Sunday, April 17, 2011

Andrew Will Winery Dinner at Napa Cafe

I wish Napa Cafe was closer to where I live because I would walk there on a weekly basis.

Chef Ben rocked out an absolutely delicious meal for a dinner with Chris Camarda of Andrew Will Winery. Chef is creative & engaged I definitely get the impression that he is always open & wanting to learn & experiment. Chris' wines are some of the most bold yet expressive & lingering wines I've ever tasted. Together the food & the wine sang a beautiful chorus. I had the pleasure of sitting with Chris & Robin Pollard, Executive Director of the Washington Wine Commission. We talked about everything from David Ramey to UC-Davis & Tuscan wine law. Those of you who missed it better start paying close attention to the events coming up in the next few months!

Course 1:Duo of Kumamoto Oysters. Honeysuckle & Mango, Coconut & Lime
paired with Cuvee Lucia Semillon Last In Line Vineyard 2009
Cuvee Lucia Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Velvet Canyon 2009

These oysters were perfectly dressed with bright accompaniments. What the chef topped each one with was a playful take on mignonette. The oysters were never overshadowed, just enhanced. Both wines were brightly acidic with citrus notes, and an especially lanolin like quality in the blend. Absolutely one of the best starts to a meal I've ever had.

Course 2: Handmade Potato Gnocchi with a Tomato Portugaise Sauce
paired with Cuvee Lucia Sangiovese Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2008.

The gnocchi were crisp on the outside & pillowy-creamy on the inside. The sauce played off the acidity & herbaceous qualities of the sangiovese quite nicely. I'm always shocked by how traditional Italian varietals come across from Washington. They shine with beauty.

Course 3: Duck Confit, Delta Grind Polenta, Wild Game Sauce
paired with Champoux Vineyard 2006

I love love love duck. Absolutely adore it. This confit was rich & unctuous which led into the rich, creamy polenta & the earthy suace. It was a little salty but not too overpowering. The red blend from Champoux Vineyard was a lesson in balance. Fruit was there, weight & texture were there, tannins were present & everything was tied together by the acidity.

Course 4: Tea rubbed Lamb Loin, Sunburst Squash, Candy Stripe Beets, Natural Jus
paired with Annie Camarda, May's Discovery Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Wow, this pairing was out of control. The tea & earthiness really matched up well with the grip & tannin of the cab. The acidity cut through the lamb so perfectly. A new flavor was created in my mouth. Excellent.

Course 5: Harris Ranch Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushrooms, Red Wine Sauce
paired with Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2005 & 2006

I don't like tenderloin. It's too soft, no texture, almost flaccid. However, this came out with some nice toothsomeness to it. It was cooked to a perfect medium & was livened up with the earthy mushrooms & bold red wine sauce. The wines were.....perfection. I can't really describe them because I "felt" them more than "tasted" them. They were the kind of wines that made me close my eyes & lose grip on my surroundings for just a moment.

Napa Cafe knows how to do it. Their food is delicious, their wine list is super cool & unique & the service is comfortable yet professional. If you haven't been in awhile you need to go back immediately. If you've never been....well what the hell is wrong with you??!

One last thing. Even though the event was great I was disappointed in the attendance. The smaller crowd made it intimate which is always nice but I wish more people would have gotten on board with this. We as a city need to support our independent restaurants because they are the ones doing the unique events such as this. They are the ones taking risks & keeping true to their passion. They are the ones hosting world class wine makers from around the country & around the world. Yet for some odd reason, they don't get the press. There was a very short & completely bland one or two sentences in the newspaper about the dinner. Nothing talking about how Chris Camarda makes less than 5000 cases a year & produces some of the most sought after wines in the market. Nothing about how down to earth, driven & intelligent he is. Certainly nothing about how Napa Cafe was pulling out all the stops for this event. Yes they used twitter, facebook & email. But if we are truly going to elevate our city to the world culinary stage we as a food loving community need to stop talking about chain restaurants & how expensive a bag of chips are & start talking about what our very own food & wine loving independent restaurants are doing.

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