5 Courses with Lilac and Winegardners Wines
Late last month I had the amazing opportunity to eat at Lilac’s five course wine dinner. I was invited by the owner/chef of Lilac Jeremy Engebretson and Lena Olson of Winegardners Wines. They had five courses and 6 wines. I went by myself but quickly got to know my tablemates and had a blast.
We started the night with diced smoked trout smothered with cream cheese dressing served on top of a homemade cracker. The appetizer was topped with razor thin radish slices, a sprig of dill and bright orange roe. Cream cheese makes fish twice as appealing, but this was no corner store salmon ball. The fish was amazingly fresh and fantastically delicious. The dish was served with a sparkling wine called Sommariva Prosecco.
The second course was a pork belly cutlet served atop, of all things a kimchi mayonnaise and topped with a roasted tomato and what appeared to be giant mustard seeds. The creamy mayo took hints from the previous dish but turned a pleasant corner with kimchi, a Korean mainstay that is essentially a spicy fermented cabbage dish. I am an absolute fan of kimchi and was very impressed. The pork belly is where we get bacon from so I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what a treat it was. We had two wines with this dish a white, Ermita Veracruz Verdejo and a low tannin red called Fontanes Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our next course was a beef loin served on top of grits and accompanied with blueberries and fennel. The girts continued the creamy theme the first two course set up. I’m not big on grits but that’s largely because you usually have to go to the south to find a person that can cook them. Thankfully, Lilac make such travel unnecessary. The beef loin was perfectly cooked and seasoned. When it comes to seasoning, less is more and simplicity always wins out; this is something Chef Engebretson is a master of. I can’t tell you how many steaks I’ve had ruined by overzealous seasoning, but I have yet to see that out of the Lilac crew. I loved the seemingly risky paring of the blueberries and beef. I have learned by now to trust Chef Engebretson’s amazing palette and this was no exception. The bold acidic fruit mingled expertly with the salty/savory meat and creamy grits; it was a match made in heaven. The course was accompanied by a nice red called Porro Babera.
Next, was a lobster and scallop ceviche. For the uninitiated a ceviche is a seafood dish that is served chilled and often raw. Now, that might not sound good at first, but think crab salad. And now that you’re thinking carb salad, stop, because to compare that to the dish Chef Engebretson put together would be sacrilegious. The ceviche had huge scallops and perfectly cooked lobster mixed with cucumber and vanilla and served on top of what appeared to be a jellied watermelon disk. The dish was paired with a Rosé called Marchesini Chiaretto.
We ended the night with a goat cheese panna cotta serve with a grilled peach. The peach tasted like candy and the thick creamy Italian cheese desert tasted like… well… heaven. It was accompanied by a dessert wine called Tintero Moscato D’asti.
All in all, it was an amazing nght and with a price tag of only 45 dollars you would be a fool not to try it at least once. For those that missed it, there is talk about doing the 5 course special again. In fact, the next one is just around the corner on September 17th. They will have two seatings at 5:30 and the other at 8:30. Seats are going fast so call now to get your reservation: (406) 969-4959. You can find more info on the event on Facebook as well.
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