Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ron Lachini

It isn't often that I get the opportunity to spend time with the man behind such incredible wines. But recently I did just that. The man I'm speaking of is Ron Lachini of Lachini Vineyards. Ever since Elizabeth Mall of Delta Wholesale brought these wines into Memphis last year, I've been in love. Thats really the only way I can describe it, because these wines bring out more emotion & sensuality than most wines I've had.

Ron was in town for two winemaker dinners, one at Roustica & one at Napa Cafe. It says a lot about Memphis that both dinners were sold out, even though they were on a Monday & a Tuesday respectively.

Chef Kevin Rains deftly matched dishes against the luscious fruit, sensual textures, spice & acidity of Ron's pinot gris & pinot noirs.

Memphis continues on its quest for good food & good wine. It is so exciting to see an audience that craves both.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chez Peltz

Last Saturday, Kelly & I had dinner with our friends Jeff & Kristy. It all started a few weeks ago when we had the snowstorm. Jeff & Kristy both said "See, it isn't too late for cassoulet!" (referencing a previous post of mine on this blog). They invited Kelly & I over for cassoulet, my favorite.

Saturday night we arrived to a full on french style spread of olives, pate (2 kinds) & some delectable cheeses. J&K started us off with a lovely refreshing Hendricks gin martini. I looooove Hendricks gin. I never particularly cared for gin much. Kelly is the gin guy, I usually go for vodka. But Hendricks is something else entirely. After the first martini (or was it two?), we moved into the vino. First up was Caymus Conundrum 2005, which is always fun. It is a fresh, fun white blend from California that emphasizes fruit without sacrificing acidity. The next wine served was my last bottle of Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir 2006 (thank you to one of my customers who gave me a bottle after I turned him on to it. I wish I knew his name!) This beautiful rose so eloquently masquerades as a Provencal rose. The color even looks just like Domaine Ott! It has bright acidity, luscious black cherry & strawberry & a round texture. We then moved to the dinner table & popped open a Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2004. This predominantly sangiovese based wine has the rustic earthiness expected of Italy & a bright beam of acidity. Next it was time for a pair of Chateauneuf du Papes!! The first was the J. Vidal Fleury 2004, a medium bodied CDP with notes of black plum & lavender. The second was Chateau Mont Redon 2003, which was laden with graphite, wild herb & black raspberry. Both were a perfect match for Jeff & Kristy's cassoulet. For those who have never had this dish.....I have almost nothing to say to that except go find or prepare some now! The temperature outside was perfect for this hearty rustic dish, almost 50 degrees! What else needs to be said except, duck confit, smoked ham, white beans, garlic sausage & DUCK FAT!! Life doesn't get much better.

But thats not all the Peltz' had up their sleeve. Over some french press coffee they served us a super bright meyer lemon tart with a light layer of bittersweet chocolate.......& a '98 Chateau Roumieu Sauternes. Superb.

There is nothing more I love than eating fabulous homemade food & drinking outstanding wine with good friends. Throughout the meal we talked about food & wine, Julia Child, restaurants & literature. You know you're having a good time when everyone has something to say & they say it with gusto.

Thanks guys! Can't wait for pizza night!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happenings at the Majestic Grille

The Majestic Grille is hosting some great events very soon. Check out their site here.

The Coppola dinner sounds so good, I think I was drooling when I read the menu!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wine Dinner with Ron Lachini of Lachini Vineyards

Monday, March 24th Ron Lachini will be pouring his incredible Oregon wines at Roustica. Lachini Vineyards farms biodynamically, which means they not only protect their ecosystem but they enhance it. All this & the wines will render you speechless. Truly incredible juice. From what I hear, Roustica will be the perfect setting for this. Chef Kevin Rains works hard to change up the menu often, only offering what is fresh & looking fantastic. Cost to attend is $60/person plus tax & gratuity. To make reservations please contact Roustica, 901.726.6228. Don't miss this event.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Saturday Pizza

Last Saturday, Kristi & Warner had us over to celebrate our friend Jeff's birthday. Don't worry Jeff, I won't disclose your age!

I love Kristi's house, it is so beautiful, full of art & welcoming. Not only that, but the woman can cook! We had a spread of meats (even though Kristi is a vegetarian, thank you), cheeses, olives & asparagus waiting for us to nosh on. Jeff & Kristi were feverishly working to prepare homemade pizza dough & fresh toppings. I love homemade pizza almost as much as Kelly does, he likes to think of himself as something of a pizza connoisseur. We were treated to a portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella & roasted red pepper pizza; an asparagus, goat cheese, olive & parmiggiano pizza; & my favorite, an apple, pear, grape, walnut & gorgonzola pizza. They were all fantastic, but the apple was the one that stood out for me. It was a classic case of umami, different flavors combining to provide something entirely new. Sweet, savory, salty, creamy, crunchy....yum.

Kelly & I brought a 2006 Vinosia Essenza di Malvasia, made from 100% malvasia. Kelly loved this wine because it reminded him of the Bonny Doon Malvasia Bianca that he used to love. It was super expressive on the nose with notes of white flower, candied ginger & jasmine. The palate was racy, dry, crisp & bright with a freshness to it that glided across the palate. We also brought a 2002 Barham Mendelsohn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, that was dark & mysterious on the nose, almost wild in its aroma. The palate was rich, full bodied but still silky & voluptuous.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Trip to Oxford

I've never spent much time in Oxford, MS. Even though I've lived in Memphis for 8 years, & heard how Oxford was a cool little village, I never really had the urge to go. Kelly & I took a quick trip down there this past Saturday & had a great time. We stayed at ravine, a very quaint, cute, cozy & nicely designed bed & breakfast that also happens to be one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. It is just outside of the city limits (barely 10 yds from city limits sign) so it is a brown bag restaurant. We traveled with our friends Marlinee & Max, therefore we needed some wine. We like to drink some wine! The choices for the evening were Treana 2001 (in magnum), Scharffenberger Brut NV & Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards 1999 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

The food was exceptional! Chef Joel Miller started us with seared scallops on preserved lemon risotto that were seared to perfection. He also sent out some kobe beef shortrib stuffed ravioli that were stupendous! Next we had fresh oysters with a champagne mignonette, grilled quail, shrimp cakes with red pepper coulis & mini burgers. For salads, Kelly & I split the poached pear & blue cheese salad & Max & Marlinee had the spinach portobello mushroom salad.

My entree was a special that night, seared striped bass with orange couscous with the most crispy skin I've ever tasted. Kelly had handmade pasta with pesto, manchego cheese & braised mushrooms, Max had the hangar steak frites & Marlinee had the rack of lamb with blueberry chipotle sauce & polenta fries.

Every single thing was cooked perfectly, the proteins were juicy with crispy exteriors, the sauces were sublimely flavorful, seasoning was balanced. Simply, a beautiful meal. On top of that, the room we stayed in was beautifully designed, homey & comfortable, so comfortable that I really didn't want to get out of bed this morning. Maybe that had something to do with being hungover....but anyway.

I will be returning to ravine as soon as possible & I highly recommend it to everyone who reads this blog.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Joe's Wines, 1681 Poplar, has always had an extensive selection of unique Italian wines. They just got in a whole new crop of good juice from the boot. For the size of that store, their level of selection is very impressive. Some of the new bottles include wines such as: Cantina del Taburno Falanghina, Fattoria Le Terrazze Sassi Neri & Rosso Conero, Tavignano Verdicchio & Costantini Massarosa Frascati Superiore. There are over 1000 registered grape types in Italy alone, which makes for a very exciting exploration should you choose to experiment with them. You'll never be bored, that is for sure. Check 'em out!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Winter's Funeral

I'm saddened to see the passing of Winter, I don't care if you think I'm weird. Yes, it was a lovely weekend here in Memphis. We had the windows open & even ate dinner outside with our very good friends Eve, Jeff & Rickie. But, Winter was barely given a chance. We don't seem to get a good solid Winter in Memphis, only passable intermittent days that hover around 25 degrees F. Yeah that's cold, but it never lasts & it sure as hell never brings snow. I never got to make cassoulet, something I love in the cold season. I guess I'll have to wait until next year.

Lachini Wine Dinner at Restaurant Iris

Restaurant Iris is a much anticipated new restaurant that is set to open in the old La Tourelle space on Monroe. Chef Kelly English previously worked for the James Beard award winning chef John Besh in New Orleans. Chef English is very passionate about local, fresh ingredients & presents them in a unique & delicious way. He also promises to offer Southern cheeses from dairies south of the Mason-Dixon. The wine list will be small & unique with high-quality selections from boutique producers. As a kick off event, Ron Lachini of Lachini Vineyards will be pouring his wines to pair with Chef Kelly English's delectable cuisine on Monday March 24th. Cocktails begin at 6:00 p.m. Cost to attend is $60 per person plus tax & gratuity.

For more information:
Restaurant Iris