Brad Smith, General Manager of Morton’s, and Jesus Cordoba from Charles Krug Winery
It’s rare when you are invited to celebrate the milestones of two iconic brands in one year. In this case, I had the chance to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Charles Krug Winery, where I participated in a retrospective tasting with Peter Mondavi and later visited the winery. More about that cool experience here. My second opportunity was a celebration of of two significant milestones, Morton’s The Steakhouse and The Mondavi Family Wineries (which includes Charles Krug and a number of other wineries that spun-off from the original Mondavi legacy).
On October 27, diners from around the US gathered at Morton’s The Steakhouse restaurants to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the steakhouse for a six-course meal paired with wines from four Mondavi generations. In Dallas, Brad Smith talked to us about how Morton’s number one goal was to pair great food with great wine. We learned about how a surprise visit from Frank Sinatra really put Morton’s the map and it was fun to watch a storytelling video that talked about the history of the restaurant and then switched to the wines with each course and why they were chosen featuring the Mondavi family members who were responsible for each label.
“Morton’s is one of the most distinguished steakhouses in the country,” says Tim Whitlock, COO Morton’s The Steakhouse. “We are thrilled to partner with a powerhouse, the Mondavi family, to celebrate 40 fantastic years.” Morton’s The Steakhouse opened its first location in Chicago in 1978 and now boasts 80 locations worldwide.
The meal was amazing. While guests attended around the country at several Morton’s locations, the big event was held at the Charles Krug Winery, Napa Valley’s oldest winery and home to California’s first tasting room. Cesare Mondavi purchased the winery in 1943, paving the way for the Mondavi family’s legendary presence in Napa Valley.
The auction featured an 18-liter bottle of Cabernet Based Wine blended by third and fourth generations of the Mondavi family, including Tim Mondavi, Peter Mondavi Jr., Marc Mondavi, Rob Mondavi, Jr. and Angelina Mondavi. The family named this wine Ancora Insieme, which means “Still Together.”
Now let’s talk about this crazy dinner….
We started with passed appetizers of Smoked Salmon Rillettes on Cucumber with Dill; Steak Tartare with Egg and White Anchovy; American Caviar on Blini with Crème Fraiche paired with a 2017 Charles Krug, Sauvignon Blanc, by Marc Mondavi and Peter Mondavi
We then moved to a Butter Poached Lobster, Heirloom Tomatoes, Burrata with Basil Oil paired with the 2016 Emblem, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, by Michael Mondavi.
We proceeded to an amuse bouche served with a 1979 Charles Krug, V.S., Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa by Peter Mondavi Sr. (In Memoriam to his father).
Our trifecta beef course (it is Morton’s) was a Filet Mignon with Duxellex and Foie Gras on a Puff Pastry; a NY Strip on Blue Cheese Mash with Cognac Peppercorn; and a Ribeye Cap with a Red Wine Demi, Asparagus and Arugula. This dish was paired with a 2014 “M”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 2014 by Michael Mondavi; the 2015 Continuum, Sage Mountain Red Blend, Napa, by Tim Mondavi and the 2015 Charles Krug, V.S., Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, by Marc and Peter Mondavi.
We moved to a cheese course of Assorted Farmstead Cheeses, Roasted Grapes, Honeycomb, Spiced Walnuts, Flatbread paired with a 2016 RAEN, Royal Saint Robert, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2016 by Dante Mondavi and Carlo Mondavi; a 2015 Aloft, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, by Angelina Alycia Riana and Giovanna Mondavi and a 2014 Fourth Leaf, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, by Rob Mondavi, Jr and Angelina Mondavi.
We ended with the Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Warm Caramel and Assorted Chocolate Truffles and the complete understanding of why Morton’s has been an institution for 40 years and will continue its march as the king of steakhouses for the foreseeable future.