North Ranch Country Club hosts five special wine dinners in 2016. Each dinner matches wine from a winery, a country or a theme with inspired food pairings. The most recent dinner featured Cakebread Cellars. Next up are dinners featuring Grgich Hills wines, Somm’s wine and a Taste of France.
The talented and friendly food and beverage team at North Ranch delivers a sophisticated culinary and wine experience. The team consists of Director Jodi Foss; Assistant Director Jordan Sweeney, a Level 2 Sommelier; Executive Chef Karl Gustav Holst, a Level 1 Sommelier; and Maitre ‘D Bernardo Queiroz. A dedicated pastry chef and a core group of service professionals support the team and provide a warm welcome to club members as they arrive, creating a comfortable atmosphere.
It is no surprise that North Ranch Country Club’s wine dinners are top-notch events. As Jordan notes, North Ranch was awarded the coveted CMAA International Wine Society Award of Distinction last year, scoring a 95 out of 100—one of only 14 clubs in America to score 90 or above in 2015. The award is prominently displayed next to an impressive wine cellar that holds more than 500 bottles. The collection contains wines from the major wine-producing regions of the world, easily accessed with different color-coded tags for each country. North Ranch pours over 30 wines by the glass in addition to a wine list that features their high-end collection of bottles, half bottle, large format selections and vintage verticals.
Jordan and Karl labored for days creating, preparing and executing the Cakebread pairing dinner, tasting every spice, herb and ingredient featured on the menu and sampling Cakebread wines to match the flavors perfectly. Their objective was to balance the food and wine of each course to create a symbiosis of culinary harmony, with each dish surpassing the previous one until it reached a food and wine crescendo!
The sold-out, $125-per-person Cakebread dinner began with approximately 100 members gathering in the clubhouse to enjoy musical entertainment by a talented solo guitar player. Old and new friends sipped a glass of nicely chilled, crisp and clean Cakebread 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley. The wine’s nose and taste of honeydew melon and citrus were complemented by the Chef’s Selection of Hand Passed Canapés: Macadamia Crusted Chicken with Basil Pesto and Apple wrapped in Prosciutto.
The five-course dinner began with a spot-on pairing of Cakebread’s 2013 Chardonnay, Napa Valley with Charred Scallop & Cold Smoked Hamachi with Almond & Garlic Gazpacho, Chervil, Chive Pearls, Calabrian Chili Oil and a colorful Micro Orchid. The subtle spice with an accumulating kick and smoky flavors of the scallop and hamachi went very well with the Chardonnay’s apple, melon, pear and oak spice in the nose, plus the flavors of honeydew melon and minerals and a spicy oak finish. This spicy dish was a great way to begin the meal, which could have been a complete and satisfying meal by itself with a larger serving.
The Cakebread 2014 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Two Creeks Vineyards was served in the same type of glass as the other wines and was impressive in both aroma and taste. The “Two Creeks Vineyards” refers to a blend of grapes from the Annahala and Apple Barn estate vineyards in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. The second course accompanying the Pinot Noir showcased a Seared La Bella Farms Duck Breast with Duck Confit & Sweet Potato Tempura Roll, Thai Basil Beurre Blanc, Charred Iceberg and Thai Chili Gastrique. The rich, full-bodied Pinot Noir complemented the duck breast and tempura roll perfectly with its aromas of berry and cherry plus flavors of black cherry and plum with a long spicy finish.
The Blanquette De Veau combined Wisconsin Veal Baked in a Sweet Onion with Sundried Tomatoes and English Peas in a Creamy Cognac Sauce topped with Gruyere and served with Local Asparagus & Heirloom Carrots. The sweet onion container cleverly appeared to be a solid food rather than a stew. Cakebread’s 2012 Merlot, Napa Valley had a black cherry nose and hint of toasty oak. It stood up beautifully to the rich flavors of the veal and cognac sauce. The wine was rich and juicy with dark cherry, plum and blackcurrant flavors supported by big tannins and balanced acidity. Not to be overlooked were the local asparagus and heirloom carrots—both very tasty and served in a stylish coat of arms crossed swords arrangement over the Blanquette De Veau. This third course pairing of wine and food was the best… until the fourth course was served!
The final pairing of Cakebread 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley with Oak Grilled Prime Dry Aged Rib-Eye was excellent, especially for those who like smoky flavors. The aromas of dark cherry, black fig and scent of oak toast plus flavors of blackberry, boysenberry and fig with a hint of dark chocolate were a perfect match with the last dish. The accompanying Beef Cheek & Smoked Collard Green Ravioli offered a nice contrast to each other and the Rutabaga & Carrot Purée made a very flavorful base. The Roasted Shallot & Bourbon Sauce on top of the Oak Grilled Prime Dry Aged Rib-Eye with the Cabernet Sauvignon was a perfect example of the genius behind the pairing. As club member Dr. Ed Pope commented, “This is great with the smoky flavors in both the smoked collard green ravioli and the cab!”
The Pistachio Torte with Browned Butter Pistachio Jaconde, Beet Root Gelee, Chocolate Panna Cotta and Meringue Matchsticks deliciously concluded the five-course dinner.
Attending a dinner like this one underscores North Ranch Country Club as an outstanding venue for private dining or larger events. Facing mountains to the north, the club has some of the best views in Westlake Village. Members enjoy the club’s warm atmosphere, five-star dining and exceptional wine program. Club management has reached their goal of being an ultimate wine and dine experience with one of the best wine programs in the nation.
For more information, visit NorthRanchCC.org or call 805.496.1995.