Food + Dining Main

Taste These!

Noted local chef Brian Roland scoured area restaurants to create the ultimate 12-course tasting menu from dishes you can try tonight.

BY January 2, 2014


Haleem Bademjune
Local Burrata
Roasted Plums Wrapped in
Prosciutto di Parma
Leggo My Lobster Roll
Ravioli di Zucca
Seared Foie Gras
Asiago Cheese-Filled Gnocchi
Olive Oil-Seared Halibut
Short Rib Grilled Cheese
Grilled Venison Tenderloin
Pierna de Borrego Asado con Mole Mexicano
Vanilla Stracciatella Gelato


Haleem Bademjune from Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro

Blended eggplant and lentils garnished with sour cream, caramelized onion, mint oil, walnuts and scallions

I was definitely drawn toward this to start the meal with it being so unique and authentic. It has such a wonderful texture. I met owner and Chef Michael Mir many years ago and developed such a respect for him and his cuisine. I didn’t used to care for eggplant because I only would have it grilled, so hearing his process—how they’ll salt them and they’ll roast them for a long period of time so the center becomes really, really rich and creamy and just full of flavor—the flavors develop in such a different way by preparing it that way.

Pairs well with: Syrah or Shiraz, such as Ramey Syrah, Sonoma Coast, Calif., or Turkey Flat Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia


Local Burrata from Osteria Tulia

With wood-roasted winter pears, speck, saba and hazelnuts

I am all about cheese. Burrata has become one of my favorites, and the quality of the burrata that Chef Vincenzo Betulia makes here is insane. It has a really light exterior shell of mozzarella, and the center is just this decadent, creamy, sort of ricotta-like texture. Saba is like a reduced balsamic but made with grape must—it’s really wonderful, a little bit sweeter—and he drizzles that over the top. Spreading some of this dish on a nice piece of toasted baguette or ciabatta, or just eating spoonfuls of it … I’m in heaven.

Pairs well with: Sangiovese, such as La Spinetta ‘Il Nero di Casanova’, Tuscany, Italy, or Tenuta di Nozzole, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy


Roasted Plums Wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma from La Trattoria Café Napoli

With Gorgonzola dolce and balsamic-pesto beet purée

This really stood out to me because you don’t find whole roasted plums like this anywhere on a menu. Chef/owner Gloria Jordan d’Cabral roasts the plums, wraps them and lightly roasts them a little more so it crisps up the outside. It’s almost like a cheese course again (again, because I love cheese so much). Typically you serve blue cheese with dried fruits or fruit puree, or maybe a fig or quince paste—she took that concept and then reversed it, and put that Gorgonzola dolce inside of all the accoutrements you would do on a cheese plate.

Pairs well with: Champagne-style sparkling wines, such as Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut, Champagne, France, or Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, Calif.



Leggo My Lobster Roll from Blu Sushi

Tempura-fried lobster rolled with avocado, asparagus and smelt roe and drizzled with spicy mayo and eel sauce, plus a lobster tail stuffed with krab, lobster and spicy mayo and sprinkled with sesame seeds

Switching from the sweetness of the plums to something savory, I thought this was great because it was more than just a lobster roll. In the center of the plate, they take the meat of a whole lobster tail, chop it up, mix it along with some sushi krab and spicy mayo, and then roast that inside the tail. The roll and the tail have distinct flavors but complement each other very well, and they did that by design to allow you to have the grand experience of both at once.

Pairs well with: Sauvignon Blanc, such as Chalk Hill, Sonoma, Calif., or Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand


Ravioli di Zucca from Angelina’s Ristorante

Handmade pasta filled with oven-roasted butternut squash and mascarpone cheese, dressed with a savory citrus-tomato butter and topped with truffled almonds

In traditional Italian cuisine, typically they move from antipasti to something a bit lighter, like a soup or an appetizer, and then to a pasta course, so I thought putting a pasta in this spot would be really neat. And this ravioli is delicious. The butternut squash is not overly sweet, and because of the citrus—and it’s actually sundried tomatoes they use—it gives a whole other depth of flavor. They toss the ravioli in the sauce and then pour more over top of it, and the pasta itself is wonderful. They make it in house, so it has a great al dente texture and fresh flavor.

Pairs well with: Meursault or Barbera, such as Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet ‘La Garenne’, Burgundy, France, or Michele Chiarlo ‘Le Orme’, Piedmont, Italy


Seared Foie Gras from Mereday’s Fine Dining

With grilled peach, mache and fruit mostarda

I didn’t want back-to-back pasta and potato gnocchi, so I put the foie gras in the middle so it would be easier for the palate to take in progression. Foie gras, being as rich as it is, sometimes needs to have something a little sweet or acidic, and Chef Mereday did such a great job of this balance. The mostarda had a little spice to it, and the peach really develops the sweetness so well once you put it on the grill. And mache is such a beautiful and delicate lettuce leaf that it didn’t take away from any of the flavors; it just accented the visual appeal.

Pairs well with: Chenin Blanc, such as Pine Ridge, Napa Valley, Calif. (Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend), or Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Le Haut Lieu’, Loire, France


Asiago Cheese-Filled Gnocchi from Yabo

With Gorgonzola cream

Yabo gives you the option of different sauces, but I just wanted to try something as decadent as possible at this point. This is a potato gnocchi, and they sear it and get a nice crust on it to add to the texture, and then it is just swimming in this gorgeous Gorgonzola cream. It has the right amount of salt, the right amount of seasoning, so every bite made you want to go in for another. And the fact that the gnocchi are made with Asiago and it was just cheese on cheese—I love it.

Pairs well with: Semi-sweet Riesling, such as Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl, Columbia Valley, Wash., or Dr. Loosen Dr. L, Mosel, Germany


Olive Oil-Seared Halibut from M Waterfront Grille

With creamy charred-leek polenta, petite Brussels sprouts, molasses bacon, sauce romesco and chervil

In traditional menu sequence, I placed the fish course before the meat course. The fish was seared perfectly, the polenta was nice and creamy, very well-balanced, and the little petite green and purple Brussels sprouts are savory in every bite. And the molasses bacon was just insane. Chef Adam Nardis cures it and then sous-vides it for hours at a very low temperature inside a Cryovac bag, so it becomes super tender, and then afterward he cast-iron sears it with a molasses glaze. He finished the dish with romesco—a smooth, red pepper-based sauce—and chervil—kind of the cousin to parsley—which has a unique licorice flavor. It’s beautiful, with smaller, really delicate leaves, and it really complemented this dish well.

Pairs well with: Dry rosé, such as E. Guigal Tavel Rosé, Rhône, France, or Van Duzer Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, Ore.


Short Rib Grilled Cheese from Twisted Vine Bistro

Slowly braised short ribs, caramelized onions, Swiss and cheddar cheese, and tomato jam

The short ribs were braised to perfection and the meat was shredded really nicely, and the seared bread on this was great. It had a good enough texture to hold everything in, but it still was soft and chewy as you bit into it. I loved the combination of the two cheeses and the caramelized onions, but what really sold this was the tomato jam. It had such a nice acidic sweetness to it, and because everything else on the grilled cheese was very rich and decadent, that balanced it well so that it excited my palate every time I took a bite. It was killer.

Pairs well with: Grenache, such as Tres Picos Garnacha, Campo de Borja, Spain, or Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Rhône, France


Grilled Venison Tenderloin from CrÜ

With bone marrow pumpkin pie, Brussels ’slaw and caramelized onion

With the venison being a game meat, I wanted it to go between the short rib and lamb dishes. And I love this dish because of the bone marrow pumpkin pie. When you roast bone marrow, it’s almost like the most rich beef butter you’ve ever had—it’s crazy. Chef Harold Balink takes that and then cooks it into a little individual pumpkin pie, which is a very unique combination of flavors coming into fall and winter. The ’slaw mixed the Brussels sprouts with a vinaigrette, and he sliced the tenderloin really nicely, so all those flavors were just slammin’.

Pairs well with: Bordeaux blend, such as Chateau Lecuyer, Pomerol, France, or Justin ‘Isosceles’, Paso Robles, Calif.


Pierna de Borrego Asado con Mole Mexicano from Masa

Braised lamb shank, sweet plantains, red rice, mole Mexicano, side of tortillas and hearts of romaine salad

Because this dish had the most in-depth flavor and deeper notes with the chocolate and chile, I thought it would be a great savory grand finale. This is a 22-ounce, big lamb shank, which Chef Mike Mueller puts though a marination process and then cooks in banana leaves. Then he makes this just awesome mole sauce, and he’ll then cook the lamb further and allow it to absorb all that sauce. So after you take a few bites of the lamb and make your own little tortilla, you can take a couple of light bites of that salad or maybe a sweet plantain and allow that to refresh your palate. But his mole process—he puts so much love into it. He spent time in Mexico learning the cuisine and understanding the flavor profiles better so he could create a very authentic menu, and this dish definitely represents that.

Pairs well with: Oaky Chardonnay, such as Hahn SLH Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands, Calif., or Patz & Hall, Sonoma, Calif.


Vanilla Stracciatella Gelato from Norman Love

Italian vanilla gelato with chocolate drizzled throughout

I love ice cream, and I love Norman Love. I figured, what a great way to finish—in a dish with a cone on top, so you can have the best of both worlds. The waffle cones are made in house and just fantastic. With the stracciatella, you see the chocolate drizzle all over the gelato, but it has hardened, so as you’re eating it, it breaks up. So there’s a little crunch to it. And the base vanilla gelato he creates is amazing.

Pairs well with: Moscato, such as Saracco, Piedmont, Italy, or Ceretto Santo Stefano, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy


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