Photo Credit: Andrew Tucker
One of the things I really appreciate about the course meals offered with regularity at Varanese Restaurant in Clifton is the communal seating. It was no different yesterday as we sat down at a table for eight with several other couples we did not know for Varanese's Around the World in Six Courses dinner. I also appreciate that Varanese clearly has a base of loyal clientele. No one at our table were first time diners. All of them had participated in one of Varanese's course meals in the past. This mean that they were excited diners who were more than happy to converse about each course and it's accompanying wine. It also meant that John Varanese was doing something right for folks to keep coming back.
All courses were paired with wines from Terlato wines. As an added perk, the Wine Market was on site offering a ten percent discount on an preordered wines from the event. I took advantage not only because discounted wine is always a no brainer, but because many of the wines featured were good solid products at a very affordable price point.
Second Course: France
Our second course went a bit heavier. The bread, reportedly from a local baker, was soft and airy. My preference is for a chewier variety with a little more flavor. The ham was shaved modestly on a generous slab of brie which worked well since the ham was very salty. Our table did lament the peaches being on the tart side. If the peaches had been a few touches sweeter, it would have been a really lovely compliment.
Hold the phone, it's a palette cleanser! I say that because we all got very excited about the palette cleanser. One diner commented, "I don't know what it is but I like it!"
What looks like a simple dome of shaved ice on a spoon, was refreshing delicious, granita of orange blossom. Slightly syrupy, ice cold, and herbaceous, it cut through our developing haze from wine and food. I believe it ignited more than it cleansed. Maybe that's the same thing. At any rate, delicious.
Fourth Course: Chile
We were so caught up in the Lapostolle Casa Carmenere when they served course four, it took me by surprise. The presentation of the skirt steak was relatively simple with sweet potatoes, onion, and pepper and a savory demi. The flavor of the meat, however, was so spot on. While skirt steak is normally really flavorful, it's not always tender. Perhaps it was the marinade but this steak was only slightly chewy, the perfect amount to pull the ample juice and flavor from the meat. It's what I imagine beef should taste like.
Sixth Course: Italy