Saturday, April 30, 2016

Victoria & Albert's

Finally, a recap and review of the incredible food and wine we enjoyed at Victoria & Albert's during our recent Florida trip.

If you need a refresher of our first trip here or never read it the first time, check it out here.

We are warmly greeted and shown into the Queen Victoria room, featuring just four tables (and two servers). There is one couple there when we get there, and the other two tables are filled in a staggered manner, so that the servers are never having to deal with more than one table at once; everyone is always at a different stage in their experience.

The prices I list below for the wine are my best guesses; we didn't pay for the wine individually, we selected the "reserve wine pairing" option.

Our evening begins in the Queen Victoria room with some really nice champagne and an Amuse-Bouche. As we are presented with our 10-course menus, we have the opportunity to change up any of the dishes that are not to our liking. Tracey pooh-poohs only one thing; some truffle oil on her chicken dish. I keep the menu as is, even though there are 3-4 things on my menu I just don't like... or at least, I THINK I don't like. Having them here will tell me for sure if I'm right, or if I just haven't had them cooked correctly yet.

Amuse-Bouche - Dean - Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Siberian Caviar
I really dislike caviar. At least I thought I did. Turns out it just needs the right accompaniment. By itself, even in this dish, I didn't like it. Mix it in with the cauliflower panna cotta? OH MY.

Amuse-Bouche - Tracey - Vegetable Ratatouille, Arugula Oil, Tomato Water
You read that last part correctly...tomato water. I had our waiter explain to us what that was exactly, and how they made it (it takes DAYS), but it was incredible. And I despise tomatoes.

Our wine pairing:

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose (N/V) ($85.99)

Subtle aromas of citrus and red fruit. Strawberries come through at the end. Gentle and crisp on the palate with fruity flavors of strawberry and raspberry. Considering my general dislike of bubbly, this is certainly an exception. 91.

Next course:

Tracey - Moroccan Couscous Salad with Seared Bison
One of Tracey's favorite dishes and "Bison" is not something she would order in a normal restaurant; even a really good one. It was also cooked way less than she like her beef cooked, but that had little impact on her enjoyment.

Dean - Roulade of Smoked Salmon and Alaskan King Crab
Crab isn't my favorite thing and I really dislike smoked salmon, but I left this on my menu just to see if I was wrong.
I was wrong.
It was terrific. It might have been my least favorite dish of the evening, but that's just like choosing which one of my cats I like the least.

Wine pairing:
Lail Vineyards 2014 Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc ($40.00)

Beautiful aromas of white pepper, lemon and white flowers. Touches of citrus and a hint of spice on the crisp and delicious palate. Right up there with my favorite Napa Sauvignon Blancs. 91.

Next course:

Dean - Alaskan Sablefish with Baby Bok Choy

Absolutely incredible. Buttery and smokey and delicious. This is the second time I've had Sablefish at a wine pairing dinner (first time was at Dine Italia last year) and I'm hoping it's not the last.

Tracey - Long Island Duck with Baby Bok Choy
Tracey doesn't like duck. Are you noticing a pattern here?
She liked THIS duck. I'll tell you, when you have a Michelin-starred chef cooking your meal, it almost doesn't matter what they are cooking, it's going to be delicious.


Weingut Robert Weil 2014 Kiedrich Turmberg Riesling ($35.00)

Lots of fruit and mineral notes on the nose and the palate. A very dry and lean example of German Riesling. Not the big sweet bold German rieslings we've come to love but a very high quality wine. 89.

Next up:

Dean - Scottish Langoustine with Nage Crema
When the servers brought us our dishes they explained in detail exactly what everything was; that orange cream next to the Langoustine was incredible but I have completely forgotten what it was. There was a beautiful beurre blanc that went on top. Sublime. I guess this was my favorite meal of the night but that's like picking my favorite cat.

Tracey - Palmetto Farms Quail with Salsify
 I believe this is the first time Tracey has ever tasted Quail but it won't be the last. She loved it.


Maison Vincent Girardin 2013 Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes ($65.00)

100% Chardonnay made from 65-year old vines. Creamy and nutty aromas of brioche and orange. Light and fruity, a typical expression of old-world Chardonnay. Young. 89.

                       Dean - Truffled Bell & Evans Chicken with Chanterelle Mushrooms
I don't like mushrooms. LOL. They might have been my favorite part of the dish.

Tracey - Chicken with Chantrelle Mushrooms, no truffle
This was Tracey's least favorite dish of the evening, which means she really liked it, not loved it.


Sojourn Cellars 2013 Ridgetop Vineyard Pinot Noir ($70.00)

Sonoma knows Pinot Noir. Intoxicating aromas of red fruit with just a tinge of orange coming through. Well integrated oak with flavors of strawberry, raspberry and vanilla. Long and beautiful finish. 91.

At this point, we've consumed a reasonable amount of food but there is still so much to come. It is very well spaced out, though, the entire dinner is almost 4 hours so we are never hurried to move to the next course.

Up next:
Both - Berkshire "Porchetta", Sherry Vinaigrette
 Stuffed pork loin and this was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.


Begali Lorenzo 2010 Amarone delle Valpolicella Classico DOCG ($71.00)

Aromas of cassis, lavender, blackberry and tobacco. So young and so much potential; this wine would improve for decades, not years.
Leather, tobacco, black fruit and cherry on the palate. A beautiful pairing with the pork. 91.

Tracey - Australian Kobe-Style beef
 Tracey asked that they cook her beef a little more than the usually do and they nailed it, bringing her a perfect medium piece of heaven.
Dean - Austrailian Kobe-Style Beef (left) Miyazaki Japanese Beef (right) with Comte Potato Gnocchi
 I paid extra for the half-portion of Miyazaki beef and I was actually quite disappointed with it. I had it last time we were here and it was absolutely amazing, but this time it was so marbled that it was almost chewy. The Kobe-style beef was fantastic though and the accompaniments were perfect. So THAT is what gnocchi is supposed to taste like!


Jarvis 2011 Cabernet Franc ($95.00)

Notes of raspberry, nuts, and vanilla on the nose. Rich and juicy palate. Flavors of cocoa, vanilla, spice and a hint of cranberry. Finishes long. Complex and delicious. Our favorite wine of the night, hands down. 93.

Selection of cheese
The wine to pair with our cheese and desserts was a Madeira which isn't our thing so we were allowed to switch it up. Tracey had more of the Cab Franc while I had a lovely Sauternes. I neglected to make notes on the exact details and even more surprising, it seems like I forgot to take pictures of the desserts! What an asshole.

We each had two: Peruvian Chocolate Crunch and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Wild Strawberries. Both were absolutely amazing.

Lots more wine followed as we were able to go back and have another glass or two of whatever we liked. There was a French Bordeaux and a Barolo that were interspersed with our wine pairings and we had some more of those (both were very good but also way too young) along with some more of that spectacular Napa Cab Franc. After dinner we stumbled upstairs to our room in the Grand Floridian (EXACTLY why we wanted to stay here for one night).

I think Tracey would agree that this is a "must-do" every time we come to Florida. I'm not going to mention how much the dinner was (but if you want to know I will tell you, just ask), but it's definitely for the super-rich (or people like us who like to pretend we are from time to time). It's worth every penny.

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