Greatness among us

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Over the last several years we have concentrated our wine and now beer dinners at Fleur de Sel in Post Falls. There are many wonderful restaurants in the area and we have worked with several of them on these events, they’ve all done a great job. Fleur de Sel though with their husband and wife ownership team of Laurent and Patricia Zirotti not only understand our goals and passions for these events they also execute so seamlessly that it makes these events what they should be…. Joyous.

We learned this week that the “culinary world” has taken notice of this little gem of an operation in Post Falls. Laurent is a semifinalist for a James Beard award! And this is a really big deal. There are many awards bestowed by the James Beard Foundation including all categories of the food and beverage industry. Laurent was nominated in the Best Regional Chef category for the Northwest. It is a well deserved honor for our good friend and we are rooting him on through the lengthy selection process that involves much competition before its culmination at the awards. The announcement will be made on May 1 this year in Chicago.

To get an idea of the competition and how much of an honor making it to this stage is, one need only look at the concentration of chefs and where they come from. There are 20 semi-finalists in the Northwest Region. There is one from Wyoming, one from Montana, one other from Idaho in Boise and Laurent. The rest are all from Seattle and Portland. That this wonderful restaurant and their exceptional team in the front of the house and the chef stood out in the field of nominees is truly an accomplishment.

All who have dined at FDS over the last 10 years know how remarkable the service is and what a great wine program they have. They respect the modest “North Idaho Pricing” for the caliber of food they serve. Most of us marvel at the timely service and fabulous food that emanates from the small by comparison kitchen. The James Beard Award though would be a fitting culmination of all the accolades praise and thanks bestowed on the operation and Laurent’s culinary talent to date. Advancing to a semifinalist is an honor in itself and we are confident Laurent will make it to this pinnacle.

Fleur de Sel draws customers from much of Eastern Washington and even Western Montana regularly. We have had customers travel from the Dakotas, Texas and other far flung places to attend the wine dinners we do there. In addition to winemakers from the Northwest we also attract some of the biggest names from wineries in California and Europe none of which would be possible if they had not heard of the job done by FDS.

Recently Fleur de Sel has opened their Artisan Creperie in Spokane. Whether you are traveling there for the day or for our readers who live there if you haven’t been you should go. Like the food at the “mother ship” here in Post Falls it is wonderful in an albeit casual atmosphere.

We are proud and honored to work with our good friends Laurent and Patricia on our winemaker dinners, it has been a rewarding and fun collaboration that we expect will go on for some time. It is all the more meaningful in light of the recognition from the James Beard Foundation; we wish our good friends much luck as the process goes forward.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or if you have questions on wine, you can email George@thedinnerpartyshop.com, or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

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George Balling is co-owner (with his wife Mary Lancaster) of the dinner party, a wine and table top décor shop located by Costco in Coeur d’Alene. George worked as a judge in many wine competitions, and his articles are published around the country. You can learn more about the dinner party at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com. Be sure and check out our weekly blog at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com/home/blog-2. You can get all of these articles as well as other great wine tips by friending us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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