It was fate that I happened to be vacationing in Aruba this February. The North East was expecting huge snow storms, but I was able to get out just in time before airports delayed and cancelled flights. While lying on the beach reading the Aruba Daiy News Paper, an interesting article came to my attention. The Sunset Grille at the Radisson Hotel was hosting a five course pairing dinner with Banfi Wines. Michela Dominici, who is the Key Banfi Ambassador to the World, would be there along with many important people.
After seeing this, I knew I had to get tickets because not only am I a huge fan of Banfi wines, but getting the chance to possibly meet Michela would be an honor. Luckily, I was able to get tickets to this fantastic event!
For the first course Chef served us a Bruschetta Trio. This delectable appetizer was extremely imaginative and paired beautifully with the first two wines. Upon arrival guests were seated and offered a Brut Sparkling Wine. The sweetness of the tomato, the saltiness of the prosciutto, and the savory chicken were all very palate pleasing. The Brut was the perfect aperitif to kick off the evening and went very well with this first course.
Following the sparkling, we received a 2011 San Angelo Pinot Grigio to go with our second course. This wine was crisp and refreshing with notes of pear, banana, and some minerality. Chef’s pairing choice with this wine was a Shrimp Fra Diavolo which is sautéed shrimp, onions, garlic, crushed red pepper and white wine. This dish was spectacular and left me salivating for the next course!
As the dishes came, so did more fantastic wine. For our third course we were served Veal Parmagiana with fried eggplant paired with a 2009 Chianti Classico D.O.C.G Riserva. This wine is well structured and a little spicy with aromas of vanilla, chocolate, and licorice. Chianti pairs beautifully with meat dishes, and this was definitely not a disappointment.
The fourth course consisted of Sirloin over Fettuccini Pasta in a Crimini Mushroom Sauce. Paired with this lovely dish was a 2007 Brunello Di Montalcino. This wine is striking with aromas of violets, vanilla, and dark fruits. On the palate, silky tannins integrate with the fruit forward, spice, and floral notes in this wine, making it so enjoyable to drink with every bite of this course.I had to save a few sips of all the wines so I could taste them with every course. The San Angelo complimented the veal very nicely as did the Chianti with the sirloin.
Finally as the night dwindled down, dessert arrived. With all great desserts and pairing dinners there will be a fantastic wine to go along and this was one of those moments. Pistachio Brittle Cheesecake was on the menu for dessert and oh my goodness was it delicious! Paired with this course was a Rosa Regale Sparkling Red Wine. This wine is sweet, seductive, and the perfect ending to such a wonderful meal. With aromas of strawberries, raspberries, and flowers it makes a great aperitif or dessert wine.
During this fabulous dinner, I was fortunate enough to meet some very inspiring and fantastic people. By pure luck I was sitting at the table right next to where Michela Dominici was speaking. A man by the name of Clive Faustin, who I was fortunate enough to meet and who was putting on the event, introduced me to Michela (Below) who was charming, inspiring, and an absolute delight to speak with. She was extremely bubbly and chatted with me a few times throughout the night about wine, pairings, the Banfi Castle, and her career. Another member of Banfi that I was able to meet was Raymond Rivera, the Export Manager for the Caribbean. Mr. Rivera was intriguing, genuine, and I was very happy to have met him.
Mr. Faustin (Above) is a Wine Artist in Aruba. His title intrigued me when he introduced himself and explained, “I travel all over the world and try wines from all over… my dream job came true”. Here is a man who is twenty six years in the business and certainly has done it right. Clive has such a delightful spirit about him and is extremely knowledgeable about wine. He happily introduced me to everyone when I had told him that I will be blogging about more Banfi Wines in the future and even brought me into a picture to be taken for the Aruba Daily Newspaper!
The man behind the menu for this fabulous tasting was Chef Kien-Fat Lie-Kwie, Executive Chef of the Radisson Aruba. I met chef towards the end of the dinner where we were able to stay and chat with him after hours. Here we also tried another Banfi wine that I will include in another post ;).
And, what could be better with a good meal, good company, and good wine? Having an incredible waiter named Joel! He was attentive, friendly, funny, and couldn’t do more to make the whole experience a success. When you get the chance to go to Aruba, make sure to make reservations at the Sunset Grille so you can taste Chef’s fabulous culinary talent and be sure to ask to sit at one of Joel’s tables, you will not be sorry.
All in all, if you are a fan of Banfi wines then you can imagine how great this tasting was. It was fate that I happened to be in Aruba the same week this tasting occurred, and it was my first time visiting Aruba too! I cannot wait to go back and visit Clive, Chef, and many other fantastic people I met there.