Monday, June 4, 2012

Dinner Club - Caribbean Style

As if our trip Down Under wasn't extravagant enough, here we are, back less than two weeks, and it's time for our next Dinner Club instalment. It would seem that all those pounds I managed to put on while dining on roo and barbee are going to stick around for awhile longer.

This time around, it's Jeaux and Matinder's turn to wow the gang with culinary splenders. Those guys have just returned from a grand vacation of their own - wasting away, again, in Antigua. Needless to say, our intrepid hosts have decided to whisk our palates away to the Caribbean and Yucatan. Now, wine may not be the Caribbean locals' first beverage of choice, but there was still plenty of it being knocked back at our dinner.

Before we popped the corks though, Jeaux whipped up
Chupacabra Martinis for everyone. Named after the infamous "goatsucker" that haunts Mexico and parts of the Caribbean, this little concoction of coconut rum, açai juice (supposedly an aphrodisiac), guava, pineapple and blood orange goes down far too easily. I'd already seen the array of wine to be opened; so, I limited myself to one as I was still hoping to be somewhat functional come the morning.

1148. 2008 Viñas Elias Mora (D.O Toro - Spain)

1149. 2010 Argento Reserva Bonarda (Mendoza - Argentina)

J&M served up a pair of appies: chalupas - tortillas with chicken, salsa and assorted condiments - and hongos rellenos de chorizo (stuffed mushrooms). Whether or not it was deliberate - especially since our hosts know the general bent of this crowd - all the evening's wines were of the red persuasion. So, we picked what we expected would be the two lighter bodied wines from the assortment available and started the wheels of wine a-movin'.

The Viñas Elias Mora was a 100% Tinta de Toro or Tempranillo and the Bonarda was simply that - Bonarda, Argentina's second best known red varietal.

The roughest thing about describing these dinners and wines is that time dictates a truncated version of any recap. I can't recall having tried either of these wineries before but, in consideration of space and time, I'm going to have to leave this at a basic mention.

1150. 2006 Langmeil - Blacksmith Cabernet (Barossa Valley - Australia)

1993 Rosemount Estate - Balmoral Syrah (McLaren Vale - Australia)

Our second course was oxtail posole - the traditional Mexican soup of meat, hominy, chili peppers and vegetables. Given the oxtail, we figured it was time to bring on the bigger guns. Plus, it only made sense to try them while we still had some of our senses working. The Balmoral doesn't get a number for The List because, believe it or not, we've already enjoyed and added a bottle of the '93 vintage back at #314. It's not too surprising that the earlier bottle involved an evening with Tyrant since this bottle came from his cellar as well. It's more interesting, however, that it was served with another bottle of Langmeil - their Fifth Wave Grenache. I don't think that Tyrant and I are that predictable in our wine contributions but it is quite the coincidence.

I think the posole was a favourite course of the evening as were these two wines. Given Jeaux' propensity to serve interesting meats (gator, rabbit and "make-do pigeon") at past dinners, we made her swear that it was really oxtail in the soup. When she started serving up the dish, we tried to get her to admit that it was that Caribbean staple, goat, since that'd go a good distance on the queasy scale for Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed. Never having cooked oxtail myself, it was a great introduction.

And Tyrant can bring out his remaining Balmorals anytime I'm around.

1151. 2008 Sobon Estate - Old Vines Zinfandel (Amador County - California)

1152. 2009 1884 Reservado Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

The soup was followed by Pan de Cazón- tortillas with shredded fish, black beans and a tomato salsa. We likely could have gone with a white wine here but the fruit forwardness of the Zin and Malbec allowed everyone to keep eating and sipping without any concerns. My guess is that we would have carried on eating regardless of what was being served. It was all that tasty.

I haven't heard of the Sobon Estate previously, but the 1884 was a familiar brand because Boo and I had actually visited the winery without knowing it when we travelled to Argentina. And, no, it wasn't that we were too far gone to realize where we were. Rather, it was because the 1884 Francis Mallman restaurant is connected to the winery and, by the time we arrived at the restaurant for dinner, everything was dark and deserted on the winery side of the complex and we didn't even know it existed. Finding the wine back in Vancouver is the bigger surprise for me.

1153. 2010 Domaine Paul Autard - Côtes du Rhône (AOC Côtes du Rhône - France)

1154. 2002 Kettle Valley - Rock Oven Red (Okanagan Valley)

We weren't done on the food front yet though. Jeaux and Matinder served up a meat course of achiote & wheat-ale marinated flank steak, together with jicama slaw and nopales salad - a mix of prickly pear cactus, onion & tomato. And, funnily enough, we just happened to have another couple of big reds to go along with the beef.

Once again, the Côtes du Rhône was new to me, but the Rock Oven Red is known quantity - even if it's one that I don't get much opportunity to try. There are times that you might think my middle name is Syrah or Shiraz. So, I didn't have any issues with either of these two wines. The Côtes du Rhône, in fact, was mostly Grenache with only 15% Syrah but I could easily come back as a Rhône Ranger in another lifetime. The Rock Oven Red is a blend of almost equal parts Cab Sauv and Shiraz, a blend that doesn't seem to be made a whole bunch in BC, particularly seeing as this bottle is from 2002. Really, it's quite a surprise to see it served tonight as there can't be many bottles of it still hanging around. There were only 120 cases made of the '02 vintage and I should think most of them have long been tipped back. I don't think there can be any issue with the ability of BC wines to age when made properly - and when stored in Tyrant's boffo cellar.

English Harbour 5 Year Antigua Rum

The dessert course was accompanied by an appearance of a guest alcohol - aged rum. A 5-year old rum is a bit of stretch for a wine blog, but our hosts thought they'd end with a bit of a more authentic note. Jeaux said that she hadn't run across any Antiguan wines during their vacation but there were no complaints at the table. The sipping rum matched the homemade churros with roasted pineapple and strawberry salsa better than any wine that immediately comes to my mind. The rums that I drink are usually hidden away in eggnogs or daiquiris or maybe the odd mojito; so, it was a welcome change to have it poured this way.

Jeaux and Mattinder have raised the bar yet another level for our little gathering - and as if that wasn't enough - they've suggested that the gang all try to make it down to Antigua for a bit of a vacay for one of the next times it's their turn to host the Dinner Club. With Tyrant having already hosted his last dinner on Salt Spring Island, there seems to be a new travel theme on the rise. Whatever will Boo and I be able to pull out of the bag when it's our turn? The closest thing we have to a vacation home is my Mom and Dad's trailer in Washington state. I think it was a table big enough to fit two comfortably. We'll need an awful lot of wine to be able to pull that one off with any success.

We'll worry about that later though. In the mean time, big thanks go out to Jeaux and Matinder for another masterfully delicious evening - and for providing the opportunity to add another seven bottles to The List.

No comments:

Post a Comment