In INFUSED, a weekly column, Elizabeth J. Musgrave connects spirits, wine, and beer with culinary and creative arts
You could go to years of specialized, intensive schooling and become a wine expert to learn how to pair wine with your meals.
Seasons 52 unveiled its Summer 2012 wine-paired menu at a private tasting event where, once again, Master Sommelier Miliotes and Senior Culinary Director Chef Cliff Pleau paired up to, well, pair up food and wine. Naturally, you will be able to choose whatever vino you prefer: these are simply their expert recommendations.
Having been invited to the prior-to-opening event, I was suitably impressed to return for S52's spring unveiling and last night's event. The Darden restaurant has continued to impress me with its menu, wine list and service. The entire concept is serve top top quality, local foods, be environmentally conscious (as with the new "green" water bottle made from Earth-friendly corn), and serve excellent wine. How can anyone hate that idea?
Below is the Summer 2012 menu items we tasted, wine pairings and descriptions, along with my notes:
BBQ Chicken Flatbread – glazed BBQ chicken, balsamic onions, sliced scallions, melted Parmesan
Artichoke and Goat Cheese Flatbread – leaf spinach, balsamic onion and roasted peppers
Wine – Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal '10/'11
Note: This wine is crisp and refreshing, perfect with the goat cheese flatbread. There are other apps on the menu such as organic edamame, crab, shrimp stuffed mushrooms and spicy chicken chili relleno.
Chilled lobster and shrimp spring roll – served with sauce trio of cool salsa verde, aromatic lemongrass, sweet-hot red chili
Wine – Hirsch #1 Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal '09/'10
Note: Definitely the Gruner coupled with the seafood. This is one of those “I could make a meal with just these” types of menu items. Seriously. They were light, yet filling; crispy, yet soft. I can picture nibbling on these while dining
Organic Arugula Salad – watermelon, grilled golden beets, goat cheese, jicama, toasted pistachios
Summer Vegetarian Tasting – grains of life, soft taco, chili relleno, vegetables, cedar-roasted tofu, mango chutney
Wine – Honig, Napa '11
Note: This was my favorite white wine served, matching the watermelon as easily as the tofu with mango. I am not a vegetarian by any means. I love red meat. But, this menu selection could convince me to cut way, way back on meat and become a pseudo-vegetarian. Be sure to eat a bite of goat cheese with the beets or watermelon for full effect of flavor.
Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon – corn risotto, fresh asparagus, roasted pepper, dill sauce
Wine – Chehalem INOX, Willamette '10
Piedmontese All natural, Bone-in Strip Steak 11 oz – roasted asparagus, cremini mushrooms, Fingerling potatoes
Wine – Markham Cellar 1879, Napa '10
Note: 1879 must have been fantastic year. This red wine encompassed almost all of my needs in a wine – smoky and woodsy, the mushrooms and beef loved it as much as I did. The salmon, difficult to come by due to seasonal restrictions, with a dab of dill and red pepper was soothed by the lemongrass notes of this Chardonnay.
Mini-indulgence desserts – mocha macchiato, blueberry cheesecake, raspberry & chocolate chip cannoli, pecan pie with vanilla mousse, Belgian chocolate Rocky Road, Key lime pie, chocolate peanut butter mousse, Meyer lemon, fresh fruit.
Wine – Jam Jar Moscato, Western Cape '11
Note: Moscato is definitely a wine to go with for desserts if you are not certain which to choose – you can't go wrong with it for cheesecake or mousse. Desserts also change with the season.
[PHOTO CREDITS: Elizabeth J. Musgrave; Seasons 52]
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, freelance feature writer, and an Indianapolis performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her newest column, Infused at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodandDrinkDigital.com and as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC. Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, www.BroadwayWorld.com, in M magazine and these newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter. Connect on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.