You may remember the last dinner of Lisa’s that I went to in August. Sadly the September dinner was cancelled due to the windstorm. The venue and format were the same but this time Lisa was joined in the kitchen by Seth Warren who was chef Rosendale’s commis in the recent Bocuse d’Or competition.
What I love most about Lisa’s dinners is the conviviality, the warm atmosphere and the overall feel of the event. The food was really good, the wine selection fantastic and the wine education from husband Chris fascinating. The dinners are excellent value for money and great fun, a good opportunity to make new friends and meet other foodies. We were encouraged to ask questions and to come up and look at the food being cooked.
I should start with two disclaimers, firstly I had a horrible cold and so my taste buds were definitely impaired. I couldn’t smell anything which was really frustrating, so I am sure I didn’t appreciate the food or wines as much as I would have done otherwise. My second confession is that I didn’t take any notes and I am struggling to remember the details of the wines. Luckily I am sure that Lisa will post the list on her site, so please excuse my vague descriptions in the meantime.
We started with Prosecco to drink and a seemingly unending supply of pistachios. I definitely think our table ate the lion’s share. Drinking fizz always seems to set a festive or celebratory tone and with a birthday to celebrate at our table, it definitely felt like a party. The first course was pasta e ceci soup, made with a parmesan rind broth, amish noodles and sundried tomatoes. Ceci is italian for chickpeas.
The soup was paired with a notable pinot grigio (definitely not your standard PG), and was accompanied by piles of extremely fresh Omega bread (from the North Market) and Lisa’s homemade butter, made with Snowville dairy cream. A jar of butter in progress was passed around so that everyone could have some hands on butter making experience. True to the adage many hands make light work.
The second course was a deconstructed salad of double smoked trout, wisconsin blue cheese, honey crisp apples, toasted walnuts and salad greens with a vinaigrette (if I remember correctly of walnut oil and tarragon flavored apple cider vinegar). The apple cider vinegar was from last year’s Worthington winter market and Lisa told us a story about her Amish grandmother making cider in the cellar.
Not a great photo, partly because it is blurry, but also I couldn’t resist tucking in before I remembered to take a photo, so it is partly demolished, oops. I guess that is confession 3. The salad was accompanied by a very different white wine, a Mt Harlan viognier from Calera wines. It held up the the cheese well and was very smooth and buttery and reminded me of a white burgundy.
The main course was a rib of pork (from Indiana) roasted whole and served with potato gnocchi, handmade by Seth, with squash and sage, and brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon. The gnocchi was a huge hit and definitely one of the highlights, I could have eaten a whole plate of that. This course was paired with two reds (I am blanking as to what they were) as it was originally intended as two separate courses. One to pair with the squash and sage and one intended for the pork.
Dessert was a very sugary and nutty apple crisp with cream, perfect for a cold wintry evening.
It was paired with lenotti recioto – a sweet, velvety and very fruity valpolicello dessert wine. Chris explained that the grapes are dried for much longer than usual (until around February) before the wine is made.
Another reason that I love Lisa’s dinners is that there always seems to be a goodie bag to take home. This time a maple syrup candy lollipop, some of Lisa’s homemade butter and some baked goodies from Sassafras bakery; a pumpkin scone and a banana walnut muffin with goat’s cheese frosting and caramel.
I haven’t eaten the muffin yet, but the scone (whilst pronounced differently and not at all like an english scone) was delicious. I am not sure where to get the Sassafras baked goods, but I am keen to try some of the other scones (apricot and sage and rosemary, lemon and fig) which sound fantastic and ginger pear muffins sound wonderful too.