Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gold Medal Dinner Club

In one of our fastest turnarounds ever, we managed to arrange schedules of the Dinner Clubbers so that we could fit in another food and wine extravaganza to kick off 2010 with a bang. This time around, it was Jeaux and Matinder's turn to step up to the bat. Jeaux is the queen of theme. One of my all-time faves had to be after she and Matinder returned from an African safari and served Croc Au Vin as the main course. Even if the "croc" was really alligator, it screamed brilliance for me.

With the Winter Games about to begin in less than a week, Jeaux had a ready-made theme presented on a platter. She scoured the internet and located menus that had been served by delegations at various Olympic Games over the years, choosing dishes of Olympian proportion and region.

With Miss Jaq in town, Jeaux and Matinder were gracious enough to set an extra seat at the table to allow the delegate from Abu Dhabi to join us.

As guests, we were all asked to bring along a medal-winning wine. There was no stipulation of gold, silver or bronze; nor was there a restriction on region or type of competition. In fact, I think a couple arrived because they'd won a gold medal of approval from the guest bringing it.

As is oft the case with these evenings where the wine just keeps on a-comin', there won't be a whole lot of commentary on either wine or winery. I think I'm going to be limited to setting a list of the wines that were opened, mention some of the dishes and add in a few pictures from the evening.

The evening commenced with an Olympic Cocktail (actually called that, but it didn't feature any wine in it), "Famous Seoul Olympic Chicken" from the 1992 Games, Atlanta's '96 "Chicken Satay" and a variety of Greek Olives as a tip of the hat to the original home of the Games.

The first wines of the evening were sparkling -

346. NV Sumac Ridge Silver Tribute (VQA - Okanagan Valley)

347. NV Villa Teresa Prosecco (IGT Veneto - Italy)

The Sumac Ridge is a traditional Methode Classique bubbly from the Okanagan that was vinified specifically for the Vancouver Games by Sumac Ridge. As one of the corporate sponsor wineries, they're one of the few that are allowed to do so and they can actually use the Olympic logo on the bottle.

The bubbles were used to accompany the Olympic Torch to the start of the dinner. In yet another Jeaux-ian twist, the Olympic Torch was served up as flaming Saganaki cheese - with more over-proof vodka than you could shake a fire extinguisher at.

The first - and only - still white wine of the night (guess this is a red wine kind of crowd) was the 2009 Canadian White Wine of the year according to Wine Access magazine and the Canadian Wine Awards.

348. 2008 Sandhill Viognier (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Opened to accompany a Salade Nicoise (served at both Lillehammer and Atlanta), I will now admit that I cheated a little and gave myself a bit of an overpour on this one. But with 11 people at the dinner table, one bottle doesn't go too far. Glad Boo and I have another bottle of it at home. We'll be able to compare notes with the experts to see why they think this is such a top notch bottle.

Then the red started pouring at the pace of a downhill racer:

349. 2007 Scurati Sicilia (IGT Sicily)

350. 1998 Quails Gate Family Reserve Pinot Noir (VQA Okanagan Valley)

351. 2007 Church & State Merlot (VQA Okanagan Valley)

352. 2006 Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina (DOCG Chianti - Italy)

353. 2007 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (South Australia)

354. 2001 d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale - Australia)

Not everyone spoke of the "medals" that their wines garnered, but we had a laugh reading some of the label descriptors - particularly Miss Jaq's "point of purchase" blurb - referring to the wine as "Dark and deep in the glass: the nose is like a smouldering volcano, read to erupt" - that was seductively read out, in bedroom tones, at the table.

Her Church and State Merlot (as well as the other reds) was a lovely accompaniment to the Blanquette de Veau a L'Ancienne that was brought to us as a main course from the 2000 Sydney Games.

As far as medal winners go, Boo and I also brough along a bottle of 2005 CedarCreek Syrah because it was named Canadian Red Wine of the Year for 2007 at the Canadian Wine Awards, but it's not listed above since we've already added it to The List at #98.

Following dinner, Jeaux modelled her 2010 Olympic Volunteer jacket for us, but not before she and Matinder served up our first choice for the gold medal course of the night. For dessert, our hosts with the most delivered their take on Olympic Sushi Rings. Using a thin chocolate sheet (instead of nori seaweed) and sweetened rice, they played on each colour of the Olympic rings.

For the red, blue, black, yellow and green of the rings, the "sushi" was filled with strawberry, dried blueberries, prunes, mango and kiwi. Candied ginger and a not-so-real sweet "wasabi" created a dish worth of Tojo (perhaps Vancouver's most lauded sushi chef). The inventiveness of the dessert called for a bit of sweet and, as an evening night cap, we lounged around with a final bottle of Port.

355. 2003 Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port (Portugal)

Matinder is renowned among our crowd as a master baker. That man whips up more tasty cookies and biscuits and treats than anyone I know. However, for me, I think he's surpassed all previous efforts with his Olympic mitten cookies! The red mittens are becoming synonymous with the Vancouver Games - over a million pairs of the mittens have been sold already. Matinder has gone and captured the Olympics in a tasty bite.

I figure he should spend the next couple of weeks churning out batches of the sugar cookies, with their little maple leafs, and make a fortune selling them during the Games. He just couldn't let Vanoc or the IOC catch wind of them.

Once again, a medal-winning performance from the chefs and a fine list of wines to add to The List.

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