Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gangnam Style Gourmet

It's taken awhile, but the gang has finally managed to assemble for the latest edition of our Dinner Club.  We were scheduled to gather at Tyrant's island hideaway back in August but life got in the way and we had to postpone.

Tyrant had planned his original menu to use as much local and seasonal produce as possible.  Given the extended delay, his garden choices needed a thorough revision - but, as guests, we certainly didn't suffer any.  Dinner was extravagant and tasty.  Having been the lucky recipient of many a Tyranical treat over the years, I wouldn't have expected anything less though.

Hors d'oeuvres included black cherry tomatoes (straight from the garden) with goat cheese and a rhubarb grapefruit compote, panko crusted tofu and wild mushrooms in brandy cream.  And that was just to start!  Tyrant chose to start off the evening with a cocktail based around a Vancouver Island cider - as a a "guest liquor," it's not a bottle that I can add to The List, but it was tasty all the same.

The Sea Cider Kings & Spies is a traditional sparkling cider that uses a blend of local heritage apples - predominantly Kings and Northern Spies.  I love the fact that the proceeds from this cider help "support Lifecycles, a Victoria organization that promotes local food security."

1261. 2011 Calliope Viognier (VQA British Columbia)

2007 Alderlea Clarinet (Vancouver Island)

Our first course of homegrown carrot and ginger soup was accompanied by something familiar and something new.  I'd added the 2007 Clarinet - a Vancouver Island Maréchal Foch - to The List all the way back at #216.

I knew that the Calliope brand is a newish, second entry level label for BC fave, Burrowing Owl, but I hadn't tried the Viognier at all.  The varietal can be a bit of hit or miss for me, but Lady Di is a big fan and she brought along the Calliope as a new discovery.  I think it's safe to say that the Viognier was a hit - which shouldn't be a surprise considering it was named as one of the Top 25 Wines under $25 by Wine Access magazine.

1262.  2011 Fabulous Ant Pinot Noir (Hungary)

When Tyrant announced that the next course was a Five Spice Rubbed Duck Breast with Julienned Root Veggies, we went straight for a bottle that I'd heard mentioned in the Vancouver wine press lately.  It's not often that I hear of or see a Hungarian wine in our market - let alone a value priced Pinot Noir - but Fabulous Ant seems to be making a bit of name for itself.

I can't say that the Fabulous Ant rocked my world but, then again, I tend to like a little more heft and body on my reds.  Even Pinots.  This was a lighter bodied, fruity version that will likely find lots of fans - especially at the $14 price point.

Tyrant gave us a bit of a break before the next course and, somehow, the dinner turned to all things Gangnam.  Half of the gang had never heard of the latest cultural sensation, but there was no stopping the commentary and dance moves once we pulled up a couple of videos on the net.  There were more than a couple of attempts to master the dance steps, but Lady Di was the unlucky one to have been captured best on film as she showed us her happening Gangnam Style.

Everything Gangnam just built up everyone's thirst and the next couple of bottles ended up being a couple favourites of the evening.

1263.  2008 Foxtrot Pinot Noir (Okanagan Valley)

1264.  2010 Nagging Doubt - The Pull (Okanagan Valley)

I'm in debt to whoever brought the Foxtrot because it was my fave for the evening.  A perennial favourite of local wine critics as well, it's one of the few wines that I'm willing to pay $60+ for vintage after vintage.  It's just that it's not a wine that I run across very often as there isn't  much of it made.

While talking of limited productions, there were only 100 cases of The Pull produced.  That may be why I'd never heard of Nagging Doubt - even though it's an Okanagan wine.  Once again, it was the Lady Di who found this one.  She's a bit of star when it comes to bringing wine to our Dinner Club events.  She regularly checks the blog to see if I've added a bottle to The List before she picks one for the evening. (Actually, you know, I think everyone in the Dinner Club is pretty good on that front nowadays.)

The Pull is a new-ish project of Vancouverites, Rob and Abbey Westbury, and is made at the production facilities of Alto Wine Group, a boutique winery and "wine incubator" (as writer John Schreiner calls them).  The wine is a bold Bordeaux blend or Meritage that leans heavily on the Merlot component (43%) and is completed with Cab Sauv (25%), Cab Franc (15%), Petit Verdot and Malbec (at 8% each).

I don't think there's much doubt that Nagging Doubt will end up on our dinner table again.

I'd be remiss in not mentioning that the mains joining these wines on the dinner table were Grilled Veal Chops stuffed with wild rice, pine nuts, dried cranberries and goat cheese - but don't forget the Calvados demi-glace with poached pears and figs.  And, oh yeah, since Tyrant grew the potatoes as well, I have to mention the blue potato patties filled with a Moonstruck "Baby Blue" cheese centre.  Having spent just shy of $100 on Moonstruck cheeses myself in the afternoon, I welcome any course that features any of their fabulous Island cheeses.

1265.  2003 Burrowing Owl Meritage (VQA Okanagan Valley)

1266.  2005 Del Dotto Caves Merlot (Napa Valley - California)

There was enough food on those plates to keep us occupied for more than a couple bottles of wine.  So, corks were popped on another couple big boys.  It was nice to see that the '03 Burrowing Owl had weathered the years.  The Del Dotto Caves was another new label for me.  Tyrant had pulled the latter from his cellar and, perhaps unfortunately, it might have been enjoyed more as a featured wine at a somewhat more intimate occasion - rather than being the seventh wine of the evening.

Don't get me wrong though.  I'm more than willing to partake in one of Tyrant's cellar wines at any time.  Having known him for over three decades now, I know darned well that a lot of wines don't see the light of day until late in the night.  The good thing is that the big Napa fruit was a nice foil to the season's last wild blackberries that adorned Tyrant's Almond Crusted Custard Flan with Chambord Yogurt.  After all the work and effort that Tyrant put into the dinner, it was grant to see our chef and host still standing and smiling as we dove into the dessert.  I'm not quite sure how we fit in all that food.  Guess it's a testament as to how tasty it all was.

1267.  2010 Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

Our last wine of the night was an interesting nightcap - a bottle of Two Buck Chuck.  Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed picked up a bottle on one of their shopping trips to Trader Joe's south of the border.  They'd actually brought it with them to Tyrant's for the Dinner Club last year but we never got around to drinking it.  I'd mentioned, at that time, that I was disappointed that we never got around to the bottle because it's unlikely that I'd run across another bottle in order to blog it.  Lo and behold, Tyrant just put it aside, knowing that we'd all be back eventually.

I'm not sure that many folks ever toss back a bottle of Two Buck Chuck that's actually seen a year's ageing.  Another special treat for the Dinner Club.  Okay, not really, but I am glad to be able to finally blog a bottle of the California phenomenon.  I doubt we'll ever see a similarly priced wine-for-the-masses on Vancouver liquor shelves, but I might be able to live with that fact.  Indeed, the wine wasn't quite enough to keep my attention going for long - as I'm told that I fell asleep in the living room while balancing a glass of Chuck on my chest.  If nothing else, I must have thought enough of it to not let it spill.

All told, it was a grand evening- and Tyrant has raised the bar yet another level for fellow Dinner Clubbers.  Good thing it's Lady Di and SWMBO that get to host our next get together.  In the mean time, I have some blogging to catch up with - and some Gangnam dance moves to practice.

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