Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Riesling Inspired Dinner For The Mystery Wine Group At Splendido Restaurant, Toronto

The mystery wine group is a small group of individuals with very extensive wine cellars who get together at different restaurants for an extensive, uniquely created meal inspired by certain wine varietals. The wines are served blind or double blind and the wines discussed, guessed at, while hors d'oevres are served and then those same wines are enjoyed during the course of the meal. This night, rieslings were the inspiration. Chef Victor Barry created the perfect dishes to pair with these wines. I have always believed that well made rieslings are the most versatile wines with food. This evening's creations proved the point.

We began with reception wines: Piliteri's Sparkling Reserve 2002, a surprisingly good product but the bubbles were very short lived. Then, 3 wonderful wines: J. J. Prum riesling spatelese 1994; Egon Muller spatelese 1990 and finally an Egon Muller Scharzhofberger riesling spatlese 1976, a deep golden wine in remarkably good condition, viscous and brimming with fruit.

We then sat down to begin tasting the dinner wines with the canapes. Those wines were Von Schleinitz Koberner Weisenberg riesling auslese 1990; Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium Trittenheimer Altarchen riesling auslese 1989; Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium Graacher Himmelreich riesling auslese 1988; J. J. Prum Wehlener Sonnener riesling auslese 1990; Egon Muller Scharzhofberger spatlese 1970 (another spectacular surprise, a wine a dark golden brown in colour, still well put together with surprising fruit, despite it's age);

The dinner that I am about to describe was certainly one of the very best eating experiences that I have enjoyed in Canada and a very good example of well composed, contemporary, refined cuisine.

Qualicum Bay scallop, chopped pickled ramps, ramp oil, olive oil and tarragon. A symphony of harmonious flavours.

Impeccably fresh Japanese prawn, barely cooked, presented with the head (for sucking the sweet contents); the tail with preserved lemon puree, tarragon, blood orange and breakfast radish; and a piece of Australian toro (belly tuna, in better condition and fresher than I remember tasting anywhere in Toronto) with pequillo pepper, parsley, fried caper, olive, tonnato sauce and confit of fennel. This dish, in itself was an extraordinary taste experience!

Smoked Rocky Point oyster with a smoked beurre blanc monte, with finely chopped chives, potato foam and potato chips. The oyster was succulent and barely touched by heat. A triumph of subtle flavours of the sea and smoke.

Truffled consomme soup perogie accompanied by bratwurst topped with Guiness mustard and sauerkraut, was presented in a bamboo steamer. We were instructed to pop the entire perogie into our mouths and to be careful as it was filled with a delectable soup of smoked ham stock, maple syrup, finely diced culatello and seasoned with black pepper and nutmeg. The perogie experience was a WOW in the mouth!

Oregon black trumpet mushroom salad with enoki and oyster mushrooms, celeriac, jerusalem artichoke puree, pickled jerusalem artichoke, roasted jerusalem artichoke, jerusalem artichoke chips, ramp "snow", pickled ramps, triple crunch mustard, arugula seedlings, shaved Perigourd black truffle and crisp parsnip shavings, all dressed with a maple syrup, truffled wine and flavoured with nutmeg. Each forkful was an explosion of flavours on the palate.

Seared Rouge Farms foie gras with caramelized pineapple puree, compressed pineapple, pineapple jalapeno relish, heart nuts, coriander seedlings, brioche bread crumbs and a reduced chicken jus. This foie gras was exceptionally well executed, with a paper thin, crispy, caramelized crust and an impeccably rare, delicious, melt in your mouth soft interior, all set off with a complementary range of mildly tart pineapple flavours.

Boudin noir with shaved apple, caramelized apple puree, split apple/walnut sauce,  cocoa nib and apple peel powder, walnut powder, glazed turnip crackling, cocoa tuile and duck confit. A rarefied rendering of earthy flavours.

Chestnut filled agnolotti with suckling pig, parsnip, roast chestnut and hazelnut powder sauced with glaze from the pig roast and brown butter. The pasta was incredibly delicate and all the subtle flavours were so harmonious and pleasing. Pasta does not get any better than this!

Roasted and sous vide, red breasted breast and crown of guinea hen with Red Mill grits and sauce perigourd. The grits were flavoured with parmiggiano Regiano, parsley and chopped chives. The meat was incredibly tender and juicy. One can't see the goods on the plate as they are delectably covered with shaved black Perigourd truffle.  

Lisbeth munster cheese, with poached pear, pear puree, Perigourd black truffle/pear puree, shaved pear, chayote, pickled mustard seed, pickled shallot, chopped candied walnut and "brick" dough wrapped munster. 

This course was enjoyed with a splendid Johnnesberger Hansenberg riesling beerenauslese eiswein 1973, golden brown in colour with tropical fruit flavours and a long finish.

Malted toffee pudding with pear and puff pastry, banana passionfruit sorbet, kumquat confit, pistachio tuile, cinnamon crumble, roasted white chocolate snow and white chocolate mango sauce. 

With our dessert, we enjoyed a marvellous 1971 trochenbeerenauslese Rether Langwerth Von Simmern Itoille, Erzeuger Abfullung.

Mignardises: macaroon, pate de fruits, Paris Brest, chocolate with toffee, sable Breton and a madeline. A tasteful finish to a truly fabulous meal with great wines.

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