Sel de la Terre: Wine Wednesday - experiences?
My husband and I will be in Boston March 25 - 30, and the Wine Wednesday 4-course tasting menu & wine pairing at Sel de la Terre for $45 per person has caught my eye. I'm wondering whether anyone has been, and if you would either post a review of your experience, or point me to it if you've already posted one (I did search, but I don't claim to be perfect).
Thanks in advance,
One of my neighbors has been to several of these, and he says they vary in the amount of food served. He says he considers them an excellent value for the quality of the food and wines. He and his wife got up a group of five for this evening.
The one time I went with them, I thought it the food was superb, and the wines very good. It was the November 28, 2007 "I Want to be a Rhone" evening. The first course of sauteed tilapia with braised napa cabbage and sunchokes (doesn't sound very inspiring, but it was excellent) accompanied the 2006 Domaine de Vieux Lazares, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. The second course was a braised bacon tart with gruyere and forest mushrooms (voluptuous, lovely) with 2005 Alain Voge, "Les Peyrouses", Cotes du Rhone. The main course was skirt steak with roasted cippolini marmelade atop a root vegetable-marrow puree (flavorful, rich) paired with a velvety 2005 Domaine de Deurre, Vinsobres (I think the sommelier said this is a recently granted appellation). The cheese course was a very small piece (appropriately I thought) of Piave Vecchio (Italy) with 1999 Domaine des Espiers, "Cuvee Tradition", Gigondas. The first three courses were about 5-6 mouthfuls each. I thought the food extremely well prepared and it was served piping hot. A big eater might consider the portions small. None of us thought the portions too small--nor did I hear any grumblings from other nearby groups, possibly because the food was very rich--the better to show off the wines I think. For big eaters side dishes were available: rosemary pommes frites ($6.5), sauteed forest mushrooms ($9.5) and sauteed spinach with parmesan ($6.5)--we ordered the latter and liked it. A dessert course was also optional (lemon poppyseed bread pudding with vanilla ice cream ($7) as was the wine for it (2003 La Fleur D'Or, Sauternes $10.5).
The wine pours were decent sized (sorry I can't estimate how many ounces). Additional glasses were available ($10).
The sommelier (young, unpretensious, good looking) gave a brief background for each wine as it was being served. The serving staff was extremely efficient and pleasant. I like the space at Sel de la Terre.
If you go, I hope you enjoy it. I would go again. I also want to try the wine evenings at the Ashmont Grill and Ten Tables.
I wrote this report shortly after our return. I never got around to posting it... I was trying to write up the entire trip, and was depressing myself (while everything on the trip was "perfectly fine", not much was "wonderful!"). However, re-reading this, I'd say this was definitely one of the food highlights of the trip:
Wine Wednesday at Sel de la Terre: 4 courses, with paired wines, at three communal tables of 8. I'd been looking forward to this for quite a while. The theme was German/Austrian, wouldn't have been my first choice, but that's what there was for the time we were there. Our table had a couple from Ottowa, a couple now living in Boston, and a couple from Cambridge. First course: 3 different sausages (I forget the names, sorry) - good, but intensly rich, especially for a first course; sauerkraut (big twang); a bacon-wrapped potato garnish; Reisling (2006 Max Ferd Richter, "Estate", Riesling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany), awfully sweet - would have been nice to have more eye-opening dry. Second course: Sautéed trout with lardons (~bits of bacon), haricots verts and pistachio - nice; 2006 Weingut Zahel, "Vienna Composition", Vienna, Austria - I just don't like Chardonnay 90% of the time. Third: Pork jägerschnitzel (breaded, fried pork) with spätzle - I loved this course, though the hunk of meat was entirely too big. The spätzle was wonderful, and the rich mushroom gravy was downright decadent. Cheese course: an Alsatian muenster with apple chutney and blackberry puree, 1995 Reisling. The cheese was a bit intense on its own, but with the accoutrements, it was fabulous.
Overall, I'm glad I went. Had I the option, I would have chosen a night different than German, and the wines were fine, but not eye-opening.
The other highlights were Trattoria Toscana (THE food highlight of the trip - the gorganzola walnut gnocchi, in particular, but everything, really), Toscanino's (serendipity brought us by this place, and I'd had the name written down on the "list 'o things to look out for" in my pocket... I had "porter wort" ice cream - bizarre and wonderful!!), and the boston cream pie (and *only* the Boston cream pie) at Legal Seafoods.
Again, I apologize for the delay.