This was another brilliant meal from Baltimore's top chef, Cindy Wolf. While I enjoy many of her dishes, I tend to fall back on some of my favorites. Her corn meal-crusted deep-fried oysters are to die for, and in season, Chef Wolf's softshell crabs are unmatched by any chef in the world. She also does a terrific job with confit of pork.

The wines included two of California's finest Chardonnays. It was hard to choose a favorite. The 2002 Marcassin Estate burst from the bottle with great minerality, honeysuckle, and tropical fruit flavors. It possesses unbelievable precision for such a big wine, and is a joy to admire, smell, taste, and swallow. A corked bottle of 2003 Marcoux Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vigneswas disappointing, but we rebounded quickly with some of my favorite Châteauneuf du Papes, including perhaps the best Mon Aïeul yet produced by the Usseglio brothers, the 2003. It is a big yet remarkably fresh and well-delineated, brilliant wine. The 2000 Pégaü Cuvée da Capomay have been a perfect wine, but it had to take second place next to the 1998. The 1998 Cuvée da Capo is just emerging from a dormant stage and possesses literally everything I could desire in a great red wine. We finished the evening with a 1986 Pichon Lalande, which had been decanted two hours in advance. This wine showed well, and did not suffer in comparison with the slightly bigger Châteauneuf du Papes. Just approaching its plateau of maturity, it is still vibrant and young with another 15-20 years of life ahead of it.

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