Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chef Meets Grape - Again

Chef Meets Grape is one of the tasting events that I most look forward to every year. 2011 marked the 7th annual "celebration of the Wines of BC and local food" and the crowd in attendance was treated to a showcase of wines and tasting plates from over 70 BC wineries and from the 10 chefs representing a selection of Vancouver, Whistler and Okanagan restaurants.

With only a couple of hours available to try and pack in as many tastes as you could, there was no chance of sampling much more than a handful of the treats available - particularly considering some of the lines that formed for most of the intriguing plates.

Boo and I worked hard to try and get a taste from each of the 10 chefs. It took some creative efforts on our parts to manipulate and minimize the amount of time spent standing in line, but I think we managed to try most of the dishes served up. Indeed, some of the tastes could easily have prompted an immediate return to the end of the line for a second helping; however, there was plenty of wine to be tried as well. There is an "official" competition between the chefs for the favourite dish of the night, but our favourite never seems to co-incide with the actual winner. Case in point, Boo and I loved Ned Bell and Yew Restaurant's 3-way salmon, but it was O'Doul's Pinot Noir cured salmon with chanterelle and bacon salad that won the judges' top prize. Yew matched their salmon with a Painted Rock Chardonnay while O'Doul's dish was paired with a Garry Oaks Pinot Noir.

The other two dishes that stood out the most for me were Cibo Trattoria's potato and goat cheese ravioli in a red wine butter and the Vancouver Convention Centre's lamb duo of braised lamb neck and sweetbread "popcorn." It certainly didn't hurt that Adrian Cassini, of Cassini Cellars, recognized me from last weekend's BCWAS Bus Tour and he graciously filled our glasses with his Maximus blend while we were waiting in the long line for the Cibo pasta his wine was paired with.

Due to the number of wineries participating, we tried to concentrate on some producers that we maybe didn't know as well - except when I thought Boo might like to try some of the wines that I'd picked up on the Bus Tour. I was still in the dog house for my lack of control in buying wines over the weekend and I felt he needed to see that he was really going to enjoy the wines that I'd brought home.

Over the course of the evening, we barely scratched the surface but we did uncover a few wines - particularly from JoieFarm and Howling Bluff - that even Boo will let me pick up should I run across them in the local stores.

Following the event, I took a look at some of the wineries and wines that were being poured and I could only lament the fact that we couldn't take advantage of the opportunity to try them all. This is definitely one of the top events to discover what's currently available in BC wines - and it always just leaves me wanting for more.

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