Lon's offers a very unique dining experience on Tuesday nights. It is called Tuesday Trust Table. You trust the chef to create a 5 course tasting menu and trust the sommelier to handle the wine pairings. Those smart enough to take advantage of this special event get to dine in the beautiful wine cellar. This outing, Fred managed to get an opportunity to speak to executive chef Jeremy Pacheco and the lovely hostess whose name is escaping me right now (I sincerely apologize) ahead of our visit. Chef Pacheco uses local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Many of the vegetables they use are picked fresh from their own garden. He asked if the chef would be able to accommodate all vegan courses. He also explained our history with Lon's. Chef Pacheco was more than happy to create an all vegan menu for us. As a fellow foodie, you can only imagine my giddy excitement! This was the best anniversary present I could wish for!
When we were taken to the cellar, it was beautiful. There were no other reservations for the Trust Table, so Fred and I had the cellar to ourselves. Tres Romantique! It was breathtaking. There were candles placed throughout the cellar. The table had a beautiful center piece created by our lovely hostess with an anniversary card. Fantastic touches I must say.
Now that I have set the stage lets get on to the menu!
Rick our sommelier started our adventure off with a lively Paco & Lola Albarino from Spain. A great start as I am a huge Spanish wine fan. This was paired with an appetizer of lightly tempura battered okra, trumpet mushrooms, baby leeks, squash blossoms with baby squash served with a light romesco sauce. Most of the vegetables came the chefs own on site garden. The tempura was perfectly crisp and light so as not to overpower the fresh vegetables.
For our second course Rick chose a 2008 Yalumba Chardonnay from South Australia. Another perfect pairing. The second course was a Baby Root Salad with baby gem lettuce, beets from Duncan Farms in Goodyear, AZ, shaved fennel, radishes and carrots all from chef's garden. The salad was drizzled with Meyer lemon oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill and a 25 year old balsamic vinegar. The baby root vegetables were gorgeous, sweet and flavorful and allowed to be the star.
For the third course a 2008 Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz-Voigneir was chosen (I'm pretty sure I have the vintage correct). I was a bit concerned that it might be too big for the third course offering, but you have to trust Rick. He knows what he's doing. The third course was by far my favorite of the evening. Chef created a cucumber risotto served over what I am going to just call liquid gold in my mind. But really it was the most incredible yellow tomato gazpacho I have had the pleasure to indulge my happy taste buds in. The dish was garnished with lush red cherry tomatoes and basil both picked fresh from the garden earlier in the day. This dish is a beautiful showcase of the best of summer. It was light tasting and bursting with wonderful summery goodness.
The fourth course was paired with a 2008 Meiomi Pinot Noir from Sonoma County. It was a lovely complement to the BBQ Schnepf Farms Peaches over Quinoa Pilaf garnished with fresh fennel fronds, mint and sage. The chef made mention of the fact that he used the quinoa as a protein source, which I thought was great as many chefs are at a loss on how to get "those vegans" their protien.
This was the only course that fell just a little flat for me. Part of the reason has nothing to do with the preparation, I'm just not a huge peach fan. That said, I still remain objective even if there is an ingredient I'm not crazy about. The peaches themselves were actually very nice. They were cooked to perfection with just a little bit of a bite. What threw me off was a bitterness I could not define and a little bit too much salt in the pilaf. The saltiness took away from the delicate flavor of the peaches. It was still done nicely, but just a little unbalanced.
Ah dessert. The lovely sweet ending to a night we wished could have gone on forever. I was honestly starting to feel the headiness of a lovely evening and perhaps the wine a bit. This was the selection Rich chose for dessert from Spain.
This was paired with a apricot & peach cobbler. Again these are not my favorite fruits, but the desert was perfectly executed. It was simple, fresh, warm, and wonderful. It was a wonderful complement of tart and sweet. Fred, who is a fan of these fruits, loved it. As a special treat, our desserts were served with a candle to commemorate our anniversary.
I must mention our server Rachel. She was friendly, knowledgeable, and wonderful. I was a server for many years, so I tend to be a little particular when it comes to service. She made sure that we wanted for nothing. She was there to make sure we had all we needed, but also gave us plenty of privacy to enjoy our evening. She had the perfect balance of being personable and professional.
I wish I could aptly put into a post the ambiance of the entire Hermosa Inn and Lon's experience, but you will have to experience it for yourself. The service and attention to detail is evident with each person you meet there. The property is well maintained, quiet, and beautiful. Lon's at the Hermosa should be on your dining "to do" list, especially if you want to be pampered and have a truly unique dining experience.
Our Hosts for the Evening from left to right: Rick (sommelier), Rachel (server), Chef Jeremy Pacheco, me, and Fred.
A view of part of the garden on the Hermosa Inn property.
Lon's at the Hermosa
5532 N. Palo Christi Road
Paradise Valley, AZ