Monday, January 09, 2006

The Grill on the Alley, San Jose

For the second year in a row, our company dinner was held at The Grill in the Fairmont Hotel. Last year, due to a flight delay coming back from Las Vegas, Jon and I arrived late. This year, we were present for the entire meal. ALL FIVE HOURS OF IT.

Now, I'm not sure how you normally eat, but FIVE HOURS of eating and drinking is a lot in my book. SEVEN COURSES, each paired with a fine wine. Here was the eating itinerary:

First Course
Osetra Caviar Plate served with Garnishes and Blini
Comtes, Taittinger, De Champagne Rose, Reims, 1996

Second Course
Smoked Salmon and Sturgeon served with Terragon Butter and Garlic Toast
Joseph Phelps Ovation, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2000

Third Course
Portobello Mushroom Ravioli served with Kobe Beef a la Bolognese
Ambullneo, Bulldog Reserve, Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, 2003

Fourth Course
Magret of Moskovey Duck, served with Five Peppercorn Sauce Flambe Armagnac
Turley, Dusi Vineyard, Zinfandel, Paso Robles, 2003

Cranberry Sorbet with Skyy Melon and Lemon Float

Fifth Course
Main Lobster with Truffle Butter Sauce
Chauteau Mouton Rothschild, Bordeaux, 2002

Sixth Course
Mixed Green Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette and Cheese Platter

Traditional Buche de Noel
Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes, 1999

It was a ridiculous amount of food and wine -- all so very good. Jon doesn't eat caviar, so I got to double-up on the first course. Although the lobster was sweet and delicious, my favorite course was the ravioli. And the refreshing cranberry sorbet palate-cleanser was also especially yummy.

The only thing that disappointed was the Buche de Noel. Growing up, my mom would bring these French cakes home during the holidays; the one served at The Grill barely resembled what I'm familiar with. Traditionally, the cake is made of a sheet of genoise that is spread with mocha or chocolate buttercream, then rolled into a log shape. The Grill's version did have a layer of sponge cake, but it was wrapped around three flavors of ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, coffee). And rather than just having meringue mushrooms as a garnish, this buche was completely covered in meringue (I was expecting chocolate frosting). It was pretty and elegant, but wasn't quite right to me. (Other people at the dinner LOVED it.) My disappointment in the dessert itself didn't stop me from enjoying the awesome dessert wine, of course.

I think I'll be ready to eat again in 48 hours.

The Grill
172 South Market Street
San Jose, CA
(408) 294-2244