My notes say – “off the charts concept and execution dish”. The dish is rich, fatty, and decedent. The sauerkraut creme adds balance and the rye Gnocchi was awesome. Double Bravo, Insane, and killer!
Pairing wise – who cares! LOL!! Sorry, it was fine, but all my mind was on the food and the wine took second stage. The wine was wonderful, I do not remember the actual pairing itself.
2005 Galil Mountain Winery Syrah Yiron – Score: A- to A
The wine starts off with nice roasted animal, awesome spice, ripe fruit, lovely hit of blueberry that is one of the original wines that I ever tasted from Israeli Syrah. It continues with lovely blackberry and plum, along with earth, date, and rich mineral. The mouth is rich, soft, and layered with nice concentrated blue and black fruit, lovely blackberry, cassis, boysenberry, charcoal, with great acid, along with nice sweet cedar, soft tannin, and ripe but not overly sweet fruit to make for a lovely mouth feel. The finish is long and spicy with still nice tannin, a hint of chocolate, spice, along with cloves, black pepper, and controlled fruit. This is a wine that is at its peak and drink NOW. Personally, of all the Israeli Syrah wines tasted – this was the winner, with ripe but not overly ripe blue and black fruit, along with nice oak influence and clear fruit extraction – kudos!
The fifteenth course was Smoked Veal Loin, Red Pepper Mostarda, Charred Broccolini, that was paired with yet another new vintage from Hajdu Winery, the 2011 Hajdu Syrah. This was the second wine from the newly minted Hajdu Winery label.
The smokiness of the veal loin was awesome! Some did not care for the red pepper Mostarda, but they do not like cooked peppers much ! The Mostarda added a sweet and sour component to the dish and the lovely carrots and charred Broccolini added an earthy depth to the dish. Very nice.
The Hajdu Syrah was paired to perfection with this dish. The Syrah’s deep, smoky, animal, and rich sweet notes paired well with the smoky meat – lovely!
2011 Hajdu Syrah – Score: A- (plus a bit more)
The nose screams from rich animal notes, tons of licorice, along with clear sweet undertones, and nice spice. The mouth is rich and layered with layers of concentrated fruit, all wrapped together in a sick inky structure, massive bones – but the fruit is a bit behind – this will need time to come together. This may have been a cool summer – so the lack of fruit, and the higher acid, but there is clear fruit lying underneath. The mouth continues with rich boysenberry, blueberry, ripe intense and candied raspberry, all under a canopy of a plush round mouth, heavy extraction, brooding dark and black wine. The finish is long and animal laden with blue and black fruit, chocolate, licorice, and great intense spice, leather, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
The sixteenth course was Wagyu Short Rib, Broccoli Stem, Broccoli, Puree, Charred Broccoli Florets that went insanely well with a bottle of 2006 Galil Meron. The Short Rib was insane – rich, and yes decedent! The three way broccoli was a fun touch to the fatty meat – and worked well. My notes “creamy, rich, and layered”. The 2006 Meron was killer and handled the fatty meat with no worries.
2006 Galil Mountain Winery Meron – Score: A- (plus a bit more)
The unique blend (in 2006) for Israeli wines, has been eclipsed and is now normal for Israeli wineries in 2013. However, it was one of the early innovators of this Australian style blend! The blend is 78% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Petit Verdot. The nose starts with insane date bomb, blackberry, cedar, along with loads on mineral, blueberry, ripe black cherry, smoke, and pepper. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered and concentrated with rich ripe fruit at the attack on a bed of lush and integrated tannins. The mouth follows with layer after layer of more ripe blue and black fruit, date, plum, blue and black fruit, ripe plum, sweet cedar, rich earth, lovely extracted fruit, and mouth coating and still searing tannin. The finish is long and spicy with nicely extracted fruit, tobacco, date, mineral, leather, fig, chocolate, and rich mouth coating tannin. This was a controlled wine – even with all the date – bravo!
The seventeenth course was Slow Roasted Crescent, Asparagus, Hollandaise that went very well with a bottle of 2007 Galil Meron. This dish was crazy good because – it is steak surprise – come on! The meat was fresh and fatty, yet charred nicely! The Hollandaise sauce was made from charred rump and chicken fat! Hey fight fat with fat! The asparagus was thrown on there for some looks and something healthful to counteract the fat intrusion system that was this dish – incarnate! LOL! At this point in the evening – I must admit I had stopped spitting and I was a bit out of it, so I trust my notes more then memory. They read “chicken fat is sick, crescent is rich and layered and fatty, and the ramp sauce is even fattier – fat on fat” – BRAVO!!!
I did not love the 2007 Meron – it was nice, but this was a clear and obvious date bomb that did not work for me. The pairing was fine if you liked the wine. To be honest at this point everyone was wasted or close to it and there was very little of the bottle consumed.
2007 Galil Mountain Winery Meron – Score: B+ to A-
This wine may be a blueberry bonnet, but it is clear date bomb that is uncontrolled, with blueberry, too heavy a date nose, clove, cinnamon, licorice, and nice animal notes. The mouth is big and aggressive, with black and blue fruit, spicy and round with great tannin, nice acid, structure, layered with blackberry, and currant. The finish is long and super spicy with sweet cedar, chocolate, nice boysenberry, and date marmalade.
Course 18 and Course 19
The eighteenth and nineteenth courses were combined as the guests were starting to fall over! So Bernstein plated them on a large plate. They were (my favorite) Peanut Butter Mousse, Caramelized Bananas, Bacon Jam, and Goose fat French Toast. Along with Smoked Cinnamon Parfait, Vanilla Ice Cream, Red Wine Caramel. They were paired with Carmel 100 Brandy and 27 year old Kedem port-like wine.
1978 Kedem Port – Score: A-
What can I say about this wine – it is not a port of course, as it comes from NY BABY!!! But this 27 year kedem port was really nice, like a tawny port which is sweet yet controlled, really nutty, and spicy – nice. I love the “real” story behind that port! They emptied the barrels – in four stages (yes there were FOUR bottling of this wine) – so four times they created the bourbon and four times they needed a barrel for the alcohol, so four times they cleared out the old “port” wine to make way for the bourbon – LOVE IT!!! No hiding that this is a tawny – meaning – that this wine will look brown – DO NOT FREAK OUT, as the British said during World War II – “keep calm and carry on”!!! The tawny wines look that way, this is no different it is fine. The nose explodes with nutty notes, clear walnut, cashew, and rich spice, along with heavy date, and sweet notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. The mouth is not overly complex – but hey this is 27 years old!! It has still nice tannin, great grip, and good mouth fell, with massive oak and wood along with lovely grip and mouth coating ability. The finish is rich and nutty, with great cherry, ripe rich and insane sweet raspberry, dark candied fruit, along with a crazy marzipan, sweet halva, and vanilla finish! Lovely! This wine can cut easily through insane foods – fear not – find some and enjoy it within the next year or so. also, once opened – PRAY – it goes down hill fast!!
In closing – this was a GREAT time and very sorry for being so slow to get this up! Also, it is only half as long as the 27 course posting – which is far less verbose, given the ratio 19 to 27!
Posted on May 10, 2013, in Food and drink, Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Semi Sweet Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged 27 year old, besomim, Brandy, Burgundy, Capcanes, Carmel 100, Carmel Winery, Champagne, Chardonnay, Chateau De La Tour, Clos Mesorah, Clos Vougeot, Drappier, Elviwines, Four Gates Winery, Galil Mountain Winery, Goose Bay, Grand Cru, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Hajdu Wines, Kedem Port, Makom, Meron, Odem Vineyard, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Rosado, Rosat, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tulip Winery, White Tulip, Yarden Winery, Yiron, Zinfandel. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.