It was one of the best dinners I’d had all year, and it provided some of the best food and wine pairings I’ve encountered in quite some time.
By DAVE ECKERT
In my days as producer and host of Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert, that might have meant an evening at Joel Robichon in Las Vegas, Spiaggia in Chicago, or perhaps Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence. But alas, this evening transpired at none of those exotic, high-end temples of gastronomy.
No, this culinary masterpiece took place at our very own Jack Stack Barbecue in The Freighthouse and the wine pairings were courtesy of Jack Stack’s amazing culinary team and St. Supery Vineyards in the Napa Valley in California.
I was not surprised by the powerful combination. After all, I personally hosted a barbecue and wine dinner at Jack Stack about two years ago and I’m still getting compliments of how good the food was and how perfect the wine pairings were. I always take credit, though truth be told, my participation was minimal. It was even less so the other night. All I did was show up to eat and drink. And, my, did we eat and drink-like royalty.
I also have a track record of appreciation for the wines of St. Supery having featured them on my television show and having enjoyed their wines over the years.
I’ve long been a fan of St. Supery’s Sauvignon Blanc, which has more acidity and less sweetness than most domestic Sauvignon Blancs. Unfortunately, the SB wasn’t in the picture for our five course dinner, but the Oak-Free Chardonnay and Rose, both of which I had never tried, were.
The Chardonnay was paired with an Arugula and pear salad with blue cheese, candied pecans in a citrus vinaigrette. Pure fruit not muddied by oak, the Chardonnay was just the right weight and carried the perfect flavors to pair with the salad.
The rose, in the meantime, was matched with pulled pork ravioli in a Marsala beef stock reduction sauce. Made in more of a European style with some earth and spice to go along with the fruit, this might have been my favorite pairing of the night.
That’s not to say the other three courses and their wine partners were slouches — far from it.
The third course of the evening, with my wife already full beside me, was smoked short ribs with a mushroom ragout in a bourbon barbecue sauce. You had me at smoked short ribs.
A 2010 St. Supery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was the choice. The pairing was quite good, maybe not up to the level of the Rose and pulled pork ravioli, but quite good. The wine was rich and ripe, definitely full-bodied, but not imbued with the searing tannins often found in Napa Cabs, allowing the wine to complement the smoked ribs and bourbon barbecue sauce rather than fight them.
Course four also didn’t disappoint — a hickory rack of lamb with a parsnip puree and a red wine demi-glace. Now, I love lamb, so this was pretty much a slam dunk, but the hint of hickory and the red wine demi were both terrific additions.
The wine pick, the St. Supery Red Meritage “Elu,” a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc, was stunning. Bordeaux and lamb is a classic pairing and this particular match did nothing to sully that reputation.
The evening of debauchery concluded with a warm carrot cake with a cream cheese icing matched to the St. Supery Moscato, but honestly, I was done, so I can’t really offer any insights other than to say the carrot cake was sweeter than the Moscato, which could have been problematic should anyone in the room actually paced themselves enough to accurately judge the combination. That certainly did not include me.
Reflecting on the evening, I can say without question, the dinner confirmed several key points for me. First, wine, at least the right wine, pairs as well with barbecue as any other type of cuisine, and there are a myriad of options.
Second, Jack Stack is not your standard barbecue joint. Their standard barbecue offerings from burnt ends to brisket to pulled pork are great — as good as any barbecue in town. But, given the chance to do more than Kansas City barbecue, they are truly a fine dining gem.
Lastly, when it comes to wine, there is no better barbecue place in town to have a glass or bottle. I can’t wait for their next winery-themed dinner, but in the meantime, a glass of Mendoza Malbec and some burnt ends suite me just fine.
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.