In addition to being in San Francisco for the Port4lio event, the duo of Jean-Michel and Tomo from Kabaj were also present at two wine dinners brought about by Blue Danube Wine. The first was at À Côté in Oakland and the second was at Bar Bambino in San Francisco, which we were happy to attend.

It’s usually easier to match wine to food, so doing it the other way around always makes for interesting decisions in the meal, as was the case with this four course affair had in the back outdoor area of Bar Bambino. After starting off with a small salad with asparagus and what appeared to be lavender blossoms, we moved on to the first course of the poached halibut with the 2008 vintages of Sivi Pinot and Rebula. It was a very nice pairing as the halibut was quite light in flavor and set itself up well with the Sivi Pinot. The pureé and small bacon bits were echoed well in the Rebula, itself a lovely, distinct Slovenian varietal with a wonderful acidity and lush, light pear flavors that were great with the dish.

The second course was a slow-braised pork shoulder in a risotto. This was paired with the 2005 and 2006 Amfora vintages. While the rice in the risotto was a touch underdone, the flavors of the dish were probably the best of all and this preparation worked wonderfully with these two Amfora vintages as they’re delicate, complex wines that too bold of a meal would cover up. At the same time, while delicate, they have a strength that a lesser dish would easily get overpowered by, so we have to say that we were impressed with the balance that was struck.

There’s not much to say about the roasted duck with a cherry jus for the third dish other than the fact the grappa and potatoes in the dish matched up wonderfully with the light oak in the 2007 Merlot while the cherry in the sauce caught the light cherry flavors in the body of the wine.

The dessert of a black walnut, apricot, and poppyseed torte was a great finish to a great meal and while Kabaj doesn’t have a sweet wine, the Tokaji that Blue Danube Wine brought along was a great, sweet cleansing element.