Friday night in the Willamette Valley rush-hour traffic on the small roads and pea-soup fog created a challenge getting us to McMinnville in time for our dinner reservations (we drove right in from Walla Walla); parking was the last hurdle before entering the Spanish-influence La Rambla Restaurant & Bar from the back door, passed the kitchen and lovely copper-top bar into the open dining room. Having looked at their menu on-line I was thrilled to know there were many options on it that I could eat without having to remove several of the ingredients due to allergy or taste. Ariel, our server, highly suggested their Valentine’s dinner with the wine pairings, but I had my heart set on the braised rabbit that I saw on the main menu. My hubby decided to take on the five-course dinner with wines and share some of the dishes I could eat with me; excellent choice as it was a lot of food!
The lobster bisque with red pepper and smoked Oregon albacore was very heavy on the red pepper to me, but Hubby said it was delicious. Paired with local winery, Eyrie, 2013 Pinot Gris. The wine was citrus and white flowers with the acids in the wine nicely cutting the creamy nature of the soup. An excellent beginning to the dinner.
We divided the herb salad of apples, berries, figs, warm Valdeon (a blue cheese from Leon, Spain) and Champagne-goji berry vinaigrette paired with Cava De La Rosa with a touch of Creme de Cassis liquor. The salad was exquisite with mostly bright, tangy flavors and the cava with the Cassis a deeper, warm compliment.
Course number three grilles local oysters with chili garlic butter, Manila clams steamed with sherry & espresso paired with Riscal 2012 Verdejo. Stearing clear of the chiles my hubby shared both oysters and clams with me. Not overly fond of espresso I was delighted to find this combination of flavors was tasty. In fact, the aroma reminded me of my earlier college days when we would eat at the Ethiopian restaurant that was then in Seattle’s U-District and everyone (except me) would imbibe in a cup of Ethiopian coffee after our meal… excellent memories on top of it! This was my favorite white wine of the evening! This Marques de Riscal 2012 Verdejo is a bold, lovely dry white with floral and tropical fruit aromas, a light palate with a smooth mouth feel and excellent acidic finish – right up my alley! Looking at my Wine Century Club list, I discovered it was a starred grape from our previous tasting. Apparently, we like it.
Hubby chose to have the lamb loin chop as his main entrée with smoke bacon-black truffle pan sauce, roasted butternut squash and oyster mushrooms paired with another local wine from Adelsheim, their 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. This part of the meal was all for him and he loved it. But I did taste his wine, cherries, lavender and a bit of forest floor on the nose, good acidity and leather with earth and herbs on the palate. Apparently I thought the end was ‘woody’, but I stopped writing my notes without further detailing that thought, but it was good.
I now had my own plate of food, although I was doubting the need to have ordered as I was already feeling quite full with my portion of Hubby’s meal. The braised rabbit was smothered in polenta and sautéed Brussel sprouts with enough béarnaise sauce but not too much. It was excellent and worth tasting. Not wishing to pass up an opportunity to have a Spanish tempranillo, I ordered the 2008 Beronia Reserva Tempranillo with my supper. Vanilla, herbs and raspberries on the nose, cedar and raspberries on the palate; made me a very happy person as it met all of my hopes.
As we didn’t choose the almond crusted scallop entrée I asked Ariel for a taste of the local Chehalem 2013 Chardonnay. He brought out the bottle with the taste to discover the wine was actually the Chehalem 2012 INOX Chardonnay. A stainless steel fermented Chardonnay full of very pleasant citrus and peach. As this was one of the wineries we hoped to visit during this adventure we were happy to discover a tasty wine. Look for the post of our visit to Chehalem soon.
We were happy for the bit of respite from eating that followed the Chardonnay before the vanilla soda battered bananas with dark chocolate ganache, honey and cherries were brought out with their pairing of Crater Lake Cofia Vodka. The vodka is from Bend, Oregon with coffee and hazelnuts. To me it was Kahlua with a kick, but I am no judge of this as I don’t drink coffee or Kahlua. The dessert was good, but we were so full of food that it was almost too much to eat it.
On our way out the door we noticed La Rambla carries the local Heater Allen Pilsner we enjoyed during our visit last June. Since their little tasting room closed I am glad to see their beers being poured at local establishments as we know we will be able to find some on future visits.
Hubby and I are very close and know how fortunate we are to be together so we can come across as newlyweds. Did you go someplace special with someone special on Valentine’s weekend? Please share!