all words and photos: Priya Konings
Ok, so I am warning you up front. This recap is going to involve a lot of gushing.
It’s hard to know what was better at the Massaya Wine Dinner, held on Tuesday September 9th at Zaytinya, the food or the wine. But then, why do we have to pick? In fact, it was the combination of both that made the dinner so unforgettable.
Massaya Wines come from a vineyard in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, a lesser known but no less sophisticated wine growing region of the world. The Massaya vineyard was created by two Lebanese brothers, one of whom was present at this dynamic wine tasting dinner at Zaytinya. Sami Ghosn introduced his five of vibrant wines, which included a beautiful summery cinsault rose, an elegant and light blend of cinsault, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah called the Massaya Classic, and the heady, earthy Massaya Reserve that is aged in French oak casks. Along with his knowledge of wine, Ghosn detailed his colorful background, which included coming to the United States and embarking on a career as an architect, which he chose to abandon in the 1990s and return to Lebanon amid Syrian occupation and political unrest. Fast forward to today and Ghosn and his brother are now operating an incredibly successful winery that exports to much of the world, including the United States. His wines are available in stores and restaurants around D.C., including Zaytinya and Flight Wine Bar.
Turning to the food, well, the pictures speak for themselves. In my eyes, and hopefully yours, Chef Michael Costa can do no wrong; his seven course Lebanese dinner was delicious and an ideal partner for the Massaya wines paired with each course. He opened with oysters, and followed with a gorgeous heirloom tomato fattoush, then mograbieh, couscous studded with chanterelle mushrooms, potato kibbeh, and eggplant mousakka served on a bed of the creamiest potato puree in town. Chef Costa also had a delectable porcini mushroom foraged for the vegetarians (me) served as the main course, and it was the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth mushroom I have ever had. The presentation of each course was as flawless as the flavor.
Although the dinner has passed, you can have a similar dining experience: go to Zaytinya at any time to sample Massaya wines and indulge in multiple courses of Chef Costa’s delicious Mediterranean cuisine.