Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wine Dinner at Mark's

As an economy measure, my wife and I resolved not to attend any wine dinners in 2016. We were just spending too much money, and often as not, the food was not as good as menu orders in the restaurants when they were not serving a large group all at once, the way they have to do in wine dinners. When we saw an announcement for a Stags Leap Winery dinner at Mark's (616 Dolley Madison Rd, Greensboro, NC 27410, (336) 387-0410,, however, we started 2017 by going back to our old bad habits.

First course: crab macaroni and cheese with herb bousin. The mellow flavor of the cheese blended beautifully with the crab, and both primary flavors matched up well with chardonnay- mild oak, just a little edge- a really good rendition of this perennial favorite.

Second course: rack of lamb with port wine demi-glace and roasted root vegetables. This was paired with 2013 Investor, a red blend of Petite Sirah, Merlot, and Cabernet Savignon. My wife and I both thought the assertiveness of the petite sirah made this especially attractive. It was a little bold for some at the table, though.

Third course: Kobe beef tenderloin, wrapped in bacon, plated on a brioche crouton, surrounded by caramelized onions and truffle reduction. The 2013 Napa Cabernet Savignon stood up to the solid depth of beef flavor from the steak. This struck us as a fairly soft cabernet, ready to drink now, that nevertheless exhibited the unique characteristic of the Stags Leap district terroir. Our host called it "minty." I think "eucalyptus" is closer to the taste I get. Really good, no matter how you term it.

Dessert: blackberry-chocolate bread pudding with cinnamon creme anglaise. This came with a pure 2013 Petite Sirah, for which this winery is especially known. The reputation is justified. This was my favorite wine of the evening- first among other first class wines- and my wife agreed.

We ordered all the wines. So much for starting off the new year economically. This is why we don't go to wine dinners. But we have no regrets this time!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Most Enjoyable Meals of 2016

My wife, Dale, and I enjoyed our meals at Salvino more than anywhere else all year. I have always appreciated the menu items from Chef-owner Sal Bruno, especially the seafoods, but whenever he runs a special, somebody at the table ought to order it. Recent examples, probably repeated in 2017: steak, Italian style, topped with melted cheese; pork tenderloin with walnuts and pears in cream sauce; and Veal Cuscinetto- wrapped around a "cushion" of cheese, with a lush sauce of veal stock and cream. Host Debbie Bruno and staff are natually friendly and gracious. I love this place! 2917 Battleground Ave Greensboro, NC 27408 336-540-8663

Thanksgiving Dinner at Bistro by the Sea

Thanksgiving dinner in Morehead City, at Bistro by the Sea, is becoming sort of a family and friends tradition with us. Chef/proprietor Tim Coyne provides a set menu- fresh turkey, ham, greens, mashed potatoes, and a choice of cornbread or oysters and cornbread dressing. Host Libby Eaton welcomes regulars and friends.