It was a very meaty night at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice. Butchers Lindy & Grundy (Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura) were showing what they do with beef, raw and cooked, working with Tasting Kitchen chef Casey Lane to turn out a seven-course dinner that lasted almost four hours.
The food was delicious, but its real purpose was to show off Robert Mondavi's Private Selection wines, made from Central Coast grapes. The media types who had been invited gathered upstairs at tables so elaborately decorated that they almost stole the show from the wine and food.
It looked like a florist's shop had contributed everything in stock to line the center of each table, some of the greenery stuffed into huge squash bowls.
One wall (at top) was covered like a blackboard with a chalk map of the Central Coast and the theme of the evening, "A Taste & Toast to the Central Coast." It must have been a lot of work to create that. Too bad it was for one night only.
The menu offered a couple of reprieves from meat, but the focus was on beef--filet, chuck ribs and raw, sourced from Rancho San Julian in Lompoc.
The prettiest came first--carpaccio (above) cut so thin that you could sweep the slices up in a single forkful. In the center, a dark swath of Nicoise olive tapenade contrasted with the rosy color of the meat. On top were the thinnest imaginable breadsticks.
The tastiest was the simplest, just two small slices of seared filet, one balanced on the other.
The wines, all from either 2010 or 2011, were four whites, starting with a Sauvignon Blanc and ending with a slightly sweet Riesling to go with dessert.
The reds were a Merlot, a Cabernet and a Meritage, which the people around me seemed to like as much as I did. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, it was poured with one of the meatless courses, melted robiola cheese over romanesco broccoli.