Wine dinner with chefs and author in Raleigh - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 04-09-2010 03:44 PM

Zely and Ritz restaurant hosted this dinner to honor the publication of a book by local writer Ann Prospero entitled "Chefs of the Triangle: Their Lives, Recipes and Restaurants." Sarig Agasi, chef and part owner of Zely and Ritz is one of the chefs featured in the book. Scott Howell, owner and chef of Nana's in Durham is another. Approximately 20 other chefs from Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough and Pittsboro are included with 2-3 pages on each chef and restaurant and one or more recipes from the chef. For the dinner, we had a shared plate of appetizers, a shared first course prepared by Chef Marco Shaw who will be opening Eno Restaurant in Durham (formerly owner of Fife Restaurant in Portland, OR), second course prepared by Scott Howell of Nana's and dessert prepared by Sarig Agasi of Zely and Ritz. Many of the ingredients were from local Coon Rock Farm, owned by Richard Holcomb, a part owner of Zely and Ritz. I sat at the table with Ann Prospero, the author of the book.

Nancy Agasi selected wine pairings which were optional with the dinner. Wines could also be purchased to take home.

Reception: Whole wheat focaccia (or rosemary bread rounds) with red goat cheese, mahi mahi pastrami and olive tapenade paired with 2007 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbes, Alsace, France. I haven't been very fond of Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio in the past but Nancy has a knack for picking out ones I like. I have also enjoyed a Schlumberger Gewurztraminer which I first encountered at a dinner at Zely and Ritz. Medium gold color on the Pinot Gris, rich, pleasing flavors with a lingering soft finish. The family goes back seven generations of farming. The grapes are grown on steep terraces that are plowed by horses. Nancy and Sarig have met the daughter who is carrying on the family tradition.

Marco Shaw provided home cured meats for the first course of Charcuterie plate: a wonderful Pate de Campagne, and very tasty fried pork rillettes (would have liked more of these), Mortadella, Bologna and Sopressata with rosemary mustard, cranberry-walnut preserve, rice crackers and a small salad of red and green lettuce in vinaigrette. This was paired with 2007 Four Graces Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon. This wine is popping up on more than one Triangle area restaurant list. Pretty medium rose color with a floral nose and some Burgundian notes. I saved some for the next course which featured pork.

Second course from Scott Howell was Coon Rock Farm pork roast with creamy old mill polenta finished wtih Chapel Hill Creamery asiago cheese and braised cabbage with raisin sauce. Except for the polenta, it reminded me of a German of Middle European dish (Poland, Czech Republic, etc.) with the pork and cabbage. This was paired with a 2007 Tommasi Valpolicella Ripasso, Italy. I did like it paired with the Pinot Noir better. The Valpolicella was dark in color compared to the Pinot Noir. It had some definite funk or barnyard on the nose which carried over to the palate slightly. After some aeration, the funk abate somewhat but not entirely. I wondered if the barnyard odor could possibly be attributed to the drying sheds where the grapes rest in order to make a ripasso style.

Sarig Agasi's dessert included a fabulous dark chocolate mousse with dried cherries inside, a cardamom milk chocolate truffle dusted with espresso powder, and a small round of flourless Mexican chocolate cake. The mousse and truffle were the favorites at my table. These were paired with a 2005 Elyse Cabernet Sauvignon Port, Napa Valley, CA and the pairing worked. The wine had a penetrating nose and suggested to me prune, fig? and dried cherries--matching with the dried cherrries in the dark chocolate mousse. The dinner was $49 without wine and $75 with wine pairings. The prices to take home bottles of wine were $22 for the Pinot Gris (well worth it), $24 for the Pinot Noir, $26 for the Ripasso Valpolicella, and $37 for a half-bottle of the Elyse C.S. Port.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 04-12-2010).]

- hotwine - 04-09-2010 05:14 PM

Very nice notes!

I'm no authority on the Tommasi but would suspect it's much too young. I'm still sitting on the '98 version of the same wine; yet will admit that persistent barnyard even after aeration does not bode well for further development.

I'll probably still be sitting on mine after it's faded into the sunset....