Perfect Pairings

Perfect Pairings…I’d like to say they come along every single time I put a wine to a plate of food, but to be honest…they are in fact, much harder to make them precisely spot on than one would think.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pairing freak.  Every time I eat something, sip something or experience something – I’m always thinking, what food, what wine, and just who am I going to share this with.  I’m quite good at the mood/food/pairings piece and do really hit some marks when it comes to getting them in line – however, the ‘Ring your doorbell’ – ‘Shoot the Moon’ - kind of pairings, those are special.  Going back to my Valentine’s Day week in February, I had mentioned from an earlier blog that I had a stellar week of wine dinners, events and more. 

The week was, if I forgot to add, chucked with Perfect Pairings.

For the Love of Food ~ An Aphrodisiac Dinner ~

February 15th @ Cafe Ena ~ was just one of those Perfect Pairing kind of eventsCafe Ena Menu + Dessert

With over 60pp in attendance, the what has become an annual dinner between myself, and great friends of mine and owners of Cafe Ena, Chef Hector Ruiz and Erin Ungerman, was an absolute ‘Shoot the Moon’ kind of experience.  A menu loaded with seven courses and 8 wines – how could anyone go home without feeling like they’d had it all?

Starting first with a beautifully crafted raw blue point oyster and fresh avocado plate – we pleased the opening palate with a crisp, yet creamy Prosecco from Italy – Astoria Lounge Pink - a fab bottle of bubbly for under $20 on the shelf.  The next, a baby arugula and prosciutto, fig salad paired to a juicy, lushy Ribera del Duero from Vina Mayor- again, another fantastic find and a great people pleas-er for under $20 – if you’re looking to impress without dropping too much ching.

Barnett ChardYet, it wasn’t until the third course – a sweet basil crusted sea scallop over a pineapple-cucumber ceviche with tangerine oil and micro greens – paired to one of my California heart-throb Chardonnays from Barnett Vineyards in northern Napa did the room see stars.  Knowing well enough that when I look at a menu, and knowing the number of wines I do, that the pairing would work when I selected this creamy, rich Chard to pair to the scallop.  Yet, to have it sing to the attributes of the plate like it did – YOWZA!  Seriously, off the hook.  And, could go down as one of this year’s best pairings for me.  Unbelievable.  The sweet basil and the scallop were just the right weight for the wine – really spectacular. 

The next course continued with a poached asparagus and fried quail egg with a lite drizzle of garlic mustard to cuddle up next to a Greco di Tufo that I had chosen from a small producer in Campania, Italy by the name of DeFalco.  Again, a great sipper made unique with this course.Asparagus + Mustard Sauce

FiletOur main was another Home Run Strike with again, something I knew would work when I picked it – but when the crowd tasted it, left only stars in their eyes.  The course:  a mustard crusted Filet Mignon, with vanilla Roquefort roasted carrots and a fig/raspberry red wine demi topped with fried leeks.  Paired with Desert Wind’s ‘Ruah’ ~ from Washington state, a combo of Merlot, Cabernet and Cabernet Franc.  Come on, get out of town!  The most interesting pieces behind this pairing was not only the suppleness to the juicy red fruit of the wine, yet the soft vanillan smoke that came from the wine’s vinification process. 

Keep in mind that when you taste nuances like: vanilla, coconut, all spice, cinnamon, cream and caramel that those smells and flavors come from the barrel that the wine was aged in before bottling. Desert Wind Ruah

The reason behind this Perfect Pairing was that hint of vanilla to the demi and the roasted carrots.  Everything seemed to fit perfectly into place from the supple notes of the fruit to the creamy notes of the wine and vanilla in the dish. 

Again, hitting the top ten list already for The 2011 Amusée’s Perfect Pairings List!

Gorgonzola, Straw, Balsamic SandwichLeading onward with a toasted brioche, gorgonzola, fresh strawberry, drizzled 12yr balsamic – grilled cheese like mini sammie- the Four Vines Zinfandel that I chose from Amador County was another hit.  Lastly, literally polishing off what was to already go down as one of the year’s best wine dinners – a handcrafted plate of delicious petit fours ranging from an orange passion fruit granite, chocolate peppermint lemon grass cremeaux, chocolate streusel, salted butter caramel, to a selection of chocolates and mignardise – added to the wine dinner from our friends at Patisserie 46.  THE best new bakery in town!  The pairing, delightful, as I left the crowd oohhing and aahhing with the Toad Hollow Risque, a creamy orange-cicle bubbly from the south of France

A menu and an event fit to satiate any food lover’s dreams.  From top to bottom, there wasn’t one part of the evening that I didn’t hear the ‘mmm, mmm’ sounds of the food.  Yet, as I describe the details of the perfectly matched wines and food, I do go back to one of the most perfect accoutrements to any magical pairing and that is ~ the right crowd of peeps to share it with.  None of this would have been complete without the right people to share it with. 

Thanks to all who attended and made our Aphrodisiac Dinner a Beautiful Success!Saul L + Leslee

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  • Leslee is the most approachable sommelier we have ever met. She is a walking wine library yet still makes the whole wine experience very fun, accessible and interesting. She has helped us craft our wines, tweak our brand, and develop a commercial strategy. There isn’t one aspect of the wine industry that Leslee doesn’t tackle and excel at. Cheers to our fabulous friend Leslee! Teresa & Eugenio Meschini, Owners
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