I love my CW’s Chops ‘n Catch tasting dinners!!! I’m actually out of order here because I have yet to recap the last one I went to over a month ago, but this one was more impressive anyway (don’t worry, I’ll eventually share the other one as well) and also is special to me because the featured wines were from 2fly, a company owned by the former president of the pool club my family belongs to and a fellow Glastonbury resident, Chris Didden.
I attended the tasting with my foodie friend Jeff (he was at the BBQ Fest with me that weekend too), who has attended most of the other Chops n Catch dinners with me as well:
As usual we started with passed appetizers…
I was psyched to see the napoleons topped with such ginormous olives! The local shitake mushrooms AKA the bottom were the best layer. Such a meaty, hearty texture. I think I’m officially over my former mushroom aversion. The duck spring rolls were so, as Jeff put it, “duck-y”. I’ve never had duck meat in such a pure form, without any sauces, just letting its own flavor stand out. Of course I did try my second (and last) bite of my spring roll in the sesame vinaigrette, which was also delicious, and I came up with the genius idea to hoard the rest of the dressing for other courses. Our waiter got his hand slapped (kidding) when he tried to take it away.
2fly sells wines from others, but they also have their own private label, which I’ve sampled before at Sonoma. The 2010 Chardonnay was given a nice, slightly sweet flavor from the soft citrus. That paired very well with the first course: spinach & local ricotta gnudi with artichoke tar tar and Parmesan broth.
The broth and artichokes, in particular, were my favorite part of the dish to pair with the Chardonnay. The citrus contrasted well with the saltiness. The local ricotta was enjoyed mostly on its own or atop the bread, which sadly got soggy because it was served in the soup. Beautiful presentation, but I’d still prefer to have seen it served on the side since I’m such a crunch fan!
After the first course we were served the usual delicious CW’s garlic knots with a sweet and salty maple butter, which I wish had been more warm and soft for easy spreading! Still fantastic though. I preferred dipping my roll in both the sesame vinaigrette and the leftover Parmesan broth. Definitely the best broth I’d say I’ve ever tried – usually broth-based soups are so boring and blah to me.
I’ve been excited to try wine from the Gewurztraminer grape since CT Food and Wine recommended it to me on Twitter a few weeks ago. Even if it’s white wine, I’m excited to try it if it’s made from a new-to-me grape. I actually liked this guy! I really could taste the hints of lychee! And that makes sense, because the 2fly reps at the dinner told us this is a wine that pairs very well with most Asian dishes.
I’m still getting used to even slightly spicy foods, so when I say the wasabi powder wasn’t even that spicy at all, you should believe me! I enjoyed coating the greens in it. The daikon sprouts were also very good dipped in that sesame vinaigrette from the passed apps – yes, we were STILL hoarding it at this point. The plum dressing on the mizuna greens wasn’t what I’d pictured (I guess I kept seeing a jam in my mind) but tasted SO perfect, really just the right amount. The croutons tasted like the exterior of a fried egg roll – mmm 🙂 of COURSE saving the pork belly for last, it was so so great, also good dipped in the vinaigrette. It really did feel completed by the Gewurztraminer.
Jeff and I initially were torn between the two entree choices because one had a great main component and one had a to die for side component. Then I realized there was an easy solution – get one of each and share! As my sister would say, “Le duh.”
Each dish was paired with a red wine – Conte Estate Gondola Grenache-Shiraz Blend for the steak and 2fly Shiraz for the fish. Now, I always drink red with my seafood, but that’s just because I’m a red wino. It’s often paired with whites. So I was pleased to see the swordfish with the Shiraz, but curious as to the reasoning behind the pairing. The 2fly rep called it one of the lightest Shirazes out there, and after taking one sip I immediately could see why it was served with the fish! Definitely light – I’d call this a Shiraz for someone who normally wouldn’t like Shiraz (and also one for those who do AKA me). I also liked the Grenache-Shiraz blend, definitely went better with the steak than the 2fly Shiraz would’ve.
The steak was nice and pink! It was great in the Chimichurri. The show was SO completely stolen by the gratin though…it should have been illegal. Or not, because then I wouldn’t have gotten to eat it. The sweet potato and Manchego combo – there are just no words!!! Everyone should try this side once in his or her life. I couldn’t get enough.
As I predicted when I saw the menu for this dinner, the potatoes were…potatoes. They were delicious but definitely the least unique part of the entire dinner. I’ve had way better mashed potatoes – I just feel like I could’ve easily recreated these at home, and I was not at CW’s to try that kind of stuff! However, the swordfish made up for that by being crusted in a perfect pepper portion (say that 3x fast!) that put the perfect kick into each bite. Jeff said it was the best cooked swordfish he’d EVER had! The sauce on this plate was OK, but reminded me a little too much of gravy. I felt like a great effort was made to pair the sauce with the potatoes, when I would have much rather tried a sauce that was selected with the swordfish in mind.
The 2fly guys at this dinner were so friendly, informative, and heavy-handed with the pouring (BIG fan). At some of these functions, the reps don’t really know when is an appropriate time to speak about and “sell” the wines, and when they should just leave the diners alone. These guys knew though! They even took the time to sit down with Jeff and I both during and after the dinner for chatting about food, wine, Connecticut, life…whatever it was, it was great fun (and a good way to wait things out and sober up a bit before driving home).
They even did a quick trivia giveaway for a bottle of the 2fly Shiraz – which I won! That makes my second big win at a CW’s tasting dinner!
I felt like I was being eased into different types of wines during this dinner. For example, during the entree I tried a Shiraz (an old favorite) and a Shiraz-Grenache (a blend of an old favorite and a new one). Then I was hit with the Grenache all on its own for the dessert course! I expected some kind of port (I was actually hoping for that) or an ice wine (I hate those, NOT hoping for it) and the Grenache was a surprise to be paired with dessert. However, it was a red wine, so nevertheless I enjoyed it. I think it was the most arbitrary pairing of the meal though.
The dessert was sooo good. I liked how it came out already melt-y, like a cheeries jubilee soup. They’ve used this local brand of ice cream, Royal, at other CW’s dinners and it gets me every time how GOOD their plain vanilla is. No wonder that was the only flavor of ice cream I’d eat until, oh I don’t know, age 12?
Like I mentioned before, Jeff and I stuck around after we paid the check ($45 each – SOOOO affordable for all the food and wine we received), and we were well-rewarded in several ways. One of the 2fly reps ended up gifting me a 2fly hat, which I gave to my dad!
So then I got up to go to the bathroom, and on my way ran into the man, the myth, the legend – Corey Wry himself!
I’ve spoken briefly with Corey before, but this time I got to really thank him for doing these tasting dinners at such an affordable price, and also for being accommodating to non-beer-drinkers like myself and offering wine pairings during his beer dinners. He even said I could pair the courses during the next beer dinner with different whiskeys and bourbon instead! Um, OK!
Jeff and I left with huge smiles on our faces! Thanks to Corey and CW’s Chops ‘n Catch for hosting another great event, and to 2fly Wines for creating such complimentary wine pairings for Corey’s food!
Have you ever tried Grenache or Gewurztraminer?
Have you ever met one of your foodie idols?
Which course would you have enjoyed most? (Meg, don’t bother answering, I know it’s the swordfish.)