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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Regestering Victory

It was midconversation late in the evening at last Thursday’s Stag’s Leap wine dinner at C Restaurant (375-4800) when Executive Chef Jerry Regester cracked a wide grin and said, “I’m having fun.”

When people have fun doing things they love, good things tend to happen. When said people are as talented as Regester, those things tend to be damn tasty.

Of course, by the time he told us he was loving the pairing inspiration, he had already shown us four different ways.

The short silo he constructed with sashimi grade wild king salmon, English peas and small slices of asparagus paralleled the 2007 Stag’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc in delivering clean, clear essence of incredible ingredients. (It was irrisitable enough that I couldn’t resist pouncing before taking a picture of its sleek presentation.)

A final magic ingredient was almost as rare as the fish caught during the super-small salmon season, and emanated from a tour/tasting Regester co-hosted during Cooking for Solutions this spring with David Masumoto. He liked the pioneering organic farmer’s peaches so much he pickled a batch and snuck some bits in the tartare salad. Yes and yum.

The sea scallop that came next made the Pacific proud with sweet and smoky carmelized pancetta-wrapped edges, a heart as tender as Mother Teresa’s and a brown-butter-and-black-truffle sauce that is irresponsible to attempt to approximate in words.

With a nibble of the grilled white corn that flanked its flavor and a sip of single vineyard 2007 Chardonnay from Stag’s Leap—someone aptly called it the essence of the Chard grape—it was a tabernacle choir-style hallelujahs on the palate. My tasting menu got some exclamation points scribbled on it with that one.

The wonder among wonders with the wines came next with Stag’s Leap leggy 100 percent 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from its Fay vineyard. Look no further than the SL estate-grown cabs for irrefutable evidence that these guys get grapes, and deserve their status as one of Napa’s most distinguished dynasties.

Regester had fun with this pairing too, dropping a delicately smoked lamb rib chop with a clever stuffing spinoff he called porcini mushroom bread pudding and maple cap mushroom sauce.

We were already debating the impossible—which pairing was the most profound—when a closer to remember entered the game. The cheese course looked more like teased cheesecake or fluffy ice cream than what you’d expect from the cheese family. But whoah.

The whipped goat cheese and fromage blanc with spiced Hollister cherry compote and cocoa honey was world beating. This is why critics “rave” instead of simply partying. And the 2005 Merlot helped a touch.

The best news of the evening might be that chef is rotating some of these seasonal treats through his tasting menu, which changes every week. And the wine dinners continue, with

For more on the many other C Restaurant deals—from live music to happy hour scores—check out a recent post on the summer action there.

(Photos by Kelly Rose Anderson—besides the lame initial shot of the salmon. Check out more of her work here.)