Watermark Fails And Blue Water Succeeds

Blue Water Café executive chef and 2008 Vancouver Gold Medal Plates champion Frank Pabst

Sid Cross has been 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 (www.iwfs.org) 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.

Leave it to this man to lead you through a night and day you didn’t have. Sid Cross, live from the last day at Wine Fest.

Table Notebook

The 7th and final day of the 2009 VPIWF, was memorable. Up early to catch the documentary of Nancy Giles on CBS Sunday Morning speculating whether all those increasing addicts to Twitter are twits! Does the maximum of 140 characters per message include spaces?

– Off to the Flavours of the Festival at the Fairmont Waterfront. Greeted with a glass of Vincor’s Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay 2005. Many top chefs participating including Dino Renaerts & Jeff Van Geest from Diva at the Met with innovative “Steak & Egg; Gennaro Iorio of La Terrazza with tiger prawn & fennel salad on taro root chip; and Bernard Casavant from Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl in Oliver with sockeye gravlax. Some interesting pairings including Township 7 Seven Stars Sparkling with fresh oysters by the Shore Club (a key sponsor of the Festival); Manhattan at the Delta with smoked sablefish and Sokol Blosser Evolution; and Ken Iaci’s Papi’s chocolate basil tort with Broadbent Reserve Port.

– Special kudos going to Allison Spurrell with her team from Les Amis du Fromage for the perfectly ripe wide array of cheeses and to Chef Willi Franz of the Grapevine at Gray Monk Cellars for his very high quality Duo of Fraser Valley duck with morel mushroom polenta cake, glazed Okanagan cherries and merlot reduction (2006 Gray Monk Odyssey merlot) all perfectly cooked! Quite a classy brunch!

– Checked into the Vintner’s Brunch at the VC&EC. Much more of a party scene with loud classic rock music and guests dancing. Wonderful Terra Breads and Karen Barnaby of The Fish House in Stanley Park with another Vancouver chef version of albacore tuna tataki paired with the emerging BC winery Stoneboat Vineyards and their 2007 pinot gris.

– Two big thumbs down to Watermark on Kits Beach! Please don’t commit to take part in the Vintner’s Brunch, take advantage of the free publicity in the printed programs showing a lamb dish and then be a no show. You let down the guests, the Vancouver Playhouse as well as the Villa Maria winery from New Zealand.

– The judges including my squeeze Joan Cross were hidden away in the bowels of the Convention Centre blind tasting everything then emerged to declare talented Blair Rasmussen of the VC&EC the winner with his slow braised bison short rib “Do Piaza (double onions cooked with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom)”, crispy vegetable pakoras and raita but cleverly toned down the hotness to match well with Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer 2007. Well done Blair!

– Four dinners closed out this busy week. Attended the sensational Great Estates of the Okanagan dinner at Blue Water. Many thanks to Top Table’s well organized Communications Director Shelley McArthur for everything she does so well. Blown away with the amazing high quality and flow of this “ultimate dinner” for 140 guests! Unbelievable big undertaking by owner Jack Evernsel that really succeeded.

– Kudos to everyone from Chefs Frank Pabst, Yoshi Tabo, and pastry Jean-Pierre Sanchez, wine director/MC Andrea Vesconi assisited by Chris Van Nus and others, director Stephan Cachard, and manager Danielle Abrams.

– What 3 star Michelin quality food courses and 2 wine pairings with each! The 3rd vintage of that Pinnacle Sparkling Brut of 100% pinot noir 4 years on the lees is a favourite.

– Arctic Char braised romaine heart with dungeness crab lemon and chevril beurre blanc

– Sablefish soy marinated and baked, sunchokes, edamame, veal stock reduction. Fantastic with both the Nk’Mip Cellars Quam Qwmt Chardonnay 2006 and Cedar Creek Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir 2006

– Venison savoy cabbage filled with venison and porcini mushroom (even better than Frank did it at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Banff where I judged it with Andrew) celeriac croquette black pepper sauce worked with Sumac Ridge Pinnacle 2005

– Beef tournedo with haricots verts and light bearnaise/shortrib with glazed carrots and bordelaise sauce worked with both Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2004 & Cedar Creek Platinum Reserve Merlot 2006

– Blue Cheese Crepe Souffle cherry red wine sauce, walnuts, fresh herb salad Araguani Chocolate Mousse apricot cream centre, citrus sauce, wild flower honey gelato – really OUTSTANDING by Jean-Pierre!


A very big thank you to Sid Cross for all of his posts this week, and a hearty congratulations to him for his induction into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame last night!

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There are 4 comments

  1. Sid,

    I’m sure I speak for many when I thank you for your intrepid reporting on the Wine Festival–especially when you were the one of the busiest guys in the city last week.

    Great insider summaries, culminating in your induction into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame on Monday night.

    Well done old stick,


  2. Congrats to you too Jamie on your induction into the Hall of Fame at the same time. Well deserved! Boy were we lucky to be the first event at the spectacular new Convention Centre. What a view and what an advertisement for Vancouver showing to advantage the water and the mountains that make it so very special. Tourists are really going to be impressed with this building. Hopefully build it and they will come applies!
    Great speech by the way. No Heineken in hand either. Liked your message and mission to try and improve the liquor laws.
    How are food and wine projects doing in the Okanagan?

  3. Food + wine projects proceeding apace, Sid. As plans solidify, should be able to soon announce the Chefs’ Table summer event–a casual, trestle table affair–at Mission Hill. Looks like we’ll have an all-star retinue of chefs (from both Vancouver + the Okanagan), and a great line-up of partnering wineries. Although it’s a fundraiser for CTS, it’s also a Bon Voyage for Michael Allemeier. Fantastic support from Anthony, Dan and Ingo!

    More soon on the OK blog.