A couple of weeks ago, I reserved dinner for several friends and myself for the first Cafe Josie, Wine Me Dine Me of 2010. I have been a long time believer, that Cafe Josie, with chef/owner Charles Mayes at the helm, offers up some of the most creative and thoughtful cuisine in Austin. I have been to several of the monthly Wine Me Dine Me dinners, and am blown away every time. The last one I attended a couple of months ago, was seafood themed. Tonight’s dinner really had no theme, other than amazingly flavorful food, paired perfectly with Bin 36 wines, from the Central Coast of California. Outstanding.
I skipped breakfast and lunch, so I could savor all of what was put before me this evening. And I did.
First, Broiled Triple Creme Brie, with Cajeta Walnuts & Fig Preserves – served with Bin 36 Chardonnay.
This dish was warm, and buttery, with crunch and sweetness. The wine paired perfectly.
Next up, Mesquite Smoked Salmon on Green Chile Potato Pancake, with Roasted Red Pepper Hollandaise, paired with Bin 36 Merlot.
Not only was this a gorgeously presented plate of food, it may have been my favorite of the evening. The Merlot quickly became a favorite wine of the majority of attendees (tied with the Syrah after vote). I don’t even know how to describe this dish, everything went together so perfectly. The salmon was perfectly cooked and lightly smoky, the potato pancake had loads of flavor and provided a great host for the salmon and the Roasted Red Pepper Hollandaise tied it all together. Just greatness.
Next was White Corn Polenta with Tuscan Tuna Sausage, on Garlic-Tomato Coulis with Shaved Grana Padana, served with Bin 36 Syrah.
Another visually stunning plate of food. I’m not a chef, so my description may be off, but the polenta was made of white hominy which gave it a more toothsome texture. The house made tuna sausage was full of flavor that was all pulled together with the tomato coulis. This paired very well with the Bin 36 Syrah, another favorite of the evening.
Mesquite Grilled Ancho Pork Mole, with Banana Fritters, Manchego and Cab-Mascerated Cherries, served with Bin 36 Cabernet Sauvignon. This dish was bursting with flavor, and had more heat than I expected. Heat from the Ancho and so much flavor from the cherries. Then out came a shot glass of mole. Oh my heavens. The mole might as well have been crack cocaine. We all dumped out all we could from the shot glass, then drank the rest. I don’t like traditional mole, and I don’t know what it was about this stuff, but it was amazing.
We were quite stuffed at this point, and were encouraging one another to man-up and power through. It was too good to stop.
Up next, (I know!) was Mesquite Beef Tournedo, with Mushroom Au Jus and Gorgonzola Grill Butter, served with D&S Proprietary Blend.
This was perhaps the most tender beef I’ve ever had, perfectly cooked, with that light mesquite goodness and a creamy and flavorful gorgonzola The little potatoes were a stand out as well. This paired perfectly with the Proprietary Blend, which on paper would normally be my favorite, but I remained partial to the Syrah and Merlot.
At this point, I actually asked the waiter to make it stop, in fear of death by overeating. He politely said, “we are almost there, Carla” and placed my dessert before me. Sicilian Pistachio Gelato. Somehow I made room for it, although I’m not sure how.
This gelato had a really fresh, clean flavor, wasn’t overly sweet, which was the perfect end to a perfect evening.
Cafe Josie typically has Wine Me Dine Me Dinners the first Tuesday of the month. They close the restaurant to walk in patrons, and focus only on the reserved dinner guests. Tonight’s guest was Sommelier Brian Duncan of Bin 36 Restaurant in Chicago. He was engaging, informative, super friendly and really funny.
6 courses of wonderful food, expertly paired with excellent wine, for $55, all inclusive. Incredible.