Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Taste of France, Australia, and California with Monsterville Horton, IV

Wednesday night I went to a wine class at Cova’s . I received a good introduction into the history and taste of wines made with Syrah/Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and blended “GSM” (Grenache, Shiraz, and Mataro) grapes. The nine different tastings of wine were accompanied by three food courses.

There is no doubt that not only is Monsterville entertaining he is quite knowledgeable. I enjoyed developing a larger vocabulary to describe what I was tasting, as well as the way he walked us through the smelling, tasting, and finish of the wines and then comparing the taste after we ate with our perceptions from before.

Two hours is to short a time to become an expert and as I learned - to short a time to finish all my wines without feeling a little tipsy, it was long enough to get a good introduction. I think if I continued to go to the classes I would learn not only the vocabulary to describe what it is I am looking for in a wine but how to choose them myself when I am at the wine store.

Wednesday night we had three flights, tasting nine wines that ranged in price from $10.99 to $64.99 (which I didn't even like), with the majority of then priced in the twenty dollar range.

The Washington Location was set up with six long tables facing the bar and Monsterville, as he walked us through the history of the grapes and the tasting and the descriptions of the wine.

There was one fellow who wanted to show off and he kept challenging Monsterville. But Monsterville is an accomplished teacher and he chuckled rather than debate this fellow that obviously did not know that much, perhaps he was trying to impress his date? Or make a fool of himself? Because he accomplished the later, but added a little entertainment to the evening.

My immediate neighbors at the table were enjoyable to be with , although conversation was limited. I sat next to an older gentleman whose wife was away and a pharmaceutical rep and her friend who was an internist in general practice.

But let’s get to the food, which was wonderful. Quite frankly in my humble opinion this is the way to do wine tasting, not just taste but pair it with food that shows it off. The chief of the evening was Cova's Mike Nutt he can really cook. The staff did a nice job of serving about thirty people all at once.

Here is what was served:

1st Course

Braised Goat with Puff Pastry and Tomato Tatare

The goat was delicious, it was crispy yet tender and worked well with the puff pastry and slightly sweet tomato tatare, it worked perfectly with the wines.

2nd Course

Roasted Squab with Flageolets and Squab Jus

I love squab and this was nicely roasted and flavorful. The flageolets are a mild French bean and while I like to have a vegetable with my meal, they were mushy and nondescript. It added to the presentation but did nothing for the overall taste or texture of the dish itself.

3rd Course

Herb-Dijon Crusted Venison with Creamy Polenta and Syrah/Juniper Sauce

The venison was very tender and paired well with the grainy texture of the polenta and tart sweetness of the juniper berries. My neighbor said it tasted like grits, which of course is made also from corn. I loved the feeling on my tongue as I bit into the venison and felt the slippery but slightly course and chewy polenta and the tartness of the sauce all in one bite, follow that by a good wine and my taste buds were dancing.



The food and the wine really worked. My advice for lightweight drinkers like myself, is just drink the glasses of wine you really like. Nine tastes even with the food was just to much wine for me.

I did walk away not just with the lesson from Monsterville, but some great handouts and notes I made on the wine. But between you and me, it was the food I am mainly interested but it is the wine that enhances it and knowing what to order or buy to drink with a meal makes all the difference in a good meal becoming a great meal, wouldn’t you agree?

The total cost of the evening was $50 plus tax and tip.


Anonymous said...

Dear Food Princess:
Thank you so much for coming into Cova-- we are working hard to share our passion for food and wine in as many ways as possible, and these classes are just one opportunity to come, drink great wine and enjoy fantastic food.

I just wanted to write and make a quick correction for the record-- our chef de cuisine is named Mike Nutt, not Kutt. We are very fortunate to have his talent in the kitchen and glad that you enjoyed the food as well as the wine and class!

Please come and see us again soon.

Food Princess said...

Sorry Mike for getting your last name incorrect.It has been changed, but not my opinion of the wonderful food I ate that night!