Hannah: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
Torinos most recent wine pairing dinner was on my birthday night!
Hannah: No, I’m pretending like this is still my birthday.
Edward: Happy Birthday!
Hannah: So, I was very lucky enough to have a special dinner for my birthday. And it was special!
Edward: This was Torinos second wine pairing dinner, and would you agree it was even better than the first?
Hannah: Yes I would. I feel like it ran nice and smooth, was well-paced, and the food was phenomenal.
Although I think I preferred the wines from the first dinner. I think this time the food was so good it outperformed the wines.
Edward: The courses are all small plates, but I still left pretty stuffed!
Hannah: Oh most definitely. If you eat nice and slow and take your time enjoying it, weirdly you get full on much much less food! Who’da thunk?
The first course was a Lobster Mille-Feuille with Citrus and a Vanilla Emulsion.
I’ve eaten a lot of foods in my long life so far.
And there’s not many times I can say “I’ve never tasted anything like that,” and have it be a pleasant experience. I mean, I just feel like I’ve tried what’s good, you know?
But that dish….I’d never tasted anything like it, ever, and it was strange and interesting and good!!
Edward: You’re right — it was unlike anything I’ve had before, and without any strange or unfamiliar ingredients! And just to clarify, the Mille-Feuille wasn’t a sweet dish. It was basically just a puff pastry on top of some chunks of sweet, chilled lobster, and citrus slices in the vanilla emulsion. A very simple dish, but such a perfect, interesting combination of ingredients.
What I liked about it is that it wasn’t a complicated or fussy preparation. Just a few elements that were all perfectly done and well balanced.
And everything kind of worked together to bring out the flavor of each thing. The sweetness of the citrus brought out the sweetness of the lobster, and the citrus acid balanced out the lobster’s butteriness.
Hannah: And the lobster’s butteriness melded with the pastry’s butteriness.
Yes, a fine start, very fine. Refreshing and a signal to the palate to wake up!
And good to wake up the palate for the next dish….
What did you think of the wine with this course? It was a 2010 Vernaccia Di San Gimignano, a white. I thought it was OK — pleasant, fairly dry.
Hannah: I probably wont’ be able to speak to the wines very much…I didn’t find anything unpleasant, but I wasn’t concentrating on them other than how well they went with the food, which I think they all did….
Not a very good review of a “wine pairing” dinner, but I’m thinking of it more as “Hannah’s Birthday.”
The pork terrine that came next was so tremendous.
Edward: The second course was a Juniper Pork Terrine, paired with the Case Ibidini Nero D’Avola, that was just awesome all the way around.
Hannah: I heard Daniela say that she was going to have a slice for breakfast on a buttered baguette, and I was so very jealous.
Edward: Totally dude.
Hannah: But I also heard her talking about how labor-intensive that dish was, that he’s not going to make it very often.
Edward: I wouldst have, like a buttered baguette…by which I mean, A BAGUETTE…with that terrine.
Hannah: Uh, yeah. A longue baguette.
Edward: What I thought was interesting about that course is that it was the first time the actual food-wine pairing really hit me.
The terrine was yummy, but eaten with the wine it brought out the flavor in a big way — not just of the terrine but also the wine.
Hannah: Yes, both intensely flavored, got somehow rounded out by each other!
Edward: I was impressed by that. I’m not a big wine guy, but I do enjoy wine with a good meal occasionally, and although I’ve obviously had meals where I had good food and good wine that went well together, I don’t think I’ve experienced a dramatic transformation like that.
Hannah: The only thing that stopped me from being super sad when I finished that dish is that I knew more courses were coming.
Edward: Ha! And indeed they were! Next up was the Beef Involtini with Porcini, Chestnut Gnocchi, and Cannelini Bean Puree.
Hannah: This was my favorite. This dish was like eating the earth, but not gross.
Edward: “Eating the earth” doesn’t sound that appetizing, but damn, that was one earthy dish! Nothing about it was not EARTHY and HEARTY.
Hannah: It was like eating the winter bounty. The beef was wrapped around a forcemeat or puree w/more beef and mushrooms. The sauce was intense umami. The bean puree was pure earthiness, as were the chestnut gnocchi, which were so soft.
Edward: It should just be called UMAMI TORNADO
Hannah: Oh man, I wouldst eat that some more.
Edward: It was just so hearty and satisfying on a chilly evening. And I thought it was interesting to contrast this with the first course — the first one being a balance of different tastes, and this one being more like variations of a theme.
Hannah: Ah, good insight! I’m just sitting here thinking MOAR PLZ
Hannah: You know, that pork terrine on crostini with juniper and aspic was also very foresty, but not as earthy. It was like eating the woods, but not gross.
Edward: But also, the first course was like, essences of specific ingredients. This one was more like, “I don’t know what the hell Chef Maxime did to this, but it’s incredible.”
Interesting — do you think it was a deliberate progression, like, first the trees (fruit), then the forest floor (juniper), then the earth (mushrooms)?
Hannah: The first course could be the sea, also. I think it was variations on nature — because the last course was iced hazelnut nougatine right? Nuts: a different kind of fruit!
But maybe all delicious food is variations on nature? No no, I don’t think that. Sometimes nature is changed/subdued/processed so much you can’t recognize it. But in these courses it was the star!
Edward: So now we come to the worst course of the evening — worst because it was the last!
Why must it end? Why can’t it just dissolve into a crazed Roman bacchanal where we’re served courses and courses of delicacies until we vomit!
I liked that last course, it was small and not too heavy, but it had some hard acts to follow, so I don’t know that I can give it super top marks. I think it did its job.
Edward: It was tasty, a kind of cake of ground hazelnuts, with a little sabayon and orange sauce. Not too sweet — also pretty earthy. A good winter dessert.
Hannah: Well, it was in the shape of a little cake, but remember it was cold? It was iced nougatine, which is like caramelized sugar and ground nuts…and egg whites, I guess. We don’t know how to make nougatine! Only eat it!
Edward: Indeed! Oh, and there was a little bonus at the end of a wee truffle.
Hannah: Oh, yes! And that last wine was nice, a sparkling rose!
Edward: Yeah, it was very pleasant — and not too sweet! (I guess I like things to be not too sweet.)
Honey, thanks for such a nice birthday dinner! It was very special!
Edward: I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Let’s not forget to mention the Q&A that Chef Maxime did after the meal.
Hannah: That was awesome!
Edward: Daniela passed out pieces of paper before hand to each table, for diners to write down questions. Then the chef came out and answered the questions! It was nice — we got to express our appreciation to the chef, and also learned some interesting facts about the dishes.
The evening was a lot of fun all around.
Edward: And really, a terrific deal at $55 + 20% gratuity for such an enjoyable experience.
Edward: Daniela says it’s all regulars who come to these — it feels like a Fan Appreciation Night!
And by the way it’s nice to know that we’re not even the most hardcore fans of Torinos.
Hannah: But is it nice? Is it?
Hannah: Well, as usual at Torinos@Home, we ate very very well.
Edward: WE ATE NICELY
Hannah: indeed. Did you want to mention next Monday’s event?
It’s a 3 or 5 course dinner ($55 or $75) and get this menu:
Kumamoto Oysters, Limoncello Granite
Seared Fois Gras, Brioche Pain Perdu
Crispy Lobster Wrap, Citrus Salad, Vanilla Emulsion
Braised Pork Belly, Chickpea Fries, Vegetables “Mille-Feuilles”
Iced Chocolate Truffle, Grappa Cremeux