I love the rare exceptions to this phenomenon.
As Poppa Trix (who took all of these lovely shots) and I ate and drank our way through a recent five-course wine pairing dinner at the Explorer's Lounge at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Baltimore, I knew that this was one of those special meals that would stick with me for a very long time.
The dinner was structured around the South African wines of A.A. Badenhorst, and the pairings, conceived by chef Josean Rosado, managed to be smart and inventive without feeling at all gimmicky or forced - all of the elements worked together organically and unforgettably.
The clubby, lush, British Empire decor of the Explorer's Lounge provided a fitting backdrop for this culinary adventure:
I think this joie de vivre is on full display in this photo of Badenhorst in his vineyard in Swartland:
Broadbent Selections, said a few words about Adi Badenhorst: "He's been making wines since he was 13," she said. "We care very deeply for him."
|Lisa Norris, left; Chef Rosado introducing the first course, right|
The next surprise came when I realized that we would be enjoying braised rabbit and baby carrots with a Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc.
Course three was a housemade charcuterie plate paired with a Badenhorst Secateurs Red Blend.
The final two courses introduced more complex wines. The 2009 Badenhorst Family White Blend is made up of over 11 different varietals, and the result is nothing short of lush: the initial intense saffron nose gives way to what one guest (Royal Sonesta director of operations Bob Haislip) correctly described as a subtle unfiltered yeast. With this bold and elegant white, Rosado presented a pan roasted veal sweetbread with a green tomato and a tomato avocado buerre blanc. Pairing this rich dish with a white that could stand up to it was a stroke of genius:
And here, my friends, is where things get a little fuzzy. Let's just say that the pours throughout the evening were more than generous. And then ...
The cocktail happened.
Country Vintner. So, after the meal, he and the hotel's director of operations - here he is:
I seem to recall that it was quite good. I also have a vague memory that I thoroughly enjoyed these petit fours and desserts:
But I haven't told you about this fabulous evening simply to make you green with envy. If you like, you can have your own, albeit different, Explorer's Lounge experience. Starting in October, the hotel plans to have monthly pairing dinners - October's will feature beers from Flying Dog Brewery.
Badenhorst wines are available locally at Urban Cellars and Perfect Pour.
My meal was complimentary, however, all of the opinions expressed here are my own, and no promise of a positive review was made.