Friday, October 9, 2015

The Hawthornes Enjoy Another Six-Course Dinner At The Saltbox Café - A Stop In Germany.

It's no secret. The Hawthornes love The Saltbox Café and we've anxiously been awaiting their latest "Vines Around The World" Wine Dinner Series, a 6-course dinner with paired wines from Tryon Distributing.

Their special "Around-the-World" dinners are quite popular and last night's dinner, Thursday, October 8, was "A Stop In Germany." The Saltbox will be recreating this gem of a dinner next week, Thursday, October 15, at 6 PM.

For reservations, call 255-5594.
 Here's a rare shot of the Sprinkles ... where Randolph looks better than Amanda!
Sorry, Amanda!

Upon seating, we were served pumpkin bread, pretzel bread, and two condiments.
The apple butter/sauce was my favorite. And there was another - a dark one. I thought it might be blackberries with either a liqueur or balsamic vinegar. When I inquired, NO blackberries! So much for my palate. It was figs. AND balsamic vinegar, thank you very much!

Cary, a representative from Tryon Distributing, talks about the wine before each course, describing it and giving a bit of the wine's history, then Chef Randolph Sprinkle tells us what he and Chef Amanda
have prepared for us.

We were encouraged to taste a bit of the wine by itself, then along with the pairing.  It's interesting to see how the characteristics of the wine and the food can either meld or marry or even intentionally contrast a little bit.

 Now, let the courses begin!

Course 1
Charcuterie Plate

Chef Randolph paired up with Uli Bennewitz and The Weeping Radish to come up with the charcuterie platter.  As Randolph explained, his interpretation of Germany extends throughout Bavaria, as he borrowed from German, Austrian, and Polish cuisines.

Our first wine was a 2014 Austrian Höpler Grüner Veltliner, a crisp, bright wine with notes of peach, apricot, and spice.  It contrasted quite nicely with the paired charcuterie platter.

 For the sausages, we have braunschweiger, or liver paté, a currywurst, which is bratwurst in a curry sauce, and smoked pastrami.
As Chef Randolph pointed out, if you're familiar with cheese, then you know Camembert comes from France and Gorgonzola from Italy.  Put 'em together and you have Cambozola from Germany.  There was another cheese on the plate but I didn't get the name of it.  In my notes, I wrote down "stonenchute," but Google's never heard of it. The plate was rounded out with apple slices and
pickles - sweet midgets and pickled green tomatoes.

ETA:  Chef Amanda told me the cheese is sternschnuppe.  
Stonenchute/sternschnuppe.  I blame it on Randolph!

Course 2
Butternut Squash and Ginger Snap Soup

This was a delightful butternut squash soup paired with a 2013 Schloss Saarstein Mosel Reisling.
The wine had a round, fruity character, with notes of apple and pear, which could be perceived as  sweeter.  The reisling had a nice balance of acidity and is a classic example of that little minerality on the nose.  Or at least that's what I was told.

The naturally sweet butternut squash soup was balanced with a touch of cumin, topped with cream, vanilla, and cinnamon, and finished with ginger snaps.  Now it said gingersnap on the menu, but Chef Randolph said gingerbread.  Either way, the soup was perfection.  It would have been very easy to overdo the spices in this, but the cumin and cinnamon were oh-so-subtle - a perfect warm, sweet, earthy blend.


Course 3
House-Cured Gravlax and Potato Pancake 

This was paired with a 2014 Schloss Castell, Silvaner Trocken, a fairly elegant wine with a slight spiciness to it along with a fruity component.

Chef Randolph served a fish dish for the third course.  As he explained, the Germans don't eat a lot of fish, so he went out of Germany a little bit and ended up in Scandinavia with this beautiful salmon which was house-cured for 72 hours. The salmon was finished with juniper and fresh local tarragon, grown in Colington Harbour(!), and was served on a potato pancake.  Underneath was a German goat cheese mixture. 
Let me tell you something - Rosie ain't a salmon-gal. But this?  Loved it!

Course 4
Pork Schnitzel with Sauerkraut

The wine for this course was our first red- a 2008 Hopler Blaufrankisch, a delightful, versatile, clean, elegant wine with cherry, juicy blackberry in the middle, and a finish of dried currants with a slight smokiness which stood up well to the schnitzel.  The schnitzel was served with Weeping Radish house-cured sauerkraut, sautéed in pork drippings.


They be so cute!
Course 5
Fennel and Juniper Marinated Venison Loin Chop and Spaetzle

Another red wine was paired with the venison - a 2014 Valckenberg Dornfelder.  This was very juicy and cherry, with an almost immediately perceived sweetness and a fruity finish.

This bright, fruit-focused wine was paired with venison chop, marinated for 24 hours in juniper, fresh fennel, and rosemary (from a Colington garden!), cut off the bone,  and served on a bed of spaetzle.  The spaetzle was sautéed in butter and onions with fresh chives and finished with a red wine/pomegranate reduction.

Chefs hard at work.

The lovely April, who's going to have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Behind the scenes!

As always, Chef Randolph comes out and works the room.

Randolph, are you praying for this night to be over?

 Course 6
 Apple Kuchen with Ice Cream and Black Lava Salt

Our dessert was paired with a Hopler Beerenauslese, described as a "dessert in a glass," with notes of honey, apricot, and spice.

Chef Amanda produced a lovely apple cake.  According to Chef Randolph, Amanda took apples and "kinda made something like a pineapple upside down cake, but with apples."  Caramelized sugar and apples on the bottom and butter pound cake on top, this was served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.


Thank you Team Sprinkle for another amazing meal.

The next Around-the-World dinner will feature Japan.   

November 10 and 12.  255-5594

For past wine dinners at the Saltbox Café, please click on the links:






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