Dinner Theater at the Bearfoot Bistrôt in Whistler, BCHere is what made this dinner one of the most delightful, delicious, and extraordinary I've every experienced: The perfect preparation The quality and harmony of the ingredients The exquisite pairing of the wines and food The pacing of the courses The company of good friends After enjoying the oysters and champagne aperitif on the deck, as the sun disappeared behind the mountains and the night air started to settle in, we were escorted to the main dining room where the tasting menu began. The first two courses (Malpeque Oyster with asetra caviar) and the pictured Albacore Tuna Toro Tartar) were a delicious and gentle introduction to the ever-increasing intensity of flavors and textures to come. I have to admit that I was prepared to be disappointed with the third course as I've found swordfish, in recent years, to be tough and flavorless. Also, I couldn't resist sipping a bit of the white Côte de Rhône before the food arrived, and found it disappointingly bitter, but I was mistaken on both fronts. As soon as I tasted the Hawaiian swordfish I discovered what an inspired pairing it was with the wine. The bitterness of the wine disappeared entirely and enhanced what was the best swordfish I've ever tasted--tender and flavorful.
The sautéed foie gras, accompanied by black pepper brioche, further complemented by the plum purée and punctuated with a bit of spruce tip oil, sweetened by sips of Muscat Beaumes de Venise (if ever there was a time to say "be still my soul this was it) was the last course before the meat courses. First came the luscious braised veal cheek tortellini paired, to my astonishment, with wine from Tasmania, Australia, and this was the last course before we were given the most extraordinary possible intermezzo experience. We were asked to don huge goose down parkas with 7 layers of down and a fur lined hood. Mine came down to my knees and I wished it had come down to my ankles after we entered the "Ice Room." This room, entirely lined with ice, with nooks cut out to house bottles of vodka and gin, was kept at 30˚C/22˚F below zero. The last time my knees were that cold was at the University of Vermont in the era when girls were required to wear skirts no matter how low the temperature. But I forgot all about my knees when I started tasting the ice-cold alcohol. The low temperature made it taste smoother, more pure, and at the same time more flavorful. Elliott and I found the Russian vodka to be the most 'clean' tasting. When we left the 'ice palace,' and returned to the dining room, we all laughed as our glasses fogged up. On to the two main courses which were shared between each of the couples. Mine was the Wagyu striploin paired with Laughing Stock "Portfolio,' BC, 2009, both of which I was reluctant to give up for Elliott's Peace Country Lamb Rack, with merquez sausage, a wide ribbon of fresh pasta, a tiny pile of caponata, confit of lemon, and black garlic jus, paired with what turned out to be both of our favorites wines of the evening: Isola dei Nuraghi, Montessu, Sardinia, Italy, 2009. Since Elliott never ever raved about wine before I actually returned the glass to him after a few sips, only slightly reluctantly. Maybe I'll be able to find this wine in the US. Sorry no photos--I was too over the moon at this point to remember but regained my consciousness in time for the dessert course. First though, a trip to the wine cellar. If I remember correctly, it houses around 8,000 wines, the oldest of which was a 1907 port. Lucy Waverman's husband Bruce was given the honor to 'saber' the Moet and Chandon Nectar Imperial that was to accompany our dessert tasting. He managed to saber off the neck of the champagne bottle with just one decisive cut (leave it to a lawyer!). It turned out that Bruce and Elliott were the same vintage and both from Toronto and Bruce was able to update him on the status of many old friends he hadn't heard from in years. One final time of the evening we returned to table for the first of many desserts: Chef Dominic Fortin's famous Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream made with nitrogen at table. He explained that the reason for the nitrogen is that the mixture of 80% cream 15% milk, 5% maple elixir was too stiff to churn in an ice cream machine so he had to use a wooden spoon in a metal bowl. The result, served in metal goblets, was incredibly smooth and creamy. It was accompanied by raspberries, a delicious caramel sauce, and a ValRhona chocolate sauce, but we all wanted to enjoy it 'plain,' and eat the sauces from a spoon afterwards. The star of the six exquisite desserts that followed was the Raspberry Wild Rose and Fromage Frais Tart, which just the week before, Nathan had filmed chef Fortin preparing for Nathan's TV show. If you are interested in seeing the full menus complete with wine pairing see below: Thank you Nathan Fong, beyond words, for an unforgettable experience!