In the past, I have seen the Tavolo Dinner events shared by Queen Creek Olive Mill on social media or on their event calendar, but have never taken the time to book tickets and attend. This changed when some good friends of ours asked us if we’d like to attend the Celebration of the Sardinia Region of Italy Tavolo Dinner in August. Every Tavolo Dinner has a different area of focus, I was excited to try flavors from this region!
To be honest, one of the reasons I had not pursued one of these dinners in the past was because of the price. For the 5 course meal, the cost per person is $124.99 and to add on a wine pairing with each course is an additional $39.99. This was a pricey meal, however after now experiencing it, between the ambiance, the shared table atmosphere, the food, the wine, and the service – it was worth it.
Due to an impending monsoon on the day of the event, we received notification that the dinner would be moved into the Mill Room, which I was kind of happy about. Although it was scheduled to be in an outdoor space with A/C, still happier to be inside in August! This was quite a treat to have the two long, beautifully decorated tables (each with about 16 guests each) set up in their infamous Mill Room.
Perry Rae, the owner of the Olive Mill, greeted the guests, provided an overview of how everything works within the Mill Room, and introduced the sommelier from Carlson Creek Vineyards as well as the lead chefs who presented each of the courses. All of the wines served were from Carlson Creek Vineyards.
Please note that the descriptions of the food and wine listed below are straight off of the tasting menu we were provided – I wanted to ensure I shared the details accurately!
Our antipasti course was Fresh Ricotta Pardulas. Two traditional Sardinian fresh ricotta tartlets, with a saffron cream agrodolce foam. The ricotta was made in house with fresh milk from Golden Rule Dairy in Elfrida, AZ. This was paired with a 2021 Malvasia Bianca – light bodied with blooming floral notes & tropical fruit flavors. I thought both the dish and the wine were delicious, the wine was a perfectly light balance to the food.
Our first (primi) course was Bucatini al nero di Seppia e Frutti di Mare – fresh squid ink bucatini with an uni butter & white wine sauce, sautéed calamari, cherry tomatoes from the QCOM garden, chopped chervil and a white anchovy gremolata. The wine pairing for this course was a 2021 Sauvignon Blanc – bright citrusy white wine with notes of lemon grass and white grapefruit. While this doesn’t look like a large plate of food, there was a lot there! I thought this course was quite tasty, had a lot of complex and rich flavors which was nice with the light and fruity wine pairing.
Group selfie along the way…..
Our second (secondi) course was served family style. This included Su Porcheddu – suckling pig, split-roasted over olive wood, seasoned with the QCOM balsamic reduction basting liquid, served with crispy skin. The wine pairing for the second course was a 2020 Sangiovese – bold cherry notes with undercurrent of pomegranate and a touch of cranberry. Served alongside of this was a sous vide asparagus garnished with an egg yolk cured in olive wood smoked sea salt and shaved bottarga as well as Meyer Lemon Olive Oil confit potatoes with rosemary from the QCOM garden.
Again, this was excellent – from the flavors of the different foods to the amazing way the wine paired with all of them. The only dislike here was that the crispy skin served with the pork was a little too crispy for us. Otherwise, delizioso!
In true Italian style, our salad (insalata) course was next. This was one of my favorites! Fresh greens & herbs from Steadfast Farms in Mesa, AZ lightly tossed in a house-made prickly pear vinaigrette. Served with this was a 2021 Malbec Rosé – watermelon, a touch of bubblegum and white strawberry, slightly frizzante (bubbly!)
Our final (Dolce) course was Seadas – deconstructed Sardinian classic comprised of house-made farmer’s cheese cheesecake, crispy fried sweet pasta tuile, torched lavendar-infused sugar, prickly pear coulis, with a drizzle of Vanilla Bean Olive Oil. This was AMAZING. I am not usually one to eat dessert, but I enjoyed just about every last bite of this! The Hubby even made a comment when he looked at my plate and it was almost gone! Paired with our dolce was a 2021 Chardonnay – bright green apple and Meyer lemon finishing with a limestone minerality.
Also in true, Italian tradition, the meal ended with a “shot” of Limoncello – which is an Italian lemon liqueur. I did not get a great photo of everyone with their Limoncello, you can see a quick view of the toast on the TikTok video I created here.
If you live in the Phoenix area, I would highly recommend venturing out to Queen Creek Olive Mill for a future Tavolo Dinner – you won’t be disappointed. The next one is on September 21, 2022 during their Garlic Fest – the menu has not been posted but I’m guessing there will be a garlic theme! You can view their Events Calendar here.
We snapped a couple of other fun photos at the end – thank you so much to our friends James & Susan (ok, it was really all Susan’s idea!) for inviting us to such a wonderful evening!