Well I have to announce that I am another year older, but probably not any wiser. One of the questions that I received is where would you like to go for your dinner? I mean in the Metro Detroit area there is a plethora of fine dining, more than I can ever recall and probably more than we will ever attempt to dine at, at this point, as we are kind of watching our pennies as we get closer and closer to full retirement. As I thought of the venue that I wanted to try and there are so many, I kept going back in my head for something old school, which would be so fitting for the occasion. Café Cortina is such a place, they have been at the original location for forty years and when they bought the property it was a five-acre apple farm and how things have changed in the area. Café Cortina has also been voted “the most romantic” restaurant year after year that I can remember and the funny thing is that both my Bride and I have dined there, we were never there together, so that had to be rectified.
We were seated in probably the most “romantic” part of the restaurant at a table for two adjacent to the fireplace, and I watched as they kindled the fire from the next room over, so that we would not be disturbed. It is definitely old school with the amount of people servicing our table. My Bride ordered the “Pesce Fresco del Giorno dal Mal Tirremo” and gladly she did not try to pronounce it, and the Fish of the Day was Halibut simmered in a picante plum tomato, caper and Gaeta olive sauce with an Italian version of sliced potatoes with cheese. I would have been more at ease ordering the “Osso Bucco di Manzo in Amarone Della Valpolicella con Risotto al Midollo,” which was a bone-in Short Rib, braised in Amarone wine reduction served with green peas, carrots and bone-marrow Risotto and sautéed vegetables. To start off the dinner, they brought us some wonderful hard-crusted rolls that were so delicious that I think I actually ended up having four of them, and I am not a bread eater. The salad that came was a simple, but elegant tossed field greens with paper thin radish slices and tomatoes lightly covered with creamy house-made Italian dressing. Then there was a nice plate of house-made pasta with a Marinara Sauce with some fresh basil. When our entrée plates came, we both were unsure of how much we could manage, while I did a yeoman’s job and finished mine, my Bride showed some tact and upbringing and only ate half of her order. It was a birthday celebration, so we were going to have a dessert and I was going to go with a Limoncello pastry, but our waiter nixed it, in favor of their “chocolate cake.” The cake was a creation of sixteen crepe layers with chocolate Grenache between each layer of crepe with some Crème Fraiche atop and fresh strawberries. We somehow managed to finish off the cake between us. Of course, the restaurant was brought to a standstill for a moment, when our waiter lit a candle on the plate, that was more akin to a Roman Candle for a Fourth of July celebration, and he claimed that he didn’t want to jeopardize his tip, so he refrained from singing.
We began the meal with glasses of Cavas Hill 1887 Brut Metodo Tradicional NV and what a wonderful glass of bubbly it was. It was one of the finest glasses of Cava that I had ever tried, more reminiscent of a Champagne with the texture and a steady consistent stream of very fine bubbles, until the glasses were finished. This was a charming straw-colored wine from Penedes in the Catalonia district of Spain and was a classic blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. As you can tell from the label the winery began in 1887 and they had this wine down pat, as it was aged for twelve months before release. For dinner, I was going to go with an Amarone since the Osso Bucco was in a reduction sauce of that wine, but I chose a different red altogether. The Corte Alla Flora Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Riserva 2011 was a real winner, and of course all I have to say to my Bride is “Monte” and she is game, no matter what her entrée is. Corte Alla Flora for a Tuscan winery is rather unique, because they are only around twenty years of age, in an area where some wineries can count centuries of existence. Since the wine was almost entirely Prugnolo Gentile (the local name for Sangiovese) it was blended with ten percent Merlot and ten percent Cabernet Sauvignon and could still carry the DOCG designation. As it was a Riserva, the wine was aged for two years in the barrel and then an additional year in the bottle before being released. It was a nice heady wine with a deep purple color and I thought was a perfect match for my dish, but a bit heavy-handed for the halibut. So, for the next almost two months my Bride and I are of the same age, so I will have to wait until her birthday, before I can start saying that she “robbed the cradle” for the next ten months.