Tastings - Washington State

Saturday, February 26, 2011 - 
This past Wednesday, hubs and I made our way to Tastings for date night.  I was in Boston for work the weekend prior, and am making my way there again on Friday (aka today) so our weekend dining date wasn't happening.  As we love Wednesday wine dinners, Tastings seemed like the perfect place to have a night out as the theme was Washington wines.  During our anniversary trip to Seattle, we sipped our way through several wineries at The Tasting Room in Post Alley and were anxious to see what was being offered.

As the first session was clearing out, hubs and I decided to sip on something while we waited.  I have to admit, this was the first time one of us sipped something I enjoyed to the point of having to read more about the wine.  And that my friends is the beauty about Tastings: you get to try something new without committing to the whole glass.  If you like it, get a full glass.  If you don't, try something else.  I love the concept.  Hubs found a winner - a red blend called Apothic Red.  Immense flavor, and at only $18 a bottle, something I would definitely seek out in the future.  Next time you are at Tastings, head to the kiosk near the back of the bar to give this a taste - it is worth it.

First Course - '09 Snoqualmie 'Naked' Gewurtztraminer served with Apple & Pear Spring Roll
Though initially sweet, the wine had a subtle cinnamon flavor to it, both in smell and taste.  Almost like an apple pie, it was juicy in flavor but ended a little flat.  However, when sipped with the food, it completed the missing elements and was a wine I really enjoyed (and at $15 a bottle, why not!)  A very clean tasting apple and pear spring roll was matched with the wine.  Tart, green apples and Asian pears were julienned and paired with a small serving of subtly bitter arugula.  Sticky rice held it all together in the wonton wrapper.  The spring roll was clean and light in flavor, but I was thankful for the accompaniment of the slightly spiced citrus Thai chili sauce that brought more depth to the dish.

Second Course - '08 Chateau Ste. Michelle 'Indian Wells' Chardonnay served with Mahi-Mahi Tartare
Initial smell of the wine - tropical.  As I sipped, the smell was also the taste.  It still held up the "thickness" of a chardonnay, but I wasn't a huge fan because of the strong tropical, I'd even say coconut, flavor - almost like a Malibu or suntan lotion (yup, I said it.)  Not that it wasn't good, just strong in that flavor palate.  I also have to admit I questioned Mahi-Mahi as a tartare.  Many times, it can be a "fishy" tasting fish.  Steven proved me wrong (or course.)  It was delightfully fresh and light, seasoned with citrus which matched well with the Chardonnay.  A rich, parsley brown butter component covered the palate brilliantly with the first bite.  And the dijon mustard...I had no idea that it would work so well with the Mahi Mahi.  With a slight saltiness and nuttiness of Manchego cheese shaved on top, served with crostini - delicious.

Third Course - '06 Novelty Hill Syrah served with Roasted Mushroom Risotto
No photo of the wine and I blame it on two things: 1.) The dish was heavenly and 2.) I didn't like the wine and simply forgot about it.  It had a very bitter ending for me, and I wasn't expecting it.  I love Syrah's (or Sirah.  You say tomato...) and was simply disappointed with the finish, which ruined the initial black cherry tastes in the beginning.  But, to my happiness, I had heard murmurs from the first seating about the risotto.  They were right to murmur.  Rich in flavor, wild mushrooms (including hedgehog mushrooms - you may know they would probably hold a special place in my heart) were roasted with shallots and piled high on pearl barley risotto.  Creamy, with slight rosemary seasoning, the risotto was cooked perfectly.  A hint of spice from somewhere surprised me as I felt it in the back of my throat.  But the star of this dish?  The very rich sweetness of the garlic puree.  Want. More.  You would have never known there wasn't cheese in this dish because it gave the richness that (I had thought) only a cheese could provide.  Delish - Steven, you need to bottle sweet garlic puree  And I'll take the first case.  Or two.  Yes and thank you.

Fourth Course - '08 Seven Hills Merlot served with Bison Burger and Fries
I love wine.  I love burgers.  Make sense to anyone else but me on why this is delicious?  The wine had a different smell that I just couldn't pinpoint, but it was definitely smoother in taste than I expected out of the Merlot.  It was dry on the tongue, a red wine drinker would approve.  The bison slider was tender and full of flavor despite being a leaner meat.  What I loved about the burger were the tender cedar-roasted Walla-Walla sweet onions (what a great match for a Walla-Walla wine.)  They were subtle in sweetness and a perfect topping for the slider.  A few sweet potato fries were served with a balsamic ketchup.  The ketchup was sweet and rich, almost like a BBQ sauce, that I not only dipped the fries in, but savored with my slider as well.

Fin - '08 NxNW Cabernet Sauvignon served with Maytag Cheesecake
This wine was the best of the evening: sweet but dry all at the same time.  Mature and fully developed in taste, the components of both Merlot and Cabernet shined through with their bold flavors. It was paired with a cheese course, Maytag Cheesecake.  A savory blue cheese was baked in a crust consisting of Baker's chocolate and pretzels.  Once in a while, I would really taste the chocolate and it surprised me every time.  A subtly rich blueberry honey was drizzled over the cheesecake, while flavors of balsamic and roasted red onions topped the 'cake'.  I loved the onions on the cheesecake - I thought it brought each element together with a savory bite.  On top, a thin crisp slice of speck.  There was a lot going on as flavors from every component were strong, but it was a good savory dish to end the night with.

Fortunately, not only were our tummy's full of delicious food, but we also got to see some great friends.  It was what we both needed: a mid-week experience as we continue to work our way to the weekend!

Have you dined somewhere that is familiar lately, but still left with a whole new experience?