“What you eat standing up doesn’t count.”
Sierra Nevada House summer menu
Three of us had the opportunity last week to try several items from the Sierra Nevada House summer menu, along with a couple of specials they were serving that day.
As far as I am concerned, since owner Howard Penn hired Diana Greer as his Executive Chef a couple of years ago, the food has gotten better and better.
Leaving the menu of small portions up to Greer and the selection of small pours of wine to Greer, bar manager Samie Campbell and our delightful server, Andrea Dodson, we started.
Our first course was seared Ahi, served with lime cilantro rice, sprouts, pickled ginger and wasabi. They chose a Perry Creek viognier that had a hint of honey in the nose and taste that went very well with it. The Ahi was perfect and melted in your mouth. The rice, sprouts, pickled ginger and wasabi added wonderful and different tastes and textures.
Our next course was a grilled prawn cocktail, served “up”in a classic martini glass with chipotle aioli. With it they served us a David Girard Roussane, a delightfully “clean and fresh” wine that was perfect for this dish and the next. There were six prawns, which we divided and found to be perfectly tender with a delicious slight crust, hinting of balsamic vinegar. The fight was over the wonderful aioli, which was over lettuce in the glass. I have always loved the flavor of chipotle (smoked jalapeno pepper) and Greer blended it perfectly for the prawns.
That was followed by their white truffle “mac and cheese,” made using Cheddar and Gruyere and white truffle oil and topped with onion strings. This dish gets better as you reach the cheese in the bottom, so stir it or serve everyone else first if you are sharing it. It too went well with the roussane.
Our next dish was a combination of a chili rubbed pork chop with papaya honey butter and another new dish, chimichurri pork chop, a flame grilled chop topped with chimichurri sauce. With these we were served a Lava Cap Sangiovese, made from grapes grown in the Matagrano Vineyard in nearby Lotus. I don’t know which of the pork dishes I liked better (maybe the first one), but the wine, which was full of flavors, really complemented both of them.
The next to last entree was the best. It was their new baby back pork ribs with their own chipotle barbecue sauce. With it was served David Girard’s Rive d’Or, a Bordeaux style blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec.
One of my guests, after tasting the ribs and the wine, said the following over the next couple of minutes: wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, yummy and incredible. Five wows alone would have been enough to describe what were the most delicious ribs I have ever had, but the yummy and the incredible really added to the description. And the wine, five wows for it too. They were made for each other; a perfect food and wine combination. Thanks to the ladies for selecting it.
Our final entree sample was of a dish added to the menu by Greer to replace their very popular ratatouille, which is only served during the winter. It was Italian sausage and fennel pappardelle: spicy Italian sausage in an orange fennel sauce served over a bed of imported pappardelle egg noodles. To have with it we had saved a bit of the wonderful Rive d’Or.
We all agreed that it was excellent, but would have been better if served before the ribs. We also agreed that it would have been better if we had not spent so much time talking with Greer and her new Sous Chef, Eric Edstrom, while it cooled on our plates and the excellent noodles dried. I love the flavor of orange, fennel and spicy sausage, and this was an excellent combination of the them.
For dessert we shared blackberry pie ala mode, made with local blackberries. It was only warmed slightly so that the ice cream would not melt and the berry seeds, which can become very hot, would not burn your tongue.
At that point, Teal Triolo, who owns Sierra Rizing Bakery and Café in Lotus, and is a good friend of Penn, mentioned that she had baked boysenberry – rhubarb pie that day and wondered if we wanted a sample. I had forgotten how wonderful rhubarb is in pies. It was delicious.
The Sierra Nevada House restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday at 5 p.m., serving wonderful appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, small plates, pastas, steaks, chicken, seafood and more. They also have the outdoor River Café and a full bar. Call (530) 626-8096 or visit their web page at www.sierranevadahouse.com for more information.