I recently returned from a visit to my hometown, Seattle, Washington. I am often there on business and always like to try the hottest new restaurants. When I received an invitation to a wine dinner at the Icon Grill (which I had never heard of before), I was amazed to find out that they were celebrating their 9th anniversary, under the same bold leadership of Executive Chef, Nick Musser. My first thought was, “How good could this place be if I have never heard of it?” But then I read on to find out that Chef Musser had just released the 2nd edition of his popular cookbook, “Aroused Americana” a compilation of Musser’s signature recipes, elevating comfort food to a whole new level.
OK… My Bad for overlooking this potential gold mine. Who wouldn’t be tempted by “Aroused Americana“, featuring dishes like Molasses Glazed Meatloaf served with sweet corn mashed potatoes and black-strap gravy, or the Ultimate Mac n’ Cheese which uses no less than four different cheeses?
When I found out that the dinner’s featured winery was MacMurray Ranch, I immediately made reservations. Talk about Icons — what could be more perfect than quaffing wines from the ranch of the iconic father of TV’s hit comedy, “My Three Sons!”
The restaurant’s unique ambiance provides the perfect pre-arousal backdrop. An eclectic blend of PINK can be found in the wild mixture of contemporary art, mirrors, posters, accented by over 600 free-form blown glass pieces by local artist Martin Blank, shimmering under nine-feet multi-tiered chandeliers. Wow… kind of like Willy Wonka doing a makeover of Hugh Hefner’s digs… but in a good way!
We all settled down to the business at hand when course after course arrived beautifully paired with MacMurray’s top vintages. It was interesting to hear Chef Nick enthusiastically explain the how’s and why’s behind his creative pairing choices.
Dinner opened with Braised Pork Bellies with Apricot Ginger Compote, served with a delicious MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris Sonoma, 2005. It was followed by a zingy Peppercress, Pancetta and Bing Cherry Salad complemented by the ranch’s Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2005. Carnivores were happy with a double meat offering: Colorado Lamb Sirloin with coconut curry chick pea cakes topped with a peppery sambal, and a tender Veal Osso Bucco with mushroom risotto. After nibbling bites of the fragrant peachy Almond Cream Cake, while sipping the Bridlewood Estate Winery Late Harvest Viognier Central Coast 2005, our arousal was complete.
We thoroughly enjoyed hearing the tales told by our tablemate, Kate MacMurray, actor Fred MacMurray’s spirited redheaded daughter. It all began many years ago, when actor Fred MacMurray purchased a cattle ranch near Sonoma’s Russian River, as the family’s getaway from the bright lights of Hollywood. After her father died, the MacMurrays received many offers for their property but chose to sell the ranch to E & J Gallo. Kate still lives on the property in a cabin her father built, and is part of the winemaking team, proudly working to promote the Gallo-produced MacMurray Ranch wines.
“Our family wanted to keep the property in agriculture, so the idea of preserving the ranch as open space was an immediate conversation between us and the Gallos. We knew this family takes a long-term view of the care and management of their land. They wanted the trees, the streams, and the vineyards to be a part of the land for many generations to come. They are a thoughtful and careful family who appreciate the beauty of this landscape and are devoted to the history of this ranch.”
For upcoming wine dinners, visit: www.icongrill.net
The Icon Grill
A: 1933 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA