Chef Jason Thede prepared an Italian inspired menu for this Italian wine event organized by Geoffrey Johnson for L'Ordre Mondial.
We began the evening with Prosecco di Vald Vend, Bisol, Brut D.O.C. 2009 along with 3 hors d'oevres: bresaola with arugula and onion marinade; roasted eggplant with parmesan and herb crostini; marsala-marinated foie gras terrine with shaved fennel and honey.
Pan-roasted branzino with concentrated tomato, clams, basil and Nicoise olives. The fish was perfectly cooked and the skin crispy. The lovely broth flavoured with clam juices, shallots and tomato were a wonderful accompaniment for the fish. With this dish we enjoyed Cevaro Della Sala, Castello Della Sala, Antinori I.G.T. 2007 and 2008. The 2007, particularly, was a wonderful wine with exuberant fruit, excellent balance and a very long finish, a wine that was so enjoyable on it's own. The 2008 was a wine better with food, possessing a minerality and citrus notes that went well with the fish.
Our next course was lamb "sorpresa", creamy-textured lamb brain which had been gently sauteed and presented with a caper butter sauce and wilted spinach. The wines were Brunello di Montalcino, Biondi-Santi, D.O.C.G. 2003 and a spectacular Brunello di Montacino Riserva, Castel Giacondo, Frescobaldi D.O.C.G. 2000.
A dish inspired by chef Thede's stay at Villa D'Este, Italy followed, a shallow bowl of potato cream soup with some vegetables in a sour sauce in which a perfectly seared scallop complemented all of the flavours. The wines for this course were Chianti Classico Reserva, Nittardo, D.O.C.G. 2003 and Guado Al Tasso Superiore, Bolgheri, D.O.C.G. 2003.
Then, 2 wines were served on their own, a Tignanello, Antinori, I.G.T. 2004 that was wonderful, a big wine, typical of that vintage, and a Ca'Marcanda, Magari, Toscana, Gaja, I.G.T. 2007, that was also very good but did not have the presence of the Tignanello.
We enjoyed those wines as the next course was served, parmesan gnocchi with shredded oxtail, porcini and lightly charred asparagus. The only flaw for me in this meal was the gnocchi, which I found a bit too dense and heavy. Two more wines were poured, a wonderful Sassacaia, Bolgheri, D.O.C. 2003 and a very good Ornellaia, Tenuta Dell'Ornellaia , Bolgheri, D.O.C. 1999. both of these wines were still rather young and undeveloped and will be quite fabulous in about 10 years.
The dessert was a very enjoyable, luxuriously indulgent saffron and toasted almond ice cream on roasted figs, in a crispy Florentine tuile. Visually, a lovely presentation.