One of the many highlights of a recent trip around Yakima Valley was a wonderful gourmet dinner experience that you should treat your dining partner and yourself to.
The Carousel Restaurant & Bistro is fine dining with French flair. Many of the recipes are from the French chef who originally opened the restaurant. The service was exquisite, the food was fabulous and with Casablanca playing on the wall during dinner, what could be better?
The soundless black and white movie created an exotic atmosphere in the middle of this historic farming community. During dinner, an amazing harp player entertained with familiar tunes.
But the fresh, local food and the wine pairing is the subject of this week’s story. If it seems like I’m gushing, it’s probably because there’s lots to gush about!
For a dinner such as this, it’s important, almost mandatory, to have a dinner party partner, affectionately known as the DPP. This ensures that you get to taste twice as much. I would also like to mention that when in a French restaurant, I like to choose the more adventuresome Chef’s Choice dishes, especially if the DPP chooses the usual dishes.
The first of five courses was an appetizer of Provence Boar Paté (mine) and crab cakes (the DPP). I chose the paté made from slow simmered chicken and boar foie gras served with bacon jam. It was perfectly paired with a Domaine Collette Beaujolais Village 2014.
This ruby colored wine has a fruit bowl of flavors that include raspberry, red currant, and strawberry. The tannins were supple and beautifully balanced probably because of the whole bunch fermentation. This wine was a stunning match with the pate. Bravo to Greg, our maître d for the first of many thoughtful and spot on matches.
The DPP went for an appetizer of crab cakes on a bed of arugula tossed with a lemon vinaigrette and brown butter capers. This too was expertly paired with a Dopff & Irion 2013 Riesling from an often overlooked area of France – Alsace. Here is an old world wine with place names not as prominent on the label as the grape names.
Constructed in 1549, the Chateau was originally owned by the Princes of Wurtemberg, who ruled over the city and its region for almost five centuries. Even a Chateau founded in the 16th century can survive 5 centuries because it embraces new technologies.
This particular bottling was done with screw caps! Gasp! Which surprised me in a pleasant sort of way. We all need to embrace screw caps especially with white wines which are typically enjoyed within a year of being bottled.
Considering a cork tree has to be at least 25 years old before its bark can be harvested, we need to rethink our carbon footprint. Even though its cork can then be stripped every 8 to 14 years after that first harvest, we should adapt as this old chateau has done.
My salad was great but the DPP salad was the show stopper. Cooked tableside, the salade d’epinards (spinach) flambé was a flaming success. The red wine vinaigrette was reduced and then the cooked bacon was added and flambéed with brandy to produce a two foot high torch.
Salads were served with the Cote de Bonneville DuBrul Vineyard Rosé. This 45 acre site produces small berries, small clusters, and low yields. DuBrul Vineyard has been recognized as one of the top Washington State vineyards.
The soup course included the ubiquitous but very French, French onion soup and soupe de jour was made with fresh Yakima Valley asparagus. The former was accompanied by one of my all time favorite wines, Owen Roe Abbotts Table which is a blend of Zin, Sangiovese, Blaufrankish and Petite Verdot. The later with a Tour d’Auron 2013, a Bordeaux Supérieur blend of Cabernet, Cab Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot. Another great match by Greg.
And for the pièce de résistance, the chosen entrées were duck and rabbit. The duck was seared and braised in a house red wine sauce with flambéed green peppercorns served over mushroom risotto.
It was complimented by the 2012 King Estate Oregon Pinot Noir, a very aromatic wine with wonderful cherry flavors with with hints of earthy mushrooms.
I chose another chef’s choice created with seasonal ingredients. When in a French restaurant, there are certain dishes guaranteed to be on the menu that you wouldn’t find on a Kitsap County menu, snails, frog’s legs and rabbit.
My dish turned out to be a delicious casserole of rabbit with house-made noodles, arugula and Asiago. This dish was accompanied by a Kestral 2012 Cabernet. According to winemaker Flint Nelson, “This expansive wine boasts full body, ripe dense fruit flavors, with supple tannins and a lingering finish.” I would heartily agree.
For dessert, the choices were obvious. Chocolate mousse cake, pastry chef’s choice and a glass of Treveri Rosé. Chef’s choice was a raspberry tart with basil, lemon peel and an apricot glaze. Both were pleasing to the eye as well as the palate. But I had to use stealth to get a bite of the cake. The sharing was over as the DPP only likes raspberries in his beer.
Treveri Cellars is a Yakima Valley winery that produces some really great handcrafted sparkling wines. This family operation is led by a husband and wife team, Jürgen Grieb, head winemaker with almost 30 years in the Washington wine industry and Julie Grieb, business manager.
Treveri opened its doors just days before the Thanksgiving rush in 2010 with a mission to put Washington sparkling wine on the map. In almost six years, Treveri has been served three times at White House State Department receptions, the James Beard Foundation in New York, received a Double Gold at the Seattle Wine Awards, 90+ point scores from national 100 point scorers and voted one of the nation’s Top Ten Hottest Brands of 2014 by Wine Business Monthly. Mission accomplished!
Producing a wide array of sparkling wines, including non-traditional varieties such as Syrah, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, Treveri uses state of the art techniques to produce these beautiful bubblies.
This Rosé, aged an average of 24 months, was a gorgeous rose color with big strawberry flavors and a lingering finish. The wine was a perfect match with both desserts and a beautiful and so very continental way to end the evening.
This is a dining experience you deserve! Carousel Restaurant & Bistro, 25 North Front Street, Yakima. (509) 248-6720