Frasca Food and Wine Pairing with Sommelier, Rajat Parr

by Grace Boyle on January 16, 2011

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The man knows me well. One of my Christmas presents was a reservation at Frasca, for their special event, four-course food and wine pairing with guest sommelier, Rajat Parr of San Francisco’s Rn74 (a Michael Mina restaurant), also named Food & Wine’s top sommelier of 2009.

On January 5th, we stepped into Frasca, not only one of Boulder’s best restaurant’s but one of the best in the country for our evening.

Each table had a signed copy of Secret of the Sommeliers by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay (both present at the event). Mackay is a longtime wine and spirits writer, currently writing for Chow.com and San Francisco Magazine.

As a winemaker, Parr’s label, launched in February 2011 is Sandhi, an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “alliance” or “collaboration.” A beautiful word, especially ironic since growing up and in high school I studied Sanskrit.

Parr says, “Sandhi reflects the partnership of its creators, myself, Charles Banks, the former owner of Jonata Wines and Screaming Eagle, and winemaker Sashi Moorman.” Sandhi produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a focus on select vineyards of Santa Barbara County.

The four-course menu laid out in front of us, custom for the evening. Each of the wines selected were Rajat’s own, harvested and grown in California (mostly near Santa Barbara).

Frasca was bustling as usual and the service was impeccable. I love to watch and listen to the service, attention and interaction received when I’m at a restaurant. It sets the level for the entire evening and when you’re treated with such respect and elegance, you truly feel welcomed and elated. This is how you always feel at Frasca.

They hold true to their name’s meaning of Frasca – in NorthEastern Italy, families would hang branches over their doors and anyone who drove by would know they could pull in for that family’s dishes and food. It’s very much a welcoming homage and surrounded by family.

The Food:

Salumi: Frico Caldo.

This dish was simple, like a fried latke but the relish of pickled shallots and cilantro vinaigrette was the killer bite that made this dish.

Antipasto: Polenta Integrale – Anson Mills Polenta, Squash, Brussels Sprout and Black Truffle. Parr Selections 2008 Chardonnay “Sanford & Benedict, Santa Barbara County, California.

The black truffle with the crispy, darkened brussel sprout leaves made this dish creamy and rich. The Chardonnary was big and bold, with a hint of vanilla. I normally prefer red’s, but this wine was hot and I could have continue drinking it all night.

Primo: Lasagnette – Four Story Hill Farm Poularde, Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Vinegar. Parr Selections 2008 Pinot Noir “Argent,” Santa Barbara County, California.

This lasagnette was like a ‘mock’ lasagna, but tasted thicker and more dense almost like a dumpling. The mushrooms and poularde created a hearty and delicious savory primo.

This 2008 Pinot Noir ‘Argent’ means silver, which also is what Rajat’s name means in Hindu. It was spicy and blended nicely with this thick dish.

Secondo: Manzo alla Brace – Beef Ribeye, Fingerling Potato, Red Beet and Sugo Naturale. Parr Selections 2006 Syrah “Purisima Mountain,’ Santa Barbara County, California.

Although the beef was on the prix fixe menu, I requested their red meat alternative and they brought a delicious sea bass (left) with artichokes, spinach and a vermouth butter sauce. The bass was so tender it slipped off my fork and the bite of the artichoke heart and creamy vermouth butter sauce made my tongue tingle.

Rajat stopped by our table to pour the Syrah. He told us this bottle had sold out and he doesn’t even own this bottle. The Syrah was my favorite wine of the evening.

Dolce: Crostata di Pompelmo Rosso Rubino – Rub Red Grapefruit, Almond Frangipane and House-Made Frozen Yogurt.

I normally don’t like the bitterness of grapefruit, but the bright pink color and the creaminess of the almond frangipane was a delicious combination with the crumbly, crostata. The house-made frozen yogurt was reminiscent of almost a rich, sweeter goat cheese. We also enjoyed Muscato (a favorite of mine) and in between our dessert, our wonderful waitress brought out a little cheese (a hard Parmesan Reggiano) on the house.

Throughout the evening, Jordan and Rajat stopped by each table individually to meet everyone, answer questions, talk about the food and the wine. They were both incredibly humble and genuinely interested.

Our good friends Alexis and Joni also had a table at the event. Starting in the lefthand corner is The Man and I, Alexis, me and Joni, we snapped a photo with Rajat as our evening ended and finally, just me with my Chardonnay sitting at our table.

The evening was a dining experience of over three hours. Each dish was cleverly prepared and the wine pairing was on point. I loved speaking with Rajat as the guest sommalier and winemaker. I dig it when you walk the talk.

Thank you to the team at Frasca, Rajat and Jordan. It was absolutely a night to remember.

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