Friday, April 22, 2016

The Hawthornes Attend Another Saltbox Café Six-Course Wine-Paired Dinner.

This past Wednesday, April 20,
the Hawthornes attended another six-course
wine-paired dinner at The Saltbox Café,
the last event of this season.
This time, we visited the vineyards of Oregon.

Our hostess and server, April, and Chef Amanda,
 checking out the latest issue of Cosmo.

Kerry and Cindy, of Tryon Distributing,
presented our wines for the evening.

Our servers, Mike and April.

I don't mean to start rumors or anything,
but I think something is going on there...
Just sayin'.

Know you heard it from Rosie first.
She's got her thumb on the pulse of so much!

Our bubbly is ready to serve.

I have to say,
these were my favorite wines so far.

I was unaware of Oregon wineries when we went through there,
else our route would have been more circuitous.
Or we might still be there.
I couldn't get over the scenery.
For a trip through Port Orford, Oregon,
check out my post about Battle Rock.

Enjoy my pictures, interspersed, taken in Oregon.

Our first course is smoked Pacific Salmon with 
House Nori Butter, Spring Radishes, and
a papadum crisp made with lentil flour.
This was paired with a 2008 King Estate Blanc de Noir.
As always, we were encouraged to try a little
taste of the wine prior to each course
and then along with each course
to see how the characteristics of the wine
meld and marry and change throughout the course.

Kerry's Comments:  Oregon is a newer wine area than California.  There were some vineyards planted in Oregon in the mid-1800s by settlers and farmers.  It was mostly Reisling and Zinfandel and it really wasn't that prolific of an area for producing grapes or wine, whereas California got really rolling in the late-1800s and into the beginning of the 20th century, before Prohibition.  It was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that Oregon really came into the modern era of wine-making and production.
Some brave souls took on new ideas and tried techniques that didn't make sense to a lot of people in the wine industry.  We'll see a lot of examples of that as we go through the night.

We're starting of tonight with a great bubbly by King Estate Winery, located at the tip of the Willamette Valley just southwest of Eugene, Oregon and established in the early 90s by the King family.  Mr. King got his start in avionics and radar and has over 100 patents in those fields and made his money in that.  He purchased a beautiful estate in southern Willamette Valley, which is the most prominent place for wine production in Oregon, although there is some produced farther south in the Rogue Valley.  The Willamette Valley, lying between the coastal range and the Cascade foothills, is a beautiful area for agriculture in general.  The King Estate Winery is also an organic winery.  No toxic chemicals are used on the property and pests are deterred "through the strategic planting of species to attract beneficial insects and through the use of raptors, such as owls and kestrels."

This bubbly is a Blanc de Noir, meaning a white wine from red grapes - Pinot Noir.  It's quite elegant and delightful and is made in the traditional method like Champagne (méthode Champenoise), where the bubbles come from a second fermentation that happens in the bottle.

Chef Randolph's Remarks:  For the first course we wanted to go with something very light and elegant.  In the springtime in France, they enjoy a traditional appetizer of fresh butter and sliced radishes and that's what inspired this dish. (This spoke to me.  My sister, another R, loved butter and salted radish sandwiches.)  To combine it with the Pacific Northwest, we went with cold smoked Pacific salmon with alderwood smoked salmon roe and nori butter.  Sliced radishes, micro beet greens,  and black Kilauea salt finished the dish.

Rosie's Ramblings:  This precious Blanc de Noir danced in en pointe, wearing a tutu, and then promptly tap-danced on my tongue.   It was delightful and my palate responded with a standing ovulation.  

More of my pics from the Oregon Coast.
Oregon has quite ornate bridges.
Check out the Hawthornes' trip to the aquarium
in Newport, Oregon.
Now I want an aquarium of jellyfish.
Reminded Mr. H. of the 70s.
Just check out the video in the above link.

Our second course -
hazelnut dusted scallops over celery root and potato purée,
paired with 2014 Maysara Arsheen Pinot Gris.

Kerry's Comments:  This wine is from a producer that's not only organic, but also bio-dynamic.  Maysara Winery, established in 1997, practices holistic, naturopathic farming, using practices to enhance the ecology of the land and growing the best grapes possible.  No man-made chemicals are used and the vintners are dedicated to the terroir and natural farming techniques.  

The Momtazi family purchased the land and named their daughter, Tahmiene, winemaker, making her the youngest winemaker of a bonded winery.  This is a Pinot Gris, named Arsheen, which is appropriate with their naming their daughter as winemaker.  Arsheen was an Archeamenian Princess of the Persian Empire in 500 BC.  She was an astronomer in the palace because of her wisdom and was granted the role of winemaker due to her impeccable palate and knowledge.  

This is an unoaked white wine.  It's very bright, clean, and crisp with notes of apple and pear.

Chef Randolph's Remarks:  With this beautiful wine, I decided to go with seared scallops placed over a celeriac and potato purée.  One of the wonderful things about the culinary field for me is that you're always learning and what I learned is that Oregon is one of the biggest producers of hazelnuts. The hazelnuts coating your scallops are from the Keeley family farm in the Willamette Valley.

I always learn new things too.  I would have pronounced "Willamette" as will-a-METT. It's pronounced will-AM-it.

Rosie's Ramblings:  I happened to be an Archeamenian Princess in a previous life.  My name was Princess Assoterica and I was quite wise and I liked to dabble in fermentation.  Instead of the Maysara brand, I produced the Aprilamanda Assoterica Pinot Gris. Back in the day, it was a kick-ass wine.  Sadly, it is not in production anymore.  Our profound loss.

Now, listen up.  In yet another life, the first name of my daughter is Sara, although she doesn't go by that.  All the Hawthornelets go by their middle names.  I started to call this wine AprilLane, which sounds very pretty, but I decided I needed to give Amanda some cred, so it's Aprilamanda Assoterica Pinot Gris.  That just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Oregon has a sense of humor!

It was May 3 and we were going through 
a little blizzard in Willamette National Forest.

Our third course is seared halibut
 over pesto-style risotto with chive oil,
paired with a 2013 Chehalem INOX Chardonnay

Kerry's Comments:  The Calapooia (Kalapuya) Indians, native to northern Oregon, have a word for "gentle lands" or "valley of flowers."  It's chehalem.  This is the name the owners of Chehalem Winery used to honor the land of the Native Americans and to capture their almost religious reverence for the land.

The Stoller family founded this winery just outside of Newberg, Oregon, in the northern Willamette Valley.  We've gone from organic and biodynamic wineries to now a certified sustainable winery.  Oregon is a leader in environmental stewardship and they have a fundamental approach to farming and winemaking:
  • Consider the farm and winery as a whole system and take responsibility for the health and long term viability of the whole
  • Encourage biodiversity and protect wildlife habitat on the farm
  • Promote soil stability, health and fertility
  • Respect natural processes, reducing or eliminating use of synthetic inputs in the vineyard and the winery
  • Conserve natural resources, including water and energy, in both vineyard and winery
  • Protect the health and well being of workers in the vineyard and the winery, and the larger community
This is a completely unoaked Chardonnay, called INOX, which is an abbreviation of the French word for stainless steel (acier inoxydable).  When a wine is aged in stainless steel, it won't have the oakiness, richness, and fullness as a wine aged in oak barrels.  This wine really focuses in on the fruit.  It's a beautifully balanced Chardonnay.  If you follow the latitude of Willamette Valley over to France, you'll end up in Burgandy, which is where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir originated.  This is why these grape varietals have done so well here for the last 20 years or so and that's the chance these pioneer vintners in Oregon in the late 60s-70s took when they planted the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris grapes.  There was a chance they would be hard to grow, but they've indeed thrived in this climate.

Chef Randolph's Remarks:  I really liked this Chardonnay because it's not that over-the-top California oaky Chardonnay with all that butteryness.  We paired this with a nice, light fish - a Columbia River halibut, and put it over a simple arborio risotto finished with a basil pesto and a chive olive oil.

Rosie's Ramblings:  This was an intellectually satisfying wine.  I think my IQ just went up ten points after drinking this.  Imagine if I downed the whole bottle!

 Oregon Coast.

Oregon beach.

  Our fourth course is marinated lamb loin
over roasted beet couscous and local asparagus.
This was paired with a 2014 Arterberry Maresh Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.

Kerry's Comments:  We're on to red wine now.  This is a Pinot Noir and because of the area's  orientation in the Pacific Northwest, it's perfect for growing this grape.  

Pinot Noir is historically known as the "wine of kings." It was the Emperor Charlemagne who commanded the planting of the Pinot Noir vines back in the 700s.  Pinot Noir was his favorite wine and he drank it every day.  As Charlemagne aged, his hands were no longer as steady as they once were and from time to time, he would spill the red wine onto his flowing white beard.  The wine stains annoyed his wife to such a degree that she demanded all the Pinot Noir vines ripped out.  Charlemagne, determined not to give up his wine, decided to become a white wine aficionado, replanting the Le Corton vineyards with chardonnay and now Corton Chardonnay is one of the most expensive in the world.

This Pinot Noir is from Maresh Vineyards.  Jim Maresh is the young winemaker, following in his parents' footsteps, but taking things a few steps further, doing some very innovative things, and basically trying to make Burgundy in Oregon.  Arterberry Maresh is the name of the winery.  Maresh also helps operate his parents' winery, Powell Hill, all in the Dundee Hills growing region.  This wine is a great showing of what Pinot Noir can be in this country.

Chef Randolph's Remarks:   This wine has a fruitiness to it that will lend itself perfectly with the lamb.  The lamb has been marinated in rosemary and pomegranate juice, then grilled, and served on top of Moroccan couscous with roasted beets, goat cheese, and fresh chives and it's finished with a gooseberry (from Oregon) vinaigrette.

Rosie's Ramblings:  Big, muscular, tightly full-bodied, boldly assertive, and massively endowed, this wine is liquid viagra.  Rosie has been unrelenting tonight.

More of Oregon Coast.

Our fifth course -
NY strip with roasted ramp butter
and wild Oregon mushrooms
paired with 2012 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Kerry's Comments:  Our second Pinot Noir comes from Domaine Serene,  established by the Evanstad family in the Dundee Hills in the Willamette Valley in 1989.  This is their Yamhill Pinot Noir, a blend of three different single vineyards - the Dundee Hills, the Eola-Amity Hills, and the Carlton Hills.  Three separate growing regions are used to grow the Pinot Noir vines.  They are identified separately in tanks, then they're blended together to produce this Yamhill Cuvée. 

This wine is a little different from the Arterberry Pinot Noir.  It has a darker fruit character, darker berries, a little bit of violet on the nose, a little different richness.   It's a very elegant Pinot Noir, with a very different fruit character.

Chef Randolph's Remarks:  For your last savory course, what you'll see is a green butter on the bottom of your plate - still not legal in North Carolina, so it's not that.  It's roasted wild ramp butter.
Next, some roasted potatoes, a grass-fed seared NY strip, and on top of that there are three different mushrooms - two wild and one cultivated.  The wild are ? and hen-of-the-woods; the cultivated is abalone mushroom.

OK.  The "?" up there refers to the wild mushroom Chef Randolph mentioned.  I have no idea what it is.  I'm listening to my recorder and what I hear is, "The wild mushroom is... kitchieveggie."  I don't think this is correct.  I tried Googling "edible wild mushrooms in Oregon" and got a species called "Picea" (For spruce.  It grows on spruce trees.) which could pass for "kitchie."  Then I PM'd Chef Amanda and she PM'd me back with "mousseron shrooms," which sounded nothing like Randolph said.  Then Amanda PM'd me back again, saying something about "hodge something."  Now, there is a hedgehog mushroom and hedge sounds like "veggie."  So we're getting closer?   I am completely flummoxed and confuzzled by all this.

Edited to add:  The mystery has been solved!  I stopped by The Saltbox Café and played the recorder for Randolph.  It's "hon shimeji" mushroom.  Now I can sleep at night.

Rosie's Rambling's:  This was a brooding, petulant red.  I likee, since I, too, am brooding and petulant.  It had lush layers, so I can't complain, since, I too, am a lush.  It reminded me of watching a Dove chocolate commercial.  And then, it reminded me of the time Mr. Hawthorne and I tromped through the Willamette Mountains with our pig, Spike, looking for truffles and morels.  This had a fungical, funky aroma.  Rosie is all about, "Bring on da funk!"

Our sixth and last course -
tangy lemon bar with huckleberry syrup and fresh whipped cream
with white chocolate pistachio bark
paired with 2012 Adelsheim Déglacé Pinot Noir.

Kerry's Comments:  We're up for our grand finale - our dessert course and pairing.  We're finishing the evening with a wine from Adelsheim.  David Adelsheim was one of those pioneers in the late 1960s/early 1970s and the first to plant Pinot Noir in the northern Willamette Valley because he believed it would work.  He's one of the reasons Oregon is doing so well in the wine industry today.  

This is basically a wine that was created for events like tonight.  The winery was asked to do so many wine dinners over the years, they wanted something to really show off their dessert courses, so they decided to do a late-harvest style wine.  They mimic the ice-wine style. In the harvest season in Oregon, there aren't any hard freezes, so you can't really do an ice-wine style like in Austria and Germany, where the grapes are left on the vines and picked when frozen.  They imitate this by taking their best Pinot Noir lots from the vineyards and freezing them.  What freezing does is give you a much more concentrated juice after pressing.  A dessert wine made from red grapes is quite rare, although there are a few places that do it - south of France among others.  This wine is a beautiful color.  The juices are clear when pressed, but the contact with the skin gives it a nice rosé hue. This has great strawberry shortcake, a citric blossom with nectarine. But here's the key to this wine and what makes it so special.  You can make a dessert wine really quickly and not painstakingly and it will come out very sweet and cloying, but retaining the acidity to a dessert wine is hard to do. It takes time and effort and it's expensive to do since you get very small amounts with ice-wines.  This wine has beautiful acidity in the finish it leaves.  It's really dessert in itself and should be a fantastic way to finish the night.

Chef Randolph: "I labored very, very hard on this dessert."
 AMANDA, do you HEAR this man He's losing all credibility now.
It is a Meyer lemon bar, chewy and semi-cakey, over top huckleberry preserves (Huckleberries from Oregon.) with whipped cream and white chocolate pistachio bark.

Rosie's Ramblings:   I know Chef Amanda had to be thinking of me when she decided to make Meyer lemon bars.  Thanks, Mandy!  I feel so special!  The Saltbox Crew knows my love of the lemon.
And, Kerry, I tasted no strawberry shortcake.  It was all apple-pie-in-my-face.  Along with cough syrup.  Good stuff!

There are lots of these signs along the Pacific Coast.

We have hurricane evacuation routes on the East Coast.
I can outrun a hurricane.
We know about a hurricane WEEKS in advance.

I don't think you can outrun a tsunami.

Chefs Randolph and Amanda Sprinkle,
thank you for a wonderful evening.
Love you guys!
Too darn cute!

For a recap of our previous dinners:
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.
Also in February 2016, we visited Italy
March 9, we had a lovely visit to Chile.
March 29, we visited the Pacific Northwest.

No comments: