The 3rd Annual Lamb Jam took place at Bell Harbor Conference Center, Sunday October 23, 2011. Lamb Jam increases in size every year and so does the amazing array of lamb and wine choices.
In years past, each chef was paired with a wine maker to create a dish that would be a delicious pairing, highlighting the wine and food. That was my favorite aspect of past events and I admit that I was disappointed that the chef-winery pairing was dropped in view of expansion. This year Lam Jam featured 32 Washington wineries, Pike Brewing Company, Jefferson Bourbon and Starbucks coffee to pair with lamb dishes from 19 chefs. Chefs were assigned a cut of lamb either leg, loin, shank or shoulder to use in their dish.
The reason I preferred the pairing format of previous years is that it helped ensure wine friendly pairings. You could always mix and match your pairings if you are a “color outside of the lines” kind of person. The diverse selection of Washington wines available were high quality. I think the food was exceptionally tasty this year but occasionally overwhelmed the wines. For example the Lamb with spicy-sweet BBQ sauce from the Georgian was delicious and well prepared but challenging to pair with the wines in near vicinity. I loved dishes in which the chefs incorporated beer and wine into their dishes. EFESTE and Chef Bobby Moore collaborated together and the pairing of EFESTE Final Final and the Final Final Cabernet Blend braised lamb shank was an early favorite and one of my favorite pairings of the day.
Favorite Lamb and Wine Pairings
You don’t think of Viognier when pairing with lamb but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the 2010 Force Majeure Viognier went with the Lamb Carpaccio from Lola. This Viognier is their first estate white wine and it is a thing of beauty. It is definitely an old world style Viognier with exceptional body, understated fruit, intriguing mineralty and lovely citrus notes on the finish. Those mineral notes and food friendly acidity were a nice contrast to the earthiness of the truffled white beans in the carpaccio.
I also really enjoyed the 2006 Force Majeure Petra Cabernet Blend. It has these great earthy notes that enhance the dark fruit notes that worked great with the pickled huckleberries and celeriac in the Cantinetta roast lamb dish.
Hestia Cellars 08 Syrah was a great complement to Chef Wayne Johnson’s Rioja braised lamb shank. Both were rich and flavorful on their own but tasted even better when paired.
The Robert Ramsay Cellars 2007 Boushey Vineyard Syrah was fantastic on its own but I loved it paired with the Sumac masala rubbed lamb shoulder with cauliflower, mushrooms and apple from Suncadia. The lamb dish was complex with meaty, earthy and fruit flavors that were mirrored in the Syrah. One of the surprise treats of the day was the vertical Syrah lineup that Robert Ramsey Cellars shared with their 2005, 2006 and 2007 McKinley Springs Syrah.
Lamb Jam Winners
Judges Grand Winner – Lamb Shoulder Winner
Sumac masala rubbed Lamb shoulder with cauliflower purée, royal pine mushroom and honey crisp apple – Andrew Wilson, Portals at Suncadia Lodge
People’s Choice Winner – Lamb Loin Winner
Smoked Lamb Carpaccio with truffled white bean skordalia – Liam Spence, Lola
Lamb Leg Winner
Lamb paillard with gnocchi torchon and spiced Nantes carrots – Jason Stoneburner, Bastille Cafe and Bar
Lamb Shank Winner
Final Final braised lamb shank crepinette with truffled Yukon Gold potato purée, confit chanterelle and pickled ciopollini – Bobby Moore, Barking Frog