First Lola, now L’Albatros – all in less than one week! This level of indulgence is certainly not a normal part of my lifestyle and was only made possible by the fact that Nick’s extremely generous company rewarded him with a fancy dinner for his 10 years of service, and he was gracious enough to take the three of us along with him. It wasn’t difficult for us to settle on L’Albatros. I had been there previously for lunch and the wine tasting, but I had not partaken in quite possibly the most unique aspect of the restaurant – CHEESE! L’Albatros has its own fromagere, and for four people obsessed with cheese, we felt we had died and gone to heaven. But first, before we met His Royal Cheese Highness, we had to choose our first bottle of wine. As we were in a celebratory mood, we felt Champagne was in order. Once the waiter saw that we weren’t total hicks and were possibly willing to spend some money, he revealed that the restaurant was selling its 1999 Dom Perignon for the “clearance” price of $95. Under normal circumstances, this would have been a fantasy, but that night, it was a no-brainer. And was it EVER worth it! As the Dom arrived, so did the fromagere, and he described all the cheeses with the passion of Danielle Steel. I was hooked! I asked for the names of all the cheeses but sadly did not get them – I can only attest that they were all fantastic. I also know we had an Epoisses and a Comte, as well as a blue sheep’s cheese from Old Chatham Shepherding Company in NY state. Although I must say that the cheese was the highlight of the meal, I also enjoyed my entree – the pasta du jour, or papardelle with fresh corn and squash. While it could have benefited from more seasoning/herbs, I appreciated that the sauce was so light, and that I could still squeeze in dessert. Along the way, the four of us had a slightly ferocious disagreement about the second bottle of wine. Without sounding too triumphant, the girls won and opted for a red Burgundy – they didn’t have what Heidi picked, but we ended up with an amazing 2006 Domaine Joseph Voillot from Volnay. Nothing against Lola, but this wine was far superior, with greater earthiness, spice, and dark fruit. I still had some room to force in dessert, so I opted for one of my all-time favorite desserts – cheesecake. But this was a cut above – with creme fraiche as the key ingredient, the cake’s texture was the fluffiest and lightest of any cheesecake I’ve ever had. In addition to the typical desserts, everyone else got to feast on dessert wines – I was DD. Heidi was a smart girl and had a Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos, and Nick and Jason helped the restaurant bring in its monthly profit with their liquor purchases. 150-year-old Grand Marnier? Check? Cognac delivered straight from the fromagere’s drawer? Oh, check!
Again – even with all the amazing food and wine (where all my money would go if I were rich!), the evening was unforgettable thanks to the unsurpassed company. Thank you all for the lovely evening!