15 April, 2009
4/14/09 Recession Wine Dinner at JujubeComments : 5 Posted in : Dining in Chapel Hill - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
Glen Lennox Shopping Center, Chapel Hill
I went to my fourth wine dinner at Jujube in Chapel Hill last night. I am a big fan of these recession dinners, so dubbed because they partner up with Hope Valley Bottle Shop to pair less expensive wines with the meal, resulting in a dinner that costs only $40 per person. Not bad for a five course meal! I’ve managed to fill a table with friends for the last three of them and we’ve had lovely evenings, gabbing away and discussing everything that passes through our lips.
Last night’s dinner started with a glass of Broadbent Vinho Verde NV of Portugal, which was described by the sommelier as the beer of wines, with 9% alcohol value and a high acidity. It is refrigerated all along the winemaking process, from the moment it is pressed to the time you take your first sip. I found it amply sweet but also quite crisp and it was an excellent pairing with the salty, toasty goodness that was the first course: shrimp toast with shaved radish salad. The toast was reminiscent of the dried shrimp I’ve tried from Mexican food companies in California. While those made my taste buds recoil at the time (I was young), these were delicious, crunchy, and extra buttery. The radish salad was the standout, though, with the typical bite of radishes subdued by a very light vinaigrette and lots of fresh parsley and salt.
The second wine was a German rosé, Villa Wolf Rose of Pinot Noir 2007. The nose was very pleasant, like peaches and cream, and the wine tasted the same, though the flavor did not linger for long. It was served with “chicken and waffles,” in quotes because the waffles were actually very thin waffle-cut chips. The chips tasted great and were dusted with some unusual spices but weren’t terribly interesting. The fried chicken and gravy was done notably well, with a peppered batter and succulent meat.
Wine number three, Hugel Gewurtztraminer 2004 of France, had a delightful nose that recalled lemons and violets, but the difference when tasted was striking. The floral tones were much stronger on the palate but it was the lasting, mineral finish that stuck with most of us. It wasn’t bad, just a bit hard to make heads or tails of. This was the only wine that none of us ordered from the bottle shop.
The accompanying dish, pork confit with asian pear and cabbage, was not our favorite either, though no one questioned that it was expertly prepared. I often find stewed cabbage quite off-putting due to the high vinegar content but this one was only mildly acidic. The pork was ridiculously tender yet maintained a nice crust and the pears helped add texture to the meat. Overall, though, it was a bit too rich for our palates this evening.
By this point, I had forgotten that there was another course before dessert and steeled myself to soldier on. Chicken molé poblano with crispy hominy was served in bowls and I was quite pleased to stuff myself with it. Shredded chicken swam in a thinner than usual sauce and a few morsels of toasted or fried hominy floated on top. I loved that the hominy called tortillas to mind, but I think I still prefer my molé thicker and on top of meat rather than as a soup. The accompanying wine, Independent Producers Merlot 2007 from Washington, was nearly as complex as a molé, with its brown sugar, tobacco, and tamarind flavors. The wine had a lot of depth that I found myself wanting to ponder, but I didn’t relish it enough to order a bottle for another time.
Last, but never least, was the sticky toffee pudding with a glass of Australia’s RH Buller Victoria Tawny Port. It was a well-crafted port that didn’t make my nose hairs recoil as some do and was very smooth. The square of pudding was a delight, incredibly fluffy with a luxe crème anglaise and a circle of caramel to dip each bite in. It was clearly the best dish of the night for a number of us.
Will I make it five wine dinners at Jujube at some point? Of course, but I’d love to try out some events at other triangle area establishments. I’ve had blu seafood recommended by a few tweeters already. Where else?