Festive Mediterranean Wine Dinner at Catalan Restaurant

As most of you foodies & vino lovers already know, there’s nothing more pleasurable than to travel the Mediterranean to dine and drink at the various country locales. On the evening of November 18, 2014, exquisite and festive Mediterranean fare travels to you via Catalan Mediterranean Restaurant on Hwy 111 in Rancho Mirage.

For the past couple of years now, Chef Drew Davis has been impressing diners with his inventive brand of Spanish and Italian dishes employing California panache. And he is known to offer one of the most authentic Paella and Tapas in the valley. For the season’s first wine dinner at Catalan, Chef Drew has decided to cast a wide net to include the fare and wines of Sardinia, Sicily, France, along with Spain and Italy.

Now before we go on—you just briefly got the rundown here and I know you’re already liking it, so why not immediately call the lovely Co-owner/Manager Cynthia Davis at 760.770.9508 to make your reservations before this one night event sells out. Only $79 a person for this five course/five wine dinner. And no one wants to hear of a true food & wine lover missing this affair.

Ok—let’s preview all this great cuisine to look forward to. I recently sat with Chef Drew and his wife Cynthia to discuss the menu and wine pairings. The pairings were a collaborative effort between Chef, Sommelier Marc Davis and wine expert Marcos Missau—who will all be on hand for the evening.

Chef’s creative energy came out quickly in discussing the First Course that will be Grape Leaf Wrapped Albacore served raw and chilled with an Ancho Chili Citronette, presented with fresh roasted Champagne Grapes. How fun is that! Chef always loves to push the envelope as he sees a bit of Asian-fusion in this dish. And the complementary wine is the 2012 Filaboa Albariño that is imported here by the Micheal Mondavi Wine Co. This Galician wine from northwest Spain has the acidity and freshness of Sauvignon Blanc, and the peachy/nectarine-like flavor

of a round Riesling. Perfect for this chilled dish, for as the wine warms in the glass, it sweetens with perfume-y jasmine.

The Second Course brings Sardinia into the engagement with the 2011Argiolas Perdera, a red wine reminiscent of the island that is rich in tradition but rustic and very vibrant with aromas of ripened cherry, cassis, black pepper carry through to the palate and are followed by sweet hints of chocolate and firm tannins.

Chef Drew doesn’t miss a beat here with his usual flair to combine meat and sea fare. Seared Diver Scallop & Roasted Bone Marrow resting upon an Endive Salad along with Black Berry Marmalade. Your gustatory senses will be whelmed by the richness of the marrow, the sweetness of the scallop, the bitter of the endive and the total savory combination of the marmalade and Sardegna wine.

Third Course: The famed and clever titled Strozzapreti Pasta plate is served with three-hour slow-cooked sauce of Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes, Capers, Olives, Pancetta & Herbs. Chef makes this traditional Toscani “Priest-Strangler” dish Sicilian with the capers and olives, and, marries it to a beautiful dark Sicilian wine from the hills of Regaleali.

The 2013 Tasca d’Almerita “Lamuri” is an elegant Nero d’Avola wine that is intense ruby-red in color and offers lush aromas of blackberry, mulberry and cherry. On the palate, this wine is incredibly rich, with velvety tannins and a refreshing acidity. This meal combo is always a favorite vino at Corleone weddings.

The Main Course is Smoked Quail & Lamb Sausage with Braised Heirloom Beans and Roasted Baby Carrots. Yet another inventive duo delight by Chef which highlights the cuisine from the South of France and takes its own four hours to prepare. And to my particular enchantment, the world class 2012 E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage from the Northern Rhone will be served. This is the mother of all Syrah wines around the world. This resourceful combination of meal and wine brings the coupling to even a higher savor. Just outstanding!

And for Dessert, they’ll be serving a Spanish Fig & Berry Empanada along with Lavender Honey and Sweet Crème Fraiche. The accompanying wine will be the Dios Baco Amontillado Sherry from the Spanish sun-baked land of Jerez de la Frontera.

Sherry isn’t typically as sweet as port wine, so it offers more food and dessert pairing versatility. Amontillado [ah-mon-tee-YAH-doh] Sherry is an aged fino sherry, which can be best described as a youthful wine in its adolescence. Dry, light and briny with a touch of caramel, nuts, and honey—a very chic dessert wine, come to think of it.

So save room for dessert as the empanadas are warm, wonderful and run the range of tangy, savory, to sweet and gooey. And the glass of sherry before you will bring an air of elegance, fun, and full contentment. Bon appétit! & Cheers!

Rick is the wine steward at Pavilions in Rancho Mirage and wittily titles himself the “somm-about-town” in this Vino Voice column, where his beat is to eat, drink, and cover the gustatory scene of the CV. A freelance writer and contributor to Tasting Panel Magazine, a wine reviewer for palmspringslife.com, he is also the Brand Ambassador for the historic Galleano Winery. Rick conducts & entertains locally at wine tastings, food & wine pairing events and fun wine seminars. Contact winespectrum@aol.com