Saturday night was the Washington National Opera Gala and I had the pleasure of joining about 10 folks for an elaborate dinner at the home of The Honourable Tim Grosser, New Zealand's Ambassador to the USA. It was a delicious evening starting with hor's d'oevres and Deutz New Zealand champagne followed by a long and so enjoyable seated dinner. I must say that I have always believed in one degree of separation (or close to that) and the sweet woman seated across from me turned out to be good friends with our friends the Seamans in Naples, Florida!
This was a truly memorable experience for the company as well as the food as it turned out that Ambassador Groser spoke eloquently and extensively on the recent rejection by our president of the Paris Accord which he was influential in authoring!
We started with a simple demi-tasse of Tomato Tea which burst with tomato flavors and was a simple room temperature broth that we all wowed over. It was paired with Drumsara Dry Pinot Gris 2015 from Central Otago (all the wines, of curse, were from New Zealand). Next came Lobster & Caviar Salad paired with an amazing Squawking Magpie Chardonnay "Counting Crows" from Hawke's Bay 2015 that I fell in love with and paired beyond perfectly with the shellfish.
Next came a decadent and delicious Pan Seared Foie Gras with fresh Pears and Sauterne which was fascinatingly paired with a Cloudy Bay "Te Koko" 2013 tope of the line Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.
Chargrilled New Zealand King Salmon with Poached Asparagus and Tarragon Hollandaise was a lesson in the finest of French cuisine using New Zealand's best fish. We have Pacific King Salmon from Alaska which is awfully good, but this is farm raised in New Zealand and really blew us all away. The wine was "The Darling" Sauvignon Blanc 2016 from Marlborough. Add the fact that the plate had some of the finest white asparagus I have ever had in this country (save for those amazing ones that come from Europe every May), and a sauce to die for...OMG.
Smoked Venison Carpaccio from a New Zealand farm as well came with Arugula and was a perfectly wonderful light option for a "meat course" as we were quite full by then. Anthony Joseph Vidal "El Legado" Syrah 2013 from Hawke's Bay was another wonderful treat.
French cheeses followed with Quince Paste and Ostler Caroline's Pinot Noir 2009 Waitaki that was a new and delicious full bodied red for me.
Lemon Tart with Persian Fairy Floss finished the meal with homemade macarons (the French kind)which was paired with a superb dessert wine, Seifried "Sweet Agnes" Late Harvest Riesling 2014 from Nelson.
As if this was not enough, chocolates of all kinds followed as coffee and tea were offered after our 3-1/2 hour extravaganza. WHAT A NIGHT!