Saturday, August 20, 2011

Traveling Table: Cielo

Just when I thought I would never get to go back to Cielo, Angela Ortmann (aka STLwinegirl) picked the restaurant for her first ever Traveling Table event. With the much-loved Provisions closed, Angela has taken food and wine pairings to a whole new level. I think this is a great concept and I feel that this can help take away some of the scariness of going to high-end restaurants where the average Jane wants to make sure that she is getting her money’s worth in the tight economy.

I have already written about how beautiful Cielo is at the top of the Four Seasons Hotel, attached to the Lumiere Casino complex. You can find a link to my previous Cielo blog below. So I’m just going to dive into the food and wine pairing itself.

Angela limited the seating at these events so that it’s more like attending a dinner party amongst friends. Even I made a few new friends as a large group joined us for their first STLwinegirl experience and I really hope it won’t be the last one for April, Sue, Janice, Susan, Julie, and Jami. Unfortunately, a large convention was taking place and half the dining room was filled with the attendees so the restaurant was a lot noisier than normal, and it made it difficult for Angela to teach as much as she usually does.

Angela did get the executive chef to come out and explain all of the courses as well as the pastry chef introduced his course. Before each course began, the sommelier showed the wine to Angela and gave her a taste. We learned that this is to make sure that you are really getting the wine that you ordered and the small tasting is to make sure that the wine is not corked in any way. (If the wine has a screw top, you’re probably safe!)

The meal started off with a bang since the first pairing was my favorite and stood out the most. We were served a very crisp Pinot Grigio, which is just so refreshing in this heat. The acidity of the wine really helped to cut through the richness of the risotto that had such a full flavor of tomato and mozzarella. Most of us were starting to get full and left some in their bowl, but I kept going because it was so good.

The next dish was a duck breast and quite a few of us on our end of the table were a little nervous and had never tasted duck before. Luckily, April set a good example and encouraged the others to be as adventurous as her. I always think of duck as having a heavy and greasy flavor, but this course was cooked very well with a lot of flavor. The skin of the duck made the meat hard to cut and chew, but the inside was very tender. I still prefer the taste of chicken, but it was quite good. I get the feeling that everyone enjoyed the fried potato “nest” and corn flan the most.

The cool part about being seated around one table is that we were able to discuss and debate much easier during the meal. I felt the Barbera tasted stronger like a Cabernet while Ellen and Angela told me that it’s much closer to a Pinot Noir. Some people even call Barbera the “Italian Pinot”. To me, the tannins were high, but was an appropriate match with the duck course, although it was a little too strong for me.

Even though we were at an Italian restaurant, I still hoped for a chocolate dessert. Instead, we had a Ricotta and Amaretti Cheesecake. Italian cheesecake is much different in flavor and texture, more of a regular cake style. I kept wanting to drown the whole thing in chocolate sauce, even though there were a good amount of chocolate chips throughout the cake. A sweet Prosecco was served with the dessert, helping to cut through the tartness of the cake, but even that was too sweet and overpowered the cheesecake.

Regardless, the whole evening was a huge success since I was quite full of food and wine, and more importantly, made quite a few new foodie friends. I can’t wait to meet all my future friends at the next event!

The next Traveling Table will be at Milagro Modern Mexican but is already sold out. After that, we will be visiting Franco on September 14th. You can get more information at STLwinegirl’s website below for more information.

Be sure to check out April Westerhold's blog for PICTURES from the event!
http://westerhold.blogspot.com/2011/08/traveling-table-cielo.html

The full menu:
Risotto with Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil & Mozzarella
Benvolio Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Guilia Italy

Duck breast with Missouri Blueberry & Grappa Sauce
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Ricotta & Amaretti Cheesecake with Limoncello Sauce
Zardetto Prosecco, Veneto, Italy

Resources:
Cielo = http://www.fourseasons.com/stlouis/dining/cielo/

STLwinegirl = http://www.stlwinegirl.com

My previous Blog post about Cielo = http://michelleamarcus.blogspot.com/2011/05/cielo-at-four-season-hotel.html