Last Wednesday night, Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach joined together to present a wine pairing dinner with renowned winery Caymus Vineyards. It seemed only natural to join with acclaimed Chef Amar Santana to do a wine pairing dinner. Chef Amar told me about the dinner, saying “We do a lot of wine dinners, but it’s so much easier to do the food and the menus when the wines are good”. Brent Ferro, who handles the Pacific Region for Caymus Vineyards, added, “When you pair great wines with great food it’s just divine”.
The evening began with appetizers such as lamb shank fritters with Blue cheese sauce, liver mousse on garlic toast, falafel balls with yogurt and tiny porchetta sandwiches with pickles and onions. A Mer Soleil Silver 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay was generously poured for all the guests at the sold out event. The lamb fritters were delicious, as was the porchetta, made and roasted in Broadway’s kitchen. I felt that the dinner was off to a great start.
The first course was paired with a delicious 2011 Mer Soleil Chardonnay Reserve. The wine, made from grapes grown in Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands, The wine, assertive and complex, paired extremely well with the Butter Poached Sturgeon that was served. The sturgeon, afloat in a clam chowder with bits of nori and smoked trout eggs, was cooked perfectly, with just enough of the rich clam chowder to moisten the taste buds.
The next course introduced the first red wine, the Caymus 2012 Belle Glos Pinot Noir. From the southern part of the Santa Lucia Highlands, the grapes from the Las Alturas Vineyard Yielded an exceptionally smooth Pinot Noir. Chef Amar created a delicious Crispy Braised Pork Belly to go with this wine. The pork belly, with a crispy crust and buttery interior, was plated with braised collard greens and a whimsical ball of “mac and cheese”. On the plate, several BBQ’d hazelnuts joined the party. Guests commented on the uniqueness of the flavor of the hazelnuts, smoky and crunchy and an unexpected delight. A fan of pork belly to begin with, I thought Broadway’s version was absolutely superb.
The next course was a rather rare cut of the ribeye called the Ribeye Cap. Most people know it as a small part of a ribeye steak or roast, that little, delicious part near the fat and bone. The cap can be trimmed off before the steaks are cut into a one foot piece and that is what Chef Amar chose to use. It was pepper crusted, served with a rum-peppercorn jus and accompanied by a kale puree. A treat was the root vegetable gratin, looking like a slice of white lasagna with a crispy top. The gratin was very flavorful and worked well with the tender, slightly peppery beef.
With such a delicious piece of meat as the ribeye cap, only an exceptional wine could accompany that. Caymus trotted out their flagship wine, the 2011 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon to join the course. It was robust, yet seemed so smooth that it was hard to guess that it had only been aged a short time. It was very drinkable, yet showed a maturity beyond its years. There were only empty glasses left of this rich wine.
The last course, dessert, was as pretty as it was delicious. An Almond Pear Tart, sitting on a lake of delicious saffron caramel was served with a side of cardamom ice cream. The tart crust was firm and crispy, with the softer half pair on top yielding nice textural contrast. A sweet, Late Harvest Viognier from Mer Soleil went well with the tart, the sweet wine working with the less sweet, flavorful pear tart.This 2004 wine, again from grapes from the Santa Lucia Highlands, has the sweetness of a great Late Harvest wine, sweet but with enough body and a slightly tart finish to leave a delicious aftertaste. It was an excellent way to finish the meal.
Chef Amar introduced each course to the happy diners, while Brent spoke before the meal about the history of Caymus, telling some personal stories of working with the Wagner family and the winery. Overall, it was a delightful night. I’m looking forward to another pairing in May, when Broadway by Amar Santana will present their next wine pairing dinner. Call for information and reservations or visit their website for details.
Broadway by Amar Santana
328 Glenneyre Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Wagner Family of Wine (Caymus, Mer Soleil, Conundrum, Belle Glos, Emmolo)