Gin Dinner at the Rienzi

Posted: // Filed under: Down House, Hunky Dory, Treadsack.

Recently at the MFAH Rienzi, Chefs Richard Knight and Benjy Mason of our upcoming restaurant Hunky Dory, Chef Samantha Mendoza of Triniti, and Jeremy Olivier, head bartender of Down House, presented guests with a four-course dinner, cocktails, and an educational and entertaining lecture on the history of gin.

Highlights of Olivier’s lecture included the journey of the juniper berry from its early use in the malty Dutch-made spirit genever up to its place as a main ingredient of gin, currently a highlight of reputable bar menus around the world.

The four-course menu created by Knight, Mason, and Mendoza and paired with Olivier’s cocktails consisted of:

  • Dutch Black Bread, Brawn, Aged Gouda, Greens with Pickled Apples
  • Cottage Soup with Nettles, Peppergrass, and Sorrel
  • Roast Pork Belly, Root Vegetable Mash, Fruit Chutney
  • Black Forest Gateaux, Kiwi Tart, and Passion Fruit Cheesecake

Olivier selected his cocktail pairings using Bols Genever, Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Broker’s Dry Gin, and Blue Coat Gin, each specifically chosen to complement the chefs’ menu and give Rienzi guests a chance to taste their way through gin’s evolution.

Resting atop four acres along Buffalo Bayou, surrounded by wooded gardens, and filled with decorative European art ranging from the 17th to the 19th century, Rienzi is unlike any other art collection in Houston.

“Being inside the Rienzi,” comments Olivier, “is like drinking gin in Versailles.”
Appropriately, among the pieces in the Rienzi collection is Gin Lane, a print by William Hogarth. Though a colorful depiction of the victims of the European Gin Craze of the mid-18th century, the scene couldn’t be further from reality when one thinks of the many ways to enjoy gin in 2014.

We had a great time meeting all who attended! What a joy it was to share a fine meal and learn about gin with all of you who joined us.

Benjy and Richard working in the kitchen. DSC_0021-1