Leo Libations: Eat and drink the science!

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 The Leonardo, Salt Lake City’s newest museum, has become a popular destination to nourish minds and palates alike.  Leo Libations is a series of classes taught by James Santangelo of The Wine Academy of Utah and fed by the Leonardo’s chef de cuisine, Zanetta Jones. Classes cover different topics; the one my husband and I chose explored the science behind pairing food and wine.

Six glasses of wine, six small plates and a dazzling panoramic view of Salt Lake City is a fine way to spend Thursday night. Santangelo charmingly explained the sciencey stuff behind pairing wine with food, using the example of drinking a cold, bubbly Coca Cola with a greasy hamburger and salty fries; refreshing bubbles cleanse the palate, cutting through the heavy fat. Pairing wine with food is similar.

We sampled our way through six wines, each paired with a sublime dish from the skillful and passionate Zanetta Jones. Santangelo would explain the characteristics of the wine we were about to encounter, then Jones would take the floor, sharing the inspiration behind each dish.

Turkey PuffMy husband and I knew we were in for a treat when the first dish was served, a turkey puff served with a dry prosecco. The turkey was rubbed in black pepper and butter served with a cracker made from delicate pastry topped with thyme-infused whip cream and tiny spheres of violet delicately balanced on top. This stylish dish was paired with a dry prosecco, both were light on the tongue, with a pop of flavor.

Waldorf SaladA bite of waldorf salad elegantly served in endive and paired with a Pinot Bianco was up next. Jones used a light lemon vinaigrette instead of the usual heavy mayonnaise. The dry flavors of stone fruit in the wine jived with the grapes, Granny Smith apples and candied walnuts.

DSCN0480Watermelon was the star of the next dish, layered with cucumber and a whipped cream/goat cheese and finished with sorrel from the on-site garden. Rose wine, with strong raspberry and watermelon notes, was served with the palate cleansing dish.

Smoked Duck with Sweet Potato PureeSmoked duck atop a puree of sweet potatoes accented with a blueberry and cranberry compote appeared in front of us.  Zinfandel was paired with this decadent plate. The smokiness of the duck  stood up against the strong, rich flavors of the Zinfandel. This was the perfect mini-Thanksgiving feast!

Deconstructed EmpanadaOur next plate was fun. A Deconstructed Empanada paired with Malbec, a spicy dry wine. Rounds of crisp pie dough topped with beef braised in mole with sweet figs taking the place of the usual raisins. Kalamata olives added a unique layer to the rich dish. A delicious combination!

Petit FourOur evening ended on a sweet note. Jones is an accomplished pastry chef, so our expectations were high.  A  lovely dark chocolate and caramel petit four sprinkled with sea salt was served with not-too-sweet sherry. We were far from disappointed.

Leo Libations next class is May 1, 2014 where the wines and cuisine of Spain will be deliciously explored! Visit the website to learn more and sign up. Keep your eyes peeled for their summer classes. Leo Libations is held at 7:00 pm on the first Thursday of the month. Follow The Leonardo on Instagram,  Twitter, and Facebook.

Disclosure: The Utah Review received complementary food as part of this review

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