Frothy Monkey, the Nashville-based cafe/restaurant establishment which opened a location on Chattanooga’s Southside in March, recently hosted its first Wine Love Dinner. And let me tell y’all, it set the bar pretty high for future dinners and events.
The dinner brought together five courses of elevated cuisine prepared by chef Chase Ingalls and head baker Jen Mello, each paired with a wine selected by Brittany Harrison.Each dish highlighted ingredients sourced from Frothy Monkey’s farm partners, which were then developed to create unique flavor profiles. I got to enjoy some eclectic foods that I would likely never eat on any other occasion. And that’s one of the main reasons I love little dinner events like this!
Frothy Monkey knows that nothing is better than a wonderful meal paired with the perfect wines.
Here’s what we enjoyed for each course!
We started out with a pepper-crusted ahi tuna, served with a chilled field pea and heirloom tomato salad, radish and a cherry balsamic reduction. Admittedly I am not a huge fan of fish, but I enjoyed the tuna, especially when I took a bite with the cherry balsamic sauce. That pepper was strong, but the crust texture was a nice complement to the tuna itself. Our first wine was a rosé from the Provence region of France. The mineral-y notes were a nice touch on the palate after the pepper.
Next was probably one of the most unique dishes I think I’ve ever eaten: rabbit rillette on top of a jicama-fennel-apple slaw, fig jam and a mango gastrique. I know you’re thinking that rabbit sounds super weird, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat it, to be honest. Rabbit is a bit gamey, and definitely not something I see on menus frequently, but chef Chase did a great job bringing out some other earthy flavors. It was pretty lean and light. I could have eaten that jicama-fennel-apple slaw all day. The La Crema pinot gris–fresh, delicate and fruity–went nicely with the rabbit and only elevated how much I loved that slaw.
For the third course, we had pan-seared halibut on top of a vegetable risotto and a black garlic cream sauce. As I said earlier, I’m not a huge fish person, so I was a bit nervous about the halibut. But I was pleasantly surprised; it wasn’t super “fishy” tasting, and was delicious with a little risotto along with it. Chef Chase was definitely a fan of the pepper that night, but took it down a notch for the halibut. For the wine, Brittany picked Bel Air Bourguignons Blanc, a rich, citrusy Chardonnay that I absolutely loved. I’ve become more of a red wine drinker lately, but I will never turn down a good Chardonnay, and this one was very good.
I’m glad the portions were a little smaller and that I didn’t eat the entire portions, or else they would’ve had to roll me out of there!
Our penultimate course was a delicious roasted duroc pork tenderloin over lentil purée, mushroom ragout and herbed extra-virgin olive oil. Pork is probably my favorite protein (hello, North Carolina girl) and I loved how this was prepared. The lentil purée reminded me of creamed potatoes texture-wise, so I loved how that accompanied the pork. This course’s wine selection was probably my favorite of the night: Louis Jadot Gamay, from the Beaujolais region of France (can you tell Brittany has a thing for French wine? I’m cool with it). For a red wine, it was light and delicate with floral aromas–even lighter than a pinot noir–which I normally wouldn’t expect from a red wine. I’m a huge fan of the Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin (a red blend), so I was really excited to try this one. It did not disappoint, and I may have to pick up a bottle on my next shopping trip.
Finally, we finished our Wine Love Dinner with a rhubarb tart, topped with crushed pistachios, raspberries and toasted meringue. Even with my (admittedly huge) sweet tooth, that dessert was the perfect balance of tart and sweet, and a nice, light finale to the first Wine Love Dinner. Instead of choosing a classic dessert wine, we ended with a chenin blanc, which I learned is a very versatile white wine that can have many different flavor profiles depending on the ripeness of the grapes when they’re harvested. This particular chenin blanc was somewhere between off-dry and sweet, with citrus, peach and light honeysuckle flavors.
Talk about five courses of absolutely exquisite eating! I’m excited to see how future Wine Love Dinners evolve and which flavors Chef Chase brings to the table as the seasons change.
If your mouth is watering after reading this, I take no responsibility. Actually I kind of do. Regardless, if you’re interested in attending a future Wine Love Dinner in Chattanooga, the next dinners are June 17, September 9 and November 18. Frothy Monkey locations in Nashville are also hosting dinners — all the information you’ll need is on the Frothy Monkey website.