Urban Chickens to Chardonnay

Last Thursday in an intimate room, surrounded by a dozen strangers, I witnessed the marriage of some of the country’s greatest wines and one of Minneapolis’ finest restaurants. (So fine, in fact, that Food & Wine just named them one of the Top 5 Restaurants of the Year—cue applause.)

Despite Spoon & Stable being booked months in advance, Washington State Wine Commission managed to land a reservation for the downtown eatery. We were a hodgepodge group of writers, restaurant owners and more, coming together to enjoy four courses and nine wine pairings—yes, you read that right: nine delicious glasses of wine.

Michaela Baltasar, communications director of Washington State Wine, walked us through each course. She explained little intricacies of each pour, from the region the grapes grew to anecdotes about the vineyard owners themselves—an impressive feat considering Washington is home to over 1,000 wineries and grape growers. Long story short, I can’t begin to wrap my mind around that state’s repertoire of vino.

From the bold Sparkman Cellars Lumiere Chardonnay to the Kiona Vineyards Estate Lemberger, I was in heaven. It’s hard to say which I enjoyed more—the food or the wine—because they truly did pair so well. Coming from a person whose wine knowledge consisted of “red wines go with meat and whites with seafood,” I have little authority on the matter. But one thing I know with confidence is that I love cabernets. When the third course rolled around, we opened the crown jewel of the evening: a 2005 L’Ecole No. 41 Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington’s Columbia Valley. I was so excited it took me a solid 10 minutes to take the first sip. It felt like a religious experience for a girl straight out of college; I hadn’t planned on tasting a wine that glorious until my student loans were paid off, and who knows how aged that wine would be at that point.

As for the food, everything that came out of Spoon & Stable’s fast-paced open kitchen was a masterpiece. The clean lines and simplicity of the restaurant’s décor reflected in the plating of the dishes—my favorite being the second course, Scallops a la Plancha complete with oxtail ravioli. Scallops can be difficult to cook and even harder to get fresh, considering we’re smack dab in the middle of the country. But naturally, they came out flawless. Dessert was Honey and Cream Cake, and I have nothing to say besides I’d be happy capping every dinner with that treat.

By the end of the night, we’d covered everything from how one guest’s urban chickens survive the Minnesota winters to our undying love for the chefs of Spoon & Stable. Chef and Owner Gavin Kaysen and Pastry Chef Diane Yang deserve every accolade they’ve ever received—with more to come, undoubtedly. As for the Washington wines, run to the nearest liquor store and take your pick; you won’t be disappointed.

The Menu

First Course

• Madai Snapper Crudo
Tomato confit, pickled cucumber, olives, Greek yogurt
Paired with
Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley 2013
DaMa Wines Cabernet Franc Rosé, Walla Walla Valley 2014

Second Course

• Scallops a la Plancha
Oxtail ravioli, baby leeks, maitake mushrooms, red wine sauce
Paired with
Sparkman Cellars Lumiere Chardonnay, Columbia Valley 2013
Memaloose Mistral Ranch Syrah-Grenache Blend, Columbia Gorge 2011
Kiona Vineyards Estate Lemberger, Red Mountain 2012

Third Course

• Roasted Duck Breast
Wheat berry, rhubarb, ramps, tasso ham
Paired with
L’Ecole No. 41 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley 2005*
Andrew Will Sorella, Champoux Vineyard, House Heaven Hills 2010
Dusted Valley Petite Sirah, Stone Tree Vineyard, Wahluke Slope 2012


• Honey and Cream Cake
Strawberries, sweetened condensed milk ice cream
Paired with
Finnriver Cidery Spirited Apple Wine*

*Unavailable in the Twin Cities market