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Chef’s Dinner – June 21, 2022 – Retirement Celebration

Intro

24 RiverBend residents were thrilled to share another of Kirk Weiss’ culinary offerings. Unfortunately it is also his last here at RiverBend. Of course we regret the loss of future events but we wish Kirk the best in his future exploits and in his retirement.

Chef started the event off with a little retrospective. He has been at RiverBend for 13 years so expressed 13 years of thank you to Sifton, to the community. He said that this 13-year stint has been the favourite of his experiences so far in the culinary industry. And it gave him the wherewithal to support his family, kids (and now grandkids – 2 of them).

He said that he was given freedom from day one to experiment, to explore. He didn’t take credit for all the successes. He shared that ideas come from all sorts of places. The front of the house servers, the whole kitchen team participate. The have been a well-oiled machine for regular events but Chef reiterated that it is a treat to be invited and be able to create special dishes for special events.

To see how fortunate the regulars of Chef’s events have been, browse the previous postings.

First Course – Fish

Moroccan seabass. Chef described the texture as dense, part way between snapper and pickerel. The bass was pressed into ground pistachio and pine nuts with a little batter. Curried coconut milk was underneath the skewered fish.

The dish had a little heat and lots of crunch.

It was paired with Sandhill Pinot Gris.

Second Course – Asian Flavour

Chef pointed out that this dish looks like a cabbage roll. It is cabbage but rolled around a ginger chicken stuffing and finished with a citrus glaze.

He noted that it was “Tangy to spark up taste buds…”

This dish was paired with warm Sake.

Third Course – Phyllo Pastry/Veal

Now this dish Chef said was kind of special – smiling the whole time he was making it. Veal tenderloin, forest funghi (chanterelles, oyster, shiitake, batwing (denser, black colour), wrapped in phyllo pastry and finished with fresh peppercorn.

It was presented on a truffle demi reduction.

We were encouraged to smell the truffle!

Asked, Chef described the process of creating the phyllo pastry wrap – butter on the layers, prep the filling, chill and straight into a hot oven.

This dish was paired with a red wine, Luigi Righetti Valpolicella

Fourth Course – Shredded Duck, Cranberry, Smoked Cheddar

Chef admitted he had never done this dish before. The kitchen braised duckling for 2 ½ days. then shredded it. The drippings were reduced to a sauce, fused with sautéed cranberry and leek and then smoked cheddar cheese on top. The cheese takes away from the tartness of the cranberry.

Melts in the mouth!

Paired with Wolf Blass Chardonnay

Fifth Course – Dessert

Chef created a mocha chocolate mousse sitting on Kahlua praline sauce.

The pairing with this was really unique – a chocolate coffee martini.

Kitchen Team

Chef emphasized again that the environment created in the kitchen encourages creativity, support, and partnership.

Edgar – long time with RiverBend, preceded Chef.

Eric – a returnee to the team

Andrew – new, from the west coast

Nathan – recently assumed the sous chef position that Chanel had

The front of the house group are an essential part of the team. Chef emphasized that everyone helps wherever needed to keep things operating smoothly.

And it should be noted that the front of the house team did a great job making this event run smoothly – serving and resetting through all the courses and managing the wine pairings.

Finally, it was touching when Edgar gave Kirk a warm hug and expressed his appreciation for the friendship and support Kirk had given him. It was clear that the emotion was shared.

A lovely way to end the event and to send Chef on his way.

Chef’s Showcase November 30 2021

Unlike most of the events captured in this blog the primary focus of this occasion was showcasing the food. Wine pairings recommendations were provided.

The Host

Shawn Greco welcoming the diners. Copies of the menu and the recommended wine pairings were on the tables. It was a u-shaped arrangement allowing for better profiling of the presenters (as can be seen reflected in the window). All of the menu offerings could be/were offered gluten free.

Wine pairings were optional and all wines offered are available.

Introducing Mandy Peters

We were hosted in the dining room as noted. Residents came out to sip some wines and experience a 4 course dinner created by First Cook, Mandy Peters. 

Mandy has been working at Riverbend on and off for the past two years and, after studying culinary at Georgian College, is completing her apprenticeship with guidance from her mentor, Chef Kirk.

The menu was created based on a book called, “100 Foods to Stay Young”. Each course featured 2 ingredients from the book, and the health benefits were described after each course.  Wasabi,  fennel, lamb, spinach, and blueberries, were just a few of the featured healthy items showcased at the dinner.

Mandy is looking forward to sharing more of her culinary skills and nutrition knowledge with us in the future.

And thanks to the F&B team for their attentive service.

Chef’s Showcase

First Course – Sea Scallops

Pan seared on a bed of spring pea and wasabi puree with toasted almonds.

Wine Pairing – Cedar Rock Chardonnay 2016

Second Course – Squash Spirals

Noodle nests with a fennel infused cream sauce garnished with a julienne of crisp must apples.

Wine Pairing – Bougrier Vouvray Chenin Blanc, 2018

Third Course – Lamb Loin

Oven roasted crusted lamb loin on wilted spinach and pine nuts, tri-coloured mini hasselback potatoes and finished with a glaze de viand.

Wine pairing

Terranoble Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016

or

Colognole Chianti Ruffino 2016

Fourth Course – Deconstructed Blueberry Pie

Blueberry mousse with ini white chocolate truffles and honey streusel, garnished with honey poached candied blueberries.

Wine Pairing – Campbell Rugherglen Muscat

Wine & Dine with Lifford’s Mike Buck and Chef Kirk Weiss and his RB Team – October 21, 2021

It has been a very long time between our last wine and dine gathering (September 27, 2019 when Nick hosted his last event at RB) and last Thursday’s event. We did have a Zoom Wine and Dine session in April, 2021 hosted by Mike Buck. That was a great stop gap but it was a delight to join fellow RiverBenders and wine and food lovers in person after such a prolonged separation.

Introducing the hosts

Mike Buck, Lifford Wines and Spirits

Mike Buck started the consignment wine business in London in the early 1990’s. He was a former partner in Lifford Wine & Spirits. Degrees in History and Geography fuelled his interest in and passion for wine. He is a supporter of domestic and international wines.

Chef Kirk Weiss

Kirk develop his interest in the culinary arts as a hungry traveller. Those travels have given him a great respect for all types of cuisine and cultures. RiverBenders have certainly benefited from his expertise.

Shawn Greco

Shawn came to RiverBend in February 2016. He has considerable experience in the F&B business particularly in golf clubs. He also had a 10-year career as a competitive flair bartender, resulting in 2 top 5 finishes at the World Bartending Championships.

Locale and Team

Shawn organized the seating in the dining room with a u-shaped set of tables – not as intimate as the library but one step at a time!

Now for the food and wine pairings

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First Course

Prosciutto wrapped scallops with watercress and parsnip frites.

Accompanied by the Laurent Miquel Albarino 2020 from Languedoc, France. Mike gave an extensive intro to Laurent Miquel and his winery. Albarino as a grape varietal is mostly associated with Spain. This choice was delicious with the scallops and the saltiness of the prosciutto.

Described as follows:

Aromas of grapefruit with a delicate floral overtone, the palate its lively and refreshing with generous white peach flavours and a hint of lime on the finish. A soft yet crisp and aromatic white, it illustrates Laurent’s signature style of clear pure fruit.

Second Course

Hazelnut crusted camembert with wild blueberry and fennel slaw.

The wine for this course was CKW Speri Rosso Veronese 2017 from Valpolicella, Veneto Italy.

Described as follows:

This wine is from young vines and shows the vitality of the youthfulness. Fresh and fruity, it is a lighter style of red wine perfect for a summer day. It’s light, easy drinking and versatile with some nuanced dried spices and fresh acidity.

Third Course

Braised Beef Short Ribs on sweet potato mash with a truffle jus.

The wine served with this course was Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot 72 from California, USA

Described as follows:

Bright and juicy, with strawberry and black raspberry supported by savoury notes of briar and slate. Fruity and fresh Zinfandel is given added complexity and length by barrel aged Syrah and Petite Sirah. A touch of Grenache and Barbera add a more complex red fruit character and hint of red licorice and white pepper.

Fourth Course

Lemon and rhubarb flan with white chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

Served with this course a local wine – Tawse Chardonnay Ice Wine 2013, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

Described as follows:

This is the second vintage of Chardonnay ice wine produced by Tawse, the first being in 2008. Ageing this dessert wine for 12 months in 100% new large oak barrels has resulted in aromas of vanilla, apricot, honey and a touch of oak. On the palate is caramel and a touch of smoke, followed by a surprising tart finish.

To top off the 4th course chef delivered a gluten-free offering for the dessert (the rest of the courses were already gluten free).

Looking forward to the next…

Foreign Affair Winery at Crossings – November 23, 2019

This event was a four course dinner with wine pairings – wines introduced by Ed Haddon, sommelier from Foreign Affair Winery, and food courses described by Chef Ben – apologies, no last name!

The evening was thoroughly enjoyable.

Over the course of the tasting Ed shared information on Italian style wines – appassimento, ripasso and recioto (sweet wine).

Appassimento technique – talked about Amarone and the drying of the grapes prior to making the wine. How to keep the grapes from rotting while drying – the first attempt at Foreign Affair was harvested too slowly, handled too much and piled up when stored. It all rotted. Today plastic trays go to the vineyard, grapes are hand harvested to these trays in a single layer and the trays are taken to drying sheds. No-one touches the grapes after picking, fans keep the air circulating in the drying sheds. White grapes dry a month to 6 weeks. Big red grape varietals may dry for a year.

Ripasso wine is “a poor man’s Amarone”. The skins from the appassimento wine are added to a fermentation of less robust grapes.

1st Course – Amuse-bouche

Crostini topped with bacon jam, cranberry, brie and a sorrel leaf – delicious combination of flavours – kind of lemony, super vibrant.

Accompanied by 2018 Conspiracy Bianco – $17.95 – a riesling, nice and fresh.

80% reisling and 20% sauvignon blanc. The skins came from the sauvignon blanc appasimento.

2nd Course – Appetizer

Seasonal soup – carrot, ginger, parship, spice (perfect for the early snow and cold)

Two wines – the first a 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay – 10% appasimento – remaining wine fermented in stainless steel tanks – $23.95 – acidic, lean – nicely cut through the richness of the soup – the second a 2018 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay – $26.95 – (10% appassimento with 1 month of drying time, remaining wine aged 9 months in French oak barrels) stood up to the intensity of the soup.

A complement wine – equal weight as the food – would be the oaked chardonnay with the rich soup. A foil wine is a contrast and can also work well. The unoaked chardonnay is more acidic and instead of matching it cuts the richness of the soup.

3rd Course – Entree

Pork tenderloin, prosciutto, squash risotto, maple bourbon demi glace.

Two wines – both Bordeaux varietals – the first the 2017 Conspiracy -$23.95 – (made ripasso style – skins and lees of the appassimento red grapes) – still making this wine in April – the second the 2016 Dream – $29.95 – (partial appassimento – a Bordeaux style blend – merlot cabernet franc, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon). No two years are the same varietals or proportions. Base the blend on the strengths and weaknesses of the varietals in the year the wine is being blended.

Both wines paired well with the pork but the Dream was a more complex, interesting wine.

Interesting to see the difference in the glasses between the white wine and red wine offerings. Ed suggested we try a little red in the white wine glass and compare with the same wine in the red wine glass.

4th Course – Dessert

Butter tart – fig, pecan, maple, bourbon, dulce de leche, spice

2016 Marisa (Recioto style) – $49.95 – riesling grapes set aside to dry for 70 days. Fermentation is stopped when the desired sweetness and acidity is reached. Not as sweet as ice wine. Great pairing with this tart.

Wine & Dine September 27, 2019

Sorry for the delay in posting on this event. Perhaps the timing is good! Several of these wines, e.g. the riesling and the Gewurtztraminer, go well with turkey.

Farewell to Nick

This was Nick’s last wine and dine as a RiverBend staffer. We gathered for the occasion, sipping on sparkling wine – Henkell Trocken.

As most of us know, Nick joined RiverBend about the same time we launched this website.

We celebrated his WSET achievements (Level One and Advanced) and joined him on virtual wine and dine journeys to California, South America, France, Italy and Australia.

All the best to Nick on the next stages of his career (can’t believe it has been almost three months) – hope we can entice him to host a wine event in 2020.

Apologies to Nick – we didn’t take any pictures of him on this occasion so I have included some earlier shots that reflect his contribution to RiverBend.

Welcome from Chanel

Chanel provided an overview of what was to come in the evening. The dishes follow an Eastern European theme (Kirk’s menu reflecting his family’s Austrian roots). Nick also commented on the treat of home style cooking.

1st Course

Seared Lamb and Cabbage Soup

Traditionally just cabbage soup in Russia. Paired with Irish seeded soda bread. No proofing time – mix and bake. Added a little cinnamon to the soup. Simmered for 4-5 hours. Lamb was melt in your mouth.

Paired with Pinot Gris from Pierre Sparr 2017 (Alsace). Very Germanic. A French version of Pinot Grigio. Very dry. Grapes left on the vine longer and the skins get a pink tone. Pear, nectarine, stone fruit. Rich, slightly sweet tone. Macerated with skins. Sweetness level is not listed on the label. Higher the alcohol percentage the dryer the wine (12.5% for this wine). In Alsace the label, Gran Reserve, is used if a better parcel of grapes. These wines are usually intended to be drunk young and fresh. Unusual to have a white wine match with a dish this rich. West coast pinot gris not as rich, terroir coming through.

2nd Course

House Made Pork Sausage Rolls

No certain origin – maybe France, pastry recipe from Hungary. Ground pork seasoned with salt, pepper, roasted garlic, thyme, oregano. Wrapped in puff pastry. Paired with Pommery mustard.

Paired with Darting Riesling Kabinett, Durkheimer Hochbenn Pfalz 2014. German wine, Kabinett style. Really good cellaring and aging potential. Grow on slopes so steep that all grapes are handpicked. Some sweetness but high acidity. Great food wine because of the acidity level. Salty and sweet also works well. Riesling also works with spicy chicken wings. Also great pairing with turkey.

River systems – main river through the wine region is the Rhine, other regions are the Ahr river and the Mosel river (steep slopes). The water reflects the sun, moderates the temperature. The cooler the region, the higher the acidity. The grapes are less ripe than hotter regions where there will be more sugar. Less sugar to ferment with means a lower alcohol level.

Some of the oldest wines are rieslings – still drinkable because of the acidity. Odd, Germans are fans of mould that collects on the bottles in the cellar.

3rd Course

Classic Chicken Paprikash

Chicken cooked with paprika – combination of smoked and regular paprika. Chicken broth, onions, tomatoes. Simmered for about 8 hours. Paired it with a spaetzle. Seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg.

Paired with Gewurtztraminer. Spicy grape. Does have a little bit of pink colour to the skins. Pairs well with spicy dishes – flavourful rather than hot. This wine is from Germany. Waterloo has a destination store for the LCBO for German wines. From Pfalz as well – Villa Wolf 2017. Touch of sweetness in this wine to go with the paprika. Lower alcohol – 11.5%. There is a greenish tinge to the wine. Also a good wine for turkey!!

4th Course

Steamed Dumpling with Smoked Bacon and Forest Mushroom Compote

Very rich – steamed dumpling, yeast dough that rises briefly and is then steamed – paired with mushroom compote – shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, bacon, pork fat, onions, coriander, garlic – garnished with a little parsley.

Chef Kirk says this dish is something he grew up with.

German red paired with this dish. Pinot Noir but the German name is Spätburgunder – late ripening Burgundy grape. Also acquired at the LCBO in Waterloo. Comes from Baden, the most southern region in Germany and the warmest. The river Nectar influences the vineyards, warming during the night. Age this pinot in giant vats so minimizes oak influence. Tannin from the skins that makes this a bigger bodied wine. Also Weissburgunder – white – and Grauburgunder – pinot gris. Labelling system called the VDP, a privately owned board that rates the wines from the regions, is displayed on the bottle. Another term is Grosses Gewächs which relates to the dryness.

5th Course

Braised Brisket and Blue Cheese Pierogi

“Sometimes things in the kitchen just don’t go the way you were hoping for.” The pierogi effort failed. Chanel offered potato pancake, latke, instead of the pierogi. Everyone has potatoes in the pantry! Paired with creme fraiche.

The red wine is from California, not Germany. New world wines have good ripeness and the fruit characteristic really stands out. Blue cheese is very difficult to pair wines with – sweet wine a natural. This wine is a Robert Mondavi Bordeaux style blend – Cabernet Sauvignon, merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot. Skins remain with the juice on this wine for 2 1/2 days. It is aged in French oak. Maestro series 2014 – $67. The wine was poured out of a decanter – still a little tight so aeration helped. Decanted about 3 hours before pouring. This wine is technically a “meritage” which is an American term for the Bordeaux blend. It is an expression of winemaker’s skill at blending proportions of these varietals in order to deliver a consistent wine year after year. In France the proportions are regulated so year on year there are may be significant vintage variations.

Nick expounded on decanting – one reason to decant is for a young, robust red wine is that really needs more time in the bottle and the time aerating helps bring out the fruit – decanting an old wine is usually only to remove the sediment and the wine is poured immediately.

6th Course

Plum Pie Soaked with Vanilla Custard

Dessert is Chanel’s favourite. Pizza dough recipe, sweetened, with ripe plums, raw sugar and West5 honey. Vanilla custard – butter, vanilla, sugar, brandy. Chanel gave kudos to her team who were swamped in the kitchen with a full roster.

Aszu is a berry affected by “noble rot”, botrytis. The region in Hungary is quite humid, the moisture sticks to the grape and the fungus attaches. depleting the grape of water thereby increasing the density of the sugar. Harvest is very time consuming – picking for about a week to get the berries as they are ready. Have a base wine, 10% alcohol and already fermented. Add the berries into this wine and another fermentation takes place. A little more alcohol and more sweetness. The wine is aged in an oak cast which is unusual for a sweet wine. Really good stone fruit, honey – comes from the fungus.

Aside – Muscatali – Tokaj Eszencia – press the “rot” grapes into a paste. 454 grams of sugar per litre by law. Takes three years to complete the fermentation process. Mere $290 a 350 ml bottle.

Trivia ( I think these are the right answers – corrections accepted. I didn’t get them all.😒)

Type of wine not grown in Alsace – Chardonnay

Is it appropriate to send back a bottle just because you don’t like it? – NO

Which German wine is the sweetest? – Trockbeerenauslese

What does the German word trocken mean? – Dry

Pairing a wine with spicy Chinese or Thai dinner – Gewurtztraminer

What does the term reserve mean for a U.S. wine? – Nothing

Chaptalization is adding to wine to balance its taste – False

Crossings (Hyde Park) Dinner featuring Foreign Affair Winery – Wednesday, November 13

In case any of the RiverBend wine folk are interested in attending.

Link to Facebook Post

Details

A four course, wine-paired dinner on November 13th sponsored by the Niagara-located Foreign Affair Winery! Ed Haddon, Foreign Affair’s Sommelier will introduce you to six separate wines under their portfolio while enjoying a specially designed, and seasonal four course menu:

Amuse-bouche:
Crostini
Bacon jam, cranberry, brie, sorrel
Wine: 2018 Conspiracy Bianco

Appetizer:
Seasonal Soup
Carrot, ginger, parsnip, spice
Wine: 2017 un-oaked Chardonnay & barrel fermented Chardonnay

Entree:
Pork Tenderloin
Prosciutto, squash risotto, pomegranate demi-glace
Wine: 2017 Conspiracy (Cab Merlot ripasso) & 2016 Dream (a partial appassimento blend)

Dessert:
Butter Tart
Fig, pecan, maple, bourbon, dulche de leche, spice
Wine: 2016 Marisa (sweet Recioto)

Only $55/person. Dinner will begin at 6:00pm but request guests arrive a little early.

Call 519-472-3020 to reserve your seat!

Fall Wine Club Pre-Release Tasting – Hidden Bench

We enjoyed yet another Hidden Bench tasting with food pairings.

The event started off with the 2014 Blanc de Blanc sparkling paired with Harald Thiel’s famous Gougères

The presentation.

The Alsatian Tart (top LH corner) was served with the 2019 Estate Riesling – the recipe was included in the handouts

Coq au Vin Blanc (a lighter mushroom version) paired with the 2017 Nuit Blanche – a Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend.

The next two wines, 2016 Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay and the 2016 Tête de Cuvée Chardonnay complemented Niagara Gold cheese with Niagara Stone Fruit Preserve (plum and apricot).

Now for the reds. 2017 Estate Pinot Noir and Smoke Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Chutney.

And another pinot, 2016 Locust Lane Pinot Noir, paired successfully with Confit of Lamb Shoulder with Red Wine Glaze.

Lastly, with Braised Lamb Osso Buco, the 2016 Terroir Caché, a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.

Great ideas for food pairings as we enjoy these wines over the next months/years.

Wine & Dine – August 27, 2019

Unfortunately, we were unable to attend this last wine and dine. Of course, according to attendees, it was the best one yet. Those comments might just have been to make us feel worse about missing the event. However, Nick Attard did deliver a copy of the menu, review the wine pairings (mostly from Italy) and I embarrassed myself on the Trivia Q&A. We are looking forward to September’s event.

Congratulations to Alex Fetterly for a 9 out of 10 score on that trivia exercise.

There are no food pictures to drool over but here is a brief overview of the dishes and the pairings.

First Course

Gazpacho soup paired with J. Bouchon Canto Sur – this wine from Chile is a blend of Carmenere, Carignan and Pais grapes

Second Course

Venison tenderloin carpaccio with caviar, gooseberries and watercress. Nick selected two wines to pair with this course. Feudi San Pio 2016 Ripasso Valpolicella (Nick’s hint for the trivial pursuit that Valpolicella is not a grape) and Alpha Zeta 2013 Valpolicella Ripasso

Third Course

Arborio risotto mixed with red beets, fresh ricotta cheese and fresh thyme sprigs. The review I got on this dish was that it was risotto perfection! Nick paired this with Louis Jadot Pinot Noir Bourgogne – great pairing with beets apparently.

Fourth Course

Poached Icelandic cod, coriander and maitaky mushroom broth, finished with a quail egg. This exotic dish Nick paired with Michele Chiarlo 2014 Barbarescue – the Nebbiolo grape from the Piedmont region of Italy. This may be where Nick dropped the hint to the trivia question on grape varietals versus the names of the regions.

Fifth Course

Braised veal shank Osso Bucco with root vegetables, wine and tomatoes, gremolata. Another dish that got special kudos. The pairing was Tenuta di Martucino Brunello di Montalcino 2009

Sixth Course

Dessert!!! Mini Pavlova, hazelnut cream, chocolate gnash. And paired with a classic Pedro Ximenez sherry.

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.