A different kind of Mexican dinner

SALUD: From left to right: Tom Leiner, Jen Tracy (owner of Princess Anne Hotel) and Chef Marco Garcia hosted a Mexican-themed wine dinner for Cinco de Mayo. Photo by Jonathan Ammons

While many were sipping fishbowl-sized margaritas and chowing down on fajitas during Cinco de Mayo, a few of us indulged in a different kind of Mexican food experience. Tom Leiner of Grapevine wine distributors teamed up with Marco Garcia, former owner and chef of Woodfin’s Curras Dom, to do a special Mexican-themed coursed dinner and wine pairing at the historic Princess Anne Hotel on Chestnut Street.

“It arose from my disdain of typical, traditional wine shop and restaurant events, where the retailer tries to unload wines he has a surplus of, and the chef doesn’t really care about the pairing,” says Leiner. “I approached [Garcia] with an idea, where the chef has free run, money no object, be creative and I would do the same with the wines.”

The dinner was limited to only 40 seats at $100 per seat. Welcome appetizers included lamb lollipops with pistachio mole and sashimi tuna rolls made with jicama sheets, avocado, radish and a soy reduction. The rest of the menu with wine pairings was as follows:

  • Salad: sorrel micro greens, chayote, cilantro sprigs, lime zest, jalapeno oil, oyster jus and pepitas (NV Champagne Charles de Cazanove, Champagne, France)
  • Soup: avocado, vegetable broth, cilantro, serrano pepper oil, tomatillo, cava sparkling wine  (2013 Boedecker Cellars Rose of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon)
  • Seafood: pan-seared, cumin-dusted diver scallops; tomatillo burre blanc; roasted cauliflower puree (2013 Laxas Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain)
  • Main course: chile en nogada ground veal slow cooked with Albarino wine and fruits,walnuts, sherry wine, house-made goat cheese and cream sauce (2011 Brochelle Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California)
  •  Dessert: house-made flan (2012 Gagliardo Moscato, Piedmont, Italy)

Chef Garcia is returning to Asheville after managing the resort Morada Bay in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. “I just got tired of going back and forth every month,” he explains. “It was really good money down there, but my family just loves Asheville, we love the mountains and don’t really want to leave.”

There are plans for these dinners to be a regular occurrence, and with the praise the meal received from its stuffed guests and diners, I would recommend checking in this summer to see what they have scheduled. “It’s something that we might do every quarter,” Garcia says. “Not too often, but we’re thinking of doing a Champagne and seafood dinner in July.”


About Jonathan Ammons
Native Asheville writer, eater, drinker, bartender and musician. Proprietor of www.dirty-spoon.com Follow me @jonathanammons

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