Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fine Dining, No Pomposity!

We were invited to dine with George Miliotes the other evening and boy, are we glad we accepted the invitation.
George sat at the head of the table in an intimate room room graced by rich woods, natural stone, subdued lighting and glistening china and glassware.
Upon arrival we were greeted with ripe plum tomato flatbread with roasted garlic essence, sweet basil and Parmesan cheese. We also sampled spicy pork taco flatbread and washed it down with our first wine of the evening: Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinnett, Mosel '07.
George, who is a Master Sommelier told us the whole story behind the making of this wine and explained that it is a particularly good choice with the spicy flatbread.
Then, we toasted each other with raspberry sweet teatinis. Not as sweet as you might expect, these vodka martinis are made with sweet tea and raspberry puree.
After our toast, it was time executive chef Anthony O'Neill to bring us the evening's opening dish: Alaskan copper river salmon with summer corn risotto, fresh asparagus, roasted peppers and dill sauce. This was combined with Indaba Chardonnay West Cape '08, an outstanding though nonetheless economical wine available in most wine and spirits shops for under $10 per bottle.
Chef O'Neill moved along to caramelized sea scallops grilled and served with sun-dried tomato pearl pasta. And George Miliotes matched this with Sellbach-Oster Pinot Blanc, Mosel '06, a wine that goes particularly well with a rich seafood such as the plump scallops.
Next came grilled Colorado buffalo steak. We were surprised at the tenderness of the steak; very tasty! This was paired with wines that George describe as "joyful and yummy" -- Planeta Segreta Nero d'Avola/Merlot and Leanne Vineyard Pinot Noir, Rouge.
Obviously, as we moved along we went easy on the wines, lightly savoring each one since we suspected that more was on the way. And, it was.
Our grilled rack of New Zealand lamb came with red bliss potatoes, sauteed spinach, balsamic red onions and Dijon sauce. George teamed it with Honoro Vera Merlot, Jumilla '07 and a wonderfully fragrant Retromarcia Sangiovese Chianti Classico '06.
How could we possibly bring this evening to a close?
Obviously, we needed a good dessert wine and George presented "possibly the best dessert wine vintage ever produced by Germany" -- Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Riesling Auslese, Mosel '06. And we enjoyed this with a variety of mini indulgences.
Now -- here's the really important part of the whole story: All of the wines and all of the dishes that I've just described are available at the beautiful new Seasons 52 restaurant in Cherry Hill and they are all temptingly affordable and delicious.
Seasons 52 Beverage and Hospitality Director George Miliotes has traveled the world finding the very best vineyards and finest wines. And Executive Chef Anthony O'Neill has produced a menu that is original, memorable and remarkably healthy.
Culinary triumphs aside, you won't find an effete attitude or even a bit of snobbishness at Seasons 52. Friendliness and accessibility are the watchwords here.
Every dish and every vintage will be explained to you if need be and you can taste the wines before you make your choice. In fact, Seasons 52 has 23 different varieties of wines available by the glass.
"We want people to relax and enjoy the food, the wine, the whole experience," George Miliotes explains.
And indeed we did - and so will you!

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