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Seven people and a vegetarian

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A number of people ended up being interested in Uptown 21’s Tawse wine dinner, so a wee bit of organizing was required. One factor was that one person was a vegetarian, and needed to know if that could be accommodated. She called and confirmed that it could, with forewarning, so when I called to make the reservation, I specified that one individual was vegetarian.

The dinner was a sell-out, so the week before, they called to confirm everyone’s attendance. This was their phone message to me:

“I see you have a reservation here for seven people… and one vegetarian.”

And that was our joke for the evening. Because if you’re not going to eat the lower life forms, are you really a person?

Unlike Uptown 21’s daily specials, at this five-course wine dinner, full glasses of wine were on offer for each of the five courses. With refills, if you wanted (I declined those). But it was over a fairly extended amount of time—starting at 6:30 pm and continuing to past 10:30—so that kept the level of drunkenness at bay.

The first wine was a 2008 Echos Riesling, which is one of those Ontario Riesling that is actually dry but tastes rather off-dry. Quite pleasing to me; I think Reisling is one the grapes that Ontario does best. That was served with a peach, arugula, and burnt goat cheese amuse-bouche, indeed a nice balance of flavours.

Next was another 2008 Rieseling, this one the Foxcroft Block, which actually the same level of sugar as the first, but tasted much more dry. That made it less appealing to me to drink on its own, but some at the table liked it better. All agreed that comparing the two was interesting. That was served with a fresh tomato-mascarpone and wild leek tart with Riesling braised pork belly and micro greens salad. Excellent tomatoes, nice crisp pork, and the acidity of the wine was a good balance for the fat.

Next up (after some talk with vintner, who was doing the rounds of the tables): 2006 Quarry Road Chardonnay, a very oaky, very rich-tasting wine. With flavour this strong, it was a bit polarizing, with some not liking it on its own at all, others very much. But all agreed it changed some with the food, which was seared sea scallop in sweet corn consomme, corn marmalade, shallot popcorn foam, brown butter and sea salt.

Yes, I kept the menu; I couldn’t remember that all that. These plates came with the single seared scallop and corn, then the butter sauce was poured over, then the foam. It was very peppery, and the foam didn’t have much taste on its own, but the scallop was nicely done, and the corn certainly in season.

Now we hit some reds, starting with the 2007 Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc. Four glasses in, my wine recollection is getting a bit fuzzy, but I think that was a fairly fruity Cabernet Franc. It was served with slow roasted beef striploin over chive whipped potatoes, caramelized summer vegetables, and a plum glace de veau. I found my beef perhaps a little too done (is that the second time this has happened to me at a wine dinner?), but the potatoes were quite delicious.

Pinot Noir was the next featured one, this one the 2007 Grower’s Blend. Quite liked that one, a mix of pinot grapes. It was served with a delicious duck confit atop a stack of french pancakes (really, crèpes) smothered in a maple-roast summer garlic sauce, foie gras torchon (so cold foie gras), wild mushrooms, and fresh blueberries. Although I couldn’t quite finish this plate, due to getting full-ness, it was probably my favorite course.

And the finale: Dessert. Yes, we had wine for this too, and it was a 2007 Chardonnay ice wine. This ice wine was lighter than many, with a distinct apple flavour, Very appealing. It was served with vanilla custard, fresh doughnut, chardonnay caramel, and Sean’s famous “Duff-mellow” brulée. The doughnut, not too sweet on its own, was really great with the wine. The brulee is justly famous; nice texture and flavour of burnt marshmallow.

And a little decaf coffee, and some more water, and we were on our way.

I was quite happy to not have a headache the next day.

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