On Thursday March 12, Fine Living Lancaster magazine’s very own creative director, Katerina Kuss, and copy editor/writer (myself) ventured out in our Sunday’s finest for a food and Waltz wine pairing at the Belvedere Inn. We had no idea what to expect, but we knew our future was headed towards something remarkable.
We entered Crazy Shirley’s Lounge and were immediately greeted with two delicate glasses of rosé. The glasses were each decorated with ornate letter “B”‘s. Several guests were scattered about the dimly lit room, lightly chatting with one another and sipping their first libation.
The rosé was to be enjoyed with a selection of three hors d’ oeuvres. The first hors d’ oeuvre was a light, flaky pastry cup filled with cinnamon-braised short ribs and topped with a jalapeño aioli. The meat was tender and sweet, balanced by a bite of spiciness. The second appetizer was a Cajun crawfish chowder served in a tiny espresso cup. The level of complexity in the soup paralleled the first appetizer, blending sweet with spicy. The third appetizer was a crispy crostini with a slice of soft brie and fig chutney. The wine brought out a light blend of bitterness and sweetness and the smooth and crunchy textures were very pleasant.
The first full course of the evening was placed in front of us with a glass of fusion wine (a blend of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and semillon). Served in an asymmetrical bowl, a steamed Blue Point Oyster was resting over pink ribbons of watermelon radish and grapefruit-jalapeño mignonette. We tasted tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors from the vinegar, grapefruit, and hot peppers. Smooth, crunchy, and juicy textures were featured in this dish.
The second course was an east coast halibut carpaccio, pickled red chiles, shallots and a sea bean salad. It was served with a glass of sauvignon blanc. An aspect I don’t normally notice in a dish but truly appreciated in this particular one was that the fish and accompaniments were served at a resfreshingly cool temperature, but were not cold. Katerina and I had to do an internet search on sea beans. Sea beans, or drift seeds, usually sprout on tropical shores and get swept to sea where they drift for thousands of miles and are eventually picked up as they wash onto shore. The halibut carpaccio, smoky and tender, was one of my favorite s. I wanted it to last forever.
The third course, a smoked bacon-glazed quail, was served with polenta-cumin creamed corn, arugula chimichurri and a glass of chardonnay. Beautifully plated, the perfectly prepared quail was juicy and tender, with touches of smoky saltiness. Katerina and I both tasted notes of maple in it as well. The polenta, hearty and herbal, was smooth, creamy and slightly sweet. We both loved this course.
The fourth course, served with a glass of merlot, was a grilled aged strip steak. It included a dark chocolate mole poblano sauce and plantain Yukon potato puree. This course was Katerina’s very favorite. The rich cacao and fiery poblano in the mole sauce paired perfectly with the rare steak. All of the savory flavors fared quite well with our taste buds. The cuisine and wine had become more savory and indulgent by this point in the dinner.
The fifth and final dinner course was a winter spiced four-hour braised venison osso bucco served with root vegetable smash and fried salsify. (Salsify is a plant in the daisy family.) A glass of cabernet sauvignon was paired with this course. I had never tasted venison before, and I am certain I will never taste venison as delicious as the Belvedere chefs presented it. It was the most incredible flavor. The other guests at our table said that this venison was prepared correctly, taking away the typical “gamey” taste which shows up in many venison dishes. The root vegetable smash was out of this world. It was salty and rustically made, with pieces of vegetable throughout. The flavor of roasted carrots were very present in our servings.
Our final course was a dainty plate with three Miesse chocolates. One of these was a merlot truffle which was basically rich chocolate wrapped around more rich chocolate. It was marvelous. The second chocolate we tried was the mint-chocolate truffle. Our personal favorite was the salted caramel truffle which was chewy, sweet, and salty truffle (there was salt sprinkled on the top).
The experience we had at the Belvedere Inn was brought full-circle when the chefs came upstairs to speak with the guests and discuss any questions we had. When Katerina and I left the restaurant, we agreed that our experience was perfectly satisfying. We can’t wait for the next one!