Prepare to feast your eyes! This past Saturday night Eric and I went to the home of Chef Robin White and her partner Andrea for a spectacular multi-course dinner featuring wines from Venge Vineyards, the place that made my 30th birthday one that I will never forget.
Ever since we first “met” via Twitter, Robin has been a great friend and supporter of my blog, and I looked forward to this visit for months.
When we arrived at Robin and Andrea’s home, we were greeted with warm hugs and a spread of delectable snacks.
Olives, peppers, Marcona almonds. . .
Beautiful nectarines wrapped in prosciutto with fresh basil. . .
Gooey brie with truffle honey, topped with black truffles. . .
While we sampled all of the delicious items, I sipped on a glass of one of the many special wines that Robin pulled from their collection, a 2006 Rosella’s Vineyards Pinot Noir from Testarossa.
Robin took me on a little tour where I got to see their beautiful wine room and handmade wine cellar. I also go to spend more time meeting Robin and Andrea’s 4 dogs and cat.
Since it was a perfect September evening, and Robin and Andrea have the perfect outdoor entertaining space, we decided to move the party outside. We continued to eat and get to know the other guests who were, unsurprisingly considering they are Robin and Andrea’s friends, wonderful people.
You thought the spread that greeted us was impressive? Once outside, Robin really got to work serving the Venge Wine Dinner. One of the greatest parts of this dinner is that Robin has kindly shared all of the recipes on her website. Just click on the name of the dish, and you will be able to create it yourself at home. Trust me, you will want to!
We started with an amuse bouche.
The amuse bouche and the course that followed, Mussels Pepperonata were both paired with Venge Vineyards, 2008 – Napa Valley Champ des Fleurs. The wine’s crisp, subtle pineapple flavors went well with both courses. The wine was refreshing against the richness of the foie gras, and the tropical fruit flavors echoed the pineapple in the relish. And with the mussels, the wine brought out the sweetness and spiciness of the various peppers used in the pepperonata sauce.
We all wanted to stick our faces in the bowl to eat up the last drop of the delicious sauce and perfectly cooked mussels.
We took a little break from eating to move back inside to the beautifully decorated table to prepare for the next course and a call from the evening’s special guest of honor, Kirk Venge, Venge’s owner and winemaker.
Home Grown Pumpkin and Local Mushroom Salad with a Truffle Vinaigrette paired with Venge Vineyards, 2007 – Scout’s Honor, Proprietary Blend
While we sipped on the Scout’s Honor, Kirk told us a little bit of background information on the wine which was named after his late winery dog, Scout. He was attending an event in the Napa Valley, but it was so nice of him to take the time to call in to speak with all of us. And it is always wonderful to be able to see the person behind such stunning wines.
This course was also one of my favorites. I didn’t know this, but Delaware is apparently the mushroom capital of the US. The mushrooms were local, and the pumpkin was grown in the back yard garden. It was sweet and melted in my mouth. Combined with the earthiness of the mushrooms and truffle, this was a salad that I could eat for every meal of the day. It is a genius combination of flavors.
A homemade Meyer lemon sorbet cleansed our palates and provided a little break before the main dish. Again, I could eat this all day and would even consider it the perfect dessert.
The main course came next and simply wowed everyone at the table. So simple but such quality ingredients perfectly made.
Grilled Tenderloin with a Salsa Bianca paired with Venge Vineyards, 2007 – Napa Valley Syrah, Muhlner Steps Vineyard, Clone 877
Though I wondered if I could fit another bite, I knew that I had to save room for the dessert that I had heard about earlier in the week. I tried to imagine banana bread pudding with rosemary and pinenut brittle but could not fully get it until a big bite of all 3 went from my spoon into my happy mouth.
The brittle? It was sweet and salty with a tiny hint of lemon flavor. Robin gave us some to bring home, and as I predicted, it did not make it to the Delaware state border. This is a seriously addictive treat.
Banana Bread Pudding / Chocolate Rosemary Sauce / Pinenut Brittle paired with Venge Vineyards, 2008 – Oakville, Napa Valley Late Harvest Zin, “Late Night” and a very special coffee from the Galapagos Islands.
Robin’s best friend, Deb, brought a rare coffee from the Galapagos Islands, and just like a great wine, it has so much depth and further enhanced the dessert.
The evening ended with a special bottle of wine, a 1993 Rubicon Cabernet Sauvignon, which Robin decanted for us. The wine started out very tight from its years of being in the bottle, but after being opened for just a little bit, exhibited some great dark fruit and spice notes.
We spent a bit more time chatting and then headed back home to New Jersey.
What a magnificent evening! We are truly blessed to know such wonderful people and to have been invited to participate in a night of eating and drinking with them. I am thankful to each and every person (and pet!) there that night for making it so much fun.
What is the most memorable meal of your life?