AFTERTASTE: Throwing Stones for Supper

stones

Many of us find the challenge of sourcing our food within 100 miles of its origin an entirely worthwhile endeavor deserving of a hearty locavore pat on the back. But here’s an ante-up for you: Cut off 99 of those miles. In the most delicious of farm-to-table smackdowns last September, Roanoke Vineyards held its second Stone’s Throw Dinner. The challenge: Sourcing the entire meal, from supp to sip, within one little mile of the vineyard. Sound hard? You’d never know it from the incredible menu cooked up by homegrown Long Island chef Thomas Fazio—oysters from Roanoke Landing; bison from North Quarter Farm just up the road; even striped bass caught by winery owner Rich Pisacano and winemaker Roman Roth themselves. On this tepid, early fall evening, the meal took place in the slender tasting house. The longest of long tables sat prettily covered in a white cloth, a swath of burlap running down the middle, twinkly votive candles, and just-cut bunches of cabernet sauvignon grapes, upon which the 24 guests shyly nibbled (“Can we eat these?!”) between courses, as Pisacano and Roth would take turns talking about the wines and what happened in each particular vintage.

During the 8-course meal, there was the lobster bisque paired with Roanoke’s 2008 chardonnay, so vibrant on the nose and palate with notes of flowers and apples, and a surprising flinty minerality that Roth says resulted from the slow and steady ripening curve our climate allows, and, as he rightly commented, “doesn’t sit like a fat duck in a glass!” There was duck, too, but this kind was Long Island’s own, braised in Roanoke’s Marco Tulio, a juicy, 50/50 blend of cabernet franc and merlot, and matched with a vertical tasting of Merlot from ’05, ’06 and ’07—a pairing that had the entire table talking animatedly about which one they preferred, and ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over how a year can make such an incredible difference in the ultimate personality of a wine, the ’05 with its big, big fruit; the elegant,
austere ’06 with its bit of cabernet sauvignon blended in; and the youthful ripe and juicy ’07, which many agreed they loved now, but wanted to grab a few bottles to lay down and see how its interesting teenager-like personality would mature over the years. There were the just-hauled mussels served with smoky raw-milk blue cheese paired with the final existing bottles of the 2003 cabernet sauvignon, that left people lingering long over their last, never-to-be-tasted-again sips. There was mmmm-ing. There was ahhhh-ing. There was lively debate and laughter and clinking of glasses. There were definitely cleaned plates. “But this is what it’s about,” says Pisacano, smiling broadly toward the end of the meal and raising a glass of that ’03 to his guests, as the second meeting of the Mile-Long Club was winding down: “Old friends, friends who haven’t met yet, great wines and great food.”

For more information on upcoming Stone’s Throw Dinners, contact Roanoke Vineyards at 631.727.4151, or info@roanokevineyards.com.

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