David Dodd 10:32 a.m., May 25
Extraordinaire at Oceanaire. Last night a friend and I attended the "Celebration of Alaska" featuring Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. It was a wine pairing done right by one of the very best restaurants in San Diego.
Upon arrival, we sat at the bar to have a short visit with one of our favorite bartenders. We have been following Ron around for several years.
We were then seated in a lovely, comfortable booth, greeted by our server, Ishmael and off we go!! The usual assortment of pickles, herring, olives was delivered along with a nice 'chunk' of bread. The first pouring was Domaine Ste Michelle Brut. I am a champagne lover and this is a good one. The sashimi was shrimp & I found it to be delicious. There was a bed of thinly sliced celery/cucumber (?) with caviar in a ponzu sauce. Very tasty. Next up was a King crab appendage on a bed of seaweed (Ogo), with a little honey. This was paired with Eroica Riesling. A great choice. I am not fond of Rieslings but this one I would gladly try again. It was not the usually sweet wine, rather it was crisp, clean, & refreshing. The crab was rich & we both ate every bite. Next up was another white wine, Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc and another surprisingly nice white. It was citrusy, not sweet and really right with the Black Cod. The presentation on this partucular dish was outstanding. It looked as great as it tasted, delicious.
Next up was Halibut on a bed of pickled Octopus. I usually like octopus, this one just wasn't right for me. My friend found it to be quite good. Of course, I ate every bite of the Halibut. This was paired with Canoe Ridge Chardonnay. Given my dislike of Chardonnay, again, I was pleasantly surprised. The choice was good for the pairing. Though I doubt I would go out of my way to try this again. Once was probably enough!
Then we went to a red, Northstar Merlot. I loved this wine, fruity without a hint of sweet! This brought us to the Venison, on top of salmon jerky, on a bed of Forbidden rice. I was anxious to taste the rice and dove in, only to come up with tears in my eyes and a burning in my throat. This was very, very spicy. I cannot indulge in that level of spiciness. Ishmael was "Johnny on the spot" and was off to get me a glass of milk. It took awhile for my throat to recover! I managed to get a taste of the salmon, which was smoky and good. The venison was rescued from the plate and I ate every bite of it. As a child, venison was a regular on the table. This was cooked perfectly , it was quite tender and another palatable dish.
On to dessert. Ishmael was busy and another server delivered our Green Tea ice cream, on candied ginger. I had another glass of champagne as my friend and I pondered on how to indulge without utensils!! This faux pas was remedied quickly. The ice cream was a great end to a well done wine tasting. But, being of the female gender, we wanted chocolate! Ishmael brought us a small boat of chocolate sauce which we both poured over the ice cream. I am sure that is not to everyone's liking, but it was for us, the end of a fantastic evening.
This is not the type of tasting that has you rushing from one course to the next and, best of all, Oceanaire does not engage in that awful practice of Measured Pour. The bottles are brought to the table and the wine poured by a very capable and charming server. We called him Ishmael.
The general manager, Philip, along with several other managers wander among the guests, occasionally lending a hand where needed. We had a nice conversation with Philip and I acknowledged Jeff for his assistance with me on the phone on Wednesday.
If you have never been to Oceanaire, you should try it. They have a "short" Happy Hour (5-6) where oysters are only $1. The bar is cozy, friendly, and with some entertaining employees, makes you feel at home (or not if you are on an escape mission!).
Try the crabcake. It just may be the best ever.
So, off we went into the night, fully sated, and ready to head on to our respective homes, thanking Oceanaire for a great evening.