Saturday night Brett and I went to a wine pairing dinner at Skinner Winery in Fair Play, about 20 minutes from home. The dinner was a bit pricey but we knew the wine would be good and that the view would be spectacular. We called it an early anniversary celebration.
The view did not disappoint.
It was a chilly evening but we were cozy under heat lamps. There was a fire going in the outdoor fireplace but we opted for a table with an unobstructed view.
We started with appetizers upstairs on the balcony: Ahi tuna nicouse cones (like miniature ice cream cones with melt in your mouth Ahi tartare), pear-parsnip soup and wood oven baked flatbread with mushrooms and arugula. When the wine glasses had been lined up, the chef (from PlumpJack at Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe) ready for the first course, and the table settings perfect, we made our way to the outdoor patio. I settled in my chair directly under a heat lamp where I comfortable sat for the next two hours.
The first course was a salad of field greens, local apples, Humboldt Fog blue cheese, almonds and a pear-raspberry vinaigrette. It was as tasty as it was beautiful. With each course, we were served two tastes of wine side-by-side. With the first course, we had Grenache -- 2010 and 2011.
The second course was cassoulet. I am not a huge cassoulet fan; too many white beans and not enough flavor in my book. My expectations were low for this course but even if they had been high, I would have been surprised by how flavorful this was. The beans were in a roasted baby root vegetable base with sausage and a sprinkle of duck confit on top. I did not want it to end; I slowly worked my way across the bowl, savoring every bite . To drink, we had Mouvedre; one made from grapes across El Dorado county and one from just Skinner vineyards. No picture... it was dark by this time.
The main course was a mocha-thyme braised short rib with butternut squash, wild mushrooms and baby Brussels sprouts. Again, melt in your mouth, tender and full of flavor. Syrah with this course.
Dessert was beautiful. A very decadent chocolate slice of something somewhere between mousse, cake and a truffle. We had Point Reyes Blue cheese, local honey that was baked into a crispy brittle, walnuts and currant compote. Petite Sirah.
We headed home three hours after our arrival, sated and happy. We thought of our friends Sylvie and Christian with whom we have shared many spectacular meals. They would have loved this one.