For the second time this year, award-winning vineyard Scribe hosted an intimate wine dinner at Gabardine, the neighborhood eatery poised at the tip of Point Loma. Easily the coziest of the Fabric of Social Dining family, Gabardine takes pride in using local and sustainable produce and seafood to incorporate interesting flavors into their eclectic menu. I have always viewed Gabardine as one of San Diego’s best kept secrets, so when Matt Ahern of Next Generation Wine Co. and Scribe co-founder Andrew Mariani extended an invitation to join them last Wednesday evening, I simply couldn’t resist. I have always been a fan of Scribe’s Chardonnay (a favorite amongst most ladies, Mariani joked), so to say I was excited to experience a hand selected tasting from the founder himself, was a gross understatement.
For this very special occasion, Executive Chef Chris “Big Country” Gentile designed a one of a kind five-course meal that played off the notes of each wine with dishes ranging from raw to fried, savory to sweet. Each wine had a bright, distinct flavor, and the food the 22 year old prodigy brought out was no different. We started our evening off with a refreshing glass of Reisling and Oysters 3 Ways. In addition to Gabardine’s signature raw oyster with strawberry sauce, the Chef’s take on an oyster Rockefeller topped with bacon bits and a handmade bacon powder was impressive and full of flavor! The only thing that could have topped this was the fried oyster that followed, served over a mustard sauce that was to die for. I could have just eaten this all night and been happy… until the next course was presented…
The second course was an egg 63 over a creamy sweet corn polenta, topped with a delicious bacon vinaigrette and crispy brioche croutons. This dish was like a sweet Southern breakfast dish, inspired by Chef Chris’ own childhood in South Carolina. It was paired with a effervescent Sylvaner that was the perfect compliment to this comfort dish. I was pretty nervous after this rich appetizer that the following entrees would be a little too much for me, but was pleasantly surprised when the Rabbit Tagliatelle came out. I have never had rabbit before, but this dish was light and fresh, perfect for Spring. Paired with the infamous Chardonnay, this was by far my favorite dish of the meal. The flavors that the heirloom carrots, radish and ramps added was absolutely delicious and really balanced out any gamey notes the rabbit presented.
Once the first three courses had been served, there was a small break with the fourth course. Dubbed “Skin on Skin”, the pairing of the skin-on-grape Chardonnay and the twice fried chicharones was so robust, it totally cleared our palettes for the coming entree. The flavors of both the food and wine were so different and explosive, it was a memorable dish that left us all eager to see what the all-star chef had in store for the main course. The Filet of Bison was cooked to absolute perfection, and with a unique combination of white chocolate whipped parsnip, smoked blueberry jus, and spring mushroom sautee. This elegant finale was served with a lovely Cabernet that ended the meal on just the right note. It was also a nice change from the aftermath of many glasses of white wine swirling around my head.
Just when we thought we had finished our feast and had some time to digest, the Chef sent out a very special sixth course/dessert for our visiting winemaker. I have never experienced a dish like this, and will never forget it either. A seared piece of foie gras was presented to us on a bed of caramelized bananas and brioche french toast. I have no words to describe this finale bite, except that it was truly exceptional.
All in all, I have to admit that this was the best dinner I have ever experienced at any of the Fabric Family Restaurants. I have always been impressed with the consistency of the kitchens in all five restaurants, however this one-of-a-kind presentation was anything but average. Thanks to the borrowed flavors of some of Scribe’s most exclusive wines, Gabardine’s kitchen staff was able to create one of the most remarkable tasting menu’s any of the restaurants has ever hosted. Anyone lucky enough to attend this dinner will not soon forget the precedent set by such a talented chef – especially one so young. Now the trick is finding an act to follow this one, and I don’t wish the job upon even my worst enemy. Looks like I will be returning to Gabardine quite soon to try and recreate the magic witnessed last week, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what Chef Gentile has in store!