Dinner Out: Benjamin Bridge turns 20!

Dinner Out: Benjamin Bridge turns 20!
By Scott Campbell

If you’re a local lover of wines, or a lover of local wines, you will undoubtedly know of Benjamin Bridge winery. This year Benjamin Bridge celebrates 20 years of amazing winemaking and these people know how to have a birthday party. Last month a group of lucky diners were treated to two very impressive experiences.

First we were honoured to be a part of the very first event to be held in the newly-created event space and tasting room at the winery. Although renovations are still under way in other parts of the winery, the event space and tasting room are spectacular in modern styling and soaring ceilings.

The second spectacular event of the evening was dinner. Already known for fantastic culinary experiences, Benjamin Bridge pulled out all the stops for this 20th birthday dinner and invited Restaurant Le Caveau’s Chef Jason Lynch and owner Beatrice Stutz, and sommelier Kim Cyr to join the party. Then they also invited world-renowned Fogo Island Inn Chef Jonathan Gushue and his talented team of culinary compatriots to the birthday bash. Located off the northern coast of Newfoundland, Fogo Island Inn is well known to be the northern retreat for many of the western world’s rich and famous (a quick Google search reveals that Gwyneth Paltrow and David Letterman have both vacationed there), and now those of us at the dinner that night know just how well those people get to eat while they’re there. We then had the added advantage of having each course paired with one of Benjamin Bridge’s own wine creations.

We got to start our evening with a Cabot oyster served on top of an Anjou pear purée. The pear was infused with vanilla and then slowly cooked down to the purée. To finish the oyster, a jelly made from raw rhubarb juice balanced the acidity. This was paired with a 2013 Blanc de Blancs.

The first course was a very Newfoundland moose tartare. This delicious course was served with partridge berries, dulse, and sea urchin mayo. The moose meat was spiced to perfection, with each spoonful delivering an intensely flavourful delight. This was paired with an equally impressive 2011 Blanc de Noir.

Next up was a lettuce and scallop pudding. This unique dish was amazing. Gem lettuce from the gardens of the Fogo Island Inn was lightly poached in cream and emulsified with queen scallops from St. Mary’s Bay. Fennel, black pudding, and seaside tomatoes completed this layered dish which was then finished with peppery mizuna. This was paired with the 2012 Brut Reserve.

The main dish for the evening was cod cheeks. How Newfoundland can you get? The cod cheeks were slowly poached and served with a light stew of chanterelles from the town of Fogo, and sea buckthorn. Then it was finished with leeks and oyster plant foraged from Joe Baff’s Arm. The oyster plants on their own were incredible. This was paired with a very rare 2004 Blanc de Blancs.

The last course of the meal was a delicious granita, strawberries, and molasses cream. The granita was made from a species of wild rose called northeastern, handpicked on Fogo Island. The strawberries (from our own Noggin’s Farm) were macerated overnight. The custard shared flavours of brandy, sherry, and molasses. The dish was finished with flowers and mint from the Benjamin Bridge garden and paired beautifully with a 2015 Brut Rosé.

An amazing meal shared with friends, old and new. What an incredible celebration for the 20th birthday of Benjamin Bridge. Here’s to many, many more years of success for this inspiring winery and Nova Scotian showpiece. Cheers!

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