That Will Teach Me For Showing Off!

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My wife turned 50 last Friday and the 2003 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon we’d been saving for just the right occasion – her birthday . . . not so good!

The wine was a huge disappointment. What was even worse was my behavior at the restaurant, Osteria Mozza.

We were greeted at the door and our bottle was quickly whisked away to the Sommeliers table for “preparation.” Honestly, I’ve never experienced this type of wine prep before as it is usually done table side. You can imagine my panick that my $1500 bottle of Screaming Eagle was out of my site and was being attended to by someone I had yet to meet. It simply looked like the Somm’s where all getting free tastes of my expensive wine! After raising my voice to our server to get my wine to my table and tell those guys to quit drinking it, it was presented to us by Taylor, Mozza’s Wine Director. Whether Taylor had heard my tirade I’m not sure, as he was calm and collected while he explained what he was experiencing with our wine and that he had been “seasoning” our glasses for us. Nice touch! Boy did I feel like an idiot! Just know everyone, that if you bring your own wine to Mozza and they ask you if you’d like it prepared by their wine experts – you’re in good hands!

Our expectations were much higher than the actual wine in the glass turned out to be. I had the privilege of experiencing a 1999 Screaming Eagle about 7 years ago and was mesmerized by it. I really expected something along those lines with the 2003 vintage but sadly . . . I didn’t get the “wow” I expected. Oh well, I took comfort in not paying anything for this wine as it was a gift to me some years ago. Although the wine had been properly stored in our cellar, it was clearly past its prime. In fact, it didn’t drink like a Napa Cab at all. It was much more akin to a Bordeaux in style and taste. In my opinion – not worth the price whether you got it directly from winery or not. There are boat loads of Napa Cab’s in the $100/bottle range that would blow this away.

So let’s forget about the wine and talk about the food at Mozza. Taylor and Sarah, our Sommelier and table server were terrific in their recommendations. Taylor highly touted the Prime Rib Eye, which was rubbed with a mixture of dried Porcini mushrooms, pepper and salt. At first I thought it was too salty, but the sweetness of the meat overcame that issue quickly. Honestly, it was THE best steak I’ve ever had. The chef prepared it perfectly. My wife and I split the steak and still had quite a bit to take home – it was that big.

But up first was the appetizer from their mozzerella bar. Both Sarah and Taylor pushed the Burrata Puglia. This cheese, which resembles a small bag purse, is flown in overnight from Puglia and has a very short shelf life. They serve this for two nights and that’s it – sold out or not. The cheese sat atop braised leeks and a small pool of olive oil. The leeks were amazing. You eat this dish with the yummiest pieces of bread I’ve ever had – an obvious contribution from baker and restaurateur Nancy Silverton (of La Brea Bakery and Campanile fame). The bread was about 3 inches thick, had been rubbed with garlic and toasted on one side. It appeared to have about a 1/4 inch saturation of olive oil on the toasted side which was out of this world. Cut a piece of bread and spoon on a piece of oozing Burrata with the olive oil and leeks – we’d have been happy if this was all we ordered!

Second course consisted of a shared plate of their Duck Ragout Gnocci. Soft as pillows with a beautiful duck meat sauce. Paired perfectly with the Screaming Eagle.

Then came the rib eye. Whatever shortcomings the wine had were made up for with the meat. Pure elegance!

Lastly, we treated ourselves to dessert. Olive Oil Gelato with Olive Oil and Rosemary Muffins called to us and we gladly answered. What an amazing combination! Who knew – olive oil ice cream!

Taylor and Sarah – again my apologies for my behavior about our wine. Whether or not the wine lived up to the hype, I wrongly assumed you were consuming my wine for your pleasure and I apologize. You two will bring us back to Osteria Mozza – many times I hope!

Greg