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menu: a winter dinner party + wine pairings

menu- a winter dinner party

menu- a winter dinner party

Spring maybe right around the corner now but there are still many chilly and long dark nights ahead of us.  As much as I love the grilling on warm summer nights, there is something equally alluring about sitting around the fire with friends on a snowy eve.

I put together this wintery menu and pairings with my (very witty) wine-knowing friend, Lauren Ramos of CoolVines.  Like any good dinner party menu, almost all of the components are make ahead.  The only parts you will have to conquer on the spot are dressing the salad, warming up the short ribs and scooping out bowls of gelato.  If your guests ask what they can bring, you can look to the wine parings to give them some direction.  This way, you spend the majority of your time relaxing with your friends. Which is the total point, right? Cheers!

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marinated goat cheese + grilled bread

You can pull this together in about 5 minutes the day before.  Just remember to take it our right before your guest arrive to take the chill off.  Serve it with warmed or, better yet, slightly charred grilled bread.  You can also serve a small selection of cured meats and olives, too, if you are so inclined.

Wine Pairing: The straight forward but, aggressive flavors in this dish would pair quite nicely with a bold, medium-bodied traditional red exuding the same qualities – texture also being important.  A red with firm, yet silky tannins would work wonderfully with the distinct flavor of the goat cheese and pull together the creaminess in the mouth.  Look for something with concentrated and balanced flavors of dark fruit (plums, blackberries) or smokiness as pleasant challenge to the charred bread.

Here’s what we Suggest: 

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/413500846003/Jean-Louis-Chave-Mon-Coeur-2010

You may also like: 

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/browse/29a4384-05aef12-60d2548

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winter salad with fennel, cara cara oranges and horseradish dressing *

Prep all of the components to the salad earlier in the day and the dressing up to two days before.  The slight creaminess of the dressing is a nice place to start after the cheese but the bite of the horseradish, brightness of citrus and fennel gets the palate cleaned up and ready for the decadence of the main course.

*for some strange techno reason, I was able to get the link to work for this recipe.  Please refer to the recipe index to pull it up.

Wine Pairing:

A wintry mix of greens and lots of yummy citrus flavors makes the mouth water for something refreshing, yet well-rounded and less acidic to drink.  The addition of the fennel and horseradish also give this salad a bit of a bite and that calls for some nice, vibrant fruit to balance it out--a Medium-bodied white will most likely do the trick.  You could go anywhere from a mild, un-oaked, modern chardonnay to a super traditional white like an arneis or pinot blanc.  All will have a lush (but not too lush) roundness and fruit-forward characteristics that will make any winter salad want to cuddle up with them.

Here’s what we suggest:

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/951984002610/Guidobono-Arneis-2011

You might also like any of these:

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/browse/05aef12-acb2544

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short ribs braised in coffee ancho chili sauce

This is a dish that must absolutely be made a day ahead.  It only gets better and ridiculously so.  You can use quick cooking polenta and make it while you are warming up the short ribs and sauce.

Wine Pairing:

How about we go with a nice Light-bodied pinot grigio for this?  Just kidding. . . Short ribs braised in coffee ancho chili sauce might actually be pinot grigio’s arch nemesis!

Well now that we know what not to drink, let’s get on to what’s just right.  With such bold in-your-face flavors, you’re going to need a wine that doesn’t mess around when it comes to rich, robust goodness.  Short ribs that are so scandalously dressed with ancho and chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, and some strong brewed coffee crave a Full-bodied red…like a big bad California Zinfandel!  Zins typically have deep layers of peppery spice and dark berry fruit with the perfect amount of mouth-covering tannin to make that short rib say, “You’re my hero.”

Here’s what we suggest:

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/89011700011209/Five-Vintners-Zinfandel-2009

You might also like any of these:

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/browse/29a4384-0ba6f75-fa04487

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chocolate and walnut biscotti

The short ribs are rich and totally satisfying.  Your guests might be ready to stop eating by this point in the evening and just linger over their wine.  Or not.

That's when you breakout the biscotti.  I'd serve these with a few scoops of creamy gelato like Talenti's caramel cookie crunch and maybe some blood orange sorbet.  I'd also offer the gelato affogato style (not the blood orange) for those in need of a little shot of caffeine.

Or just keep them all for yourself and enjoy them with your coffee tomorrow morning.

Wine pairing:

It would be entirely appropriate here to go with something Italian, and just to add a bit more ambiance to these irresistible biscotti – let’s go bubbly!

An off-dry sparkling red such as a brachetto or lambrusco would pair wonderfully with the chocolate, nuts, and orange zest.  They’re bright and fruit-forward with a lush, almost creamy mouth-feel.  These ruby sparklers are perfect with chocolate-based desserts and will even stand up to heartier main courses.   If you’ve never tried brachetto, give it a go, it will find its way into your heart and make every occasion you choose to serve it at a bit more special.

Here’s what we suggest:

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/784125698521/Casalone-Brachetto-Dolce-Mariposa-2009

You might also like any of these:

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/browse/e4fe847