Messina Hof Let’s Talk Seafood Party


Like Opening the Pantry and Frig and Starting a Recipe from Scratch

Finally, a few days of lower temperatures lightened the evening drive from Houston to Messina Hof Winery and Resort for what was billed as their “Let’s Talk Seafood Cooking Party”. I had initially sensed some apprehension at the parties organizers at Messina Hof when I booked the outing. When we arrived and new Messina Hof Executive Chef Dorian Clark started his presentation, it was obvious why.

Chef Dorian opened by saying, “I’ve only recently taken this position at Messina Hof. As a matter of fact, I’ve only been at work here for two days, now.”

Think about this situation for a moment: just starting a new job as executive chef at a major Texas winery restaurant and in two days having to prepare dinner for thirty-plus people, many of whom are diehard Messina Hof fans and VIPs. I imagined that it was like me coming home and opening the pantry and frig and starting to cook something from scratch for dinner, but magnified times thirty.

The concept for this event and the two that will follow in October and November is based on a cooking party with the chef and this inaugural session with Chef Dorian could not have better fulfilled it’s mission. The chef took us through his creation of the recipes for each course starting with his arrival at Messina Hof (two days prior) and his having to figure out what ingredients he had available for starters. He initially focused with the fresh herbs from the Messina Hof estate and showed how he crafted each course with what was available and making modifications to take into account what he had at hand or readily available. The chef emphasized that experimentation and flexibility was key to good cooking and always being aware of what is available and fresh; and, in this case, what was in the pantry and on hand when he started at Messina Hof.

I originally anticipated a typical two hour session with cooking demos and discussion. However, what we received in this case was a four-course, gourmet meal and each course paired with a Messina Hof wine and Chef Dorian walking us thru the recipe development (or modification and evolution) and the key steps in preparing each course.

1st Course – Interplay of Seafood Vinaigrette and Crisp Pink Wine

The first course was a shrimp and lump crabmeat salad stuffed into a tomato crown with chilled asparagus spears, and finished with a tawny port raspberry herb vinaigrette and balsamic reduction sauce. Chef Dorian provided a standard method and ratios of ingredients to compose a vinaigrette dressing. In this case, he included Messina Hof Tawny Port and their Gewürztraminer raspberry chipotle sauce, olive oil (the good stuff) and local herbs. The wine pairing was Messina Hof Sophia Marie Rosé, made from early-harvested (19 Brix) estate grown, black grapes called Lenoir (also known as Black Spanish).

Read the rest of the menu by clicking here.