Feb. 14, 2013
The Texas Music Educators Convention convenes every February in San Antonio, Texas. Many years we find ourselves there on Valentines Day as we did this past week. After a little nudging, I talked my colleague into joining me for a nice dinner. Since we were lucky enough to snag a room at the beautiful La Contessa Hotel, I made a reservation at Las Ramblas, the Riverwalk restaurant on the bottom floor of this elegant lodging. Not thinking about V-Day being a busy one, I made my reservation late – therefore we had a very early seating.
Although our intentions were to share a few tapas and a salad, it turned out that the Valentine Special 4-course “couples” meal was just too good to pass up. I could shoot myself for not asking for a copy of the menu – I will try to remember as many details about the makings of this great dinner as possible.
FIRST COURSE – Seared Scallop with wilted greens, peanuts and banana. Sounds a little crazy, but the combination of textures and flavors was a hit. I thought the paired Spanish Cava (SEGURA VIDAS, ARIA, BRUT CAVA), was a good match, although my dining mate preferred the cava with the next course.
SECOND COURSE: Strawberry Gazpacho with prosciutto, watercress and infused oil (I think the flavoring was cumin, but can not confirm). It was not the prettiest presentation, but the dish was definitely inspired by the holiday and satisfying. Not at all sweet, as I anticipated. I did find myself craving a hot soup as I neared the bottom of the bowl (like the butternut squash bisque on the regular menu).
THIRD COURSE: We were given a choice for the entrée. My dining friend selected the Striped Bass with Roasted Cauliflower. There also appeared to be some mushrooms in the mix (chanterelles?).
I chose the Lamb Chops with assorted Harvest Vegetables. The chops were huge! One was cooked perfectly, the other was a little rare for my liking (for those of you that know me, that is a rarity), but I was so full after the first, there was no need to complain. The selection of vegetables included turnips, carrots (orange and yellow) and mashed potatoes. I selected the 2010 Erath Pinot Noir from Oregon to pair with my lamb. I enjoyed this fruit forward, light red with a long finish. It was a very unassuming drink, which encouraged the relaxed dining experience we were enjoying.
FOURTH COURSE: Dessert! A Nutella Cheesecake, embellished with cute little pink macaroons, whipped cream and cherries. A home run! The presentation was playful and the cheesecake featured the divine flavor of Nutella with good texture and no heaviness. Chocolate type desserts are not usually my favorite (although that has never stopped me from eating them). I give this one high marks. In fact, I am already on the hunt for a recipe.
To finish off the evening, the manager (who came by our table several times during the dinner)personally thanked us for dining with them and presented us each with a beautiful rose. It was a fun surprise! We have been impressed with the kindness that all of the employees of this hotel have brought forth during our stay at La Contessa.
Now off to meet some friends at a wine bar Marc told me about that is just around the corner. Stay tuned for another blog soon!