Chocolate & Wine Dinner a tasty treat!

You’ve been waiting for it, and you’ve got it: the video from the Valentine’s Day Chocolate & Wine Dinner. I must say, I (the humble Tenant) am really sorry I didn’t get to finish this one. Those of you who were there, you know why; not going to bother the rest of you with the story. Suffice it to say I’m fine, and I hope I didn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of what was a really terrific repast.

We began with an aperitif wine, San Giulio Malvasia. This was a red sparkling wine, poured in flutes, and I liked it for its bright, slightly sweet qualities that prepared us for the meal to come.

The first course was Seared Day Boat Scallop with Wild Mushroom Risotto in a White Chocolate and Lemon Sauce. Once again, a classic Bistro 185 scallop, seared and cooked just perfectly, and in a delightfully light sauce. If you expect chocolate, white or otherwise, to be heavy, a sauce like this is a revelation; it was a light and delicate creamy seafood sauce, only a touch sweet. The risotto studded with mushrooms was a fine complement. Our wine for this course was Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs, which didn’t overpower the flavor of the dish.

Course 2 treated us to Chocolate and Espresso-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mango Sauce, accompanied by a Chocolate Noodle Kugel. The slices of pork, once again cooked just enough, were tender and flavorful, with lovely little crispy crusty edges of chocolate-espresso coating. The mango sauce went with them perfectly, and the square of noodle kugel was like a little noodle casserole: a bit sweet but also spicy. With this dish we received a glass of Rebel Wine Company’s The Show Malbec. This is a smooth and full-bodied wine that is just right for a more substantial meat course.

The third course was a real charmer. I told my companions that it seems Ruth never does an ordinary salad, and this one was another mold-breaker. The mixed greens for this salad arrived in lacy fried baskets of Parmesan cheese slightly flavored with chocolate. (Ruth admitted to me later that they were very tricky to make.) The greens were sprinkled with organic cocoa nibs–which really aren’t sweet at all–and dressed in a mildly sweet, light ginger-citrus vinaigrette. This was tasty enough, but I’ll be honest and admit what my favorite part of the salad was: the piece of dark chocolate-dipped bacon that speared every serving. How can you resist a thick slice of applewood-smoked bacon coated in a lovely thick covering of dark chocolate? Of course, whoever came up with the concept of covering bacon in chocolate in the first place should probably be consigned to the fiery flames for having stumbled upon such an entirely unhealthy and utterly sinful concept. But it’s too late now to undo what’s been done. And let’s face facts: chocolate-covered bacon is unbelievably delicious. Did the Graffigna Pinot Grigio go well with it? Sure, but did it really matter? Enough said about that.

For the fourth course, we enjoyed Duck Confit with Chili-Chocolate Mole Sauce and Agave Rum-Grilled Bosc Pear. What a fine combination this turned out to be as well. The duck was ever so crispy and the sauce again was a winning combination of sweet and spice, with the pears just making it all the tastier. The wine was Campo Viejo Rioja, a very nice red.

Here is where I have to end my review. I only wish I could have made it to the Panko and Hazelnut Crusted Scampi with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce with Brunoise of Fresh Melons in Chocolate Liqueur, not to mention the dessert of Chocolate Creme Brulee with Chocolate Cigar and Fresh Berries. I’m also a lover of any combination of chocolate and hazelnuts (keep your Nutella away from me if you don’t want it to disappear), and I know from past experience what kinds of reactions Ruth gets for her scampi. And a chocolate dessert like this one–need I say more? I would also have liked to try the Maschio Prosecco Treviso Brut and Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port. But I’m probably going to have to try to get Ruth to cook up these dishes for me some other time. How good are my powers of persuasion? I guess we’ll see. Then again, maybe I can convince her that I don’t want to have missed out on seeing what magic she worked with these dishes. Worth a shot, right?

Anyway, if you were there and would like to offer your comments on them, please do. As a matter of fact, feel free to comment on anything about this dinner. One impression I definitely came away with, from what I was able to enjoy, was that if anyone had any notions that  just because it was chocolate-based, it was going to be like eating six courses of nothing but gooey-sweet, candy-like dishes…well, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. On the contrary, it proved that with care and creativity, chocolate can be used as a flavoring or component of many dishes other than sugary desserts, just like cinnamon or any other such spice. Something worth thinking about the next time you want to try cooking up a special meal–or enjoying one in a restaurant.

What’s up next on the Bistro 185 special dinner schedule? As you may have already seen, it’s a chance to get your Irish on at an Irish Wine and Spirits Dinner. To ensure yourself a place at the table, be sure to reserve now!

Chocoholics, rejoice!

We’ve got the menu all planned for the Chocolate & Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16. As promised, every dish includes chocolate, and every one is going to be special:

Aperitif Wine
San Giulio Malvasia

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
Wild Mushroom Risotto
White Chocolate and Lemon Sauce
Wine: Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs

Second Course
Chocolate and Espresso Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Medallions
Mango Sauce
Chocolate Noodle Kugel
Wine: Rebel Wine Company “The Show” Malbec

Third Course
Parmesan and Chocolate Basket
Mixed Greens
Organic Chocolate Nibs
Dark-Chocolate-Dipped Bacon
Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette
Wine: Graffigna Pinot Grigio

Fourth Course
Duck Confit with Chili-Chocolate Mole Sauce
Agave Rum-Grilled Bosc Pear
Wine: Campo Viejo Rioja

Fifth Course
Panko-and-Hazelnut-Crusted Scampi
Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce
Brunoise of Fresh Melons in a Chocolate Liqueur
Wine: Maschio Prosecco Treviso Brut

Sixth Course
Chocolate Crème Brulée
Chocolate Cigar
Fresh Berries
Wine: Terra d’Oro Port Zinfandel

Think of what a special gift this dinner would make for your Valentine — this year, skip the box of candy and give an original “assorted chocolates” surprise! Not only that, but maybe your sweetheart will enjoy the idea of dining out after the rush. Especially when it means enjoying a relaxing, elegantly served six-course meal that’s full of chocolate magic.

You won’t want to miss this one, so call now and make your reservation ($75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity) at 216.481.9635. Chocolate may be the food of romance, but our Chocolate Wine Dinner will be a sweet experience even if you’re enjoying it solo!

Passport to Romance Wine Dinner

Enjoy the latest video from Bistro 185, our Passport to Romance Wine Dinner Monday night:

Hi! The Tenant is back again, to tell you the Passport to Romance Wine Dinner was a great opportunity for me to fall in love…with a variety of very special wines, all while being romanced by Chef Ruth’s wonderful cuisine. All who attended would likely agree with me that it was a match made in heaven!

We started out with a Seared Day Boat Scallop with Citrus Beurre Blanc surrounded by a Brunoise of Tropical Fruit. If you know how perfectly Ruth cooks scallops, I don’t need to tell you how delicious this was, but it was really special with the unusual and sweet tropical fruit treatment. The wine was Concerto Moscato D’Asti, a sparkling, delightfully fruity Italian wine that seemed tailored perfectly to the dish.

The second course, smoked duck breast atop a potato pancake and glazed with cherry sauce, was richer and the Robert Oatley Shiraz that accompanied it was a deep, full-bodied Australian red that stood up to the dish without overpowering it. Its black licorice notes beautifully echoed the anise flavoring in the cherry sauce.

Course three was a frisee and arugula salad topped by a corn-crusted fried oyster and dressed in a citrus vinaigrette. This light course, highlighted by the contrast between the crispy exterior and silky interior of the oyster, was just right for the Freixenet Elyssia Cava Brut, a dry sparkling Spanish white.

The fourth course was a return to more robust flavor: beef filet with tomato confit and sautéed spinach on grilled garlic bruschetta. I cannot overstate the tenderness of this beef with its light, slightly sweet tomato sauce. The John Robert Eppler Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was the ideal “beef course” red wine, exuding a heady rich perfume that meets the nose long before its taste meets the tongue.

Ruth’s fifth course was a sweet little lobster pot pie in a tiny ramekin, in a rich cream sauce topped by phyllo pastry. The Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 served as a great palate cleanser and appetite stimulator following the richness of the beef course, and was a fine complement to the creamy sauce. (Wine lovers may be surprised to learn that this New Zealand selection is sealed with a screw cap. Don’t let that fool you — it’s a high-quality wine and the cap ensures its freshness.)

At last came the dessert course, a magnificent orange crème brulée and assorted other desserts. The crème brulée was served in cups made from scooped-out orange halves, and it was so delicious it made me wish you could grow trees from which you could pick oranges and peel them to find a crème brulée filling inside! My other desserts included a chocolate truffle and a tasty kind of cake made with pears. The wine served with dessert was Château Tertre du Lys d’Or Sauternes, a sweet Bordeaux wine full of fruity and spicy flavor. Our wine experts for the evening, Scott Turman and Steve Tyree, assured us that this kind of wine truly gets better with age — you can keep it for decades and it will only become richer and more flavorful. “When you drink this,” they said, “you are drinking history.”

This was a truly rewarding evening for every lover of good food and wine. Kudos to Scott, Steve, Ruth and the entire terrific Bistro 185 staff for creating another magical dining experience!

Join us for the Passport to Romance Wine Dinner Feb. 15

Looking for a little love in your life? How about getting away from it all on a culinary trip for two…or maybe just for you? Join us at Bistro 185 for our Passport to Romance Wine Dinner the night after Valentine’s Day at 6:30 p.m., Monday, February 15. We’ve got a menu planned that’s sure to put the love back in your heart:

Seared Day Boat Scallop with Citrus Beurre Blanc
Brunoise of Tropical Fruit
Smoked Duck Breast
Cherry Sauce
Potato Pancake
Frisee and Arugula Salad with Corn Crusted Fried Oyster Citrus Vinaigrette
Beef Filet with Tomato Confit
Sautéed Spinach on Grilled Garlic Bruschetta
Lobster Pot Pie
Orange Crème Brulée
Assorted Chef’s Whim Mini Desserts

Each of these courses, naturally, will be paired with a selection of wine to be announced. The Passport to Romance Dinner is $70 per person, tax and gratuity additional. Make your reservations now at 216.481.9635, and come and get your love!

The veal came out beautifully!

Image of Roasted Veal Chops and Sweetbreads with Lemon and Rosemary

See for yourself (if you haven’t tasted for yourself; we hope you have). The veal chops are perfectly seared and crispy brown on the outside, and the inner meat is soft and tender. The sweetbreads (in this photo, the sweetbread is the lighter brown and white item on top) have a wonderful crispy outside and are even softer and tenderer on the inside than the veal — light and fluffy as a cloud. And the vegetables are just saturated with flavor. The dominant note is the fennel, sharp and aromatic, but the subtle citrus and rosemary shine as well. When you think about it, this is really quite a simple dish — meat and vegetables — yet it’s so elegant when done like this.