Sunday, April 13, 2008

German Wine Dinner at 3 Square

Last week, on Thursday evening, Rudi Wiest Selections representative Allie Mitchell and I hosted a German wine dinner at a new restaurant in Venice called "3 Square." The name refers to three square meals a day, a casual dining restaurant opened jointly by Hans Rockenwagner and Wolfgang Gussmack after the close of fine dining establishment Rockenwagner in Santa Monica about 2 years ago. This new casual spot encompasses a bakery and a cafe, which serves really delicious food in a casual setting. The food is a fusion between Austrian/German influences and California market-fresh. It was for these reasons that I chose to do a wine dinner here with German wines.

The executive summary is that the dinner was a huge success. A full house enjoyed some non-vintage Wegeler Rheingau Riesling Brut Sekt (sparkling dry Riesling) while the sun was still shining on the patio and through the ample windows. The warm spring evening was the perfect backdrop as the diners anticipated a fantastic and creative menu. The first course was a mouthwatering salad made from the sweetest Japanese tomatoes encircled by baby greens and topped with a pumpkin seed oil and balsamic dressing. This course was paired with 2006 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Kabinett Feinherb. The delicate and minerally off-dry Riesling was almost too dry for the salad, which had considerable sweetness from the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. But the wine was well received from the audience nonetheless.

The second course was a hearty hot dish, morel mushrooms in a creamy spatzel. Very classic German/Austrian, rich, earthy, and satisfying. But what made it really sing was the pairing with 2006 Von Buhl Maria Schneider Jazz Riesling Medium-Dry from the Pfalz. The idea for this pairing came from Allie who had learned from Rudi Wiest that Pfalz Rieslings, grown on volcanic soil, are nice and earthy and pair exceptionally well with dishes that feature mushrooms. Well, she and he were so right! The Maria Schneider Riesling, which I have tasted on several occasions before, and felt was an okay wine, was entirely fabulous and rich and unctuous with the morel spatzel dish. This course and wine was the pairing of the night.

The third course took us into salmon and Spatburgunder. In particular, we featured the 2005 Heger Pinot Noir from the Baden region. This is not my favorite Spatburgunder, but nonetheless, I like it with salmon as it is a light style and perfectly good with a grilled dish. The feedback I got from the diners included "Is this from Germany? I didn't know Germany made reds." Others mostly did not like it, but they admitted to being "spoiled" by Californian Pinots. One table really enjoyed the Spatburgunder, and it happened to be a table of French gentlemen who appreciated a wine that went well with food, a wine that had more subtle nuances. Go figure! Also, I observed that though a good number of diners verbally let me know that they didn't like the Pinot, they were draining their glasses. ie. Look at the actions, not the words! Someone can tell you they like the wine but they are not drinking it with their meals - meanwhile they may tell you they don't like a wine, but heck, they are drinking it with their salmon - what does this tell you???

Finally, our last course (and let me tell you, the courses were not tiny - I was busting at the seams!) was a pork schnitzel with lingonberries - absolutely delicious - a thin pounded filet of lean tenderloin pork served with juicy berries with just a smattering of acidity and sweetness, paired with 2006 Monchhof Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese - this wine showed very, very well, tasty sweetness and lightness in one - spritzy in that Riesling sort of way - and went really well with the course. And by itself. Many folks were getting a refill of this wine.

There was a dessert served with this dinner as well, but at this point, I didn't partake. I was happy with all the wines and all the food and the evening in general. Wolfgang outdid himself, and it was good to meet Hans who was present for the entire evening directing traffic in the kitchen and meeting with customers. It was one of those really great nights that energies one to do more dinners.

The next day I was very tired from the dinner and didn't blog about it till today, 4 days later when I feel really recovered, but today I'm feeling that feeling again - like I had better be planning the next German wine dinner!

And for those of you reading that missed this fantastic event, do not dispair - I do have a German wine dinner already planned for Friday May 30 at 7:15 at Delius Restaurant in Signal Hill - make your reservation today! 562-426-0694

I'll also be planning something for July so stay tuned...


Al Rudis said...

Hi Nancy,
I sent you an email about this, but just in case you read your blog first...

There was no vintage year on the Mueller-Catoir Rieslander Trockenbeerenauslese in the listing of the April 22 tasting, and my editor asked me about it. Can you find out and call me first thing Tuesday morning. Thanks.
Al Rudis

Nancy Deprez said...

Sure thing, let me check.