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2011 - Volume 2 Issue 2
Comidas Sabrosas
Out on the Town
Article: Bob Skolnick
Photos: Bill Faulkner
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It is a special occasion when traditions of family and place come together for the enjoyment of many. The Lodge at Cloudcroft, first built in 1911, remains one of the finest resort destinations in the country. Perched at 9000 feet atop the town of Cloudcroft, the Lodge Resort and Spa surveys the Sacramento Mountains and surrounding forests. Many dignitaries have stayed at this hotel over the decades and some have stayed on in ghostly form for years. To celebrate the resort's 100th birthday, a special wine dinner was planned featuring Gruet Vineyards, New Mexico's oldest and most recognized winery. The Lodge Resort owner, Kevin Shannon, Innkeepers Lisa and Mark, Southern Wine & Spirits' Dan Murray, and Chef Tim McManus created a six-course special dinner to be paired with great wine and champagne selections provided by Laurent Gruet, a second generation wine maker and president of Gruet Wines in America.

Photo Caption:
1.   Laura Gruet, Laurent Gruet, Tim McManus, Kevin Shannon and Denise Stark
  The guests for the wine dinner were totally satisfied and comfortable. The chef, his staff and the service staff were given a standing ovation and a toast. This was a perfect occasion to celebrate 100 years of excellence at The Lodge Resort & Spa at Cloudcroft.

The Lodge Resort & Spa
at Cloudcroft

One Corona Place
Cloudcroft, NM 88317
The Gruet family, lead by matriarch Gilbert Gruet, began making champagne in the Bethon region of France in 1952. In 1983, while traveling through the Southwest, Gilbert and his son Laurent met a group of European wine makers who had successfully planted vineyards in Engle near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. In 1984, Laurent, also a master wine maker along with his sister Nathalie, relocated to New Mexico to open a second Gruet Winery producing sparkling and still wines in the United States. In the past 20 years, Gruet Winery of New Mexico has earned an international reputation for producing superb wines from its New Mexico vineyards in Engel. The elevation of 4300 feet coupled with the sandy loam soils and the many sunny days, collaborate to produce a superior annual grape harvest.

The Lodge Resort and Spa's talented Executive Chef, Tim McManus, is no stranger to creating a menu to companion well with great sparkling and still wines. Fifty people attended the sold out wine dinner coming from Las Cruces, El Paso and throughout Lincoln County. The chef began our culinary journey with appetizers of assorted cheeses and chicken quesadillas on corn tortillas with a roasted red pepper coulis. Laurent mated the appetizer with Gruet Extra Dry Champagne.

The second course was a refreshing hearts of romaine topped with an avocado Caesar dressing. Matched with 2009 Gruet Chardonnay, this was a very stimulating and refreshing start to the served dinner. Chef McManus then turned us completely around with Hot N Sour Soup. Everyone at our table was surprised when the course was announced, but several spoonfuls into the soup course, we had all become fully engaged in the spicy flavor the soup offered. Laurent was challenged by this pairing, but his selection of Gruet Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine rose to balance the savory and spicy soup.

The second course was followed by a traditional intermezzo of fresh raspberry sorbet, which was a delightful change in flavors.

The main course, selected by the chef, was as much of a treat visually as it ultimately proved to be on the palette. The presentation was extremely artistic and the choice of layers of the dish was well-thought out. The bottom was a disc of creamy polenta, topped next with a cooked-to-perfection tenderloin medallion and seared diver scallop. The sauce was classic balsamic demi-glaze and a mango coulis. The entrée was topped with a fried pasta nest and accompanied on the plate with spicy broccoli rabe. Laurent chose a 2008 Pinot Noir which matched well with the different taste layers of the entrée.

The finishing course was an exceptional chocolate ganache cake. As a finisher, it was light and just the right choice to bring Your taste buds back to reality. The closing wine was a Gruet Demi-Sec Sparkling wine. The sweetness of the wine was an excellent paring with the dessert. ///
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