Spring is Served

Seasonal menus and wine pairings

Chilled pean and mint soup

Whether you're hosting a casual garden luncheon or a formal sit down dinner, spring brings a fabulous range of garden–fresh, succulent flavors to incorporate into your menu. We asked three caterers to create a three–course menu spotlighting springtime ingredients; each course is paired with a wine chosen by Anu Karwa of Swirl Events. —Abigail Reid

Two Chefs are Better Than One, Boston

First course: Grilled long stem artichoke hearts and fennel served with shaved parmesan and lemon vinaigrette
"Spring is artichoke season in California, so they're readily available in grocery stores across the country," says Chef and co–owner Steve Beauvais. "In this dish, the artichokes are complemented by the fennel, which has a sweet, aromatic anise flavor after it's been grilled."

Pair with: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Fattoria il Palagio, 2007 "A lemony white wine like this will bring out the bright citrus flavor of the vinaigrette," says Anu.

Second Course: Smoked duck ravioli accompanied by sautéed pea tendrils, served with raspberry and white balsamic aioli
"Pea tendrils are the young, tender climbing vines found on the pea plant," says Steve. "They can be used raw in salads, steamed, or sautéed, as in this dish. They have a very crisp, garden–fresh taste that's perfect for a spring menu," says Steve.

Pair with: Nicolas Joly "Les Clos Sacres" Savennières, 2007 "This dry chenin blanc is gentle enough for the pea tendrils, since they have a unique taste that should not be overshadowed by a heavy wine," says Anu. "Yet it also has an underlying earthiness that will be able to hold its own against the strong flavor of the smoked duck."

Third course: Lavender– and honey butter–stuffed Statler chicken breast, served with lemon– and spring onion–infused basmati rice and sautéed patty pan squash, on a bed of wilted baby spinach
"Patty pan squash starts becoming available in the early spring months," says Steve. "Its delicate flavor combines nicely with the honey and lavender in the chicken, as well as the fragrant basmati rice."

Wine Pairing: Viognier, Zaca Mesa Winery, 2008 "The aromas in this dish are very aromatic," says Anu. "You'll need an equally fragrant wine, like a full–bodied, perfume–y viognier. The Zaca Mesa Winery in Santa Barbara makes an excellent one."

Cobblestone Catering, New York City

First course: Butter lettuce served with heirloom radishes, fava beans, and ramps
"I think radishes are very under–appreciated in the catering world," says Executive Chef and Owner Jeremy Wachalter. "I love their spicy, earthy flavor, and the varieties of shapes and colors they come in. Butter lettuce has a mild to sweet flavor and a firm crisp texture that pairs great with the peppery taste of radishes, the sweetness of fava beans, and the earthiness of ramps."

Wine Pairing: 2007 Francis Coppola Sofia Blanc De Blanc Sparkling Wine "I love the idea of kicking off a meal with sparkling wine," says Anu. "It adds a touch of elegance and works well with practically any dish."

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