Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time for The Dinner Club - Chez Tyrant

For over twenty years now, in one form or another, I've been involved in The Dinner Club.  It started as a first stab at entertaining and upping our level of experimenting in the kitchen back in university days.  I'm not even sure if it's in its fourth or fifth incarnation.  Members have come and gone over the years - some have moved away from Vancouver, some split as couples and others just drifted away.  

But the concept has always been the same.  A corps of three or four couples have hosted a rotating dinner.  Whomever's hosting the dinner chooses the menu, cooks the dinner and decides if they can fit an extra person or so at the table.  We've gone all
over the map - whether it be a particular theme for the evening, a special occasion or a hodge-podge of down and dirty so that we could get soused and hit the hot tub (although the latter concept was pretty much limited to the earlier years).  The current group has been darned consistent for over a dozen years now - with the only change being the addition of this evening's host a couple years back when another long-time pair decided it was time to move on. 

The Tyrant was chef de mission tonight and he wasn't pulling any stops - likely because he thought it'd hit the blogosphere.  We've often commented on how we never keep track of the various menu's.  This may be the opportunity.   

I won't go to lengths and try to describe the menu so that you might find it in a white linen and fine crystal, A-list restaurant, even though I probably could.  The Tyrant was working with a theme based on the current 100-Mile Diet rage - with liberties.  As he put it, "there's not a single lemon or orange to be found within a thousand miles and I'm not going without citrus."

26.  2006 Red Rooster Bantam (Naramata Bench - Okanagan)

The Okanagan may not exactly be within 100 miles of Vancouver, but it's close enough to satisfy my global guilt - and satisfy by taste buds.  This is a tasty little entry level blend of not-so-common white grapes - kerner, muller thurgau, muscat and pinot auxerrois.  It was served with the hors d'oeuvres, being wild mushrooms sauteed in brandy cream, seared tuna, and spot prawns.

27.  2005 Mission Hill Quatrain (Okanagan)

This is the new big red that was recently introduced by Mission Hill.  Together with Oculus and Perpetua, it forms a trio of top shelf wines for the Kelowna winery.  Normally, this novel blend of merlot, syrah, cab sauv and cab franc would be better served later in the evening but it was being decanted on the counter and empty glasses were crying out for a fill - and it was gone - long before anyone had migrated to the dining table.  

Unintentionally, I'm sure, the magic of the "four" was carried forward by the Tyrant with his quatrain of an introductory course.

28.  2006 La Frenz Viognier (Naramata Bench - Okanagan)

When seated, we were greeted with a foursome of appetizers - home-smoked salmon maki rolls, grilled halibut, scallop & prawn ceviche, and mini crab cakes.  The viognier worked perfectly.

The main course featured a Saltspring Island chevre crusted rack of lamb and we just threw all of the remaining reds onto the table for a good old fashioned free-for-all.  They were:

29.  2000 Desert Hills Meritage (Black Sage Road - Okanagan)

30. 2006 Chateau Haut Perthus (AOC Bergerac - France)

31.  2005 Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

32.  2004 Yard Dog Red (South Australia)

33.  2006 Miguel Gascon Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

Some of the guests called the Quatrain their favourite of the night but, unfortunately, we weren't able to compare it to any of these other reds.  At the dinner table, it seemed that there was a pretty even split between the Yard Dog and the Bosca Malbec.  The Yard Dog takes "critter wines" to a whole new level - that dog is anything but cute.  It could likely take a much-loved, little yellow-tailed roo and rip it to shreds.  Rabid, maybe.  But cute, no.  Yard Dog was interesting in that it was a Bordeaux blend but with an interesting pedigree of 55% petit verdot - with the more standard cab and merlot making up the balance.  The Bosca Malbec topped the Gascon easily as well.

Tyrant served up an incredible dessert that was a combination of layered crab apple wine and cassis jello (both wines from Elephant Island in Naramata) and that was followed with an assortment of Vancouver Island and Gulf Island cheeses.  Both were accompanied by what little red was left on the table and by our night cap:

34.  1994 Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti Nivole (Piedmont - Italy)

I'm a sucker for dessert wines, ports and stickies.  This wasn't my favourite but it was still very fresh for a 1994 and it was a nice way to end the evening.

Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed are up next.  Can't wait!

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