My Scott Campbell
For those of you familiar with the Air Miles loyalty program, you may already be aware of the spectacular dinner that was offered at Restaurant Le Caveau at Grand Pré Winery on Saturday, January 28. As many regular patrons of Le Caveau would know, the restaurant is usually closed through the winter months, however, they opened their doors for this special Air Miles culinary evening and I was one of the lucky ones who attended.
We began the evening with a small reception in the Grand Pré Wine Shop. We were treated to some smoked salmon hors d’eouvres and a glass of Champlain sparkling white wine. After some mingling, Chef Jason Lynch welcomed everyone and gave us a short description of the mouth-watering menu that was about to unfold in front of us. With whetted appetites our group eagerly made its way over to LeCaveau and waited for our dining experience to begin.
Our dinner started with Seared Scallop and Heirloom Squash served with a dark maple and ver-jus gastrique. The subtle notes of the Ver-jus were just what was needed to highlight the delicate scallop. The sweet squash, the slight tang of the Ver-jus, and the distinctive scallop flavour combined to create an amazing first course. This was paired with Grand Pré’s own Ortega white wine which worked very well with the scallop.
Second was our Salad Mâché with a L’Acadie vinaigrette, lardons, crisp shallot, and sieved egg. This dish used fresh green lettuce that has the distinction of being able to grow through snow, and is frequently found being grown in cold frames around Nova Scotia. To have fresh local greens in January was a real treat. The salad came out with the Grand Pré L’Acadia Blanc. Again, another perfect pairing with the dry L’Acadie wine working well with the salad dressing and the lardons.
Up next was an incredible Beef Tartare. I can’t help but think of my dear friend, Dr. Erin Hennessy (local Wolfville Dentist) every time I’m offered Beef Tartare. Dr. Hennessy and I have dined together on many occasions and every time there is an opportunity to have Beef Tartare, she has it. I’m certain she would have approved of this particular version of local grass-fed beef, with dried egg yolk, crisps, and herbs. The rich beef was seasoned perfectly and served alongside some little dollops of Dijon Mustard. A smear of the mustard on some Tartare and spread over the crisps was a dining delight. This was served with the Grand Pré Vintner’s Reserve Reisling. I was expecting a red wine with this course but found the Reisling to be equally up to the task of pairing with the Tartare.
Our last savoury course for the evening was a delicious serving of Seared Sustainable Blue Salmon with Risotto Milanese and parsley root emulsion. The Salmon was seared perfectly allowing the tender meat to release all its rich succulent flavours. The risotto framed the fish perfectly. I’ll admit that I hopefully gazed around our table when I was finished to see if anyone had perhaps not been able to finish all of theirs. But, as expected, there wasn’t a trace of anything left on any plates. Another special feature of this course was the wine it was paired with. I was expecting a white to be paired with this fish so I was surprised when I saw a red being brought to the table. My surprise turned to excitement when I saw what was being poured – Grand Pré’s 2010 Cabernet Foch – with its distinctive black, tilted bottle. Restaurant Manager, Beatrice Stutz, shared with us that her brother, winemaker Jürg Stutz, had discovered some 10 cases of this 7-year-old wine hidden in their wine cellar. Chef Jason had explained to us, earlier during the reception, the complexities of this wine and how many red wines of Nova Scotia require time to be able to reach their full potential. The proof of this was in the bottle of this fantastic red wine.
We finished the evening with a sweet treat – Compressed Local Apple served atop Fresh Cheese and Pomme d’Or Caramel. This fantastic ending to our dinner came out with a glass of the sweet and velvety Grand Pré Apple Cream Liqueur. A perfect ending to a perfect evening. Cheers.