Monday, July 12, 2010

Nova Scotia's cuisine meets the wines of Australia

Last weekend, I was invited to partake in a mystery meal...Actually no, let me start from the beginning. About a month ago, I received a save-the-date type email from a contact of mine at By the Glass. That's it, just a date. When June 26th came around, I was filled with anticipation as to what the evening had in store - I had heard snippets of gossip from various contacts throughout the week. One of my contacts let me on on the fact that Bill Hardy, owner of Hardy's winery in Australia would be joining us on the tour as well! *starstruck*

I arrived at CUT Urban Grill & Steakhouse at 5:30 sharp and was loaded into an Ambassatours coach with the other lucky guests. Though none of us knew exactly where we were headed, some had an inkling, and we proceeded to make predictions on our journey into the Annapolis Valley. We thought maybe a restaurant or a vineyard would be our final destination, but what awaited us was a dining experience more pleasurable, more special and more intimate than I could have guessed.

We arrived at a beautiful white farmhouse, and from around the corner emerged chef Craig Flinn! It turns out that the 'secret' location was Craig's parent's house and the home of Chives' restaurant garden (photo below). When we walked down the path, we found ourselves in an orchard with a lovely white-dressed table under a tent.

In addition to the lovely table setting, we were greeted by the mouth-watering aroma of a Wood 'n' Heart Farm's leg of lamb, which had been slowly roasting from about 2 pm on a spit in the orchard.

Clearly, I felt the need to get up close and personal with the lamb...although this was as close as I could get since it was so hot! I must admit, my face did sting for a little while after that stunt!

And then we got down to 'business'... As it was an Australian wines dinner - with an Australian winery's winemaker amongst the guests - the name of the game was to illustrate how well Australian wines complimented Nova Scotian cuisine, and the balanced food and wine pairings that could be created.

Rancher Acres Canaan Mountain Ash Chevre, Fox Hill Quark,
J. Willy Krauche Smoked Salmon and Smoked Mackerel

2007 McWilliams Hanwood Riesling (South Eastern Australia)
2008 Hardy's "The Gamble' Chardonnay/Pinot Gris (South Australia)
When my dining companions and I sat down to eat, I asked Bill Hardy about The Gamble, his wine that we had the pleasure of drinking earlier. When he told me the story of the wine, I felt incredibly privileged to be sitting next to a man whose great, great grandfather had taken 'a gamble', and, with very little knowledge about wines, created one of Australia's most celebrated wine companies!

Our table - that's me, bottom right...taking notes!

First Course
Cherrywood Smoked Seafood with a Riesling Beurre Blanc

2006 Henschke Julius Riesling (Eden Valley, Australia)
With a crisp acidity, and rich lemon/lime flavour, this wine was a lovely compliment to the array of shellfish. The balance in the wine pairing was perfect too as riesling was used in the beurre blanc.

Second Course
Line-caught Shrimp Cake with Butter Poached Lobster,
Fresh Peas and Spinach Cream

2004 Houghton Museum Reserve (Swan Valley, Australia)
A lovely wine, buttery and soft with a toasty, honeyed character.

2006 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay (Australia)
Yum. I'd drink this chard any day. Interestingly, we found that this wine paired nicely with the following duck course as well.

Third Course
Duck Breast atop
Asparagus and Rancher Acres Goat Cheese Risotto

2006 Stonier Pinot Noir (Mornington Peninsula, Australia)
This was a lovely pinot - red fruit with a slight savory character.

The lamb, finally removed from the spit awaits trimming...

Main Course
Spit-roasted Wood 'n' Heart Farms Lamb, Honey , Cider & Lamb Jus Reduction, New Potato Mash, Market Vegetables

2004 Tintara "The McLaren Flat" Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Australia)
2004 Tintara "The Upper Tintara" Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Australia)
It was interesting to try two vintages by the same winery from different areas. The Tintara wines were similar in structure with a similar spicy undertone. Dark fruits lend a plummy character and a bit of sweetness here.

2006 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River, Australia)
An elegant wine with a predominant taste of cassis and currant.

Myself and Bill Hardy

Tangled Garden Strawberry Liqueur Glazed Local Strawberries,
Lemon Brioche Bread Pudding, Fox Hill's Vanilla Gelato

Nugan Estate KLN Vineyard Botrytis Semillon (Riverina, Australia)
Ah, dessert wine. Though I was sad that the evening was coming to an end, I was thrilled that it wrapped up with this lovely Australian dessert wine. I've not tried many dessert/ice wines out of Nova Scotia, so it was great to try something new. This wine was full of smooth apricot, with a slight note of something tropical.

At the end of the meal, my pal Craig Flinn sat down for a well-deserved
rest and a chat after cooking such an incredible meal.


The Culinary Chase said...

Lucky you! Mark (By The Glass) asked me if I wanted to go but that was at the last minute when I attended his Aussie wine tasting at the Cut, so ended up telling him I could not make it. Looks like it was a stellar event as I'm sure Mr. Flinn did a fab job with the food and wine pairings from Mr. Hardy. Cheers!

mrs.powersherry said...

Sounds like an amazing meal! That lamb was making my mouth water. I am interested in checking out some of the Australian wines.