This past Monday, we were thrilled to host a dinner featuring the wines of Jonas Gustaffson of Vin de Terra Imports alongside the cuisine of Jacques Imperato, chef of Mediterranee Restaurant in Great Falls, Va. A great time was had by all – we can’t think of a better way to start off the week than with thrilling wine and food.
Though the regular menu at Mediterranee is wonderful, full of French bistro classics with a Mediterranean accent, Jacques’ cooking really shines when he’s given a chance to create a special menu. Everyone likes a chance to get creative, and chefs are no different. Last year at a dinner at Belga, for example, we were served a dessert course so unusual and delicious, paired with Priorat of all things, that we still remember its fragrance over a year later!
Normally, wine dinners are created when we have wines we’d like to show, and we ask a chef to create a special menu around them. This time, Jacques approached us, and asked if we had wines that would shine with a meal he wanted to cook. A chef with his creative juices flowing, and delicious wines at great prices – what could be better?
With the crisp and great value Cava from Finca Valldosera, Jacques created a series of bites that provided the perfect savory, crunchy counterpoint to the acidity and effervescence of the sparkling wine:
The second one in from the right was especially delicious: A slice of baguette spread with olive tapenade and then baked until the olive oil and flavors seeped into the bread and the texture became crunchy. Its briny, salty flavor was perfect with bubbles!
This hearty, traditional sausage and white bean soup was almost a meal in and of itself! Soup is notoriously difficult to pair with wine, but the Conceito Contraste Branco Duoro 2009, a white from Portugal, with its clean, bright, grapefruit-y citrus aromas, was perfect with the rich sausage.
The piece de resistance was, of course, the pork three ways: rolled with Serrano ham and breaded; roast suckling pig; and housemade chorizo. The star was undoubtedly the suckling pig, and Doug couldn’t resist snapping this photo:
Delicious? Gruesome? Deliciously gruesome? As for the chorizo, all we can say is that any time you have a chance to have sausage made by chef Jacques, jump at it! Sylvia Puig’s 2004 Odysseus Priorat was the perfect complement. Its intense focus and minerality brought the rich flavors of the pork into sharp relief. This is a wine that counters the assumption that Priorat is flabby and overoaked, and is in a really fantastic place right now.
Thanks to everyone who was able to attend and help make this such a wonderful evening, and if you weren’t there, below are the links to the wines featured at the dinner. Stay tuned for more wine dinners, tastings, and classes as the fall progresses – we hope to see you soon!