Chef Matthew Harris has been on quite a roll. He and his wife Maggie Alvarez – who are co-partners as owners of Park City’s Tupelo restaurant, as well as in life – were invited to New York City in September to be part of a five-person team of chefs from Park City restaurants to present their craft at an exclusive James Beard House dinner.
While he was in town, Matt also made an appearance on NBC’s Today show and killed it with his irresistible recipe for shaved Brussels sprout and apple slaw with pecans and twice-baked sweet potatoes with candied bacon.
No sooner had they returned to The Beehive, than the couple turned around and headed south to Mexico City as guests of Food & Travel magazine, which featured Tupelo in its special Park City edition. While in Mexico, Matt and Maggie did a press dinner for the magazine and toured a plethora of incredible restaurants and markets with some of that country’s best chefs and restaurateurs as their guides. Judging from Maggie’s Facebook food photos, the Mexico City trip didn’t suck. It’s been life in the fast lane lately for the dynamic couple.
Following their return to Park City from Mexico, the pair and their top-notch Tupelo staff hosted a wine dinner featuring the fine wines of Ridge Vineyards. My wife and I were lucky to attend. And, although the dinner courses that Matt Harris created for the Ridge event were unique, they provide a pretty good window into the talented chef’s creativity and what you can expect when dining at Tupelo on any given evening.
One of the yummiest Chardonnays I’ve tasted in a long while was the 2016 Ridge Estate Chardonnay that paired so beautifully with Harris’ Black Bass Crudo with compressed apple, spruce tea, lemon, ginger crumbs and dashi. The dish had a lightness that really allowed the subtle, raw black bass to sing. The Ridge Estate Chardonnay is subtly oaked, with gorgeous pear aromas and tropical fruit flavors. It was a stunning kick-off to a splendid evening.
Next up were tender, juicy strips of Suckling Pig served with an intricate melange of caramelized shallots, braised endive, grilled Concord grapes and toasted pecans, paired with 2016 Ridge East Bench Zinfandel. Plum flavors in the Zinfandel nicely enhanced the suckling pig and its accompanying grilled grapes. Another excellent food and wine pairing.
For the third dinner course, Matt selected 2016 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel to accompany his Roasted Duck Breast with Tupelo Farms chokecherry gastrique, roasted autumn veggies, and acorn squash puree. Yes, it was exactly as delicious as it sounds.
When faced with such outstanding culinary craftwork, it’s hard to play favorites. However, I think the Ridge wine dinner dish I most loved was Braised Rabbit Risotto with wild mushrooms and spiced Bordelaise sauce. Rabbit is a hard sell for restaurateurs and chefs in this state, so kudos to Harris for featuring it on his menus – a while back he offered rabbit pot pie at Tupelo. And, it certainly didn’t hurt that the rabbit risotto – a real treat in itself – was paired with two superb Ridge reds. It was fascinating to taste 2015 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – what I’d call “Baby Monte Bello” – next to Ridge’s stunning Monte Bello 2015; a real treat, to say the least. These fine wines were well-balanced, complex and harmonious enough to partner beautifully with the somewhat delicate rabbit risotto.
By the time a plate of homemade chocolate truffles and “autumnal” macarons were placed in front of us, we thought we’d died and gone to food heaven. But nope, we were still at Tupelo restaurant which, come to think of it, is pretty close to heaven.
Culinary quote of the week:
Wine makes a symphony of a good meal.
— Fernande Garvin, The Art of French Cooking
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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