The Vintner’s Table
A Chef’s Tasting Menu inspired by the Warm Flavors of the Holidays in the Wine Country
Four Course (+ Two Surprise Courses) Prix Fixe Menu: $85 per person
Flight of Four Wines: $45 per person
Bread: Parmesan Crisps
Surprise Course #1
Kathy: Carpaccio of Crab with Citrus and Toast Points
Rich: Spicy Asian Beef in Rice Paper Wrap
Rich’s Comments: We were pleasantly surprised to get this course. It was a substitute for me. The beef was nicely spicy and made for a great opening to the meal. And the parmesan crisps added a crunchy, cheesy flavor to this course and the rest of the meal.
Kathy’s Comments: I love surprises like this. The citrus really kicked up the crab and made for a delightful combination.
Kathy: Wine Country Lobster Tamale with Crème Fraîche, Caviar, and Christmas Red and Green Salsas
Terre Rouge Vineyards, “Enigma” Marsanne-Roussane-Viognier, Sierra Foothills 2007
Rich: Zinfandel Braised Wild Boar Shoulder with Mustardo and Borlotti Bean Cassoulet
Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva Vigneto La Forra 2003
Rich’s Comments: I got to choose this substitution from the starter menu. The boar was excellently cooked. The zinfandel braise added a taste much like cranberries. The cassoulet was a nice accompaniment. Delicious! As for the wine, Al and I discussed what to do with this pairing. Since I was having a substitute course, the Enigma was not a good match. So we could go with a stronger white, probably a Chardonnay, that would not be a perfect match, but might transition better to the next course. The other option was to pick the best match for this course even though it might not transition as well. I chose the second option, and Al suggested the Nozzole Chianti Classico, which is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. Lovely!
Kathy’s Comments: Rich’s wild boar and wine combo sounded delicious, and I was thinking I’d love to try that next time. The lobster sitting on that tamale was so plump and tasty, I was glad I didn’t have the “regular” tamale at Tortilla Joe’s the night before. This tamale was extra special with the lobster and caviar and worth trying even if you think of tamales as being Mexican food and you’re not a fan. This was something different.
Pheasant & Truffles: Roasted Pheasant tossed with Fresh Winter Black Truffles and Cavatelli Pasta
Lane Tanner, Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley 2000
Rich’s Comments: Perhaps the best course (although they were all fantastic, so it’s hard to choose just one). The combination of pheasant, truffles, and pasta was exquisite! The pinot noir was very bright and fruity.
Kathy’s Comments: I fell madly in love with truffles. Who knew mushrooms could be so amazing. I agree with Rich – it’s difficult to choose a favorite course.
Surprise Course #2
Soup of Duck Confit with Apple Chutney
Rich’s Comments: They surprised us with a soup of the day, a creamy blend of apple chutney with duck confit. The fruit of the thick broth with the intense flavor of the duck was quite wonderful.
Kathy’s Comments: Another surprise and this meant we wouldn’t have to miss the soup of the day. I prefer my duck in small quantities, and the soup was a great venue for the duck.
Rosemary Grilled Rack of Lamb Double Chop with Roasted Parsnip Puree and Winter Mushrooms
Semler, Cabernet Sauvignon, Saddle Rock-Malibu 2003
Rich’s Comments: I have never considered myself a big fan of lamb, but if I could have it prepared this way every time, I would be. The lamb was cooked to perfection and paired wonderfully with the Cab. We were surprised that the wine came from Malibu, and we had quite a discussion with Al about that. Yum!
Kathy’s Comments: The first time I ever tasted lamb, I hated it. Then my dad encouraged me to try his at his favorite restaurant and I felt a bit more venturesome when it came to lamb. So when we were having my birthday dinner at Jiko at AKL at WDW, I tried it and it was quite tasty. The secret to that lamb seemed to be in the special sauce, as described by favorite server Sally. But this lamb was even better. The lamb was so delicious all by itself, I’d have to say I prefer it over steak – and that’s quite a compliment coming from me. And who knew Malibu could make such good wine? A tasty pairing, indeed. This may have been my favorite course, but it’s awfully close to the pheasant and truffles – especially with the Pinot Noir.
The Best Hot Chocolate Ever: The Finest Imported Valrhona Manjari Single Estate Chocolate in the Richest Velvety Hot Chocolate. Served with Marshmallow Chantilly.
Bonny Doon, Framboise Raspberry Wine, Santa Cruz Mountains NV
Rich’s Comments: And then came the ideal finish: a cup of rich, thick hot chocolate to be eaten with a spoon. This was absolutely heavenly, and an incredible finish to an incredible meal. The wine was also sumptuous — fermented raspberry wine with grapes infused after fermentation. The chocolate and raspberry combination was exquisite indeed. As I said at the beginning: Wow, wow, wow! An incredible meal, perfect service, romantic atmosphere — what else could we ask for? One of the best meals we’ve ever had the privilege of enjoying.
Kathy’s Comments: I don’t normally like hot chocolate, as in hot cocoa – it just doesn’t sit well with me and I don’t enjoy the taste. But, zowie, wowie – this was something completely different. And with that raspberry wine? Absolutely perfecto! Bob & Larry – you’ve got to try this.
Rich’s Final Comments on Napa Rose:
The service was incredible and the food was equally amazing. I must also mention how well the meal was paced. It took 2.5 hours for the meal. We enjoyed the wine with each course, sipping slowly and lingering. We were never served the next course until the wine from the previous was finished. Perfection!
Kathy’s Anecdotal Addendum:
When we sat in the Lounge waiting for our table, I glanced over the wine list thinking I’d start with a glass of wine. Oh boy, I’m so glad I didn’t. Because pairing 4 wines with 4 courses caught up with me in a funny way. After our meal, we stopped off at the restrooms just outside Napa Rose. Now these are those fancy restrooms with wood doors between each stall. But I’ll have to blame it on all of that wine when I found myself walking into the handicapped restroom on my way out, thinking it was the exit door. LOL!
And then Rich got a big kick out of me wandering the Grand Californian in a daze. He saw me march right out there and he wondered where I was going. He had to run after me. So 4 glasses of wine (even smaller, tasting portions) may have been too many for me, but it was all worth it to have enjoyed such a fabulous experience. So then I’ll have to either blame or thank Bob & Larry because it was their multiple course meals of food & wine pairings that first inspired me to try this. And I must thank my dad for encouraging me to try lamb in the first place. But mostly I have to thank Rich, who swept me off my feet the first time I saw him pair salmon and Pinot Noir at a San Francisco restaurant when we were mere co-workers.