Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Fine Dinner on a Saturday Night

My best laid plans came to fruition, but in a slightly different format. We invited friends from Williamsburg over for dinner. Because they spent the night with us we explored several wine and food options over an extended period of time amidst great conversation.

We began on the deck with a cheese and meat assortment. We had goat cheese wrapped in tarragon.

As well as Zamorano (upper left) and Fiore Sardo (lower left). All of the cheeses came from River City Cellars. We also enjoyed Serrano and a house made Garlic Sausage from the Belmont Butchery.

An assortment of crackers and baguette slices from Sammy’s Bakery rounded out the first course.

To drink we indulged in some Lindauer sparkling from New Zealand purchased from Once Upon a Vine. This bubbly was produced using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

As the mosquitoes began to dive bomb us, we moved into the dining room. The second course was a salad with green leaf lettuce, strawberries, and cashews with a balsamic vinaigrette (equal parts extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh basil, a smashed garlic clove, salt, and pepper – whisk and let sit for at least thirty minutes).

Choosing a wine with salad can be difficult. We went with the Sophia Rose. This dry rose paired very well with the strawberries, but not as well with the other items. Although it did draw out a lavender candy memory of grandmothers and England from one of our guests. My hubby found the rose in Williamsburg at Farm Fresh.

The main course was baked pasta with sweet Italian sausage (from Belmont Butchery). I started peeling and deseeding the tomatoes early in the morning. Once I had squeezed all of the pulp from these red babies, I added chopped green olives, minced garlic, and capers.

I then sautéed some chopped onion and added it to the mix.

Finally, I added some Merlot (the 2002 J. Garcia was on sale at The Fresh Market).

The mixture cooked on low for most of the day and reduced by about two-thirds. Right at the end I added fresh oregano. In the meantime I boiled rigatoni and seared links of the Italian sausage in olive oil. For the baked pasta I placed the rigatoni in an oven-proof dish, poured the sauce over it and mixed. I then topped it with slices of fresh mozzarella. I put it in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese browned slightly. I took the sausages that had been seared and placed the frying pan with the sausages in the oven below the pasta and roasted the sausage for about 30 minutes.

We decided to enjoy this course with two different wines. One was a 2004 Rosso di Montalcino from Total Wine.

The other was a 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape (we purchased this a while ago and have no idea where it came from).

Both were very different, but both were very good. The Italian red had a brighter flavor and paired well with the baked pasta. The French was more complex and was fantastic with the sausage. Neither wine out-rivaled the other for attention. I could easily go back and forth between the two.

For dessert we had apple pie, courtesy of our Williamsburg friends. What a lovely pie – both in beauty and taste. I loved the grape motif crust. And we were in for an experimental treat. The pie crust was made with butter, not shortening and tasted like shortbread. Very yummy! We rounded out the pie with freshly made whipped cream and a few diced strawberries macerated in Cointreau and fresh mint.

We sampled several dessert beverages with the pie. The first was Campbell’s Rutherglen Muscat. The muscat was darker than a lot of muscats and paired well with the shortbread crust, but clashed with the apples. As we discussed the tastes we pulled out a Chateau Reynella Tawny Port for comparison. Interesting, but not quite there. Finally, we brought out Belle de Brillet (pear cognac). This little nectar was perfect with the apples.

What a great evening. I had lots of fun coming up with the menu and the wines. Of course, I enjoyed cooking the dishes. And the food and wine conversation that carried on into the night was heaven on earth for me.

1 comment:

GP said...

Just so you know for future reference, I believe that CdP was available @ J. Emerson for a while although I'm sure other shops carried it as well. The Rhone from Louis Geoffrey was also quite good.
As a Richmonder living in the DC area, I love reading your blog and keeping up with the really importnat goings-on in town. Keep up the good work.