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Saturday, November 27, 2010


We have had the pleasure of working for and with Reininger Winery for a long time now.  Their annual Holiday Barrell Tasting Party was one of our very first big winery jobs.  Appetizers for 150 people for a two hour party.  I was scared silly at the time.  These days 150 person appetizer parties are kind of run of the mill.

For this year's Fall Release Weekend we were happy to do a first ever for Reininger, a tasting and pairing of small plates for a group of 33 guests.  Here is how the evening broke down.  Guests had a couple of small passed apps as Chuck Reininger gave them a tour of the facility.  Then the show began.  First course was a heirloom squash soup with sage cream, prosciutto di parma, and a mini butternut squash panini with roasted garlic and fried sage - paired with a reserve chardonnay. (here is the dish right before the panini went down for service.)

Second course was a herb de provence crusted pork tenderloin with butter braised brussel sprouts, bacon, and roasted fingerling potatoes - paired with the SoRo Helix. (not pictured)  Third course was a crispy polenta cake/cup filled with Thundering Hooves red wine braised beef ragu, wilted chard and garlic, and parmesan grana (shakily pictured below) - paired with Helix Sangiovese.

The fourth course was a minimalist cassoulet.  Calypso beans from Welcome Table Farm (close to the best beans I have ever had)  The beans are cooked in chicken stock, wine, lamb braising liquid, and thickened with a duck fat roux.  We then incorporated the lamb neck meat, crisp duck confit, and seared cubed saucisson, then topped the whole thing with duck fat mini croutons.  (picture of the lamb braise as it heads to the oven, sorry no pic of finished dish)

The last course was as unlike anything we have ever done.  We poached dried mission figs in helix merlot, then reduced the liquid to a yummy syrup.  Made some marshmallows, and broke off cubes of Girardelli Chocolate.  The whole thing reminded me of a smore, so we added a skewer, and let guests toast up the mallows at their tables over the tea lights.  It was pretty darn good, and pretty fun to do. 

For this years Holiday Barrell Weekend Reininger is switching gears and not doing the appetizer party.  They are planning something much better.  A vertical tasting of Cima (their super tuscan themed red) led by Chuck, followed by a really simple buffet meal of our red wine beef ragu, creamy polenta, and roasted fall vegetables with sage brown butter. 


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