I have never understood this “food is fuel” concept that we only eat to generate fuel for our bodies…if that were true, would Burrata been created? Or perfect white truffle risotto? Or basil pesto? Or anything with bacon?
And, the idea that the marriage of food and wine came to be because water was undrinkable? I just can’t buy it. And when you have a perfect meal that celebrates the earth’s bounty, and how food and wine come together to enhance each other, you have to believe that there is much more in this world than water, brown rice and boiled chicken.
Such was a meal enjoyed last night at The Four Season’s at Las Colinas, Café on The Green. Visiting the hotel for this year’s TexSom Conference my sweetheart and I enjoyed one of our favorite recent meals with friends. This is this second time we have enjoyed Chef Katie Natale’s decidedly seasonal creations, and this time was a good as the last.
The sign of good food is often the simple ability to taste the ingredients without the need to add a lot of fat or salt. This was artistically displayed in a warm asparagus soup with a soft boiled fried egg (Chef Katie’s nod to The State Fair) poured table side. Green, herbal aromas drift out of each bowl, leading to a rich, velvety asparagus soup created without adding a touch of cream. Paired with a malolactic, barrel fermented, French oak aged Chardonnay from Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu we created a perfect wine and food pairing. The wine was filled with toasty vanilla and cream with light grassy, citrus aromas followed by green apple and honey flavors with balanced acidity.
This wine was also a perfect accompaniment to an appetizer of air dried Speck with warm Brie French toast and fresh balsamic figs.
You can give me fresh figs pretty much and day and I am happy, but the marriage with the sweet toast, warm Brie and salty meat was heavenly. Adding the wine pairing made it a perfect starter.
I have been on a Walla Walla, Washington wine kick lately, in anticipation of our upcoming get away to the region. To pair with our entrees we enjoyed one of our favorites from the region, Leonetti Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 1978 Gary Figgins and his wife Nancy created Leonetti Cellars after years of inspiration from his maternal grandparent’s, Rose and Frank Leonetti who had settled in Walla Walla in 1905. They were Italian immigrants who, like many Italian immigrants in America, made wine in their cellars. From its first vintages, Leonetti wine showed great quality and promise, even though quantities were small.
In 1996 Gary and Nancy’s son Chris joined the family business and soon took charge of all viticulture and wine making operations for Leonetti. He follows his dad’s philosophy of keeping a close hand on all aspects of production, so most Leonetti grapes are from their estate property or very select properties they have worked with for years.
This family business is indeed one of the best Walla Walla has to offer, resulting in silky Cabernet and Merlot rich in character and history.
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon has a select amount of Merlot, Malbec and Carmenere blended in, rounding out the sweet spice, red fruit aromas followed by bold plum, chocolate and coffee filled flavors. Though the wine was dynamic, it matched beautifully with our fish filled main courses.
Wild Alaskan King Salmon is only in season for a few weeks every year, so to have an opportunity to enjoy a generous portion of bright fuchsia, perfectly medium rare, intensely flavorful salmon is a treat. I went a little off menu and added this to a grilled romaine salad with avocado, heirloom tomato and lemon-thyme vinaigrette. The acid and tannins in the wine cut through the healthful fattiness of the fish flawlessly.
My sweetheart went off the menu as well and asked Chef Katie to create a pasta dish with “whimsy.” Again, right on target – fresh cut linguine with sun dried tomatoes and summer vegetables dressed lightly with lemon and olive oil.
The crab crusted Alaskan halibut with an artichoke-bean slaw paired as seamlessly as the salmon, with rich crab on top of a roasted halibut cooked medium to keep the fish moist. I love halibut, but often shy away from ordering it out because it can be overcooked so easily. Not the case here.
A glass of bubbly to end the night and a selection of house made confections, gracefully served by the Cafe’s endlessly accommodating staff, made this one of the most enjoyable meals we’ve had. And though some selections went beyond our need for basic “fuel”, the memories that were made and the laughter that resonated throughout the evening proved that food is meant to be savored and celebrated, and wine is to be paired and appreciated around a table.