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Bacon for Dessert

After being away six months, we have jumped right-back into the luxe life of rural Oregon by attending a wine + lamb "From the Farm" tasting dinner, featuring lamb grown at SuDan Farm in Canby, Oregon. The meal was prepared by Jason Stoller Smith, head chef at the Dundee Bistro. The Dundee Bistro, celebrating their 10th Anniversary, is owned by Ponzi Vineyards - just down the road from our home.

DT and I are lucky to live right in the middle of Oregon Pinot Noir Land. Though I know you are all tired of hearing this... Oregon produces some of the best wines, fruits, vegetables - and meats - you will find anywhere in the world. From my porch, I couldhit a five iron into one of the first organic vineyards in America.

(You will never be able to stop me from bragging about My Home State and I will not apologize for the pride I have in Oregon. Come visit and you will understand.)

We arrived to the Dundee Bistro and were greeted with a chilled glass of Ponzi rosé - perfect on this very warm evening (don't believe everything you hear about Oregon weather either). We chatted with the lamb ranchers, Sue and Dan Wilson. The Wilson's were very excited about the meal because, as Dan Wilson said: "Jason ordered parts of the lamb most people never order - necks and belly." We were seated at a long table - seating about twenty guests.

First course: Pepper Cured Lamb Neck with Leek Puree & Black Truffle Aioli - paired with 2008 Ponzi Pinot Gris:

Pepper Cured Lamb Neck with Leek Puree & Black Truffle Aioli

Very different... in a reminiscent-of-corned-beef sort of way. You may know I am just crazy about Ponzi's Pinot Gris. I was very happy with this starter.

SuDan Farm produces pastured-grazed lamb for many of Oregon's top restaurants and they also sell at the Portland Farmers Market (Saturday) and the Milwaukee (Oregon) Farmers Market (Sunday). SuDan Farm also produces pasture-raised chickens, heritage turkeys, goats - and of course, wool. For several years, Jason Stoller Smith has used their lamb exclusively at the Dundee Bistro. During the first course, Sue and Dan Wilson talked about their ranch, their sustainable ranching practices and why their lamb is so superior. They also gave us all a little gift bag which included a lamb thermometer. Not a meat thermometer - by the way, people - a lamb thermometer. "The only way to ruin lamb," said Dan Wilson "is to over-cook it." Amen.

Sue Wilson (in blue) speaks at the Dundee Bistro. Her husband, Dan, is to her right.

Second Course: Lamb Shoulder Polpettini with Parmesan Brodo, Asparagus & Blue Lake Beans, paired with 2006 Ponzi Chardonnay Reserve:

Lamb Shoulder Polpettini with Parmesan Brodo, Asparagus & Blue Lake Beans

I will translate this one for you: lamb meatballs. Wonderful, tender, savory, juicy lamb meatballs... with asparagus, beans and parmesan cheese on top. I wouldn't normally walk across the street for a chardonnay... but in this case, it was sitting right in front of me in a lovely crystal glass.

Main Course: hold on to your pinot noir - this course was off the charts. It looked so good, in fact, I dove right in without first taking a photograph! (DT was shocked.) Lamb Shank Confit with English Peas, Nicoise Olive & Caper Vinaigrette, paired with (DT's favorite) Ponzi 2007 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley. What could be more satisfying than a lamb shank? (Well, maybe a veal shank... but not tonight.) The lamb fell from the bone and every morsel was a perfect complement to the pinot noir. Most excellent.

Okay, so I nibbled a bit before I snapped the photo...

Which brings us to dessert... or tonight - the "Cheese Course". The chef stuffed a little endive leaf with Cypress Grove Fromage Blanc (alors - not an Oregon cheese???) and tossed in red grapes marinated in a citrusy sauce. Then... drum roll please... he placed two small slices of lamb bacon as garnish.

Lamb bacon

Yes. You heard me right. Lamb bacon. Jason Stoller Smith made it hisownself from SuDan Farm lamb belly, a little sugar and salt, then smoked it in-house for six hours.

I could have rolled in it.

The cheese course was served with a 2006 Ponzi Vino Gelato, and I am sure it was lovely, but I was over.

So, Dear Reader, can you tell I was most pleased with the meal served tonight at the Lamb + Wine tasting dinner? Wow. What a great night. Until my next update, I remain, your bleating correspondent.