I'm back to work this Friday. It's been great having a few weeks off to do fun things with friends, spend some quality time with the man, and work on some home and garden chores.
Memorial Day weekend was lovely. Russ and I drove north to Talkeetna Saturday afternoon. We stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and spent a pleasant afternoon on their back deck with appetizers, good beer, and a great view of Mt. McKinley. That night, we attended another of their "Wine Dinner"s. Amazing gourmet food paired with different wines for each course.
Sadly, I left my camera in the room, otherwise you'd have pictures to accompany this narrative...you'll just have to imagine I suppose.
On a plate when we sat down was a large soup spoon. In the bowl of the spoon was a rolled up piece of prosciutto next to a scoop of what appeared to be melon-colored tapioca. I guessed that it was caviar of some sort. There was a small sprig of thyme lying across the top of it all. We were instructed to "eat up" and enjoy the entire mouthful. The salty prosciutto was enhanced by the thyme, but I couldn't find any "fishyness" at all that I normally associate with caviar. In fact, there was a melon flavor. It was actually quite tasty.
Chef Zimmy, then explained that it was prosciutto with cantaloupe that had been treated to look like caviar! Fake out extraordinaire! Cute.
The first course was served and was a deliciously creamy White Asparagus and Shrimp Bisque. Frothed cream was beautifully swirled in the pink bisque making for a lovely presentation. It was so good that if I'd been at home, I'd have licked the bowl. As it was, I did think about it, but after a furtive glance around me, opted to show a little class and not. It was paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Riesling. Normally, I'm not a Riesling gal, finding them much too sweet. This was dryer than I expected and was an excellent pairing for the bisque. Yum!
The next course was a Lobster Ravioli with a Shallot and Sweet Pea Emulsion drizzled with Carrot Oil. The ravioli was as large as the palm of my hand and a good 2-3 tall! Stuffed with succulent lobster, and sitting in a puddle of pureed sweet peas. You could see the orange carrot oil fancifully swirled through, but I honestly didn't taste it at all. This was heavenly. And filling. I wanted bread to clean the plate. Sadly, there was none :) It was paired with my favorite wine of the evening. Yep, I found a new favorite Chardonnay. This was Chateau St. Michelle's Canoe Ridge Chardonnay. I've been to many wine tastings and have learned to appreciate and identify the different descriptors for the flavors but had never ever found a wine that I could honestly call 'buttery'. I found one tonight in the Indian Ridge. Wow. It was delicious. So much so, that after dinner, when we were able to mingle and go to the wine tables and get additional glasses of our favorites, I did so...twice. Yep, it was THAT good. And of course, a great pairing for the lobster ravioli.
Next came the salad. This was a nice wedge of St.Andre triple cream cheese surrounded by dried black figs atop micro greens. These little greens looked like lawn clippings...or like someone had raided the terrarium with cuticle scissors. Teeny, tiny little greens. A bit 'precious' if you asked me...in presentation anyway...the dressing though..oh my god...it was drizzled with just a few drops of Honey and Lavender Vinaigrette. Now I love the fragrance of lavender. It's one of my favorites. I'd never thought ever in my wildest imaginings of lavender as a food enhancer. I mean really, who thinks of this stuff? Chef Zimmy's sister evidently lives in Hawaii on a lavender farm which is where he procured the lavender oil to make this concoction. It tasted amazing. Like I think heaven would if you ate it. I want more honey lavender vinaigrette. And St. Andre's triple cream cheese wedges. Lactose intolerance be damned.
The wine was forgettable. Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay. After the Canoe Ridge Chardonnay...this was nothing, nada.
This was Chef Zimmy's first wine dinner. Chef Felix had been with these events since their inception four or five years ago. He retired last year. A wonderful chef. He was very flamboyant and had a delightful European accent which added flair to his sometimes over-the-top descriptions of our dishes. Chef Zimmy on the other hand...well, this kid definately has chef talent...but what a kid...shy, soft-spoken...he looks like Harry Potter...like he's maybe all of 16...but the kid can cook and wowza, what an imagination.
Our intermezzo...a palate cleanser...was (get this!) an Heirloom Tomato Sorbet and a Lemon and Olive Oil Sorbet on an Asiago Crisp! I looked askance when I read this on the menu...pshaw...I mean really...Tomato Sorbet...lemon and OLIVE OIL sorbet...but guess what...it worked..it worked really really well. I LOVED the Heirloom Tomato Sorbet...and the olive oil really accented the lemony goodness of the other one. It was obviously really really good olive oil. What kind of magic was this? Created by the boy chef..it was delightful.
The main course was next. A Veal Osso Bucco on Turnip Puree with it's own basting juice. I'm not a veal fan. This tasted very nice and was very tender...but, i'm just ethically against veal...the turnip puree was lovely though...smooth and creamy and sweet and earthy all at once. Yum. It was paired with my very least favorite wine of the evening...which the wine dude touted as "the best of the best" "only 1% of the top grapes" go into making the Ethos Syrah. Too strongly aromatic, too fruity, too sharp..too whatever. Not my kind of wine. Not to my taste. I'm sure other, more sophisticated palettes would disagree.
Lastly, Dessert! Picture a miniature torte on your dessert plate...the bottom layer, a good half-inch thick, crushed pistachios...the second layer, a full inch and a half of richly decadent dark chocolate mousse, the third layer, strawberry rhubarb compote, the fourth and topmost layer another inch and a half of thick rich bavarian cream...and crispy dark chocolate cookie lightning bolts crowning the treat...additional strawberry rhubarb compote mounded to the side....bliss! oh, and the wine...another winner...a smoothly rich Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh my, it did go so very very well with the dark chocolate delight.
I learned a bit more about good wines and my tastes...I had a delightful gourmet dinner from an up and coming young chef...I tried impressively adventurous cuisine...and after a few more glasses of the Chateau St. Michelle Canoe Ridge Chardonnay, happily took myself off to our room for the evening and slept ever so well. And wonderfully, no headache the next day (I remembered to drink a LOT of water between each glass of wine! And it worked like a charm!) We left the Lodge around 9a the next morning in order to relieve the grannysitter. It was great to have a night out with the man. He's very good to me that way. I look forward to the lodge's next "Wine Dinner" at the end of the season. I have more Memorial Day adventures to blog about...but that'll have to wait until next time. Until then...Knit On!