WaKEENEY — The wind finally started to die down Saturday evening, just as guests sat down to enjoy a summer celebration dinner at Shiloh Vineyard and Winery southwest of WaKeeney.
The celebration included a four-course meal prepared by Chef Ean Mong who devised the menu with Kirk and Treva Johnston’s wines in mind.
Approximately 40 individuals bought tickets to the event.
“This is probably the ninth or 10th dinner we’ve done in the past few years,” Kirk said. “We try to do one about every quarter. This one was pretty much sold out before we even really advertised.”
Mong, who was trained in culinary arts in Las Vegas, has prepared the food for all of those dinners.
“His mom has a commercial kitchen in WaKeeney,” Kirk said. “We spoke with Ean one time, and he came out and tried our wines. We decided to do a dinner together, and it’s been a very good relationship ever since.”
The Johnstons don’t even know what the menu is until right before the event starts. Mong tells them what wines he needs to pair with his courses, and Kirk and Treva get to be surprised right along with the guests.
“He knows all of our wines, and he knows which ones will pair well with his food,” Kirk said.
As the guests moved from the 1920s renovated chicken coop — which now serves as a wine-tasting room — to the barn, Mong explained his menu.
“It’s very summer,” Mong said. “The menu is going to be very light tonight and very fresh. I usually always have a theme, and tonight’s theme is smoke. When I think of summer, I think of grilling, I think of fire and I think of smoke. I hope you catch that theme tonight.”
The appetizers included a garlic crostini with a smoked duck and onion mousse, as well as an infused cucumber and mint-infused watermelon with artichoke cheese. The hors d’oeuvres were paired with a Vidal Blanc Semi-Sweet wine.
“This is one of our easiest-drinking wines,” Kirk said. “It’s harvested in October. It’s got a little higher alcohol content and a little less acidity than our other white wines.”
Next up, the first course was a scotch egg dish. It was a soft boiled egg with elk and sausage dredged in panko bread crumbs. The sauce was a mustard champagne vinaigrette. This course paired with Shiloh Vineyard’s Brianna, which is a dry white wine.
The main course consisted of garlic roasted basil potatoes and a “directly on the coals” flank steak with a balsamic and root beer reduction. The side dish was grilled asparagus with oyster mushrooms. The sauce for the dish was a sweet corn puree.
“The mushrooms are actually farm fresh directly out of Hays,” Mong said.
Norton, a dry red, was paired with the main dish.
Dessert was Mong’s version of a lemon meringue pie.
“We have a lemon sponge cake with a lemon mascarpone whiskey cream and a Grand Marnier macaroon with a red wine compote sauce,” Mong said.
Vidal Blanc Dessert wine enhanced the course.
The barn was filled with warm conversations and aromas throughout the evening.
Torry Kilts, a friend of the Johnstons, said he remembers when the barn — which now serves as the venue for the dinners as well as receptions — was just a dirt floor.
“It’s just amazing to see where this began and where it is now,” Kilts said.
For more information about the collection of wines available from Shiloh Vineyard and Winery, as well as where one can purchase wines, visit www.shilohvineyard.com. Inquiries about scheduling a wine tasting and tour can be directed to email@example.com or call (785) 753-2152 and (785) 259-2146.