The 1st Day In The Big Shoes Of Sid Cross

March 24, 2009.

Sid Cross is doing a little guest-blogging for us this week as we cover the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Widely considered one of the finest palates in the world, Sid’s list of honours and accomplishments are staggering. He is Wines Committee Chair for The International Wine & Food Society ( headquartered in London England; an Officer in France’s prestigious Ordre du Merite Agricole; a Membre d’Honneur of the L’Academie du vin de Bordeaux (and the only Canadian to receive that honour); and he has been named The Gourmet of the Year by The Society of Bacchus America. He’s also co-founder and an advisor to The Chef’s Table Society of BC, and an all around gent, first class…

Get Uncorked! @ Earls

The week long 31st Annual Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival got off to a rousing start with Get Uncorked! at Earls. The event saw Head Chef Reuben Major and Inniskillin winemaker Sandor Mayer combine for some tasty matches. The Discovery Series featuring the varietals of Chenin Blanc, Marsanne/Rousanne, Zinfandel, Malbec, and Tempranillo are showing their quality mark. David Scholefield and Jurgen Gothe added useful media wine chatter, and chef’s insightful comments on the pairings added a new dimension to the menu. For example, with the second course, he attached the following note:

“The first thought that comes to mind when tasting this wine is grapefruit and honey. The two flavours pair well with the sweet scallops and the grapefruit echoes the notes in the Chenin Blanc”

The honey/grapefruit elements of both the Chenin and the ceviche made for a winning duo. Congrats to Earls director of purchasing George Piper and his crew on their continuing value wine finds.

Postscript: this scribe was distracted by the attentive servers in short black dresses (seemingly now a norm at our top chic casual restaurants) with their white sashes declaring “Miss Malbec”, and other such odd names.

Road 13 @ West

Three winemaker dinners followed with Burrowing Owl at Glowbal, Cedar Creek at Bishop’s (see Andrew’s post) and Road 13 at West. I attended the latter one seated next to uncompromising owner Jack Evrensel and Road 13 winemaker Michael Bartier. The menu was a wonderful progression of fresh local goodies. The elegant canapes of saffron and red pepper arancini, gallantine of quail en croute and char with olive oil worked with the special 2006 Sparkling Chenin Blanc. Only 100 cases (will be 200 cases of the 2007 & 2008) were made from a block on the west side of the valley in appropriately dense “ratnip” soil. They designated two rows of these old vines planted back in 1968 (possibly the oldest vinifera in the Okanagan) for this fresh, delicious aperitif.

Table notes:

  • Still the best crusty rolls in town with an admirable choice of excellent butter or high quality EVOO! Like that choice.
  • Artistic canneloni of ruby beetroot filled with David Woods’ goat cheese and elderflower mousse with 2007 riesling.
  • Qualicum Bay scallops, lobster, Dungeness crab and Vancouver Island octopus, cantaloupe and mild chili soup with 2007 Jackpot Viognier. Brilliant matching of the wine’s stonefruit apricot and peach with the cantaloupe! Bartier feels strongly that his wines are distinctively Okanagan. He says “These are wines that are made in the vineyard and we did everything we could not to screw up this fantastic fruit”.
  • Roasted pave of sablefish, crushed sunchoke brandade, sunchoke and leek cream with 2007 chardonnay Jackpot. Another fantastic pairing with smoke in both the wine and the dish. Breast of Thiessen Farm squab with cinnamon risotto with 2007 pinot noir Jackpot magically combined delicate cinnamon, nutmeg and spice.
  • Pithivier of Okanagan venison and foie gras, pink venison loin, parsnip puree and curly kale with 2007 syrah Jackpot blended with a little bit of viognier at the crusher as Bartier says “in the old fashioned Rhone technique ways”.
  • Napoleon of bitter manjari chocolate custard, blue cheese mousse and maldon salt hazelnut cream cheese wafers with 2006 Fifth Element A Bordeaux blend of the 5 grapes that Bartier calls” a eureka moment where 5 varietals are good individually but greater blended than the sum of the parts”. I really admire the skill and artistry of Pastry Chef Rhonda Viani but as a bitter chocolate purist I don’t want mine with blue cheese. I also don’t think red Bordeaux or the Fifth Element goes with blue cheese.

Chef Warren Geraghty told me in the kitchen afterwards that one guest commented that the West winemaker dinner last year was good but really outstanding this year because of another year of West coast influences. I agree. It was outstanding! Warren and his brigade are in tune!

Many of us for a nightcap at Boneta with the yummy JoieFarm 2008 releases from Heidi & Michael. A fun first day!


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