Sunday, September 23, 2007
Friday 'Date Night' and some Fingerless Mitts
oh for heaven's sake, pull your minds out of the gutters! puuuuhhhlllleeeaze!
Friday evening, the man and I took a short trip north to Talkeetna,
the charming little town Northern Exposure's ,'Cicely', was modelled upon. Less, than 2 hours from home, Talkeetna offers great sight-seeing, flight-seeing-it's the launch point for most Denali expeditions-and fishing of course! But Friday's trip served a purpose. WINE. The beautiful Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge hosted its annual wine dinner, featuring selected pairings for each of the 6 gourmet courses! We've tried to go every year but missed out on tickets for one reason or another the past two. Needless to say, we were very excited to see what Chef Felix Zollinger, featured on The Food Network, was cooking up!
The drive was spectacular! It was one of those glorious golden-leafed autumn afternoons with a clear blue sky and every color of gold, orange and garnet flanking the highway. Denali was out and spectacular, shamelessly flaunting her snow capped peaks. The temperatures were in the low 50s upon arrival, and dipped into the mid 30s during the night....so much so that i had to get up and close the windows in our room. We arrived early enough to shower and dress 'Alaska Fancy'...which basically translates as clean jeans/slacks and a casual comfortable stretchy dress.....key word...stretchy...with all the food we were getting ready to eat. We positioned ourselves outside the dining room with the other 248 ticket holders. Tummies were rumbling, nervous laughter tinkled about, and new friendships were struck. At last the doors were opened and we were seated next to two women, both stay at home moms, who had opted for a 'girls night out'. Coincidentally, one woman was mom to a school friend of DDs, and her husband is an AirForce RN who moonlights in ICU at my hospital. There's an old saying that in Alaska, there's only 2 degrees of separation between everyone....i honestly believe it's true. The other woman's husband has worked with the man during media training exercises....Alaska is its own small small world. And, our dinner companions were highly entertaining. Having visited the bar before the wine/dinner event, the first woman was insistent that we hear all the details about her recent series of surgeries. She started out with the gastric bypass, then the tummy tuck, and lastly...her breast reduction just three weeks ago. I must admit, she looked fabulous, and told her story with a comedic flair. But the highlight of the evening was the food and wine pairings.........here is the menu which featured both Flora Springs reds AND whites as appropriate.
Artichoke Tart.....lovely herbed pastry crust with calamata olives, red onions, artichokes and montrachet goat cheese paired with a light and sweet Flora Springs Pinot Grigio
i gave this course five stars.....the sweetness of the pinot grigio was a perfect accent to the savory saltiness of the tart! yummm.....
Radicchio and Butter lettuce with hazelnut oil and garlic chips....paired with a Flora Springs Chardonnay. I have to confess that I'm all about the Chardonnays and this one did not disappoint. Very buttery, subtle oak overtones.....another excellent pairing. I could've gone straight to dessert from here....but i didn't...and i'm very very glad!
Parmigianino-Reggiano Tortellini with Dungeness Crab and Tarragon Butter....paired with the Flora Springs Soliloquy...the tortellini with crab was sheer heaven on the tongue...sweet, rich...everything it should be, very well accented with the tarragon and just a hint of nutmeg. The Soliloquy was nice, but i much preferred the Chardonnay to the Soliloquy, especially in pairing for this course. ok...that's a full meal for me....and after three glasses of wine...i was a happy gal.......but of course, there was more.....
next up, an interesting palate cleanser...Kaffir Lime Sorbet.....very tart and refreshing...and i say interesting because it was blended with a nice vanilla base, flecks of vanilla bean throughout the sorbet....the two flavors seemed to war with each other in my mouth...i kept searching out the sweet floral creaminess of the vanilla only to be thwarted each time by the tang of the lime......interesting, but not a favorite that's for sure. no wine for me this course.....i needed a breather to let my head clear....
On to the main course.....Pan Roasted Minnesota Elk Loin with Elderberry Espagnol, winter vegetables in 'Beurre noisette' and a Lemon and Trebbiano Risotto. mmmmm....paired with one of the BEST Cabernet Sauvignon's i've ever had the privilege to enjoy....Flora Springs Hilltop Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Folks, I am not into cabs at all, the tannins tend to give me a headache and i don't particularly enjoy the astringent feel of them in my mouth....but this one was literally incredible....almost a caramel undertone, incredibly rich and complex. I couldn't believe how very much i enjoyed this one! And the elk....so tender you could cut it with a fork.....less 'gamey' even than caribou ...my fav game meat...and the risotto was sublime. The vegetables included parsnips and rhubarb...but were cut on such a fine dice that it was difficult to pick up with a fork...very tasty, very nice...and an excellent pairing with the cab.
Dessert, sadly, did not live up to the dinner. French Vanilla Cream Crepes with Kiwi-Raspberry filling paired with the Flora Springs Napa Cabernet Sauvignon......First of all, some of the raspberries and most of the kiwi in the crepe were not ripe....and the tartness of the unripe fruit competed fiercely with the french vanilla cream....not in a good way...and this cabernet had so much 'grapefruit and pineapple' overtones that the lovely vanilla was immediately excised from the palate. A nice shot of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry would probly have been a better idea at this point!
All in all, i give the evening a 9/10.....with a point off for the dessert crepe. Everything else was divine! We spent the night in our comfortable room and returned back home early Saturday morning. And i was able to finish my Knit1Tea2 swap buddy's handknit gift of fingerless mitts from my huge stock of OnLine Linie 124 Gaucho....one of my favorite superwash wools. I made a size medium....sure hope she likes them!
ok...anyone know how to move the pics down to where they are SUPPOSED to go.....changing the browser has gotten me a little confused here!
Box is taped and ready for mailout in the morning!
I have another overnight at hospital tonight so maybe will get time for my 'prayerful square'.
Have a great knitterly day everyone and let's catch up later this week.........i still need to get yarn for Joan's Entrelac-tober!