Friday, July 31, 2009

Wine and Cheese Pairing - Wine Merchant - July 31st

I have to say that even though I was not in the best of moods, I still managed to enjoy myself as I always do. The cheese staff are always terrific and I enjoy sharing comments and meeting new people at the classes. And of couse the cheese always picks me up.

Tonight's theme was California so all the wine sand the cheesese (as well as the salamis) were from there.

For the first time I had a chicken and duck pate. It reminded me of a milder chopped liver actually. VERY tasty. It's officialy name: Fabrique Delices Truffle Mousse by Haward.

You can't have a California class without a super buttery Chardonnay! Ours was a 2007 Kistler Les Noisetiers which was priced at $65.99. You KNOW I gotta finish my glas of a $65 bottle of wine! hehe Our cheesemonger said that normally Kistler is only offered to restaurants so it was a real treat that they had it.

Another highlight of the class was the Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor. It was a VERY rich and creamy goat's cheese that paired wonderfully with a Pinor Noir. You had to have a strong red to wash it down because it really did get stuck on the tongue. "Heavenly" is definitely a good term for it.

That would ave been my favorite but the next cheese, the Midnight Moon, is probably my all time favorite cheese. At least top 3. I didn't want to drink any wine with it so as not to ruin the flavor of the cheese.

Plus Iam sure tha tI am embrassed myself yet again since I had two platefuls of cheese. But no reason for the whole thing to go to waste.

I did leave the blue cheese behind tho...

Whole Foods Seafood Class 7/31

This month's seafood class at Whole Foods had to do with the more obscure types of seafood that one doesn't have that often...especially not in the midwest!

The class started with an appetizer of Kabuki Oysters from Washington state. My buddy Griffen said they were cooked JUST right since they were not too chewy like rubber when they're overcooked. I just think they're cold and slimey but putting a dash of hot sauce on it helps. hehe But I probably would have been just fine with the lemon juice that Griffen used. That was only my second time having oysters. They're strong flavors that stand out to me. It definitely is a weird texture.

And that was just the warm up! Next was Clams Rockefeller. The claims were a little easier to eat because the shell was shallower than the oyster. But you still had to use a spoon to scoop up all the topping goodness that covered the clam meat.

Next up was my favorite...Fried Calimari. As if you could go wrong with anything fried! hehe The sauce was the best. I probably could have had the sauce all by itself.

For the trifecta of shelled seafood...I had mussels. They were a little harder to eat because you had to open up the shell like a pistachio nut to get to the meat. Again...just a little chewy, slimey middle. But it came in some type of yellow broth that was quite tasty and good with the pieces of french bread.

The last was the best though...monkfish. Reminded me of a poor man's lobster meat.

Since this was a seafood class...mostly white fish was served except for one red wine...a cab! Cab is the only the red wine I can actually drink so I am embarrassed to say, I finished all my glasses. since the focus is not on the wine, I don't remember anything I had. Ok...because I finished all my glasses is the real reason that I don't remember all the names of the wines. Next seafood class, I think I need to eat a little something before I go!

The Schmidt's brought a wine appetizer...the one bottle of wine I do was a Kim Crawford Pinot Grigio. This was definitely the best wine of the whole night.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The In Spot Lounge

Thanks to my wine friend, Angie Ortmann aka STLWineGirl, I got the chance to attend another wine and food pairing at a new hip restaurant called The In Spot Lounge in the Delmar Loop.

I rarely get to visit restaurants when they first open and this pairing took place about 3 weeks after they opened. The inside is just beautiful and I was wishing I had brought my camera. But it is still an intimate cafe with a small stage and the kitchen area is wide open right in front of customers! The perfect color of chocolate brown on all of its definitely says groovy dessert bar and lounge. hehe

This tasting's theme was strawberries since we are in the middle of summer. David, the owner and chef, came up with a brilliant menu to incorporate strawberries with each of his courses. Not to mention each of the courses were generous helpings so that I got a full meal out of the evening for only $15! (I did spend an extra $5 on a raffle ticket and won a bottle of wine!)

First course was a Sua Strawberry sparking wine which was paired with a raspberry vinagarette salad dressing (on a salad containing strawberries of course). I believe this was everyone's overall favorite wine because it was so sweet and perfect for drinking by the pool. The sparking wine is really infused with real strawberries too!

Second course was a talapia covered with a mustard sauce and strawberries on top. This was probably my favorite but unfortunately, the chef isn't big on fish. It really doesn't go with the rest of his menu. But the mustard sauce really gave an otherwise blande talapia great flavor. Then the strawberries were put on top of the sauce. The sweetness really helped to balance out the tangy-ness of the mustard sauce. Of course a nice white wine was paired with the fish...not too dry but not too sweet, called The Other Wine. It is a mixture of 3 grapes, mostly Chardonnay and Sav. Blanc.

Third course was probably everyone else's favorite because it was cold bow-tie pasta with a light dressing and strawberries on top. This was a great mix because everything was light and chilled. Definitely a good summer meal that isn't heavy. I think it could have used a little MORE dressing...more zip or kick of some kind...and then it would have held up better against the Oregon Pinor Noir that was paired with it. The wine was a dry red and the two didn't work well together. The Pinor Noir would have gone better with the pasta if there was a heavy cream sauce to cut through.

The last two courses were the dessert courses! The first dessert was a white cake...starwberry and pistachio mousse! WOW! Delicious! ANd then you get to put "the drizzle" on! I picked the best one...Spicy Chocolate. I didn't taste enough of the pistachio mousse...but that was totally the best part for sure. The other flavors of drizzle were raspberry and regular chocolate. This was paired with a Moscato D'Asti which is much like a sparking wine since it's a wine with some bubbles. It almost was a little TOO sweet but definitely a good match with dessert. I love Moscato so I have to admit that I did enjoy it.

And the second dessert was the chocolate but it had strawberry mousse inside of it. So when I was expecting a strong chocolate flavor...I got sweet strawberry instead. I think others will like this but I'm too much of a chocolate freak. I want nothing but the chocolate flavor and THEN maybe add some raspberry drizzle on top. This was paired with a real dessert wine, a Madera, which tasted like a brandy or sherry and I just can't drink those. They burn my throat all the way down. I did at least try it. It's supposed to cut the sweetness down but I'd rather have the sweet flavor ANY day. hehe

Unfortunately, the wines often were outdone by the foods they were paired with. Since the menu items were all light, summer items, a couple of the wines were too dry to match up. I do admit that sometimes when you have a sweeter food item, you need a drier wine to calm it down, but in each of these cases, a lighter wine would would have been a better paring. But I know that Angie had to pick the wines on short notice and wine/food pairings are really a great way to try NEW wines that you might not otherwise taste. I know I would never try all the reds or drier wines if it weren't for someone like Angie.

It is also hard to find parking for the In Spot. There IS some parking in the back but you have to drive all the way around the block to access it. So be sure to give yourself some extra time to find the place and parking the first time you go.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wine and Food Pairing July 7th

Even though I was unemployed, I broke down and went to another Wine and Food pairing class at Wine Merchant in Clayton. I called them up that morning and they said they had ONE spot left so I took it as a sign as I should go. And yes, it was well worth it.

Normally I am more interested in the cheese pairings but the plate had a lot of cheese on it so I was happy. And it really is a chance to try different foods that I normally would never taste.

Apparently, Wine Merchant is the only place that sells bill Goat Potato Chips and they were actually paired with the sparkling wine! That was different. And the chips were excellent.

Other highlights included the Hudson Valley Smoked Duck Breast, which was paired with the $119.99 2006 Serafin Morey-St.-Denis 1er Cru "Les Millandes". Again, I would never buy a $100 bottle of wine so had to finish that glass' worth. hehe

I can also tell people that I had the "Maserati of proscutto" since we each got 3 paper thin slices of Iberico de Bellota Lomo from Spain. It's just fun to say that, even though I'm not tat into proscutto.

The best cheese of the evening was the Chaubier which is a cow and goat's milk mix from France. It was semi-soft and a great flavor at the end. It was paired with a rose. It got added to my favorites list for sure. AND I broke down and took some home with me. It was very reasonably priced so I don't feel as guilty for that purchase. hehe

Now that I am no longer unemployed, I can continue to attend classes guilt free now. I will be skipping this month's Whole Foods Cheese class since it is the same night as the All-Star Game. But Wine Merchant has another Wine and Cheese pairing class on Friday, July 31st.