University of Rochester Dining showcased its sustainability measures and efforts to support local NY state vendors during its annual Local Foods Week from November 11-15, 2013. Spoon set out to review the highlight of Local Foods Week – the Five Course Wine Pairing Dinner held at the on-campus restaurant the Meliora.
An elaborate five-course menu paired with a variety of wines at $32 per person, the dinner was quite a steal. The Meliora, or more colloquially known as “the Mel”, transformed into a classy, fine dining venue for the evening. The tables were covered in Yellowjacket blue and yellow cloths atop which lay an impeccable dining set. Classical music set a relaxed, sophisticated mood to the evening, a good break from the hustle and bustle of the semester.
We started off with a roasted butternut squash & red pepper bisque with toasted paprika oil & coconut cream.The paprika oil lent a crisp, spicy kick to the soft, well-blended flavors of the squash and red peppers. Topped with drizzles of coconut cream, each spoonful of the soup tasted buttery and almost sweet before the hot remnants of the paprika burst through. Paired with a light, mild Chardonnay, this course was a delightful beginning.
Next up was seared wild coho salmon with white mushroom duxelle and 3 Square Kitchen Organic Red & Golden Beet Coulis. A few small bites of the salmon with the tangy, herbed duxelle, and I was a fan! The bland beet coulis, however, numbed the strong flavors of an otherwise great pairing.
The highlight of the evening was the green peppercorn-crusted 3 square kitchen beef tenderloin with sautéed NY state kale & northern Dutch potato puree. Unfortunately, I was already halfway through the dish before I remembered to snap a picture. Chewy, flavorful and just gorgeous, the medium rare beef tenderloin slices with bursts of the peppercorn left me salivating for more. Combined with crisp, lightly sautéed kale and buttery, herbed potato purée, this dish was without doubt the hit of the course. It was paired with Lamoreaux Landing Cabernet Sauvignon, an interesting choice.
Wine isn’t complete without a cheese platter, and there it was – a fine, assorted platter of strong yet soft cheeses, caramelized onions and figs. A mouthful of fig topped with balsamic vinegar, paired with cheese and a bubbly Brut was a perfect end to a long week. The platter was served with freshly baked, herbed sourdough focaccia.
A healthy serving of roasted pumpkin and pecan praline profiterole with Pittsford dairy cream paired with Reisling ice wine finished off the five course meal. The dessert wine was too sweet and didn’t go well with the already chocolate-filled, gooey dessert. However, the salted pecan pralines and roasted pumpkin seeds alternating with soft, sweet Pittsford chocolate dairy cream drizzled with chocolate sauce sent the taste buds into a blissful daze.
Spoon Verdict: so were the dollars well spent? Actually, declining dollars were accepted as a payment method for the dinner. For students with plenty of bank in their declining account, this dinner was definitely worth the Thursday evening unwind. Props to the Meliora staff and the UofR Dining for making this event a delectable success!