Did you know that the smaller the grape the better the wine? Did you know that a 2010 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon is an exquisite pairing with stuffed cremini mushroom caps with braised short ribs? Dozens of guests savored uniquely sumptuous pairings of food prepared by The Clare's extraordinary Chef Hagop and wines presented by Brian Tite, proprietor of Stellar Cellars, while learning these deliciously interesting tidbits during Pour and Pair at The Clare.
From the 53rd floor of The Clare senior living community, the views of Lake Michigan and Chicago enhanced the sensual culinary experience during the event. So did the conversations of guests as they mingled and learned about the fare at The Clare from those who enjoy it firsthand, the residents.
Not to be outdone by its exceptional dining services, The Clare's amenities also include its incomparable location in the Chicago Gold Coast, beautiful apartments in the high rise with breathtaking view of the lake and city, extensive programming and activities, and complete continuing care should a resident's health needs change.
While sipping on an Argus Carneros Pinot Noir and nibbling on tuna tartar with apple purée and beet salad, at the Pour and Pair event, questions were popping about the art and science of wines and food. For those who are yet to enjoy the fine dining experience as a resident of The Clare, here are a few highlights from the gathering.
According to Tite, "It is important to finish drinking an open bottle of wine because there is really no way, from vacuums to recorking, that the life of the wine can be extended by more than two or three days. Oxygen accelerates the wine's bell curve of optimum flavor, rendering it important to enjoy each bottle at its peak. If you happen to open it a bit early, decant the wine to add air and speed the development process, this letting the wine 'open.' This can also be done with an aerator device, but the gentle opening of the wine through decanting is preferable. "
Laird Jillian's Napa winery blends just one wine -- a rich combination of Cabernet with Syrah and Merlot blended to win a 93% rating from Wine Spectator. Serve with Chef Hagop's suggestion of a flatbread with sliced lamb loin and goat cheese.
Olive oil poached shrimp with tomato confit and shaved fennel is the perfect accompaniment for the Buoncristiani Brothers Triad Blanc.
Chef Hagop shares this popular recipe from The Clare's dining room and suggests paring it with a Riesling.
• 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
• 3 teaspoons dried thyme
• 3 bay leaves, crumbled
• 1 teaspoon whole cloves
• 2 tablespoons minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon whole juniper berries, plus 1/3 cup coarsely ground juniper berries
• 4 cups water
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup kosher salt
• 1 whole boneless duck breast, split in half (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
• 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
• Thinly sliced French bread, accompaniment
• Creole mustard, accompaniment
• Pickled onions, accompaniment
In a small mixing bowl, combine the peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, and 1 teaspoon whole juniper berries.
In a saucepan combine the water, brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat, add spice mixture, and steep for 1 hour. Place the duck breast in a glass or plastic container. Pour the seasoned brine over the duck to cover completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 48 hours, turning the breasts several times.
Remove the duck breasts from the brine and rinse thoroughly under running water. Pat dry with a towel.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine the crushed juniper berries and ground black pepper. Using the palm and heel of your hands, press 2/3 of the berry and pepper mixture into the underside of the breasts. Press the remaining mixture onto the skin side. Place the breasts, skin side down, on a rack in a roasting pan and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove and let cool for 30 minutes. Wrap the breasts tightly in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before using.
To serve, remove the meat from the plastic wrap and slice thinly. Serve with sliced French bread and other accompaniments as appetizers or hors d'oeuvres.
The Clare at Rush and Pearson is a continuing care retirement community in the heart of Chicago with incomparable lifestyle, amenities and the financial stability only a debt-free community can offer. The Clare is owned by Chicago Senior Care and managed by Life Care Services. For more information visit: www.theclare.com or call 312-784-8100.