Monday, May 17, 2010

Chefs For Life

This has definitely been a big week for top notch food and wine. If the assembled offerings at Hot Chefs Cool Jazz wasn't enough to pack on the pounds and spread some charitable bucks, then the Chefs for Life fundraising dinner could certainly put the cherry on your Sunday evening.

Chefs for Life is an annual fundraiser for The Vancouver Friends for Life Society. Boo and I were invited to the last dinner and enjoyed it so much, we called up some connections to try and finagle some of the highly sought after tickets. We were lucky enough to rope in four tickets and, together with Mr. D and Vixen, we formed up a table with Tyrant - since he's been a regular at the event for years.

The highly anticipated twelve course sit-down dinner was being hosted at William Tse's Goldfish Pacific Kitchen in Yaletown and you could tell the level of evening that was to be enjoyed when it kicked off with a Veuve Clicquot Champagne reception.

As if the talent the other night wasn't enough, the four chefs behind tonight's hors d'oeuvres reads like a who's who on the Vancouver culinary scene - Vikram Vij (Vij's), Robert Belcham (Refuel), Frank Pabst (Blue Water Cafe) and Ernst Dorfler (Five Sails Restaurant).

I thought that the Smoked Salmon Terrine with Canadian Sturgeon Caviar was particularly striking, but I have to say that, had I been able to sit down with an entire plate of the Spring Vegetable and Fine Herb Ravioli, it likely would have left me satisfied for the whole evening. If that's a regular dish at the Five Sails, I need to get there soon. On the other hand, Boo was more than willing to nibble on as much of Vij's Masala Spiced Steak Tartare as he could.

We both managed to carry on to the dinner table though. We'd have been crazy to stop at the tasty appies or to start dieting tonight. This was not going to be a night for the Merlot Boy No Merlot Diet.

Even though this is a wine blog, I think I'll just carry on with a little food-centric focus and set out the courses as described -

- Crab Cake in a Pea Puree Garnished with Lemon Confit from Wayne Martin at Crave

- Hopefully, having recovered from his front and centre stint at Hot Chefs Cool Jazz, Scott Jaeger of The Pear Tree served up Warm BC Spot Prawn Gel with Butter Poached Spot Prawns and Celeriac Puree

- the one and only Tojo delivered a Panko Crusted Edamame and Vegetable Cake, Garnished with Shiso and Micro Greens with Tonkatsu Sauce

- a Pan Roasted Sablefish with Scallop Sashimi and Tapenade of Black Bean and Fire Roasted Tomato-Pineapple Jam was host chef, William Tse's, plate - and it wowed our table

- next up was Quail with Wild Arugula and Snails in Sauce Diable from James Walt of Whistler's Araxi

Thankfully, they split the dinner into two distinct halves - not only to give us a bit of a rest but to make some nice cash on the "Finer Things in Life" live and silent auctions. There was some serious coin being bandied about for some big wines, some bigger vacations and general, all around luxury.

I don't even want to think of how big of a hole Boo and I would have dug for ourselves had all of our bids been winners. Yet, a Vancouver/New York Table Hopping Dine Around with celebrity Chef Daniel Boulud is worth a few sheckels in my book.

The auction was followed by three final courses -

- Roasted Veal Loin with Morel Mushrooms, White Beans, Flan and Veal Jus was served up by Dale Mackay of Lumiere

- another big hit at our table was the 72-Hour (that's right 72 hours) Braised Shortrib and Pickled Daikon, with Salad of Asian Pear and Watercress presented by David Hawksworth and his soon-to-be opened eponymous restaurant Hawksworth at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. This must be part of the reason why West became the sensation that it was while he was there.

- finally, Melissa Craig and Dominic Fortin of Whistler and the Bearfoot Bistro served up a Slow Cooked Pink lady Apple Cake with Three Textures of Quebec Foie Gras and Chocolate Ganache. We all were at a bit of a loss in locating the foie gras though - intrigued as we were that it was being incorporated into a dessert.

We should all have such problems, but, if there was going to be a problem this evening, it was that, yet again, it was destined to be a shame that I wasn't going to get to add a bottle of wine to The List since we were simply being served glasses with each course. There wasn't a bottle to be found at our table. Like a super hero though, just after the live auction finished, Tyrant came to the rescue and coaxed event organizer, Kim Osborne, to drop off a bottle that we had no trouble polishing off.

452. 2005 Pacific Breeze Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon (Bottled in BC)

It was such a coincidence that Kim proffered up a bottle of Pacific Breeze - after Boo, Vixen and I had enjoyed their wines so much last week at the Maple Ridge Golf Club tasting. Vixen immediately texted the Guru to let him know just where we were and what we were drinking.

The bottle clearly states that this is a wine made in New Westminster, BC, from California grapes, but, to me, this shouldn't be viewed in the same light as the mass produced, "Cellared in Canada" wines that create such a stir among BC producers. The boys at Pacific Breeze may not use locally grown grapes but they don't try to hide that fact.

And, boy, are these good grapes.

It was a long evening though and, being a school night, we made a fairly hasty exit and waddled home - determined not to eat for the week to come.

A superb evening. Here's hoping that Friends for Life raised some big bucks to assist them with their providing the marvelous services that they do.

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