Adventurous ingredients and unique flavor combinations have driven Chef Engin Onural since opening The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge almost three years ago in Palm Desert.
Staying on that path, Onural hosted a second paired wine and sushi dinner on Dec. 9 featuring wines from Francis Coppola.
A toast to wines from Francis Coppola paired with surprising sushi selections.
After a sparkling start to the dinner with a glass of Coppola Sophia sparkling wine and a palate opener of cucumber salad or miso soup, the fish dishes swam before us in succession.
Tuna Carpacio served with citrus-infused Ponzu sauce and pomegranate vinaigrette was a clean, refreshing complement to the fruity, stainless-steel barreled, White Doe blend from Sonoma.
The Mediterranean roll had my sushi radar confounded with the mix of tuna, tempura asparagus, tomatoes and feta. I could appreciate the inventiveness of this Greek-inspired roll, but the sushi-purist in me questioned the clash of cultures. The jammy nose and dark berry fruitiness of the Coppola Pinot Noir was a palate-pleasing way to offset the briny, sharpness of the feta and acid from the tomatoes.
Fish and feta fought with my inner-sushi-purist in the Mediterranean roll, but high marks for creative fusion.
The Coppola Claret is the most well-known of this winemaker’s varietals, and the Cabernet blend made in a classic Bordeaux style was a smooth, soft companion to the seared Kobe beef topping a roll of tempura shrimp and avocado. A baby kale salad tossed in cucumber dressing topped this substantial culinary concoction.
Kobe and Claret are high on my “fishlist” for inspired pairings.
Dessert featured Green Tea cheesecake or Wild Forest berry sorbet paired with Sofia Rose to culminate the night’s creative culinary adventure with Chef Engin.
The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge, 73-111 El Paseo, No. 103, Palm Desert, 760-346-1500; www.thevenuepalmdesert.com