In the heart of the Willamette Valley, winter usually promises more rain than snow, but, there’s still a longing for comfort food, gathering with good friends, the warm glow of candle light, and a sense of winding down in the appropriate hibernation style. We’re cave dwelling. And, we’re eating what’s in season, or what’s been saved from the previous bounty of summer and fall – pickled, canned, dried, however preserved. Once the winter solstice has passed, the days begin to lengthen like a newborn colt stretching out its feeble legs. I love midwinter. And, I love any excuse to get cozy and enjoy a well made meal with other cave dwellers.
One of my favorite winter feasts is the R. Stuart & Co. Winter Supper series in McMinnville. I attended one of the dinners in last year’s inaugural series featuring Chef Pascal Chureau of Allium Restaurant, and, on that magical night, big, billowing feather-like tufts of snow began to fall and illuminate under street lamps. It changed the mood from delight to complete enchantment. This little event, in my opinion, is the very best Oregon has to offer for winter culinary delights. I was lucky enough to get a seat in the sold-out second year.
The visiting chef was Jasper Shen of the trio of artists who started Aviary Restaurant in NE Portland. His partners, Sarah Pliner and Kat Whitehead, were not at the supper, but all three contributed to what was an amazing menu beautifully paired with a wonderful array of R. Stuart & Co. wines.
to start: gougeres smoked artichokes with radishes and grapes served with NV Rose d’Or bubbly
amuse bouche: fried pig snout with egg and mustard creme fraiche
first: truffled egg toast, baby leeks and beets in barigoule with 2011 Big Fire Pinot Gris and 2009 Big Fire Pinot Noir
second: four cup chickens, taro root, apricots, wood ear mushrooms with 2008 Ana Pinot Noir and 2007 Temperance Hill Vin Tardive
to end: almond cake, black sesame, raspberries and toasted coconut ice cream with NV Klipsun Vineyard “UnPort”