Leading up to The Main Event for Taste, I had been excited for weeks! Just the thought of delicious food paired with amazing wine from my very own province! It doesn’t get any better than that…. and it was impressive.
Before diving into the details of our delicious wine sips and flavourful food experiences, I want to touch on the venue and ambiance. Both my partner in crime and I walked in and were ready to get started. There were booths set up all over Crystal Gardens (the venue The Main Event was held in) and everything was beautiful. Throughout the evening we had the pleasure of listening to live music which ensured the lively and fun feeling the evening was filled with. There were numerous volunteers making sure that all trash was thrown away and that there were plenty of places to put a wine glass and plate down in order to eat. My hat goes off to them as I am sure this event could not have gone off so successfully without them! I have to say though, the most clever and interesting choice about the venue was a few TVs that were set up as social media outlets. They had a live Twitter feed visible with all of the Tweets about The Main Event! Live feedback on the food……… BRILLIANT!
Now………. without further ado…….. the food and wine!
I wanted to be the most adventurist with food and the first table we approached was Blue Crab Bar and Grill. I was expecting seafood but they had a maple chicken liver with goat cheese, gin pressed cucumber and cabbage greens – I thought great! Something I haven’t really tried before. Unfortunately, my attempt to be adventurist did not pay off in the way I wanted it to. I hated it. I guess chicken liver is just not for me. It was pungent, the texture was not something I would prefer to experience again and I had to drink two wines before I could get the flavour off my palate. I wish I could have liked it, but it just was not for me. Being that I have absolutely nothing to compare it to, I’m not really sure if this chicken liver was bad, or if I just think all chicken liver isn’t very good…
We then visited the Empress table which not only was stunning with their display, but the food was quite tasty! They served a pan seared albacore tuna on an avocado puree, topped with mango and fresh herbs from their rooftop garden. A Dungeness crab pot sticker accompanied the tuna. I wasn’t so sure about the pair together, but separately both were amazing. The pot sticker was flavourful and the tuna was so fresh, lightened with the avocado and mango. Yum! We stopped by the Starling Lane table and paired the Empress dish with Starling’s NV Celebration Brut, as recommended by one of the fabulous ladies with the Empress, and what a perfect combination! Perfect for any light meal, but particularly with seafood.. MmmMm..
One of my absolute favourite dishes was from Veneto Tapa Lounge. They presented a beautiful coconut cilantro halibut ceviche with Dungeness crab. The flavours of the halibut and crab were clearly showcased in this dish and as they should be! It was light, flavourful and had a gorgeous texture. My only criticism was that there was an orange sauce on the top of the ceviche that didn’t add any flavour. We actually couldn’t identify what it was. It added a beautiful colour, but in terms of flavour, it added nothing.
Harbour House Hotel, Restaurant and Organic Farm from Salt Spring Island had a booth and served two small dishes. One of the dishes had the most amazing honey I had ever tasted and it was straight from the island. I have to admit though, the dishes as a whole weren’t very memorable. That said, the chefs preparing the dishes were! They were energetic and clearly very proud of what they were serving, educating everyone that approached. This was actually really refreshing because when I approached the Harbour House Hotel table, I had just come from a winery’s table (which will remain nameless) that was NOT friendly. The women at the table did not even acknowledge my presence and I was the only one there. Tsk tsk tsk.
My FAVOURITE dish of the evening was from the Bard and Banker – chilled local sweet corn and green curry soup with cilantro and spot prawns. Yum! I honestly didn’t think it would be as good as it was, because I don’t typically like cold soups, however, the fragrance was even impressive. It was incredibly refreshing, smooth and herbaceous, while still carrying the flavours of curry. My partner seemed to be getting a little full when I grabbed myself some soup and after one taste I told him to RUN not walk to get himself a taste.
Once the food was eaten it was time to try the desserts. Fruitation Paletas had the most amazing fresh fruit frozen pops. They were so tasty and acted as a really great palate cleanser. Next was the goat cheese cake with sour cherry confit on a salted cocoa wafer from Lure Restaurant and Lounge. I had two of these and the flavour and experience was so amazing I am having a hard time even getting the words out. The goat cheese was the perfect consistency and was actually quite mellow, which was surprising. The salt on the cocoa wafer was the perfect balance to this little one-biter. Lastly was Paprika Bistro. They served a spiced chocolate short bread with chocolate mousse and candied local rhubarb. The spice was bang on but not intimidating or overwhelming. The candied rhubarb was actually crunchy, which added a nice texture contrast to the creamy chocolate mousse. Great way to end the evening!!
There were so many amazing wines, it was hard to keep all of the details straight on which wine was the best and where it came from. I am a red wine type of girl, so that was mostly what I stuck with. There were three that stood out to me. The first was Sandhill’s Viognier 2010. A medium-bodied wine with floral fragrance and amazing fruit flavours. Next was the gamay noir from Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery in Langley. It was incredibly smooth with rich dark berry flavours. You could smell the vanilla in this wine. My favourite was the wild blackberry 2008 from Rocky Creek Winery. If you are looking for something with a unique sweet flavour, you should definitely get your hands on a bottle of this. Although it is sweet, it has a dry finish and has hints of a smokiness. They recommended pouring it over ice cream which sounds AMAZING…
My favourite table of the night has got to go to Sea Cider for a number of reasons. First and foremost was Tegan. She was brilliantly friendly, passionate and knew her cider. It was refreshing to come across someone who was so excited to be pouring her product and educating us about it. She gave a proper tasting starting with Pippins which was a crisp, dry sparkling cider and a perfect way to start. Next was the Rumrunner, which is aged in a screech barrel for a year. I’ve never tasted any cider like it – sweeter than the Pippins, with noticeable brown sugar flavours. Lastly was the Pommeau, which Tegan described as the dessert cider, which again was higher in sweetness, with a caramelized sugar flavour and perfect for sipping.
I must admit, there were MANY more dishes we tasted and MANY more wines we sipped, but these were the highlights. Overall The Main Event went off without a hitch, the food was flavourful and the wine was delicious. We left with bellies full and heads slightly light, but we knew what we were in for! Not only was this a fantastic event for those that have a love for food and wine, but it was a fun way to raise funds for The Land Conservancy (TLC). I will definitely have to add this event to my annual MUST attend list.