It was one of those perfectly crisp, clear winter evenings at Blackwood Lane. The terrace was lit, and the flames from the fire pits flickered playfully creating a romantic Christmas mood. All the elements were working together, as Blackwood Lane members gathered in anticipation for a dinner to remember.
This year’s Winemaker’s Christmas Dinner was a five-course pairing of wine and food, a collaboration between winemaker Carlos Lee of Blackwood Lane Winery and Chef Roger Planiden of Culinary Adventure. Let’s face it, everything in life is better in pairs! Can you imagine Lucy without Ricky? Fred without Ginger? Sonny without Cher? We didn’t think so!
In terms of pairings, the magical evening called to mind poet William Blake’s progression of contraries – the idea that two seemingly opposite elements can work together to create something better, more valuable, and completely unique. Perhaps Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, expressed the idea best when he wrote: “we drank tea with roasted almonds, two tastes that didn’t know each other and became one in our mouth.” Amichai’s line seems to get to the heart of great cuisine and wine.
The first notable “pairing of contraries” was winemaker Carlos Lee and Chef Roger Planiden! It’s inevitable that when you pair two masters together, the result will be nothing less than stunning. This evening proved to be no exception.
Chef Roger, former executive chef at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, and owner of Culinary Adventure, impressed dinner guests with course after course of pure culinary heaven, pairing ingredients and flavours to perfection. This alone would have been considered a wonderful dinner, but Carlos took this gastronomic experience to dizzying heights with his wine pairings! Each course’s wine pairing was carefully and expertly chosen by Carlos, which amplified and emphasized each dish’s flavours!
Respecting the Bottle
Chef Roger explains that when cooking for wine pairings, “it isn’t all about me. It’s also about what’s in the bottle. You can change the food, but not the wine.” He describes his process, saying “the flavour profiles were brought to me first, so I tried to enhance the dishes utilizing ingredients that would pair beautifully with the wine.” Mission accomplished!
As the dinner progressed, each course outdid the next, and the wine pairings became more interesting and exciting. When the fourth course arrived, paired with the legend-ary Alliànce, it was clear that the two masters were at the top of their game!
Unity in Diversity
As this evening came to a close, dinner guests of varied ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and countries left as friends, brought together by the unifying power of great food and sublime wine!
Cauliflower, Chèvre Panna Cotta, Citrus, Clipped Micro Salad, Pumpkin Seed Dressing
Roasted Cellar Carrot and Brie Velouté
Braised Merlot Soaked Pork Cheeks
Sautéed Potato Gnocchi
Winter Squash, Collard Greens
2012 Vicuña Roja
Beef “two ways”
Seared Medallion, Braised Short Rib Terrine
Sunchoke, Potato Purée
Plum Relish, Veal Jus
Italian Chocolate Cake
2013 Merlot Portànce