If you want beautiful fresh produce, lots of organic options, and grocery options beyond what you’ll find in Public or Winn Dixie, then Whole Foods Market fits the bill. Did you know they also offer periodic beer and wine dinners with wonderful creative dishes prepared by their in house executive chef? In today’s review we’re going to share our experience at Whole Foods Market’s July Jackson Family Wine Dinner.
The first course was a cold water lobster salad with heart of palm, dressed simply with butter and citrus paired with Matanzas Creek Savignon Blanc. This dish started things off light and fresh. The chef chose vegetables that nicely highlighted the flavor of the lobster without distracting from it. Our only complaint about this one was the pepper in the dish was a bit overwhelming. The pairing was crisp and light, a nice match for the dish.
Course number two was duck rillettes on crispy bread with quick pickle summer salad paired with la crema Russian River Pinot Noir Rose. This wine was dry with a beautiful floral note and a color that really jumps out at you. If you’ve never had rillettes before it’s a spread similar to pate. The duck rillettes were full of flavor without being overwhelming. The chef recommended layering the rillettes onto a crostini with a bit of pickled vegetables and a generous smear of grain mustard. Each bite assembled this way was the perfect balance of fattiness and acidity. This was a killer second course.
The third course was a wild mushroom tartlet topped with seasonal greens and crumbled goat cheese with balsamic reduction paired with Hartford Court Russian River Pinot Noir. This Pinot Noir had a smooth and woody or smoky flavor. It seems to us might pair nicely with a steak. The mushrooms really came through adding an earthy flavor in each bite of the tartlet. We’d have enjoyed a bit more balsamic and a bit more goat cheese in this dish but overall it was pretty enjoyable.
The fourth course was skewers of savory herbed chicken with fire roasted root vegetables and toasted barley paired with Freemark Abbey Merlot. This was a nice simple dish with hints of rosemary and thyme coming through with each bite. Like the last wine, this one was a bit woody. It provided a nice contrast to the beets.
The 5th and final paired course was a steak au poivre on a purée of cauliflower with mushrooms paired with La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a very dense, very dry, full bodied wine. The steak was huge for being part of a 5 course meal. It had to be 5 or 6 ounces. This is something Jacksonville folks who always desire large portion sizes will be very pleased by. The steak was covered with a thick layer of peppercorn. If you love pepper, you’ll be a fan of this one. If pepper’s not your thing you’ll be completely overwhelmed like most of the folks I was sitting with were. It was so intense I couldn’t finish it.
For dessert we were served assorted fruit and chocolate tarts. The pacing of the meal was pure perfection. The meal was scheduled to start at 6:30 and like virtually every multicourse meal the first plate hit the table 15 minutes later, at about 6:45. From first plate to last was about an hour and a half. Each course was introduced by the chef and a representative of Jackson Family Wines shared a bit about the history of each wine we sampled.
Overall we really enjoyed the meal. The $45 Whole Foods charged for this meal was a GREAT value. Each dish seemed to be thoughtfully created and the pairings were well matched to the vision of the chef. Whole Foods periodically offers beer and wine dinners like the one we’ve described in this review. If you’d like to attend be sure to follow them on Instagram @wholefoodsjacksonville or on Facebook.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.