Wine and Dine (at the Bend) – July 30

This “Wine and Dine” had a new creator point person – Chanel Gulych, Sous Chef. Kirk Weiss, Executive Chef, introduced her glowingly (energy, enthusiasm, just infectious, team player) and her creations lived up to his praise of her abilities. Chanel returned the compliments noting that Kirk is the best chef she has worked with.

Asked for recipes she said she was pleased to provide information as close as possible to what was served. “Don’t want to give all my secrets…sort of make things up as we go along…improvising as we go.” Commented that she had really enjoyed the event. “All these new modern plating techniques around now. I have been dying to try.”

The oohs and aahs as the dishes were served certainly confirmed that we were very impressed with the plating, the flavours and, yes, the wine pairings. Nick Attard, WSET Certified Advanced, outdid himself yet again.

1st Course

Grilled Watermelon Stack with Pressed Feta Cheese, garnished with arugula and a balsamic reduction

Chanel introduced this first dish – “I love pretty things!” A little sugar during grilling. Pressed feta giving a creamier texture.

Nick paired this dish with a sparkling rosé from the coastal Abruzzo region of Italy (Fantini/Farnese). Noted the salinity of the wine. Also high acidity – red grape, Aglianico. Every bottle has a little Swarovski crystal on it. Non-vintage.

2nd Course

Vermicelli wrapped prawns with house-made chilli salsa

Large shrimp. Crispy noodle pancake. Shrimp seasoned with salt and pepper and finished roasting in the oven. Topped with lime chilli sauce (started with plum sauce, added extra spicing to it).

Nick gave the group two options for this course. Both were Spanish wines. First wine was a blend and had a touch of sweetness – added Muscat grape. Designer wine from a Japanese winemaker (wine for sushi). Second wine was a single grape, albarino, from the coast of Spain. Like the rosé a little salinity. Both wines were made with a “no oxygen” method.

3rd Course

Seared Scallops with fresh cucumber ribbons and butter sautéed spring peas over micro greens

Beautiful plating. Marinated cucumbers, little lemon. Salt, pepper and butter. Edible flower.

Nick’s pairing was a chardonnay from a warm climate. The nose was tropical fruit. Cross Barn is an oaked Sonoma wine. Barrel aged, aerobic fermentation – exposed to oxygen. 95% old oak. 5% in new oak. 8 months of aging and then blended. Small batches, hand-picked grapes. Chardonnay is known as the chameleon grape – the winemaker can have a lot of influence on the final product.

4th Course

Roasted vegetable rose served with fennel cream

Continuation of flower theme (and beautiful plating). A roasted vegetable rose. Natural reduction of cream with fennel infused. Shreds of asparagus underneath marinated in orange juice to balance the liquorice. Purple yams, carrots, zucchini, leeks – with a little orange zest and roasted red paper flavouring. Vegetables sliced using a mandolin.

This dish Nick paired with a Pinot Noir wine. New world. Sonoma county. All hand-picked, not a large production, very little new oak. The old oak enhances the flavour in this wine. Earthy tones. Pinot Noir is usually medium bodied. Warm climate Pinot Noir will often be “jammy”. French style is the earthy characteristic rather than fruit forward.

5th Course

Braised short ribs with a spiced carrot purée

Braised for 6 hours, “melt in your mouth”, real maple syrup, house-made demi, mustard. Carrot puree very simple – salt, pepper and a little ginger. Pommes frites on top.

The wine pairing – Nick poured a Ridge Three Valleys blend from Sonoma County. 4 grapes – Zinfandel, Carignan, Petit Syrah, Grenache. This wine Nick describes as a “winemaker’s beauty” rather than a reflection of terroir. This winery does have excellent vineyard specific “terroir” wines as well. The blend is the strength of this wine. The main grape, the zinfandel, has characteristics of red fruit and black fruit. It doesn’t ripen evenly – nature of the skins of the grapes – at least 80% need to be ripe or there will be green, bitter overtones. Zinfandel works really well with barbecue sauces. Can confuse people because Zinfandel is often associated with white/rosé wine – California does produce a “white” zinfandel.

6th Course

Raspberry sorbet with meringue rose drops and candied lemon peel

Chanel’s favourite course. Local raspberries. A little apricot puree as well. A little lime. Meringue leaves. Candied lemon peel on top and edible flowers. The final pairing from Nick was a Canadian Cabernet Franc icewine. Icewine is a very challenging wine. To harvest the temperature has to be below freezing (8C) and the grapes need to stay frozen until pressed. Picking late at night or early morning and sorting outdoors. Very concentrated. Lusciously sweet. Serve in small servings. The lower the alcohol percentage the higher the sugar. Fermentation stops naturally and the yeast can’t manage to convert all the sugar. Can start a meal with icewine.

Finally

Another wonderful wine and dine – thanks from all of us who enjoyed this event. Kudos to the whole team.

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