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Event Thu Aug 14 2014

Wine Dinner at Geja's Cafe

rsz_gejacafe.jpgChicago can seem like a craft beer kind of town, but with diligent searching, you can find some excellent wine purveyors throughout the city. Occasionally I'll attend multiple-course wine dinners, where I'll smell and sip the wine and pretend that I can actually discern the subtle hints of oak or raspberry. In any case, I've learned that appreciation for wine takes time and experience, and I cannot reasonably decline attempts to improve my proficiency.

Last week, I attended the Bodega Piedra Negra winemaker dinner at Geja's Café, a popular fondue restaurant near Lincoln Park. Guests tasted four wines procured from the Andes mountains, beginning with a Rosado, then a Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon, ending with a Malbec. Each was paired with an individual course, beginning with a light salad and bread and ending with a flaming chocolate fondue.

Like most fondue restaurants, the selling point is how romantic the venue and experience can be, although I personally find nothing sexy about dipping a raw chunk of chicken into a pot of blistering oil. Still, with the right company, cooking and flavoring your own food can be an enormously fun experience, especially when fueled by endless wine and fire. Did I overcook this aged beef tenderloin? Did I just eat your potato skewer? Wait, your ex-husband did what? Unexpectedly, I most enjoyed the flaming chocolate fondue, topped with orange liqueur and served with fruits, Rice Krispies treats, pound cake, and marshmallows. The rich, mildly-sweet chocolate--which became creamier as it heated up--paired extremely well with the fragrant Malbec and was perhaps the only pairing that made sense to me.

I also have to remark on the superb service: the staff was attentive without being distracting, the hosts didn't drone on and on about wine origins, and the pacing was so effortless, I barely noticed the transitions. Geja's next event with be a Dosio Vigneti winemaker dinner on Monday, Sept. 8, and at $55 a person, it's a worthwhile bargain.


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