by Jane Armstrong
Saturday afternoon isn’t a particularly busy time for the average restaurant, but The Fireplace in Brookline has found the perfect antidote for pre-twilight slump: Fireside Chats. Twice a month the venue holds food and alcohol tastings, accompanied by an informative discussion of where the featured offerings originated, and how they were produced.
With great gratitude to Jim Solomon, who was instrumental in helping us organize our attendance, the Boston University Gastronomy Student Association attended their first Fireside Chat on March 31. The event was Syrah and Petite Syrah, and officially included tastings of six delicious wines – four Syrah, and two Petite Syrah. Served in groups of two, the wines formed a series of courses, along side small servings of complementary dishes. It was an event that exhibited the wonderful fare of The Fireplace as well as it showcased their wines.
For the first round of tasting, we were each provided with a glass of both the Qupe Syrah and Kinton Syrah – alright, perhaps I’m being a little generous in describing the serving size as a glass, but certainly not by much. These were paired with Plymouth Cheddar and Great Hill Blue Cheese, served on crisp garlic crackers, with a healthy portion of Fig and Cherry Compote. The fruit greatly enhanced the bold berry and cherry notes of the wines.
The second offering was Boom Boom Syrah and 6th Sense Syrah. These were coupled with a tender and juicy Bavette steak, served beside fingerling potatoes, atop a Jicama Salad. The dish was bathed with The Fireplace’s signature steak sauce, but steak sauce is really an oversimplification of this complex and wonderful liquid.
Dessert featured Renwood Petite Syrah and David Bruce Petite Syrah, paired with a moist chocolate cake with coffee cream, topped with blackberry whipped cream. This was a really elegant example of how to pair a red wine with a sweet dish.
This is where the tasting officially ended, but wine specialist – and host for the evening – Christopher Reed had something else in store for the Gastronomy Students. He gave us each a sample of two international wines, which were an interesting contrast to the previous six North American offerings. We sampled La Baronne, from the Notre-Dame region of France, and Yangarra, originating in McLaren Vale of Southern Australia.
The event was wonderfully interesting, not to mention an hour and a quarter of gastronomic bliss! If this blog post is a little short on descriptive detail, please remember that there were several glasses of wine consumed by all present.
Jane is a gastronomy student from Sydney, Australia with a bachelor’s degree from Monash University. She is graduating this May, and will continue her studies as a student in Boston College’s Master of Arts program in history.