My idea of a great night is spending an entire day prepping and cooking a much deliberated over menu to pair perfectly with the wines that instigated those flavor combinations. Then serving course after course until I am exhausted and my diners are satiated, which is the primary goal of a "food orgasm." Their satisfaction is mine.
One specific food event, I went totally out on a limb. As I was developing the courses for a holiday five course feast, I tasted the Renwood Viognier which I had chosen for course number two. I swirled, inhaled, savoured and spit the floral wine while my food memory was reeling with images of what would normally be insane flavor combinations. Eggplant, corn, goat cheese, sweet/savoury......craziness, but I was ready to try it.
I wasn't sure if it was all going to work, but the result was a goose bump, hair standing, "Al face" response; all the true measurements of success in my book.
The entire menu looked something like this:
Salmon Tartar in Zucchini Ribbons
Assortment of Meats and Cheeses
Manchego Stuffed Duck Pastry
1998 Saint-Hilaire Sparkling Wine, Limoux, France
Eggplant/ Plantain Stack
2011 Renwood, Viognier, California
Peach and Pistachio Arugula Salad
Pomegranate Braised Lamb in Prosciutto Cups over Smoky Polenta
2009 Humanitas, Cabernet, Dry Creek, Sonoma Valley, California
Chocolate-Date Cake with Toffee Glaze and Brandy Ice Cream
Taylor Fladgate, 10 Year Old Tawny Port
My personal favorite of the line up was the crazy combination course. How fabulously it went with that viognier...
Eggplant/ Plantain Stack
One Lb eggplant(s) (longer shape for even ½ inch thick round slices
1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil for frying
1 lg shallot, diced
1 lg very ripe plantain, unpeeled
1 garlic clove thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbls pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspooon capers
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼ in dice
2 Tbl golden raisins, chopped
2 Tbl basil leaves, chiffonade
1 egg beaten with 1 tbl water
2 cups corn chips, processed to crumbs
¼ cup soft goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Put the plantain in a small baking dish and pierce the skin with a fork. Bake it until very soft. 40 minutes. In a small skillet, heat the 1 tbl olive oil and add the shallot and garlic, cover and cook over moderate heat stirring occasionally until very soft and browned (about 7 minutes). Peel the baked plantain and add it to the skillet. Lightly mash with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then transfer it to a food processor and puree until soft. Cover the mixture and keep warm. Stir together pine nuts, capers, tomatoes, raisins and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Put the egg wash, corn chip crumbs and flour in separate bowls. Dip eggplant in flour, then egg, allowing excess to drip off, then chip crumbs. Fry in 1/8 inch coconut oil until brown and soft (3 min per side). Keep the slices warm in oven. Place one eggplant slice on each of 4 plates, spread with plantain puree and 3/4 tbl goat cheese. Repeat to form one more layer and top with remaining slice. Spoon the tomato mixture on and around the plate, drizzle truffle oil around plate. Serves 4.