Welcome to the Saltbox Café!
Last night, the Hawthornes attended
the Saltbox's Six Course Wine Dinner featuring
wines from Chip's Wine and Beer.
This is the fourth multi-course, wine-paired dinner
we've been to and look forward to more!
The first featured the wines of Spain,
the second, the wines of Argentina,
and the third was Christmas in Paris.
Last night's dinner showcased CHOCOLATE!
First course was a chocolate fondue with hints
of cinnamon and black pepper.
Strawberries, kumquat, and cheddar, Parmesan,
and smoked gouda cheese were offered for dipping.
This was paired with a Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux.
I would not have had a problem with drinking the chocolate.
A vibrant Four Graces Pinto Gris 2013
accompanied the second course -
sweet, succulent, tender lobster tail
with an exquisite cocoa butter hollandaise
with notes of white chocolate and vanilla that was to die for.
Peppered bitter greens provided a nice backdrop.
A Zaca Mesa Syrah 2010 with undertones of berries,
mocha, and oak paired with a smoked pork belly
rubbed with cocoa, coffee, and ancho,
braised, pressed, and seared with pork stock and maple syrup.
A celeriac purée, micro garlic greens, and a sprinkling of "dirt" -
toasted pecans, graham flour, sugar, black pepper, ancho chili, and salt -
rounded out the dish.
I always like to go behind the scenes
and shoot where the action is
and the Sprinkles are always nice enough
to let me come back and get in their way.
A crisp palate cleanser followed -
bitter greens and mesclun mix
with a chocolate balsamic vinaigrette.
Chocolate ganache was incorporated into the vinaigrette
and Chef Amanda was kind enough to give me
a couple of containers of the vinaigrette to take home.
Only one is left for me to deconstruct.
Thanks, Youngest Hawthorne.
That's oenologist Christine, of Chip's Wine and Beer
to the left, who introduced each wine.
And that's Chef Randolph Sprinkle in the background,
visiting with his guests.
Every time I've been to the Saltbox Café,
both Chefs Amanda and Randolph
always come out to great their customers and chat -
a nice touch that we appreciate.
Our fourth course was braised duck
finished with a molé poblano demi-glace
thickened with pumpkin seed.
A julienned salad of snow peas and peppers,
accented with sesame accompanied the duck.
A Belle Glos Dairyman Pinot Noir 2013,
with notes of cola, root beer, and cherry
was paired with this.
On the the fifth course.
A Terra Valentine Cabernet Sauvignon 2013,
with hints of tobacco, cigar, and dark berry fruits on the palate,
was paired with tenderloin, roasted potato, rosemary,
and haricots verts with a cocoa finish.
Behind the scenes action.
On to dessert!
A Quady Black Muscat Elysium 2012
was served with this chocolate confection.
This was a dark chocolate cup
with white chocolate and orange pastry cream
with milk chocolate chantilly cream and dark chocolate glaze
and it was amazing.
Is it considered bad form to lick one's plate?
Chefs Sprinkles, you've outdone yourselves once again!
Thank you for a wonderful and delicious evening.
Bottom line - I gotta figger out that cocoa butter hollandaise!