Thursday, May 28, 2009

Catal Restaurant - Wine Thursdays - review

In conjunction with Disney's California Food and Wine Festival, Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney in Anaheim has been holding Wine Thursdays over the course of four consecutive weeks. Here's the information from their website.

Click on the picture for a larger version that's easier to read.

My one complaint about the website listing is that there is no mention of what wineries are being featured each week. For some people, that might not matter, but for others, I think it could help people decide which week they might want to go because they could find out more information about a winery ahead of time.

Catal Restaurant had been regularly holding wine dinners - a particular winery would bring a couple of their wines and the evening's menu would be paired with the wines - but the last one scheduled was in March of last year. We had been fans of the wine dinners because it gave the husband an opportunity to discover new wines, and though I'm not that much of a wine person, I just really enjoyed the special and amazing dishes that always were a part of the wine dinners.

The husband and I and a friend decided to attend tonight's Wine Thursday, which featured Benovia Winery. The wine selections themselves weren't particularly to my liking, but I had a good time nonetheless.

We arrived at about 6pm (the event ran from 5:30pm to 7:30pm and cost $30 per person), and the event was being held in the last balcony at the far end of the restaurant. There was a table set up with the various wines, and we were offered a taste of the first one on the list. There were four wines available, two varieties of chardonnay, a pinot noir (though I have no idea which of the listed pinot noirs they were serving) and a zinfandel. We each had a glass of the first chardonnay, and then there were runners who would come by with trays of little hors d'oeuvres. There were four different varieties:

1. deep fried risotto balls - Those were pretty tasty and had peas inside as well.

2. sliced seared scallop with chopped shallots on top - I love scallops, so I really liked this one. I think it was my favorite of the bunch. The earlier versions we got had a little bit of liquid at the bottom of the Chinese soup spoon that these were served in. I loved the taste of the liquid.

3. sliced pork shoulder on a sliced and toasted piece of baquette - Some of the baquette pieces were quite thick and ended up being a bit too much bread to go with the meat, but all in all, it was still pretty tasty.

4. slice of New York steak with a cut heirloom cherry tomato and arugula flower - These were served on forks, which was cool, because they usually only serve stuff in spoons. The meat had a nice flavor to it, and the tomato was a nice complement.

There was also a table set to one side which had Catal's regular dinner bread, crackers, three kinds of cheese (including the manchego cheese that is a part of their signature compressed salad), candied walnuts, and dried apricots and prunes.

There were some tables set up at the back of the balcony which were already occupied, so we stood for a little while before we ended up finding room at a table. When we were done with one wine (whether we finished our glass or didn't want any more of it), we could go back up to the table and get a pour of a different wine.

I'm not generally a red wine person, so I didn't even bother trying the zin or the pinot noir. The information sheet had listed a rose pinot noir, which I thought might actually be something I would try, but it turned out they hadn't brought that and had brought the zin instead. I'm not usually a fan of chardonnay, but the first one (Russian River Chardonnay) wasn't bad. I had a taste of the second one (La Pommeraie Vineyard Chardonnay), though I'm still unclear as to the difference between the two, but I didn't like it, so I just stuck with the first chardonnay.

The husband seemed to like the first chardonnay (though he's not a chardonnay person either), and he liked the pinot noir ok, but he really liked the zin.

The friend was also not a chardonnay fan but liked the first one, and she liked the zin ok, but she really liked the pinot noir.

As we sat and chatted, the runners would come by with the various hors d'oeuvres, so we were able to have a couple of each over the course of our time there, until we finally started to turn them down. People would also come over to check on whether we needed refills of the wines and to make sure that we had an opportunity to try all of them if we wanted to. We also had tastes of the cheeses and other items from the table to the side.

There was a representative from the winery there, and he was walking around mingling with people, so we had a chance to talk to him for a bit. Catal's Executive Chef, Nick Weber, also came out for a bit, so we had a chance to talk to him for a little while as well.

Overall, we had a good time at the event, and it was nice to be able to snack on the hors d'oeuvres and try the various wines.

The last Wine Thursday is being held next week, June 4.

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