For the last decade, The Margarita at Pine Creek has been hosting a series of wine dinners formatted to encapsulate famous periods in time. Beginning with meals focused on ancient spices, the events have evolved to include the Mongol and Ottoman empires, the French revolution, discovery of the Americas and the age of aviation. Chef Eric Viedt draws upon his love of history to create a hearty, multi-course meal. Hand selected wines chosen by the Margarita’s sommelier (and owner of The Wine Seller) Dirk Stamp bring beautiful, subtle nuances to heighten the overall dining experience.
Last week, we attended The Industrial Revolution, a dinner with a “focus on early food options and later food production techniques and offerings that the era produced.” Each dish was presented on the menu accompanied by facts Viedt gathered about the time period, illustrating where he drew culinary inspiration from.
First course: Confit of rabbit terrine, mustard seed, pear and toast paired with a 2015 Les Coteaux Tutiers Vouvray, France. One-hundred-percent chenin blanc grapes offer a gentle introduction to the first course. “Tropical, with a tangerine finish, not overly acidic,” says Chris West, owner and creator of Colorado Wine Events.
History fact from Viedt: “Average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. The standard of living and the availability of goods and services for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history.”
Second course: Split pea soup, salt pork and roasted root cellar vegetables paired with 2014 Cabriz Colheita seleccionada, Portugal.
“If you’re not very familiar with Portuguese wines, think of this wine as combining the best attributes of Pinot Noir and Merlot,” says Stamp. “A supple red with concentrated flavors of dark cherry, roasted plum and dried raspberry, layered with rich, spicy notes. White chocolate details show on the finish, accented by hints of pepper.”
History fact from Viedt: “Back in the early 1800s, eating locally was a must. Before the railroad system was fully established, people ate the vegetables they grew. Corn, beans, potatoes and legumes were common vegetables. One of the biggest differences between then and now is the methods of preservation. Where we now refrigerate and freeze meat, in the 1800s the main way to preserve meat was to have it smoked, dried as ‘jerky,’ or salted. ”
Third course: Brown butter toasted cornbread and lobster salad, celery leaf, tomato jam and creamy tarragon vinaigrette. An delightful combination of textures from the cornmeal, greens, lobster claw and tart sweetness from the tomatoes.
History fact from Viedt: “During the latter half of the nineteenth century, people starting moving from rural to urban areas in the North. Growing industrialization relocated jobs to cities, and new technologies made farming less labor-intensive. In the post-Civil War suburbs, people planted urban kitchen gardens; this was a way to go back to their rural roots, to find pleasure, and to supply themselves with healthful produce. ”
Fourth course: Smoked bone marrow, pickled vegetables, herb salad and toast paired with 2013 Cabaret Frank cabernet franc, France.
History fact from Viedt: “The science of food packaging was a consequence of the need to feed soldiers safely and efficiently. Effective fabrication of common packing materials developed during this time. The use of glass bottles and jars became widespread after 1870, machine-made foldable cardboard boxes were invented in 1879, and the mass production of tin cans was perfected in 1880.”
Fifth course: Wild mushroom-butternut squash fricassee, farmers cheese stuffed roasted chicken crepinette paired with 2015 Marco Felluga “Just Molamotta” collie bianco, Italy. The creamy dish married well with the floral minerality of the wine offering “pear, almonds, chamomile and apricot notes,” says Stamp.
History fact from Viedt: “During the last three decades of the Nineteenth Century, several factors contributed to the transformation of the nation’s food supply from originating in regionally based economies and being mass-produced on a national scale. These included the increase in agricultural production.”
Sixth course: Braised oxtail and stone ground cornmeal porridge paired with 2014 Le Clarion des Anges Rouge, costieres de nimes, France. The savory, melt-in-your-mouth beef supported by the semi-firm consistency of the grits coupled well with the jammy, grenache and syrah blend.
History fact from Viedt: “At first, grocers and general storekeepers, sold most items in bulk, weighing out goods, such as sugar, grains, and coffee beans, from sacks and barrels at each customer’s request. As the population in an urban area increased and people demanded more variety, grocery stores sprang up in its neighborhoods or suburbs to accommodate residents located far from the public market.”
Dessert course: Cider cake, dried apples, cider gastrique and pecan brittle. Fluffy and light, almost airy consistency topped off with a dollop of vanilla bean whip cream. A great balance of sweet and salty, from to the nut brittle and plated, salted caramel drizzle.
History fact from Viedt: “It was these inventions, processes and improvements that helped modernize and shape our food system (mostly for the better). These improvements were necessary with the surging population, the sprawling of a nation, transportation, textiles and industry growth.”
“We take these dinners, put a little history with it and enjoy good food and good wine,” says the chef .
The resounding echo heard amongst those enjoying the dinner was that you’re never going to leave The Margarita hungry. Whether you’re enjoying the taco bar during the summertime farmers market or attending a future event, Viedt ensures a totally gratifying experience. The next “Moments in History” wine dinner comes in January, focusing on the space race.
[Images: Dionne Roberts]