Hosted by recent WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Level One graduate Nick Attard and Executive Chef Kirk Weiss the wine and dine events kicked off for 2018 on June 5. The focus was France – French wine and French cuisine. It was gratifying to see the wine and food appreciation events continue. Previous gatherings had profiled Asia, South America and “landlover cuisine”. Honouring France, the mother country of wine and culinary arts, seemed very appropriate.
Chef Kirk Weiss shared with the participants: “The ability to present this type of cuisine doesn’t happen very often so we are very grateful for that, the whole team, front and back…Without the enthusiasm, the passion, the creativity, the support, the twisted sense of humour sometimes, just the camaraderie we share in the kitchen these events wouldn’t come close…”
Creamy Brie Noisette with a tart berry compote
Wine Pairing – Domane Lafond 2016 Tavel
Butter seared scallop with fresh picked morels
Wine Pairings – Domaine Gilbert Picq & Ses Fils 2015 Chablis (unoaked) and Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils 2015 Pouilly-Fuisse (oaked)
Introducing the second course Chef Kirk waxed poetic. “We get excited enough doing these dinners but when we get to work with product like the scallops that came in this morning” and fresh morels from a local “forager” who had come across the “motherload of morels” in Strathroy….
Nick provided an overview of oaked and unoaked chardonnay – both wines were Burgundian – unoaked from the region of Chablis and a lightly oaked wine, Pouilly Fuisse.
Glace de pamplemousse – palate cleanser (and no wine)
Chef commented “We have made a glace taking the liquid, putting it on a sheet pan added grapefruit, mint, a little bit of cranberry to make it even tarter.”
Grenouille (frog leg) croquette with a dill crème fraiche
Wine Pairing – Champagne Delamotte, NV Blanc de Blanc (chardonnay grape)
Chef shared an anecdote from early in his career working at the Empress Hotel – where he prepared this croquette as part of a 15-course meal for a very special guest from France. He promised that it was “not going to taste like the pond …. Wasn’t roadkill either.” He was right – it was delicious.
Nick offered a story about the origin of champagne – might or might not be true. A “lazy” monk decided to ferment the wine in the bottles. Eleven bottles in the case he was bringing as a gift to the king exploded due to the pressure of the “bubbles”. He delivered the surviving bottle to the king who asked where he was from. Champagne – and the king said that this is what this wine shall be known as.
Nick described the champagne process – the riddler who rotates the bottles in their caverns; the yeast being released by removing the cork; the dosage (sugar) being added and the bottles being recorked. He noted that cava in Spain is made the same way, a little sweeter and a great deal less expensive ($20 a bottle).
So we celebrated with a French champagne – a blanc de blanc using only chardonnay grapes. The group agreed that we should drink to Nick – super preparation, great information.
Seared tenderloin with béarnaise sauce and pomme William
Wine Pairing – Chateau Saint-Dominique 2011 Puisseguin Saint-Emilion
Chef introduced this as truly classic French cuisine – demi-glace sauce on the bottom of the plate (beef stock reduced 10:1), tenderloin seared to medium rare, Bearnaise sauce (Hollandaise, tarragon, red onion, red wine vinegar finished with black pepper and parsley)
And Poire William (potato in the shape of a pear) perhaps created by a chef named Escoffier. In an apprenticeship position Chef made 640 for an event – never wanted to see them again – but tonight was a special occasion so why not.
Of course, with the beef, a red wine was poured. Nick explained the Bordeaux difference, that it was based on 1st growth Chateaus rather than terroir bringing owner/brand name recognition to the forefront. He also outlined the amount of regulation on labelling He said that if you know the regions, know the growers you will know what to expect in the wine.
Classic chocolate soufflé with crème Anglais
Pairing – Courvoisier VSOP Cognac
Chef described this dessert as “Very delicate, time essential to make sure you receive it with the presentation that it needs.” Matthew – a student from Fanshawe – created the dessert.
The noise level, the laughter, the silliness (among the participants) rises by each course – or is it by each glass of wine?
Rumour has it that the next wine and dine event will be later in the summer and feature the Iberian Peninsula – very appropriate timing as a preview of the food and wine from Spain and Portugal for those RiverBenders planning to visit Portugal in the fall.