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…

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.

Prix Fixe Dinner and Wine Pairing – Fireside Lounge – July 4

Absolutely delicious!

Forest mushroom risotto with shaved Romano cheese paired with Pinot Gris (other options were salmon dumplings or charbroiled Roma tomato with individual wine pairings)

Grilled spring lamb chops with a burnt orange and mint yogurt paired with Cotes du Rhone (other options were scallop and shrimp or turkey schnitzel with individual pairings)

Cherries jubilee table side paired with Remy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac – thanks to Amanda for the table side – great job!

Australia (and New Zealand) Tour of Food and Wine

Executive Chef Kirk Weiss and Head Bartender, Nick Attard, (WSET – Wine and Spirit Education Trust – Level Two graduate) hosted the final “wine and dine” event for 2018. On this occasion we were introduced to the wine and cuisine of “Down Under”.

We were greeted with an introductory glass of white wine – Tahbilk, Marsanne, a varietal originating in Rhone, France but grown in the central Victoria region since the 1860s. Nick noted that the winery has vines dating from 1927.

Nick also presented another “trivia” challenge – 10 questions with one of two options for each answer – Australia or New Zealand.

1st Course

Damper bread (according to Chef – sourdough meets scone) toasted and served with a poached egg on plum jam with the requisite touch of vegemite.

Wine Pairing – Sparkling wine, Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend, from the Adelaide Hills Jacob’s Creek winery.

2nd Course

Shrimp on the Barbie – marinated in orange, pepper, spice and lime – barbecued and served with garnish of fried onion and chopped green onions.

 

 

 

Wine PairingBrokenWood Semillon from New South Wales Hunter Valley, a warm region. Nick indicated that this wine went through malolactic fermentation to produce the creamy feel and body – usually used for Chardonnay.

3rd Course

Lamb, rubbed with bacon fat and roasted in the oven at low temperature for 5 hours. Served on polenta with a hint of blue cheese and a delicious reduction.

 

 

 

 

Wine PairingDe Bortoli Pinot Noir. Lightly oaked but old oak. Yarra Valley, cool enough for pinot. Amazing pairing – didn’t think that Pinot could stand up to lamb.

4th Course

Wild boar tart (Australia is known for its tarts and pies). Started with 3 litres of sauce and reduced it to ¾ litre. Topped with pommery cream and juniper berry and fried kale.

 

 

Wine PairingThe Laughing Magpie, 2012 d’Arenburg – a shiraz/viognier from McLaren Vale, the Bourassa Region. Finished in 50% French oak, 50% American oak (8% of this new oak)

5th Course

Chef indicated that this dish was designed to reflect the “colours” of Australia. Red rock, browns and yellows.

Orange Roughy with a smoked paprika rub, peppercorn hollandaise sauce and garnished with fried onion.

Wine Pairing – Two wines were presented with this course. Rebel Red, a montepulciano (Italian varietal) grown in the McLaren Vale and La Bohème Act Four, a syrah/gamay blend – grapes grown in the cooler Yarra Valley

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6th Course

Pavlova – classic – Kiwi, strawberry, blueberries, meringue and cream with rose glace and a fruit glaze.

Chef and Nick agreed that New Zealand was the earliest to adopt this dessert although there are those that believe it was Australia or somewhere else entirely! Did we care? It was delicious.

Wine Pairing Campbell’s Rutherglen Muscat – Australian “sticky” – muscat petit grape rouge, ripened on the vine to almost raisin consistency, fermented in oak barrels and moved from barrel to barrel mixing different years – solera process. The alcohol level is quite high – 17.5%

For instance, suppose the solera consists of three barrels of wine, and half of each barrel is transferred once a year. At the end of the third year (and each subsequent year), half the third barrel is bottled. This first bottling is aged three years. The third barrel is then refilled with by transferring half of the wine from the second barrel. The wine transferred from the second barrel has an average age of 2.5 years (at the end of year 2, after barrel transfers, it was half 2-year old wine, half 1-year old wine, for an average age of 1.5 years; at the end of year 3, before barrel transfers, it will have aged another year for an average age of 2.5 years). The second bottling will then be half 3.5 years old and half four years old (the wine left in the last barrel at the previous cycle), for an average age of 3.75 years. The third bottling will be an average age of 4.25 years (one half wine that was left over from the second bottling – average age 4.75 years, and one half wine transferred from the second barrel after the second bottling – average age 3.75 years). After 20 years, the output of the solera would be a mix of wine from 3 to 20 years old, averaging very slightly under five years. The average age asymptotically converges on five years as the solera continues.”

Wikipedia

Trivia Challenge

There were four ties in the results of the Trivia Challenge – each winner received a bottle of wine.

Barry and Trudy Barnard

Carl Hall

Martha Wood

Robert and Andrea Israel

Congratulations to Nick

Nick

On two fronts Nick Attard is deserving of our congratulations. He has a new title – Head Bartender. He also now holds the Level One award from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and he didn’t just pass – he received a mark of 100%.

The first level is an introduction to the wines of the most well-known grape growing regions in the world. The noble grapes and the regions in which they grow were emphasized. In the white wine sphere – Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc and a small lecture on sparkling wines, as well as soave from Veneto Italy. Red wines covered were Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz. Sweet wines were touched on. The final lecture was Canadian wines.

Nick commented,

“I would highly recommend this course for any beginner or experienced wine enthusiast. The course was not overwhelming in information to the point where it was not enjoyable, and having an opportunity to blind taste 8 wines every lecture was a great treat for the palate. The course is available in a weekend format or once a week for four weeks which was the format I participated in.”

Nick commences his lectures for WSET level 2 award in wines and spirits this Sunday. He says that the textbook is, no suprise, more intense than the first level, chock full of detail on wine tasting notes and sub regions of the main wine countries. Spirits are also part of the program including distillation processes, brandy & cognac as well as liqueurs.

Want more info? About the WSET and WSET Level One

Wine and Dine – June 5

And, he will be sharing his new expertise with us at the Wine and Dine, featuring France, on June 5.

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Above photo was taken from the balcony of our “chateau” in the Champagne district – Howard Moyer’s 50th – great trip.