Big Night 2012 showcases top chefs in Vancouver
Throw a dozen of the top chefs in Vancouver in to a room and what do you get? Big Night 2012; an evening of delectable canapés paired with award winning wines.
The event, put on by Vancouver Magazine and held at the Vancouver Club, was in fact a big night for the accomplished chefs who were showcasing their top small plates to the 400 hungry guests. It was an opportunity for them to interact with the public in a casual but elegant environment while describing their chosen dish and wine pairing. Accompanied by a small team of 3 or 4, each chef was told to have ingredients to prepare 500 dishes on site. This worked in most cases, however for some, such as Pied-à-Terre, this number could not match the demand for their flavorful bistillas (also known as "bastellas"), a Moroccan spiced chicken with almonds and apricots wrapped in a pastry, then fried and dusted with icing sugar.
The combination of dessert-like sweet with the Moroccan spiced sweet danced in my mouth and was unlike anything I had ever tasted. Within minutes I witnessed them go from having over 50 to being totally swept clean and it was only 7:30.
Another crowd pleaser, the cannelloni of duck in a light tomato sauce from Cioppino’s, was a dish incognito; presented simply but packing flavors that hit every taste bud in the most wonderful way. Dishes like this put a new meaning to the word pasta. It’s not a surprise Cioppino’s was awarded the best upscale Italian restaurant. The dish was well paired with a medium red wine, the Rivera Cappellaccio Riserva Castel Del Monte DOC 2005, that was described as “leathery” but held notes of wild cherries and sweet herbs. As the sommelier described this as the best wine they serve I couldn’t help but ask him if he actually liked the wine himself or if he was just showcasing this particular one. Based on his response and the genuine tone in his voice, I knew he meant it when he described it as a “Gem of a wine”.
Part way through the evening I stopped to chat with a couple, Jenny and Andrew, who were already in to the dessert. I know there’s no rule the order in which you eat food but my gut told me to wait to have the sweets at the end. After seeing the two options from ThomasHaas, the crispy chocolate-hazelnut bar with caramel Chantilly and the pineapple and almond macaroon with lime sorbet, that gut feeling quickly changed. It doesn’t hurt to have it mid meal and at the end of the night right? Jenny couldn’t agree more. “I’ll be going back for more for sure, I’ve got a sweet tooth and these are delicious.” For Andrew it was more about pleasing his girl, “I just follow her, if she wants chocolate…we go for chocolate.”
Sounds like my kind of relationship.
A sucker for Thai food, the grilled pork tenderloin with peanut coriander nam jim sauce from Maenam, was notably one of my favorite dishes. It was the first dish I tasted but the flavors resonated with me the entire night and drew me back for more a couple of times. I sipped the wine pairing, the Concha y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2007, with hesitation as I typically find dessert wines too sweet for my palate. However, I was shocked to discover that it was quite tasty and a perfect complement to the dish. The sommelier serving it explained that the acidity of the wine in conjunction with the spices of the dish makes it taste less “syrupy” than some dessert wines tend to. This just goes to show the benefits of properly pairing your food and wine to enhance the flavor in both the wine and the dish.