Firstly, I know it’s not Wednesday anymore (thank God), but happy belated Wonky Wednesday – please head over to Heather’s blog to see what I mean, and see me making a fool of myself. You’re welcome.
Secondly, tonight is my last day of night school for the semester. Hallelujah! I am taking summer classes but that doesn’t start until mid-June, so I’m going to enjoy the upcoming 1.5 months of not having to go to class after work. It really, really sucks.
And thirdly, I attended yet another wine and food pairing dinner at CW’s Chops n Catch two Mondays ago (and one Monday ago, but that recap will have to wait). You can read about the last two I attended here and here.
Sweater: Forever 21
Earrings/Bracelet: Charlotte Russe
Jeggings: American Eagle
Boots: some really cheap store in Buckland Hills Mall (across from Express, for locals)
Kevin was kind enough to put up with me being 15 minutes late because I had to shower after sneaking in 30 minutes of Spin! Not bad post-workout-fuel, eh? Homemade tzatziki sauce with warm pita and beer-braised lamb sausage with a brown mustard! I don’t think this pita was homemade, it tasted very store-bought, but the tzatziki was unique and unlike any kind I’ve purchased in a grocery store. Sausage was cooked to perfection, you may see that phrase a lot in this review.
Next up was a pulled lamb shank slider on a house-made Parker House roll with feta fondue, preserved lemon (on the left) and harissa aioli (on the right). The small plate was paired with Cameron Hughes Lot 266 Los Carneros Pinot Noir (2009), which was quite good but a little lighter than what I was craving with such a hearty course.
The aioli was dynamite and the lemon was a unique accent but the real star of the show was of course the pulled lamb. We were served mint jelly with this course, to be used throughout the meal, and I tried it on a few bites. Quite interesting – not sure if it’s my thing, though I was glad to finally sample the epic lamb and mint pairing I’ve heard so much about. Despite the fact that the roll was freshly baked, crispy on the outside, and not too much bread that it overpowered the lamb, I didn’t finish it all because I wanted to save room for what I figured was coming next…
Even with all this food, there is usually bread served at these Chops n Catch dinners to help space out the courses. What I like about the bread is that it and the butter often change with each visit, so you never know what you’ll get. The above crispy sourdough was new, but the butter was not – just plain, though served nice and warm for easy spreading. Kevin and I got into a very long discussion about our pet peeve, cold butter. This was probably fueled by the fact that earlier that day I had written about that very annoyance. Anyways, I had one piece.
The most unique dish of the evening was the above leg of lamb satay with a green goddess dressing and tempura asparagus. Not exactly sure what was in that dressing (and hearing the name reminded me of Annie’s Goddess dressing, a blog world gem) but it was AMAZING! As you can probably see above, the lamb satay was drizzled with balsamic, which was an amazing flavor combo with every other component of the plate. I adored the crispy exterior of the lamb too – but it was still so nice, pink, and juicy inside. Finally, the asparagus impressed me the most because though it was fried, I could still TELL that I was eating asparagus. So often with fried food, the taste of the food itself is drowned out by oil and breading. Not here!
The course was paired with Cameron Hughes Lot 261 Alexander Valley Cabernet (2009). This vineyard’s bottle prices start at $35, but through Cameron Hughes one can purchase it for $13! I loved this cab far more than others I’ve tried because it had such a strong flavor and wasn’t too light.
Compared to the other dishes, the presentation of the main course of a simply grilled lamb loin and chop duo with Manchego and potato croquettes looks a bit sad, doesn’t it? But it tasted anything but. Firstly, you can see that the lamb was once again cooked very well – nice and juicy with a slightly charred exterior, just the way I like it. I honestly couldn’t taste a huge difference between the chop and the loin, but it was fun to have a couple of different “forms” of lamb on my plate in one dish anyway. The croquettes were so out of this world…think a gourmet tater-tot filled with fancy cheese. And crispier than a normal tater tot. Yeah, that’s heaven.
This course’s wine pairing, a Cameron Hughes Lot 245 North Coast Zinfandel (2009), had me weary. Typically I don’t like red zin because a) I can’t get white zin out of my head and I openly admit that negatively biases me and b) it’s usually too light. Again, the hearty lamb seemed destined to be paired with a full-bodied red. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually my favorite wine of the evening, and it paired well with both the lamb and the croquettes.
Finally, we have dessert. I didn’t find out what kind of wine was served with it specifically, but there’s not much to talk about because it was a Cameron Hughes Moscato that I did not enjoy at ALL. Not their fault…moscato is far too sweet and far too carbonated for my taste. Bleh! I only took a couple sips, paired with a bite of each part of the above dessert plate, to see how the flavor combos were. Alas, the wine and my dislike for it crowded my judgement of the pairings.
I was wined out by that point anyway (the rep was VERY generous about topping off glasses between courses) and was fine with focusing on the food. And oh man, what a good batch of food it was! On the top is a Greek dessert galaktoboureko and home-made whipped cream. The latter was soo rich, like the Starbucks whipped cream. The Greek pastry was made with the classic phyllo dough of Greek desserts, filled with a tasty custard. Amazing! On the lower part of the plate is Easter bread with yogurt, sprinkled with powdered sugar. The yogurt was plain Greek, my favorite kind! The bread was not too sweet, which is good because the powdered sugar would have been too much.
And we capped off the whole meal with a shooter of ouzo. OPA!!!
Thanks to the always-magnificent Chef Corey Wry for designing and cooking up a fantastic menu!
Do you like lamb? Have you ever tried ouzo? Which of these courses would you want to try most?