Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bloggers in Search of the Perfect Pairing Discover a Match Made in Heaven at Bellatrix

I am fortunate enough to have enjoyed many a memorable restaurant meal in my life, and there is one common denominator that has tied all of these culinary experiences together-a killer wine list. I discovered just that during a recent experience at Bellatrix, a gem of fine dining located inside the Classic Club in Palm Desert. The restaurant's name is derived from the magnificent star in the constellation of Orion, so it was only fitting that some heavenly pairings were in order.
Bellatrix offers enticing twists on contemporary favorites, all while keeping it simple or as my dining partner and blogging peer Kimberly puts it "primal, back to basics, hunks of meat and seafood with a nuance." She's right, and for food this simple yet still complex, the wine has to match up.
We were fortunate that our server, Casey, was well versed in the subtleties of pairing our culinary choices with selections from the restaurant's extensive wine list, which features a wide array of California Chardonnays, Pinots and Cabernets, with 34 selections offered by the glass.
My appetizer of delectably juicy Korean short ribs was met with the smooth and silky 2007 Summerland Trio, a Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. A lover of all things Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I especially enjoyed the way its bright red fruit complimented the rich protein of the short ribs.
A seafood trio of scallop, shrimp and ahi tuna was accompanied by the ever-enchanting Caymus Conundrum, a heady Napa blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay and spicy Viognier. The wonderfully floral and buttery, tropical notes of the wine paired excellently with the vanilla sauce that the scallops sat atop, the wasabi that garnished the tuna and the sweet chili sauce that accompanied the shrimp.
My favorite part of the evening arrived at the table next...a moist and amazingly tender parmesan-encrusted lamb shank, surrounded by Kalamata olive ragout and toasted gnocchis. For this plate of perfection, Casey surprised me with his choice of a Bogle Petite Syrah, which I found to be smoky and full of black fruit with a hint of caramel. Its supple and full tannins matched well with the iron-rich lamb meat-about as primal a meal as it gets.
For our decadent dessert of chocolate cake, Casey recommended a well-aged port...but by this time, I was quite sated..I have a feeling the lush, alcohol-tinged fortified wine would have been a perfect match...not unlike the rest of the evening.   

To read more about the food enjoyed during Vino Chick's visit to Bellatrix, go to Vino Chick is excited about her new partnership with Unorthodox Foodie! Stay tuned for details...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Something Tried and True and Something New at the Foot of a Palm Springs Mountain

Okay, so I am hesitant to admit this to anyone, but I just enjoyed my first ever food and wine adventure at Spencer's in Palm Springs. That's right, I said first EVER. Most everyone I know has spent at least one evening there, and this beautiful dining space tucked away at the south end of Baristo Road in Palm Springs is a real pleasure. My inaugural visit was a special occassion for another reason: my parents are in town, and I wanted to help them celebrate a landmark wedding anniversary.
Chef Eric Wadlund was kind enough to send out an enticing appetizer tower of coconut shrimp, lobster potstickers and kung pao calamari, which all paired perfectly with the 2007 Von Kesselstatt RK Estate Riesling we ordered. This German gem of a wine was amazingly balanced with good acidity and fragrant notes of grapefruit, apple and white peach.
While my Dad dined on succulent short ribs and Mom enjoyed flavorful mushroom ravioli, my meal of choice was an amazing Long Island duck breast, which came with a blueberry port wine rduction, braised red cabbage and butter spaetzle. I matched it up with an Acacia Pinot Noir, a lush wine that hails from Napa's Carneros region and is rich with distinct raspberry, cherry and blueberry flavors of its own. There's even a bit of vanilla in the 2007 vintage, which mirrored the silky texture of the duck meat.
After a final bite of my Dad's decadent banana cream pie I was certainly done, but not with Spencer's. I won't hesitate to head back to this place in the very near future, with important milestones always in mind...
Spencer's the Mountain: 760-327-3446 or