(look, these guys are having fun…!!)
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to participate in Joe Ricchio and SoPo Wine’s Rocky IV Wine/Beer Dinner at Krista Desjarlais’s Bresca. Upon hearing mention of it back in September, I devotedly watched all the Rocky films that would air on TV just about every week. I made a reservation for four, with the hopes that three of my wonderful coworkers would enjoy the film, food, and alcohol, just as much as I hoped to.
Fast forward to a rainy mid-November Wednesday evening at six. Diners made their way into the quaint, and recently renovated Desjarlais sanctuary and mingled while the first glasses of bubbly were being poured (see specific alcohol notes below each dish description!). Joe, briefed everyone on the theme of the evening, and introduced the first pour. Soon there after we, all thirteen of us, sat at our respective tables, and Sylvester Stallone appeared on Joe’s tremendous Mac, which doubles as the screen at all of his wine/movie nights (think back to Clash of the Titans in September). Thoroughly engrossed in the film, I barely noticed the first plate being dropped at our table.
So Fab Egg
smoked potato, caviar, soft quail egg, creamed ruby chard
NV Ambroise Cremant de Bourgogne, France
A decadent softened quails egg topped with American caviar was a nice and cool way to start off the evening. Despite the cold serving temperature and it’s slight conflict with the texture of the quail’s egg, I was more than pleased with the dish as a whole. The caviar added the right amount of saltiness and the potato countered that flavor with it’s smokey flavor. The creamed ruby chard was the highlight of the dish in my opinion- beautifully soft, slightly warmed, and borderline ambrosial, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to prepare chard.
Tallinn Fish Börd
beet and vodka cured gravlax….rye crisp
smoked sardine….charred levain
Dugges “Hip Hip Hooray” American Pale Ale, Sweden
This course was by far my favorite, and surprisingly too. Upon receiving any dish that is depicted as a duo or trio, or set of whatever, the diner is prone to be more critical– seeing as there are multiple dishes compiled together. The fish bord was fantastic however, and there isn’t much else I’d want besides a crappy beer in place of Dugges Hip Hip Hooray– a Miller High Life would have done this dish just as much justice as the beer pairing in this case did. The smoked sardine proved to be everyone at my tables’ favorite. The saltiness, and slight chewiness of the sardine was coupled nicely with the crispness of the grilled French levain. The house cured gravlax was also impressive, and served as a generous portion. My least favorite aspect of this plate was certainly the scallops. Without a proper sear, and barely any seasoning, I was a bit let down by the protein. All of its’ accompaniments were divine however– especially the heirloom tomato compote, which was dyed with squid ink.
caramelized onion, apple, gruyere
2008 Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Rizling, Hungary
This Spaetzle was enchanting to say the very least. The very definition of comfort food. I couldn’t imagine a more suitable dish for a rainy November evening besides this one. Spaetzle can be good or bad- depending largely upon who’s making it. Krista’s however was decadent. The quintessential pairing of onion, apple, and gruyere made this dish all the more likable. Imagine a hearty mac & cheese, with nice chunks of quark (a fresh cheese, that’s right, I said FRESH), apple, and caramelized onion. You can’t get much better than that, now can you?
Beef Cheek Goulash
creamy corn grits, caraway crisp
2009 Sattler St. Laurent, Austria
Beef cheek- certainly one of my favorite cuts of meat. Incredibly tender, almost impossible to be butchered (I’m so punny….) the cheek is oftentimes ignored. I was very pleased to see that Krista recognized how wonderful this cut of beef is, and even more pleased by her showcasing of it. The flavor was a nice change of pace from the spatzle that we all wolfed down, minutes before. The sauce, in part quite one-note if you ask me, was broken down by the heaps of fresh yoghurt, or was that creme fraiche, scattered throughout the dish. The result was great, but you had to make sure to properly mix the sauce and dairy for a more complex flavor. The corn grits were nice and provided the dish with a southern chili-esque feeling. The caraway crisp placed on top of the heaping mountain of beef cheek, did the dish justice as well.
vanilla soufflé, fruits of the forest, raspberry sorbet, salted burnt ember ice cream
2007 Clos Uroulat Jurancon “Clos Uroulat”
Dessert! The pinnacle of every single meal. Krista’s specialty. A diner’s last memory of their refection. Upon first hearing about the menu, (off of Joe’s facebook, ahem, thanks a lot for that spoiler alert…), I was beyond excited. BURNT EMBER ICE CREAM…salted. What?! Krista makes delicious ice cream, her orange blossom and white pepper sorbet has yet to be surpassed by any other flavor in my book. Souffles, if done properly, are quite delectable. And though I’m not vanilla’s biggest fan, my expectations for this course were indeed, high. The introduction to the wine was simply kept at, “The nectar of the Gods”– elysian, ambrosial, celestial, sublime– whatever word you might pick, were the immediate implications for the dessert itself. I was left with mixed feelings. The ice cream was, to be concise, delicious. Satiating. Creamy. The fresh raspberries, ground-cherries, and blackberries were a nice addition. The fruit leather, which was formed into a cylinder and placed a-top of a raspberry sorbet with a lit candle, was innovative, pretty, and quite tasty as well. The souffle, was the only thing that brought me a few moments of disappointment. It was partially undercooked, and a bit too cold for my liking, but was made up for by the ice cream. Smoky, delicate, and purely fantastic, I could have eaten spoonful after spoonful. It was just that good.
Who cares if we didn’t get fried lamb sweetbreads this time around! The Rocky IV Wine Dinner at Bresca was great in it’s own way. Everyone enjoyed one another’s company, as well as the food, and Sylvester Stallone’s irrefutably chic wardrobe- hello Hugo Boss sweatshirts. Next time Joe Ricchio hosts a movie/wine night at Bresca, be sure to get your table fast– two superb wine dinners in a row doesn’t mean there was a coincidence. It simply shows that Joe knows his wine, and Krista knows her food.