Katy Rutland
 
February 20, 2014 | Events | Katy Rutland

Good Bread, Good Meat, Good Wine, Let's Eat!

Ever heard the phrase, “there’s a first time for everything”? Saturday night was a first for many. During a weekend themed with the color of romance, the Winemaker’s Dinner welcomed many new faces and sported plenty of red.

In addition to the red sashes decorating chairs, every dish contained at least one red element and was paired with (what else?) a red wine. Rhones, Bordeauxs, and Italians of many vintages were well represented and complemented course of salmon, pork, lamb and, of course, chocolate.

 

So which of the seven courses was best?

 

According to Mason Rutland, a first-time Winemaker’s Dinner attendee, the sixth course was his favorite. The “real meal,” as Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar Executive Chef David Lee called it, the sixth course consisted of a braised lamb shank resting on a potato pave (think scalloped potatoes but better by ten) with a port and cranberry reduction, cipollini, and parsnip chips.

 

“It was a huge piece of meat, and I really liked the cranberries,” Mason said. “I didn’t think I would because it sounded weird to have cranberries and potatoes, but they tasted really good together.”

 

The lamb shank was paired with the newly-released 2010 ONYX, which was also one of Mason’s favorite wines of the night. Admittedly not a wine drinker, Mason said he liked the ONYX and 2008 Signature Series Block 8 Syrah because of their smooth finishes. The Block 8’s pairing with crispy pork belly and fig mustarda probably didn’t hurt, either.

 

Travis Stephens, also a Winemaker’s Dinner first timer, agreed that the food pairings could not have been better.

 

“I kept coming back to the [2008 Signature Series] Galet,” he said. “I tried the wine before I tried it with the food, and the differences before and afterwith a bite of food were just amazing.”

 

The Galet was paired with a lamb pancetta sitting on an orange and caraway cracker with ricotta cheese, dates, and turmeric oil, a combination that Travis revisited several times.

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the salmon and clams,” Travis admitted, the first course being his favorite dish.

 

The social aspect of the evening was very well received. Mason and Travis both enjoyed the guests at their tables, even though both only had one new couple each sitting with them.

 

“It was fun to get to know them,” Mason said. “I’d almost like bigger tables so more people could be there.”

 

“[ONYX Club members] Scott and Teresa Curry invited us,” Travis said. “And I’m very grateful to experience it with them and enjoyed meeting the new couple.”

 

One reason Mason enjoyed the night so much was that co-owner ReNae Pilgrim gave him a challenge to find one wine he liked. Since he wasn’t a wine drinker, he doubted he would find anything. Mason rose to the occasion and, as mentioned earlier, found not one but two.

“[Keith and ReNae Pilgrim] take a personal approach to those they meet,” he said. “It’s a good show of who they are as business owners.”

 

While wandering among the tables, Keith and ReNae also stopped by Travis’ table to chat.

 

“I enjoyed getting to meet and speak with them,” Travis said. “It’s good that they keep the event small and are able to do that with their guests…. To actually have Keith up there and talking about the pairings and to have the opportunity to learn from an owner like that is rare and amazing.”

 

The food, wine, and atmosphere weren’t the only things celebrated during the Winemaker’s Dinner, either. At least two anniversaries, one cancer remission, and several birthdays were shared. Even the dessert courses had candles for birthdays, and the banquet hall supported a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

 

The real test of the night, though, is was it worth repeating? For Mason, it was a definite yes, even though he’s still not entirely won-over by wine. As for Travis…

 

“I already have my calendar marked for next year!”

 

Veni, Vedi, Vinum!

Terra Blanca

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