Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dogwood Wine Dinner Recap: Bandol

Last night was the monthly wine club dinner at Dogwood and, as usual, we had a blast. The region was Bandol, a tiny spot in Provence, where the wine is often pink and the food is earthy. This month, unlike in the past, I even took notes, so I can actually remember what I ate. Here's the menu:

Leek and Artichoke Tart paired with Triennes Viognier Sainte Fleur 2008

Baby Beets and Chevre paired with Mas de la Dame Rose du Mas 2009

Bourride with laughing bird shrimp, Cape May sea scallop and North Carolina trout paired with Domaines Ott Chateau de Selle Rose 2009 and Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose 2009

Smoked Pulled Pork with Grilled Vegetables Provencale paired with Saint Andre de Figuiere Francois Cuvee Signature 2009

Braised Lamb Shoulder with fresh thyme polenta and roasted garlic jus paired with Domaine Tempier Bandol Cuvee Classique 2007

It was outrageous.

The highlights, food-wise, were the beets, which were sliced super thin and served on a bed of frisee with a dressing of honey and lemon, the scallop in the bourride, which could not have been cooked more perfectly, and the pulled pork, which was served on a gougere - a super inspired touch. Which is not to say that everything else wasn't excellent - the Chez Panisse-inspired leek and artichoke tart had a refreshing citrusy flavor and an awesomely flaky crust, and the braised lamb shoulder was full of flavor and might have been my favorite dish if I hadn't been so full at that point of the night.

As for the wine, our favorites were the viognier we started with and the very last bottle we drank. The viognier was completely refreshing and paired nicely with the tart, as well as with the chicken liver pate that was served as pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres. As for the last wine, my only note is, "delicious." That's it. Again, I was kind of food coma-y at that point.

While the bookend wines were our favorites, the roses in the middle sparked the most discussion. The Mas de la Dame was a gorgeous color - almost shocking pink - and very easy to drink. One of our tablemates called it a "front porch wine" - which lead into speculation about what kind of wines are more back porchy. Obviously.
The wines paired with the bourride were the hottest topic, mostly because in his wine column, Jay McInerney described Domaine Ott as the rose of choice for people who wear Prada. Based on that description I was not inclined to like it - at all. At close to $50 a bottle, it's kind of pricey for a rose, too. (Well, actually, I'm assuming that's why the Prada set likes it. That and for its pretty bottle which, according to one guest, is "thin and shallow - like the people who drink it.")

In the glass, it's the palest of pale pinks and our first sips suggested that true to its color, the wine is all about restraint. Interesting, but super subtle. Cooper said, "it's like a delicate little flower on my palate" and that description was just about right. That all changed, though, when we took a bite of the smoky bourride. The wine immediately opened right up and it might have still been flowery, but it wasn't so delicate.

But it closed back down when the soup was gone, which was a disappointment. Or maybe not - I'm glad I wasn't tempted to buy a $50 bottle of rose.

As usual, the food and wine were really, really good and the pairings were smart - Chef Galen does a fantastic job illustrating how food and wine can complement one another. But also as usual, we had a blast because everybody at Dogwood is just so fun. Knowledgeable, too - we walked away last night with a solid recommendation as to which smoker we should buy and also with some great inside information about where to go in Hampden on gameday. Seems that one of the local bars is like the neighborhood living room - everybody brings food to share and spends the afternoon drinking $1.50 Natty Bohs.

So that was Bandol. Next up: Burgundy. I love Burgundy.

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