Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Brush with Greatness: the Selby Wine Dinner at Horseradish

This past Thursday, I decided to humor my tyrannical Fitbit* and walk to work so I could try to get my 10,000 steps for the day. That's harder than one would think. Apparently Georgia has decided to give tax breaks to movie companies, and Decatur was the site for the filming of a flick called Adult Children of Divorce. As a psychologist, I cringe at the title, but that's a whole different blog post.

Anyway, they're filming at No. 246 (pronounced two-four-six if you're wondering), and my path home takes me on the sidewalk right in front of the restaurant. They closed a lane on Ponce but still allowed people to walk on the sidewalk amidst the flotsam associated with movie production, mostly cords, random piles of stuff, and minions stationed every few feet to give passers-by the "don't even think about stopping, asking questions, or otherwise annoying us" stink-eye. So there I was, walking along trying not to make eye contact, and I passed within three feet of where Jane Lynch, yes, Glee's Coach Sue Sylvester, was getting direction.

That was a nice surprise, and she's not as tall as I thought she'd be, but the real excitement came that evening at Horseradish Grill by Chastain Park, where I had the pleasure of sitting across from Susie Selby at the Selby Winery dinner. Yes, the phrase "oenophile fangirl squee" applies. Sorry, Jane.

We've been in the Selby wine club since we first tasted there in 2005 and especially love the reds. Susie picked the reception wine to "support the wine industry" and chose one of my favorites: the A to Z Pinot Gris. When Jess lets me choose the wine tasting lineup at Java Monkey, I usually try to have a Pinot Gris from the Pacific Northwest on there because they're nice and crisp but with more fruit than the Italian ones. This one didn't disappoint.

Horseradish Grill has been on our list to try for a while, so we jumped at the chance to check them out and experience their version of upscale Southern cuisine. I have to admit that, excellent company aside, this was one of the most fun dinners I've ever had food-wise.

The first course, Fried Pimento Cheese & Grit Fritters served with country ham aioli and bread and butter pickles (THANK YOU, Horseradish, for not using the word "housemade" anywhere in that description) was like hush puppies with a gooey pimento cheese center. The pairing, 2009 Russian River Selby Chardonnay, gave me citrus on the nose and oak on the palate. This course was an example of how you can take two things I don't really like – pimento cheese and oaky California-style chard – and put them together to make magic. The cheese cut the oak back, and the textures complemented each other. And did I mention it was hush puppies and melted cheese?

Then the course that made everyone ooh and ahh: Georgia Quail and Waffles with sorghum and balsamic syrup. According to Foursquare, Horseradish is known for its fried chicken, and apparently they're good at frying other types of fowl as well. The waffles' dense, European-style texture, savory undertones, and pleasant crunch on the outside helped them surpass breakfast food status. The 2007 Russian River Selby Pinot Noir is big and fruity, and the pairing cut it back to resemble a more old-world style. Hubby thought the finish with the food was odd but liked both on their own.

The third course, Herb Marinated Lamb Chops served with farro with wild mushrooms and blackberry/mint demi-glaze, felt European with its combination of meat and fruit. As with the quail, people picked up the bones to get the last bits of meat off them, so it all felt very friendly and informal by this point. The 2007 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon had an earthy nose but lived up to the fruity and balanced expectations I had for it. It went well with the lamb and the chocolate cake on the surprise dessert sampler we got:

Yes, a wine that goes well with red meat and dessert. Sign me up! Oh, wait, I already am. We'll definitely be going back to Horseradish as well. I hope they plan to add the quail and waffles to the menu as a permanent fixture. Meanwhile, I'll be just as happy to walk through Decatur without celebrity sightings or dirty looks from the second best boy grip (or whoever they were)…at least until the next production company comes to town. When that happens, I'll just open some Selby and toast to a real celebrity who makes life better one glass at a time.

* Codependent bossy pedometer thingy. Srsly, it tells me when I pick it up in the morning to move it. In the evenings, it asks to be held and hugged. I'm not kidding about this.

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