Our fall event brought our group to Parkers Blue Ash Grill, normally known as a mainstream steak house. Executive Chef Luis Mendoza gave himself a challenge to prepare courses unlike any on the menu, instead taking inspiration from his homeland of Venezuela and the nearby Caribbean islands. As equatorial South America has no essential wine production we relied on the cultural heritage of Spain to serve as an alternative to complement the dinner selections. At the reception it was our great honor to welcome special guest Romolo Cacciatori, who has dual titles of Chargé de Missions National d’Italie as well as Bailli Regional du Veneto. He joined us while taking a momentary break from educational philanthropic work in Columbus.
We met starting with a clean refreshing Cava from Segura Viudas and an array of appetizers. Notable were scallop ceviche shots with essence of lime, olive oil and tequila that furnished hedonistic pleasures. Crabmeat stuffed wontons held a large shrimp that served nicely as a tasty hand hold. We then sat for a first course of a creamy spicy pumpkin puree served with grilled lobster tail and a pumpkin flavored hush puppy. With it came an uncommon white Viura from Palacios in Rioja which made a great match for the soup with perfume aromas, tropical tastes and rounded body braced by acidity. Another fabulous pairing followed, this time quail stuffed with sausage and wrapped in ham, served with fennel flavored avocado and fig sauce. This complex combination of bold flavors was presented with a classic Tempranillo blend from Rioja that hinted at a delicate Bordeaux bouquet yet became massive in the finish to stand proud with the dish.
Next up was a generous portion of very tender slices of duck breast glazed with tamarind and apricot set upon a bed of lentils and asparagus. Many herbs and spices gave intricacy to this luxurious course that was harmonized with a profound red blend from Priorat, where ancient vines have recently caught the attention of wine makers and wine lovers. Finally our dessert fully immersed us into the tropics with fried plantain encrusted with crushed macadamia and coated with guava sauce. A coconut cookie completed this Caribbean finale. Chef Mendoza received well deserved acclaim from the guests for his marvelous dinner with a Latin American flair.
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse