Le Cellier Steakhouse Welcomes
Justin Vineyards & Winery
Located in Epcot - Canada Pavilion
Just beyond the heavy wooden doors that guard the entrance to this
Canadian Family Steakhouse is the podium where guests attending that
afternoon’s Food & Wine Pairing were to check in. We had arrived ten
minutes early for the 3:00pm seating and were asked to wait with a
collection of other guests who would be joining us. At precisely 3
o’clock a cast member began reading from a list that contained the
names of those who had paid the $35.00 per person fee to attend this
special event. As each name was called they were individually
escorted by a cast member down a narrow passageway to the
subterranean dining room, just inside the dining room was a long
table, which was preset with a white linen table cloth, three
glasses of wine, the menu for today’s taste treat and some
information on the guest wine consultant.
Each guest selected a seat at the table from among the 20 or so
place settings. After settling in, the restaurant management that was
in attendance introduced Justin Baldwin, from Justin Vineyards and
Winery, who then proceeded to give us some background and
explanation of the wines we would be served. Close on the heels of
Justin was Christian Rumpler the chef for today’s food tastes.
Christian offered a brief explanation of the foods he had prepared.
I could attempt to try and repeat all the complexities that were
offered to us. For example, how the wines acidity was evenly matched
with and complimented a certain dish, but this was not my intention
and reason for attending. I simply went to enjoy the new experience,
the specially prepared foods and some fine wines. I will resist
rereading my notes and writing some long winded rendition about a
subject of which I know very little about.
The first course consisted of Spice Crusted Salmon served over
Griddled Pumpkin Bread and finished with a Butternut Squash
Vinaigrette. The wine that Justin selected was Justin Justification
a Paso Robles, ’02. The Salmon was well served by the combined
tastes and flavors of the Pumpkin Bread and the Butternut Squash
Vinaigrette. I am not a Sommelier and I am not even sure what a
Sommelier is, but I do know what I like and don’t like. I thought
the Paso Robles, ’02 was a little heavy and overshadowed the food.
For our second course Christian prepared a Seared Scallop served
over Fennel and Tomato Ragout and finished with Saffron Cream. The
wine selection was Justin Tempranillo Reserva, Paso Robles, ’02. I
have two thoughts here. Thank you Christian and thank you Justin.
Actually I had another thought as I enjoyed both the food and the
wine. I quickly retrieved my menu and scanned it for accuracy. Yes,
there it was in black and white, “Seared Scallop” singular. Oh, if
it had only read Scallops plural.
Our Final course or “Selection” consisted of a Chocolate Brulee
served with a Cherry compote accompanied by Justin Syrah, Paso
Robles, ’02. Just before the presentation Christian had offered that
the idea behind the final selection was to “mess it up” in an effort
to match the wine. Now, I may still order my wine from the far right
hand column, but when it comes to desserts I feel I can hold my own
with the best of them. "Messing it up" would not have been the choice of
words I would use to describe what happened to this dish, which was certainly different and
nontraditional. Deliberately or not, the Brulee was far to dry and
the peppercorn topping was interesting, but that was about it. The
wine chosen by Justin may have been the culprit behind the effort to
redesign our dessert, but I won't hold a grudge, because it was
light and enjoyable.
As with most things in my life my decision as to whether I enjoyed
something and it was worth the effort can be answered with one
question. Would I do it again? My answer is yes, and I hope I get my
chance again next year.