This week, Andy and I were invited to try out the new winter menu at Seasons 52. Seasons 52 describes themselves as a fresh grill and wine bar that offers a seasonal menu inspired by the appeal of a farmer’s market and what’s good now. I would also add that they cater to people who enjoy dining out, but like to stay calorie conscious. That pretty much describes me, and why I have accepted every invitation the restaurant has sent my way. I really love the concept of the restaurant and enjoy the food!
We started out in one of the banquet rooms, (other writers were also invited and gathered there) to taste a few of the featured wines and flatbreads. Andy and I passed on the flatbreads (which Seasons 52 does specialize in because they can make them very seasonal—by swapping out the toppings when the seasons change—and low in calorie). However, later on we found out that they can make any of the flatbreads on the menu with a gluten-sensitive dough! I have been to the restaurant 5 or 6 times now and I never knew this! :) More on the gluten-senstive flatbreads later, but before I get too off track, let’s get back to the wine tasting at the beginning of our evening:
I particularly enjoyed the Catena Cabernet Sauvignon, a reasonably priced food friendly wine, that is a recent addition to the Seasons 52 wine list. Their international wine list features 100 wines and offers at least 52 of them by the glass.
During the wine tasting, Andy and I met up with Susan Cooper (who writes the blog Finding Our Way Now) and her husband. Since both of our websites have shifted towards wine, we decided to sit together during dinner and talk about some of our current and future projects.
I started out with this rosé of Syrah from Casas del Bosque. It was an off-dry wine and a great appetizer in my book. :)
Speaking of appetizers, this is the gluten-friendly flat bread I mentioned earlier. We chose the Grilled Garlic Pesto Chicken with fresh mozzarella cheese, balsamic onions, roasted red peppers and arugula. The entire appetizer clocks in at 490 calories. It’s called “gluten-friendly” as opposed to “gluten-free” because the kitchen and oven are exposed to gluten. Celiacs should always take extreme caution when dining out, but people who are gluten-free for other reasons can enjoy this flatbread as much as I did! :)
Of course, there are dishes that are not gluten-free, but still worth a try such as the Black & White Lobster Ravioli.
The raviolis are made with squid ink and egg pasta, and topped with shitake mushrooms and roasted red peppers. The dish is finished with a sherry-lobster sauce. (320 calories)
If you’re looking for a cocktail in between your appetizer and entrée, Seasons 52 currently features a Bourbon Berry Bramble and a Cranberry & Sage cocktail to enjoy this holiday season.
Entrée time! I think Andy and I were really feeling the seasons change and both ordered red meat for dinner.
I ordered the Grilled Flat Iron Steak Salad: Bibb lettuce, butternut squash, grilled red onion, a cheddar tuile and horseradish vinaigrette. (450 calories).
I wish I would have known the presentation of my salad was going to be so dramatic, because I would have filmed it and posted the video. The salad is brought out in on the plate with a cuff/ring around it and then it is released upon service. It was like “voilá” here’s your steak salad. I ordered dressing on the side because truthfully, there’s so many flavors going on, I didn’t really need it. Cheddar tuile, I wish I could wrap you around me like a blanket. ;)
Andy ordered another meaty dish: The Oak-Grilled New York Strip. Ut was a soy garlic marinade, charcoal roasted vegetables, Yukon potato mash and a 15-year aged balsamic drizzle. (750 calories) Whoa, Andy, hope you don’t plan on eating dessert.
Just kidding! I love it that Andy is willing to tag along with me and try all this incredible food. We both agreed that the steaks on the salad and on his entrée were perfect (medium rare).
By the way, our server was John. You’ll need to know that because you will want to ask for him when you visit Seasons 52. Here’s what he looks like if you need to chase him down. ;)
Truthfully, I am amazed this kid isn’t working as a wine rep. He knew almost as much as one. This is an instance where server training has really paid off. John is just as enthusiastic and passionate about wine as I am. Maybe. ;) Anyway, if there are not enough reasons to stop by Seasons 52, do so, so that you can be waited on by this guy! :)
More wines (some of our server John’s favorites) he allowed our table to try. I went with sparking wine (sorry, John!) because these days, I try to keep the alcohol content down while I am out and about. 130 calories per glass in the prosecco, by the way. :)
And then it was time to order dessert! :) At Seasons 52, they have a portion-controlled dessert menu that is brought out so you can see exactly what you are ordering!
I passed on the dessert plate, because I was actually so full from dinner, but I heard great things about the S’More dessert as well as the gingerbread dessert from my table mates.
This Friday (Black Friday) you can enjoy Seasons happy hour menu from open to close. With $8 specialty cocktails, $6 select glasses of wine and $5 Chef-inspired small plates, there’s something for everyone!!
Special thanks to the management at Seasons 52 for setting up this special tasting. We’ll definitely be back!!
A few months ago, I was introduced to a company called Hungry Root. Hungry Root’s mission, via their website is to: Unleash the flavor of vegetables, bring them to the center of your plate, and make them craveable.
OK picky people. I know what you are thinking… Vegetables and craveable are oxymorons! Not anymore. :)
Since going Paleo in 2011, I have been a proponent of obtaining most of my carbohydrates from fruits and especially vegetables. :) :) :)
Yes, I am the person who will roast root vegetables like carrots and parsnips until they are caramelized, and eat them for dessert! Maybe that sounds a little nutty, but when you start a true Paleo diet, you omit all processed sugars and so even vegetables when roasted can actually taste sweet!
I was really interested in Hungry Root, because they are making similar things with vegetables that we do on a daily basis, and yet, Hungry Root can ship meals pretty much really to cook with no prep involved other than heating oil in a pan, which is the perfect thing for busy people who need a quick and healthy meal! :)
This is the Cauliflower Coucous with Moroccan Almond Curry ($6). This VEGAN side is finely chopped raw cauliflower with a container of Moroccan almond curry made from fresh cilantro, parsley, mint, almonds, raisins and madras curry in the package. It’s super easy to prepare and you can eat the WHOLE container for only 121 calories. I don’t know about you, but I am a whole container kind of gal. ;)
And THIS is the Sweet Potato Noodles with Creamy Cashew Alfredo which contains Fresh-cut sweet potato noodles with creamy cashew alfredo (cashews, sesame tahini, garlic, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, lemon juice, black pepper), tossed with curried carrots and chopped, roasted chickpeas. The cashew alfredo is absolutely ADDICTIVE. And BOOM, another vegan dish. P.S. There’s so much Vitamin A in the house in this dish, your eyes and skin will thank you just as much as your tastebuds!
The third item we tried was the Almond Chickpea Cookie Dough. Ingredients: Chickpeas, sweet potato, almond butter, sesame tahini, maple syrup, organic cane sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, vegan chocolate chips. And we loved it so much, we ate it raw. Because it was so HARD CORE yummy that way—and only 60 calories per serving!! :) YAY. Cookies for everyone!!
Want to try out Hungry Root? Well, you’re in luck! The marketing team at Hungry Root sent me a special code to pass along to you so that you can save 20% OFF your order. Just type in KRISTY20 in the promo code field at check out. Also, they are currently running a promotion of FREE shipping for orders over $40. Click here to start shopping!
The Carmel Highlands/Monterey getaway tour continued last weekend, and leg two of the trip was a stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa is an enormous property featuring 550 guestrooms (32 suites), a President’s house, TusCA Ristorante, Knuckles Sports Bar, Lounge, fitness facility, tennis courts, fire pit, 2 swimming pools/whirlpools, the Marilyn Monroe Spa (a full service body treatment, facial, hair care, waxing, makeup, massage and nail bar), and a conference center (with 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space). It is located next to and overlooks the Pebble Beach Company’s Del Monte Golf Course. The beach and bay are just minutes away, as are prime attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Below is a rundown of all the amenities and services to be enjoyed at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa:
Rooms & Amenities: 550 guest rooms, 32″ LCD flat-panel TVs, iHome stereo with iPod®docking station (love!), Hyatt Grand Bed™, In-room safes and refrigerators, bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, and raised sinks.
Guest Services: Complimentary shuttle from Monterey Airport, Hyatt Fast Board™, PDA Check-in, Self Check-in kiosks, the Regency Club, a 24-hour fully automated business center, a gift shop with wine tasting room, pet friendly, les clefs d’or concierge.
Dining & Entertainment: TusCA Ristorante, award-winning Knuckles Sports Bar, Fireplace Lounge with live entertainment, a coffee bar with barrister, in-room dining.
Meetings & Events: 40,000 square feet of flexible function space, unique indoor & outdoor settings for weddings and social gatherings, innovative catering for onsite and offsite events, expert planners and an AV company on-site.
Activities: Marilyn Monroe Spa with full service salon, Pebble Beach Company’s Championship Del Monte Golf Course, a full-service racquet club, corporate team-building events, 24 hour gym, 2 pools (one of which Frank Sinatra once drove his car into!!), biking and jogging and walking trails.
Local Attractions: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur Coastline, Monterey County Wineries, Pebble Beach Golf Courses, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
This property has more amenities than any other I have stayed. You really never have to leave the hotel if you don’t feel like it. There’s really something for everyone here, even for families. I discovered that immediately after check in when Andy and I spent some time pool side at the main pool behind the lobby and restaurants. There are giant outdoor games for kids and adults and a play area. The weather was perfect and just warm enough to swim, soak up some rays for a few hours. I read a few more chapters of Dan Barber’s The Third Plate and we sipped some Bogle Sparkling Wine.
Approaching early evening, our media group met at up with David Lambert, Director of Sales and Marketing at Hyatt Monterey. We gathered around the fire pit to talk about the property, wine, Monterey, food and share a little bit more about ourselves and our websites. We were treated to this cheese and fruit plate and a few of my favorite wines: Cakebread Chardonnay and Talbott’s Kali Hart Pinot Noir.
After our gathering at the fire pit, we made our way to the hotel’s main restaurant, TusCA Ristorante, and were all seated at a large oblong table for dinner and drinks. I sat at one of the ends of the table to spare everyone from my left-handedness. ;) We each ordered an appetizer and entree from the menu, which I would describe as California/Italian Tuscan (hence the TusCA name), and were treated to this amuse-bouche of prociutto, roasted red pepper, cheese and an olive duo:
For my appetizer, I ordered the White Bean Soup with cabbage, celery root, carrot and fennel sausage:
My entrée choice was the Chicken Piccata with sautéed patty pan squash, olive oil smashed potatoes and a lemon caper picatta sauce:
Andy decided on the Swordfish served with roasted root vegetables, citrus, fennel and watercress:
Other entrée selections available are Scallops, a vegan Farro Risotto and several different pizza and pasta dishes. Chef Steve Johnson oversees the culinary functions of the Hyatt which includes TusCA Ristorante, the Fireplace Lounge, and Knuckles Historical Sports Bar and all weddings, meetings and events. You can find TusCa on Open Table here.
The next morning, a few members of our tour group were treated to a one-hour massage at the Marilyn Monroe spa.
It was very relaxing to get a massage after my workout. I had been so busy with work that I had been putting it off for some time (I belong to a monthly massage place in Sacramento and I never seem to get around booking my appointment in advance. I need an assistant!!) At the Marilyn Monroe Spa, the massage session begins with a plush robe and slippers you are given to change into in one of the nicest locker rooms I have ever seen. The lockers are combination, so all of your clothes and belongings are kept safe during your treatment. After you change into the loaner robe, there is a lounge area upstairs that offers tea, water and light snacks (today it was a dried fruit and nut mix). My therapist Kim could really sense that I wanted more of a relaxation massage more than a sports massage, so it was complete chill time and nap time (kept dozing off) for me!
After my massage, I showered in the locker room in a giant walk-in shower with some of their awesome mango body wash. Can I live here? ;)
Around noon Andy and I headed out to explore Monterey, namely to find a lunch spot and to take advantage of our tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The tickets were given to us by the Hyatt Monterey and we were more than excited to go! :)
After walking around a bit at Cannery Row, I suggested a place called A Taste of Monterey. I previously had heard nothing about it, just saw the words “wine market and bistro”, and I was convinced we needed to try it out!
This was the view from our table! As wine lovers, we were so fortunate to find a gourmet restaurant that focuses on wine that happens to be right on the oceanfront! :) The service at A Taste of Monterey was spectacular. They offer wine flights to those who want to try several wines at a time and a menu of wine friendly tapas, flatbread pizzas, salads and sandwiches. A Taste of Monterey also has a wine shop on premises and along with wines, they sell cheeses, snacks, and lots of wine-related accessories. If you love wine and happen to be near Cannery Row, stop into A Taste of Monterey for lunch or dinner.
After satisfying our taste buds, it was time to feast our eyes on the wonder of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s such a beautiful place with many different exhibits on the fascinating creatures who live in and near our Pacific Ocean. It’s a museum as well as a giant laboratory that is constantly observing and experimenting with its inhabitants and how to prolong and enhance their lives. The aquarium is appropriate for all ages and provides an opportunity to learn for everyone. Here are a few photos I took during our visit:
We stayed at the aquarium until closing time, because we were fascinated just watching the fish and other organisms carry on about their daily activities. My favorite exhibit is the sea otters. We watched one of them rub its eyes, just like a human. I could have stayed and watched them all day. Adorable! :)
After our aquarium trip, we headed back to the hotel to chill out for a while and think about what we wanted to do for dinner. The hotel offered us dinner in TusCA again, dinner at Knuckles Sports Bar or room service. We thought it would be appropriate to eat at Knuckles and check out Monterey Peninsula’s best sports bar for 12 years in a row.
Knuckles menu offers steaks and salads, burgers and buffalo wings, they have 20 beers on tap and 24 HDTVs, a pool table and video games for the kids. We showed up around 7pm and the restaurant was lively and full of sports loving patrons, this night in particular a crew of wrestling coaches. Our server was Yanira—she was very welcoming and good at hearing our requests, as it was pretty loud while we were there. I’m going to blame it one people having a great time! ;)
For our appetizer, I ordered the hummus, served with crudité (not pictured) and pita bread. If I had thought about it in advance, I would have ordered the gluten free bread that you can also order on the sandwiches menu… sometimes even being gluten free I fail to think in advance, so Andy and I shared some pita bread. ;) The crudité (not pictured is celery and carrots sticks).
Andy’s choice of entrée was the pulled pork sandwich served on gluten free bread and with a side of sweet potato fries and coleslaw. We loved having the option of gluten free bread. The sweet potato fries were crispy and well seasoned. The pork was moist and smoky and flavorful.
For my dinner, I had a Diet Coke with vodka and lime. And then I ordered another. Really good drinks at Knuckles, just so you know… For my main course, I decided I would feast on Knuckles steak salad: a giant platter of spinach, tomato, roasted red bell peppers and sliced steak. The dressing is Gorgonzola, and the salad comes with croutons, both of which I ordered on the side.
Check out Knuckles full menu online here.
Following dinner, we sauntered into the lounge adjacent to the hotel lobby and the hotel’s two main restaurants to enjoy a nightcap and some music. In the lounge there is live jazz very Friday and Saturday night beginning at 7:00 PM, featuring jazz director Dr. Morwood. (Click Here for more information).
Of course I have to mention the Stay Fit gym because I spent a lot of time on both Saturday and Sunday morning. I loved having a great place to workout! Part of this food, wine and travel gig for me is to make sure I work for it. I typically spend 60-90 minutes a day in the gym to offset all the wonderful meals and adult beverages, but I don’t mind. :)
After my Sunday workout, it was time to get cleaned up and check out. We were sad to leave such a nice hotel and depart from all the media friends we met, but eager to get home and catch up on work we left behind. I was able to grab a last-minute coffee from hotel lounge (served until 11:30am) during my checkout. What a great trip!
Have you ever just wanted to escape? I mean, just ditch everything and all of your responsibilities?
I was so ready to do that this past weekend!
Lucky for me, Andy and I got the chance to travel to Carmel Highlands and were hosted for an evening at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. It’s a destination hotel heavy on amenities and a sensory overload of picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur coast.
We were invited to stay there along with a few other writers–including L.A-based bloggers Kat and Kelly of Edible Skinny–and over the course of the weekend (which also included a stay at another Hyatt property) we were treated to dinners, massages, wine tastings and other fun things. For this chronicle, I’ll focus on the sheer excellence of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and the meals we enjoyed at the restaurants located there. PS: Color me blessed and lucky for sure!
When we arrived at the hotel, we immediately joined up with the hotel tour already in progress. Sacramento is about 3 hours and 30 minutes away from Carmel Highlands. We were welcomed by the hotel staff and a woman from Holman Ranch Vineyards. She poured us a refreshing Chardonnay to sip during the tour. I asked the woman’s name because I thought she just might be “Hunter” for whom one of Holman Ranch’s wines is named, because I had spoken with her before on twitter. She confirmed her name and I laughed saying, “I thought that was you, you’re my favorite wine!” I have written about them before here.
The tour of all the meeting facilities was very interesting. The hotel is equipped with all different sized meeting/banquet rooms to fit different needs (4,945 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting spaces). Although the hotel can support any sort of indoor or outdoor business meeting you can think of and offers full service catering, as well as controlled heat, lighting and audio/visual systems, Hyatt Carmel Highlands is an even more ideal wedding and romantic getaway spot. Below is a picture of the gazebo (the setting for many nuptials).
One of highlights of the hotel for me was the gym/fitness center, which many hotels in Carmel and Carmel Valley do not have. It is small, but adequate for a property of 48 rooms. From the elliptical machines, you can actually see the ocean. I spent a lot of time in that room during my stay! :)
After our property tour, we gathered by the lounge and enjoyed some appetizers and Holman Ranch wine. Hunter told us a little more about Holman Ranch and their wines as well as the estate-grown olive oils.
After a few rounds of appetizers and the fabulous Holman Ranch wines, our group relocated to the restaurant, just a few feet away from the lounge. The restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is called Pacific’s Edge, and oddly enough, Andy and I almost went there for my birthday in June, but we were staying in Carmel-By-the-Sea, and opted to eat somewhere within walking distance of our hotel. I was thrilled to learn we would be enjoying dinner at Pacific’s Edge with other travel writers that evening at the only restaurant in Carmel with a view of the ocean!
Soon, we were served two new wines: a 2012 Chardonnay by Domaine Eden and a 2004 Austrian wine: Brundlmayer Cabernet Franc, “Vincent’s Cuvée”. Below is a picture of the Chardonnay. Andy and I had more of it with our dinner, as it was a better pairing with our food.
Everyone in our group was given a menu crafted just for us, just for that evening. We were told to choose one appetizer and one main course. For my appetizer, I chose the Zucchini Carpaccio with wild arugula, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, picked mushrooms and lemon olive oil vinaigrette.
Andy went with the Octopus “Confit” with fingerling potatoes, smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oil and Maldon salt. Since octopus doesn’t have it’s own fat to be a confit, the olive oil was used to slowly cook it, hence the name.
Then for our main course, Andy and I both ordered the same meal. We usually try to order something different, but this time we couldn’t resist the special being offered for the evening:
It was a line-caught Chilean Sea Bass with grapes and crispy sunchokes. It was one of the best fish dishes I have ever had. There were several layers of flavor and textures going on within the plate: flakey, creamy, crispy, savory, sweet, umami. It was everything I want in a bite of food. Comforting, but not too heavy. And so perfect I had to show you another picture:
We also happened to capture a picture of one of the other journalist’s dinners:
Then came dessert: I chose the fromage plate and a glass of 2005 Château Guiraud Sauternes.
The next day, after a few hours in the gym at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands for myself—Andy opted to go on a 5 mile run—we were treated to lunch at another one of the hotel’s restaurants (open for breakfast and lunch): California Market.
It was bubbles for me (Domaine Carneros Brut) as I decided what I should order for lunch. The patio of California Market features space heaters to keep you warm when the sun is busy hiding behind the clouds, and gorgeous views of the ocean and the beautiful landscaping of the property. I took the picture below from my table at the restaurant.
I order Cobb Salad a lot in restaurants because it has the trifecta of love: avocado, bacon and blue cheese! :) I ordered the dressing on the side (which was actually a very good Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette). It was the perfect low carb lunch after a long workout! The Cioppino was fragrant of mussels, clams, shrimp and cod with a spicy tomato broth. Andy jumped ship on the gluten free boat (momentarily) to enjoy the crusty garlic bread as a mop, catching every drop of the soup. What a satisfying lunch and sure to keep us full until dinner.
Following our meal, we said goodbye (reluctantly) to the staff at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands–one of the nicest stays I have had in recent memory. I think for me it was really all about the views and the cozy fireplace in our room. And OK, someone DID leave a bottle of my current favorite red wine in my room (how did they know about my love for Talbott Kali Hart??) accompanied by a cheese plate. :)
Indeed it was hard to leave, but incredibly excited to tour and stay at the next Hyatt property on our agenda for the weekend: The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, which I will be writing about in the upcoming week!
You can find Hyatt Carmel Highlands on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here and on Instagram here. You can find Holman Ranch on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Thanks to Hyatt Carmel Highlands for their generosity and hospitality.
I just found out about another fun food and wine event, this time featuring wine regions north of I-80. It’s called the 2nd Annual Golden Wine Festival and it’s going to happen on October 31st, 2015 from 11:00am-4:00pm at Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland. (Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm is located at 1415 Pumpkin Lane in Wheatland, CA).
Up to 25 top wineries and olive oil companies from the Sierra Foothills and Sacramento Valley will showcase their products.
This is an opportunity for wine lovers throughout the North State to interact directly with the vintners themselves while sampling a wide range of varietals and wine-making styles from this unique wine producing area of Northern California.
The event will take place in a beautiful hand-hewn, timber-frame barn, and will be accompanied by tasty hors d’oeuvres, a sampling of other locally-grown products and the option of Bishop’s famous barbeque lunch.
Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm will have its full facility open to allow adults as well as children to enjoy its corn maze, special baked goods, shops, miniature train, petting zoo and other down-home attractions.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Yuba-Sutter United Way to benefit grants for non-profit organizations providing services for “Healthier Children.”
Tickets are $25 — all tastings and hors d’oeuvres included. To purchase tickets, please CLICK HERE. If purchased before October 21st , the usual parking fee will be waived.
Andy and I attended the dinner as guests of the restaurant and were thrilled to be back at one of our favorite places to dine. I enjoy the wine dinners in particular because we always meet new people who are just as into wine as we are, as well as the wine representatives who are more than happy to talk about the wines in great detail that are featured in the dinner.
At a Dawson’s wine dinner, the evening typically begins at 6:30 in the form of a sparkling wine reception. Guests are given light appetizers and bubbly to kick off the evening and to open their palette and appetite for the incredible food and wine pairings to come.
Soon after the appetizers and bubbly, the chefs and wine representative come out into the reception area to introduce themselves and explain the meal and wine pairings that will be served for the evening. Below, chef Jason Poole gives a rundown of what he’s created for the night.
Following the menu introduction and the featured wines, guests are led into the restaurant to their assigned seats. There are a few communal tables and a few booths that are used for wine dinner guests. Andy and I were happy to be seated across from the wine representative as well as the wife of a well-known Sacramento chef. :)
Soon, the servers poured our first wine and brought out our first course of the evening: A Maple Glazed Pork Belly with a quail egg, pickled chanterelle mushrooms and green onion grits. This course was paired with a 2013 Jayson Pinot Noir. (Jayson is a secondary label of the Pahlmeyer brand.) Of course, Pinot Noir is a classic pairing with pork, and it was almost like an upscale breakfast for the first course with the pork belly (bacon), egg, and grits. I completely approve of that!
Next up was the second course and wine pairing: Yellow Watermelon and Yellow Tail Tuna: Avocado cream, cocktail sauce, feta and cilantro flowers, paired with the 2013 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay.
I loved the plating of this dish most of all and the fun flavors that resounded. Yes, feta really does go with almost everything, and it was great to have yellow watermelon (something I don’t get to enjoy that often) featured in a dish. The 2013 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay served with this dish could really stand on its own. I actually think I found a new favorite white wine.
Moving on to the third course, beef, a Wagyu Flat Iron. It was plated with butternut squash cream, charred jimmy nardello peppers, eggplant, quinoa and currants. It was paired with a 2012 Pahlmeyer Merlot.
The beef course was my favorite because for me it was the most cohesive. Also, this was the best pairing—the wine did not compete with the food, but enhanced the flavors of its smoky eggplant and rich fruit (currants).
The fourth course brought us a Rabbit Saucisson (a sausage which originates in France that is typically made of pork, but here with rabbit and looked to have been made as a terrine). The saucisson was arnished with cornichons, white peach, pickled green tomato and a red wine mostardo.
This course was paired with a 2012 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red (a classic Napa style Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot). This full bodied wine paired well with the richness of the sausage, the boldness of the mostardo and the pickled items on the plate. Even a month later I remember how much I liked this particular dish and how unique it was.
For dessert we enjoyed a caramel tart filled with a nut trio of almonds, pistachios and cashews and served with a vanilla gelato. The crust was much like a buttery shortbread, filled with a thin layer of chocolate ganache, followed by a thicker layer of caramel. It was one of the best desserts I have ever eaten in a restaurant, and that’s a high compliment, as I myself am a pastry chef who rarely indulges unless it’s just fruit or a cheese plate. Old Soul coffee was poured for guests to enjoy with their dessert. Depending on the winery, sometimes a late harvest wine or a port is served with the last course.
Up next for Dawson’s wine series is their wine dinner featuring Silver Oak. It will be on Friday, November 13th at 6:30pm, 5 courses for $95 per person. To make a reservation, call (916) 443-1234. Hope to see you there! :)
If I had only one wine left in the world to choose out of the several that I enjoy, I would keep Pinot Noir because of it’s complexity and versatility. In this edition of Flights By Night, we feature a duo of Pinot Noirs paired with sliced duck breast (graciously sent to me by Maple Leaf Farms), with a pear and carrot sauce, on a crispy sweet potato nest.
The Pinot Noirs we shared with the duck include a 2012 Willowbrook Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) and a 2012 Gavilan Pinot Noir (Chalone Appelation). When Andy and I choose two of the same varietal for a pairing, it’s fun to choose two wines we have tasted before and already know are very different. The Willowbrook is a very pleasant wine to drink all by itself with all the characteristics of a soft pinot noir, but I find the Gavilan is a better wine when it is served with food. The Gavilan is slightly effervescent and has a fuller body. That being said, we obtained many bottles of the Gavilan at a very good price, and my tastebuds fell in love with it. It became my everyday drinker for a while. Now onto the food pairing…
The sauce served on top of the duck is a take on an Alton Brown recipe–I wanted to use pears in my sauce in honor of California Pear’s Local Pear Love campaign. The major switch I made is that I used carrots instead of parsnips in the recipe, the rest I kept (mostly) the same. :)
For the sweet potato nests, I shredded two sweet potatoes in the food processor, squeezed out the excess water in them, and placed the shreds on a parchment lined and lightly oiled sheet pan (I like using a coconut oil spray for this.) I baked the shreds at 400° until they were browned and crispy. Then I plated the shreds in a circular formation to resemble little bird nests.
To prepare the duck, I seasoned the breasts with salt and cracked pepper, then started them in a cold saucepan (skin side down). I slowly brought them up in temperature and rendered out the fat, getting a nice sear/texture and brown color on the skin. Then I flipped them over to cook them a bit more and finished them in the oven for ten minutes at about 200°F. (When you remove the breasts from the oven, allow them to rest about five minutes before slicing into them. They will stay nice and juicy that way!)
You can read about other food and wine Flights By Night here!