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Tuesday July 29th 2014

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A New Take on Home Cooking

By Lilia Del Bosque Oakey Whitehouse

This isn’t your momma’s home cooking. Seville Quarter’s latest wine dinner, Wine Dinner Southern Style, pairs wines from all over the world with down home, Southern cooking gone haute cuisine.

“It’s the ying and the yang; worldly wines and down home, southern cooking, “explains Bill Carlson, Manager of the Wine Shop at Seville Quarter. “And it’s Southern cooking in a way you haven’t experienced it before.”

Seville Quarter has wine dinners a few times each year but, this time, Carlson and Executive Chef Brandon Melton have decided to change up the pairings.

“It’s played out to do a wine from Spain with Spanish food,” said Carlson. “We just want to do some home cooking and pair some great wines with it.”

The dinner also gives Melton the opportunity to go back to his roots.

“I grew up in the South and I have great-grandparents and grandparents that have been cooking most of these dishes,” said Melton. “They probably weren’t cooking them to the level of fine dining that we are doing, but they were replicating these meals in their own way.”

It also lets Melton show his versatility as a chef, an opportunity and challenge that he doesn’t normally receive. “Normally I am stuck in one type of food or one ethnicity but this time I got to go all over the board with Southern cuisine.”

The Wine Dinner starts with a “Mingle” course. Guests get to taste Catfish Cakes with Comeback Sauce, a Mississippi sauce that is used on seafood, Bacon Scallion Hoecakes with Herbed Goat Cheese and Smoked Mullet Spread on Toast Points.

“A Hoecake sounds unfamiliar but they are a cornmeal pancake with bacon chopped in there,” said Melton.

Melton was excited to include Mullet, a dish unique to Pensacola. “We are a big town for mullet and one of the only towns in the U.S. that thrives on eating mullet. So this is a really backdoor, Pensacola dish,” said Melton.

The “Mingle” course also features a Vinho Verde wine from Portugal, with means “green wine” meaning it is a young wine, and two cocktails made from wines.

“We have done about 60 wine dinners since I’ve been here at Seville but never before have we made drinks with the wines,” said Carlson. “The White Port Tonic is similar to a Gin and Tonic but with Port wine. It will be different yet very refreshing. Negronis are very popular but instead of Gin, we are going to use five year Madeira.”

Carlson is excited to offer a new take on popular drinks. “It’s a whole new way to do happy hour,” he said.

The “Mingle” course also offers a challenge to guests. “We know that all the drinks and wines will go with all the dishes but we are letting the guest decide which wine or drink they think pairs best which each dish,” said Melton. “It’s a good way to have them mingle and introduce themselves to new people.

The “Sit” course pairs Firecracker Jumbo Shrimp with a Sweet Pepper Peach Jam with a 2011 Dr. Herman H. Riesling from Mosel, Germany.

“Rieslings are very good food wines and we have a Riesling that is right in the middle—not too sweet and not too dry,” said Carlson. “It will be great with the spicier dish.”

For “Seconds,” Melton will prepare a Smoked Tomato Spinach Salad with Crispy Tobacco Onions and Creole Mustard Vinaigrette. The dish is paired with a 2011 Spy Valley Pinot Noir Rose from Marlborough, New Zealand.

“It’s a Rose but it has no sweetness to it at all. It’s bone dry. It’s not an easy food pairing but this is a bit heavier Rose than normal. It’s a Rose made with a Pinot Noir grape, it will be a great pairing,” said Carlson.

For “Supper,” Melton will prepare pig two ways:  Confit of Pork Shoulder and Tender Braised Pork Belly. The dish will also have Warm Molasses Demi over Sweet Potato Hash and Crisp Collards. The course will be paired with a 2011 Badenhorst Secateurs Red Blend from Swartland, South Africa.

“I think the pork shoulder and the tender braised pork belly are going to be two of my features,” said Melton.

“The pork belly has a really unique texture. It’s crispy on the outside but the inside has a buttery layer,” said Carlson.

“It’s a really cool take on what we think of as bacon but a whole different concept of cooking,” Melton added.

The meal ends with Lemon Chess Pie paired with Montsarra Cava, a sparkling wine from Penedes Spain.
Carlton believes it’s a “nice, sweet, great way to send the meal.”

Overall, Wine Dinner Southern Style gives your favorite home cooking a worldly twist, offering unique takes on Southern classics.

Carlton promises the dinner will be unlike one you’ve ever had before.

“You haven’t tasted southern cooking like this.”

WINE DINNER SOUTHERN STYLE
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16
WHERE: Apple Annie’s Courtyard, Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St.
COST: $55 per person
DETAILS: Reservations required, call Nancy at 434-6211. Visit sevillequarter.com for more information.