Thursday, October 10, 2013

Top Chef Season 11 contestant, Jason Cichonski, hosts Alamos wine dinner at Ela

I was recently invited to attend a wine dinner at Jason Cichonski's Ela.

My dirty little secret? I'd never been.

I know, right?!

Cichonski is one of the best chefs in Philadelphia. I've interviewed him more than a few times, and he's never failed to impress. He's got a laundry list of accolades for his culinary prowess. His, ahem, other attributes aren't too bad either... Eater named Cichonski Philly's Hottest Chef in 2012, and Bravo gave the Bucks County native a whole package nod when they cast him as a Top Chef Season 11 contestant. Though he was the most recent chef sent packing, there's no telling if his Top Chef tenure is truly through... We'll just have to wait and see.

It's been a whirlwind year for Cichonski, for sure. But one thing's certain. Ela's doors are open and the food's divine.

The dinner at Ela featured five courses, each paired with an Alamos wine.

The affair was intimate, with about a dozen of us tucked into a candlelit chef's table at the rear of the restaurant. Cichonski was his usual eloquent self, entertaining the group with tales of Polish grandmas, and expletive laden dish descriptions.

We love it. Don't ever change.

Dinner was fabulous. Each course was better than the last. And as the courses kept coming, so did the wines.

The Alamos wines vineyards, are located in Mendoza, Argentina, are grown in what was described as a high altitude desert up in the Andes mountains, and are irrigated by glacial waters.

This geographical recipe for success is bottled and sold for a very approachable price; around $10 a bottle off the shelf. It's also available at Ela, to be paired with any of Cichonski's culinary creations.

Argentinian wines like Malbec are most well known, but Alamos also offers a full profile of wines. Cichonski paired the Alamos Torrontes, a crisp white wine, with spruce smoked amberjack for a first bite. The second course, a roasted beet tartar was paired with the Alamos Malbec. A very, very drinkable Red Blend, married perfectly with the flavors of his house made pasta. The way-too-good Wagyu beef dish went wonderfully with the Seleccion Malbec, and the Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon was perfectly paired with a final bite of soft, raspberry pistachio chocolate.

I was very impressed with the Alamos ambassador, the vibe at Ela and of course the food and drink. Thanks to Liz Conant of FleishmanHillard for the invitation, and to the lovely ladies who kept me company: The fabulous, Tara Nurin, Eileen Smith Dallabrida of EatShopGo, and Robin Shreeves of SouthJerseyLocavore.

The event was wonderful and more importantly, you've got an Alamos drinker for life.

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