Last Thursday we held our inaugural Match Food & Wine Class at Get Cooking. And I hope that it will turn out to be the first of many, because I for one had a wonderful time. Which was in part because this class provided the rare opportunity for me to sit down with my guests and enjoy some of the food with them, together with a glass or so of amazing wine.
And I do mean amazing. Since the wines were handpicked by William Bincoletto, who was on hand as our Special Guest Sommelier for the night. If you don’t already know William, you can drop into Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants to meet him: William has been working as Principal Sommelier at Vines since 2006. William was formally educated as a Sommelier in France and Italy, with additional training in Germany, and he was Alberta’s first certified Sommelier. The depth of William’s knowledge is astounding, and his teaching skills have been finely honed during his time as “Sommelier in Residence” at the NAIT School of Hospitality, where he has worked closely with some of Canada’s greatest Chefs, including Sursur Lee, David Adjey, and Rob Feenie.
So it was with more than a little trepidation that I began my discussions with William around holding our class. But working with him was an absolute pleasure. His knowledge and experience are daunting but his demeanour is totally relaxed! And we quickly agreed that we would present our class as a 7-course sit-down meal. And that between courses our guests would be invited to gather around the stove, to watch or to cook, the choice would be theirs to make.
We started the night with canapés, which were accompanied by a glass of sparkling Vouvray, from the Loire. Our guests got to know each other as they chatted, bubbly in hand, over Thundering Ground Bison and Horseradish Crostini, and Crab filled Filo Tartlets. Then we ushered them to the table for course number two, a Wild Salmon Tartare that William paired with a glass of 2009 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon from Marlborough, in New Zealand. I was particularly proud to present this course since I caught the salmon myself when I was in Tofino last July! A gorgeous wild Chinook, I chopped it up finely then marinated it briefly in lemon juice, mixed it up with some chopped capers and shallots, and served it with a Cucumber Salad. (The recipe follows.) And to make the pairing even more special, I was lucky enough to meet Kevin Judd, owner of Greywacke, at a recent wine tasting at Vines. Kevin is an extraordinary and inspiring winemaker: I’ve been enjoying his finely crafted Sauvignon Blancs for many years since I’m a huge fan of Cloudy Bay, where Kevin was winemaker for 25 years before venturing out on his own with Greywacke.
Next we moved on to what most of us agreed was the star pairing of the night. I had prepared ahead of time a Curried Parsnip Soup, with local parsnips from August Organics at Old Strathcona, and Michelle’s fabulously nuanced homemade Madras Curry Powder. William had chosen a glass of 2009 Bellingham Old Vines Chenin Blanc, from the Coastal Region of South Africa, to pair with our soup. And it was an inspired choice, bringing out the best in both the food, and the wine.
Course number four was inspired by William and his Italian heritage. My desert island food is Risotto, without a doubt. And William asked me to prepare a Risotto al Barolo on the night, both cooked and paired with an utterly delicious 2006 Rivetto Barolo from Piemonte. Our students took a break from the table and helped out as we spent the 20 required minutes at the stove, lovingly stirring the Barolo followed by homemade chicken stock into this delicious Risotto, which we made with Ferron’s Carnaroli Rice (you can buy it at the Italian Centre.) We were really excited to present the same Barolo in the glass, and on the plate!
Course number five, and it was time to bring on the meat. I picked up some gorgeous Medallions of Alberta Beef from Real Deal Meats, which I seared and set aside while I whipped up a pan sauce of Amontillado Sherry, Creme Fraiche and Morel Mushrooms. The mushrooms were dried, and from the West Coast: I bought them from Mona Food, our local source for an amazing selection of wild foods. And William poured a glass of 2007 La Ferme du Mont Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Cotes Capelan” as a match. Chateauneuf-du-Pape with fillet steak, I think that’s all I need to say on this!
At this point we were starting to get a little full. But our appetites were piqued by Lydia Charalambakis, our second special guest of the night. Lydia is co-proprietor of Everything Cheese, and we were lucky to have her here to tell us the stories behind the cheeses that she selected to pair with William’s incredibly generous contribution to the night: a bottle of 1977 Warre’s Vintage Port, from his own cellar. We feasted on a selection of four scrumptious artisanal cheeses, but the star pairing was, without a doubt, the Fourme d’Ambert Cru: Port with Blue Cheese, a food and wine pairing beyond compare!
And finally, the dessert. I like to serve dessert after the cheese course, as they do in France. So I took my dessert inspiration from France too, with a pair of Tarte Tatins, made with Granny Smith apples from Steve & Dan’s Fresh BC Fruit. While our guests lingered over their cheese and port, I caramelized the apples in the pans then topped them with all-butter Puff Pastry, baked them, plated them then served them up with a homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. And William poured us each a glass of 2005 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes. Divine!
It was a long night, but a great night. We really took our time, and spent over 5 hours enjoying our evening of Food & Wine. And William guided us through each pairing with insight and with humour. I learned a great deal about wine, and the discipline of matching food with wine, that night. So a week later, rested up and raring to go, we’re planning our Match Food & Wine class number two. And we’ve decided that next time a Thursday night won’t do. So our next class will be on a Friday, so you can sleep off all that food the next day. If you’d like to join us, we’ll be hosting our second Match Food & Wine on Friday June 22nd. I’ll have it available for booking online very soon …..
Wild Salmon Tartare
400g Salmon fillet (I used wild Chinook)
juice of 1 lemon
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tsps capers, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tsps fresh chives, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Skin the salmon, removing any brown flesh, and use a pair of tweezers to pull out any bones.
- Dice the salmon finely.
- Mix the salmon with the lemon juice, shallots, capers and chives.
- Season to taste with sea salt and white pepper, and more lemon juice to taste.
- Allow the flavours to infuse and the lemon juice to “cook” the salmon for about 10 minutes.
- Serve with Cucumber Salad and some good whole grain, rye or sourdough bread.
1 medium cucumber
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground white pepper
- Halve the cucumber lengthways, then use a spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the seeds.
- Slice the cucumber finely then put it in a colander and toss it with the salt.
- Leave the cucumber to drain for about 30 minutes then rinse it with cold water and dry it well with paper towels or with a tea towel.
- Dress the cucumber with the vinegar and olive oil and season to taste with white pepper.
- Serve with the Salmon Tartare.