Tuesday, March 22, 2011

AZ Wines

Tool, A Perfect Circle & wine fans in general, rejoice! The wines of Maynard James Keenan & Eric Glomski are in stock at Joe's Wines & Liquor. There is a gorgeous rose(Dayden, $16.99), an earthy Rhone Blend (Nachise, $22.99), a Bordeaux style cabernet sauvignon (Dala, $24.99) & a California mystery red blend (Merkin Chupacabra, $24.99). Joe's is the only store in town to have the rose so get it while you can!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do Sushi

Since Do Sushi opened in Cooper-Young next to the Beauty Shop it has been one of the top sushi joints in town. The innovative rolls, good service, & unique atmosphere keeps me going back for more. My friend Alison & I recently chowed down on some dishes that were lovely.

We started with pork gyoza with beautifully briny black seaweed. The texture of the pork was rich & unctuous & the dish had beautiful hints of ginger, sesame, chili. So delicious.

Behold our platter of sushi:

From traditional to modern they run the gamut but they were all delicious. I appreciate the simple, clean presentation & the fresh garnishes. The sushi chefs at Do really know whats up.

Ron Bunnell @ Tsunami

Tsunami has been around for 12 or 13 years I believe. It continues to be one of my favorite places to eat & drink at in all of Memphis. Recently Joe's Wines & Liquors hosted a wine tasting with Ron Bunnell of Bunnell Family Cellar in Washington State. Ron's wines are absolutely stunning. From lithe, aromatic whites to bold, rich, gripping reds. He lets the vineyard sites come through to produce magic. Now pairing a Pacific Rim style restaurant with a winemaker who specializes in Rhone varietals might not seem like the best idea. On the contrary, it was delightful.

I worked with Rumi, the manager, to pair the tasting portions with the wines we were pouring. Rumi coordinated with Joe & Donny in the kitchen & they created dishes that matched up beautifully with each wine.

We started the evening off with a glass of the zesty, aromatic, bracing River Aerie Gewurztraminer. It makes for a perfect aperitif & I could easily see myself kicking it with this wine all summer long. Which in Memphis is unfortunately a very very long time!

First Tasting Plate: bacon wrapped dates in a spicy red sauce paired with Bunnell Family Cellars Grenache
Beautiful pairing, the sweet gelatinuous nature of the date & smoky meaty bacon played off the grip & dark fruit of the grenache.

Second: Smoked Salmon Bruschetta with herb-mango salsa & parsley salad paired with Bunnell Family Cellars Lia
Salmon is a very versatile fish for red wine & both came together in a lovely way. The Rhone style blend just popped with the smoky briny quality of the salmon & the acidity of the tomatoes

Third: Orange-Chili glazed beef satay paired with Bunnell Family Cellars Mourvedre
This mourvedre is dark & deep but also has a distinctive citrus, almost kumquat, flavor note that is just so cool & unique. The beef in chili-orange glaze brought out more fruit & dark bittersweet notes in the wine. So tasty.

Fourth: Walnut Crusted Lamb Loin with Blueberry Coulis paired with Bunnell Family Cellars Syrah Clifton Hill Vineyard
Syrah & lamb are a no brainer right? But what they did here was sublime. The nut crust played off the texture of the wine while the blueberry sauce & the gaminess of the lamb were a beautiful contrast to the weight, gaminess & blue-smoky fruit of the syrah. Joe used some lamb kidney in the coulis that gave it such a rich mouthfeel. Superb.

Fifth: Coriander Crusted Beef Tataki with White Bean puree, Newman Farm Bacon & Mizuna paired with Bunnell Family Cellars Syrah 2004 Boushey Mcpherson Vineyard & 2007
Wow. I mean....wow! The 2004 syrah is gamy, meaty, smoky, earthy & has all this dark heady espresso notes to it that just grab me. It grabs ahold of me every time I sip it. Its the kind of wine that you close your eyes while sipping it. The perfectly tender texture of the beef & the coriander crust were a lovely, earthy match with both wines.

Thank you Tsunami! I love you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Andrew Will's Chris Camarda at Napa Cafe

Arguably some of the most highly sought after, critically acclaimed & overwhelmingly delicious wines in the U.S. come from Andrew Will Winery. They produce elegantly rich & bold wines from some of the best vineyard sites in America. Napa Cafe, one of Memphis' restaurant gems, hosts Chris Camarda's first visit to Memphis. He will be here for just one night so this will be your only chance to experience these wines with the master who crafted them. Napa Cafe will be pairing a menu of outstanding cuisine alongside these exquisite wines. $75 per person plus tax & gratuity. Call 901.683.0441 for reservations.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Willamette Valley Vineyards at Restaurant Iris

I've said it before & I'll continue to say it. I'm obsessed with Oregon. It's food, its landscape, its people but mostly its wine. Willamette Valley Vineyards is one of the larger wineries in Oregon & they produce delicious bottles that really reflect the Oregon style & especially its soil & climate. Winemaker Don Crank just so happens to be a Memphis boy too! Restaurant Iris hosted Don for a dinner paired with wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards.

First Course:
Tennessee Foie Gras paired with Champagne "caviar" & pickled cauliflower paired with Riesling

This is a riesling that will win over naysayers. It has a nervy acidity with mouthwatering fruit & a nice mineral hit. This wine is seriously quaffable & cut right through the rich, earthy, unctuous & delicious foie gras. I'm more than thrilled that we can get fresh foie gras so close to home.

Second Course:
escargot & housemade gnocchi paired with Pinot Gris

Shockingly, I have never had escargot before. Not because I avoided it but just because any opportunity I might have had to order it I've always opted for something I found more intriguing. Kelly English's gnocchi is one of the best dishes I've ever experienced. His gnocchi is pillowy, light, creamy, & so very comforting. They are a beautiful contrast to the toothsome yet tender snails. These little guys were earthy & briny which the garlic laced buerre blanc elevated & amplified nicely. The pinot gris' acidity contrasted quite well with the sauce & briny snails. The dish really brought out a hazelnut-like nuttiness in the wine.

Third Course:
Newman Farms pork with grits in a chardonnay ragu paired with Chardonnay

Newman Farms pork is some of the best out there & in the hands of such a talented chef the true natural flavor just sings. The roasted pork easily gave way to my fork due to its tenderness. The sauce was rich but not heavy & the creamy grits were near perfect. Most chardonnays would overpower a dish like this but thats the beauty of this bottle. It is more Meursault in style with a round texture but elegance & acidity as well. I'm not a chardonnay basher but I just don't drink them. This bottle I would drink!

Fourth Course:
Dueling Brulee-Strawberry Buttermilk Creme Brulee & Chocolate Creme Brulee with a pecan cookie paired with Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

This wine was beautifully translucent with a nice ruby color. The aroma was intoxicating with earthiness, a hint of mushroom, cherry & tea. The fruit & acidity in the wine was a nice match with the strawberry buttermilk. It didn't pair up with the chocolate as well, they seemed to clash. However, it's quite difficult to pair "dry" wines with dessert. I know most people will say cab & chocolate always works. Yeah it works if its new world cab (i.e. Cali or Aussie) because you are putting sweet with sweet. But an elegant pinot with dark chocolate didn't sing. No matter. This dinner was out of control delicious!