Sunday, August 16, 2009

I was Kidsnapped*

My delightful and charming wife has been conspiring behind my back. Last week was was my birthday...what some would call a 'Milestone Birthday'. We did not go out to dinner to celebrate this happy day, so she told me that we were going to do something Sunday "From Noon to 5PM" and not to plan anything else for that time. All week I tried to weasel the plans out of her, to no avail. The only clue she would give me was 'wear long pants'. So at Noon we started to drive. I kept trying to guess where we were going with each turn. Exit on the Powhite expressway north...that means nothing south or east of the City. Exit on 64 west, this rules out Ashland and points north (and my best guess of Lewis Ginter for lunch). 45 minutes later we got off on 15N, and then I knew where we were going! My favorite Virginia Winery is Barboursville Vineyards. They have the best wine, and (in my humble opinion) the nicest tasting room in the area. I would put the vineyard up against any that I have been to (and I have been to a TON of them), here or in Napa. They also have a restaurant there called 'Palladio', and I have wanted to go there for years.

You can see here how excited I am, as the waiter handed us a menu. You see, at Palladio you order options of the menu and build a 4 course meal, each course matched with one of Barboursvilles excellent wines. I had been trying to think of a good excuse to come here for ages. Arbor Day? Boxing Day? International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Not big enough occasions. Apparently turning 40 is. And thank goodness, as it was an excellent meal and a great experience.

My first course - Antipasta.

~ Fantasia di Pomodori ~
Trio of Local Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomato Pizzette with House Made Mozzarella
Tomato Cloud wrapped in Speck
Tomato and Cucumber Sorbet with Sea Salt

Barboursville Vineyards Vintage Rosé 2007

The sorbet was fantastic, cucumber sorbet on a tomato and tomato sorbet on a cucumber.

Second Course - Primi Piatti

~ Risotto con Carciofi ~
Organic Risotto with Sautéed Artichokes,
Fresh Basil and Mozzarella Cheese

Barboursville Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2008

I have not had much exposure to Risotto, something that I have always wanted to try and make myself, but intimidating because of the preperation time and technique involved. I'll be sure to give it a shot now. The best bites were the ones with both artichokes and the cheese.

Third Course - Secondi Piatti

~ Scaloppine di Vitello ai Funghi Porcini ~
Prosciutto-Stuffed Limousin Veal Scaloppini with Braised Porcini Mushrooms,
Grilled Polenta and Young Watercress

Barboursville Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve 2006

This was amazing. The mushrooms were in a marsala style, and complimented the salty prosciutto and the creamy polenta. The Cab Franc was the best wine of the meal.

Fourth Course - Formaggi

I had the choice of a dolce (sweet) or cheese for dessert. No surprise to those that know and love me that I went for the cheese. Delicious. Made more so with the accompaniments, a jam, two kinds of local honey and two kinds of balsamic. Served with toast points.

Served with Barboursville Vineyards Malvaxia Passito 2005

The Malvaxia Passito was intensly sweet, with overtones of honey. It more than stood up to the strong cheeses. A lesser wine would have been overshadowed by the two stronger cheeses I had, both blues.

After lunch we did an abbreviated tasting in the winery, because we had just had five glasses of wine - did I mention the nice glass of prosecco we had while perusing the menu? No? My bad. It was a really elegant glass of dry sparkling wine.

Afterwards we took a stroll around the vineyard. This likely bunch of grapes will be harvested next month. Warm from the sun and a little sweet, soon to be transformed by the vintners art into ambrosia, fit for a King. Or for me anyway.

Seriously if you live or visit Central Virginia, and you have the time and the money (it is not cheap to eat and drink here) treat yourself to a meal here. You will not regret it. Thanks again to my sweetie for making this a very memorable day.

* Growing up in my family 'Kidsnapping' = Kidnapping a fate worse than death. "Don't wander or you'll get kidsnapped" - Mom 1978


  1. Nicely written. I especially like the quote from your mom in the footnote.

  2. Yum, I'd love to try the place as well. John and I went to a similar type place in Breckendridge and loved it! I'll make risotto for you sometime, it's not that bad. I make a really good wild mushroom one, that my girls absolutely love.

  3. Aaaaa! That looks really yummy! What a thoughful wife you have! Glad you finslly got to go there!

    I like your note at the bottom! I tell my kids the same thing!

  4. Sounds lovely, we were there with you and your sweet wife to taste the excellent wine.