Soter Winery and Akaushi: A Tasty Pairing
|Photo by Mai Pham|
|Master Chef Fritz Gitschner's first course of smoked salmon, cauliflower panna cotta, and caviar. Beautiful.|
But on to the food. The evening commenced with a gorgeously plated smoked salmon course. On each plate, two generous slices of bright-orange smoked salmon were topped with a round of cauliflower panna cotta and a quenelle caviar, along with a circle of crisped breadstick for ornament. Treviño-Boyd had originally planned to pair this with a white wine, but changed her mind at the last minute, choosing to pair it with 2011 North Valley Reserve Pinot Noir (Inaugural Release), made entirely of single estate-grown grapes. And it worked, too, the wine cutting through the smoky meatiness of the salmon and creaminess of the panna cotta without being overpowering.
The next course would have been superb had it not been for an oversalted demi-glace sauce. I've been noticing a predilection for over-salting throughout Houston's kitchens lately, and I so wished that it had not happened in this case, because it really was a wonderful dish. Rounds of moist pheasant nestled together with a rich slice of house-made foie gras sausage over a bed of creamed savoy cabbage and strips of crispy bacon. My dining companions dug into the dish heartily despite acknowledging its heavy saltiness. The wine pairing, a 2006 Soter Napa Valley Proprietary Red Blend, displayed finesse and helped alleviate the salt.
Photo by Mai Pham Poulet of pheasant, foie gras sausage, creamed savoy cabbage. Good, but salty.
As promised, our meat course, a pepper-crusted akaushi ribeye steak -- and the 60 Degrees Mastercrafted signature item -- was outstanding. Served medium rare, the slices of intensely marbled, Texas-raised akaushi beef oozed with juicy tenderness reminiscent of Japanese Kobe. In fact, so tender was the meat that I wondered if it had been prepared sous vide. Mock complaints erupted around our table about what a hardship it was to be eating the steak -- when in fact everyone enjoyed it immensely. Paired with a more robust 2011 Soter Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir, it stole the show for the night.
Photo by Mai Pham A creamy cheese course. Paired with Soter 2011 North Valley Chardonnay.
In lieu of a dessert course, Gitschner offered a final course of three creamy Texas cheeses, served with greens and candied nuts, followed by a mignardise of house-made French macarons. These were paired with the Soter 2011 North Valley Chardonnay, a fitting end to an entirely memorable meal.
Want to learn more about wine? Treviño-Boyd just released the dates for her upcoming Guest Sommelier Series at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, a collaborative program of wine tastings curated by local sommeliers. Each tasting costs $45, and will include five wines and a cheese board (limited to 20 attendees).
The dates and themes for each tasting can be found on the next page: