Friday night, Cypress hosted a truly gluttonous Dine Around event in a private dining room upstairs. Executive Chef Craig Deihl teamed up with Chicago chefs/brothers Mike and Patrick Sheerin to create a five-course meal, plus appetizers. Straight from California’s Santa Ynez Valley, Melville Vineyards and Brewer-Clifton Vineyards provided most of the wines, and we were lucky enough to be seated with winemaker Greg Brewer and sales manager Stephen Janes.
Guests sipped Melville’s Chardonnay INOX as waiters passed around little teasers like banh mi — pork pate, ham, kimchi — and crispy chicken livers on a sweet corn cake with bacon onion syrup. After being poured our second glass, a Viognier, Brewer spoke for a few minutes about his philosophy as a winemaker. “It’s all about what I’m not doing,” he said of the first two wines. Simplicity and restraint drive him, allowing the most fundamental flavors of the wine to shine without unnecessary additives.
The first course was our favorite of the night, two fat sea scallops with a spicy bright green oyster avgolemono. The second was equally bright and refreshing, slices of lightly smoked black cod served with a chunk of saurkraut bagel and a dollop of celery cream cheese. Things warmed up with the third course of pork neck with pumpernickle noodles and dijon curry served with a Brewer-Clifton pinot noir. A salt-baked lamb shoulder arrived as our stomachs reached maximum capacity, and we finished off with a coffee cake served with fried chocolate (which just tasted like regular chocolate) and an extremely aromatic cardamom tofu ice cream.
After dinner, a few guests lingered, sipping coffee (or more wine) and mingling with the wine experts. Over at Table 6, we enjoyed our first taste of Grand Marnier — a liqueur that’s practically a diety in the local F&B community — thanks to two of our generous tablemates. Charleston, Chicago, and California had successfully joined forces for a memorable Wine + Food experience.