There is something beautiful about the pairing of good food and fine wine. When both the food and wine are iconic, however, the alchemy becomes sublime. Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Robert Mondavi Wineries – two of the most iconic of culinary institutions – recently joined forces for an event and the results were superb.
What’s the connection between Ruth’s Chris and Mondavi wineries? Besides the fact that Ruth Fertel and Robert Mondavi were long-time acquaintances, their philosophies are what binds the two companies together. Both of these visionaries built a modest business into a global empire, not from a sense of power and ego but from a deep passion for excellence and a commitment to quality.
June 18, 2013 would have been the 100th birthday of Robert Mondavi. To celebrate that anniversary, the winery connected with Ruth’s Chris to concoct a food/wine pairing menu. They then offered that special event at over 90 Ruth’s Chris locations all across the world. A small group of friends and I were invited to the Chicago location of Ruth’s Chris to enjoy this one-of-a-kind culinary evening.
According to Helen Mackey, Senior Director of Menu Strategy for Ruth’s Chris Steak House, “On June 13th, Robert Mondavi – Father of California wine, meets the first Lady of Steak, Ruth Fertel, the founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak House. We will pay tribute to these two American icons by telling their stories through an incredible evening of food and wine. This will be our largest dinner and also our first national dinner to go international with participating locations from San Salvador and Taiwan to Dubai.”
“I’m delighted to honor Bob’s birthday by bringing friends and family together through this series of dinners that celebrate food and wine,” said Margrit Mondavi, Vice President of Cultural Affairs for Robert Mondavi Winery. “Bob recognized many years ago that the To Kalon Vineyard has the soil, the climate and the terroir to make wines that stand in the company of the world’s finest. It is with great pleasure that I am able to share his passion for this special place in the Napa Valley with so many people around the world.”
The featured menu included:
- First Course: Chilled Watermelon, Goat Cheese and Toasted Almond Salad – Mixed spring greens, balsamic vinaigrette paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc, Napa Valley, California
- Second Course: Wild Mushroom Ragout Scallion pesto, savory bread pudding paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley, California
- Third Course: Grilled Spring Lamb Chop Lemon-herb Gremolata, creamy herb polenta paired with Robert Mondavi Winery “Oakville” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa Valley, California
- Fourth Course: Sizzling Filet Mignon Red wine-thyme-shallot butter, mustard roasted fingerling potatoes and Family Style Accompaniments: Sautéed Fresh Green Beans w/ Roasted Garlic paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Oakville, Napa Valley, California
- Fifth Course: Steamed Lemon Pudding Cake Crème anglaise, fresh seasonal berries paired with Robert Mondavi Winery Moscato d’Oro, Napa Valley, California
Although it’s difficult to pick one single moment that stands out, I would venture to say that my favorite pairing of the evening was the “Oakville” Cabernet Sauvignon paired with the superb grilled lamb chop. Cabernet and lamb are a perfect combination.
During the evening we were treated to a short video in celebration of Robert Mondavi’s birthday. One quote attributed to Mr. Mondavi truly stood out to me, and encapsulates the entire wonderful experience:
All things in moderation, with a few glorious exceptions.
The superb food from Ruth’s Chris Steak House and the wonderful wines from Robert Mondavi Winery are some of those “glorious exceptions.”
All photos by Donna Binbek of Donna Binbek Photography