Dinner under the big sky
Desert sunsets in the West are beautiful. There is the expanse of sky that serves as a pallete for sunlight. This evening was special. We were on the 15th hole of the Lakeridge Golf Course in Reno, Nevada. John Franklin and his imaginative crew holds this dinner on the golf course at the 15th hole and it is a great spot to catch the Nevada sky while gazing across the green to Lake Stanley.
The 15th hole is a ways up the course and most of us took golf carts to get here and back! Approximately 50 guests made it up here to enjoy delicious food prepared by the staff. The theme was Mediterranean and the menu was inspired by foods from Spain, Greece, Italy and France. The wines were designed to match. All the cooking and plating was done on the green and I have tremendous respect for this crew, that as the evening drew on, were cooking with little light over open flames!
The food was fantastic, the service was great. The wines were chosen from the portfolio of Sierra Nevada Imports and although I am biased, I will still say that the they were amazing and paired so well with the food. The wines came from Spain (Mastinell), Greece (Idaia Winery), Italy (Barone di Villagrande) and France (Les Paissels)
The first course was Grilled Saffron Risotto Paella. Unlike traditional paella, this was a paella “cake” that was grilled and topped with a seafood medley! The wine paired with this was a sparkling Cava from Spain. The Mastinell Brut Real Reserva is a quintessential Catalonian. Made from Xarel·lo, Parellada, Macabeu grapes, this sparkler has notes of green apples, flowers and brioche. It just amped up the saffron in the paella and it was a wow way to start the evening.
The second course was a Wild Green with Fresh Olive salad, Crusted Chèvre and Honey Orange dressing. Zucchini blossoms added color and texture while capers added a lovely salinic finish. The meal was an adaptation of the omnipresent salad in Crete – the Horta. Full of wild greens and sometimes served with just a drizzle of olive oil, this is as healthy as it tasted. The wine had to be from Crete. It was a Idaia Winery Vidiano from Greece- more correctly, from the island of Crete. With it’s aromas of rosemary, roses, jasmine and citrus, this viscous white wine with it’s hint of peatyness, was a beautiful pairing for the salad, and it played so well with the salinity.
For many, the next plate and pairing was unusual, but it was a show stopper. Wild King Salmon with Lemon Cream sauce and Heirloom tomatoes. It was served on a bed of creamy polenta. The wine came from a 300 year old winery on Mount Etna. Igneous soil rocks and so did this wine. Barone di Villagrande is the oldest winery on the slopes of this active volcano. The Barone di Villagrande Etna Bianco evokes everything about Sicily and especially Etna. It was full of summer fruits and berries and minerals. It was bright like a gemstone and it shone brightly that night. While the Pacific Northwest and Mount Etna in Italy may be almost at the opposite ends of the earth, grilled salmon and this wine belonged in the same place. Not the best picture below, but we were all so distracted!
By the now the sun had set and the stars were competing with the string of lights that were all around us. The city lights sparkled in the distance.
After the previous dish, we could have stopped and it would still have been perfect. But, the crew wasn’t done. They had one more course in store. It was Rack of Lamb with Braised Rainbow Chard, Mustard Greens and Gelatin. The lamb was grilled and the gelatin was made with fresh mint. This was rich and elegant and finger licking good. This needed a wine that was rich and elegant as well. The Les Paissels by the very talented duo of Vivien Roussignol and Marie Toussaint comes from 90+ year old vines grown on schist. These are layers of slate that lie beneath the thin veneer of soil in the better parts of Saint Chinian. This wine, a blend of Syrah and Carignan with some Grenache and Mourvedre is rich with blueberries, spice, kirsch and vanilla. Only a few thousand bottles of this wine are produced every year.
How could we not end without dessert? It was an Orange Fig Danish with Quince Membrillo. Our Mediterranean exploration was complete for the evening.
We had way too much fun. We had great food with great friends. We had way too much good wines and we could have still allowed the night to continue. And we drove golf carts!
Special thanks to John Franklin of Lakeridge Golf Course and his amazing crew. Learn more about their dinner programs.
Thanks to Sierra Nevada Imports for discovering and promoting these remarkable winemakers and their wines. Learn more about their wines.
Thanks to Revel Nevada for bringing these wines of the Mediterranean to our mountain town!
Thanks to Vijna Mathew who took some of the best photographs of the evening
Lastly to the City of Reno, Nevada for the perfect evening and the sky!
Would love to hear your comments below.