Chef meets Grape 2009
For the second year in a row Sean and I attended the annual Chef meets Grape. It is a popular event but much smaller and more quaint (if you can call 350 people quaint) than the larger Vancouver Wine Festival. The event showcased many of Vancouver’s finest restaurants as well as 44 vineyards from the Okanagan Valley. The challenge of the night was to pair the perfect wine with a small plate created by the chefs. For anyone who thinks any wine goes with any dish and it all tastes the same, it takes actually seeing how it works together to appreciate that there is an art form as well as an especially phenomenal palate. Not to toot my own horn or anything but once again this year I picked the popular vote winner. The winner was Sanafir. The chef plated a butter turkey with basamati rice, cucumber raitia and mango chutney with a 2008 Gerwurtztraminer from Desert Hills Vineyard. The effect was absolutely decantent. A clear winner for me. As fate would have it…it is the one dish of which I did not get a photo…DRATS!!!
My next favorite was the masterfully created small plate by Goldfish Pacific Kitchen. The Chef made a pan seared sable fish served over a duo of pea salad with dungeness crab and asian pear, soy painted salmon and thai basil pesto. He paired this with a Pino Gris 2008 from Sandhill Winery. The pairing was good but the food was fantastic.
I am an absolute sucker for great scallops so while the wine pairing was satisfactory, the dish was yummy! It was created by Bin 942.
One of the main sponsors of the night was Canadian Wild Sablefish, and in my opinion, there were way too many sablefish dishes presented. Because sable fish is such a rich fish and because the dishes themselves were rich I had a very hard time eating more after my 3rd dish. That is probably why I loved the ‘Shepherd’s Pie, confit duck, roasted baby carrots, carmalized pearl onions, tomatoes and pomme puree’ so much. It was created by the chef from Mosaic at the Hyatt. I am sure I am not the only one who was ready for something other than sablefish because it also came as a runner up in the challenge. MMMM, there were black truffles grated over top!!
Lastly, I need to give props to Diva At The Met for cooking something other than sablefish…just joking..kindof. They made a pan seared salmon with squid ink risotto with clams, and brown butter emulsion. I was the DD that night so I must refer to Sean on the pairing of the Arrowleaf Cellars Pinot Gris 2008. He said the wine was alright and the pairing satisfactory. But the food itself was great!
I have yet to visit Italian Kitchen which I have heard so much about. They made another wonderful dish. A Skeena river sockeye salmon carpaccio with sorrell sweet pea vanilla agnolotti and caviar vinaigrette. This was paired with Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2007. The food was amazing but the wine left something to be desired. The wine was not well balanced, to quote Sean “the wine was blah”.
Of the 14 restaurants there, the preceding are my favorite. There were also some dishes that were downright awful. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all right? I will leave it at that and assume that those restaurants that were less than successful had a tough venue to cook in.
The event was a success again, and I plan on going again next year. It is great to see all the chefs working away, creating, inspiring, and appearing to have fun..especially when the food portion was over and there was only wine to be tasted! The venue at the Westin was nice and the chance to eat great food all evening, well, it doesn’t get any better.