Rhone Odyssey – Snow in the Dining Room?!

I get to go to some pretty cool events. I mean, I’m a lucky girl.

But an event where it snows at dinner?

Yeah, this one took the cake.

20140611_170422 I was invited to a dinner – Rhone Oddysey – given in honor of wines from the Rhone Valley and it was a totally enveloping experience.
20140611_170445 We walked into a large, totally dark space with one lit table filled with Rhone Valley wines. White, red, and everything in between.

Then we were led into dinner… 20140611_172051 No, you aren’t seeing red. That’s the way that the dinner space looked…entirely red. We were told that we would be taking a multi-sensory journey through the wines of the Rhone Valley, and as soon as the red light faded away, images of the different countries from where the dish’s inspiration was taken was projected onto the billowing white sheet walls. Oh, and it rained, snowed, and was brilliantly sunny as we learned that Rhone wines really are wines for all seasons. It was part amusement park, part dinner, and totally fun and tasty. Meals were courtesy of Chef Russell Jackson of SubCulture Dining and wine pairings were from Boulud Sud’s Michael Madrigale.

20140611_172426  Scandinavia – Winter

Rye and bulgur crisp with fat, butter, and ash. Malted wheat dirt with pickled carrots and Brussels sprouts

Delicious, even though the cracker was too hard to bite. You kind of had to suck on it to soften the dense, bedrock hard cracker. However, the flavor is wonderful – earthy and nutty, tempered by the fatty, lush lard and the soft, unsalted butter. Add a bite of sour, crispy pickled veggies and this is a dish that I could eat over and over…with some softer bread the next time. 20140611_173128 Poached egg, parsnip, nettle why, farmstead cheese

My favorite dish of the night. Simple and carefully constructed. The egg is poached until the white is firm and the yolk is almost fully boiled through. It’s very rich in the creamy parsnip broth with the salty, sharp parmesan-like cheese curls. It’s fancy poached egg minus the toast, and it couldn’t be more delicious.

20140611_174631 Japan –  Spring

Kombu cured tuna with rice, egg, pickled vegetables, smoked kombu broth, and fermented tofu

The combination of ingredients is just extraordinary. The tuna is subtle in taste and soft in texture. It’s  barely seared, so it has some savory warmth on the outside and is still rare on the inside. The rice is vinegared and warm, covered in a creamy egg foam. The veggies are tart and pickled, and though the broth is an afterthought, the crispy nori cracker is surprisingly savory and round with umami taste.  20140611_180357 Mexico – Summer

Deconstructed mole with poultry roulade, smoked grains and seeds, and chevre tamale

The only true misstep of the night. The roulade is fine, if dry but the rest of it is less than stellar. The tamale is an ice-cold blob of coat cheese and the mole is way too chocolaty – all of the other flavors are totally obstructed. The grains are unmemorable and the pepper raja is kind of slimy. Too bad, because good mole isn’t good…it’s oustanding.  20140611_181304 Just a little summer shower…pretty much the coolest event I have ever attended.  20140611_182058

NYC – Fall

Apple pie, cheese cake, and scdnyc almond black and white cookie

Phenomenal. The black and white cookie was my favorite part – intensely almondy and sweet, with a moist, sticky texture and a nutty, vanilla scented taste.

This meal was served with a variety of red and white wines from the Rhone valley. I was impressed with the white wines – in particular, a Costieres de Nimes that was light and crisp without being sour, and a Muscat that was sweet and fragrant without being syrupy or sugary. The red wines ranged from fruity to peppery, vintage to young, and the price points were all very reasonable.

This dinner was incredible in every way and I will absolutely be buying some Rhone wines soon…and looking into getting snow in my dining room.

Disclaimer: This was a media event. I was not compensated nor required to write about it and my opinions are my own and unbiased.