This past Tuesday night, March 8, an intimate party of about 45 Santa Claritans attended the first French wine paring dinner held this year inside Valencia Wine Company. Hosted by Guy Lelarge and his staff, the dinner was privately catered by former Oaks Grille Chef Samson Francois with assistance from Kelly Klemovich.
Attendees encountered a gastronomic delight that included no less than 4 courses of the finest French food paired with 4 full 5 ounce glasses of French wines. (We might have had more, who was counting? No one!) Find our menu – and the wine it was paired with – at the bottom of this post.
Valencia Wine Company was resplendent with its normal glass-topped tables transformed with linens and fine cutlery; while what was used in prior incarnations as barstools became opulent dining chairs.
Each course, beginning with the appetizers that were served during the “cocktail hour” was timed with the next. Nothing, it would appear, was left to chance.
Guy, as is his way with every dinner he arranges, introduced the chef first as guests happily bit into delicate cheese and crab filled “Profiteroles” paired perfectly with a bubbling Cremant.
“I see some old and new friends here tonight,” began Samson with a broad smile. “If you want to see more of me though you’ll have to become a member of the Jonathan Club – that’s where I’m cooking now! But I want to introduce Kelly to you. She owned Chameau, which you can find online and she now caters with me.”
Samson joked about the menu stating that he was taking guests on a “journey to Spain for the Filet Mignon course, Granada for our sausage, to Seville for the pork croquettes and then back to America and France for our dessert.”
Guest Larry Mazzeo egged Samson on, and in teasing Guy’s own French roots, said, “French food came from Italy because Caterina De Medici, of Florence, married King Henry of France…” (Want to learn more about that? Click here.)
All kidding aside, Guy then told his guests, that were growing with anticipation, “Okay, so if it’s to be Italian here tonight I will say ‘Buen Apetito’! And, one more thing, I plan on have a dinner like this every 5 or 6 weeks!”
At that, we were off to our second course: white asparagus, ham, and one very fresh and very large, scallop. Guy paired that with a Chenin Blanc that I noticed several guests marking to order when the meal was over.
After that came the main meal: the filet, sausage and croquette. I sliced them all small enough to get a little of each on my fork, and the balsamic reduction as well. Guy paired this with a blend, 60% syrah and 40% Grenache, from the south of France. I had more than my share of the wine – it was a very good pairing.
Finally, the chocolate truffle cake, dates and cheese were brought to each diner along with another new glass of wine: a Rhone blend that most drank up…over and over again..
Stretching my legs, and wanting to get a few quotes, I circled the room.
From Bill Farrar: “Guy Lelarge has done it again! Exquisite wine and food. We had a good time.”
From my new friends Cindy Davis and Jo DeNicholas: “Everything was good…loved the potato croquette and the filet – and how it was all ‘put to perfection’ by complementing the wine and the ambiance of the entire evening.”
Mark White: “After 8 years as our best wine bar, this is the best dinner I’ve ever had…partly because my wife Julie brought her mother tonight and we’re celebrating her birthday too!”
Me: “The next 5 or 6 weeks can’t pass by quick enough for Guy’s next dinner!”
Tray Passed Appetizers
Profiteroles filled with Brousin Cheese and Crabmeat Mousse
paired with Domaine Rolet Cremant du Jura 2007 (Cremant is a French Sparkling wine made in the Champagne method. Made in the city of Jura, not in Champagne, hence it can’t be called a Champagne. 100% chardonnay, Blanc de Blanc.)
White Asparagus Spears with Serrano Ham
& Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Béarnaise Sauce
paired with Domaine du Fresche Anjou Blanc 2009 (100% Chenin Blanc. Loire Valley 6th generation winemakers.)
Roasted Petit Beef Filet with Balsamic Reduction
& Moorish Lamb Sausage with Roasted Pepper Salsa
& Chorizo Potato Croquette
paired with Domaine Mas Bruguiare L’Arbouse 2008 (60% syrah, 40% grenache. 7th generation winemakers. From Pic Saint Loup in Languedoc region. Drink now.)
Medjool Dates stuffed with Goat Cheese
& Chocolate Truffle with Cheese Slice
paired with Domaine de Trapidis Rasteau VDN (07 Cotes du Rhone, 60% grenache, 25% carignan, 15% syrah.)