It's plain to see why Luce's Chef Dominique Crenn is a contender on the Food Network's upcoming "The Next Iron Chef." Not only is she extremely skilled and creative in the kitchen, she's tough. For the past several weeks she's been recovering from a terrible knee injury, and despite her crutches and any pain, she put on her fancy red adidas and oversaw an outstanding four-course dinner.
Wednesday night at Luce, Crenn's sleek restaurant in San Francisco's InterContinental Hotel, we partnered with Napa Valley's Robert Craig winery for a locally-inspired seasonal tasting menu featuring McEvoy Ranch extra virgin olive oil.
We started with a 2007 Durell Chardonnay, but our first course was almost too pretty to eat. On a dark slab of slate, we feasted on plump figs and vibrant red and yellow beets over a silky olive-oil yogurt sauce and sprinkled with tiny little green specks of "basil soil."
Next came the intriguing "heirloom tomatoes texture" finished with our Limited Edition blend. Three little mounds of colorful heirloom tomatoes were plated in contrasting cuts and configurations and garnished with crispy shallots, McEvoy red basil and Bellwether Farms' crescenza cheese. Tomatoes, like asparagus, can be a hard to pair with wine, but the white pepper notes and smooth style of Robert Craig's 2007 Howell Mountain Zinfandel were a surprising match.
Our third course was a loin of beef slowly poached in our Traditional blend extra virgin olive oil and this was the absolute best beef experience of my life. It was so perfectly seasoned with big, crunchy flakes of sea salt on top and a texture that was beyond butter. The beef sat on a cushion of our roasted eggplant with creamy, little white beans and Willow's beautiful McEvoy microbeets and sunflower sprouts whimsically skirting the plate. We compared two vintages of Robert Craig's famous mountain Cabernet Sauvignon with this course, and his Bordeaux-style 2006 Affinity was a natural pair for the silky poached beef.
And what olive-oil tasting menu would be complete without dessert? For our last course, fruity McEvoy olive oil ice cream was served on playful doughnut-shaped plates, sprinkled with crunchy little chocolate beignets and a fine dusting of olive oil powder. Strong finish, for sure.
What a delightful evening and hopefully the first of many olive oil and wine pairing dinners...
Stay tuned for more!