Tomato (and wine) Dinner at Zely and Ritz, Raleigh - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 07-28-2009 09:53 AM

The heirloom tomato expert was not there this evening but Richard Holcomb, partner in the restaurant and owner of Coon Rock farm was. The tomatoes we enjoyed (and the goat meat) came from Coon Rock Farm. I asked Richard about growing tomatoes in the Phoenix area and he professed to know nothing about growing tomatoes outside North Carolina but said he thought it would be hard to grow tomatoes in the desert (as WW has already discovered.)

I didn't take any notes last night because I was involved in conversation and just enjoying the dinner. We started with a heirloom tomato gazpacho with basil oil which we could pair with a 2008 Spanish rose' wine (Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Rose from Navarro) or with the Coon Rock Cocktail which involved gin, club soda, cucumber and fresh mint. I had the cocktail and it was refreshing and very minty and a good match to the gazpacho. Others said similar to a Mojito but less sweet. Three at my table had the Spanish rose'wine and said it was dry and pleasant.

The second course was Sarig's variation on Italian Caprese with Cherokee Purple, Pink Sweet, Kellogg's Breakfast tomatoes with Chapel Hill Creamery fresh mozzarella cheese, extra virgin oil oil, fresh basil and sweet balsamic vinegar glaze. Most of the diners also got one slice of a green tomato that Richard loves but there wasn't any on my plate and we didn't catch the name of it. I loved the Kellogg's Breakfast tomato which is yellow or gold skinned and rather sweet. The wine pairing was 2008 Domaine des Aubuisieres, Cuvee de Silex, Vouvray, France. Nancy Agasi wanted an off-dry wine to pair with this course and tried to get the Bergstrom Riesling she served last year but the distributor was out of it. She then looked for a slightly sweet Pinot Gris but struck out there. A distributor suggested the Vouvray (from Chenin Blanc grape and off-dry) and it hit the right note with the sweet tomatoes. The wine was slightly sweet. It was also quite aromatic which was a theme with the wines of the evening. My impression was apricots.

Third course was roasted tomatoes stuffed with Coon Rock Farm goat meat over sweet corn and tomato risotto paired with a wine from biodynamic grower Paul Dolan--the 2006 Paul Dolan Biodynamic Pinot Noir, Potter Valley, Mendocino, CA. Another aromatic wine which to me had some semblance of a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir although it came from further north in Mendocino. Others at the table were puzzled by how to describe the nose--my suggestion was somewhere between dark cherries and plum. A touch tart but quite nice overall. I didn't really like the goat meat (my first time with this) but did enjoy the creamy risotto.

Fourth course was roast Nooherookah natural beef sirloin tip with grilled roma tomatoes, assorted eggplants, bell peppers and summer squash and Cherokee Purple tomato salsa and Thai basil. (Yummy dish with some affinity to ratatouille). This was paired with 2007 Matt Cline's Three 3 III Old Vine Blend, California. Nancy didn't get around to telling us about this wine but I believe it is a blend of Zinfandel, Mourvedre and Carignane (the Three 3 III grapes.) Matt Cline is a brother of Fred Cline of Cline Cellars and worked as winemaker for Cline Cellars before forming a new partnership.
The wine did taste of Zinfandel berries but in a somewhat elegant style (not too hot or rustic.) Matt Cline himself says he seeks "ripe but with restraint."

Stuffed as we were, I left a little room for dessert, the Sungold Tomato Panna Cotta that was such a hit last year. The creamy, velvety-textured panna cotta served blind might not be identified as having tomatoes in the blend, but each serving was topped with a half of a small (grape-tomato size)Sungold tomato, and tasting the tomato and then a spoonful of the panna cotta reveals the origins. Great dinner and I enjoyed all the wines.

This was the second of their five planned tomato dinners in July and August and they have now added a sixth evening.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 07-28-2009).]