Sunday, January 27, 2013

Harvest Theme at Mark & Melissa's

My mouth was watering long before we arrived. The email said to bring a Cabernet Sauvignon, and think ‘Harvest’. We were greeted by Toffee, the dog, who also happens to be a red wine aficionado. She wagged her entire body in anticipation (much like myself).

The dinner table was set with fall leaves, and glittering autumn colored candles. First item to catch my eye? The Mushroom Stilton Gilette. I love pie crust. I love pie, but it’s because of the crust. This was awesome because it had the crust and it had mushrooms. It was beautiful.

Next to catch my eye was an odd pile of rectangle blocks. I bit into one and burned my tongue. Fried Polenta Sticks with Sage. Talk about melt in your mouth. In a bowl nearby was glazed spiced nuts.

After our elaborate process of transferring the wine to the carafes, Joe brought them all to the table and the feast began. A new system was initiated that night. Each table setting had three wine glasses, numbered 1-2-3. This was something we’d talked about because we didn’t like having to finish a pouring before moving to the next wine. Each wine should be tasted with each food item, so having all three wines present throughout the meal made sense. I think it worked very well and will be repeated.

A bowl of Acorn Squash Soup with Toasted Walnut Butter was the first course. Nothing says “Harvest” like squash soup! Next course was Pork Tenderloin with Cider Glaze and Dried Fruits. This was a nice blend of pork and soft dried fruits, such as raisins and apricots (I think?). Braised Fennel with Olive Oil and Garlic was a surprise. I’ve had fennel leaves on things before, but this was the root of the fennel. It looked like an onion. I liked the slight anise taste. On the plate was a little soufflé bowl filled with Sweet Potato Soufflé. It had some sort of sugary layer on top that was scrumptious.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the dessert was so good that I regretted eating my meal. It was one of those deals where you take one bite too many because you simply can’t help yourself. You know you’ll never make it yourself, and never find it in a restaurant. It was a crunchy Caramelized Nut Tart with homemade Rum Raisin Ice Cream.

Note the coveted plastic medal
 The meal was coming to an end and the gold medal glittered in the candlelight. Who would win? Carafe number one came in first . . . Ours! The Earthquake Cab from Lodi won, followed by Rutherford Hill Cab and La Castillana Cab, both out of Napa. The Earthquake got everyone’s attention straight off the block, but with food pairing the other two gained momentum. In the end it was a tight race, but we won finally :)

Next Wine Tribe Gathering is scheduled for January, so until then . . .

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