Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Duck in a Pair Tree

The grapes helped. The cheese fought the nutted bread thing to a draw. Superport saved the day.

The salmon is Really Good. It is magnified by the mushroom pastry bomb. The winey Sabayon seems like a visitor to your tongue from another dimension. They go well together with the Pinot Noir. It's not as if they had a choice.

The wafflesque diversion won first place in the Liliputian Architecture Society's Frank Gehry memorial miniature competition, but failed to make up for the sea-centric core of this overburdened scallop. Alas.

I'd read nothing but good reviews of North Van's Moustache Cafe for some time, and when the local North Shore News mentioned the cafe was having a wine pairing, I quickly called the cafe and got the last ticket for the event. It began with a small pool of rubber ducks from which we were asked to select a duck and I was one of the few to win a prize- under the prize winners were written the names of the prizes, and mine read "dress shirt." OK, it's a shirt with the Duckhorn Wine Co. logo on it so it's as much an ad for the vinyards as a shirt, but I'm sure I'll wear it eventually. While we selected our ducks, some superb punch was being served. Peach liquer, lychee, orange and cranberry juices, Triple Sec and enough mint to make a good mint tea were wonderfully refreshing. I had a second glass from the dregs of the punch bowl and the ratio of mint leaves to liquers had so altered that it tasted more like mint tea than punch, but Very Good mint tea.
First off was a scallop. The more I visit these upscale restaurants, the more resigned I'm forced to become with having a single scallop as an appettizer. And since when has nut encrustation become de riguer? The citrtus melon emulsion was appreciated but the singular scallop was Far Too Fishy for my tastes. Thankfully, it was more than dragged back into taste territory by the Sauvignon Blanc, the only white that Duckhorn makes and I was lucky it was on my table to wash away the marine excess of the scallop-yep, even one is too many when it don't taste good.
Much better was the salmon carpaccio, which was magically multiplied in quality with the mushroom brioche and the sabayon. You need some serious fork skill getting them all on your fork to enter your mouth at once, and then add the pinot noir. Good enough to make a flick about.
The duck breast was intense. Thankfully, so was the merlot. The duck was chewy and beefy. I could imagine a cow flapping its wings and flying into the sky, but then I imagine a lot of strange things. I thought the plump thing was a duck liver and thus avoided it, until fellow diners reported it was the fruit- filled ravioli I would have known about it I was paying more attention to the menu. I've always thought fruit was meat/seafood's best friend, and am always delighted to find chefs who share that view. My uncle Fred is buried in the Yorkton cemetary with an image of a man shooting ducks on his tombstone. He would have enjoyed this meal. I could feel the duck shooting its flavour into my tongue with each bite.
We were treated to video messagery from the Duckhorn rep during the meal, and when he invited us to sample the Paraduxx before its course materialized, I did more than sample. When the venison appeared, I had no wine left to pair with it, and upon asking if I could get more, I was not rewarded. Indeed, the amount of wine we were given to pair with the food was remarkably small. The venison tasted like a Disneyland of dead Bambis. If they were alive, they would have run away.
Lastly we were treated to a trio of cheeses, one of which may have been a cheddar, another seemed like a blue cheese dressing turned solid, and the last fully veined cheese chunk was intense enough to spar with the port. The cheese, like the other courses was perfectly paired with its wine. Everyone else in the restaurant seemed to know chef Geoff Lundholm and if this pairing is a demonstration of his skills, such knowledge would appear mandatory for foodies in North Van. If pairing of this quality is to be had locally, who needs Europe?


At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see that the wine paring meal at the Mustache Café went well. I would suggest that you include the wine names and perhaps your impressions of why the match is or is not a success. My experiences have shown that some wine pairings are using a few left over bottles and unimaginative pairings.

A bit concerned when chewy duck is mentioned, a properly prepared duck should eat like a filet of beef, and literally melt in your mouth.



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