Here is a story of love and respect for women.
Earlier this year, in The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions, each restaurant of The Charlottesville 29 offered up a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience to whoever pledged the largest donation to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. During the auctions, six friends and I joined forces to place a group bid on one of the experiences – ZoCaLo’s. Billing it as an “exclusive tasting menu,” ZoCaLo chef-owners Andrew Silver and Ivan Rekosh promised an array of special dishes, paired with wines and cocktails. “We have one goal,” they said. “To create the most memorable dining experience ever for the winner of this auction. No punches will be pulled, no expenses spared, no ingredient too luxurious.”
After some back-and-forth bidding, my friends and I were thrilled to win the dinner. Our plan, though, was not to enjoy the meal ourselves, but rather to give it to our wives as a ladies’ night out.
Last night, the ladies enjoyed their meal. And, boy did it live up to the hype. Eight courses, each expertly paired by Rekosh and Silver, who throughout the evening emerged from the kitchen to visit with the ladies and describe the dishes.
First came Wanno Oysters Three Ways, each with a different granita: jalepeno lime, cholula, and pickled onion. Pairing: Signet Rose Cava 2015.
Next was Georges Bank Scallop Ceviche, with red onion, jalapeno, tomato, cilantro, and avocado, served on plantain chips. Pairing: An Ancho Ocho Margarita my wife said was so delicious that it needs to go on the menu, pronto.
Third was Parsnip Soup with butter poached lobster and chives. Pairing: Nora Albarino 2014.
Then, Russett Potato Gnocchi in beurre fondue with maitake mushroom, topped with crispy serrano ham. Pairing: Catena Alta Chardonnay 2013.
Then, Pan Roasted Crispy Duck Breast, with butternut puree, cumin spaetzle, Brussels sprouts, and apricot chamoy. Pairing: Max Reserva Pinot Noir 2016.
Next, Yucatan Lamb Rack with golden beets, romanesco, sunchokes,and mint chimichurri. Pairing: Early Mountain Vineyards Novum 2013.
Next, 72 Hour Short Rib with horseradish gremolata, mustard greens, vella grits, and demi. Paring: Alma Negra Bonarda/Malbec 2013.
Finally, Coconut Tres Leche Bread Pudding, with pasilla-vanilla ice cream and salted caramel.
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Rekosh, Silver, and ZoCalo, every penny of our $1,050 winning bid went directly to the food bank. That’s enough to provide more than 4,000 meals to the area’s hungry – all from one meal.
And, here’s thing: the ladies’ dinner was paid for by men, prepared by men, and served by men. And, it was cleaned up by men, too. All for women. This is not to say they could not have done it all themselves. These are seven smart, strong, independent, hard-working women. They don’t need men to do any of this for them.
But, we love them.