Orange wine, duck, apples – Seasons 52 Fall Menu

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Seasons 52 in Costa Mesa debuts its fall menu, filled with seasonal fresh flavors. Inspired by farmer’s markets, the menu changes four times a year, and this one features fall all-stars such as quail, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and apples.

Introduced via live web cast, Master Sommelier George Miliotes and Chef Clifford Pleau explained the dishes and wine pairings at a recent dinner to introduce the menu. Miliotes travels the world in search of “Drink Them Before They’re Famous” wines that are reasonably priced to become one of the restaurant’s international selection of 100 wines including 52 by the glass.

For the cocktail reception Vista Hills Orange Pinot Gris, Willamette ’11 (Oregon) was served with portobello mushroom flatbread and two kind of hummus minted edamame and red roasted chili hummus with a crispy sea salt flatbread, $7.50 (see photo). The wine’s rusty brick color, justifying the orange moniker, comes from an ancient technique of leaving the juice on the grape skins during fermentation. Miliotes described the results as light and fruity with tannins, and perfect as a palate cleanser.

Cider-glazed chicken skewers (see photo) are delectable, tender bites served over a crispy, refreshing Fuji apple slaw made with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds ($9.95).

A salad of Maple Leaf Farms sesame duck ($15.25), followed presented in a transparent plastic cylindrical tube. The server lifts the cylinder allowing the mixed greens, diced apples, butternut squash and toasted pecans to tumble onto the plate for a ta-dah. Avanthia Godello, Valdeorras, 10/’11 (Spain), made from the nearly extinct Godello grape varietal accompanied this course.

No dish at Seasons 52 is ever more than 475 calories which may be why Piedmontese beef is the choice for the strip steak. Roasted asparagus, a cremini mushroom glaze, and fingerling potatoes round out the dish costing $28.95. Executive Chef Partner Hung Tram explained the Piedmontese breed, originally from the region of Piedmont in northwest Italy, is naturally more muscled and less marbled, meaning leaner meat. The flavor is no less beefy or tender than any premium steak. Miliotes paired the dish with an Argentine wine, Tilia Bonard, Mendoza’11/’12. “Everyone here knows Malbec is from Argentina, but in the country itself, Tilia Bonard is the second most popular varietal,” says Miliotes.

The Manchester Farms All-Natural grilled quail with mushroom risotto and spinach is just insanely good. Two different red wines, one old world, one new world in style, were served. Glenelly Cabernet Sauvignon ’09, Stellenbosch, (South Africa) represents old world as the vineyard is owned by Madame de Lencquesaing of France. “She makes it in the elegant French style balanced with South African terroir,” comments Miliotes.

Michael David Petite, Petit, Petite Sirah, Lodi 09/’10 (California) represents new world. Its label with two dancing circus elephants (see photo) represents the blend of petite sirah and petit verdot blended to a full-bodied, dense red wine.

The season’s mini-indulgence, pumpkin pie with ginger snap crust ($2.75), (see recipe) consists of layers of pumpkin mouse and crushed ginger snaps. Light, yet satisfying, it’s the perfect end to a meal.