Farm to Table Valentine’s Dinner at Chalk Hill Winery

Windsor, California.  Fall colors during the autumn grape harvest at the Chalk Hill Estate Vineyard and Winery.  © Brent Winebrenner
Windsor, California. Fall colors during the autumn grape harvest at the Chalk Hill Estate Vineyard and Winery. © Brent Winebrenner

Chalk Hill winery, south of downtown Healdsburg, hosted an exquisite, Valentine’s dinner to remember. The event was open to wine club members as well as locals looking for an exceptional dining experience.

“During this event wine, food, and hospitality converge in one harmonious meal – what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day”, said Master Sommelier Robert Smith.

Our adventure began with a shuttle ride to the top of the estate where each lady was given a long stem white rose. Next, we made our way to the reception area and sipped Chalk Hill Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and champagne while noshing on hors d’oeuvres including Yellowtail Crudo with Toasted Sesame & Rice Puff Herbed Panisse with Local Oregano Relish and Miniature “BLTs” with House Smoked Proscuitto.

“This was the perfect evening for a romantic Valentine’s celebration with my wife”, said Dr. Tim McCarty of Santa Rosa. “Chalk Hill is a terrific setting – wonderful food, charming dining venue and of course great wine.”

371After the reception guests were ushered to their seats upstairs in the dining room for Estate Chef Annie Hongkham’s three course meal overlooking their equestrian center with panoramic views of the Chalk Hill valley. The menu she created celebrated the seasonality of ingredients, so this February menu became an expression of the winter season.

First course – a Moroccan Carrot Salad featuring vegetables fresh picked from their extensive organic gardens. Guests had two choices for the second course. It was either the Snake River Farms Slow Braised Short Ribs or the Pan Seared White Bass with a Local Sunchoke Purée.

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Photo: Tiffany Lucas Photography

Chef Annie is fascinated by sunchokes, which she served two ways – puréed and confit (delicately cooked in olive oil).  “I love bringing light to such an understated ingredient and letting it become the highlight of the dish, said Chef Annie. “A lot of people aren’t familiar with the vegetable, also known as a Jerusalem artichoke, and its subtle flavor between artichoke and celery root truly inspired the entrée selections for the evening.”

The food was amazing and the wine pairings – perfect harmony. Smith considers food and wine pairing as a chance to tell a story. More of an art and not an exact science as even slight variances in the seasoning of a dish can change the perception of wine and the palate.

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Photo: Tiffany Lucas Photography

When he spoke with Chef Annie about her culinary vision for the Snake River Farms Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs, for instance, he immediately gravitated toward their recently released 2014 Chalk Hill Estate Carmenere.  “Its incredible dark and red berry fruits alongside intense mineral and organic tones are balanced with deft”, said Smith.  The tannins work well with the short ribs, whilst the fruit certainly complements the braising liquid, touching upon earthier tones of the wines to earthier tones of the dish…”

The night proved filling, but we all still managed to save room for dessert and enjoyed a Ghirardelli Chocolate Mousse with Luscious Meyer Lemon Curd, Caramel Pearls, Macerated Local Berries.

A sweet ending to a beautiful evening.

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