As I’ve mentioned before, I am part of a wine club, “Friends of the Vine,” at the Country Club. The club hosts several wine dinners each year and I try to go to as many as possible. When I first saw they there was going to be a Spanish Tapas wine dinner I knew I wanted my sister to come, so I sent her an email right then and there (about 6 months ago). The wine dinner finally arrived and I think that Maggie is really glad that she came for this event.
“Tres Maneras” translates into “three ways.” And that’s exactly what we had. Six courses, three ways. Meaning there were six plates with three different interpretations of the course along with a wine pairing.
In one word: ambitious.
Even the wine representative was impressed. Out of 200 wine dinners that he has attended, this may be the most ambitious.
And the best part, the Chef knocked it out of the park.
Of course we had our favorites and least favorites, but I would rather taste something that is creative and outside of the box and perhaps not my favorite than to eat the same thing over and over again. And that’s why I love chef’s tastings to begin with.
I am going to share with you the menu along with photos of the plates, please keep in mind that I am not a fan of flashes during these types of dinners so the photo quality declines as the night progresses. But I can assure you that the quality of the food did not decline.
Tres Maneras Wine Dinner
Cucumber and Green Tomato
Roasted Bell Pepper
Asparagus and Citrus
Vinho Verde Blanc 2013, Conde Villar, Minho-Portugal
This was one of the only courses that Maggie and I actually didn’t agree on a favorite. I loved the Roasted Bell Pepper gazpacho while she favored the Cucumber and Green Tomato gazpacho. My only complaint for this course was they were almost too thick. While I enjoyed all of them, I found my favorite to be the most soup-like of the three. Of course I loved this wine pairing because I’m a fan of whites. But I did learn that vihno verdes virtually have no shelf life – meaning, drink them now – leaving them to age on a wine rack won’t do you any good.
Lamb and Couscous
Lamb and Picadillo
Lamb and Spanish Rice
Garnacha/Carinena, La Cartuja 2012 Red, Priorat-Spain
The Lamb and Couscous empanada was by-far the favorite. The flavors were amazing and there wasn’t too much dough. The Lamb Picadillo was too olive-y for my taste buds. Though I liked the first empanada better, the mint aioli on the last emapanada was delicious and I’m totally recreating it at home. Great pairing with the wine. I truly love red wine when paired with food.
Beef Tenderloin Tartare
Quinta de la Rossa DouRossa Red 2011, Douro-Portugal
The flavors on this plate were incredible. The tuna literally melted in your mouth and was the favorite of ours. I did love the pop of freshness of the watermelon salad that balanced the flavors of the other two presentations. Crudo means “raw” – and this was a raw presentation of tuna, beef and watermelon.
Duck Breast and Wild Mushroom
Grilled Swordfish Croquette
Monastrell 2012, Bodega Juan Gil Red, Jumilla-Spain
In this course, the Chef took a very nontraditional route with “tortillas” and the muffin you see halved in between each of the “maneras” is a tortilla-inspired muffin. So creative! The beef was cooked perfectly and I was obsessed with the fried shallot on top. Obsessed so much that I recreated that detail in our Saturday night dinner. It isn’t that I don’t like duck, it’s just not what I would choose to order on a menu. I’m not sure Maggie had ever had duck. It was good, but not my favorite of the plate. The swordfish was also a favorite of the night. Delicious. The wine was a perfect pairing and I purchased a bottle of this wine, too (along with several others).
Grenache Blanc, Ludovicus 2012, Terra Alta-Spain
This plate of food (along with the wine pairing) was actually the course that most surprised me, but in a good way! In a typical paella, the seafood trio would have mixed together and served on top of a bed of rice. However, in this presentation, each seafood was on a bed of rice and chorizo. I loved the presentation! Unfortunately the lobster did not have very much flavor but the scallop was one of the best scallops I’ve ever had in my life. I loved the addition of the spicy chorizo with the rice. This wine pairing (a white!) also surprised me because usually you start with white wine in a wine dinner and it progressively turns to red wine. But it worked. The pairing was perfect with the seafood and balanced the spiciness of the chorizo. Excellent pairing.
Tres Leches Cheesecake
LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) 2007, Quinta do Crasto Port, Douro-Portugal
Upon looking at the menu, I expected the Churros or the Tres Leches Cheesecake to be my favorite. However, the flan was absolutely delectable. The churros were fried dough delicious and the tres leches was so different from a traditional tres leches that my tongue was almost confused. But the flan was the perfect marriage of flavors and I think after all the other courses I really enjoyed the simplicity of the strawberry flavor. Unfortunately, this port was not my favorite but I understood the pairing – it had to be almost too sweet to stand up to the sweetness of the three desserts.
So there you have.
The Tres Maneras Wine Dinner.
I honestly will say that this was my favorite wine dinner thus far with Friends of the Vine.
The menu was creative.
The menu and dinner set-up was unexpected. When I thought of a Spanish tapas wine dinner, this is not what came to mind.
The incredible variety of wine. (Thank you, Dean Michaels with The Country Vintner.)
The risks that the Chef took on each and every course.
Six courses, three ways.
Needless to say, we left with full bellies.