This Menu Encapsulates Our “Decade in Dining”

To recognize our milestone in fine dining, Chef Alexander has created a very special prix-fixe program, “A Decade in Dining:  Past, Present & Future.”  In four courses and 10 dishes, he reprises some Carpe Vino classics, celebrates what’s hot now and peers into options that could be.

This event runs from April 26 through May 1, and continues our predictable platform of four courses with choices for $59.95 ++ per person.  Make your reservations now by calling 530-823-0320 or go online to

First Course (choice of one):

New Potato and Spring Onion Pierogi (Past) Braised Rabbit, Fava Beans, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Sour Cream:  This dish is inspired by the deep, deep past. . .direct from Chef Alexander’s early cooking roots at home in Binghamton, NY.  Chef’s heritage is Lithuanian. . .his great grandfather was a member of the Czar’s army. . .and he remembers eating pierogis during Christmas from a Lithuanian Orthodox church.  His favorite pierogi was stuffed with potato, onion and cheese, and that’s what he has created for this menu.  He stuffs pillows of pierogi dough with mashed potatoes, spring onion and fresh famer’s cheese then poaches in water before browning in butter on one side.  Separately, he slow cooks whole rabbits with bacon, celery, carrots and veal stock.  He removes the rabbit and pulls the meat before tossing with the cooking liquid to create a “ragu,” which is plated as a first layer, followed by the pierogi, fava beans and greens and a dollop of sour cream.  The dish is garnished with pickled mustard seeds.

Roasted Dixon Lamb Meatballs (Present) Nantes Carrot Hummus, Sheep Yogurt, Pistachio Dukkah, Carrot-Top Chermoula:  Lamb meatballs are a huge Carpe Vino favorite and have been featured frequently on Chef Alexander’s menu.  For this dish, Chef is tapping into his classic flavors of the Middle East, with a smack of spice.  He combines ground lamb, onions, mint, garlic, parsley and spices and forms into meatballs and roasts.  These are served over a hummus blended from simmered spring carrots, chick peas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic.  Finished with a drizzle of sheep’s milk yogurt on top.  Garnished with “pistachio dukkah” (ground nuts, sesame seeds, cumin and coriander) and a dizzle of carrot-top chermoula (akin to a salsa verde made from carrot tops, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, chili flakes, cumin and coriander).

Foie Gras “Bing Cherry” (Future) CV Garden Greens, Grilled Levain:  This dish represents a reinvention of a popular, classic and now legal dish at Carpe Vino–foie ras.  Chef creates a mousse and forms into a sphere-shaped mold.  This is frozen and then dipped in a mixture of cherry purée and gelatin.  This cherry shape deserves a stem to complete the faux goodness.  The “bing cherry” thaws and is served with greens from the Carpe Vino garden and grilled levain.

Second Course (choice of one):

Chilled English Pea Soup (Past) Goat Cheese Bavarois, Radish, Mint, Walnut Oil:  This was the very first soup on the Carpe Vino menu in April, 2006.  Simple but vibrant and colorful, cooked English peas are pureed with scallions, mint and vegetable stock.  This elegant soup is finished with Goat Cheese Bavarois made from goat cheese blended with whipped cream and gelatin.  Garnished with shaved radishes, mint and walnut oil.

Shaved Snow Pea “Salade Lyonnaise” (Present) Frisee, Applewood Bacon, Cured Egg Yolk, Violet Mustard:  There is some complicated prep involved with this salad.  Eggs from the Chef’s farm are separated, then yolks are cured in salt and sugar, rinsed, dried and then shaved almost like Parmesan cheese.  Then he sources violet mustard, made from mustard seeds aged in grape must (a byproduct of winemaking) and then aged in red wine.  Chef starts with a smear of the violet mustard on the plate followed by the salad:  frisee lettuce (bitter greens) tossed with snow peas that have been cut lengthwise and julienned (still raw for a nice crunch), crispy applewood bacon that has been diced and house-made bacon vinaigrette dressing.  Shavings of cured egg yolk finish the dish.

Main Course (choice of one):

Angus Beef Filet Mignon (Past) Creamy Hash Brown Potatoes, Glazed Spring Vegetables, Cabernet Sauvignon (eight dollar supplement):  This dish is reprised from one of Carpe Vino’s earliest regular restaurant menus, but it hasn’t been seen in quite some time.  It’s a straightforward presentation:  prime cut of meat, cooked to the temperature you prefer.  Served with grated potatoes cooked with cream in the oven. . .Chef’s very own hash browns.  Served with baby carrots and Delta asparagus glazed with butter and finished with a reduction of cabernet sauvignon and veal stock.  Do yourself a favor and order this cooked no more than medium rare!

Coconut Braised Pork Cheeks (Present) Crispy Verbena-Scented Rice, Pea Shoots, Lychee, Peanut, Red Curry:  Chef Alexander is a global kinda guy, and this dish is inspired by the flavors of Thailand.  He sources all-natural, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free pork cheeks that are slow-braised for three hours in coconut milk, red curry paste, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime juice.  Then he makes jasmine rice scented with lemon verbena from the Carpe Vino garden.  The rice is crisped in the bottom of a “dolsot” (a stone bowl with a lid commonly used in Korean restaurants) placed on a burner.  The dolsot is layered with the pork cheeks, pea shoots, lychee fruit, cilantro, Thai herbs and toasted peanuts.  The dolsot is brought to the table with a small pot of red curry sauce; remove the lid, pour in the sauce, mix and enjoy.

Passmore Ranch Sturgeon Confit (Future) Buckwheat Porridge, Delta Asparagus, Trumpet Mushrooms, Pickled Ramp Gribiche:  This dish is a prelude to how the world needs to eat, and it is inspired by a book titled The Third Plate, written by Dan Barber that promotes the use of more vegetables, grains and use of cover crops like buckwheat.  It is based on using sustainably raised sturgeon, sourced from Passmore Ranch outside of Sacramento.  Buckwheat is slow-cooked with dashi stock (the base for miso soup made from seaweed and bonito flakes) until nice and creamy. . .almost like a risotto. . .combined with Delta asparagus (it’s that time!), trumpet mushrooms and ramp leaves (from wild leek).  The sturgeon is placed in a bag with salt-water brine and cooked sous vide to perfection.  The porridge is plated first and the sturgeon is arranged on top, finished with gribiche, a sauce made from hard-cooked eggs; extra virgin olive oil; chopped, pickled ramp, capers and herbs.

Dessert Course (choice of one):

Chocolate-Cabernet Torte (Past) Crème Anglasie, Cacao Nib-Brioche Crumble:  Dial up 2006 on Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine (dig deep, Mr. Peabody & Sherman cartoon fans) and you’ll be transported to one of Chef Courtney McDonald’s first desserts served in the Friendly Confines.  She creates a chocolate and cabernet reduction flourless torte that is place on crème anglaise (French for “English cream”), a custard sauce made from egg yolk, vanilla, sugar and heavy cream.  Garnished with crunchy bits made with cacao nibs.

Basil Semifreddo (Present) Strawberry Gelee, Poached Rhubarb, Rose Water Meringue:  “Semifreddo” means “half frozen,” and this dish starts with what amounts to a half-frozen mousse made from basil-infused cream enriched with egg yolk, sugar and whipped cream folded in making it nice and light.  Served on a plate with strawberry gelee (a thick sauce) and poached rhubarb topped with crunchy rose water meringue made from whipped egg whites.  A sweet, satisfying way to end the perfect prix-fixe.