Tomorrow morning we leave for Rome. Last night we got a pre-taste of Italy at Luci Ancora. Luci’s had a wine dinner with two wine makers – St Innocent and Bethel Heights – both out of Oregon. It was fabulous. We’ve been to wine dinners at Luci’s in the past, but this was even better than I remember.
The MO is pretty standard – hear about the wine and food, eat and drink the wine and food, repeat an embarrassing number of times. St Innocent is a popular guest at wine dinners at Luci’s so it’s a little like home week – but for us regulars it’s as much fun to hear about the family who owns the winery as it is to catch up with the family that owns the restaurant. And the new wine maker fit right in – being sure to say hello to each and every table. But ambiance isn’t the highlight; the food and drink are. Here is an annotated menu…
Pre-dinner – Grilled Prawn served with Watermelon, Radish, and Cucumber and garnished with Tomato Chili Oil with Astoria Prosecco and Ginger Scented Apple Juice – a refreshing start. The shrimp was delicious; the Prosecco, which is always a favorite of mine had that hint of ginger that made it unique.
Bibb lettuce and Arugula served with Pecorino Toscano Cheese and drizzled with Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette with Bethel Heights Gewurztraminer 2010 – another surprisingly light choice, but appreciated more even for its lightness later when the real eating began.
French Chicken prepared two ways, sautéed Breast and Braised Leg served with Borlotti Beans and Demi Glace with St. Innocent “Freedom Hill” 2009 and Bethel Heights 2009 Chardonnays
– First that isn’t a typo starting with this course we got two glasses of wine each round. Score! I heard from the Chef that the chicken was sort of a challenge. Normally chicken isn’t something I order but this was very good – more like turkey and very moist.
Risotto served with Oyster, Crimini, and Portabello Mushrooms and garnished with sautéed Duck Breast with St. Innocent “Vitea Springs” 2009 and St. Innocent “Zenith” 2009 Pinot Noirs. The wines were getting more serious, the flavors were really starting to jump out. The duck was the perfect amount – really more than a garnish, but not a huge amount. The risotto was perfectly cooked.
Grilled Ivory King Salmon seasoned with Smoked Sea Salt and served with Chilled Asparagus Truffle Puree with Bethel Heights Estate 2008 and Casteel Reserve 2007 Pinot Noirs. Salmon and truffle. Do I really have to say more? Two of my favorite things on one plate. SO good that I didn’t even mind the asparagus, which I don’t always love.
Glazed Pork Osso Buco served with Roasted Baby Spring Vegetables with St. Innocent “Justice” 2009 and St. Innocent “Shea” 2009 Pinot Noirs. OK by this stage it was pure gluttony and Patrick was getting generous tastes from my plates – but the pork was a standout.
Dark Savory Housemade Bread topped with Quade de Cavra “Taleggio” Goat Cheese served with Chocolate Cherry Bark with St. Innocent “Freedom Hill” 2008 Pinot Noir. The goal was a savory, not sweet, dessert. But for those of us with a big sweet tooth, the chocolate set off the cheese and cherries.
I tried to remember to take pictures. I didn’t always succeed. And with a couple of courses I may have taken a bite or two before getting the picture.