For many a bébé boomer, Provence’s Domaine Tempier, and Lulu and Lucien Peyraud, opened a door to what food should be: full-flavored, true, beautiful, not fussy, seasonal, and full of life.
We were shown a way. Preparing for next week’s dinners and the release of our little treasure trove of old Tempier red Bandols, we’ve been going through a tasting of bottles from select vintages. It’s been an honor and an adventure.
We’ve tasted many extraordinary bottles and a few “interesting” ones-the lesser ones having aged, alas, for too long, or some in which Brett yeast cells have run amok. Unfortunately, there’s little accurate information on what to expect as each vintage ages-even from the experts at Kermit Lynch. We’re rather enjoying performing the task of looking into each to determine the effects of time. (We must keep in mind that bottles might even vary within each vintage, creating yet another problem in making them available to you.) But we know we will be offering many spectacular aged Tempier Bandols at good prices, along with some merely good ones. Yesterday, we opened a ’79 and last rites were performed; then, an ’87, and it blew us away, and today it is still very much alive, with interesting character.
Here’s what we are working with.
|1979||Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée|
|1981||Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée|
|1982||Bandol Cuvée Speciale, Domaine Tempier|
|1982||Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée|
|1985||Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée|
|1985||Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée|
|1987||Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée|
|1988||Grenache-Syrah-Mouvédre, “Speciale La Louffe,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée|
|1988||Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée|
|1989||Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée|
|1989||Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée|
|1989||Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée|
|1999||Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée|
View our special Provençal menus for May 19th and 20th here.
We’re in salumi production pretty much all year long, gearing up particularly for Whole Hog Dinners in February. But the meats don’t become perfect in a steady stream. Sometimes many are ready in a mild eruption — an embarrassment of riches between dry spells.
Cured meats are the very best way to taste the quality of the pig, and we have salumi from two very fine breeds. From Front Porch Farm, we have their Cinta: culatello, coppa, and pancetta, all from great whole muscles. Culatello is the small muscle at the rear of the leg and is considered the king of cured meats.
And, though Mac Magruder has stopped hog production, we have a variety of salumi from his amazing stock as well. They’ll be on the menu beginning Wednesday, and into the following week.
Our salmon crudo this week hits all parts of the palate. Our salmon right now is top notch — luscious with a vivid pink hue from having fed on a healthy fishery of krill. We’re using white asparagus purée to accompany, early peaches, a touch of spice with pimentón, and piccolo fino basil for a sweet, herbaceous note. It’s been absolutely fantastic.
We went to one of our favorite cheesemongers, the Cheeseboard in Berkeley, in anticipation of our upcoming Provencal Dinners on May 19th and 20th. We love the Cheeseboard for its continuing passion, personal attention, and the sheer variety of cheeses it sells.
Erin Fox, our guide – and former Oliveto cook – shared with us a bounty of goat cheese. Nocetto di capra was gooey, with a long finish. The ash-covered Besace du Berger was sterling — soft in the middle and velvety on the tongue. The quadra di capra was something like a goatsmilk Taleggio — pungent, mushroomy, and yeasty.
We were particularly excited about Pantaleo, a firm goat cheese from Sardinia – it’s mild, nutty, and savory, with plenty of citrus notes, and dissolves into fine crumbles in the mouth.
While we are still deciding what cheeses to use, we’re getting very excited about our Provencal Dinners and the aged French wines we will be sharing alongside. Our menu will come directly from the classic cookbook, Richard Olney’s paean to Lulu Peyraud and Domaine Tempier,Lulu’s Provencal Table.
Mary Dee Berry, the Executive Director of The Berry Center, puts to work the writings of her father, Wendell Berry, the author of The Unsettling of America — a book that was, and still is, a rousing cry to protect our land for small farmers and a more sustainable food system. For the whole of her adult life, Mary has been farming organically and sustainably, raising cattle, heirloom pigs, non-GMO hay, and harvesting lumber on 300 hundred acres of mostly wooded land in Kentucky. She brings first-hand experience, expert knowledge of the fundamental thinking behind today’s sustainable food movement, and the wit, charm and good sense that remind us of her father.
What is a good farmer? How do we preserve farm land from agribusiness?? How do we protect the marketplace so that small farmers might thrive? All of these questions will be food for thought.
We are oh so excited to have her here.
Sunday May 3rd, 1 pm – 3 pm
Zuppa di acquacotta: seasonal vegetable soup
Pappardelle with rabbit ragù
Beef shank with bone marrow and rosemary
Prix fixe $40.
Served family-style. For parties of one to twelve. The whole table must order the prix fixe menu.
(Does not include beverages and 18% service charge added in lieu of tip.)
call 510-547-5356 or reserve online
Larger parties: please let us know at the time of your reservation if your table will be ordering the Sunday Supper menu so that we can plan accordingly. Thanks!