Monday, February 20, 2012

Wining in the Inland Empire...

Once again, we changed our plans for a quiet evening at a local restaurant to an excursion into the wilds of the Inland Empire. New friends, Susie Leivas and Chef Cheryl Markwardt, put together an amazing and delicious dinner for their Meet-Up group, and we were the lucky ones!

Tuscan dinner setting
John, Shawn, Debra, and I carpooled to Rancho Cucamonga on a cool, cloudy evening. The traffic gods were with us, and we made it out there in 45 minutes. Susie and Chef Cheryl were ready for us and popped the cork on a 2009 Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux sparkler to pair with the appetizers listed below. Shawn opened a bottle of his 2009 Grenache for an additional pairing, and as the other guests arrived, the evening just got better and better!

Stuffed dates

Stuffed dates with mascarpone cheese wrapped in proscuitto ham.
Chicken liver pate' on bruschetta.
Saint-Hilaire Blanquette De Limoux 2009 sparkling Brut
Shai Cellars 2009 Grenache

Amuse Bouche:
Saffron Arancini filled with mozzarella.
Shai Cellars 2009 Grenache
For those of you who aren't familiar with arancini, here's a brief description from Wikipedia: Arancini or arancine are fried (or, less commonly, baked) rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century. Arancine are usually filled with ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce, mozzarella, and/or peas. The name derives from the food's shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means "little orange").

Fennel & orange salad

Fennel and Orange Salad - not originally on the menu, but Chef must have felt we didn't have enough food...sigh..

First Course:
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Parmesan Crouton.
Brander 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

Main Entree:
Porchetta (pork roast) seasoned with fennel, garlic and fresh herbs, and roasted fingerling potatoes, seasonal vegetables.
Bramosia Chianti Classico 2008 DOCG
Shai Cellars 2008 Adome

Poached Pear with mascarpone mousse, blackberry merlot sauce and twill cookie.
Vin Santo del Chianti DOC 2004 Altesino di Montalcino

Poached pear - OMG

We had a wonderful evening making new friends over a superb meal.

Congratulations to Susie and Chef Cheryl! I hope we'll be invited back for more of their delightful culinary adventures!

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