Saturday, September 16, 2006

Languedoc Wine Dinner at CanCan

CanCan began their Fall Wine Dinners this past week. Dinners are held on Thursday nights and are limited to 24 diners. The cost is still $49.98 with hors d’oeuvres, three petite courses, and four wines.

For this wine dinner we traveled to Languedoc. Here is a run down:


Plum Mignonette

Shrimp Remoulade
Potato Gaufrette

Pork Rillette
Whole Grain Mustard

2003 Blanquette de Limoux Blanc de Blancs, Saint-Hilaire

The reception began at 6 PM, but we were running late. While we had an ample pour of the sparkling, we were only able to sample the shrimp. The Saint-Hilaire sparkling has always been one of our low-cost favorites to drink by itself or to use as a base for Mimosas or Poinsettias. The Shrimp Remoulade on top of the house made waffle potato chip tasted lovely. We were disappointed that we missed the pork.


Pan Seared Scallop
Brandy Poached Pear, Almond, Watercress & Golden Raisin with Horseradish Vinaigrette

2004 Vin de Pays d’OC Chardonnay “Le Noble,” Vigerons de St. Jean

The scallop was seared just right and paired very well with the unoaked chardonnay. The pears were heavenly by themselves, but too sweet for the wine. The vinaigrette had a delicate balance, a hint of sweetness with a hint of heat from the horseradish.


Roast Pheasant Breast
Figs, Fingerling Potatoes and Goat Cheese Gratin & Port Wine Sauce

2003 Minervois “Plaisir de Lys,” Domaine Khalkal-Pamies

The potato baked with goat cheese was a wonderful juxtaposition of plain and flavorful. And the fig was delightful. And while I enjoyed the pheasant breast, most of the participants at my table thought it was bland and tough (in other words “tastes like chicken”). The port wine sauce was too overpowering. The Minervois was very spicy; thus, not a great match with the pheasant. If the bird had been a touch gamey or had been grilled, I think the pairing would have been a success. The wine itself was very tasty and would have showed itself well with CanCan’s Hamburger.


Grilled Lamb Chop
Morels, Dried Cherry Spaetzle & Rosemary Lavender Jus

2001 Coteaux du Languedoc “Consensus,” Maison Nicolas

Let’s start with the wine. This red is phenomenal! It’s bold and chewy and in your face. All of the red wine lovers at our table adored it. This was indeed the highlight of the evening. And the morel was a wonderful selection for this wine. I’m not a huge mushroom fan, but I gobbled this one up. Unfortunately, the lamb chop was a major disappointment. The meat was overcooked and lacked the rosemary-lavender flavor that the menu promised.

This first wine dinner of the Fall season lacked the polish of the ones in the Spring. While the wine selections were wonderful and gave great insight into the Languedoc region, the food was less than stellar. And since these dinners only serve petite portions, getting the all aspects of the meal right is very important. I fervently hope that the quality is brought up to the standards of last Spring. Besides immensely enjoying the wine, I liked the smaller group of diners. I particularly liked the couples at my table. One couple was older and knew a great deal about wine and cooking. The other couple was young and just beginning their wine adventures. It was delightful to converse with such a diverse group. I definitely would not write these dinners off. It’s a great way to meet fellow wine enthusiasts and the wines have always been on the mark. Let’s hope the kitchen gets the hang of the food for the next time.

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