Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wine Dinner

Last night the Lovely Bride and I went to a Wine Dinner at Paulo's, which is just down Benson and the best restaurant on the hill. The even was a wine dinner sponsors by Kestrel Vintners.

What this means is that chef Paul Raftis put together a five-course meal paired with a variety of Kestrel Wines. Many of these were original creations, and were absolutely delicious. Here's the menu.

Toasted Pistachio and Cheese Arancini
Pancetta, Fresh Chile and Tomato Pizza
Pan Roasted Scampi
Wine: Lady in Red

Italian Clam Chowder
Wine: Viognier

Bucatini with Lentil Sauce
Wine: Sangriovese

Grilled beef tenderloins with roasted garlic and
shallots and mushroom brandy sauce,
served wtih Yukon gold mashed potatoes, Parmesan, and fresh thyme.
Wine: Co-Ferment Syrah, Winemaker Select

Spiced Cranberry-Pear Tart.
Wine: Late Harvest Merlot.

Translations for the culinary-impaired:
Arancini - A fried rice ball
Viognier - A white wine with a floral aroma and a buttery taste - pronounce Vin-YAY.
Sangriovese - A hearty, red table wine
Bucatini - A thick spaghetti with a small hollow center.
Co-Ferment - I think (I was three wines in at the explanation), that this is a blended syrah, a percentage of which is aged in oak, and a percentage which is aged in stainless steel. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.
Syrah - A powerful red that can stand up to beef.

The food itself was wonderful. The Italian clam chowder was original and a fantastic white chowder, the tenderloins were succulent, and arancini was light and tasty.

I've noted before that meals where the wines are matched to the courses are an incredible improvement on those where you have the meat, she has the fish, and you split something non-controversial between the two of you. I really liked the Lady in Red, which was a blend of other wines and was extremely mellow for a red, which usually has more bite for me. The Late Harvest Merlot looked like cognac and tasted like heaven, and of course the LB ordered three bottles.

And the kitchen was particularly supportive of the LB's allergies (chicken and egg) and whipped up a non-egg arancini. Greatly appreciated.

The dinner was excellent and the company as well. Seating is at long tables, and our neighbors were a couple from Covington - he is with Boeing and she was with a now-defunct South King County newspaper. So we got a lot of local stories (including the fact that Paulo's building was originally a fast-food adjunct to the Golden Steer across the parking lot, named the Bum Steer). And it was decided that since we had been living here for about a dozen years, we had attained "old-native" status and could now complain about all the new developments going up.

In general, it was a wonderful meal, and while I am not a fan of reds, I was pleasantly surprised by the wines. It's good to try new things, and this was a good example. Plus if gives me a chance to recommend Paulo's.

More later,