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Richard C. Ross




A visit to Sonoma Cutrer in Sonoma County



Executive Chef Josef Yurisich
For those of you who were unable to attend the Sonoma-Cutrer Winemaker�s Dinner
at Harvest Restaurant at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, you missed out on one heck of a marvelous evening.  Having never been to one of these before, I didn�t know quite what to expect, but to say that the entire affair was an exquisite and delightful experience would be an understatement.

We arrived at Harvest at 6:00 pm for a reception where we were introduced to the Food and Beverage Director of Pheasant Run, Joe Orichiella, and several representatives from the prestigious Sonoma-Cutrer Winery, including Nancy Minasola, who would be discussing the wines, food pairings and special attributes of the winery.  The reception was held in the lounge area of Harvest and casual conversation there was interrupted only by occasional wait staff offering some marvelous mouth-watering, hand-crafted hors d�oeuvres and a refill on our first wine taste for the evening: a 2003 Russian River Chardonnay.

Promptly at 7:00, we were escorted to a meticulously set table in the dining room.  After being seated, we were introduced to Executive Chef Josef Yurisich, who briefly outlined the evening�s meal selections.  The First Course: An incredibly eye-appealing Pesto Shrimp nestled on a Seared Wild Mushroom Polenta Cake drizzled with a Roasted Red Pepper Coulis.  It was aptly paired with a Sonoma-Cutrer 2002 Les Pierres Chardonnay.  The Second Course: A perfectly assembled Warm, Nut-Encrusted Goat Cheese Salad with Grilled Fugi Apples, Pancetta Bacon and Warm Orange Dijon Dressing elegantly paired with a 2002 �The Cutrer� Appellation Russian River Chardonnay.

By now, I was practically overwhelmed with some of the most incredible flavors that I had ever been treated to� but there was much more to come!  The Third Course: A visually magnificent , flavorful and perfectly done Cumin-Crusted Rotisserie Lamb Rack set on Roasted Fennel and White Beans, finished with a Gremolata and Port Reduction.  This masterpiece was accompanied by the evening�s only red wine � a 2002 Pinot Noir.  And, for the exclamation point on a savory symphony of flavors, the Fourth Course: Candied Bosc Pear set on a disc of Pumpkin and Mascarpone Cheesecake, drizzled with a Cranberry Coulis and Lavender Honey, finely paired with a Bonterra Muscat.

If the above descriptions make your mouth water, imagine what it was like to actually be there and be dining on them!  I can only say that the meal was a sumptuous feast fit for a king.  Chef Josef Yurisich is a Master Chef indeed; his talents are without bounds and his plate presentations were picture perfect.  He did make several appearances before each course to explain the dish prior to serving; he also came out after dinner to a round of loud and appreciative applause and spoke with all members of the dining party, fielding questions when asked.

If you missed this affair, I would urge you to do two things.  First, make a reservation to dine at Harvest and enjoy some of the Chef�s delectable dinner creations.  I can guarantee that you will thoroughly enjoy the experience.  Second, call Joe Oriciella at Pheasant Run and ask him to set up another Winemaker Dinner.  It is a treat you will remember for a very long time. 






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