Wow, uh, wow! That about sums up dinner last night, just… Wow. Stu the Wine Genius arranged a Chateauneuf du Pape wine tasting and dinner at Create Catering, owned by Philip Dorwart and his lovely wife Desiree. What. A. Blast. Create owns a cool-as-hell space in NE Minneapolis, perfect for our table of 12 (Rudy Maxa& Ana Scofield; Stu & Debbie Williams; Joe & Genie Dixon; Karl & Annamarie Rigelman; Louis & Susan Ainsworth), but great for larger parties as well. The space has a spotless, wide-open kitchen so you can chat with and watch Philip and Desiree do their beautiful thing, turning out course after course of perfectly-plated tasties.
As we stood around chatting and sipping bubbly, we scarfed down bite-sized wedges of crispy, paper-thin flatbread topped lightly with sausage, fennel, and just a smidge of salty cheese. I actually heard everyone crunching into them before I realized what deliciousness was going down behind me (too busy talking, shocker, yep). John went wild on the clever little one-bite smoked salmon BLT skewers – ah, my Johnny and appetizers. He always forgets how much goodness is yet to come…
Like our first course of butter-tender duck confit, plated with a fluff of microgreens, alongside a few pieces of creamy blue cheese and fresh fig. Tender/crisp, salty/sweet, all the good stuff, mmm. Few slices of crusty bread and tangy butter sprinkled with coarse salt (right up my alley – salty, tangy butter, woo hoo!). And then on to course two, a warm caramelized onion and bacon tartlet, drizzled with a syrupy wine reduction and just a splash of white truffle oil for perfume, lovely. More crusty bread, more salty, tangy butter. Certainly more Chateauneuf du Pape!
Then our main course, grilled lamb chops alongside soft pillows of homemade gnocchi, garnished with pretty little cubes of fresh-mint jellee, fun touch, so pretty on the plate. And oh yeah, a deliciously cool foil for the sizzling chops.
And then the end (aw shucks, I always hate the end) – a cherry clafoutis, served warm and eggy and tart-sweet, topped with a scoop of melty, spicy ice cream. Desiree commented to Annamarie – one of the top pastry chefs in Minnesota or anywhere, for that matter – that it was mighty intimidating to be making dessert for her. But it was lovely, a perfect finish.
Man, what a dinner! We all dug it hugely – the funky, pretty space, the fantastic wines, chatting with Philip and Desiree and watching them do their thing, and of course, the festive meal itself.
So guys, when are we doing it again????
Not tonight, ha, but that’s OK. More tasties – of a much lower key sort – in order this evening when we and Stacey head to our friend Kathleen Day-Coen’s exhibit at the Flanders Gallery. I’m thinking a little swoop into El Meson for quick empanadas, either on our way in or out of the exhibit. Yeah, a spicy meat-pie should do me, on this once-again (sigh) insanely cold, blustery day!