Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Afternoon at Flemings with Exclusive Collections Galleries, Christopher M., and Crocker & Starr Winery

This past Sunday, we spent a leisurely afternoon doing a few of the things we love most - drinking wine, eating incredible food, admiring art, mingling with a fantastic group of people, and taking photographs.

Exclusive Collections Galleries' owners, James and Ruth-Ann Thorn, graciously invited us as guests for An Afternoon at Flemings, featuring artist Christopher M. and Crocker & Starr winery.  Flemings Chef-Partner, Chris Gardner, and his talented culinary team, designed, prepared, and served a four-course bistro-style luncheon, paired with Crocker & Starr's wines.  Marcy Gretz passionately represented the winery's exquisite estate-grown, hand-crafted, Napa Valley wines, while Christopher M., the Painter of Chefs, shared the inspiration behind his life's work painting the greatest chefs and winemakers of our time!

Christopher M., Chef-Partner Chris Gardner, and Marcy Gretz

Throughout the year, Exclusive Collections Galleries host a spectacular line-up of gallery events featuring some of today’s most celebrated artists—from young emerging masters to established international masters. James and Ruth-Ann endeavor to make their clients' art-collecting experience deeply personal by creating a venue to actually meet these fantastic artists, to learn what inspires them, and to share experiences derived from enjoying and collecting fine art.

EC Gallery owner, James Thorn (right)

We started off the afternoon in one of the private dining rooms, to mingle, enjoy the first course and wine pairing, and to admire the paintings on display.

“Enjoying the Vintage” is an intimate portrait depicting the vital
relationship between an Executive Chef and its resident sommelier 

Known as "The Painter of Chefs," Christopher M.'s expressive, celebratory paintings go beyond literal depiction to honor the most prolific chefs of our time.  The romantic, luxurious brushstrokes filled with saturated, yet subtle color, fill the artist's culinary renderings with a powerful energy that's fitting for the vibrant chefs he portrays.

Christopher M. and "It's All in the Sauce"

Admiring "Grand Finale"

The appetizers (assorted Flatbreads - Blue Cheese Onion, Cedar-Roasted Mushroom, and Red Pepper Artichoke, and two Fritatas - Pancetta and Crab) were paired with Bridesmaid, Napa Valley White, 2009.

Artichoke Flatbread

The Salad Course, Baby Beet and Fresh Mozzarella, was paired with Bridesmaid, Napa Valley Red, 2007.  There were two unique and delicious components in this salad - the micro absinthe greens, and date paste (hidden under the mozzarella).

While writing this post, I just learned that absinthe was the drink of choice among artists and writers in the mid to late 19th century. It inspired poets, and appeared in works by Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. It was drank by the scandalous playwright, Oscar Wilde, the eccentric, Toulouse-Lautrec, the poets, Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allen Poe, and the famous 20th century author, Ernest Hemingway, just to mention a few. What a clever touch by Chef Gardner, garnishing the salad with anise-flavored, micro Absinthe greens, in honor our artists!

Baby Beet and Fresh Mozzarella Salad, Balsamic Date Reduction, Micro Absinthe Greens

The Entree Duo, Filet Tenderlion with Black Cherry Demi Glace, and Blackened Ahi Tuna with Cabernet Sauce, was paired with Crocker & Starr, Cabernet Franc St. Helena, Napa Valley, 2008.  This wine is heavenly!  Winemakers Notes -

"Gorgeous notes of black cherries, cranberries, saddle leather and clove offered in a fragrant, full-bodied, juicy style. This Cabernet Franc is exotic and complex with deep blue/purple colors, glorious texture and a long finish. A powerful and refined wine – one of the best."

Entree Duo of Filet Tenderloin with Black Cherry Demi Glace and Blackened Ahi Tuna with Cabernet Sauce

Marcy stopped by each table to talk about the wines

Passionate about translating terroir into wine, Pam Starr is known for her
distinctive Bordeaux-style blends that express a deep sense of place.
For this enthusiastic and inspired winemaker who views her job as translating soil into wine,
great wine must taste of the sun, of the earth it comes from and of the place it grows.

Crocker & Starr Wines:  Bridesmaid Napa Valley White, Napa Valley Red,
and Crocker & Starr Cabernet Franc St. Helena, Napa Valley

Three decadent desserts were offered - Assorted Truffles, Walnut Turtle Pie, and Crème brûlée.  I only had a small bite of John's Walnut Turtle Pie, but can't seem to get it off my mind!  I'm tempted to contact Chef Gardner to see if he is willing to share the recipe, so stay tuned.  It was pure bliss!

Assorted Truffles, Walnut Turtle Pie, and Crème brûlée 

One of my personal favorites, "Day's End"

Everyone enjoyed the afternoon tremendously, and all guests received a goodie bag with a poster of Christopher M.'s "Savor the Moment." 

"Savor the Moment"

Christopher M. is represented by Crown Thorn Publishing.  His work is available locally at  Exclusive Collections Galleries,  in the Historic Gaslamp, Seaport Village, and Fashion Valley Mall.  Flemings Prime Steakhouse has San Diego locations in La Jolla and the Historic Gaslamp. Crocker & Starr winery is located in St. Helena, CA.


Ruth-Ann Thorn said...

I love this blog! Thanks so much for exposing us to this fantastic event!

bunkycooks said...

There is always some awesome food and wine event happening on Sundays in your part of the world. I can see why you had a great time at this event. Love the chef paintings. :)