Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fine Food and Friends

This past Saturday, I was one lucky gal. I got to attend the Fine Food and Friends dinner at White Point Beach Resort as part of the 2008 Nova Scotia Fall Wines Festival. White Point's Executive Chef Alan Crosby prepared a delightful meal highlighting fresh, local produce with a special nod to the province's spectacular blueberries currently in season.

We started the meal with an amuse bouche; a bite of something used to excite your taste buds and whet the palate, and that's exactly what it did. Crosby prepared a scrumptious beef and blueberry taco. That's right folks, a mini taco bowl filled with seared strip steak seasoned with spicy Dijon, served with crispy lettuce and complemented with several fat, juicy blueberries.

The appetizer was a simple organic tomato from Selwood green, oven dried and smothered in spicy cracked black pepper. Served along side was crispy crostini, and some of the creamiest goat cheese imaginable. This was garnished with a lovely lemon thyme spring. Knowing full well that a garnish is used to enhance a dish, I picked the delicate leaves off the sprig to add a hint of lemon to the plate. To pair with the appy, Crosby chose Gaspereau Vineyard's 2006 L'Acadie Blanc; a Silver medal winner at the 2008 Taster's Guild International Competition. The wine was delicate with hints of citrus that did the trick to cut through the richness of the cheese.

The next course was a smoked butternut squash risotto; rich and creamy risotto with a hint of squash, lovely salty bacon lardons and a nutty Grana Padano. To pair with this dish, Crosby chose Blomidon Estates 2006 Chardonnay. The wine's full body was in perfect balance with the creamy risotto, and it's crispness put forth a refreshing contrast to the salty bacon.

Crosby created a fantastic chicken dish for the main event. Now, in a restaurant, I don't normally order chicken. I tend to stay away from menu items that I feel capable of cooking at home. However, even in my best attempt, I could never cook a bird to this caliber. We're talking some of the most mouth-watering poultry I've ever tasted, and a great presentation too!

Essentially, the dish was chicken, two ways. The chicken breast was marinated in earthy sage and refreshing citrus, while the jus, originally 20 L worth, was reduced to just 5 cups, resulting in the most flavorful chicken broth imaginable. The meat was served atop a buttery smooth whipped potato. Alongside was the other chicken element; a tender confit of chicken leg enclosed within a wrapping of Nappa cabbage. Domaine de Grand Pre's 2006 Reserve Foch was the pairing here. A full bodied wine with flavors of red berries, Grand Pre's Foch has won countless of awards, the most recent being a Bronze medal at the 2006 Canadian Wine awards. The rich and creamy elements of the chicken dish helped to balance out this wine's powerful punch.

For dessert, we were served a trio of miniature blueberry desserts; lemon panna cotta with a blueberry gelee, lavender honey pound cake with crumbly Blue cheese, and a blueberry Foch gelato made with the aforementioned Grand Pre's Foch. My apologies, melting ice cream was at stake, so I prioritized and dug in instead of taking a photo! The pairing of blueberry and red wine was a fantastic notion and made for a sinfully sweet dessert, with a hint of spice. The panna cotta was light and refreshing, while the pound cake with blue cheese really balanced Crosby's choice of wine pairing for the dessert course; Gaspereau Vineyard's Reserve Port; a Gold medal winner at the 2008 All Canadian Wine competition.

In my opinion, this wine added a forth dessert to the menu. With nuances of creamy toffee, this liquid velvet dessert wine coated my throat in richness on it's way down. This is, by far, my favorite product from Gaspereau Winery.

Many thanks to the Winery Association and to the F&B staff at White Point for a fantastic meal and a great night. Congratulations to Chef Crosby for the successful execution of a spectacular menu showcasing the culinary gems of Nova Scotia. There are still plenty of events to come, so check out the Nova Scotia Fall Wine Festival 2008 events calendar on the Winery Association's website.

The Winery Association of Nova Scotia http://www.winesofnovascotia.ca/

White Point Beach Resort http://www.whitepoint.com/

Gaspereau Winery http://www.gaspereauwine.com/

Blomidon Winery http://www.blomidonwine.com/

Grand Pre Winery http://www.grandprewines.ns.ca/

No comments: