Posted on 25th September, 2020 Source: Aman Dosanj, Guest Contributor
Up until recently, Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Course wasn’t the most likely place to attend a hyper-local farm-to-table winemaker’s dinner. But, now that there’s a chef like Nelson Daniels at the helm, that also makes complete sense.
We live in a place where our food has a story behind it, produced by people with faces and names. Nelson has always been a big believer in the power of partnership with small-scale growers, sustainably caught seafood, ethically raised meats, and wineries that fall in the 4-season-Narnia-like back yard that we call home.
Since arriving in Kelowna in 2011, the former Waterfront Wines and Vice & Virtue chef has an intimate relationship with the Okanagan’s food scene and local farmers. Chefs usually aspire to this notion of the 100-mile diet, but many of tonight’s showcased ingredients were just 3.9 km to 7.5 km away from Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Course.
After an overcast rain-drenched day, the sun warmly made an appearance to escort the guests to 7 tables, 6-feet apart, in the spacious white linen lined banquet room. As we overlooked the pristine green, Mother Nature even orchestrated a beam of light to set the tone for the first multi-course dinner of the series.
Tonight’s wine partner: Kelowna’s newest winery, Mirabel Vineyards. The beautiful hilltop family-owned estate focuses on elegant, small-lot Pinot Noir, Rosé and Chardonnay varietals, from the vineyard-to-our dining room in just 3.9 km! Starting with brief banter-filled introductions by owners, Dawn and Doug Reimer, the orchestrated feast commenced.
First Course: West Coast Oysters paired with 2016 Mirabel Vineyards Blanc de Noir
The trio of freshly shucked Black Pearl oysters was a light and refreshing course to plant a seed for a quick pairing suggestion for date night at home. Starting left-to-right, first up: all-natural; next: a punchy red wine vinegar and shallot mignonette; and last but not least: topped with fresh ginger for a refreshing pop. Each slurp brought out different things in the 97-point, only 100-cases produced, refined sparkling – my favourite being the ginger bringing out the pink grapefruit and lychee notes of the wine.
Second Course: Roasted Beet paired with 2019 Mirabel Vineyards Rosé
Beets two-ways – this course was all about showcasing the different the flavour profiles of the earthy red beet compared to the sweeter, yellow kind. An ode to Wise Earth Farm, 7.5km away, the cylindrical tube-like cheese custard cleverly tapped into childhood cheese dip filled memories but in an elevated amped-up way. With the saying ‘what grows together goes together’, a light carrot puree and chip, as well as two gently grilled baguette pieces completed the plate.
Wine wise, we were treated to a sneak peek of Mirabel’s unreleased 2019 Rosé, made from 100% Pinot Noir. Unlike other Rosé in the Valley, these grapes have been grown specifically to make rosé, which is cool. The residual sugar in the wine with the beets was a solid pairing.
Third Course: Seared Scallops paired with 2018 Mirabel Vineyards Chardonnay
The plump, sweet, golden-topped ocean-friendly scallops sat on a fluffy cauliflower purée from There & Back Again Farms 4.4km away. Nelson’s tip was to have a little of the saffron oil with every bite to bring out the buttery oaked notes of the Chardonnay – clearly, working under the guidance of Chef Mark Filatow, the only chef/sommelier to be invited into the Sommelier Guild, has paid off. This dish reminded me of Nelson’s time at Waterfront Wines topped with a house-made rice cracker that he taught me way back when.
Fourth Course: Roasted Duck Breast paired with 2015 Mirabel Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir
Up next, a perfectly pink duck breast with this fluffy bread pudding, with wild chanterelle mushrooms from local forager, Scott Moran at Everything Wild (who also just celebrated 10 seasons of foraging), cut through with a luscious black pepper jus. An obvious pairing with Pinot Noir because duck and pinot (do I need to say more?), the fruit-forward red berry notes popped with every bite.
Fifth Course: Watermelon Sorbet, Fruit and Bubbles
A pretty retro end to the evening served in a martini glass – the refreshing sorbet mingled with the last fresh blueberries of the season and topped tableside with some more of that in-demand sparkling.
It’s evident that with every collaboration or working experience you have, you take a part of that place with you. These wine and beer-paired dinners are not only a chance for Nelson to show what he can do with our 4 distinct seasons, but also bring a whole new dimension to dining at a golf course; making it a destination for everyone.
Cheers to all the delicious things to come.
Stay tuned for upcoming events (because there’s more to come).
About Aman Dosanj & The Paisley Notebook: Food geek, marketing geek, former England and Arsenal footballer (soccer), people watcher, feminist, BSc Business Graduate, middle child, Virgo, planner, Slow Food Member, adventurer, From The Wild alumni, imperfect environmentalist, storyteller, and just weird enough to be interesting. The former Poppadoms owner and Western Living Magazine ‘Foodie of the Year’, organizes pop up dinners and collaborative events across the Okanagan aimed at bringing the community together. Winner of the ‘Culinary Tourism Experience’ category at the 2018 Canadian Tourism Awards, and a two-time gold winner for the Food Day Canada ‘Good Food Innovation’ Award in 2018 and 2019, Aman and The Paisley Notebook has raised over $60k for local charities since 2017. Check out PasleyNotebook.com.
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