Thursday, October 14, 2010

La Dolce Vita 2010

As most Austinites know, La Dolce Vita is a fun and fantastic fundraising event for the Austin Museum of Art. It's held annually on the gorgeous grounds of Laguna Gloria. I was lucky enough to go with MS tonight, and it was simply AMAZING! Twin Liquors and local wineries provided the wine, and about 50 local restaurants provided the food!

Last year the event ran out of wine quickly, so the first thing we did was head to the wine tasting tables, and Becker Vineyards was closest to the entrance. I've had a few Becker wines before. Their Prairie Rotie 2009 is a Rhône-style blend - it retails for $16.95/bottle. I did not like this wine - it smelled heavily of sweet cola, and not in a good way. It also tasted very heavy. It may have been better with food, but since I was planning to hit the seafood tastings first, I needed to find a lighter wine.

The next wine we tasted was the Abrazo Garnacha 2009, which retails for about $9/bottle. This wine went great with seafood, specifically the four tuna, salmon, and shrimp dishes below.

Fleming's served a seared tuna and julienned veggies on a light and crisp wonton chip - absolutely fantastic!

Parkside served Gruyere Gourgeres and Salmon Tartar. Both were great!

Imperia served Tuna Crudo on a Whole Wheat Wonton Spoon - AWESOME! And I also tried a Chocolate Sake Truffle - yum!

The next booth was Satay and Get Dim Sum. This isn't actually a photo from that booth, but it's close enough. They served barbecued shrimp on Asian slaw, and some kind of dark meat chicken thing. Everything tasted good, but not as fresh as the raw/nearly raw tastes we just had at Fleming's, Parkside, and Imperia.

The next wine we had was the Gnarly Head Pinot Noir 2008, which retails for $10.99/bottle. I've had the Old Vines Zin but never the Pinot Noir from this winery. It was a nice wine for the price point.

And of course we had to try the Alamos Malbec 2009, which retails for about $8.99/bottle. It went nicely with the next taste from El Arbol.

El Arbol served shredded ribeye on a little piece of toasted baguette. It was good, but a little greasy for me.

Carmel Road Pinot Noir 2008 is from Monterrey County, California, and retails for $18.99/bottle. It was very food-friendly!

Paggi House served an oyster and fennel soup that was really wonderful! The little oysters were at the bottom of the cup, and the soup was creamy but not heavy. The presentation was gorgeous!

This Baus Family Vineyard Private Reserve Zinfandel 2008 from Sonoma Mountain was quite nice. It retails for $15.99/bottle.

Jack Allen's Kitchen offered a leg of quail wrapped in bacon, microgreens salad, and homemade pimento cheese on a whole grain toasted pita. I liked everything but the cheese - I'm not a huge pimento fan.

Whole Foods has been offering tastings of Duchman Family Wines quite a lot recently. I like their crisp white called Vermentino, but this is the first time I've tried their red Dolcetto 2009. A very nice wine! I believe it costs approximately $26/bottle.

Jasper's offered a pork tenderloin, microgreens, and potatoes (underneath the pork). Everything was way too salty.

This Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2008 retails for about $14/bottle. It was also very food friendly, especially as our next few bites included crab cakes!

Good old Eddie V's - love the crab cakes with remoulade sauce!

This was a new experience for me - Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka! I seriously could not taste the vodka, but still didn't drink too much of it - needed to save room for more wine. Something that seems to be growing in popularity in Central Texas is a taste for spirits and mixed drinks. Yay - maybe spirit prices will go up and wine prices will go down!

Judges' Hill offered pork on top of polenta. It was okay, but not my favorite bite of the evening.

Alamo Drafthouse surprised us with this spicy pork stew, which was a lot like a great chicken tortilla soup! It was spicy with creamy fresh avocado and crispy tortilla strips. Excellent!

Frei Brothers Reserve Merlot 2007 from Dry Creek Valley was my only Merlot of the night (you know it's not my fave varietal). It retails for $15.99/bottle. It is a blend of 90% Merlot, 6% Petite Sirah, and 4% Zinfandel, and earned 88 points from the Wine Advocate and 86 points from Wine Spectator. It was okay.

Another crab cake from Eddie V's - not sure why they had 2 different booths, but this crab cake was actually better than the last one, and the presentation was nicer. I think it was the temperature (warm) and the texture (crisp, flaky).

This zucchini crudite (I think that's what it was called) from Eastside Showroom was FANTASTIC! It was on a little crispy toasted slice of bread, and I really loved it! The chef talked a lot about the local food that she uses, which of course made me love the bite even more!

This steak kabob from Steiner Ranch Steakhouse was the tenderest beef we had all night. It was really fantastic. The manager talked with me extensively about the wine list - will have to go visit sometime!

This hanger steak from La Sombra was really tough. It was seasoned well, but I didn't love the texture.

Filet mignon with Gorgonzola cheese from Sullivan's - simple, sublime, superb!

This squash soup from Botticelli's was absolutely wonderful!

The mac and cheese with pancetta from Cover 3 was really good, but the pancetta was a tad too salty. And, I prefer white truffle oil on my mac and cheese!

J Black made a nice beef or pork bite. I LOVE the size of these portions, and this dish was AMAZING!

Sterling Affairs from the Long Center provided caramel balls with black truffle oil, pancetta on top. The popcorn was a tad bit stale, and the pancetta wasn't quite integrated into the popcorn - just sort of sprinkled on top.

Siena presented mashed potatoes with black truffle oil over game. I ate the potatoes - YUM! Didn't get a chance to try the game - too gamey.

The Caramel Corn from La Condesa was crunchy, sweet, and salty at the same time! Nice thick caramel coating!

This Cruz de Piedra Garnacha 2008 from Spain retails for $8.99/bottle. It's a good wine.

The Cote 125 Corbières 2008 is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan, and retails for $9.99/bottle. It was a nice wine, and I would definitely try it again.

This shrimp on biscuit dish from Word of Mouth Catering was okay. The shrimp didn't seem very fresh - it was quite shriveled, which could have been because it was kept warm for a while? I also didn't love the sauce. I actually couldn't finish it.

Clam chowder from Truluck's is always awesome! I love it because it's not too creamy or heavy. A little malt vinegar and chopped chives added a kick!

Pirhana Killer Sushi always delivers, and they did so tonight with a crab/asparagus/masago roll, and cream cheese/asparagus/crab/jalapeño pepper

This Charamba Duoro 2007 is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional and retails for $7.99/bottle. Wine Spectator gave it 88 points. I didn't love this wine - it was very bitter.

Could not drink this DBS 2008 wine from McPherson Cellars. Too sweet. It's a blend of 50% Dolcetto, 36% Barbera, and 14% Sangiovese and retails for $15/bottle.

This Casabayo Tempranillo 2008 from the Vinos de la Tierra region seems to have been aged a while in oak. It has a distinctly bitter tobacco taste. Not my favorite of the evening. Retails for $14.99/bottle.

This was a pretty good 2006 Tempranillo by Cacho Ribera Del Duoro. Nice and dry, with just a hint of barrel aging. I would purchase it again. Retails for $14.99/bottle.

Yes - love this wine - a 2008 Petite Syrah by Torre di Pietra! I think this was my favorite wine of the evening. Spicy, dry, not too much wood. To top it off, this is a gorgeous winery to visit! Retails for $24.95.bottle.

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