Last week, I managed to get some tix to attend the 100 Mile Dinner at Seasons Bistro & Wine Bar in the Atlantica Hotel. I had caught wind of the dinner through a friend at Atlantica, and was even more enthralled when I realized that the evening would be hosted by Chef Luis Clavel in his new role as the hotel's Executive Chef. Clavel took on the role a couple of weeks ago, and started off on the right foot with this initiative; to create a dinner using (predominantly) sourced local ingredients paired with Nova Scotian wine.
Clavel also invited Sean Buckland, a sommelier from Ambassatours and champion of local wine, and Brian Titus, President of Garrison Brewery to add to the fun. Buckland introduced each wine pairing, while Titus discussed Garrison's newest (and limited) beer, 3 Fields Harvest.
The evening started with a reception that featured some of the evening's wines as well as Stutz Hard Apple Cider. I've always been a Stutz fan, but after it being a staple during the heat wave in the last few weeks of August, I was happy to reconnect with an old friend.
Once seated, the service staff brought out a lovely selection of artisnal breads paired with 24 Carrots Lavache whipped butter and an apple fennel jam. I don't often tackle a bread basket, but when it's a house-made selection of soft savory loaves and crispy flatbreads, I'm all over it. The kicker here was the apple fennel jam. Upon further investigation, I found out that the butter was laced with fennel seeds, and topped with a sweet mix of apple and blueberries.
Apple & Blueberry Jam atop Fennel-laced Butter...
The first course was an experiment in asparagus with two distinct presentations; a salad of shaved pickled asparagus topped with a crispy Foxhill Parmesan-dusted spear, and a poached asparagus tip atop a lusciously tart lemon compote with buttery brioche breadcrumbs. On the side, Clavel served a rich truffle vinaigrette that complemented both of the bites. This course was paired with Gaspereau Vinyards' 2009 Seyval Blanc, one of my favorite Nova Scotian wines, whose smooth palate of honeyed citrus fruit paired beautifully with the fresh, clean flavours of this dish.
Next came the "liquid", a silky broth caressing a pairing of some of (Nova Scotian) land and sea's best attributes; a Digby scallop and 48 hr braised pork belly. The broth consisted of some of Clavel's signature ingredients; sweet blueberry and creamy coconut milk. The voluptuous scallop had a caramelized sear, while the pork belly was first crisp then tender. While blueberries scattered the display, my tastebuds were turned on by the bacon foam that crowned the dish. The pairing here was Grand Pre's L'Aadie Blanc Reserve - a slightly spicy white with a buttery finish.
After a palate cleanser or Stutz Cider and Ginger sorbet, the main course was served; a smoked short rib with a ravioli of wild NS mushroom, celeriac puree and roasted root vegetables. During his intro, Chef Clavel guaranteed that he would refund the cost of the meal should the meat not "fall off the bone". Well, if their meat was anything like mine, my dining companions should have paid full price.
The short rib lived up to Clavel's expectations to the extent that I needed only my fork to cut through the meat. While a smoky, earthy sauce complimented the meat's richness, it was paired with an equally indulgent puree of celeriac - a pleasant alternative to potato. The one mushroom ravioli on the plate was a tease; both musty and sweet at the same time, I found myself hoping that it would appear on Season's final menu...hint, hint...
The entree was paired with Blomidon Estate's Baco Noir, a NS red wine that packs a punch. Its aroma of vanilla and spicy oak certainly complimented the meat's sweetness, while accentuating the subtle savory notes of the celeriac puree and roasted root vegetable accompaniments.
For dessert, Clavel served a trio; an apple fritter-type bite with a warm, spicy cinnamon sabayon, a chocolate-raspberry tart with a dusting of caramel powder and a Bavarian creme cube with a sensual liquid center and chocolate drape.
Though filled to the brim at this point, I have difficulty resisting dessert, so I indulged in a few bites. The Bavarian consisted of a lovely mouth-filing creme, while the chocolate raspberry tart was velvety smooth and studded with raspberry pulp. Shockingly (as I'm not particularly an apple dessert type of gal), the apple fritter was my favorite bite. With a crisp, deep-fried crust enclosing warm, melted apple, it was pretty hard to resist. The dessert plate was paired wih L'Acadie Vineyard's L'Acadie Soleil 2007, a sweet dessert wine made in the Ripasso-style.
Me & Luis :)
in front of the sign for the NEW Seasons Bistro
The resto has since opened with a new menu and is certainly worth a visit!