Harvest time is approaching and with that it seems there are also a flurry of food and wine events during the next few months. To give you a heads up on what’s happening and to help you decide which ones to attend, here are a list of three of my favorites. Two are local to Sacramento, and one is in Santa Rosa.
Legends of Wine
Did you know the largest crop coming out of Sacramento County last year wasn’t rice OR tomatoes? It was wine grapes! Come celebrate the bounty of our county at the California State Capitol on Thursday, September 19th from 6-9p.m. during the 7th Annual Legends of Wine, one of Sacramento’s yearly Farm-to-Fork Festival’s keystone events.
Guests of the occasion can expect to explore unlimited tastes from over 30 regional wineries selected by Darrell Corti and David Berkley (both internationally known food and wine experts). You can buy tickets to the event online by going to http://farmtofork.com.
Pinot on the River
Pinot on the River moves from Healdsburg to Santa Rosa this year with more than 40 small-production artisanal wineries joining with guest artisan food vendors. The event takes place on Saturday October 5th, 2019 from 11a.m. to 3p.m. at the Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa. At the event, you’ll be able to meet the winemakers as well as mingle with other Pinot Noir-loving consumers.
Proceeds from the event benefit Sonoma County Pride, an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives and well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) people. Sonoma County Pride serves as a liaison with government, businesses, and other organizations on behalf of the LGTBQI community, as well as recognizing and celebrating their history, achievements, and contributions in Sonoma County. The event’s main sponsor is Roadhouse Winery. Tickets are $50, and you buy them online at pinotfestival.com.
29th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction and Beer Garden
The 29th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden returns on Saturday, October 12th, 2019 from 4-7pm. I’ll also be returning to this year’s planning committee, rounding up my favorite restaurants and wineries for your enjoyment.
Returning to support this year’s event are Buffalo Pizza, Casa Garden, Freeport Bakery, Gunther’s Ice Cream, Miso Japanese Restaurant, La Famiglia, Seasons 52, Sacramento Co-op, Sugar Plum Vegan, and more. Featured distributors/wineries are Epic Wines, BellaGrace Vineyards, Bogle Vineyards, Casque Wines, Ironstone Vineyards, Sean Minor Wines, and Wise Villa Winery.
J.J. Pfister Distilling Company will be sponsoring our VIP early entry and providing a spirits tasting as well as a special cocktail for VIP attendees, and Urban Roots Brewing will be sponsoring the VIP area for all the beer lovers out there. The VIP restaurants will be Dawson’s Steakhouse and Seasons 52. The VIP winery will be Silt Wine Company and they will be featuring another label called Fellow Wines of Clarksburg.
Proceeds from the SCNA Wine Tasting, Silent Auction and Beer Garden help support upkeep and maintenance of the historic Sierra 2 Center and Senior Center, community events like the Spring Egg Hunt, Music in the Park and Curtis Fest.
We are still looking for restaurants and wineries who want to showcase their food at the event, and particularly restaurants/wineries to represent different cuisines/wines throughout the world. If you are interested in participating, please contact me by calling 916-612-0035 or email me: misscavegrrl at gmail.com!
For information about participating, donating or volunteering, you can also contact Terri Shettle at the Sierra 2 Center, 916-452-3005. Cheers!
Tickets are now onsale here!
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! 🙂
Lately, I have been very selective in the events I attend and the restaurants, products, services, et cetera I choose to promote, but last week when I was invited to attend the monthly wine dinner held at Dawson’s at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento, I jumped at the opportunity.
For a while now, Dawson’s has been one of the most underrated restaurants in town. Andy and I had attended a few of the Dawson’s wine dinners last year and found them to be quite economical (despite a $79 per person price which might seem like a lot of money to spend on a Thursday night). The value is to be found in the quality and amount of the food (4 courses with wine pairings), the wine featured (always a higher-end label) and the service (look for Ardy and tip him well–he’s terrific). Dawson’s even offers free valet parking to wine dinner guests upon arrival. I am not sure you can get a better deal anywhere else.
Before dinner, we were treated to a charcuterie, cheese, fruit, and sparkling wine reception. Andy and I were then introduced to the chef (Jason Poole) and the wine representative (LT Nedjar) Mr. Nedjar was there representing the label featured that night: Goldschmidt Vineyards. Follwing our introduction, both gentlemen returned to going over the menu and the wines one last time to make sure the experience would be seamless for the dinner guests.
Upon seating, we were presented with the menu. Typically, the menu and the pairings get published online and via an email blast before the dinner. I love the email blasts because I can sit at my desk at work and daydream about what I am going to eat that evening! 😉 Below is the menu from Thursday night’s dinner:
Just before our seating, the sous chef Michael Grande walked us through the menu. Both times I have seen Chef Grande, he has been so enthusiastic about the wine dinner’s course line-up and his excitement is contagious. 🙂 Soon, we were invited into the dining room for the meal to begin.
The first course of the evening was a Hamachi Crudo with baby coconut, Rising C Ranch Melogold Grapefruit, Blood Orange and Avocado Oil, Yuzu Emulsion, and it was paired with the Boulder Bank (a label owned by Goldschmidt) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011. The acidity and fats in the dish balanced very well with the Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand-style, high acidity, though not a complete grapefruit bomb. I was actually reminded more of canned peaches, as the wine was a touch sweet.) Still, it was a perfect compliment to the hamachi and the fruit essences in the dish.
The second course was a Coke Farms Baby Beet Caprese Salad with house-made mozzarella (yes!!), an herb salad, morel ash, and finished with double Solera Vinegar. It was paired with the Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot, Dry Creek Valley 2011. We were told that the grapes that go into this particular merlot are literally on the front of the property at the winemaker’s residence, so they get extra attention. My only complaint about this course was that I wish I had been served a little more of it. 🙂 The cheese had the wonderful elasticity that fresh mozzarella has, with just a hint of salt. The beets were earthy and al dente. The merlot was a delightful pairing for this course.
And then the third course happened. And I was officially wowed. It was a Cranberry Bean Cassoulet with a Confit Duck (leg), house-made boudin blanc, Tails and Trotters Pork Belly, and County Line Farms Baby Mustards. It was paired with two different wines to highlight the different proteins and flavor profiles in the bowl. The first wine was the Forefathers Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2009, and the second wine was the Hillary Goldschmidt Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 2011. The last time I had duck as part of an entrée was back in the fall at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. It was a grilled breast and braised leg served with roasted wine grapes. As memorable as the main course was at Chez Panisse, I will say without hesitation that the cassoulet at Dawson’s was the better dish. I am still thinking about the slice of crispy pork belly that topped the cassoulet at Dawson’s. For me, it was the best bite of food of the night, and I will be daydreaming about the cassoulet for a long time to come! I could have used an extra slice of that salty, rich pork belly instead of the sausage that was nestled underneath the duck. I am not sure how the dish was intended to eat, but I enjoyed its components one at a time. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but everything tasted oh so right! 😉
Ultimately, to me, the food was more remarkable than the wine (sorry, Goldschmidt!), but there are some really great things going on in the kitchen at Dawson’s. However, the wine made a terrific impression with Andy, as he purchased a case of Cabernet that evening before we left.
But before our exit, we were served coffee and one last course, the dessert. Usually, there is a dessert wine presented at the Dawson’s wine dinner, but this time it was suggested we save a little of the Forefathers Cabernet to pair with our dessert. The dessert was a Dark Fruit Consommé (interesting concept there!) with a Crispy Hazelnut Cake, Dark Chocolate Pave, and Toasted Fennel Oil.
I loved the texture of the cake–it was spongey and soaked up the fruit consommé’s vibrant flavor. The chocolate on top served as a ganache-type frosting. It was a well-executed part of the meal and a memorable finish.
About the winemaker: Nick Goldschmidt, originally from New Zealand, gained international notoriety as winemaker at Simi Winery. Since 2007 he has been a consulting winemaker for several premium brands around the world, and is very well known for his single vineyard, handcrafted, small production artisanal wines that consistently score in the 90s in most wine publications. In fact, all his wines are 100% single variety, 100% single vintage, 100% single vineyard. You can find more information on their website here, or find them on Facebook here.
Dawson’s wine dinners are held every third Thursday of the month and have featured labels such as Alpha Omega, Far Niente/Nickel & Nickel, Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Hall Vineyards, Palmaz Vineyards, and Rodney Strong.
Tip: Check into Dawson’s using your smartphone and receive special perks for being a loyal customer. A free glass of select draft beer using Foursquare or a free glass of select wines using Yelp!