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Sassicaia Wine Dinner at NOSH

Winemakers talked guests through the courses. (photo by Brooklynne Peters)

Contributor Brooklynne Peters fills us in on what it was like to be a guest at NOSH’s Sassicaia wine dinner last night:

It was an evening of origins at NOSH Euro Bistro last night. The popular Oak Lawn restaurant hosted an exclusive five-course wine dinner, featuring Italian Sassicaia wines. Third-generation Italian family members were on hand to explain, in the charm of English spoken with a native Italian accent, the history and success of the winery.

Seats at the table went for $199; this writer (who was a guest at the event) was curious to see whether or not the evening would live up to the price tag.

Jump for pics…

Butter-poached Maine lobster with rabbit confit, baby shitakes, and lobster jus paired with Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo Toscana, IGT 2008(left); chocolate ganache tart with candied pistachios, EVOO, and flake salt paired with Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana, IGT 2009. (photos by Brooklynne Peters)

The restaurant was set up with labeled community tables; get ready to dine with five of your new best friends. The servers burst into action at 7 pm, with dozens working their magic on the tables and making plates and glasses disappear the moment they were empty. (Note to management: even though most of the dishes took only took three bites to get through, the efficiency of the servers caused the meal to feel a bit rushed at times.)

But folks were not there to critique service; they were there to listen to the third-generation wine makers talk about the history of their wine, some of which their ancestors reserved for up to 30 years before releasing to the public. We tasted the gamut of their selection, from adolescent wines that were more fruit-forward to more mature vintages.

The crowd favorite, goat cheese, and arugula gnocchi with braised pork belly served with Bodega Chacra "Barda" Pinot Noir 2010 (left); olive oil braised halibut with roblochon potatoes, pistachios, and Meyer lemon paired with a glass of pinot grigio, Friuli Grave DOC 2010. (photos by Brooklynne Peters)

“Listening to the wine-makers, people that are in this business, is just absolutely fascinating,” said guest Daniel Ryan. “The stories behind these vineyards and everything that goes into it – absolutely amazing.”

Naturally, chefs Avner Samuel and Jon Stevens of NOSH didn’t disappoint with their five-course meal.

“[This is the] best evening I’ve had in two years in any restaurant anywhere,” said guest Harold Nix. Nix has been following chef Samuel since he was chef at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, and said he’s been pleased with his progress. “He’s constantly experimenting, constantly changing, constantly looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Avner is the best.”

(photo by Brooklynne Peters)

Each meal was delectable in its own right, but the standouts were the braised pork belly, which fell apart on the fork, and the chocolate ganache tart with sea salt. The pork belly was perfectly crispy on the outside, but remained juicy and soft on the inside. The tart’s salty edge paired perfectly with the outstanding Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana, IGT 2009, a big, dark wine that could stand on its own.

Even with the speech making, the evening wrapped by 9 pm. Several guests walked out having purchased several boxes of wine, and having found a handful of new friends to share it with.