Dining With Denise Neil

Dining with Denise Dinner was delicious, dimly lit night of food, wine

All these years, I thought that pumpkin pie was the best use of pumpkin possible.

But after last night’s Dining with Denise Dinner at the Kansas Star Casino, I stand corrected. This Thanksgiving, I will continually be craving pumpkin agnolotti – a miracle of a filled pasta created by Woodfire Grill head chef Jennifer Reschneider.

If you missed Monday night’s dinner, you missed a good time – and a great meal.

About 80 people gathered on Monday evening at the fine-dining restaurant in the casino, which looked like an autumnal dream. The light was dim, the built-in fireplaces that decorate the restaurant were glowing, and all the furnishings were in hues of orange, brown and gold.

People were seated all around the restaurant – some with friends they brought and some with friends they made on the spot. Among those in attendance were Mario Quiroz and Mara Garza, the owner of Molino’s Mexican Cuisine and the hosts of the first Dining with Denise Dinner back in March, and Wichita wine experts Guy and Beth Bower.

The chef’s parents also were there, and they were rightfully proud of the delicate dinner their daughter prepared for the crowd. That pumpkin-filled pasta, topped with a pumpkin butter sauce, toasted pine nuts, pecorino cream and fried sage, was the highlight for me, although all four of the dishes served were outstanding. I’m not a huge fan of duck, but the corned duck breast, served with mustard sauce, pricked cranberries and a pumpernickel crisp, was delicate and succulent.

Kristina Johnson from Standard Beverage educated the crowd about each of the Cakebread wines that were paired with our dishes – and taught us several interesting facts about the Cakebread Cellars in Napa.

I tried to talk to everyone who was there, and many were eager to know where the next dinner would happen. Among us, we came up with at least four possibilities. Now, we just have to check and see if the restaurants are on board.

Stay tuned, and in the meantime, watch the video we made that sums up our evening in Mulvane.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle