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Wine Dinner at Brasserie Louis

August 30, 2015 17 comments

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania I love traditions. I’m not talking about anything which is covered in dust and lasted for hundreds of years. I’m talking about simple life pleasures which you call traditions as long as it is something you do repeatedly, hopefully with joy and pleasure.

For about 5 years, we get together with group of friends for a weekend in August, which we call an “Adults Getaway”. The program for the “adults getaway” usually includes driving to an interesting small town within 200 miles radius, a wine tasting if there is a winery near by (doesn’t have to be a winery – one year we visited Hudson Distillery, for instance), a tasty dinner, a stay over at a nice B&B – but primarily lots great and fun time together.

When it comes to the tasty dinner, we usually try to control that experience as much as possible – that translates into finding local restaurant which will be willing to host us and work with us to create tasting menu, and ideally, allow us to bring our own wine which we will of course pair with the dishes on the menu.

Brasserie LouisFew weeks ago we got together for our “adults getaway” at Lewisburg in Pennsylvania. Our “anchor” for the trip was visit to the local winery, Fero Vineyards, which will be a subject of a separate post. For the dinner we contacted a few local restaurants, and finally decided to have our dinner at Brasserie Louis.

We didn’t have any specific dining theme in mind, and the suggested menu we received from Scott, owner of Brasserie Louis, exceeded our expectations – 11 different dishes – the dinner looked very promising. Now we had to decide on the wine pairings and go have fun. 11 dishes doesn’t mean we have to have 11 wines – we settled on 7 wines, as two of the desserts really were calling for the two different wine pairings.

The day arrived and we all got together (overcoming some interesting difficulties, such as flat run-flat tire, which appears to be a serious ordeal, especially during long distance travel) and here is the account of the wine dinner with all the details.

Appetizers:

We started with Shrimp Ceviche (diced raw shrimp pieces in lime juice with cilantro, bell pepper, salt and pepper) – very nicely executed dish, great flavor, touch of heat. Our wine pairing was  2014 Fattoria Laila Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC, Italy (13% ABV, $11) – wine had a good open profile with some flower and white fruit notes, but most importantly, it paired perfectly with the flavor of ceviche, complementing and enhancing the dish.

Our second dish was Wild Mushroom Tart (puff pastry with wild mushrooms, Gruyere cheese and shallots topped with greens and a balsamic glaze) – another excellent dish, with peppery arugula melding well together with the earthy mushrooms and adding lightness to the cheese. The wine pairing here was NV Anna Codorniu Brut Rosé, Spain (12% ABV, $13, 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay) – one of my favorite Sparklers, Anna Codorniu always over-delivers, with good structure and good body. Here the pairing was also successful, with the wine complementing the dish very well.

Intermediate:

Our “in-between” dish was Harvest Salad (baby arugula with goat cheese, beets and candied walnuts tossed with a Champagne vinaigrette) – nice crunch, fresh, simple – and we used the same Anna Codorniu with this dish, and again, this was an excellent pairing.

And now, for the Main Course:

We started with Hand formed Crab Cake (lemon Beurre Blanc sauce, green pea risotto) – this was easily the best dish of the evening. You know how often crab cakes contain a lot of other “stuff”, various fillers (corn, peppers, etc)? This crab cake had just honest goodness of a pure, delicious crab meat – I only had anything similar in Maryland, which can be called a crab cake capital with its blue crab. This was just a “wow”dish. Our wine pairing was also excellent – 2013 Jean-Luc Colombo La Redonne Cotes du Rhone, France (13.5% ABV, $20, 70% Viognier, 30% Roussanne)  – Jean-Luc Colombo is a very good producer out of Rhone, and this was one of his higher end wines – plump, full bodied, silky – complemented mild crab cake flavors spot on.

Next up – Black Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna Steak (Yuzu teriyaki glaze) – the dish was nice and simple (tuna was a touch overcooked to my taste, I like it rare), and it paired very well with one of my all-time favorite red wines – 2013 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir Arroyo Grande Valley, California (13.9% ABV, $20). Laetitia makes an excellent range of Pinot Noir wines, where Estate is an introductory level wine – which makes it perfectly ready to drink young. Delicious California Pinot Noir profile – smoke, plums, touch of earthiness – outstanding. The pairing worked quite well by complementing and enhancing the flavors of the dish.

We continued with Duck a l’Orange (pan seared duck breast, Grand Marnier reduction) – this was an okay dish (my piece of duck was slightly overcooked), but the sauce was excellent and fresh. We used the same Pinot Noir for the pairing, and wine and food worked together well.

Taking a break from the proteins, our next dish was Ratatouille (Provencal vegetable stew of zucchini, squash, wild mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, eggplant and sweet potatoes, touch of Parmesan cheese). This was the dish where the mastery of the Chef combined with amazing Pennsylvania vegetables (I’ve traveled all over East Coast – nothing beats PA vegetables, I’m dead serious) to bring out simply a perfection on the plate – vegetables still had a crunch, and the whole dish was just another “wow” experience.

Our choice of wine for the this and next 2 dishes was 2008 M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Cotes de Roussillon Villages, France (14% ABV, $55/magnum). M. Chapoutier needs no introductions as one of the very best producers in Rhone, and this wine was outstanding – complex, with a touch of roasted flavors, great minerality, lavender. However, there was one problem – this wine didn’t pair well with Ratatouille, and it didn’t pair well with two other dishes. In some cases, it was indifferent (didn’t complement or contrast), and with Ratatouille it was even working against the dish. Well – it is what it is – we still enjoyed the wine and the food – just separately.

Our next dish was Lamb Chops (herb mustard crusted rack of lamb, minted demi-glace) – meat was nicely cooked, and of course lamb and mint jelly is a classic combination.

We finished our main course with Filet Mignon (grilled filet, scalloped potatoes and wilted spinach, truffled veal demi-glace) – the presentation was very interesting, with the steak knife put directly into each piece of the meat. The meat was cooked very well, and overall dish was tasty. And this was probably the only dish where Cotes de Roussillon wine paired marginally acceptable.

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Finally, we are at Dessert!

We had two desserts to finish our evening. Strawberry Zabaione (egg yolks, sugar, Marsala wine, fresh strawberries) was very tasty and not too sweet. We paired it with NV Tütidì Brachetto Piemonte DOC, Italy (7% ABV, $12/1L). Brachetto is a lightly fizzed wine with a nice fruit notes, and it perfectly complements wide range of lighter desserts – and this was a case of a perfect pairing – they were delicious together.

We finished our dinner with Flourless Chocolate Cake, which was paired with Mount Palomar Limited Reserve Port, Temecula Valley, California (18% ABV, $38). Port and Chocolate – do I need to say more?

There you have it my friends – our wine dinner at Brasserie Louis in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. What is left for me to do here is to say Thank You to the owner Scott, Chef Chris Rubino and all the staff at the restaurant who made sure we will have a great time. Cheers!

Brasserie Louis
101 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Phone: (570) 524-5559
Facebook: Brasserie Louis

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Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine Events and Wine Reviews Gone Overboard

February 6, 2013 8 comments

P1120877 where am IMeritage Time!

Let start with the answer for the Wine Quiz #46, Where in the World. In the quiz, you were given the picture of the vines and information about some of the grapes growing in the area, and you had to identify what wine region it can be. The grapes where Riesling, Chardonnay, Cortese, Viognier for the whites, and Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah for the reds.

This was definitely a hard quiz, and the picture of the vines was not very suggestive. Considering that today winemakers in all regions experiment with all possible grapes,  it was quite difficult to put things together.

Three people got pretty close to the right answer – Barbie Jean H. Messa (by the way – check out her blog – she is onto a very interesting project),  The Drunken Cyclist and PSSquared took us to California, and both DC and PSSquared got very close to the exact region in question, but the right answer is Temecula Valley – thus we have runner ups, but don’t have a clear winner…

Actually, I have to thank The Winegetter for the idea for this quiz. He asked me where the background picture for my blog was taken at:

Temecula Valley Mount Palomar

This picture was taken at Mount Palomar winery in Temecula Valley – and the reason I didn’t use this exact picture was the fact that I actually already used it once in the Wine Quiz #7 – so I thought to play on the same region, but with a different picture.

Now, to the interesting happenings on the vines and in the glasses. First, it seems that wine events of all sorts are popping out everywhere at a mind-boggling pace. If you are a Riesling lover and you live in a close proximity to New York, there will be whole big event celebrating Riesling wines – Rieslingfeier will include a variety of different tastings taking place all over New York on February 15 and 16.

If you interested in attending the New York Wine Expo, taking place in New York on March 1-3, 1WineDude has a special ticket discount code for you.

How many times have you come across wine reviews where after you read, your only reaction can be expressed through the short but powerful abbreviation WTF? W. Blake Gray started tracking those reviews in the new feature in his blog called Bad tasting note of the week – take a look for yourself and see if you would want to drink that wine (based on the review, I’ll pass).

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. Happy Wine Wednesday and don’t forget to open something good. Cheers!

 

Italian Night In

January 7, 2013 15 comments

We had a pretty relaxing weekend, which is not very usual around here – either we are going somewhere, or someone is visiting, or we just have to drive the kids around – thus relaxing family weekends are very precious. It also means a family dinner. Coming right after the New Year’s celebration, with all the food extravaganza, it was not easy to come up with the exciting idea. But – when I said “how about meatballs”, that was received as a home run, therefore, the “Italian night in” was decided upon.

DSC_0005 Castelleto Mount Palomar“Italian night” requires Italian wine, right? I don’t have a huge selection of Italian wines in my cellar, besides, I just have an idea of what I have, but I don’t keep any records, so finding the right bottle is always an adventure (which also makes it a fun exercise). One of the first bottles I pulled out happened to be a 2003 Barbaresco – and it looked like it would fit the bill perfectly. So the red will go with the meal, but I also need some wine to drink while  cooking (cooking without wine is not fun, right?). My selection of Italian whites is almost non-existent, and a few bottles of Jermann I still want to keep, so I had to chose something else – as the result, I went for California wine – but made out of Italian grape.

I brought the 2010 Mount Palomar Castelletto Cortese Temecula Valley last year from one of my trips to California, when I visited Mount Palomar winery in Temecula Valley (Mount Palomar is definitely one of my favorite wineries in Temecula). This wine is made out of the grape called Cortese, which is growing in Italy in Piedmont, in the area called Gavi. The wine worked quite well as my cooking companion, showing ripe white fruit, apples and peaches, with a touch of perfume and hint of sweetness. Actually if you would compare this wine with any of the actual Italian wines from Gavi, you would find its sweetness a lot more pronounced (Gavi wines have a lot more acidity), but this is one of the  attributes of the warmer climate wines, from the area such as Temecula. Also interesting was the fact that while the wine was cold, it had a bitter undertone, making it not so pleasant to drink, which went away as the wine warmed up. Overall, this was a decent wine. Drinkability: 7

And now, to the food. I made meatballs for the first time about 3 years ago, after extensively searching the internet for the right recipe. The meatballs came out very good – but I made a mistake of not saving the recipe I found. Any subsequent search attempts didn’t lead me to that one recipe, so I just had to come up with my own, just remembering bits and pieces. Considering my family’s unanimous and very enthusiastic approval (side note – I’m my own harshest critic – and this was tasty), I want to share the recipe with you, just in case you want to visit Italy for one night and save on the ticket cost.

Before I will give you a list of ingredients, couple of notes. First, I usually measure everything very approximately, so you will have to make adjustments for your taste and preferences. Second – yes, you can make substitutes, I’m just trying to give you a general idea.

Here is the ingredients list – the amounts are as I used them, you can scale up or down.

  • Ground beef, 20% fat – 3.5 lb ( you can add or substitute with ground lamb)
  • Ground pork – 1 lb (you can add or substitute with ground veal)
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs  – I use plain, but you can definitely used the flavored ones (you can also use old bread too, just soak it in milk or water before hand)
  • 1 cup of grated Pecorino cheese (substitute with any other Italian hard aged cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • fresh parsley (add or substitute with any other herbs – basil, oregano, etc.), well chopped
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot (you can use more), minced
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil

First step is to lightly sauté the shallot for about 2 minutes in the olive oil, using medium heat, then add garlic and keep sauteing for another 2 minutes – you just want to make the mix fragrant but not really fried.

In the large bowl, combine ground meat, bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix it all well (I use hands for that). Now, roll the meatballs. I like mine large – just to give you an example, I made 14 meatballs out of 4.5 lb of meat, which means that each meatball is approximately 0.3+ lb.

As the result, you will end up with something like this:

DSC_0007 Meatballs 1

Take large cast iron vessel, put a splash of olive oil and heat it up to the working temperature. You will need to adjust the amount of oil based on the fat content of your ground meat – as you can see, I had quite a bit of fat content, so I needed to use very little olive oil – if you will use leaner types of meat, you might want to increase the amount of olive oil you will put in. Once the cast iron is hot enough, put meatballs in:

DSC_0011 Meatballs 2You want to sear them nicely on both sides – turn them over after about 5 minutes:

DSC_0013 Meatballs 3

After another 4-5 minutes, I added two jars of marinara sauce, covered, reduced heat and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Then – done! Just put it on top of spaghetti (which you cooked while meatballs were simmering), serve and enjoy!

DSC_0019 Meatballs 4

DSC_0002 La Pieve BarbarescoSo the only thing left for me to tell you is about the wine. Actually, outside of the fact that this is Barbaresco wine, as the label says, I can’t tell you much about the pedigree of this bottle as my google search yielded no result, or at least no result that I can understand (some of my readers know way more about Italian wines than I do, so may be someone will be able to tell me the story behind this wine, that would be great) – and I don’t even remember where I got this bottle from.

No matter. I decanted this 2003 La Pieve Barbaresco for about 2.5 hours before dinner. For the Nebbiolo wine (Barbaresco, same as Barolo, is made out of Nebbiolo grapes), this 10 years old wine had very dark garnet color (brownish color is usually a characteristic of even young Nebbiolo wines). Beautiful nose of violet, cherries and leather. On the palate – powerful, earthy, with more leather and dry cherries, good acidity, noticeable tannins, long finish – unmistakably Italian, perfectly fitting our Italian night theme and complementing the food. This was a very good wine, which I would gladly drink again (except that this was my only bottle). Drinkability: 8+

This is all I have for you for today, folks. Try the recipe and let me know if you will like it. Cheers!

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