By Rick Riozza

Mindy Reed is the owner, food & wine director, and somm of both Palm Springs’ Zin American Bistro and Alicante which are hotspots with the locals and tourists. These eateries have attracted a serious following of foodies for the past ten years where Mindy has spear-headed the local movement towards organic and sustainable farm cuisine.

When I interviewed her for my Tasting Panel Magazine piece, she spoke vibrantly, “Giving our guests a superior product using simple quality ingredients, prepared with integrity and served at a fair price is what we’re all about. No shortcuts!” And when I asked her about all this multi-tasking going on these past few years, she replied, “I know—call it insanity, but I’ve always loved wine, food, and cooking and, hey, I’m a workaholic!”

Apparently Mindy checked her watch and saw that ten years have already whizzed by. This only happens when you’re having fun—and, like it or not, working hard and being busy constantly. Sharing her 10th Anniversary celebration at Zin American Bistro with her friends and loyal following with an exquisite wine pairing dinner was one of her ways of showing appreciation; and so conveniently for us, being there was our way of thanking her for the endurance, the artistry, the friendship & the love she has bestowed to both the culinary and the civic community.

Zin and Alicante are only two blocks apart and many comparisons are attempted. Mindy says, “I tell people they differ in every way but me! At Zin, the meal is a little more high-end, complex, and the wine list bigger. Alicante feels more like a European sidewalk café, with mostly Mediterranean wines and late night serving

Besides Mindy being awarded the Wine Spectator Award for Excellence with over 2,500 bottles and 350 selections of wine—for the 8th consecutive time!—she and her chef are continually out on the endless quest to bring in locally grown ingredients to the kitchen and onto the table. It’s always a treat for me to dine there; gourmet to the “T” with its fresh approach, exceptional presentation and most delicious cuisine. I did mention the wine—yeah?

Mindy is the wine wise gal in town. And typical of her sensibility, at this anniversary dinner party—after the salutations and congrats were bantered about, Mindy’s very next point was, “I love it when we run out of the wine we are serving. It means everyone is enjoying good wine; and, I enjoy showcasing smaller wineries with their limited releases. It’s great to support these wine producers.”

And it was a wine dinner party indeed! After Mindy’s restaurant re-décor, Zin has become the chic haven for small dinner parties with adjustable dining areas while keeping a romantic atmosphere for those desiring more private moments. So although there were three different dining and party areas, we all felt comfortable to mingle around throughout the meal. The scene was gustatory and the entire evening was jolly.

The four-course wine dinner began with a complimentary fois gras amuse bouche which was paired with a 2003 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes that carried mutted dried apricot and honey notes. There is no better way to open a dinner: the fois gras was prepared roasted and melted sweet richness in the mouth; and this classic Bordeaux Sauternes pairing confirmed the restaurant’s class.

Next, the Pink Grouper was presented tender and moist as a centerpiece upon a combined ragu that included peas, leeks, fava beans, and lobster stock. The dill cream sauce was prepared with the 2011 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay that we quaffed with this course. The Chard was refreshing and cleansingwith aromas of orange, white flowers and jasmine,. The palate had pronounced minerality and crisp acidity; at the same time, the lovely texture from the French oak added notes of clove, warm spice and gingerbread that linger on the long finish.

The second course was Veal Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Sauce. This delicious plate cried out for a Pinot Noir. The 2009 Thorne, Rio Vista Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir absolutely wooed the diners. This wine is made of five or so clones (rootstocks) from Burgundy. The result is layers and layers of cherry: Bing; black, red, sweet, and sour. Remember to try this wine next time you’re at Zin.

The third course was the New Zealand Lamb Chops which were delicious and paired with the 2009 Wharton Alexander Valley Cabernet. The wine was very dark with intense aroma of black cherries, cassis and plum with hints of cocoa, tobacco and toasty sweet vanilla. Looks like yet another tasty red to remember.

For dessert, Mindy served up our favorite duo of Chèvre Cheesecake and Cappucino Chocolate Mousse accompanied by the non-vintage Noval Black Port. This is a fairly new blend of port on the market with great flavors of ripe blackberries and spices. A perfect match to the dessert in the desert.

It was good to see Pierre Lemieux, whose wine company, PDML/Mosaic Wine Agency, distributes the vino Mindy showcased for the dinner. And a shout-out to Mark Jones, Chief Creative Officer of Brighthaus Marketing, who handles marketing for Mindy and the who’s who in the valley, and, a hello to Frank Goldstin of GoMomentous.com, a premier, Palm Springs-based event planning, design and production firm. I see a great wine event for CV Weekly readers in our future!

Rick is the somm of Rancho Mirage entertaining at wine events and tastings. Contact winespectrum.com.

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