A group of 15 guests gathered at the Folin Cellars Carlton Tasting Room at 6 p.m. to kick off the night with a "Soter-Pop" as Rob Folin, winemaker, titled the Soter Vineyards Brut Rosé. Chris and I were running late, as always, because I over gabbed at our last commitment and didn't know Chris couldn't teleport us to the event. Then, to continue our traditions, we got lost, had no cell service, bickered about how this was so "like us," got back on track, talked ourselves into having a great night and walked through the door. The Soter-Pop instantly cheered us up as did the Wild Muchroom Crosstinis, Prosciutto Truffle Butter Breadsticks and Garlic and Rosemary Goat Cheese that Carole Stevens, Folin's sales and marketing powerhouse turned chef, prepared.
The evening continued as we were ushered across the street to the quaint Carlton Loft where dinner was being held. We were greeted by the 2007 Viognier, which is always a delightful welcome.
The meal started with Duck Confit Salad with Shaved Truffles and Dijon Vinaigrette paired with the 2008 Mourvédre. This wine is typically used as a blending grape in his GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre), but Rob bottled just 25 cases as a Wine Club special. I loved the buttery smell on this wine. Chris informed me the smell, reminiscent of movie theater butter, is diacetyl, a product of lactic acid bacteria... Mmm-Mmm... delicious! We later tried the GSM that incorporated that gorgeous nose, while finishing a bit sweeter.
Next up, Rob introduced the Mushroom Risotto Cakes with Petite Wilted Greens and White Truffles with a story of how this dish came about. Apparently, the Folin crew was dining at Fenouil in Portland and they had a bottle of their Tempranillo already opened. They ordered a dish very similar to the one they recreated and thought it was absolute heaven. To follow suit, the risotto was paired with the 2006 Tempranillo and 2005 Tempranillo Reserve. This was the show-stopper for me!
Between each course Rob would enlighten us with information on the wine and its selection or production method. In his hand was the 2007 Syrah that was 1/2 of the wine pairing for the Pan Roasted Quail with Shaved Asparagus and White Truffle Jus on a Truffled Potato and Carrot Purée. The other 1/2 of the wine pairing was the 2008 Petite Syrah.
Props to Carole who created excellence on a plate. She humbly noted that she has only cooked quail four times (that seems like a lot to me!) in her life and was ready to call in pizza.
And to spoil us even more she topped off our dishes with freshly shaved white truffles that she gathered herself in her secret location. All the truffles were at the optimal ripeness and collected by her and Rob.
As if we needed to continue eating, a platter of assorted cookies was passed around and the 2007 Late Harvest Viognier was poured. The delectable bites were from Two Tarts Bakery and Honest Chocolates. There was a chocolate covered caramel sprinkled with sea salt that Chris and I raved about all day Saturday. Honest Chocolates is located in Carlton, so when you go visit Folin's Tasting Room be sure to stop by.
Chris and I sat at one of the ends of the table between three very darling couples (sadly one of them is not pictured). I could hardly swallow my food without laughing at one of their stories.
Now you can see why I am still so full! Rob and Carole sure know how to host a wine dinner! We were so lucky to be squeezed into this intimate event, because as you would guess, it filled up quick. The food and wine were amazingly paired, Carole showered us in crazy amounts of truffles, and the company was a laugh-attack. I don't want to make you any more envious, but this dinner was only $35/person. Can you believe it??! Deal of the decade. Be sure to get on the Folin Cellars' mailing list to hear about these events (just don't act faster than me; I don't want to lose my seat!).
While Carole was the master chef, poor Rob had dishes duty the next day...