Friday, January 22, 2010

Sommelier Smack-Down at Gordon's

What a blast the Sommelier Smack-Down was last night at Gordon's Wine in Waltham!  I saw two dear friends, Mike Meagher of Vineyard Road, and Kate Moore of L'Espalier, pitted toe-to-toe vying for reign as top sommelier of the night.  The challenge was to chose the best wines to compliment a surprise menu created by Adam Ostrofsky of Sel de la Terre, Boylston. The audience of tasters chose the victor voting on each course as to which pairing they liked better.  Ian Grossman, also of SDLT Boylston, served as master of ceremonies polling the crowd and keeping the event moving along as well as sous chef to Chef Adam.

Neither Mike nor Kate had any notice on what Chef Adam would be cooking and they had four minutes to scour the store for each course to chose a wine to compliment each course.  After they each tasted the food, the timer started ticking and they ran to grab whatever bottles they could to go with each course.  They came up with delicious and interesting impromptu pairings for all four of the challenging courses and I did not envy their position at any time.  They both deserve credit for grace under fire, and both spoke eloquently about their choices defending them to the audience.  It was quite an education for me to see how folks reacted to their chosen wines for each course and how much my opinion could differ from the person sitting next to me, even though we were eating the same food and drinking the same wines.

Kate's wines were Chateau Pesquié's Rosé 2008, Rijckart's Cotes de Jura Chardonnay 2006, Remiziere's Croze-Hermitage 2006, and Burmeister's White Port in that order.  Mike chose Pierre Sparr Cremant d'Alsace Rosé, Sigalas Santorini, San Martino's Barbera d'Asti, and Pacific Rim Vin de Glaciere.  I preferred Kate's pairings for the first and fourth course, and Mike's for the second and third. Although I had a split tally, the crowd chose Mike as the victor.  It was the fourth course that tipped the scales in his favor.  Up until that course, the vote was very close, but people really latched on to the ice wine that Mike poured with the difficult cheese course which ultimately shifted the balance.  Note to self: always serve ice wine with a cheese course if you want to make people like you...

The food was delicious.  Chef Adam outdid himself and with Ian's help put together a knock-out menu, of which I greedily ate every bite.  It featured some of SDLT's delicious Merguez sausages that had a surprising amount of heat as well as the famous fig bread from L'Espalier.  The cheeses were also chosen from SDLT's cheese tray: a robiola due latte, a truffled Pecorino with honey, and Jasper Hill Farm's Bailey Hazen Blue.  Below is a copy of the menu to drool over.  Chef Adam graciously served up a second helping of risotto to anyone in the crowd who wanted more, including me!

I was so impressed with the event and I thank Lindsay Cohen of Gordon's for organizing it.  You can tell that it's a labor of love for her because she puts a lot of care and attention into the details.  It was a memorable and educational night and I will look forward to making another trip out to Waltham sometime soon.  The Sommelier Smack-Down occurs on the third Thursday of every month.  Mike Meaghar returns as the victor on February 18th pitted against a new challenger.