The region was the Languedoc, a region of southern France that has 15 separate terroirs. It's a great one because the wines are relatively inexpensive, so buying a lot of them isn't out of the question. Yes, they're a little more rustic than the wines of some other French regions, but they're also wines to drink every day, not just on special occasions.
This was last month's menu:
Spanish onion galette with bleu cheese and shaved pears, paired with Paul Mas Estate Picpoul de Pinet 2009 & Jean Marc Lafage Cote Est Catalan 2009
Roasted piquillo pepper soup with Spanish sherry and pan roasted scallop paired with Paul Mas Estate Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2009
Pan seared bronzini with corn cream, fennel and scallion paired with Bergerie de L'Hortus Pic Saint Loup 2008 & La Closerie des Lys Les Fruitiers 2009
Braised lamb with French lentils and baked ricotta polenta paired with Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois Las Bastide 2008 & Mas des Dames La Dame 2007
Chef Sampson was actually out of the kitchen at an event during the dinner (he joined us at the end), so everything was prepared by his sous chef Reid, who did an amazing job. I loved every course, but the pairing highlights were the spicy pepper soup, which surprised all of us by working perfectly with a red that almost smelled skunky to start with, and the bronzini and corn cream's match with both wines, including the Bergerie, which Cooper insisted smelled just a little bit of cat urine.
As usual, the food and wine were only one good part of the meal. By the end of the night, everyone was squeezed around one table, telling stories and laughing - it felt like a house party, not a night at a restaurant. We sat with a bunch of people we've met over the past few months - all great and full of great advice and stories. I learned about the Wine Source's amazing Wednesday wine events for women and we all got to hear a very interesting story about the way Woodfire Grill has changed since Kevin appeared on Top Chef (not for the better, apparently, since Kevin doesn't have as much time to spend with customers as he used to, even if the food is still good - though it sounds like the changes have more to do with the owners than with Kevin himself).
Just like every month, we came home very full and we woke up very tired on Tuesday morning. I'm so sorry to be missing this month's dinner, but we'll be back next month. Oh, we'll be back.