Remember my article about the wonderful Stargazing Dinner fundraiser for the Olney Farmers and Artists Market? Elyse Kudo, of Jackson Family Fine Wines, who donated the wine for that event, arranged for us to attend a fabulous Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc and Oyster Dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill. It was a chance to educate our palates while indulging our senses.
The private dining room in the basement of the OEG (as its familiars refer to it) is decorated to resemble a cozy hunting den. There is a bar and room for several tables for eight. Each table was set with more glassware than I own.
After a warm-up glass of sparkling wine and a few passed nibbles, we were seated. Each place setting had a placemat with information about the wines and oysters we would taste together.
Marcia Monahan-Torres is the winemaker for Matanzas Creek Winery. She learned her craft in her native Chile, and has put her stamp on the wines made in Sonoma County.
She gave us a lively description of the characteristics of each wine, and led us through each taste. Together with Rowan Jacobsen, the oyster expert, she provided the knowledge and background to appreciate the taste experience of each wine and oyster variety.
The oyster pairings chosen for our dinner were mainly from the West Coast. The lone Easterner was from Maine(!) (O my Chesapeake soul!) Here are the pairings: Sonoma County with Kumamotos; Bennett Valley with Hood Canal (“frisky”) oysters, Helena Bench with Kusshis, and Journey with Maine Pinnaquins.
It was mentioned in passing that the OEG is the only restaurant which tests every single bag of oysters it accepts, for possible pathogens. That’s understandable, as its reputation rests on oysters and other seafood. I don’t think any pathogen would have stood up to the amount of alcohol served that night.
After the oyster service, we got down to the serious eating. A salad of asparagus and crabmeat was served with a 2012 Matanzas Creek Chardonnay; rack of lamb with 2011 Merlot; and Chocolate Decadence with 2011 Journey. Matanzas Creek is justifiably proud of their Journey wines.
The wait staff was having a good time as well – maybe not as good as the patrons, but they were cheerful and very polished.
Altogether an amazing evening!