Sunday May 31st kicked off our Farm Dinner series with Home Bistro (www.homebistrochicago.com), an eclectic neighborhood eatery in Boys Town, and Harvest Moon Farms (www.harvestmoon-farms.com), an organic farm in Wisconsin. The formula is simple: Harvest Moon supplies the produce, game, and delicious dairy products from their own and neighboring farms; Chef Joncarl Lachman at HB whips up a prix-fixe meal for 40+ guests on the last Sunday of every month; and we at LUSH provide complimentary wine pairings for every course. How could this not be a blast!?
Ms. Rachel and I attended the first one, armed with a cadre of wines to pair with the loosely-defined menu Joncarl had sent us earlier in the week. Because the idea of these dinners is to accent the freshest, most seasonal ingredients, neither Joncarl nor we were sure what exactly the meal would be composed of until the day of. Our challenge was to choose wines that would be versatile and hold their own against Joncarl’s always bold and flavorful food.
We knew that the first course would be radishes, sweet cream butter, and sea salt. Yummm. To pair with this simple yet rich appetizer: bubbly of course! We chose the NV Esporao Bruto, a blend of Verdelho and Antão Vaz from Alentejo, Portugal. Nutty, balanced, citrusy, and slightly leesy, this sparkler was a perfect start to the meal, and went great with the radish course: cleansing the palate of the silky butter and bright sea salt and cultivating appetite for the food to come.
After a bit of ebbing and flowing among the long, communal tables set out in the tiny bistro, the guests made their way to a seat and were welcomed with our next wine: the 2008 Vinaceous ‘Divine Light’ Verdelho from Western Australia (I guess with all this fresh, spring food we were a little Verdelho-happy!). Icy crispness, startling fruit clarity, this wine is like swimming through clear-blue tropical water on a hot, white-sanded beach. Really. We paired it with Chef Joncarl’s simply dressed heirloom and deer lettuce salad with goat’s milk feta. The acid of the wine went beautifully with the tang of the cheese. Harvest Moon’s earthy, fresh greens took center stage.
The next course took the form of a free-flowing parade of protein dishes and sides: whole roasted chicken and trout, lightly sautéed asparagus, chicken offal in a mustard-cream sauce, sautéed spinach…to pair with these dishes we started off with the 2006 Odysseus Pedro Ximenez from the Priorat in northeastern Spain. Pedro Ximenez is usually the grape used to make sweet wine in Jerez, Spain. This is one of the few dry bottlings of PX in existence, and the only one I’ve ever had. And it is one of the most phenomenal, interesting, food friendly bottles of wine out ther! Bone dry with a nose of lemon peel, creamy paraffin, minerals, and fascinating flavors of nectarine and pomelo, baking spice, dandelions and other flowers. Intricate and delicately firm with bracing acidity, this wine was actually a good match for asparagus, one of the most notoriously hard foods to pair with wine.
We also poured a red with the main course: the 2008 R Wines ‘MOD’ Gamay from Victoria, Australia. This wine also — amazingly — went well with asparagus! And, if you smelled it, you would know why: this wine has the most crazy nose of pickled blackberries, capers, and dill — perfect with asparagus in all its bitter, grassy glory. The MOD Gamay was also wonderful with the acidic, pungent mustard sauce on the trout and chicken bits. (Yes, I did eat a chicken heart. Tastes like sausage!) The plates kept coming out, glasses kept getting filled, and people kept eating.
But, of course, there is always room for dessert. Joncarl cooked Harvest Moon’s fabulous rhubarb with very little sugar, leaving it delectably tart, and topping it with meringue and powdered sugar. To match these tart/sweet flavors, we created a little dessert cocktail: about a ¼ oz. of the rhubarb-orange aperitif Aperol topped with Lini Lambrusco Bianco, a white, dry Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Light and fizzy with a good balance of tart, sweet, and bitter, this pairing worked nicely with the Chef’s rhubarb-meringue dessert.
We all licked our spoons, finished our glasses, and toasted a lovely night: fresh, local food, cooked simply and beautifully, and paired with unique, small production wines from all over the world. Salud!
Call HB at 773- 661-0299 to make reservations for the next dinner on June 28th, or any of the future dinners on the last Sunday of the month.
Posted by Jane.