Jujube, Chapel Hill
$40 per plate
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending another Jujube wine dinner—it had been a while! These dinners are kept affordable by profiling wines in the $10 to $20 range from the Hope Valley Bottle Shop crew, of which Drew did the sommelier honors this evening. Alas, I was cameraless for this meal, but I did take notes! I was also lucky to be joined by great friends who don’t mind picking apart their meals, either.
First wine of the evening was Adami Prosecco Garbel 13. I’d call it a simple crowd-pleaser—excellent if you’ve got a large group of sparkling wine imbibers to keep happy. It paired well with the first course, house-made mozzarella wrapped around talegio—a soft, Italian cheese. That little ball of goodness was served with a thin sourdough crostini with olive oil, lemon, and chili flakes. As another patron put it, “Cheese wrapped in cheese! The best invention ever!” I wouldn’t go quite that far. It was an interesting experiment, but the two cheeses didn’t contrast enough in flavor to be a big win, though the talegio got gooier after a bite into it, making the texture more fun. Some liked the lemon (me!) in the sauce, many did not. I could easily have eaten another, as long as I ate it with the crostini—cheese does have its limits.
The second course was grilled calamari with tempura kumquats and cucumber puree. My word, that dish smelled of summer, which was almost cruel with the winter we’re having so far. I thought it was fantastic, and most everyone agreed. Grilling calamari will make you wonder why you’ve ever had it fried, and the kumquats were fun bursts of flavor along for the ride. It had very contrasting flavors that I enjoyed with the Segura Viudas Cava Brut, the first of three wines from that estate. It was my favorite wine of the evening and tasted of whipped cream or perhaps angel food cake, but it wasn’t crazy sweet. The nose held the fruit for me, maraschino cherry and peach.by