There’s nothing I love more than getting to try fresh recipes and exceeding my taste buds’ expectations. The art of culinary creation is truly fascinating! I experienced one of these moments at an exclusive spring media dinner I was recently invited to at Leaning Ladder Premium Olive Oil in Woodstock, GA. Our hosts were Chef Juan Montier of Chez Montier and Melissa with The Front Porch Gourmet — and I truly couldn’t have asked for better hosts!
To start things off, we were welcomed to sip on some tasty “Saketine” drinks, garnished with lychee, honey ginger, and balsamic vinegar. Now I know what you’re thinking… Vinegar in a drink?! Trust me — this cocktail went down so smoothly, you’d have no idea there was vinegar involved. We also had the chance to sample a dish called Amuse Bouche, which was curry shrimp and blond raisins.
Next up to taste were the appetizers: crab finger tossed in a wasabi remoulade and drizzled with a Tuscan herb oil. It was served on a bed of shredded daikon. I felt very spoiled with this yummy dish, because the chef was not shy with my portion! Thanks, Chef Juan! 😉
While we enjoyed our tasty drinks and appetizers, Melissa guided us through an olive oil and vinegar tasting. Let me just say, I never appreciated olive oil and vinegar as much as I do now! First Melissa gave us a little presentation, then walked us through the store to sample all the wonderful types of vinegar’s and oils. I had so much fun tempting my tastebuds with tasty new flavors like blueberry, peach, and key lime. Yummmm!
After the taste session, Chef Juan plated our salads with arugula, asparagus, and whole bamboo shoots with sesame oil and ginger dressing — a delicious take on an Asian summer salad. Next on the menu was the main course: yucca and potato-encrusted Chilean sea bass with wild mushroom wontons that laced the plate in a miso broth that would make any food-lover fawn! What’s not to love? I especially enjoyed the seared sea scallops — they were truly delicious! Also adorning the plate were colorful carrots with sautéed field greens, and crawfish, all drizzled with garlic olive oil. This dish was so amazing that I had to focus on taking slow bites in order to savor every single flavor! 😛
To round out the meal with dessert, we were served honey sweet ginger and lemon granita with Sicilian lemon balsamic vinegar. OMGeeee!!!! It was the perfect blend of flavors to complement an amazing dinner experience full of pleasant surprises! The night overall was so much fun, complete with plenty of laughter and uh-mazing eats. Chef Juan even made it a family affair, with his son Austin and wife Judith assisting him with the meal. And, I couldn’t think of a more filling way to end the day than with a gift bag filled with a few flavorful tidbits like sweet treats, Sprouts Farmers Market sauces to whip up your own meals, and vinegar & olive oils to kick things up a notch.
I couldn’t have asked for more delicious food or a more entertaining night. I learned sooo much and walked away (although reluctantly) with a more fonder appreciation for vinegar. Who’d have thought?! A very special thank you goes out to the lovely sponsors and hosts who made this all possible: Chef Juan Montier of Chez Montier, Leaning Ladder Premium Olive Oil & Vinegar, The Front Porch Gourmet, TKGourmet, Sprouts Farmer Market, Astor Chocolate, Gimmee Jimmy’s Cookies, and Southern Vines Distribution.
Do flavor a favor and visit www.chezmontier.com to see Chef Juan Montier infuse food and design into everyday lifestyle.
Also, you can learn more about Leaning Ladder online at www.leaningladderoliveoil.com. Leaning Ladder is located in historic downtown Woodstock at 105 East Main Street, Suite 126 Woodstock, GA 30188.