Last night, we had the pleasure of partnering with the Aurora Inn for a wine dinner which featured Heart & Hands wine! Dining at the Aurora Inn is always a treat - we feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful fine dining establishment just four miles away from the winery in rural upstate New York. Executive Chef, Patrick Higgins is constantly reinventing the menu, using (or preserving) what is fresh locally, and creating innovative cuisine which is always flawlessly executed, beautifully presented and served with great care.
This year, Meryl Davis, the Director of Training and Service, introduced the "Epicurean event" concept, which includes wine dinners as well as culinary classes. For each of the wine dinners, Patrick and his team craft a completely new menu, with several courses custom-paired with specific wines from the featured winery. This winter, the Inn hosted Red Tail Ridge and Hermann J. Wiemer wineries, and we were blown away by the wines and the food pairings, so see couldn't wait to see what the team at the Inn would dream up to pair with our wines!
The evening began with our 2008 Brut Rose - a release from our library. Then it was on to a pan seared scallop over a fresh snap pea puree, with squid ink "caviar" paired with our 2010 Patrician Verona Riesling. This was followed by a mussel bisque - which was paired with our 2010 Polarity.
After a brief Intermezzo, we transitioned to the Pinot Noir.... Lamb and Pinot Noir are a classic food and wine pairing - and one of Tom's personal favorites. The 2010 Pinot Noir was paired with a lamb loin topped with fava beans, and a strawberry compote. The compote was sweet and savory and complemented the lamb beautifully!
The final main course pairing was a squab tartine (pictured to the right), paired with our 2009 Barrel Reserve Pinot Noir - a pre-release of an upcoming wine. The squab was prepared two different ways: the breast was pan roasted, while the leg was braised. The meat was resting on a toasted house- made brioche, which rested on bourbon cherry jus. Patrick and his team preserved about 40 pounds of fresh local cherries in bourbon last summer - and they were well worth the wait! Beneath the breast, there was a mix of diced celery, onions and carrots with a mixture of herbs - which reminded me of the flavors and aromas in my mother's Thanksgiving stuffing.
And finally, we were treated to an amazing dessert, created by Trina Myers - the Aurora Inn pastry chef. If you happen to visit the village of Aurora, but don't have time to dine at the Inn or the Fargo - Trina's specialties are also available at the Village Market, and at Dories in the summer.
This evening, Trina created a modified version of a Caramel Cheesecake - pictured to the left. The crust was a honey vanilla tuile - a kind of dry, lightweight cookie. The cheesecake was crafted from mascarpone cheese and bavarian cream, and had a rich texture, but was not too heavy. The raspberry compote had nice acid, which helped to cut through the richness of the dessert, as did the 2010 Hobbit Hollow Vineyard Riesling.
One of the best parts of the evening was being able to share the wine, and the experience, with all of the other guests at the dinner. It was wonderful to see so many of our regular customers and Claddagh Club members... and we truly enjoyed meeting so many new people during the course of the evening!