Monday, March 21, 2005

Oakley's German Wine Dinner

Fantastic wine dinner at Oakley's last night. The entire team outdid themselves this time -- and the wines were just terrific. I'm partial since I love big German wines for food. Chef Oakley prefaced dinner with the ideas that he'd tried to avoid German food and also Thai. With the acidity in these wines, the all make great pairing options especially with seafood (I think) and strong flavors. Thought I'd share my notes.

Passed reception treats: prawn corn dog with guava coulis; fois gras peach mousse en bouche (just give me a straw now and a vat of this, please) with Leonard Kreusch Johannisberg Riesling. This wine was crisp, big, full-bodied, with a nice sweet beginning and crisp tart finish, with lots of apple and pineapple. Really a knock-out pair with the fois gras mousse. There was a hint of salt with the guava coulis that really worked, too.

First Course: Pan-seared halibut with chickpea fries (they looked like fish sticks, very cute), poblano corn relish, arugula and soubise with the Leonard Kreusch Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Auslese. The smoky poblano in the corn relish along with the fresh cilantro incredible with this late harvest wine. It really changed sweetness and pulled through some other great flavors. This was a big wine on its own, but just perfect with the corn relish and halibut.

Second Course: Sea scallop with citrus sea salt, suckling pig crepe, beluga lentil puree, grilled napa cabbage and spicy curry oil with a Leonard Kreusch Estate Bottled Riesling. This Riesling was actually lighter than the first wine (the Johannisberg) but paired perfectly with the dish. The salt on the scallop really made the wine sing and it was a break in a line of all pretty heavy wines. The beluga lentil puree wasn't salty at all and the oil had a nice curry flavor but not a lot of heat.

Third Course: Buttermilk-poached veal with quesa mahon, pears, fingerling potatoes, fava beans, almonds and 12-year basalmic vinegar. Paired with Zach. Bergweiler-Prum Erben Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett. This was everyone's favorite dish and probably least favorite wine although the pairing (and the wine) was actually quite good. The Kabinett was heavy enough to handle the veal (which was melt-in-your-mouth tender) and the real surprise was the toasted almond chunks with the fava beans. They made this wine explode! But this wine was just too sweet on its own for me.

Fourth Course: Bittersweet chocolate and macadamia nut jalapeno flourless cake and raspberry-vanilla bean soup with ginger lemongrass tapioca served with Leonard Kreusch Twisted River Late Harvest Riesling. Um. Wow. First the food -- the presentation was incredible. The "soup" was in a shot glass, one of the tall straight kind you see on ice for vodka, with the tapioca layered on the bottom with a berry and the soup poured in. Then there was a button of just plain chocolate, then the cake which was terrific -- great chocolate flavor and then the great hit of the peppery spice. It had a macadamia nut crust on top. The jalapeno of the cake just went beautifully with the wine. And the raspberry also was terrific. It was perfect that they separated these two distinctly different flavors for this pairing -- together it wouldn't have worked. The wine was actually drier to my taste than a couple of the others and was just delightful. Crisp, cool, sweet with a dry finish but not too much so. A really nice finish to the meal with something that wasn't too heavy.

Best of all, these wines were terrific values. No $40 prices. (Most expensive bottle was $25, I think.) So best treat of all was the quality for the money. Huge kudos to the Oakley's team. If you get a chance to attend one of these, jump at it. They usually do 4-5 a year.

Ordered way too much wine, but these kinds of wines are some of my favorite to play with for pairings, so they'll go to a good home! Yum.

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