Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Niner Estates Wine Dinner at Wild Ginger RVA

Wild Ginger's Yellowtail Sashimi. Simple yet elegant.
Last night, the man and I made the trek southbound to Wild Ginger for an intimate wine dinner hosted by winemaker Amanda Cramer of Niner Wine Estates, a LEED certified family run winery in Paso Robles. With only about 20 or so folks in attendance, we spent the evening gabbing at communal tables while some stellar juice flowed and Wild Ginger's resident chef, "Chef Ken" , who hails from Malaysia, created some seriously bold food pairings to accompany the wines.
Chef Ken's Malay roots went into full effect with his "Golden Star", a 12-hour sweet and savory curry and galangal-based broth laden with hand-rolled dumplings filled with Alaskan King Crab, scallops and prawns. Accented with a handful of cilantro, which has got to be a tough one to pair with any wine, the dish worked surprisingly well with Niner's 2008 Sangiovese, a lighter-style red (almost Pinot Noir-ish in some ways) that boasted a whole mess of tart black cherries. Definitely daring, but fun.
Next up, was the "Uni Star" consisting of broiled eel wrapped around a mixture of spicy avocado and shrimp topped with a few sprinkles of panko crumbs. Here is where things got really interesting. This spicy/sweet dish was paired with Niner's 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. An oak-y, tannic, big California red paired with broiled uni glazed in a sweet and salty unagi sauce you say? Yup, it worked, and I can now fully confess that I am no wine expert because I have no earthly idea why.
Our last course pairing made the most sense with a braised rack of lamb coated in red miso paste and Chef Ken's "favorite meat broth from home" paired with Niner's 2006 Fog Catcher, a delightfully peppery blend of French oak barrel aged Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot that winemaker Amanda Kramer describes as "Cabernet Sauvignon to the nth power!" This wine is a big-un and was a natural choice for the slightly gamey lamb.
In all honesty, I didn't know much about Wild Ginger's wine events before last night, but after chatting with some folks over there it looks like they plan to make them a regular occurrence. In fact, there just *might* be a Malaysian Street Foods dinner in the works featuring some real-deal Malay foods whipped up by the man himself, Chef Ken, IF they can convince him to do it. In the meantime, you can always head over to Wild Ginger and get your hands on a couple of Malay-styled fried jumbo soft shells (pictured above). We actually ate these for dessert because evidently a four-course wine dinner just wasn't enough. *snort*

At any rate, if you haven't checked out Wild Ginger, I recommend trekking across the bridge if only to hit up the bar, which has a decent happy hour, plus great lighting which seems to make everyone look 10 years younger--bonus! And while you're there, see if you can convince Chef Ken to do the Malaysian street foods dinner.

The Deets:
Wild Ginger
3734 Winterfield Road
Midlothian, VA 23113
(804) 378-4988
Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30
Mon-Thurs 5-10
Fri-Sat 5-10:30
Sunday 5-9:30

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