Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Hawthornes Enjoy Another Six-Course/Wine Paired Dinner At The Saltbox Café.

Welcome to The Saltbox Café
and another one of their wine-paired six-course meals.
Our menu is prepared by Chefs Amanda and Randolph Sprinkle
and Josh Naser.
The wine is presented by Dee of Artisan Wines
and our servers are April and Mike.

Here's a recap of our previous dinners,
in case you missed any:
October 2014, we visited Spain.
November 2014, we visited Argentina.
December 2014, we visited Paris.
February 2015, we visited Chocolate. (Why yes, Chocolate is a country.)
March 2015, we visited Italy.
October 2015, we visited Germany.
December 2015, we visited Japan.
Also in December 2015, we enjoyed a Réveillon Feast.
And again in December 2015, we visited France.
February 2016, we took a road trip to California.
Tonight, we're going to Italy!

It's Italian night at the Saltbox!

We started out with antipasto platters -
a Caprese salad with tomatoes, basil,
smoked mozzarella and olive oil;
marinated olives with sun-dried tomatoes
and a garlic and chili infused extra virgin olive oil;
and a wonderful chèvre and roasted red pepper spread,
accompanied with sliced baguettes.

Our first course is seared beef carpaccio with extra virgin olive oil,
grana padana, capers, and grilled bread.
Grana padana is a cheese created by Cistercian monks
in the 12th century,
and is still made throughout the Po River Valley in Italy.
It has a granular texture and sweet flavor,
and is similar to Parmesan.
This was paired with Guiseppe Lonardi Valpolicella Classico.

This was a dark and stormy wine with transcendent notes of intense luminescence and a lingering finish of soft, full-bodied, massively endowed, Rubenesque roundness.  Vigorous, well constructed. I would call it bosomy.

Our second course is lightly smoked, delicate, sweet bronzino
with grilled asparagus and charred lemon vinaigrette
paired with a bubbly and tickly Marchetti Verdicchio.

The Marchetti Verdicchio was like having lightning bugs dancing and singing on my palate.  I detected aggressive notes of spring along with bitter clown tears with a hint of suspicion and a soupçon of desperation.

Our third course is risotto vongole with baby peas, garlic, and reggiano,
paired with Lovo Prosecco.
In case you're wondering, "vongole"
means it has clams in it.

The Lovo Prosecco was firm, full-textured, and intense.  Crisp and well-focused, but complex.  Drink through whenever the cows come home. 

Our fourth course is roasted loin of veal with rosemary and garlic 
served over a miscela of roasted potatoes and meaty, abalone mushrooms
with a balsamic reduction and porcini mushrooms
paired with Sanguineti Nessun Dorma.

Ahhh...  the Sanguineti Nessun Dorma.   Do I detect hints of forest floor truffle?  Tightly woven, serious, but intense.  Egocentric and boggling.  Big, dense, and muscular, I experienced a dark and rising tide of minerality and carnal flavors impacting the fruit and spices in a thunderous finish.  Strong thrusting overtones.  Best drunk in the street where you have a lot of space.

Our fifth course is slow-roasted boar ragout with pancetta 
and sweet potato gnocchi
paired with Verso.

The Verso was a racy little red which was way too sexy for my glass. Pretentious, yet sensitive, I could down the whole bottle without realizing it.  Reminded me of disco and funk.

Our sixth and last course was a luscious ricotta lemon and almond torta
made with ground almonds
and served with blood orange sorbet,
paired with La Perlina Moscato.

La Perlina Moscato electrifies every taste bud, precise flavors etching themselves into my palate.  Imagine a mountain stream rushing over water-worn pebbles between banks of wildflowers and herbs and you might get a hint of what we're drinking.  Liquid pastry.  We're flirting with perfection.

Thank you, Saltbox Crew,
for another wonderful meal.

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