Monday, October 22, 2012

Annual Wine Dinner 2012 - A Celebration of Pacific Northwest Food & Wine

We decided to move our wine party a bit earlier in the year.  Normally we have it towards the end of November, this year we had it the beginning of October.  This allowed us to take advantage of the late summer harvest fruits and vegetables.  As much as possible, we try to support local farms and businesses.  This year was no exception, as you read on look for links to the sources of some of the wonderful additions & ingredients we were able to use.

As always we greeting our guest with bubbles. This year though, we mixed it up a bit.  We did a sparkling wine cocktail.  A sugar cube was placed in the bottom of the glass, a few drops homemade cranberry bitters were dripped on the sugar, topped off with Treveri Cellars Blanc de Blanc Brut.

First Course

Tomato Confit, Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil Oil
Watermelon, Basil, Gothberg Farms Feta, Honey Drizzle

This was our versions of a caprese salad. We slow roasted tomatoes with basil in oil, then chopped them up with some shallot and balsamic vinegar. After an exhaustive search for true water buffalo burrata, we settled for water buffalo mozzarella.  It offered a richness missing in cow's milk mozzarella, very nice. Secondly, we took squares of watermelon, layered with Gothberg Farms feta and basil. Gothberg Farms is a goat farm in Bow, WA.  Traditionally feta cheese is made from sheep's milk, Gothberg's goat feta is a bit richer and firmer so it was able to be sliced quite easily which aided it plating.  The dressing was a mixture of Bruce Bowen's Bees honey, champagne vinegar and olive oil.

The wine pairing for this course was Tranche Cellars Pink Pape and Saint Roch Les Vignes Provence Rose'.  This was are one and only blind tasting.  It was kind of a gimme.  The crowd had no problem picking out the Walla Walla Rose' vs the French Rose'. The Tranche was much darker in color and richer in flavor, it paired much better with both dishes.  I do have a soft spot in my heart for French Rose' from the Provence region.  I drink it pretty exclusively when we are on vacation in St. Martin.  However, in this setting the Tranche was the clear favorite.

Second Course

Duck Three Ways
Bluebird Grain Farms Farro Salad with Duck Confit, Honey Crisp Apples, Currants, Marscapone
Homemade Duck Pastrami, Balsamic Onions, Gothberg Farms Mustard Seed Gouda
Duck Fat Fingerling Potatoes

This was a shared plate per couple.  We were really pleased with how the farro salad turned out.  The farro had a nice chewiness to it, the duck skin cracklins were a nice touch on top.  The duck "reuben" was fantastic.  The dark caramelized onions and the creamy gouda (called Buck's Brew, a seasonal cheese brined in Boundary Bay Brewery Scotch Ale) complemented the pastrami so well.  The duck fat potatoes, well, they really don't need any explanation.  Simply awesome.

The wine pairing for this course was Northstar Winery 2006 Walla Walla Merlot and Woodward Canyon 2008 Charbonneau (77%Merlot/13%Petit Verdot/10%Cab Sauv).  This was a very interesting match up.  Two very different wines from very different areas of the Walla Walla AVA.  The Charbonneau was very elegant and layered.  The Northstar Merlot was big and bold, with dark fruits.  Both paired beautifully with the duck.

Third Course

Baked Egg in Truffle Cream
Poached Egg atop Root Vegetable Hash with Meurette Sauce

Yep, just like Anthony Bourdain, we too are self proclaimed "egg sluts".  Eggs in cream infused with truffles, what's not to love?  Roasted rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, onions and bacon made up the hash.  Meurette sauce is this lovely, rich, wine sauce, poured over a perfectly poached egg.  Heavenly!

I was the most worried about this wine pairing.  After consulting my wine pairing bible, What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers I decided on a Rhone blend.  2010 Rotie Cellars Southern Blend (75% Grenache/15% Syrah/10% Mourvedre) and 2009 Gramercy Cellars The Third Man (50% Grenache/30% Syrah/20% Mourvedre).  This was probably my favorite pairing of the night.  The earthiness of both wines matched both with the truffles and the root vegetables.  Also, the acid brightness cut through the fat from the eggs beautifully.

Fourth Course

Celery Root Cream with Wild Mushroom Marmalade
Cold Beet Soup with Gothberg Farms Chevre

When we originally tested the cream soup it was with sunchokes and that was the plan, to use sunchokes.  Alas, when the time came to go grocery shopping, no sunchokes.  So celery root was the back up vegetable and let me tell you, it stepped up to the plate quite nicely.  The lovely thing about using root veg for a soup, is it almost always requires no thickener.  There is enough natural starch in the vegetable that none is needed. Added to it was this wonderful wild mushroom marmalade that added nice texture and flavor.  The beet soup was a curveball.  This thick, rich soup has rice, lentils and ground pistachios it in that provided a nutty, earthy texture.

I brought out the big guns for this pairing, two huge syrahs.  2006 Reininger Winery Ash Hollow Syrah and 2007 Waters Winery Forgotten Hills Syrah.  Great pairings across the board.  It was amazing to taste these two syrahs from completely opposite ends of the Walla Walla AVA.  Both having that wonderful earthy quality that is signature Walla Walla.

Main Course

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Leek Cream
Elk Ragu with Trofie Pasta
Corn with Green Beans
Fig, Bacon, & Blue Cheese Empanadas

We chose classic dishes for our main course.  Roasted tenderloin is always a wonderful wine dish. Elk Ragu, with in-house hunted elk, was rich and slightly gamey.  The corn and green bean side dish was served warm. It had a wonderful lime and ginger dressing that provided a nice palate cleanse.  We kept the fall theme going with our fig, bacon, blue cheese empanadas.

For the wine pairings for this course, I just had to go Cabernet Sauvignon.  2007 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Tero Estates Windrow Field Blend.  Of course, the Leonetti was incredible; rich and perfectly decadent.  However, the Tero was up to the challenge.  A true field blend from one of Walla Walla's oldest vineyards, the Tero offered up a full and layered, beautiful cabernet sauvignon.

Dessert Course

Dark Chocolate Affogato
Rum Fig Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Rum Caramel Drizzle

What more can I say?  Yum, all around for these two dishes.  Affogato is an Italian dish that consists of a scoop of ice cream or gelato with hot espresso poured over it. The salted caramel ice cream is a bit of a play on rum raisin ice cream, only with rum soaked figs.  No wine pairing for this...none needed.

It was another successful wine dinner.  Yes, it is an extensive menu, but we served the first course at 6:00pm and served dessert at 11:00pm.  So everything was spaced out well and worked out fine for our guests.  I must mention Slough Food, our resource for the Gothberg Farms Cheese, as I was unable to make it out their farm store to buy directly from them.  Now to starting planning for next year!

Watermelon Feta Caprese

Duck Three Ways
Baked Egg in Truffle Cream
Corn & Green Beans
Poached Egg atop Root Vegetable Hash
Cold Beet Soup

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