I've been meaning to report back on this fabulous event ($75 pp) and, fortunately for us, they plan on holding more wine dinners featuring local AZ wines, possibly a series. We definitely don't want to miss the next one!
Greeted with a warm welcome from Pavle and a friendly hello from Ashley (who remembered us from my birthday dinner a couple of months ago!) was a great start. We were then invited to join the other guests along with Sam Pillsbury in MBar's lounge area where they had reserved seating in an area with cozy sofas. We were later joined by Azvinesandwine and her husband, and as we sat and chatted with Sam, they poured his new Pillsbury 2008 Rose "One Night Stand" - perfect with the delicious passed hors d'ouevres:
Grilled Medjool dates with Tim's Bacon and habanero
Heirloom tomato and mozzarella
La Quercia prosciutto-wrapped figs
When dinner was ready, we were led to a lovely private dining room lit with flickering candles, called King Ferdinand's Cellar. Prado had chosen to keep the group small - 12 people - so that we could all dine together and Sam could discuss his wine and answer questions. I loved the intimacy of being able to sit at one table and, as Pavle mentioned, he wanted us to feel like we were guests at someone's beautiful home. Well, he succeeded! Chef Claudio also spent some time with us answering questions and describing the menu and his passion for food, which was such a treat.
The rest of the menu didn't disappoint:
Smoky grilled prawns (so sweet and tender, I ate them crispy heads and all) with Controne beans (the first time E has not only finished beans, but commented on how good they were), and wild oregano
Pillsbury 2008 Pinot Gris ‘Casa Blanca’ – called Casa Blanca because the pinot gris from these vines have been served at the White House
Croxetti with Maida yellow tomatoes and Cilento olives. Loved the croxetti - a unique hand-made flat medallion-shaped pasta. We were told it's a traditional pasta from Liguria, and in medieval times the pasta would be stamped with a coat of arms.
Pillsbury 2006 Roan Red Syrah Blend (grenache and mourvedre with a bit of syrah and petite syrah). I love how food-friendly this wine always is.
Lamb T-bone (perfectly cooked and juicy - my first time having this cut), merguez sausage and olive pesto
Grilled seasonal vegetables from Singh Farm with artisanal olive oil
Pillsbury 2007 Petite Sirah (a new favorite - limited, only 30 cases).
Pat Duncan melons with fennel pollen and truffle infused honey
Patxaran (Wow! Pavle explained this was a family favorite - a Basque liqueur flavored with anise, Spanish sloeberries, and coffee beans. Loved it)
Prado is one of my favorite restaurants, and this visit only reinforces that. Wonderful service, perfect atmosphere, and, oh, the food. As a passionate supporter of the Slow Food movement, Chef Claudio's priority is on quality artisanal ingredients including a commitment to supporting local. For example, the Controne beans are imported by only one farmer in Italy, the olives from Cilento, and the menu featured bacon from Tim Wilson's Meat Shop, vegetables delivered just hours earlier from Singh Farm in Phoenix and sweet melon from Duncan's in Litchfield Park, and the spicy merguez lamb sausage seasoned with harissa is made by Schreiner's.
Another highlight was the prosciutto. At first I was disappointed to no longer see Jamon Serrano and Iberico on the menu, but the La Quercia prosciutto made domestically is fantastic. I had first read about this acorn-fed "prosciutto Americano" on La Tienda, and I can see why Chef Claudio is proud to serve it. Hmmmm...I want some now.
We ended with a nightcap at MBar with AZvinesandwines and her husband. Another great time at one of my favorite restaurants, paired with one of my favorite local Arizona wine makers; it doesn't get better than that!
4949 E Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253