Went to monthly wine tasting dinner last evening, where Provencal wines were being featured.
First course was a chilled sweet pea soup, paired with a Sorin Blanc, a blend of 60% Rolle, and 15% Semillon, among other grapes. Wine went well with soup, yet would not be one I would purchase on my own. Soup was very fresh, very pea-like, and also had an Uni Cream Emulsion atop. Great start.
Second course was an artichoke Heart Tart with shaved fennel in a saffron vinaigrette, paired with a Calissane Prestige Rose (70% syrah, 10% grenache and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon). The tart was on a thin pizza-like crust, and was really the hearts and some tomatoes and the fennel atop the crust with the vinaigrette. Very very good. Dry Rose went perfectly with it.
Third course was a choice of either Monk fish Provencal or Roasted Lamb Loin, which companion and I both opted for, rare. It was served with a dried fruit couscous and natural jus. Couscous is something most restaurants miss, yet this one was sublime. Then the lamb, rare, with the jus was the perfect plate-mate. To top it off was a 1999 Chateau Ferry Lacombe Red of 100% cabernet sauvignon, again the perfect marriage in that the cab was not real heavy and thus truly complimented the food.
Fourth course was an artisan goat cheese with a chutney, I believe of peach, although the specifics were not well described ahead of time. But the prize of the evening was the wine served with it - a 1998 Gros Nore Bandol, whose nose was truly redolent of the Mediterranean. Where is the bouillabaise when you need it?! We both could have polished off a bottle of this with NO problems! And it was also being sold by the bottle for $25, which is a steal, and of course we both bought bottles.
Lastly, a strawberry "sable" with star anise whipped cream, a rather frou-frou looking, yet sublime tasting finale, paired with a Calissane Prestige Red 2000, which is mostly malbec, cab and merlot. Who would have thought that this combo of grapes would pair with strawberries? Truly an eye-opening marriage!
They also poured a special olive oil that permeated the entire room from the little dishes for dipping their great baguettes into.
Total bill - $50 including wines, excluding tax & tip.
Also on tonight, and they may have room, but last night was virtually full after around 7:30. If you are interested, get a reservation for before 7:30 at 323.655.8822. 8114 Beverly Blvd., east of Bev. Center a few blocks. One of the better values in a long time for me.