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My biggest pet peeve with regards to wine is that often most people overthink what goes with what. Whether you stick to the simplest of rules red with red meat and white with white meat or freestyle your pairings once you have had the chance to taste a perfect wine and food pairing you finally start to get it. A perfectly paired dish with elevate both the wine and the food to another level.
Chef and Somm (http://www.chefsomm.ca/) are a husband and wife duo that offer private chef and sommelière experiences. If you hire Chef Eyal Liebman and Rebecca Meïr-Liebman they will tailor a menu to match wines that you have in your own collection. I have had a few friends who have been to events prepared by Chef and Somm so I jumped that the chance to have the opportunity to see this team in action myself.
The wines being poured for this dinner were provided by Southbrook. For people who attended the dinner we were lucky enough to taste some brand new 2013 Cabernet Franc and also some of the last of the 2014 Vidal “Orange Wine”. Before even sitting down the wine list itself was impressive. It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the wines from Southbrook, but to see seven dishes paired with seven incredible wines from one winery really shows the strength of the Southbrook portfolio.
Let me walk you through the meal.
Our first course was Falafel with Fish Belly served with the 2013 Estate Semillon. This was served on a stick with Cucumber, Tomato two small piece of Pita and Hummus. Falafel is one of my favorite things to eat when I’m in a rush for lunch. Needless to say I don’t often have a glass of wine with the falafel I pick up at the shawarma place near my work. The bright acidity and crisp flavours of the Semillon matched perfectly with this course. The fruit flavours are a little more subtle in the Semillon than any of the other wines that were poured for the dinner so it was nice to not have too much food so you had an opportunity to really taste the wine and the food separate.
The second course was the eponymous Hummus and Chardonnay course. The 2013 Triomphe Chardonnay is something that keeps popping up on my radar, this is no accident. This is a fantastic Chardonnay with a beautiful balance between natural fruit flavours and creamy vanilla notes from time in a barrel. The creaminess of the wine and the hummus essentially cancel themselves out bringing out the fruit flavours of the wine, the garlic and spices in the hummus and the acidity from the wine brings everything into balance. I will definitely be recreating this pairing at home.
Fish Synia was paired with the 2012 Whimsy “Minerality” Chardonnay. When I tasted this wine earlier this year I didn’t quite get it. There was nothing wrong with the wine, but it didn’t stand out. This is certainly not the case anymore. As with the previous course the slight creamy texture of the wine paired perfectly with the creamy texture of the sauce on the fish. The acidity on the wine kept the palate refreshed after each sip. True to it’s name the finish on this wine offers nice mineral notes on the nose and on the finish.
Borage and Orange Scented Meatballs was served with the 2014 Small Lot “Orange Wine”. The only problem with this course was that we only got one meatball. This is hardly a complaint because this was only the halfway point of the meal. The meatball was perfectly moist and seasoned. It was made with Iranian smoked Rice which added a beautiful subtle smokiness to the course. The Orange wine was a highlight because I have had the pleasure to follow the evolution of this wine throughout the summer. Gone are the bright citrus and fruit notes of the spring. They have now been buried underneath a nice nutty flavour that paired perfectly with the food. I’m not sure when, or how, but I am going to find a way to get some more of these meatballs.
Saffron and Rosemary Roasted Lamb paired with 2007 Poetica Cabernet Merlot. Many of us don’t have the patience to age wine much longer than the time it takes for us to get it from winery to home. I don’t even want to call the 2007 Poetica Cab Merlot and old wine because it still has a lot of life left in it. It is starting to show some signs of adolescence however. The fruit flavours are starting to lose some of their brightness, and the tannin is soft and velvet on the palate. You are getting leather notes, a subtle smokiness as well. This wine was simply delicious. The roast lamb came from a boned shank that was cooked perfectly and served over a bed of lentils seasoned with meyer lemon. The key to this course was definitely subtlety. Matching the subtle flavours of a wine entering adolescence with saffron seasoned lamb.
Oops I dropped the Boureka. This cheese course was paired with one of what will eventually be 8 different lots of Cabernet Franc from 2013 to be released by Southbrook. The 2013 “Vosges” Cabernet Franc is elegant with nice cocoa notes on the finish. I had to be told that Vosges is the name of a French Chocolatier. This wine is bone dry but it takes your mouth and mind to a sweet place. So when I was staring at beautiful puff pastry on my plate and bit into it only to find a creamy savory cheese on the inside I was pleasantly surprised.
Faux Peach Tart with Whimsy! The Anniversary. Ontario Peaches is my weakness, I am on the record saying I will never move away from Ontario as long as I can get my peaches. As soon as they start to ripen you will find me singing this song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvAnQqVJ3XQ). Peaches, Apricots and Walnuts … what is there not to love about this? How about pairing it with a medeira style wine that adds just a little bit of sweetness to the palate and enhances the nuttiness from the walnuts.
I also want to make mention of the fact that this dinner was also set up to help Sojourn House (http://www.sojournhouse.org/) given the current crisis facing Syrian refugees proceeds were raised to help this organization that exists to help refugees once they arrive to Canada.