Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Grovewood Tavern Wine Dinner

Cleveland people, have you gone to Grovewood Tavern yet? The place rocks.

And I'm not only saying that just because Foodgoat and I were invited by the owner to one of their monthly wine dinners last night (now that is how you treat a food blogger).

The theme of the evening was "The Low Country" around Charleston, South Carolina, with its flavorful African and Caribbean influences of the Gullah culture. Matching each of the six courses was an equally bold Australian wine from Old Bridge Cellars. This was my first time experiencing really well thought out food-wine pairings, and it was splendid - the wines were great, the food was great, and the two together even better. Weird, huh?

We sat at a table with the owners and the wine distributors, and had scintillating conversation, discovering many common bonds, including the love of beer, bacon, and CHEESE (mmmmmm, cheese). People who love food are always the best conversationalists. Oh, and the chef was Filipino! They have chicken adobo on the regular menu!! Am I in Cleveland?!!

The wine distributor introduced each wine and provided a lot of very informative background information about Australian wine and the wineries, such as the fact that some of them were foot-trodden (!).

The first course, the she crab soup (with crunchy pink roe in it!) was paired with the delectable Mak Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It so unusual and so delicious a white wine that we brought three bottles of it home.

The food highlight of the evening for Foodgoat was this macadamia-crusted grouper with grilled cornbread and especially the field pea relish, that was served with Olive Grove Chardonnay. I liked it too, but was mostly happy that I didn't have an allergic reaction to the macademia.

Next up, shrimp with house-made tasso ham, tomato and sweet peppers over stone-ground asiago grits, with Stump Jump Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre.

Then came wonderful, tender pork tenderloin medallions, maple-brined, with fried green tomatoes and eggplant marmalade. With this we had High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon.

And now we come to the pecan-crusted quail, with spiced praline sweet potato pone, and wilted greens with goat cheese and balsamic reduction. It came with another Mak, the Clare Valley Shiraz, which was lovely, smooth, and perfect for late night philosophical debates with friends. We bought more of this to take home, too.

I've never had quail, and here, in my pecan-less version, I was faced with what looked like a whole, tiny chicken. It dictated my having to rip it apart limb from limb so as to suck the tender yet delicious meat from its tiny, delicate bones.

And finally ... fresh peaches with sabayon in an almond tuile cup, and yummy, sweet Chambers Rutherglen Muscat. At one point during dinner, our companions had waxed poetic about the rareness and sweetness of a peach that's just right ... these peaches were close.

At the end, they also provided everyone with a booklet of the recipes from each of the courses, so you could recreate them at home. At first I thought they were giving away their secrets, but then again, the reason we like Grovewood (and why we really enjoyed the wine dinner) wasn't just the food, but the fine food and fine wine in a setting that's remarkably low key and relaxed (a bowling alley used to be where our table was).

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