191. On Occasion Catering and Vin Chicago to Elevate UnCork Barrington VIP Tent Experience

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Jen Blair, Vin manager, and Kathy Pedersen of On Occasion - Photo by Sally Roeckell

Calling all wine connoisseurs: we’re giving away tickets to Uncork Barrington coming up this Friday, July 10th!  CLICK HERE to register for a chance to win.  If you’d prefer to attend as a VIP guest for exclusive access to top-shelf wine and food tastings, now’s the time to purchase your tickets!  The wine list has just been released, and it looks marvelous – as does the perfect midsummer weather. Grab your tickets fast, before they sell out!

Jen Blair, Certified Sommelier and manager at Vin in Barrington and Kathy Pedersen, chef/owner of On Occasion Catering & Events, have paired up to create an exclusive menu of VIP wine and food pairings that are over-the-top good. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just developing your palate, Uncork’s VIP tent is the place to be for top-tier wine tastings and scrumptious munchies.

VIPs will have access to all 55 wines in the Uncork Pavilion PLUS 10 additional fine wines, from G. D. Vajra’s “Petracine” Langhe Riesling 2012 to Tolaini’s “Picconero” Toscana Rosso 2009 – not to mention all of the delicious fare available to complement your wine selections. From your own special entrance to your top-flight tastings, the VIP experience is sure to be a cut above. You’ll also receive a special VIP wine goblet and an Uncork Barrington hat to sport around town.

Jen Blair loves curating Uncork’s wine list, and she especially enjoyed assembling this year’s ten VIP wines. “We started the VIP tent last year, hoping to appeal to collectors or those with more experience with wine. It was a huge success, so we’ve doubled the size of the area this year. The roped-off VIP tent is an oasis, secluded from the main pavilion and offering a more intimate experience.”

Jen partnered with veteran chef and event planner Kathy Pedersen of On Occasion to plan a menu of appetizers that bring out the very best in this year’s VIP wines.

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Kathy, who has worked with Uncork since the first event 11 years ago, always looks forward to connecting with her Barrington customers and crafting crowd-pleasing appetizers for the event. And, after selling her famous pies at Chicago White Sox home games working as Catering Manager for Levy Restaurants, she definitely knows how to please a crowd.

“Our Shaved Beef Tenderloin on Parmesan Crisp with Whiskeyed Onions features a wonderful mix of flavors and textures,” Kathy says. It’s just one of the items on this year’s Uncork VIP Tent menu.

(Full disclosure: Kathy let me taste this one, and it was so good that I snuck another when her back was turned. For research purposes only, of course. Just so I could describe the way the parmesan first crackles, then melts into the velvety tenderloin.)

Jen’s perfect pairing for Kathy’s Shaved Beef Tenderloin? The Wild Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012. “It’s a delicious, small-production wine – the only wine produced by Wild Ridge,” Jen says. “The aromas of fresh blackberry, red plum and cedar are complemented by pomegranate, red plum, spice, orange zest and dark chocolate on the palate.”

Kathy’s next delicious morsel for Uncork’s VIP Tent is Peperonata with Goat Cheese on a Grilled Baguette, which is every bit as amazing as it sounds. The sweet and savory peppers are perfectly balanced by the creamy goat cheese and the smoky grilled bread brings it all together beautifully.

Jen knew right away that these lovelies would be perfect with a very unique riesling: “G. D. Vajra is a family-run winery in Piedmont, and I visited them in 2012,” Jen says. “The family believes that Riesling is the wife of Nebbiolo. This “Petracine” Langhe Riesling 2012 is truly gorgeous – a riesling that will change your life. It’s beautiful with food, round and worth every penny.”

Kathy Pedersen will also offer her famous Fig and Mascarpone Torte in the main pavilion this year. “This appetizer features a very lightly sweetened mascarpone with our fig puree through the center, served on sliced baguette,” Kathy says. “It’s wonderfully creamy yet light.”

Here’s the best part: each Fig and Mascarpone Torte will come with a gift card for either a larger Fig and Mascarpone Torte, the Scandalous Chocolate Torte with Caramel and Sea Salt, or a baker’s dozen of bars from On Occasion. You can’t go wrong with a deal like that!

Jen Blair recommends pairing the torte with the Domaine Lafage “Novellum” Chardonnay 2014, which will also be available for purchase by the glass, or the Marramiero “Dama” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2012. “You can really go either way – and you can’t go wrong with either of these.”

We convinced Jen Blair to offer a couple more sneak peeks at this year’s VIP wines, and she gave us this pair:

“The La Jota Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is an overwhelming staff favorite – it’s everything you want in a Napa Cab,” Jen says. “It’s high-mountain fruit, and the balance is there. It’s a 95-point cab mixed with other varietals, and it’s a wine that I know Barrington will love.”

“The Tolaini “Picconero” Toscana Rosso 2009 is a Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot with Bordeaux sensibilities. It’s a single-vineyard production with fabulous scores. It’ll be a wonderful juxtaposition to the Napa cabs we’re featuring this year – like La Jota.”

Jen is quick to point out that the Uncork event is a very inclusive tasting environment, and the main pavilion has a lot to offer as well: “We encourage everyone to come enjoy and learn about wine, so whether you’re a wine novice or a connoisseur we hope you’ll come out and join us.”

***Vin Chicago will also be taking wine orders during Uncork, with a 5% case discount and 10% to benefit the charities that Uncork supports***

For more information, and to buy tickets for the event, please visit the Uncork site.

CLICK HERE for a chance to win two general admission tickets to Uncork Barrington

For the most up-to-date information on Uncork, you can also visit their Facebook page.  To learn more about On Occasion, visit their website here. For more information about Vin, visit their site here, or stop into their store at Barrington’s 311 E. Main Street where you can also purchase tickets for a truly unforgettable Uncork wine & food festival this Friday night.

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