Austrian Wine Dinner a delicious success!

Hope you enjoy this new video of our latest wine dinner last Wednesday, featuring wines from Austria and Germany paired with a menu of classic Austrian dishes.

The Tenant has once again popped in here to provide a review of the latest, and you may not be surprised to hear that I felt it was delightful! Here are the details.

The dinner kicked off in fine form with a first course of House-Smoked Pork Tenderloin accompanied by an Apple Galette with Ginger-Cream Sauce. I don’t know how to describe how delicious this was. The pork was smoked to perfection and the ginger-cream sauce was the ideal addition. But the real revelation was the tender and flaky apple galette, which included sweet caramelized onions and crispy bacon pieces; it was sheer heaven! The Lois Grüner Veltliner 2008 served with this course went very well with this symphony of flavors without overpowering it.

From there, the meal continued with one of the favorite ethnic dishes of this and many other parts of America, schnitzel. But what a schnitzel! So tender and so gently breaded, and topped with a delicate Meyer lemon sauce combining just the right amounts of sweetness and tartness. Each was topped with a fried quail egg and a stripe of anchovy for a little extra savory bite. All of it lay atop a bed of exquisite redskin mashed potatoes. Very satisfying, especially paired with with a 2007 Heinrich Red that was a mixture of 50% Zweigelt, 30% Blaufran-Kisch and 15% St. Laurent. This combination made for wine that, despite its heady bouquet, was not as heavy as I tend to expect reds to be. It seemed to have a more flowery, light taste than the average red — not so much a “red meat” wine as a wine that would go with many different kinds of dishes, and was a good match for the schnitzel.

The always-welcome third salad course, this time of ruby red grapefruit, avocado and arugula dressed in a white wine vinaigrette, was a wonderful and refreshing palate cleanser. I especially love avocados, so this was a winner for me. The wine was a Zweigelt Classic Gelt 2008, and complemented the fresh, crisp flavors of the salad.

The fourth course, Wild Forest Mushroom Ragu with Asparagus and Pappardelle Pasta, was like the exact opposite of the salad course: dense, woody, peppery, in a rich and flavorful brown sauce. It was somewhat similar to Chef Todd’s ragu with spinach, and the Blaufrankisch Classic Frank 2008 was a successful match here, with enough body and dense fruitiness to not be overpowered by the richness of the dish.

In course five, the exact right things came along at the exact right time. The Juniper Berry House-Smoked Trout — yet another great product of the Bistro 185 smoker — had just the perfect pungent, savory flavor for this point of the meal. It was unlike anything else and positively delicious in its contrast. Speaking of contrast, it coexisted on the plate with a polenta cake whose texture and flavor was also perfect for the dish, as was its savory mustard sauce. The wine here was a switch from the original plan; the Heinz Eiffel Kabinette 2009, originally planned for the dessert course, was served with this one instead, and it was a wise choice. The German Riesling was just fruity enough to complement the dish without being too dessert-y sweet.

Finally, the dessert course featured two classic Austrian tortes: the Sacher, layers of chocolate sponge cake sandwiched together with apricot preserves and topped with dark chocolate ganache, and the Linzer, a tart of latticed almond pastry and raspberry jam. The two examples baked up by Bistro 185 were purely delicious. The wine that accompanied them, Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2007, was a really enjoyable, crisp, fruity Riesling perfect for dessert but also, like so many of the lighter wines at these dinners, something I’d be happy to drink on its own.

It was a pleasure to spend this dinner with the wine lovers of Bistro 185 and Greg Webster of Wine Trends, who provided the selections for the evening. If it sounded good to you, but you missed this particular dinner, don’t miss the next one, which is now planned for Thursday, May 27 (courses and wines to be announced). If you’re interested in wine tastings but would prefer to keep your emphasis on the wine, or would appreciate a less expensive way of trying new wines, sign up for one of the Bistro’s $10 “Light Tastings,” which feature hors d’oeuvres instead of a sit-down dinner, scheduled for next Monday, May 10, and Monday, May 24. Call 216.481.9635 and prepare for a wonderful wine-filled evening!

Night at the Oscars: Oo là là!

Tonight’s French dishes should definitely make you feel like An American in Paris. The Fennel Salad is sautéed sweetly with a touch of shallots (not in the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, but Chef Todd added them) in orange juice and olive oil to the point of perfect tenderness and nestled in a bed of mixed greens. Fennel also comes into play in our Tenderloin of Pork with Green Peppercorns, helping to flavor a slightly spicy, slightly sweet sauce that uses a mix of whole-grain and Dijon mustards. The sauce is perfect for being soaked up by the baby redskin potatoes. Dessert? The Pain Perdu is like slices of bread pudding, rich with toasted almonds and Grand Marnier and slivered strawberries. C’est magnifique indeed! If you missed it Monday, join us Tuesday!

The James Beard Project: Coming full circle this week

This week marks the return of the James Beard Project, and to start with, we’re bringing back the same slate of dishes we featured in Week 1. That means if you missed any of these great dishes the first time around, you have another chance to enjoy them!

Monday, Jan. 11 — Noodles with Cabbage
Sautéed Medallions of Pork Tenderloin with a French Grainy Mustard and Horseradish Cream Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 88)

Tuesday, Jan. 12 — Coq au Riesling
Braised Chicken in Riesling Wine Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 116)

Wednesday, Jan. 13 — Walnut-Breaded Filet of Sole With Lemon Aioli, Grape Tomato Salad and Roasted Baby Redskin Potatoes (The New James Beard, p. 199)

Thursday, Jan. 14 — Roast Duck with Cherries and Wild Rice (The New James Beard, p. 338)

Friday, Jan. 15 — Ossi Buchi with Orzo
Braised Veal Shanks with Orzo (Beard on Pasta, p. 140)

Saturday, Jan. 16 — Lamb Shanks with Beans (The New James Beard, p. 399)

Behind the Dish: Roasted Veal Chops and Sweetbreads with Lemon and Rosemary

What goes into Roasted Veal Chops and Sweetbreads with Lemon and Rosemary? Well, obviously, veal chops, lemon and rosemary. Veal “sweetbreads” are the thymus gland of the animal, and have a mild flavor and creamy texture; they’re often considered the best of all sweetbreads.

Julia Child acquired this recipe from Daniel Boulud, whose restaurant Daniel is one of the hottest eating spots in Manhattan. You can find a two-part video of its preparation linked here.

It starts with roasting the veal chops in a pan with vegetables. The ones we’re using are carrots, celery, turnips, and fingerling and redskin potatoes. The original recipe also calls for fennel; we’re using fennel seed. The sweetbreads are pierced with a sprig of fresh rosemary from our rooftop, fried in hot oil to crisp them, and seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

The chops are then roasted with slices of, and juice from, lemons (we’re using Meyer lemons — for their fragrance and sweetness), white wine (we’re using dry vermouth), more fresh rosemary and chopped parsley. Each meal will feature a chop topped with a sweetbread, surrounded by the vegetables and drizzled with vermouth-enhanced veal jus.

This is going to be a fine dish indeed. We hope you’ll join us.

Eat your liver!

Did you ever hear that admonition when you were a child? Did you find yourself not too thrilled at the prospect, staring at a plateful of something that looked like a big slab of shoe leather — and had approximately the same consistency and flavor?

Or, are you a fan of that good old comfort food standard — liver and onions — who’s never tried liver the way the French do it? Or have you already discovered the pleasures of foie de veau — but wondered if you can experience something that good here in Cleveland? Thanks to our Julia Project, you can, tonight.

Our Sautéed Calves’ Liver with Cream Mustard Sauce is a far cry from shoe-leather country. These are soft, tender slices of liver bathed in a savory sauce of cream and top-quality grainy French mustard, sitting atop a cozy bed of mashed potatoes. Our accompaniments for this dish are sautéed spinach, rich with garlic, and celery root (celeriac) remoulade, the recipe for which is also from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1. Normally, remoulade is a term used for a kind of tartar sauce or condiment, but this French dish is actually thin strips of celery root combined with a mustard-based dressing. You might think of it as “coleslaw in a tuxedo.” Just as the cold creaminess of coleslaw complements battered fried fish, the crisp, cool, astringent texture and taste of this remoulade provides a refreshing contrast to the rich, warm flavor of the calves’ liver and sauce. Indeed, it’s a dish you’ll be more than happy to eat, no admonitions necessary!

In other news: The Julia Project list of dishes for the week of August 10 to 15 is ready! Here’s what’s in store for each day.

Monday: Potage Veloute aux Champignons — Cream of Mushroom Soup, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 40)

Tuesday: Coquilles St. Jacques — Scallops and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 216), accompanied by asparagus tips

Wednesday: Sauté de Veau Marengo — Brown Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Mushrooms, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 360), accompanied by mashed potatoes

Thursday: Loup en Croûte — Fish in Pastry, from Julia Child and Company, with hollandaise sauce and haricots verts

Friday: Savarin with Ohio-Grown Tart Cherries and Seasonal Stone Fruit with Crème Anglaise, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 664). Taste a classic French dessert made with local fruit at the peak of flavor!

Saturday: Bouillabaisse de Poulet — Chicken Poached in White Wine, Provençal Vegetables and Herbs, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2 (page 261), with Ohio-grown baby redskin potatoes and pistou. (It will be Julia’s birthday August 15 — she would have been 97 — and we’ll be celebrating in style!)

Sound good? Make your reservation now! Also, don’t forget, if we served a dish this past week that you’d love to see again, let us know in the poll. We’ll keep it open until midnight Sunday to give you a good chance to vote.

A special shout-out to everyone who enjoyed sampling our food last night at the American Cancer Society 2nd Annual “Dining at the Diamond” event at Classic Park in Eastlake. Thanks for joining us in supporting a great cause, and hope to see you at the Bistro soon!