Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tantalizing tasting of wines and "tapas" is delicious at DINO's (1-30-12)

Each year DINO's offers up a number of charity auction items through the generosity of proprietor Dean Gold. Back in 2010, we purchased this tasting of wines with small plates and invited some friends; needless to say we had a fabulous time. They liked it so much, they purchased the item at last November's Signature Chefs benefiting March of Dimes. While this is offered at auctions, you can always contact DINO's and arrange for an event like this privately at any time!
We sat down and immediately started to gobble up the tasty bread as our friendly and attentive server, Jimmy, brought out the first "round" of drinks.
ROYAL RUMBLE SAZERAC is made with a fig-infused liquor called Balcones Rumble along with St. George Absinthe, peach bitters and cinnamon syrup. It's an intense herb-filled experience and oddly, the absinthe's licorice flavor did not bother me (I don't like licorice).
It was served with a drink called OLD MAN and the C (a play on cranberry) concocted from house cranberry & grapefruit infused Plymouth Gin, Pritchard's cranberry Rum, grapefruit juice, house cranberry syrup, fresh ginger, grapefruit and orange bitters. It was a refreshing drink that was fairly sweet and gone quickly; a pleasing aperitif on it's own.
The first two "plates" that arrived soon after were soups: WILD MUSHROOM was divine and made from Hedgehog, Black Trumpet, Yellowfoot Chanterelles and some local green garlic. It had a slight spice punch from soup grape powder! We all raved. The LENTIL SOUP with Cotechino & Very Strong Gorgonzola was not that strong and also quite tasty. It's earthiness worked well with the Royal Rumble as well.

The next round moved onto two slightly sparkling wines:
CALATRONI "Unico Rose" a Pinot Grigio based sparker that was quite fruity.
These light wines worked well with the several dishes that we also gobbled up:
House Spiced ALMONDS
WILD BOAR PATE with Ginger Mostarda and divine Pickled Red Onions
FEGATINI (duck liver spread)
DUCK CRACKLINGS which were huge fitter-like deep fried duck pieces (I managed to get what I thought was a neck, but it turned out to be a duck "tuchus" -that's bum for those who don't understand Yiddish!)
BRUSSELS SPROUTS with PORK BELLY & Old Balsamico was a super preparation as well
but it was the
PUNTARELLA that blew everyone away. A simple "salad," if you will, made from Asparagus Chicory (bulblike greens) with great flavor and an ANCHOVY Dressing.

The next group of wines were both young and oh so different garnering many remarks after Dean's extensive and informative explanation:
MARCARINI d'ALBA 2010 from Piemonte is a very light Nebbiolo that is ready to drink now and
BEGALI "Ripasso" 2009 VALPOLICELLA is a bit heftier and went superbly with the
CANELLONI TWO WAYS--a beef made from Pot Roast and a Wild Mushroom from Hanshimeji, Beach, Trumpet, King Oyster, Shitake & Cremini tubers. The earthiness of the mushrooms really paired with the Nebbiolo.

The final plates for the program were Two Goat cheeses:
Bottera Capra Cremosa with black truffles--YES!!!
and Carr Valley Billy Blue, a crumbly salty lighter blue from Wisconsin
The wines were PORTO del VENTO an earthy red by ISHAC made from Nero d'Avola and
St. Paul's "Gries" 2009 from Alto Adige made from Lagrein grapes.

Some folks still wanted dessert, so an array of various choices followed (I did not taste or keep track), but indulged in two more cheeses!
Capriole "Julianna" goat from Indiana which was nice and LIVELY RUN Goat Dairy "Cayuga Blue" from NY that I adored. Some pickled ginger on the side was an interesting touch, but not my favorite thing with these cheese. there were more of those fab spiced almonds though!

We left knowing that DINO's is always a place to go for fun, great food, amazing wines and more!