Saturday, August 23, 2014

If You Build It They Will Eat…and Drink--The Wine Cellar Restaurant

          I like wine.  That probably goes without saying, since I’m a sommelier.  However, I also like food.  A lot.  More than a lot.  And generally not just any food.  Good food.  Really good food!  So naturally, I love wine and food together.  And I love making these special meals an event with my friends—friends who, for the record, also love food and wine. 

When these wine-and-food-loving friends and I were looking for a great wine dinner to attend, we ended our search and just built our own…a Build Your Own Wine Dinner, so to speak.   The first restaurant I thought to contact about this BYOWD was the Wine Cellar in Rapid.  I knew its regular menu, which changes twice a year with the seasons, is always a special treat.  Plus, Pamela Light, Wine Cellar’s owner and executive chef, also creates weekly features that her head chef, Christopher McConnell, brings to life on customers’ plates.  The wine list is also ever-evolving with great selections from around the world.  This was the perfect place for me to browse the menus and pair items with wines from the list. 
The cozy and chic ambiance of The Wine Cellar.

The first difficult step was to narrow down the items from the menu; my mouth was already watering.  For the first course, the beef tenderloin tacos, herb roasted potatoes, stacked caprese, and artisan cheese plate all piqued my interest.  Then for the main course, there were so many choices!  The classic chicken pastry sounded delish.  But what about the house-made mushroom lasagna or the champagne risotto with scallops?  Both of which I personally knew were topnotch.  Don’t even get me started on dessert.  All house made (as is everything served in the restaurant—the only item not made there is the mustard) sweets from cheesecake to sorbet made it difficult to only choose one.  The decisions were going to be tough.

Course One—Pesto and artichoke thin crust pizza paired with Chateau Mayne Pargade white Bordeaux:  the thin crust, European style pizza with fresh basil pesto was divine.  The rich pesto and cheese blend on the pizza were great contrasting pairings with the Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend in the wine.  This was a tasty and refreshing pairing to start our meal.
Course one:  artichoke pesto pizza with white Bordeaux

Course Two—Chef’s special filet served atop a red-wine risotto with blue cheese crumbles paired with Point North Oregon Pinot Noir from Sean Minor Wines:  Oh.  My.  Gosh!  I knew that the Wine Cellar’s Champagne risotto was amazing, but this risotto, created with wine and blue cheese, was over-the-top!  The filet was prepared perfectly.  And the pairing with an earthy and fruity Oregon Pinot was flawless.

Course Three—House-made vanilla bean ice cream with cabernet hot fudge sauce paired with Croze Port.  This was a very special, yet lighter, dessert.  The fact that the ice cream and sauce were both house made is impressive.  The pairing with the port was spot-on, and even my fellow diners who are still building a palate to properly appreciate port enjoyed the course.
Dessert course:  house-made vanilla bean ice cream with cabernet fudge sauce and port.

If you love wine and food, don’t wait for a formal wine dinner…build one yourself!  Contact a great restaurant (like the Wine Cellar) and a sommelier (like me) to help you out if needed, but great wine and food should not be put off because of lack of opportunity.  If you build it, your friends will eat…and drink…well!  BYOWD soon.
Build Your Own Wine Dinner!
My initial blog post about The Wine Cellar can be enjoyed here.