Last week we attended the latest wine dinner hosted by sommelier Jennifer Jaco at Del Frisco Double Eagle Steakhouse. This was one of her more imaginative dinners and executive chef David Holben was totally on his game with the menu. Holben’s background, besides training at Michelin 3-star restaurants in France, includes The Riviera, for almost a decade one of the city’s premier restaurants. He also ran the kitchen at Mediterraneo and Toscana, a few of the more compelling Italian restaurants in Dallas history.
This was an interesting evening witnessing Holben’s departure from his typical Del Frisco menu.
While Jaco worked the room ensuring the comfort of her guests, we were guided through Italy vicariously through the fascinating stories and anecdotes of Italian wine expert Dan Rosenberg. By the end of the spirited evening most of the guests were chomping to book a flight to Italy. It is always a joy to see stand back and watch Jaco in action with her over-the-top wine knowledge and eagerness to share.
The wines selected by Jaco that evening included a beautifully crisp Canella Brut, Prosecco which exudes fruity aromas of peach, apple, pear and citrus pairing well with passed appetizer, a Oysters with Mango Gazpacho.
Our first course was an interesting Gnocchi Tart with grilled summer vegetables, basil, chicken sausage and fennel pollen. This was paired with a summery Jermann Chardonnay, Friuli 2010 which had notes of crisp apples, subtle white flowers, juicy pears and minerals.
The next course started with a generous pour of Il Molino di Grace, Chianti Classico 2007 which is a dark-berried Sangiovese vine, and the most widely planted grape variety in Italy with flavors of flavors of cherries and black stone fruit. This wine was met with Holben’s Black Squid Ink Risotto with Grilled Calamari and Charred Tomato Broth. This was his most compelling dish of the evening. Although blackened risotto is not the most attractive, it certainly was exquisite.
The next dish served was Polenta-Crusted Salmon with Leeks and Summer Truffles paired with Bucci Rosso Piceno ‘Pongelli,’ March 2008. The wine is an amalgam of both Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes with the flavors of cherries and soft tannins that make this wine a pleasing addition to the table. The polenta-crusted salmon was inspired.
The next course was an Italian Stuffed Veal Breast with Mushroom and Herbs and paired with Valli di Porto Pino ‘Shardana,’ Sardinia 2007. The Shardana is 85% Carignano and 15% Syrah and has a very long smoky fruit finish. This paired nicely with our veal dish which was equally as lush as our wine.
Holben finished the evening with his Summer Berries with Mascarpone served alongside Jaco’s selection of Gaudio Bricco Mondalino, Malvasia di Casorzo ‘Dolce Stil Novo’ Piedmont NV. Dolce is intensely fruity, driven by aromas of citrus and stone fruits, and layered with notes of honey and spice which was a sweet selection to end the evening.
Jaco has more of these type of dinners planned and it is best to either watch craveDFW or ask to be placed on her mailing list for the next edition in November. All these Italian wines are available at Jimmy’s Food Store in Dallas.