Sunday, September 9, 2012
Mark Wilson, Vice-Chancellier of our Baillage and former Vice-Echanson, has been a sterling member of the Chaine for many years, and we have come to rely on him and his team to truly represent the spirit of the organization when entertaining members for a Diner Amical. The attention to detail at this event, from the stunning décor, the elegant food paired with excellent wines, and the gracious service reflected the high standards of Hotel Arts’ outstanding team.
The musical stylings of the Gerry Herbert Duo were enjoyed during throughout the evening, beginning with the reception that featured Targe Sparkling Rose from the Loire Valley. Hors d’oeuvres at the reception were precise single bites, beautiful and delicious. One was a round of purple potato, topped with a slice of quail egg, the most delicate asparagus tip, and a whisper of black truffle. Another was a millefuille with layers of seasoned cream cheese and tender crepes, garnished with a taste of caviar and pickled onion. A third featured cumin-scented lentils with roasted cauliflower.
The dining room conveyed the impression of entering an ice castle. Shiny white ruched fabric covered the walls, lit from below with pale blue light. The tables were beautifully set with unique centrepieces featuring lighted “ice” in goblets, blue iris and frosted foliage. Sparkling silver and crystal contributed to the shimmering ambiance.
We began with an amuse bouche that echoed the beginnings of Raw Bar when Hotel Arts first opened. A taste of Thai curry soup and a morsel of tuna tartare were flavor reminders of the enduring expertise of Executive Chef Duncan Ly.
A seasonal Summer Beets Borscht was beautifully presented. The garnishes of citrus-cured arctic char, foie gras and golden beets, a perfect quenelle of sour cream, and tiny sparkling cubes of vodka gelée were topped with piping hot beet broth. 2011 KungFu Girl Riesling from Washington State was an excellent match to the spirit of the dish.
A seared Qualicum Bay Scallop was next, accompanied by BC Spot Prawns and compressed melon kissed with salt, all on a delicate platform of speck. The superb balance of flavors was complimented by a 2010 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy.
The Roasted Matsutake Mushroom Salad, with warm Fairwind Farms goat cheese parfait, toasted hazelnuts, and the smoothest butternut squash puree was an outstanding dish. Paired with 2007 Tolaini Valdisanti from Tuscany, Italy, this course had all the elements of delight in perfect proportion – warm, cool, crunchy, smooth, sweet, salt, savory and just a touch of acidity.
The Intermezzo offering, a pause before the main event, was a refreshing frozen mango sorbet, with Okanagan blackberries, blueberries, baby spearmint, and a blackberry reduction.
The roasted Petite Saddle of Lamb could not have been more tender, beautifully plated with carrot, spinach and ricotta gnocchi. Crispy lamb sweatbreads were an uncommon and delicious offering, on a full-flavored ragout with golden raisins and pearl onions. The pairing of 2007 Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella from Italy was a special treat.
Satisfying in its simplicity, Raclette cheese, both melted on toasted brioche and simply presented at room temperature with sea-salt rye crackers, was paired with La Blonde d`Esquelbecq beer from France with great success. Gherkins, a slice of perfectly ripe nectarine, and dried grapes on the vine completed the plate.
The appearance of two wines with dessert, a 2006 Recioto della Valpolicella and a 1992 Carpineto Vin Santo del Chianti, was puzzling until Mark Wilson revealed that both were so good, they couldn’t choose just one. Valrhona Chocolate Mousse on a sliver of flourless chocolate cake, with delicate vanilla bean ice cream and raspberry coulis was a dessert-lover`s dream.
House made chocolates, one featuring pop rocks, another salted caramel, encouraged diners to enjoy their coffee while the brigade assembled for their accolade.
Plates were awarded to Simon Chamberlin, Director of Food and Beverage, for overseeing service that reflected excellent training and attention to detail, and Executive Chef Duncan Ly for his culinary expertise and the excellence of his staff.