Monday, September 16, 2013

Caduceus in The Salon

We have paired our food with Maynard James Keenan's spectacular Caduceus Wines several times over the last few years at Sunday Silverlake Wine Tastings, so when he approached us to do a more formal pairing in our own space, The Salon, we were already keyed in on how passionate and serious he is about winemaking. 

Maynard makes all of his wine in Jerome, Arizona, an old mining town, and for this tasting he wanted to feature exclusively his beautiful Rosé Wines so we played on those two themes for the decor of our garden but with a bit of an edge of course to acknowledge Maynard's music identity. Our color palette was variations of pink, peach, ox blood, gold, and black. Glen of Smog Design recreated the Arizona flag in those colors for us, as well as the announcement to pre-purchase tickets here. Those lollies had actual scorpions inside in a sweet nod to the desert.

To help outfit the vignettes we set up in our garden, I called upon Dominique Cody who works closely with Heyoka Hideout (remember when we cooked for their opening here?). All I had to say was "Arizona slash rock vibe" and she just magically made it all happen filling in every corner of our garden with interesting details.

All of these items above can be found at Heyoka Hideout in Topanga, such a cool store... well, except for that wild boar skin up there, here's how we got that guy.

To start, we hosted a cocktail hour so everyone could come in and loosen up. Even Maynard drank one, the Prickly Pear Margarita.

We foraged through our own garden to pick white, green, Japanese, and globe eggplants to grill outside for the pasta dish of the evening. Their smokey char filled the air just as appetizers started to make their way out to guests.

One: Blackened Balsamic Crispy Crostini with Coffee Crusted Elk Loin Carpaccio, Black Garlic Smoked Chili Aioli + Pickled Peppers

Two: Tostaditas with Red Chili Braised 5 bar Beef Shank, Crumbled Queso Fresco + Homegrown Aleppo

Three: Fried Forbidden Rice with Tuna Tar Tar, Saffron Hollandaise, House Fermented Chili Sauce + Cilantro

Four: Black Navajo Fry Bread + Indian Avocado Butter with Squash Blossoms + fried Chick Peas

Five:  Grilled Cornbread Madelines with Charred Corn Kernels + Whipped Cumin Honey Butter

After cocktail hour, guests made their way into The Salon and found their seats by looking for their name printed on "Snake in the Boxes" beside menus with feathers weaved in their margin. We really had fun with this desert theme.

Before the dinner, Maynard gave the kitchen a bottle of each of the four Rosés we were to serve so we could taste and pair them with each course. He explained that he makes them with the same intent and purpose that he does his red and whites. They each are age worthy with backbone and tempting aromatics which is not typical of most Rosés. 

To start, we served an Amuse-Bouche of Sweet Corn and Sheep's Milk Ricotta Tamale with Huilacoche and Pearl Onion Ragu.

The first Rosé was Chupacabra Rosa, a Primitivo/Montepulciano with 138 cases produced, and it was served with a Salad of Shaved Black Radish, Compressed Watermelon and Lemon Cucumbers with Marinated Fresh Feta Cheese, Candied Almonds and Date Chipotle Viaigrette.

Matt is breaking off some beautiful flowering marjoram from Windrose Farms here to infuse in his brown butter, the base of this pasta course. The nutty aroma is about to completely permeate The Salon.

And for the second course was poured Lei Li Nebbiolo Rosé with 171 cases produced. It's block is farmed specifically for this rare and practically lost Langhe Nebbiolo Rosé clone. Maynard explained that it wants to be a Rosé.

We served a Squid Ink Ravioli stuffed with Homegrown Eggplant and served with Butter Poached Lobster and Mesquite Grilled Eggplant with Piquillo Buerre Rouge shaved on top.

Out back, Chef Todd grills succulent pork chops from Cooks Pigs Ranch over mesquite coals for our entree. These pigs are fed a steady diet of avocados, macadamia nuts, apples and tortillas rendering the most divine pork we have ever experienced, so very little needs to be done to it. Salt, pepper, grill.

And in the kitchen plates were prepped for service with velvety smears of White and Sweet Potato Puree. The sides of Yellow Wax Beans, Romano Beans, and Broccoli Leaves all came from our garden, as well as the garnish of Red Climbing Spinach Buds.

As Maynard presented the next pour,
a Velvet Slippers Club exclusive, in other words not available to buy, he discussed that with the influx of job creation, tax revenue, and other economic benefits associated with wine making in Arizona, the state has recently begun to subsidize wineries there.

And finally the Nagual del Marzo Rosé, a Sangiovese whose block is also specifically farmed for this wine. Once it's target Brix is reached, it is hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, and cold fermented in stainless steel.

For the plated dessert, we made a play on Tres Leches Cake, with coconut cake, strawberry sorbet, coconut ice cream, kaya jam, house made graham and finger limes from our garden.

Guests still had wine to finish! And it was such a beautiful summer evening so we invited them to make their way out back for one last sweet bite of Fried Sopapillas with Local Spiced Honey to linger over as Fleetwood Mac tunes gave us all a reason to sway and smile and appreciate the evening.

Photos: Jennifer Emerling

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