Three months ago we began a series of monthly wine and food pairings mostly so we could support our habit – an addictive love of great wine and food paired with the company of friends, old and new! On the third Saturday of every month until we have satiated our need, we invite you, our guest, to join us for our pre-dinner “teaser” of perfectly paired wine and foods.
The party starts at 6:00 p.m. and for the next hour and a half our guest speaker will share a vast knowledge of the wines, regions, and varietals. Hopefully, our culinary talents will provide you a marriage of wine and foods that will open up possibilities for you.
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Last evening (June 19, 2010) a trio of innkeepers, Teresa, Diane and Jackie, hosted the first of 12 Wine and Food Pairing evenings at Azalea Inn and Gardens. Join us every Saturday of the month, and a lively theme will give you a hint of what is to come. Diane Rousakis, accompanied by Lindsay Melton of United Distributors, lent her expertise to the evening showcasing five wines from her portfolio in response to “Summer Whites: Do Blondes Have More Fun?” We took a slightly unconventional approach this evening presenting each wine individually, followed by its paired appetizer, an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast each wine and note how food combinations may change your perception.
Maso Canali Pinot Grigio was first up paired with (surprisingly) Onion Rings! Diane gave an easy to understand lecture on the pinot grigio grape and the particular characteristics of this blending. Everyone had the opportunity to appreciate the characteristics of the wine before sampling the onion rings, prepared by Azalea Inn and Garden’s chef, Kolin. The delicate crunch of the rings and the bite of the onion dipped into two somewhat zesty dipping sauces were a hit!
Our second wine of the evening was the Alamos Torrontes, an Argentina wine with citrus and peach notes and hints of jasmine and herbs which made it a perfect pairing for something a bit spicy. Jackie of the Zeigler House Inn served up spicy capicola ham rolled around goat cheese and micro-greens all topped with a three-pepper relish.
Next was the Martin Codax Albarino, an aromatic complex Spanish white wine, dry and crisp with flavors of ripe apples, peach, apricots, melon, grapefruit and lemon zest with a bright minerality, making a perfect match for Jackie’s next food pairing. Individual gratins of bay scallops in a white wine sauce with a golden brown crust of garlic, shallots, prosciutto and panko bread crumbs were chosen as the accompaniment to this rich and elegant wine.
California’s Central Coast was brilliantly represented by a William Hill Chardonnay paired perfectly: Crab Cakes with sweet corn and peppers with a whole seed mustard sauce (my personal favorite of the night) prepared by Diane of the Green Palm Inn. This Chardonnay has a tropical nose with toasty oak, pear and vanilla scents. Clean and soft on the palate, butterscotch and tropical fruit flavors married sublimely with the crab cakes and complimented the vanilla cream, buttered popcorn, lime and mineral finish of the wine.
The final wine of the evening, White Haven Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is a refreshing palate pleaser with vibrant peach, tropical fruit and grapefruit aromas with freshly-cut herb undertones. The outstanding Shrimp Shooters with fresh Georgia wild shrimp was an inspired and unusual treat.
The evening wrapped up with a light tart filled with a ginger cream and fresh berries – and we can all thank Kolin for that good night treat!
A good time was had by all!
My sister, Sharon, surprised me with a mid-week visit to celebrate Mother’s Day. We don’t see each other often enough though she only lives a few hours away, so she and her partner, Dana, drove up from Jacksonville on Wednesday morning to share the day with me, in the absence of my own children, all living in California. They arrived about noon, and as I was still working, I sent them off to see Savannah by trolley with the promise to join up as soon as possible. I finally caught up with them close to 5 p.m. down on River Street at a local bar, sipping a brew. After helping Sharon finish hers off, our next venture of the evening was in search of a great bottle of wine and bit of food to go with. I chose a local wine bar, Bacchus, which was just round the corner from where we were.
Though 5:30 is a bit early for a crowd, but I did notice two of my favorite wine-guys as we entered, both of whom work for competing distributors in the Savannah area. Casey steered us toward a B.R. Cohen Cab and entertained us all with the story of Bruce Cohen, manager of the Doobie Brothers, and his successful venture into wine. It is easy to see that Casey has a passion for wine and sharing his knowledge and this choice was a great way to begin a sisters evening together.
Alligator Soul has always been one of my favorites for pairing of food and wine; I love both and am at my happiest when I don’t have to ponder the perfect accompaniment to my dish. Mo, the owner, and her Chef, Chris, offer a Chef’s Tasting Menu of either three or six course, with or without paired wines. We each chose the three-course tasting, with wine, but first the amuse bouche (to amuse the mouth) that starts every meal at Alligator Soul and changes with the day. I cannot now remember what it was, but it doesn’t matter – I was delighted to begin the tasting.
First Course was Poached Halibut and shrimp in a jalapeno miso broth with oyster mushrooms, carrots and green onions, paired with Writer’s Block Roussanne 2006, Lake County California. Second course was a BBQ trio: Guava glazed BBQ ribs with a bourbon smoked ribeye spring roll and a crawfish collard green spring roll paired with Mauritson 2005 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. The third course was a smoked duck breast (hot-dog style) wrapped in spinach and fried potato with roasted lamb chop, zinfandel reduction with red onion relish – oh my! The wine? ONYX, a 2006 Shiraz West Coast South Africa. Our young server inquired whether we might like dessert – which we politely declined.
We are not that temperate – we already had plans to go to Lulu’s Chocolate Bar just a short walk away and indulge in dessert and martinis. I had my favorite Espresso Martini, and then chose the trio of Creme Brulee and stopped just short of licking the little ramekins. My sister had a glass of wine and chocolate peanut butter cake, while Dana realized that the driving was best left to her and she ordered coffee and and a strawberry cake, I think?
As near as I can recall the ride home was uneventful – we did, after all, arrive! The next morning we went to Mom and Nikki’s for breakfast before they headed home.
It was the nicest mother’s day treat my sister could have given me – her company, great food and wine, and love. Sharon told our other sister, Pat, everything we did that night. Pat was shocked – her comment “We couldn’t get her to stay out past 9:30 this past New Year’s Eve, I can’t believe it!” To which Sharon replied, “We were home and in bed by 8:30.”