Friday, October 5, 2007

Here Goes - First Post- Nelwood Wine Dinner

One of the best ways to play with food is to photograph it after someone else more skilled than you has cooked it. So, for my inaugural blog post, I'm going to show you the fabulous dishes Chef Brandt Evans and his crew cooked up to accompany wines from Australia's Nelwood Vinyards, Thursday, October 4 at Blue Canyon in Twinsburg, Ohio.

Nelwood Executive Director Margaret Howie was our dinner speaker, and presented fascinating insights into the wines. We took nearly a case home, which was a no brainer given the great taste of the wines and their user-friendly pricing ($10-25 per bottle).

The first course was a ceviche of scallops and small shrimps, topped with coconut lime dressing and a refreshing sorbet and a plantain chip. Ceviche is unforgiving of any off smells or flavors, and I am pleased to report that this dish was immaculate - even the shrimp, which in Cleveland generally smells from sodium polytriphosphate no matter where you order it. It was paired with Nelwood Station Moonie River, which is predominately Colombard blended with Chardonnay. The fruity, citrusy flavors complimented the citrus tones of the ceviche.

Next up - exquisitely fresh tasting seated Barramundi, an Australian fish, topped with meticulously cubed banana, and accompanied by a lush butternut squash puree. The puree was topped with a lightly curried oil, and toasted squash seeds.

This course was accompanied by the RED MUD Unoaked Chardonnay. I am one of those people who does not care for oaky chards - this wine was delightful, and allowed me to really taste the Chardonnary grape for the first time. It also made a perfect pairing with the dish.

The next course contained what was for me the only culinary mis-fire of the evening - pairing goat cheese and pot roast. Though the components of this version of the Blue Canyon Yankee Pot Roast (which even in name seemed somewhat innappropo to this Cleveland Indians fan) were excellent - goat cheese and pot roast just don't work together for me. The cheese did compliment the Sweet Pea Gnocchi and the Roasted Carrots perfectly - and those sides and the topping of fried sweet potato matchsticks went quite well with the pot roast - but the cheese and meat together just didn't seem to "go".

We enjoyed the Nelwood Station Bulldozer with this dish - a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot that had bright deep cherry tones and delightfully, to my palate, jammy flavors.

We were presented with two wines for the last savory course: RED MUD SHIRAZ and RED MUD Cabernet Sauvignon. The cab definitely needed to open up a little, but was quite lovely once it did. The Shiraz was downright silky and most drinkable from the first sip.

These lovely wines accompanied tasty slices of roasted lamb crusted with Blue Canyon signature seasoning, over smashed potatoes, topped with roasted shallots, house-made bacon and a lovely crisp sage leaf.

The final course, prepared by Blue Canyon's awesome pastry chef Susan Guel, was accompanied by the RM Reserve "Nelwood" Petit Verdot, which was rich and sweet, but not too sweet, to pair with a miniature strawberry shortcake seated on a strawberry sauce that my husband suggested should be bottled and sold all by itself, and topped with a luscious chocolate truffle and a caramel tuille. A perfect ending to a delightful dinner.

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