Wine Dinner Endeavor
Wine dinners are all the rage. I love the idea of a 5 or 6 course meal, tasty wine and a small gathering of friends. After enjoying a delicious meal over at Harvest Thyme in Davidonsville and noticing they coordinate wine dinners on occasion, Mollie and I discussed throwing our own wine dinner.
Mollie, my sister-in-law, is the gal who helps organize the yearly charity event you may’ve read about on this blog. Click Here and Here for information on the events from the last two years. We are busy planning this year’s event and it looks like it is going to be a big one. Stay tuned for details.
It’s been months since I’ve written a blog post and what better way to get my creative juices flowing than formulating an evening of food, wine and friends. After researching what it would take to put together a wine dinner, we decided on hosting a total of 8 people and offering a 6 course meal.
Planning the menu got me all jazzed up. The day after our wine dinner revelation, my wheels were turning. The menu changed like seven times. I had to nix any shellfish entrees because my SiL is allergic. Wine dinners almost always account for a seafood dish, but the idea is for everyone to enjoy every course with each glass of wine. I love a challenge.
Two of the couples, besides my husband & I and Mollie & Damion, were gracious enough to offer up their services. Mollie and I took care of the food and alternative beverages. Elizabeth & Ian and Terry & Chris were presented with three of the six courses and an idea of the types of wine would pair well with each dish. If you don’t know much about wine, other than how to turn a boxed wine into a drinking fountain, no worries. Any wine or liquor store worth its salt will be more than happy to help you coordinate flavors. Elizabeth and Ian went to BIN 201 in Annapolis for help with their selections. BIN 201 has an excellent staff on hand and descriptions of each wine are well displayed. Elizabeth and Ian were responsible for pairing wine with the first three courses.
This course is set up to get the taste buds revved up. Amuse Bouche is a single bite dish and is paired with a sparkling wine to tease the palate.
DISH: Veitnamese Miteubol. A single meatball glazed with a soy ginger BBQ sauce topped with sesame seeds and served over cucumber, pickled daikon radish and carrots.
WINE: Blanc De Blancs WILLM Brut, Produced in France
Next was the soup course. Taking advantage of the local farms and the growing season, I called upon our friends at Portland Manor Farms for sweet fresh picked corn on the cob. The Bell House works side by side with Jesse and Portland Manor Farms at our local farmers’ market. This course should be paired with a dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc.
DISH: Sweet Corn Soup with a swirl of Sambal Oelek and a Thai Basil garnish
WINE:Marlborough MOHUA Sauvignon Blanc 2018, A New Zealand Wine
The fried appetizer course. Again, taking advantage of local farms and everything Maryland has to offer during the summer months, this course was a no brainer. You’re looking for a light bodied red wine, such as a Pinot Noir or a Beaujais.
DISH: Fried Green Tomatoes topped with a Charred Corn Salsa and Chipotle Aioli (RECIPE BELOW)
WINE: Saint Gregory PINOR NOIR 2015, Mendocino Country
Time to clean off the palette and refresh the taste buds with a salad course. I wanted this course to be fun. I had my reservations about the detail needed to pull off this total Pinterest idea. However, when I saw it, I thought this is exactly what our wine dinner needed and I put Mollie in charge of the details. She nailed it. Salads usually pair with a white wine, however, a light bodied red with a high acidity to balance with the vinaigrette is also acceptable.
DISH: Rubriks Cube Fruit Salad. A combination of watermelon, kiwi and Havarti cheese built to resemble a rubrics cube topped with a Serrano pepper white wine vinaigrette.
WINE: Mark West PINOT NOIR, Appellation California Vintage 2017
On to the main course. My favorite course. My comfort food when I am feeling fancy and what’s fancier than a wine dinner. Medium to full bodied red is required for this dish, unless you’re serving fish.
DISH: Petite Filet Mignon served over Bearnaise and Roasted Asparagus.
WINE:Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlee
It’s time for dessert. The dessert course is typically a cheese course. A bite of cheese served with a sparkling red or sweet red wine. I have a sweet tooth so, I thought I would go with a dish that was cheese adjacent.
DISH: Mocha Cheesecake. Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust with Coffee Cheesecake filling topped with Chocolate Ganache and a Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean
WINE:Barton & Guestier Rose D’Anjou 2017, Produced in France
When planning your wine dinner, keep in mind 1 bottle of wine per course will be enough for 8 people to enjoy the taste of the wine with each dish. You don’t want people to get wasted at your dinner, but when in doubt, keep your Uber app on standby. Choosing wines to match your dishes is not as hard as you would think. Take your menu to a reputable wine purveyor and ask them to help you choose the best wines within your price range. Read the labels for each wine, does it sound like it will pair well with the food being offered? To be honest, none of us know much more than the basics about wine. We do know we like to drink it.
Creating a menu is all about creativity, your favorite things and implementing everything that is fresh. Don’t over do it with each dish. If you have a dish that serves 4-6 people, don’t double it. Just serve a smaller amount, a taste if you will. With six courses, I promise no one is going away hungry.
Mollie created wine score cards for all of us to fill out. It was interesting to read what people wrote about each pairing. All the wines scored medium to high on likability, but we aren’t a picky group. The answers for the pairing of the dishes with the wines was sort of all over the map. The cheesecake and the rose pairing was the one dish everyone agreed was perfection. We also all agreed a white wine, maybe something with fruity notes would have paired better with the Rubric’s Cube Salad.
The dinner itself took a total of 3 hours. Actual cook time and plating during the dinner went very quick because I prepped all the food over the previous two days. Some things were just a matter of reheating, such as the soup and meatballs. I am still dreaming about those fried green tomatoes. So, why not add that recipe to this blog post for you all to enjoy too.
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WITH CHARRED CORN SALSA AND CHIPOTLE AIOLI:
4-5 large green tomatoes (I picked up corn and tomatoes from Portland Manor Farms in Lothain, MD)
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of all purpose flour
3/4 cup of cornmeal
3/4 cup of bread crumbs
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
Pepper to taste
3 corn on the cobs, charred and kernels removed from cob
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
Handful of roughly chopped cilantro
2 limes, juiced
Serrano pepper, minced
3-4 chipotle in adobo
1 cup of good quality mayo
More salt to taste
Strip the corn of its husk and set on a hot grill. When it starts to become perfectly charred on all sides, remove from the grill and let cool for a moment while you set up the rest of the salsa.
Add the tomatoes, Serrano peppers, cilantro and red onion to a bowl.
Set a corn on the cob on a dish towel and carefully slide your knife down the side to cut off all the kernels. The dish towel will keep the cob stable and catch the kernels for easy transfer to the bowl.
Add the corn to the bowl with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the juice of one lime. Give it a good toss and set aside. The salsa will be good for 2-3 days in the fridge.
The chipotle aioli is easy and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Simply chop up the chipotle, add it to the mayo along with some salt and the juice of half a lime. Give it a good stir and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Whisk together two eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl. Place the flour in another bowl and the cornmeal/breadcrumbs/salt in a third bowl. Slice the tomatoes in pretty thick slices.
This is where the picture of the process goes dark. I got wrapped up in the “doing.” However, here’s whatcha have to do. Dip a slice of the tomato in the buttermilk mixture, then coat with flour. Put that same tomato back in the buttermilk mixture and then in the cornmeal/breadcrumb bowl. Press the crumbs into the tomato and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. I prepared these tomatoes early on the day of the wine dinner and had them in the fridge until ready to fry up.
Fill a cast iron pan or heavy frying pan with about an inch of vegetable oil and place it over medium high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer and you can add a breadcrumb to the oil and it starts to dance, it’s time to add the tomatoes. Carefully place a few slices in the hot oil. Don’t over crowd the pan, you want the oil to remain hot. After about 1-2 minutes, flip the tomatoes and brown the other side. Remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Hit each tomato up with a pinch of kosher salt. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes.
To serve your tomatoes, place a dollop of chipotle aioli on a plate, top with a tomato slice and then spread the corn salsa over the top.