Lobster & Avocado Salad

Last time I blogged, I told of my amazing experience at the Fearrington House in Pittsboro, duking it out with Wine Director Maximilian Kast at the first Battle of the Sommelier dinners.

I now blog to you live from Tarboro the day after our rematch where my husband Stephen prepared a magnificent meal, and I dared to pick the best wines to highlight his food.

Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you who attended.  It was a wonderful night, and you all made me so proud with the warm welcome you extended to Max, full of  amazing grace and hospitality.  Max had a wonderful time, and we hope to make this a yearly occurrence.  You all are the bombs for coming!

Pan Seared Sheepshead with Crispy Collard Cake and Creole Stew

Also great thanks to John Clay, one of the talented kitchen cohorts who took these wonderful photographs in hopes of making Inez Says a little more visual and intriguing.

I will definitely admit in the days leading up to the event, I was quite nervous.

Mostly in part to being a girl and the other about my husband executing a menu without my help.

Duck Confit Crepe with Fresh Sage and Blue Cheese

Obviously, I give myself way too much credit, because many of you confessed the meal was one of your all-time favorites.

My nerves were subsided the moment Max arrived at On the Square with a wonderful smile and plenty of zen-like calmness.

We each drank our beer of choice from Mother Earth Brewery in Kinston, and then we took off the gloves in anticipation of choosing the best wine to pair with each of Stephen’s dishes.

Sliced Leg of Lamb with Carrot Sformato & Sweet Pea Beurre Blanc

The complete menu is as follows, and the wines in blue are Max’s whereas the wines in pink are mine.  If they are in bold, they indicate the winner.

So, here goes the drill:


Pimento Cheese Beignets, Fried Oysters, Corn Bread Foie Gras

Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut NV

1st Course

Lobster & Avocado Salad with Caviar Vinaigrette

Nora Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain 2010

Hopler Pinot Blanc, Burgenland, Austria 2010

2nd Course

Pan Seared North Carolina Sheepshead with Creole Stew and Crispy Collard Cake

l’Agape Riesling “Expression,” Alsace, France 2009

Evening Land Vineyards Chardonnay “Etoile,” Burgundy, France 2009

3rd Course

Duck Crepe with Cranberry & Blue Cheese

Tenuta Rapitala Nero d’Avola “Alto,” Sicily, Italy 2009

Thierry Puzelat “Le Tel Quel,” Loire Valley, France NV

4th Course

American Leg of Lamb with Carrot Sformato & Sweet Pea Beurre Blanc

Edmunds St. John “Rocks & Gravel,” Dry Creek Valley, California 2010

Storybook Vineyards Zinfandel, Mayacamas Range, California 2008


Frances’ Amazing Pistachio Snack Pack–Pistachio Pudding, Poundcake & Brittle

Ventosa Estates “Carlos,” Scotland Neck, North Carolina NV

Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux “Le Mont,” Loire Valley, France 2008

Pistachio Snack Pack--Puddin', Brittle & Pound Cake

As you can probably see, I did not win.  No hard feelings, no regrets, no un-drunk wine.

The night was more fun than I can remember and I loved every moment of it.

My day was made complete when my dear friend Tiffany emailed this afternoon to tell me what a special evening she enjoyed.

When you get the reaffirmation that people love to enjoy wine because of the lively conversation and the magic of drinking it with food, it’s all worth it.

And that is because, just like life, winning doesn’t matter, it’s all about the fun you have taking the trip.


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  • Jillana

    Great job Inez! Yay for Storybook wines and Hopler Pinot Blanc is one of my favorites! I look forward to next years event! Thank you for choosing and trusting our wines.