April 10, 2011

Diner Amical – Calgary Golf & Country Club – Sunday, April 10th

For our third event of the 2011 season, we returned to the Calgary Golf & Country Club, currently celebrating its 100th year at the current location beside the Elbow River.  The theme for the evening was loosely described as “Springtime” – the popular desire of all Calgarians as we looked out over a blanket of freshly fallen snow.

The reception began in the Evergreen Room.  Attentive staff greeted us with a glass of Bollinger Champagne Brut, Special Cuvee.  This is such a special room – with entryways from either side of its large fireplace and a total window wall looking out over the golf course on the opposite side.

Centered on this window wall was a serving station which prominently featured a suckling piglet.  From this “guest”,  Sous Chef, Steven Lepine served up a crisp tortilla chip topped with shreds of pig, cilantro Aioli and charred tomato salsa.  Also being served at this station was Braised Lamb Shoulder with a parsnip puree and Tarragon Butter served in a small dish.

ff to one side was another station serving an Oyster Caesar, topped with celery and seasoning salt.  Of course, this was not enough, so servers passed around five more Hours d’oeuvres:
Tempura Escargot and sushi with Ponzu chilli sauce on an “Asian spoon”
Smoked Scallop with a Blood Orange and caramelized shallot Marmalade
Potato Gnocchi stuffed with Duck Confit and pine nuts, topped with watercress cream and crispy apple splinters
Crispy Calamari tossed in Roasted Tomato coulis, palm chards and olive oil
Tuna Tartar with Sundried Olives, roasted garlic and balsamic glaze.

As we entered the Centennial Dining Room, we noted the table settings – crisp white table cloths, elegant silverware, a range of glassware and in the centre, a low lying bouquet of brilliant orchids, tulips and roses, bordered by a pair of slim dripless candles.

he first course was a Poached Atlantic Lobster served chilled on Papaya Panna Cotta with Caviar and Pickled Vegetables.  It was paired with a Quinta de Ventozelo Branco 2009 from Douro, Portugal.  We do not often see Portugese wines served at our functions, so this provided an opportunity for Vince to educate us just a bit further in the world of wines.   This was followed by Pork Belly and a Chestnut Subric with a Chestnut-Lentil Veloute poured around them.  Again, a Portugese wine accompanied it, this time a Luis Pato Bical Vinho Formal Bieras 2008 from Bairrada.

The fish was a perfectly prepared cube of Pacific Halibut served on a circle of Confit Yam and Caramelised Fuji Apple centred in a Foie Gras Emulsion and topped with a sprig of micro greens.  A glass of Truchard Rousanne 2008 from Carneros, Napa Valley matched this beautifully.  Continuing the “circular”theme, was a Squab Breast on a Potato Galette with Fiddleheads and served with a Franz Haas Lagrein 2008 of Alto Adige, Italy.

Our Intermezzo was a Beet Sorbet with Pear Puree and Cilantro Sugar.  The splash of bright red beet sauce across the white bowl was a dazzling sight.  Then the main course – an Alberta Beef ‘Eye’ of Ribeye Roasted and served with Braised Onion, Brussel Sprouts and Shimeji Mushrooms.  The sauce was served at the table.  For this course, we were served a 2009 Pinot Noir from Patz and Hall of the Sonoma Coast.

The next course was served on top of and inside of an ice tunnel.  It was the salad.  On top were Fresh Palm Hearts, Grapefruit and Asparagus.  Inside the tunnel was the fork with a piece of lettuce tucked on it.  Embedded in the entryway was a medallion celebrating the CG&CC’s 100th Anniversary.  The dessert was served on a very interesting plate – it appeared as if it were the start of an Origami creation.  Centred on the plate was a Gianduja Gelato with a Tangelo Parfait and encircled with a tiny sugar flower.  This was served with a perfectly matching Quinta de Ventozelo 10 Year Old Tawny Port  also from Douro.

Finally, a daring departure from Chaîne Diner Amical tradition – a Cheese Sideboard with Savouries.  This was greeted with a wave of appreciation as everyone gathered to do the sampling.  The only comment was that the selection was MAGNIFICENT!  The downside of this magnificent selection was that there was the huge temptation to try a little bit of every cheese.  Fortunately, there seemed to be enough little nooks and crannies in the tummy and it all disappeared.

The staff was then brought out to a standing ovation and the accolade delivered by our Bailli Régional.  Plates of appreciation were presented to Samphan Treeyachat, Dining Room Supervisor and Olena Shaio, Pastry Chef.  Once more, Vince and his staff not only lived up to their high standard, they raised it just a little notch higher.

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