Brian's Photo Blog — Article 649
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A Five-Course Wine Pairing Dinner
Saturday 29 April 2017   —   Category: Dining Out
In my previous article I told you about my four visits last year to the Pheasant Run Winery Tasting Room in Aurora, about three miles east of the I-5 and not very far south of the Portland metro area.

A week ago today my wife and I attended a five-course wine pairing dinner, cosponsored by Arrowhead Golf Club in Liberal on Oregon Route 213, whose Legend’s Bar and Grill provided the dining room and the food. The other cosponsor was Pheasant Run, which supplied their wine.

We had never been to such an event and felt a bit apprehensive. I had considered an alternative title for this article: Country Bumpkins at the Country Club. As is often the case, all of our concerns were groundless, and it turned out to be a very nice experience.

We left too early, so in order to make the drive take longer we went a bit out of our way through Canby. Therefore the trip was about 67 miles from our home in Albany. With that detour we arrived at just the right time. We were seated at a table with four others, but we were a bit separated from them so it almost felt like we had our own little table.

Soon it was time for the dinner to begin. Carl McKnight, the pro­pri­e­tor of Pheasant Run and its winemaker, welcomed us with a few opening remarks. Then the food and wine began to flow.
The first course was an appetizer which consisted of crostini with warm brie, bal­sam­ic Oregon strawberries, honey and fresh basil. My notes about it read:

“It was very different ... an interesting and unusual combination of ingredients. The crostini was crunchy and buttery ... the bread and strawberries were the dom­i­nant flavors. It was OK, but I would not order it voluntarily. I would prefer replacing the strawberries with tomatoes, and the honey with salt.”
The paired wine was Pheasant Run’s Sparkling White.

The Web page says it’s a blend of Pinot grigio and Riesling.

When Carl introduced it, he said that it contained some Char­don­nay as well.

The wine was pretty good and fairly tart, which, I suppose, helped to offset the sweetness of the strawberries and honey in the food.
The second course consisted of phyllo cups filled with goat cheese and topped with wild mushrooms (it was not spec­i­fied which kind).

From what I could tell, the mushrooms has been sauteéd in butter and garlic, and perhaps other ingredients. As you can see from the photo, green onion was added for flavor and the presentation.

My notes about this appetizer read: “These cups were really good ... nicely spiced mushrooms, crunchy dough, goat cheese and tasty green onions.”

The paired wine was Pheasant Run’s Pinot Grigio.

Regarding this wine, Carl said that it had a tartness to contrast with the cheese and an earthiness to complement the mush­rooms.

My notes about the wine read: “This is a really nice wine! The first sip or two tasted pretty tart, but after a while it didn’t seem as tart.”
The third course consisted of thin-​sliced pepper-​blend herb-​crusted beef ten­der­loin on a taro root chip with chipotle aioli. As you can see from the photo, green onion was added for flavor and the presentation.

The crust of the meat, the taro root chip and the chipotle aioli were all pretty spicy. My notes about it read: “This dish was killer, very spicy, awe­some ... I could have eaten 20 instead of 2! The paired wine was great with it!”
That wine was Pheasant Run’s ‘Hot Rocks’ Pinot Noir.

Introducing this wine, Carl said that the peppery, earthy and spicy qualities of this wine paired well with the spice on the meat and in the other ingredients.

My taste buds definitely agreed! This course was heavenly ... probably the best combination of all.
The fourth course consisted of roasted pork tenderloin with a cherry chutney. As you can see from the photo, green onion was added for the presentation.

My notes about it read: “I had big doubts about the cherry, but the crust of the pork was spicy enough to balance the sweetness of the fruit.”
The paired wine was Pheasant Run’s Bank Robber Red.

Regarding this wine, Carl said that the black cherry notes of the wine complemented the cherry chutney.

Whatever the reason, this is a great wine that paired well with the food.
The dessert was described as a “Black Forest chocolate parfait soaked in bran­dy.” I don’t think I would describe it exactly like that, for a few reasons.

First, the cake part was not Black Forest cake, but merely a dense chocolate cake or light brownie. I don’t know why they used the word ‘parfait’ because I don’t see anything about this dessert that resembles a parfait. Finally, there may have been a bit of brandy in the cake, but it was definitely not soaked.

As you can see from the photo, a mint leaf was added for the presentation.
The dessert was pretty good even though it didn’t live up to its fancy description, but there wasn’t much in the little bowl.

The wine paired with the dessert was Pheasant Run’s 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — Horse Heaven Hills Reserve.

On its Web page Carl said that he made the wine for himself, the way he likes it.

We must have similar tastes because I’m usually not that excited about Cabs, but this wine was the best of the evening, IMHO.

It was a great way to finish the dinner.

Sorry that this photo is more out of focus than the others. By the end of the evening is was getting pretty dark, and photography was becoming more and more difficult.

I wonder if five partial glasses of wine with not much food con­trib­ut­ed to the difficulties?!
All in all this five-course wine pairing dinner was a great experience. However, I was a bit surprised because I thought that they would be more generous with the food and less generous with the wine.

Considering the quantity and quality of the food, wine and service, I think that the $30 per person cost was reasonable. The occasional Specialty Dinners that McMenamins offers, which are along the same lines but are full meals and not just small portions, generally run anywhere from $80 to $125 or more per person.

There is no way I would pay that much for a meal, but this offering from Pheasant Run and Legend’s Bar and Grill was within reach and not nearly as spendy.

We had drunk more than enough wine, but we were still hungry after the small portions of food. So as we left the hamlet of Liberal behind, we set out for an after-dinner dinner! When I think of this last part of our story I am reminded of what the apostle Peter wrote: “A washed pig returns to the mud” — 2 Peter 2:22.

After our fancy-​shmancy five-​course wine pairing dinner, as soon as we were away from that high-​class influence, the country bumpkins headed straight to a McMenamins for pizza, beer and coffee!

It wasn’t too far of a drive to the Old Church and Pub in Wilsonville. For details about that location, you can check out my recent articles: McMenamins Wilsonville on Swiss National Day and McMenamins Wilsonville 5th Birthday Bash.

Catherine and I split a small Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza. She had decaf coffee while I had a Raging Leprechaun Irish Red ale. To find out more about this beer, follow the link. I devoured my half of the pizza as if I hadn’t eaten all evening!

At last, the country bumpkins were satisfied!

During the five-​course meal I took a total of 20 photos. The best 10 are on display in the Pheasant Run Winery 2017 album. For last year’s pictures, see the Pheasant Run Winery 2016 album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 649
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Reader Comments
On May 1, 2017, Cindi Wells wrote:
Looks like you had a great experience and yes looks like for the $30 you definitely got what you paid for, nice for someone to put on that type of experience so those that don't want to pay the high $$ can still totally enjoy what wine and food pairing is all about! Glad Catherine went to enjoy it with you!!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 649
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