Friday, March 27, 2009

Michael Ruiz Cooks at Rosso Supper Club #1: Salt, Butter, Pork & Paolo Bea Wines

Rosso Wine Shop
3459-1/2 N Verdugo Road
Glendale, California 91208
Phone: 818- 330-9130
Fax: 818- 330-9131

Wednesday evening we had the pleasure of attending one of Rosso Wine's first supper club dinners. There is only space for 15, so they send the email out to a small number of people, and space fills up fast. I know they had a decently long waiting list of people who didn't dial/email fast enough. Chef Michael Ruiz of Cobras & Matadors & Lil' Parlor Pizzeria (both Steven Arroyo endeavors) is in partnership with Jeff for the supper club concept.

Supper Club #1 was themed: Salt, Butter, Pork. And the wines were provided by Paolo Bea wines. These wines are not for the faint hearted in terms of flavor and price tag. We caved on a couple bottles of each because they were delicious. I am looking forward to having occasion to break one open. Naturally, that occasion could include anything from an engagement or promotion to laundry or a dog walk.

The Supper Club is $40 a person, and the amount of food served was perfect. The amount of wine served was just enough to understand and enjoy the wine, but not enough that one would be unable to drive home.

The "salt" course was our amuse-bouche. Salted wild salmon, spiced cabbage and a chive creme fraiche, with fresh chives as well. This was delicious.

Jeff passed the tray once and I took my share, one amuse. As the tray passed my face again on its way toward another guest, I had a hard time keeping my paws to myself.

The salmon was wonderfully fresh and silky, the chive creme fraiche and spiced cabbage rounded out the flavors with a little acid and a little creaminess.

Above is Michael Ruiz constructing the amuses.

We got to try two Paolo Bea wines. They are from Umbria, an area in central Italy to the East of Tuscany, the west of Marche and north of Tuscany. It is a hilly and mountainous region and its major crops are grapes, olives, wheat and tobacco.

We first sampled this white wine.

De-Vino Boutique says this about the white:

Monastero Suore Cistercensi is a convent that produces one wine: Coenobium. This vino da tavola from Lazio has been christened (get it?)"the nun wine." Coenobium denotes a community of monks, and the wine is made by the sisters at the Cistercian monastery in Vitorchiano, north of Rome, with help from Montefalco vintner Giampiero Bea. The blend is made from organically grown Verdicchio, Trebbiano and Grechetto. A long soak on the grape skins helps transform these modest white varieties into an amazingly layered wine. Scents of rainy-day flowers, coriander and orange zest lead you to a richly textured mouthful, with sweet honeysuckle, minerality and a subtle tang. Good story; great wine.

We all agreed that this beautiful white has a beery flavor and finish, Lisa said almost masquerading as a light hefeweizen, but definitely a wine. I loved it and imagine myself drinking it much colder than a true wine snob would even consider, sitting on my front porch in the hot summer sun.

Jeff set up a lovely table near the wine bar for the majority of the guests. D and I always prefer to sit by the bar, mostly so we can monopolize the attention of Jeff & Lisa, two of our favorite people.

The "butter" of the meal was the first course. This was the stand out course of the evening. ZOMG. So good.

A room temperature puree of celeriac soup with coriander oil and frothy pear butter, topped with dill. I loved every flavor in this. The fun of it was the richness and vegetal flavor of the celeriac mixed with a little of the sweet, sweet pear butter. This soup was amazing. If this dish was served in a restaurant it would be ground for me obsessing over and returning to eat as many times as often while it was seasonal. I could have licked the bowl, if D wouldn't have slapped me.

The next Paolo Bea wine was the Rosso de Paolo Bea. Jeff told us that this was produced in a very off year for red in that region, and the winemaker countered this by hand picking the bunches of grapes for the wine.

De-Vino Boutique provides us with a quote from Paolo Bea himself about wine making:

"As a child, I learned this craft from my father. Our history and tradition is the source of our knowledge and inspiration. Today, my family is here with me, all working together. Our roots in Montefalco trace back to the 1500's, as documents in the village archives attest to. Through passion sustained and encouraged by my sons, Giuseppe and Giampiero, and also by the irreplaceable presence of Marina, my wife and mother of my children, our family has come to appreciate each other in more profound ways, each day relishing the fruits of our labor at our table. With each passing year, I better understand our land, respecting and caring for it...and at the end of each year extract from it a wine which is totally unique, continually developing, improving, and sustaining our health. With an ever growing conviction, we practice, discover, and appreciate natural winemaking methods that exclude the use of chemicals in the vineyard and artificial stabilizing techniques in the winery. Each season is a new discovery, a chance to apply and evaluate knowledge we have gained in previous years."

The middle and dessert courses were "pork". Michael started us out with set ups on small white divided plates containing picked onions with herbs.

Next he sent out family style the slo braised pork shoulder with kidney bean ragu and almond smoke. This came out theatrically in a clear covered dish, you could see the almond smoke under the clear cover, and once the cover was removed the smoke drifted off in the air. It was beautiful.

This dish was solidly delicious. It didn't blow me away like the soup did, but I cleaned my plate and went in for seconds. The picked onions were a delicious balance to the carbiness of the beans and the heartiness of the pork. They were not overly pickled, and retained a very strong oniony flavor without being overpowered by pickled sweetness.

The last dish was also part of the "pork". Valrhona chocolate pudding with candied bacon bits on puff pastry. Michael Ruiz is in with the whole sweet bacon trend, and after eating this I understand why people are doing back flips for the bacon/chocolate combination. This was outstanding.

My only criticism was that there was not a high enough ratio of pudding/bacon to the puff pastry. The puff pastry was basically a chocolate and bacon delivery vehicle. I want a bathtub of Valrhona chocolate pudding with sweet bacon bits, Daddy. I want it now.


Kristine G said...

1) Jebus, L, I would like to be your tastebuds for a day. How about I shrink myself (think The Magic School Bus) and just kick it with your tastebuds for one of these fab suppers you have all the time. :)

2) Your photos are so pretty!

3) Everyone needs a good slappin'- around every once in a while. lol Go ahead, lick that plate. (Just kidding!) :) teehee

Food, she thought. said...

Tomorrow night: you eat what I eat.