A Rare Rioja Dinner Catered By Garces…At A Liquor Store In New Jersey?


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Imagine you’re blindfolded and taken to a $200 wine dinner, where a Spanish wine importer is pouring you six different Riojas dating back to 1928. Jose Garces Restaurant Group is catering a paired menu of small plates, which Garces ambassador Beth Koenig describes as you eat it. To end your meal, the two female owners of Menagerie Coffee, rated by this magazine as the best coffee shop in Philly last year, pour over Intelligentsia single-origin coffee selected for the occasion.

Then someone removes your blindfold to reveal your location. You blink to adjust to the fluorescent lights and you discover your high-class experience has taken place … at a liquor store in New Jersey. Surprised? Probably. Disappointed? Hopefully not.

Joe Canal’s West Deptford’s dinner this Saturday night is on the cutting edge of a trend that has seemingly no-frills retail establishments adding value to their offerings by hosting elegant events that showcase their range of products. Case in point: On Tuesday I attended a five-course candlelit beer dinner at the ShopRite in Fairless Hills. There was stemware, hors d’s, an amuse bouche and eight inspired beers. It was lovely.

And if you decide to take a chance and buy tickets for this one, here’s what you’ll be eating and drinking.

First Course: 1982 Olarra ‘Anares’ Reserva

Wild Mushroom Coca – maitake, royal trumpets, taleggio, black truffles

Second Course: 1981 Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva

Foie Gras Macaron, quince, black pepper

Third Course: 1970 Faustino I Gran Reserva

Cordero Brochettes – lamb loin, eggplant, bacon, sherry jus

Fourth Course: 1970 Franco-Espanolas ‘Royal Tete de Cuvee’ Gran Reserva

Paella Valenciana – confit of rabbit leg, grilled rabbit loin

Fifth Course: 1964 Faustino I Gran Reserva

Red Wine Braised Short Rib – sunchoke creamed spinach, buttermilk red onions

Sixth Course: 1928 Paternina

Panceta Montadito – berkshire pork belly, honey lacquer, shaved apples

Night Cap – Intelligista Santaurio Estate Coffee

Country: Colombia

Cultivars: Red Bourbon, Red Typica, Yellow Typica

Joe Canal’s West Deptford Rioja Dinner [tickets]