If you can’t make a trip to Napa Valley (but any wine enthusiast will tell you it’s practically mandatory), it is good to know there are local food and wine pairing events like the “Taste of Napa,” a five-course pairing dinner that took place at Ruth Chris Steak House, in Fort Lauderdale. It was the perfect opportunity to experience several Ruth’s Chris dishes paired with some top-notch Napa Valley wines, including Beringer Vineyards, Stags’ Leap Winery, Etude and St. Clement Vineyards. Local crooner Tony Martelli was also on hand for the event, entertaining everyone throughout the night with his soulful renditions of great American lounge music standards.
After listening to a brief introduction from our host, we watched a short 10-minute video that highlighted all of the wineries involved in the event. Then, it was time to eat! The menu, by course—
- First Course: Roasted Asparagus & Herbed Goat Cheese Arugula, mustard vinaigrette, kalamata olives, paired with Beringer Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
(The earthy tastes the goat cheese and saltiness of the kalamata olives contrasted nicely with the citrus notes of the Sauvignon Blanc.)
- Second Course: Snow Crab Bisque Spiked with brandy & chardonnay, garlic croutons, paired with St. Clement Napa Valley Chardonnay
(The sweet and tangy bisque and the Chardonnay were an exceptional pairing – wish we could have had another bowl!)
- Third Course: Warm Cremini Mushroom Tart Balsamic beurre blanc, spring vegetable chutney, paired with Etude Carneros Pinot Noir
(The surprisingly strong oak and caramel notes of the Etude Pinot Noir never took away from the earthy flavor of the mushroom and the spiciness of the chutney.)
- Fourth Course: Filet Mignon with Cabernet Onions served sizzling with butter and parsley, paired with Stags’ Leap Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Accompaniments included a creamed spinach with bleu cheese gratinée and Pecan crusted sweet potato casserole
(This was, by far, our favorite dish of the night. Though there was a small mix-up when servers brought our steaks, it didn’t take away the fact that Ruth Chris offers amazing cuts of beef. Juicy and flavorful, the filets paired nicely with the bold, intensity of the Stags’ Leap Cab. The sides? We could have made a meal them and only them!)
- Fifth Course: Cheesecake Brûlée Chewy gooey chocolate-walnut cookie, rhubarb compote, strawberry sauce, paired with Beringer Nightingale Semillon Sauvignon-Blanc
(It would be nice to say we finished dessert and enjoyed every bite, but honestly, we didn’t. By the time dessert arrived we were stuffed, literally. That’s not to say we didn’t try. But after enjoying four amazing courses and the seemingly never-ending glasses of wine – dessert was an afterthought.)
The “Taste Of Napa” was one of the more enjoyable food and wine events we’ve attended in some time. Ruth Chris Steakhouse, whose reputation for fine dining goes without question, was the perfect forum to hold such an event. This was one of several events that Ruth Chris has planned for 2013, so if you have an opportunity to go, definitely do it.