The James Beard House, located in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village and named after the gastronome who helped put American cuisine on the culinary map, promotes the celebration of all things gastronomic. From fusion cuisine to organic trends, if it is new and noteworthy in the realm of food and wine, you will find it at The James Beard House.
Over the years the breadth of the culinary world has changed. Traditional fare has made room for reinventions of classic cuisines like New American with international influences. Even the traditional almost exclusively male image of the restaurant chef has evolved.
Women, whose “place” some believed, was once “in the kitchen at home,” now head the kitchens of some of the finest restaurants in the world. On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the James Beard House celebrated two up and comers to the culinary world, female Canadian chefs and wines from British Columbia, in a Calgary’s Women of the Wild West themed lunch. Canadian Agri Foods prepared by leading female chefs from the region and surrounding areas as well as some of the best wines from British Columbia were served on a sunny Spring day in the heart of Greenwich Villlage.
Kurtis Kolt, one of Vancouver’s preeminent Canadian wine consultants presided over the festivities. Chef Liana Robberecht of The Petroleum Club dished up a delicate Carrot, Smoked Trout, Alberta Prairie Rye Whiskey Mousseline with Gingered Barley Crisp flavored with Minus 8 Maple Brix. The Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2013 BC VQA Okanagan Valley served with this first course was aromatic, full of fresh summer fruit and silky. It was every bit as good as some excellent German and Alsatian interpretations of this grape.
Next up Chef Connie DeSousa of CHARCUT outdid herself with a Pickled Mortadella with Brassica Mustard and Sourdough. The presentation was as delightful to behold as it was to consume. It seemed as if the chef had managed to transport the garden at the James Beard House onto our plates. The dissolve in your mouth tender Mortadella and crisp vegetables and paper thin toasted sourdough drew raves from the crowd. The Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2012 paired perfectly with this lovely dish. The grapes in this particular vintage are not pressed. Instead, nature is allowed to take its course, yielding concentrated juices. It spends some time aging in new French oak giving it just the right amount of subtle creamy vanilla flavors.
Chef Nicole Gomes of the eponymous Nicole Gourmet presented a Gremolata Walleye on Barley with Bacon. Some people still believe that fish should always be paired with white wine but a balanced and fruit forward Pinot Noir like the Quails Gate Winery Pinot Noir 2013, BC VQA Okanagan Valley that was served with the Walleye proves that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wine and food pairings. This one was another crowd pleaser.
We moved on from fish to Chef Alison Bieber of The Black Pig Bistro’s Smoked Ham Hock Tortellini with Parsnip Puree, Sugar Snap Peas and Homemade Chorizo. The duo of pillowy oversized tortellini generously stuffed with hearty smoked ham presented a nice contrast to the light and flaky fish. A soft and fruit dominant Nk Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrah 2009, BC VQA Okanagan Valley complemented this dish.
Chef Wanda Ly of Winsport followed with a fork tender Braised Carmen Creek Bison Shortrib and Garnet Yam Velvet in a Red Wine Juniper Reduction. A glass of Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio 2011, BC VQA Okanagan Valley blend of four red grapes that recalls the style of a traditional Bordeaux enhanced this savory slightly pungent and sweet course.
Chef Karine Moulin of Hotel Arts ended the meal on a sweet note. A Saskatoon Berries, Highwood Crossing Scottish Oats and Chinook Honey Verrine served in a martini glass with a sugar leaf was almost too pretty to eat but I am glad I did because it was full of berry goodness and granola crunch. The flavors were indicative of the season and the local ingredients were grown on Canadian soil. Everyone expected a dessert wine from Canada and they were not disappointed. The Vista D oro Farms and Vineyard D oro 2007, BC VQA British Columbia will appeal to wine drinkers who like port or sherry. The Barsac and Sauterne faithful will warm to this vintage as well. I personally, will look forward to more things edible and quaffable from our neighbors to the North.
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