Sunday, March 20, 2016

WINE at Wolf Trap did not work so well this year (Design Cuisine had duds) 3-19-16

Last night was the 8th annual Wine at Wolf Trap, which in the past has been not only a fun event for an intimate crowd held in the Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA, but also a superb wine and food experience.
As always there was excellent Champagne and passed hor's d'oevres including excellent Peking Duck rolls, Quail Eggs with a tad of caviar, earthy-tasty Mushroom Cups and superb braised Beef in an adorable little spoon.
We moved into the theater for our dinner where as always the music got too loud and we had to raise our voices in conversation. I am thankful that I always get seated far from the stage under the balcony overhang where the noise is a bit lessened. Many of us spoke about how fine dining these days is so often marred by a WAY TOO LOUD setting is so many restaurants; this was similar, but not awful.
The seated 5 course meal started with a truly perfectly cooked SEARED FOIE GRAS glazed with Rhubarb on a crispy Brioche Toast with a small piece of Crispy Serrano Ham on Top. Alone it was a dream dish, but none of us at the table could figure out the wine pairing. All the wines at the seated dinner were from Bonneau Wines in Sonoma and were introduced by John Bambury, the vintner and GM, who was most charming, but sadly could not be heard over the loud noise the crowd made as he attempted to tell us about the wines. At any rate, a 2013 Bonneau Sauvignon Blanc (from Monterey & Mendocino) was the wine which we all agreed a good wine, but the worst choice with all its citrus front loaded to charge at the foie gras. Many glasses on the table were left half full for the competent serving staff to take away.
Next was a gorgeous plate of CRISPY PORK BELLY with a SEARED SCALLOP sitting opposite on a superb Seaweed Salad. Next to the scallop was a pile of Vegetable Ash which was weird indeed and in between the two was what was called a "Parmesan Puree" but it was really a Mayo barely flavored with the cheese. While the dish was good, many of us got hugely fatty pieces of belly that were indeed inedible. We also all agreed that these should be TWO different courses as the belly was so fatty it totally overpowered the amazing scallop and its seaweed bed. The wine was  a 2012 Bonneau Chardonnay from St. Catherine's Vineyard in Carneros which was superb and a brilliant choice with the scallop, not with the pork. Indeed it was the next wine served with the third course, a 2012 Bonneau Pinot Noir, which was nice, but very light, that should have been paired with the pork.
This Pinot was actually served alongside the 2009 Bonneau Petit Sirah that was almost everyone's favorite wine all night and worked like a gem with the third course of GRILLED WAGYU TENDERLOIN. A friend next to me said this plate reminded him of hotel food, and while I was not totally in agreement as the meat was delicious, the accompanying Barley Risotto was so overcooked I could not even consider it. Roasted Beets were really a collection of nice Root Veggies.
From here the meal took a decidedly downward turn into an oblivion it could never recover from. STILTON SOUFFLE with Fig Chutney was really more of a miniature Potato Puff, (no souffle was ever this heavy) with nice chutney on the side as well as a yummy slice of the Stilton Cheese itself. One bite of the "souffle/puff" was enough for me, but I did enjoy the cheese. A 2011 Bonneau Cabernet Sauvignon was lighter than many of its California cousins, but drinkable for sure in its youth.
I have no clue who was thinking when they decided on SWEET POTATO DOUGHNUTS which came to our table in varying sizes on a plate with some Brown Butter Ice Cream and a tad of Salted Caramel. The doughnuts were not only cold, but they were hard as if cooked ages before, perhaps in a previous incarnation. The only thing I could even eat on the plate was the salted caramel, which unfortunately was also so cold and hard it had to be scraped off the plate with a spoon. 2009 Bonneau Nectar de Carneros is a dessert wine that I enjoyed but would win no prizes At least it got the cold gumminess from the doughnuts off my palate.

Perhaps the error here started with trying to pair one winery with the meal, as before it has been one distributor with many varying wines that can offer the needed varietal tastes for a meal like that (which incidentally costs $500 per person and should therefore be QUITE impressive as it has always been). Perhaps nobody ever tasted some of the dishes with the wine, perhaps no food expert even thought out the dishes themselves which seemed to be an effort way beyond Design Cuisine's capability. I am indeed so sorry.