Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sbragia Wines at Aria Fresca

Chefs Xavier Deshayes (The International Trade Center)
and Todd Gray (Equinox) with their fellow grill masters.
Once again the Wine Cooperative has hosted a splendid event.  On Tuesday, May 14th, guests were invited to join Ed Sbragia Wines on the patio of Aria Pizzeria and Bar, known as Aria Fresca, for a pairing of grilled treats, wine, and live music.  Even though it was an overcast afternoon, the guests lined up with ready taste buds and were graciously met by Chefs Xavier Deshayes from the International Trade Center, Todd Gray of Equinox, their supporting chefs, and the wonderful Aria staff.

Aria Fresca's patio seating and stage.
Located at the plaza level of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, just steps away from the Federal Triangle Metro, the restaurant is in perfect position to host theater-goers and happy hour seekers alike.  Live entertainment was provided and the duo who performed on Tuesday, were greeted with resounding appreciation for their harmonies of 80's and 90's pop music choices.  Unfortunately, I did not learn the names of the performers since no signs were displayed and the stage was located at a different section of the restaurant's patio from where the event was held.

~ Sbragia Wines ~
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
There were four wines featured as part of the tasting.  Of the four, the Merlot and Chardonnay were by far the favored wines.  The Merlot had a wonderfully complex and perfectly balanced cherry depth, rich chocolate flavor, and smooth finish.  The Chardonnay, while also fruity, had a bright citrus twist and light oaky element that gave it a nice acidity.  These two favorites blended well with the grilled summer selections offered by the chefs, providing the best overall pairings.

Grilled Chorizo and Skewered Salmon Cakes

A bright red chorizo was served on a bed of pureed chickpeas with a healthy drizzle of avocado sauce.  It was delicious and most guests had more than one serving.  The grilled salmon cakes were seasoned with zatar, the popular Middle Eastern spice.  If you weren't able to grab a skewer fresh off the grill then it could become a little dried out while sitting on the hot plate.

Grilled Skewered Salmon Cakes.
Grilled Oysters

Unfortunately, the grilled oysters also had a similar fate.  Though they had a sea-fresh element to them, they became a bit dried out from sitting on the hot plate if guest pick-up was not perfectly timed with their removal from the grill.

Supporting chefs assisting at the six foot long grill.

The grilled flank steak was perfectly marinated and would have been my favorite had knives been provided.  It should be said that eating grilled foods with only tiny bamboo forks, while eco-friendly, is not often conducive to cocktail events.  I felt the need to apologize to my fellow table-mates as I had to handle my food less delicately than I would have liked.  Call it my Southern up-bringing, but I just didn't feel lady-like taking another helping.

I was impressed to see that lamb was also presented, since it is often left out of grilling and wine pairing events.  An addictive mint pesto was provided to compliment the lamb and a tomato garlic puree accompanied the flank steak.  The sauces were so good that I even noticed some guests swathing the swordfish kabobs with both sauces since the swordfish mixed easily with either.  The swordfish was simply delicious and perfectly cooked.

Tofu Kabobs
Grilled Swordfish Kabobs 

The Wine Cooperative has other events scheduled throughout the year.  The Sbragia Wine event is no exception in their ability to provide guests with a relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy wine as it is meant to be - with food and amongst friends.  Every time I have attended an event hosted by the Wine Cooperative, I always meet new and interesting people and feel that I've learned more about wine.  Their next event is the Robert Mondavi Birthday Dinner on June 14, 2013, celebrating the famed life and vision of the Napa winemaker.   

The Garnish Table
Aria Trattoria on Urbanspoon

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