Lunch - Chez Catherine

This has been one of my favorite bistros since the days when it was located behind the opera. Catherine, the attractive red-haired chef/owner, has moved uptown into a contemporary, artistic salon with more sophisticated cooking than I remember from years past. To my surprise, I had lunch with my favorite chef, Daniel Boulud, who was in Paris on a mission to buy some top quality Limoges from one of the most revered houses of this expensive tableware, Bernardaud. As one would expect, the wines were spectacular. The 2001 Vernay Condrieu Coteaux du Vernon, one of the great examples of this luxury cuvée, was followed by the 1998 Vieux-Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape. I asked the sommelier to decant the bottle since this wine has been closed since it was bottled. My experience has shown that Vieux-Télégraphe requires a good 4-5 years of bottle age before it begins to emerge from a surprisingly dormant state. At first it revealed nothing other than a deep color and substantial size in the mouth. Within 30 minutes of being decanted, it began to blossom, but owners should probably hold off drinking it for another 2-4 years. The spectacular 1999 Jamet Côte Rôtie (we ended up drinking two bottles it was so good) was pure sex. Its inky/ruby/purple color was accompanied by loads of animal fur, bacon fat, and cassis characteristics presented in an opulent, full-throttle style that was impossible to resist.

The food was classic Chez Catherine ... impeccably prepared and extremely flavorful. The service was top-notch. I would eat here more frequently if there were not so many other choices in Paris.

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