We recently had the pleasure of attending the annual Envers of Morriston winemakers dinner. Before I get into the food, let me briefly explain what the winemakers dinner entails. This year, winemaker Rudd Maasdam of Staete Landt Vineyards in New Zealand gave us a sampling of 4 wines - Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah - as well as a brief history of his vineyard. Chef Ken Hodgins and his team created a unique tasting menu that complimented the characteristics of each wine. At the end of the dinner guests are invited to purchase the wines since they are not sold in liquor stores in Canada. By the end of the night your belly is full and you've had too much to drink. It's a great event!
Below is a summary of what we ate, but first let me say two things: I consider this to be advanced eating. I'm very particular with my food, meats especially, so I would understand if the menu below is not to most people's taste. Secondly, ever since reading this article and coming across this tumblr page, I've become a little camera shy when it comes to dining out and taking photos. I hope my iPhone photography has captured the complexity of each dish and the quality of food that is served at Envers.
So, without further adieu...
The first dish was a citrus cured halibut gravlax roll with fresh crab, mustard greens, laurel poached apricots, peashoot coulis and roasted crab oil. Paired with Sauvignon Blanc. This was easily my favourite dish of the evening because when it comes to eating meat, fish is at the top of my list. Also, if I'm ever to drink a Sauvignon Blanc, I want it to be from New Zealand. I didn't consider this dish to be that advanced, so I was a happy camper.
Canut farms suckling pork belly, cashew grits, prosciutto wrapped rabbit loin stuffed with foie gras, white peach glaze, crispy pigs ears and brown butter popcorn sauce paired with Chardonnay. This is where the advanced eating began for me. I'm not a fan of pork and have never tasted rabbit so I was afraid of this dish. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the rabbit and was very interested in the butter popcorn sauce. However, I was more focused on the wine. As a primarily white wine drinker I like my Chardonnays to come from California. I can confidently say this is no longer the case. The Staete Landt Chardonnay BLEW MY MIND. So much so, we ordered a case at the end of the night.
Kecap manis marinated roulade of duck breast wrapped in chard, Chinese steam bun of confit leg with spiced date jam, crispy cracklings, silken tofu and pomegranate paint. Paired with Pinot Noir. When it comes to duck, I'm a non-supporter, so I politely had a few bites and decided that of the two variations I preferred the confit on the Chinese steam bun. The wine was tasty but I was still dreaming about the Chardonnay - it was a tough act to follow.
Red wine braised beef shortrib, red wine and summer truffle barley risotto, fresh morels, roasted plum jus, sweet pickled fennel and sunchoke chips. Paired with Syrah. This dish was excellent and I found the beef to be perfectly tender and the risotto to be perfectly cooked. The Syrah complimented this dish in such a way that I found myself alternating between bites of beef and sips of wine the entire time I enjoyed this dish. My taste buds will remember these flavours for years to come.
Finally, prune, raisin, almond and Armagnac tart for dessert which, to be honest, I was a little disappointed in. In my opinion, prunes and raisins don't belong in dessert. I would have been more satisfied with a chocolate tarte or a creme brulee. Or perhaps, because the pastry was quite delicious, a different tart filling would have been they way to go.
Aside from the 'advanced eating', I highly recommend the Envers winemakers experience. Especially, if you are a wine connoisseur and are interested in purchasing wine from small boutique vineyards around the world. You will not be disappointed in the food or the service. Just make sure you have enlisted a designated driver or a place to lay your tipsy head because it is a bit of a drive from the city. Lucky for us, Juniper Hill is just down the road...