Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Taste of Decadence

Last week I teased you with the my upcoming trip to Decadence - Chocolate, Wine, Cheese which opened the month long Savour Food & Wine Festival organized by RANS - the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia.

I arrived at the Decadence event last Thursday a bit early and got a glimpse of what it takes to put such a splendid evening together. Don't you just love the tower of glasses? First, I must admit that while I definitely like to drink wine, I'm a novice when it comes to pairing the best wine to really enhance the flavors of a dish. In fact, whenever I plan a dinner party, I head straight for my local wine shop for expert suggestions. Naturally, I was excited to get some tips from the expert sommeliers.

Before I share some photos and the menus, I do want to speak about my favorite element of the evening. The chefs are Culinary Arts & Pastry Arts students of Nova Scotia Community College -Akerley Campus under the guidance of their brilliant chef instructors Chef Sean Kettley and Chef Jean-Luc Doridam. In fact, after last year's Savour Food & Wine Show I was fortunate to have Chef Kettley give me a very informative tour of their facilities. The students went on to win the Atlantic Culinary Competition, and a chance to become part of Culinary Olympics 2012. I hope someone from NSCC wll fill me in on the details... But I digress... Back to Decadence...

The students were challenged to pair artisanal cheeses and succulent chocolate, both in their raw form and in finished dishes with wines, ports and dessert wines. The first hour features cheeses paired with wines while the second half of the evening is dedicated to chocolates and their wine, port and dessert wine pairings.

So let's take a little photo journey... and excuse the less than stellar photography... I was more into tasting than filming.

The Twelve Tasting Stations: I loved them all, but I'll start with the two Ports that were served. First I admit to not really being a Port drinker... don't get me wrong, pears poached in Port is an awesome thing to eat... but I have this antiquated notion of "Old Boys Clubs" and gentlemen with big fat cigars when it comes to actually drinking any. All that changed ...
...Taylor Fladgate 10 year old Tawny Port (Portugal) - I could have just stayed with this all night!
It was brilliantly paired with slices of Oka and a Pickled Asparagus & Oka wrapped in Prosciutto. The chocolate dessert Madagascar Manjari 64% Valrhona & a chocolate tartelette.

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port (Portugal) was served with cambozola (a delightful mellow Italian blue cheese) and Cambozola, Smoked Salmon & Caramelized Onion Croque Monsieur dipped in roasted garlic custard before frying - definitely one of my stars of the night.
Chocolate: Nova Scotian 70% Dark Chocolate from Just Us! And these gorgeous brownies.
Pfeiffer Rutherglen Muscat (S Australia)was paired with one of the more elaborate and unique dishes using goat cheese - Orange Tarragon Cheese Cream with Prawn & Red Pepper Sabayon.
This one needs a second photo of the little logs of goat cheese sprayed with white chocolate. The whole dish was pure Heaven.
The dessert chocolate was Venezuaelan caoba 41% El Ray and a Hazelnut chocolate parfait.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz (S Australia) was paired with double cream Brie and a whimsically presented Torched Maple Brie with Spiced Candied Pecans (Unfortunately my photography skills were not up to snuff on this one).
Chocolate dessert Tanzania 75% cacao Bary (France) and these cute and tasty Pillow Cookies.

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) paired with Pepper Jack Cheese and these wonderful Salt Cod & Pepper Jack Fritters (best finger food ever).
The chocolate was Jivara 40% Valrhona (France) and Milk Chocolate Truffles with Cocoa Nibs.

Columbia Crest Riesling was was paired with Fox Hill Cumin Gouda (Nova Scotia) Cheese and a Roasted Baby Pear Salad with Cumin Gouda and Curried Apple Dressing. The Chocolate Irapa Rio Caribe 40.5% El Rey (Venezuela) and these stunning Chocolate and Strawberry Mirroir.
Jaffelin Macon Village Chardonnay (France) paired with Neufchatel cheese and Porcini Mushroom & Neufchatel Tart. Chocolate: Ivoire Select 25% Callebaut (Belgium) and white chocolate Bavarian with Lemon Curd. No photos, but delicious.

Bouchard Aine Pinnissimo Pinot Noir (France) paired with Port Salut - A country Pate with Port Salut & Onion Marmalade.
Chocolate: Equatoriale Noire 55% Valrhona (France) and Chocolate Creme Brulee.

Carmen Gran Feserva Merlot (Chile) paired with Chester Beer Cheese and an elegant and so delicious Hazelnut Crusted Lamb loin with Chester Beer Cheese & Merlot Reduction...
I'm still drooling over this one. Chocolate: Orropuce 65% cacao Barry (France) Chocolate Chiboust with Sour Cherries.

MAN Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa) paired with Pecorino Romano and delicious, whimsical Caesar Salad Cones.
Chocolate: Gran Cru 85% Michel Cluizel (France) and cocoa chocolate truffles
(I think the photo is the appropriate truffle photo - by the time I was tasting all the chocolate I had forgotten to write down which was which).

Grand Pre Sparkling Wine (Nova Scotia) paired with Mascarpone for this fanciful Mascarpone and cantaloupe Caviar Shooter.
Chocolate: Elianza Ivoire 33.5% Michel Cluizel (France) and Raspberry & White Chocolate Frangipane.
Grand Pre Pomme D'Or Apple Cider Wine (Nova Scotia) paired with Old Dubliner Aged Chedder to balance the sweetness of the wine. Aged Cheddar & Sweet Potato Tarts.
Chocolate: Ivoire 35% Valrhona (France) and White Chocolate Cheesecake with Sour Apple Compote.

All in all.. a fabulous evening and a perfect beginning to a month long festival. If you happen to be in Nova Scotia this month, you can Dine Around at participating restaurants spotlighting great prix fixe menus; and in Halifax especially, you can attend the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting on Feb 18th and culminate the festivities with the Seventh Annual Savour Food & Wine Show on March 2nd.
Cheers and Bon Appetit!


Claudia said...

Oh man, I want to go. Do they have this every year? And, the recipes for those Chocolate Pillow cookies and the Smoked Salmon & Caramelized Onion Croque Monsieur, among others would be nice to have. Lucky you!

Ruth Daniels said...

Claudia, they do have it every year. As for the recipes. I will try to recreate the Croque Monsieur, but not sure if I could get the Chocolate Pillow recipe. Will see what I can do.

bellini valli said...

An amazing event to attend Ruth. I really hope the Taste of Pebticton is a go for this coming weekend.