The best way to start the new year is with amazing food and wine. This year on January 1st we did just that, after being exclusively invited by Lido at Dolphin Bay to be one of the first to experience the debut of their “Dinner with the Chefs” series. And boy howdy what an evening of delicious decadence that was! Let me start by saying that since the last exclusive blog we did on Lido, there has been a major change in kitchen leadership. Jacob Moss and Maegen Loring have taken over as Co-Executive Chefs and debuted a menu that will knock your socks off. Aside from being hosted at this dinner by the Chefs we arrived to discover we were among the who’s who of SLO food and wine writers; Kathy Marcks Hardesty and her husband Dan, Teri Bayus and her husband Gary, Wendy Thiess and her husband Mike and our good friend Adam Montiel and his lovely significant other Mallory.
We arrived and were instantly welcomed with a glass of Belle Glos Pinot Noir Blanc Rose which is made traditionally in the style known in France as oeil-de-perdrix (eye of the partridge) and is partially fermented in French oak. The wine has a gorgeous blush color with notes of strawberries and watermelon on the palate with hints of citrus. The nose was candied strawberries and roses with a balanced acidity, light minerality and bright fruits. This wine paired beautifully with the Apple Chorizo stuffed Sole…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our Menu for the evening was 13 courses (which Doug can expound on) served family style, and paired with 5 different wines! We started with a trio of appetizers paired with a 2009 Stolpman La Coppa Blanc, a “casual” Rhone white blend of 70% Roussanne and 30% Viognier, with a nice straw color and bright acidity offering flavors of lychee, stone fruits and citrus. The first dish offered, was an Apple and Sweet Potato Soup that was topped with toasted walnuts and smoked, paprika creme fraiche. The soup had a sweetness but was not too sweet with a creamy and smooth consistency.
Next came the Grilled Sweetbreads with wild mushrooms, chili flake, and balsamic gastrique. Although I haven’t quite gotten a taste for Sweetbreads, these were very well prepared with all sorts of yummy ingredients and if you happen to be a Sweetbreads lover then this is the appetizer for you. My favorite of the appetizers was the third…Seared Day Boat Scallops with crispy Pork Belly, Caviar and Buerre Blanc sauce. The scallops were tender and perfectly cooked, and the pork belly added a crispy, burst of richness when eaten together. It was absolutely divine!
Next up were the Pizzas. Now these were no ordinary pizzas, these were as gourmet delicious as it gets. The first one was topped with Italian Sausage, Herbs, and Manchego Cheese. Offering up a zesty tang from the manchego mixed with the spicy sausage, that really made this a great dish. But it was the Parsnip Cream, Dried Cherries and Toasted Walnuts pizza that made my taste buds sing! HOLY halos Batman, this was a phenomenal dish that paired very well with the 2010 Piattelli Premium Torrontés. The Torrontés was a great pairing with the pizzas; with a fruity and floral nose, this wine is crisp and fruity. 20% of the wine is aged for 2 months in first use French oak bringing out the natural floral characteristics of the grape. The fruity aspects of the wine are highlighted with honeysuckle while the viscosity of the wine is soft and velvety with a balanced acidity.
The next wine to be poured was a 2007 Rancho Arroyo Grande Mourvèdre and was served with the 2 salads; a Broccoli and Raisin salad with crispy leeks, balsamic gastrique, and olive oil powder, and a Roasted Beet and Burrata Salad with extra virgin olive oil, toasted almonds, and micro greens. Let me start by saying anything on a menu that includes the word burrata is an automatic must have for me. I love the stuff, and this was no exception, creamy and buttery, and beautifully presented on a bed of red and golden roasted beets.
The Mourvèdre showed off a blackberry and currant nose, highlighting a touch of herbaceous sage. The wine its self is very fruit forward with a delicate and silky mouth feel, giving off black cherry and dark fruits with spice and licorice on the palate. It offered a nice balanced acidity and has a long, slow, finish that paired very nicely with the 5 entrees. Starting with a Lemon and Black Pepper Tagliatelle with a pistachio cream sauce, fresh herbs and shaved grana padano the pasta was home-made and delicious. But the best pairing with this wine was the Kabocha Gnocchi in sage butter, Italian sausage, and shaved manchego.
OMG this has to be one of the best gnocchi dishes’ I have EVER had. It was perfectly seasoned and textured, and it showed off the sage notes from the wine gorgeously. Normally I can’t eat a whole plate of gnocchi because it’s so much of a good thing but I’m pretty sure with a bottle of this wine, I could go through more than a plate of this dish. Though to be honest by this time in the meal I was getting really stuffed, and there was still 4 more dishes to go!
Up next was the Apple and Chorizo Stuffed Sole (I mentioned at the top of this post) with braised kale, a celery root latke, and apple cider buerre blanc. The sole was really delicate and because of the chorizo had a lot of really rich flavors. But it was the celery root latke that stole my heart; it was really unique, interesting, and delicious.
Then it was on to the cast iron Cassoulet with Duck Confit, house made pancetta, Italian sausage, and herb salad. This is a very rich dish with a multitude of textures and a lot of flavor. It was right about this time that we were served a 2007 Shell Creek Petite Sirah.
Aged in Hungarian oak for 24 months, the Petite Sirah is tannic, with berry notes, black pepper and spice, and a hint of licorice. This wine won the Silver Medal at the 2011 LA County International Wine & Spirits Competition. Because it’s such a big, bold wine it paired very well with the filet, which really softens out the tannins.
The Cocoa Crusted Filet was served with smashed plantains, chili butter sauce, and roasted peppers. This was one of the most perfectly cooked medium rare pieces of meat I’ve had in a long time. It was also deliciously seasoned, juicy and tender. I mean just LOOK at that picture!!! I’m jonesing just seeing it. Put all that together with the sides and it was a fantastic dish, not to be missed.
The coup d’état was Maegan’s Purple Haze and Brown Sugar Platter, which consisted of two desserts, a Pavlova– meringue topped with fresh whipped cream, and a blueberry sauce; placed next to that on the plate, a moist, delicious, brown sugar cake laid atop a grilled pineapple and complemented with a homemade ginger ice cream. Then she paired a rich, thick, gourmet Mexican Hot Chocolate and our choice of liquor to go with it. Mine was my new favorite whiskey…Hochstadter’s “Slow & Low” Rock & Rye. They make it by sweetening a straight rye whiskey, with rock candy and citrus peels (a really good way to ease new whisk(e)y drinkers into the full blown thing). With roots that trace back to the early 19th century when bartenders would offer up honey and rock candy to their customers so they could add them to a shot of whiskey -the idea was for them to make something like an Old Fashioned. Described as made with a “…backbone of straight rye whiskey. The whiskey is macerated with orange peels before being infused with a picayune amount of honey” and “a hint of horehound” It has the spiciness of whiskey but is tempered by the citrus and sweetness of the honey.
All I can say, is this new (pairing) menu by these extremely talented chefs is NOT to be missed. And if you can swing it neither is the “Dinner with the Chefs” series, what an all around brilliant event.
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou. ~Omar Khayyam