Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Fabulous Night Out


Let me tell you about the meal I recently enjoyed at The Art of The Table, a cozy super club on N 39th Street in Wallingford. For 65 dollars, including tax and tip, Dustin Ronspies, the chef and owner, paired five courses with seven different wines. Carumba…what a night!!! Here’s the story…

Once a month Vine Tales, a local wine club, hosts a meal at Art of The Table featuring a winery or region of winemaking. The owner of Vine Tales, Nancy Patterson, loves introducing new wines, wines at their best - served with food. The structure of food paired with the structure of wine. A lucky day, the day Nancy met Dustin, cause man can Dustin pair.

This evening’s collaboration featured Willis Hall Winery. Winemaker John Bell, a one man show up in Marysville, was on hand to expound on each varietal. We started with his sold-out 2006 Viognier. Viognier, a cutting edge grape for Washington, is a complex blend of fruit, spice and floral flavors. All Willis Hall wines are made from Washington grapes…yummy.

Served with a Smoked Trout, Poached Pear & Watercress Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette, the Viognier and salad played off each other perfectly. “Estoy satisfecho. Gracias.” But there was more.

The next course, Winter Vegetable Ravioli with Truffled Brown Butter arrived with another cutting edge wine, a 2005 Sangiovese. Hands down everyone’s favorite, the wine shone bright with cherry fruit, and a smooth medium body. Nancy loves John’s wines for their fruit forwardness. I love Winter Vegetable Ravioli for it is soooo good.

Three more courses to go and five more wines…a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon a 2003 Merlot a Pepper-crusted Pork Belly with Dried Cherry Sauce and Sunchoke Puree sent waves of delight though all the diners. To be honest people were squealing. I know, the pig the squeal but it is true, the dining room got noisy. Pork belly is the rage these days in Seattle, the whole pork deal. I recently watch a pig butchered and left rubbing my belly saying my bacon my bacon my belly my belly - one is cured and the other, fatty and tasty and man, Dustin has got the subtleties down with the flavor combos.

NEXT a Roast Leg of Lamb with Wilted Winter Greens and Roasted Garlic-Rosemary Demi Glaze and Dustin the Demi God and John the Willis Wizard poured a 2004 Cabernet Franc and a 2004 Syrah. Well. It was quite something and then the Dessert was announced, Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Dried Apricots and Carmel Sauce served with a 2006 Late Harvest Viognier. No one had ever had a cheesecake made with goat cheese and besides that, the cheese maker dined amongst us. (River Valley Cheese) It was a treat…so light and perfectly baked. The wine received massive applause. Fruity, slightly sweet but not thick, it rocked the goat.

Vine Tales Nancy, throughout the meal, informative and fun, her knowledge of wine vast.

Lucky for me I’ve eaten at Art of The Table six or seven times since it opened last July 2007 and I’ve always walked away a tad stunned by Dustin’s finely tuned palette and seemingly endless repertoire of unusual recipes. John Bell mentioned over and over Dustin’s ability to understand the pairing of the food with the wine and Nancy of Vine Tales, she’s a believer.

Check it out when you can. They are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for a $48 prix-fixe dinner and Monday nights starting at 5 for Happy Monday Happy Hour and yes it is happy. I’ve taken the book club, had the volunteer appreciation party there, snacked on I mean with my man, and also had my birthday party at Art of The Table. Good times, cutting edge and local….Dustin buys directly from the producer more often than not. www.artofthetable.net

Enjoy…Ciao….Cheers to local food and fun.

Art of the Table in Seattle

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