Last night, we headed downtown for a “Flavors of the Mediterranean” wine dinner at LaSalle Grill. Ken is going on a business trip next week, and thought it would be a nice treat for us to do before he left. It came at a good time, because man, has this been a weird week, or what? And it’s not even done yet.
Anyway, LaSalle Grill is one of the nicest restaurants in our area. We don’t eat there often, because it is also one of the most expensive! This is the kind of place where you don’t take pictures of your food, do you get me? Every so often, they have one of their wine tasting or beer tasting dinners, though, and it’s a chance to experience several different kinds of food paired with appropriate wines or beers. It’s a culinary adventure! Join me, won’t you? [waving you over] Come on! It’s fun! (Sorry, I’m in a silly mood.)
Here is last night’s menu, so you can get an idea of the food they serve there.
Bacon Wrapped Date
Edamame Hummus, Harissa
Fenugreek Pickled Shallots
Big-Eye Tuna Crudo
Caramelized Fennel Salad
Crisp Sunchokes, Rosemary Sea Salt
2009 Contine Colosi, Biano Sicilia, Italy
Olive Oil Poached Monkfish
Grilled Zucchini, Olives & Radicchio
Light Balsamic & Tomato Broth
2010 Louis Jadot, Pouilly Fuissé, France
Spiced Lamb & Couscous Fritter
Green Cardamom Yogurt, Charred Eggplant Purée,
Fried Goat Cheese, Citrus-Cumin Vinaigrette
2010 Tres Picos, Garnacha, Campo de Borja, Spain
Ras El Hanout Braised Short Rib
Chickpeas & Lentils, Fava Beans,
Preserved Lemon, Pomegranate & Dried Fig Jus
2009 Chateau Teyssier, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, France
Cinnamon-Anise Crème Fraîche
2007 Royal Tokaji, 5 Puttonyos Aszú, Hungary
I practically had to be carted out of there in a wheelbarrow. The wine portions are generous, and all told, I probably had about a half a bottle of wine. But what really got to me was the sheer richness of the food. The portions are small, but I still felt very full, enough so that I didn’t finish my dessert wine. I was like, “Okay. No more.”
We go to some decent places, and it’s hard to beat a good steak or a nice piece of fresh fish when we’re on the coast. But what is fun about this place is all the different flavors that you get to try, and the way they combine them. I’m not a big fan of anise, but oh man, that baklava was to die for! The complexity of some of these flavors made my taste buds do the can-can.
The bacon-wrapped date was so good, but gone so quickly! Two bites, and that little bit of deliciousness was gone. (I looked up the definition of “amuse-bouche,” and it literally means “entertain the mouth.” I love that! It is a one-bite appetizer, thus only the one date.) Probably my least favorite was the short rib, because that’s a piece of meat that is mostly fat. The flavor was delicious, though, and with the beans, it was very hearty. (And yes, Hannibal Lecter jokes were made about the fava beans!) My absolute favorite was the tuna crudo, which is the same as sashimi. The stuff just melted in my mouth, and the salad, sunchokes (AKA Jerusalem artichokes), and sea salt were just an amazing combination. I can still almost taste it.
We also laughed about the lamb & couscous fritter, because couscous always makes us think of something I said when our friends Kim and Steve were visiting us. We were talking about what we were having for dinner, and I asked, “Do you like couscous?” Steve said, “Yeah, it’s okay.” I said, “Well, we’re not having that tonight,” and he just burst into laughter. I still have no idea why I said it that way...I think I had recently made some and didn’t care for it much, and I was just wondering if they liked it. Anyway, it still makes me laugh.
The wines were perfectly paired, as always, with light, citrusy whites starting us off, a hearty red with the short rib and beans, and a sweet, orange-y wine with the dessert.
LaSalle Grill may be expensive, but they earn it. I love trying different things, and the way they combine the tastes and textures is just amazing. A wonderful treat, one to enjoy on an occasional basis. Thanks, Honey!