As my colleague, Hayley Hamilton, reported Central 214 at The Palomar Hotel has a “Wine of the Season” tasting/pairing event this Thursday with Kimpton Corporate Sommelier Emily Wines MW. It’s a great value for a great cause – The Resource Center, Dallas get all proceeds of your minimum $20 donation. Furthermore, you could be the first to ask Emily her real name (that’s a trick question – she really is an Emily).
We overheard a rumor that other things were brewing at Central 214 as well. First, there will be a new winter menu. Executive Chef Blythe Beck changes it quarterly. Also, there will be new wines by the glass and new cocktails. SideDish was fortunate to be given a sneak preview. The restaurant put together some of the new dishes and in the course of the meal some themes emerged about the chef’s food.
It became clear that Beck is a chef with her own style. However, it is not the style you might expect from someone who worked for four and a half years in the kitchen at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and who says Dean Fearing is the formative influence on her culinary career. Her cooking exhibits two leitmotifs. First, many recipes are traditional country home style cooking gussied up with high end ingredients. For example, the chicken-fried Kobe (below) is the application of a common Southern cooking technique to one of the most prized cuts of meat available. It is the antithesis of the traditional use of this cooking method on inexpensive ingredients (a friend of mine can remember growing up so poor that all they could afford was chicken-fried Dallas Morning News. In those days it was a big meal on Sundays. Now it would just be an amuse bouche). Second, chef Beck makes liberal use of very sweet touches in savory dishes. See the Spicy Fried Lobster…(spicy tomato jam) or Diver Scallops…(pumpkin gnocchi) or the extreme – Chicken with Waffles. The flavor contrast that this generates is striking – this is cooking in primary colors. These things make for a menu that is hearty and suited to the cooler seasons. Expect to come away full, and don’t plan to diet that week, unless you have the discipline to leave with a doggie bag.
We are firm believers that a picture is worth a 1,000 words so here is a gallery of some of the dishes.
Shrimp and Cayenne Deviled Egg.
Chicken Fried Maine Lobster Tail. With Naughty Cream Corn and Sweet Tomato Glaze.
Gloria Ferrer “Kimpton Cuvée” Brut. Sonoma Co.
Frisee and Spinach Salad. Pancetta Lardons, Bacon Soaked Croutons, Poached Egg Sprinkled with Cayenne Salt with Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette
Sugar and Spice Salad. Bib Butter Lettuce, Gingerbread Croutons, Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette and Aged White Cheddar on Top
Cocktail and Wine Pairings
Chimayó: (Apple Juice, Reposado Tequila, Crème de Cassis).
Honeyed grouse (Famous Grouse whiskey, lemon juice and apple juice with nutmeg on top).
2008 Charles & Charles Syrah Rosé, Talcott Vineyard, Wahluke Slope AVA, Washington State.
2008 Quivira Zinfandel, Dry Creek vallaey AVA, Sonoma Co., California.
Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna. With Roasted Chestnut and Dried Fig Quinoa with Sweet Cranberry Jam
Prince Edward Island Mussels. Sauteed in Duck Bacon Sausage, White Wine and Butter and Roasted Garlic Crostini.
Pan Seared Diver Scallop. Pumpkin Sage Gnocchi, Tangerine Glaze, Sage Beurre Blanc with Fried Sage Garnish.
Grilled Striped Bass. Wild Mushroom Red Rice and Sweet Potato Cream Sauce.
Cocktail and Wine Pairings
Red October (Cointreau Noir, Trés Leches Cream Liquor, Muddled Blueberry and Orange). Isn’t it interesting that none of the 287,000 recipes for this drink on the Internet are the same? This one was so good I finished it before the shutter on my camera finished opening (so no picture).
Cherry Collins (Cherry Preserves, Hanger One Vodka, Soda and Lemon Juice). Tom Collins’ brighter brother.
2007-2008-2009 Westside Red Troublemaker, Blend 1, Hope Family Vineyard, Estate Grown, Paso Robles, California. Learn nothing about it here. It is 53% Syrah, 37% Mourvedre and 10% Grenache. Our sommelier described it using the jargon term ‘GSM’ (not to be confused with GSM). You are likely to hear that term more and more. It comes from Australia and stands for the Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre grape blend which is proving to be an international winner.
2009 Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand. Classic New Zealand grassiness. Even Rachel Ray could pick this one out of a crowd of sodas.
Chicken-Fried Kobe. Kobe Rib Eye with Slow Braised Mustard Greens, Butter Whipped Potatoes, Bacon Red Eye Gravy. In cooking school they preach the flavor virtues of braising vegetables but nothing is quite as convincing as the rich flavors of these mustard greens. A hit for me. However, philosophical question: Is Kobe beef too good to be smothered with sauce?
Grilled Bone-In NY Strip. With Cinnamon Stewed Apples, “Billy” Bleu Cheese Butter.
Chicken and Waffles. Spicy Deep-fried Chicken, Buttered Waffle and Jalapeno Gravy. The tallest waffle stack in Dallas. The only one served with fried chicken.
“Pig and The Pear”. Pear Stuffed Double Boned Pork Chop, Rum Raisin Bread Pudding, Bourbon Glaze. Sounds like a great name for a pub. This Berkshire pork chop was really succulent and, given pork’s affinity for things sweet, was a splendid match with the Bourbon glaze.
2007 Evening Land Table, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California. Unfiltered, so it had sediment in it.
2008 Villa San-Juliette Merlot, Paso Robles, California.
2008 Consilience Viognier, Santa Barbara County AVA, California. A Chardonnay style Viognier. That wine is, oaky, fruit forward, and with a heavy mouth feel. In short, this is the style of Viognier that California should make more of.
2008 Plowbuster Pinot Noir, Willamette valley AVA, Oregon.
Chocolate Crème Brulée. With Peanut Butter Mousse,
Chocolate Fudge Waffle. Peanut Butter Ice Cream and Caramelized Bananas
Banana Pudding. Whipped Cream and Vanilla Wafers Soaked in Maker’s Mark Bourbon. A whole Mason jar of sin.
Cocktail and Wine Pairings
Iniskillin Cabernet Franc Ice Wine. An unusual and enjoyable ice wine from Canada. Sweet, but not cloying.
214 Cider (Capt. Morgan Rum, Apple Cider, Caramel Sauce and Nutmeg on top).
Warm Winter Port (Hennessy Cognac, Taylor Fladgate 10-yr. Port, Maple Syrup, Nutmeg and Bitters)