Anniversary Dinner 20 July 2014

Chef Bill Schroeder of Giulianova's receiving well-deserved accolades from guests during dessert.

Chef Bill Schroeder of Giulianova’s receiving well-deserved accolades from guests during dessert.

Disgorged – The Blog: 21 July 2014


Yesterday was the Italian Dinner for Cygnus Wine Cellars’ 18th birthday. Masterfully done by Chef Bill Schroeder of Giulianova’s in Westminster, everyone left empty plates at the end of each course and gave Bill an enthusiastic round of applause, followed by more questions about his approach, during the dessert course.

I really enjoy the fact that people sign up for these events without knowing the menu; they are only given the name of the Chef and the type of cuisine in all of the promotional material. They trust me to put on a great event, and with the help of dedicated Chefs like Bill Schroeder, I am able to do that. During part of the discussion at the end of the meal, Bill pointed out quite clearly that the key was getting really fresh locally sourced meats, fruits and vegetables as much as possible, and his cheeses are all imported from Italy, the bastion of hand-crafted traditional cheese. It sounded exactly like how I would describe winemaking; getting the best quality local grapes, using proper technique, and not getting in the way of the fruit expressing itself in the wine.

All in all, everyone walked away very happy from this event. Guests got to experience my wines in the perfect context; with great food, lively conversation, and an intimate friendly environment. Chef Bill was able to interact with the guests in a way not usually possible, and receive face to face appreciation for his skills. And I was happy ’cause everyone else was happy. And the wine went over pretty well, too.

The afternoon started off shortly after 3pm with a selection of appetizers accompanied by two sparkling wines; Royele Blanc de Blanc Brut 2011, and Royele Rose de Noir Brut 2010. This took place outside under a tent in the back of the winery property, allowing guests to talk with Bill about his preparation of the appetizers, while he was prepping the first course. Everyone then proceeded into the Cellar (a large room in the basement of the winery) for the rest of the 5-course feast.

First course was saffron risotto stuffed zucchini, roasted in a charcoal grill and dressed with a balsamic reduction. This was accompanied by the 2012 Cygnus Chancellor, a light slightly chilled red wine with great red fruit flavors and a little nutmeg-like spice. A perfect match with the grilled zucchini and a big hit with the guests.

We then moved on to the main course, paired with two vintages of Julian, 1995 and 1997. Grilled Mediterranean style flank steak marinated in olive oil and rosemary, plated with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and grilled rosemary-speared gulf shrimp, made up the entree. There was nothing left on the plates to dispose of when we cleared the table! Well, except for the shrimp tails.

I supply the cheese course for the dinners, and this course consisted of three great cheeses of the world; Keen’s cheddar from England, Appenzeller from Switzerland, and Parmesan-Reggiano from Italy. The wine selected for this course was the 2007 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc from our own vineyard. The dinner finished with chocolate dipped Canoli with raspberry glaze, washed down with 2010 Port of Manchester.

This feast clocked in at just under 3 hours of leisure and fun. Can’t wait until we do it again next Sunday 27 July, when we welcome back Chef Antonio Baines of Tapas Teatro in Baltimore for a Spanish dinner.

Till next time.

Ray @ Cygnus