Tuesday, November 22, 2016
I was invited to be part of the first winemaker dinner at Maxine's on Shine (337 Shine Ave, Orlando, FL 32803). Jeff Meyers, the GM, Vice President, and head winemaker at Terra D' Oro was on hand to introduce each wine that went with each of the three courses. We arrived a bit early, and I found my spot at the end of a long table to take in the scene. People mingled near the bar, as I blocked in the scene lightly in pencil. As people took their seats I inked them into the sketch. 1+1, a jazz duo performed live. Their music hearkened back to the 60s and 70s with a very nostalgic and consistent play list. I tried playing, "Name that Tune", as everyone got seated for the first course.
The first course, was Saku Block Tuna, seared rare, with a black and white sesame seed crust. There was a ginger cream sauce to dip it is. There was also Meatballs Wellington in a phyllo pastry on a bed blue cheese and spinach, with Jalepeno cilantro aioli for dipping. The wine paring was a white Terra D' Oro Miscato. This sweet wine was my favorite of the evening and I indulged in a second glass.
The second course was a southern citrus salad with a mix of fresh fruit, gorgonzola, spiced almonds and vinaigrette. This was paired with a red Terra D' Oro Barbara. The sweet salad was perfect with the smooth tasting Barbera. Jeff explained that Terra D' Oro means land of gold. Wines were first created in this area of California starting in the 1850's by Italian Immigrants. The weather is perfect and the sunshine plentiful.
The opening act was a Florida red grouper with mango salsa and cous cous. It was paired with a Terrie D' Oro Chevin Blanc Viognier Blend. This pairing was absolutely delicious. My sketch perch was pretty far from my plate, and I had to lean way forward to scoop up fish a cous cous with my fork. I would use my palette as a safety net, as I leaned back and delicately moved the fork to my mouth. Cous Cous kept spilling off the fork onto my palette. There is no refined way to flick food off of an art palette, so I left it where it was, hoping no one noticed. I did another painting today and the cous cous was still there, but now covered in blue paint. Now that I'm writing this I realize I need to take a writing break and get the food off my palette right now.
The Main Event was a Petite Filet Mignon, medium rare, with Winter Hunter Sauce, a twice baked potato, and chef select vegetables. The executive chef, George Vogelbacher was on vacation on a cruise ship, so his well trained staff prepared the dinner without him. The woman to my right felt that the meat was over cooked, but it tasted fine to me. After four cups of wine any thing would taste like heaven to me. The filet was paired with a Terra D' Oro Petite Sirah. This was the wine with the most tannins and it left a dry lingering full bodied after taste.
Desert was an "Ode to Elvis" with a triple chocolate brownie with bacon pecan brittle, a spiced anglaise, and a fruit compote. This was paired with a Terra D' Oro "Denver Vineyard" Zinfandel. Kirt Earhart thanked everyone for coming with his signature rhyme that he improvised on the spot. Before the right wound down Maxine took up a microphone and sang with the band. There were selfies and smiles with hugs all around. The evening was a true epicurean delight that celebrated passion and life. The cost was $70 per person all inclusive of tax and tip. 5 courses including wine pairing. Maxine's will be hosting similar wine pairing events in the future and trust me this will become one of the most sought after evenings in town. This intimate neighborhood venue offers the best in southern urban hospitality.