Monday, April 04, 2011

Spring Catch Up

With Spring upon us, I have been remiss for the past several weeks in posting much so excuse the following recap of my culinary adventures.

I have had several articles in Style Weekly recently, including the 2011 State of the Plate where we gave a nod to Amuse as Restaurant of the Year, but also recognized several other favorites, including Pescado's China Street, The Black Sheep, Acacia, Lamplighter, and more.  It's a challenging issue for many reasons, not least of which is a burgeoning restaurant scene in Richmond.

In this week's Style Weekly, I write about Cafe Ole's venture into Carytown, where Betsy Harrell Thomas offers a healthy alternative to our fast-food nation. With fish tacos that are some of the best in town, and a host of other fresh and simple Cal-Mex treats, they are well on their way to becoming a Carytown fixture.

I also have an article in the current issue of Flavor Magazine profiling Julep's bartender extraordinaire, Bobby Kruger. You can find a copy at most Martins supermarkets as well as Barnes and Noble. Speaking of Flavor, I was their guest at a recent wine dinner at Acacia Midtown.  The evening celebrated the wonderful wines of Cameron Winery in Dundee, Oregon.

Hosted by Rob Crittenden of  Roanoke Valley Wine Company,  Cameron's winemaker John Paul, with an Einstein like presence, entertained the group with fascinating stories of his journey from Marine Biologist to winemaker, adventures with vine clones, Burgundy producers and the down and dirty of the business. One of the funniest stories was around how they named their vineyard Clos Electrique. The word clos is French for "enclosure." As one can imagine. a drive through the French winecountry takes you past vineyards enclosed by rustic stone walls. When they lamented their lack of stone walls and the presence of "electric fences,"  the name Clos Electrique seemed a good fit.

Stories aside, Aline and Dale Reitzer were gracious hosts; Aline runs one of the best "front of the houses" in Richmond, and Dale's culinary prowess needs no introduction and little embellishment.

First Course
Hot and Cold Crab
Hot Crab soup with sea urchin custard and cold crab salad on red pepper puree
2007 Dundee Hills Chardonnay

The soup was sublime- chunks of crab meat floated in a simple dashi broth- the real surprise was the sea urchin custard lining the bottom of the bowl- creamy essence of the sea in every bite.

Second Course

Sauteed Local Rockfish, Butter Braised Kohlrabi, Kohlrabi puree, Almond Grape Sauce
2007 Clos Electrique Blanc

Tender rockfish- poor man's lobester- accented with a subtle sauce and earthy kohlrabi- the wine was a real treat- it got better as it warmed up- fairly complex for a white, the combination of mostly old Chardonnay clones with a touch of Pinot Blanc

Third Course

Veal ravioli, tomato fondue, veal parmesan broth
2008 Clos Electrique Pinot Noir

Tender ravioli with braised veal inside- much better and heartier than the usual puree found in ravioli- tomato fondue channeled summer flavors.  Nice pairing

Fourth Course

Pan roasted duck breast on marscarpone,sweetbread, fennel and sunchoke risotto, red wine apple onion sauce
2007 Abbey Ridge Pinot Noir
Rare and tender duck- risotto was indulgent, studded with rich sweetbread, clean fennel flavors, and earthy sunchoke

Desserts included an assortment of petit-fours, including a particluary interesting rose water meringue.

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