Answer: Yes, this is a favourite wine process sometimes used by your scribe. It is old school method perhaps but very important to ensure a true authentic presentation of your wine. It means pouring a small amount of your opened wine bottle “avenir la carafe” into your decanter, then swirl around and into an empty glass to put aside. This similar “Avinage” technique can be used on your wine glass as well. All this is done before actually pouring the bottle contents into your decanter or wine glass for serving. An abundance of caution for sure but really helps in many cases where you are not sure the decanter or glass is perfectly clean and not affected by detergent, previous use, dust, water, cardboard storage, scented cabinets, etc. Remember this forgotten helpful aid and use it sometime.
On November 24, 2022 the chef competition for Canada’s Great Kitchen Party (formerly Gold Medal Plates) returned to Vancouver at the Westin Bayshore Inn – the last regional qualifier of 9 cities leading to the Grand Finale of Canadian Culinary Championship (CCC) in Ottawa, Ontario on February 3 & 4, 2023. Check out for more details of this event on their website of greatkitchenparty.com/ca@GKitchenParty on Twitter & @GreatKitchenParty on both Facebook and especially Instagram.
Your scribe was a judge for this main event and also the Wine Competition organized by David Lawrason National Wine Advisor (First: 2020 Mission Hill Jagged Rock Vineyard Syrah Terroir Collection 15 months in combo of French Oak barrels, Foudre, and Puncheon, Second: 2020 Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 12.7abv, and Third: 2020 Black Hills Ipso Facto 55% Cabernet Sauvignon & 45% Syrah). The final placings for the 2022 Great Kitchen Party Vancouver are:
1. BOBBY MILHERON (Homer St. Cafe & Bar, Tableau Bar Bistro, Maxine’s Cafe & Bar) with his innovative brilliant dish of lightly smoked Canadian Geoduck & BC Spot Prawn terrine with pickled Bull Kelp, Sunchoke and shellfish jus. He also provided a wonderful most insightful brochure with QR code scan for ingredient producers all clasped by an amazing geoduck shaped clasp. Also received the People’s Choice Award. Well done!
2. MIKE TUANGKITKUN (Chef de Cuisine at Maenam) Southern Thai style Turmeric Curry with a mosaic of BC Sockeye Salmon, mussel, side-striped prawn, fresh young coconut, and squid ink cracker with housemade “Tomyum” seasoning.
3. VISH MAYEKAR (Caffe La Tana, Pepino’s) “Surf & Turf” Lamb Agnolotti & Seared Scallop with South Indian Curry Sauce, Curry Leaf Foam and Lime Crumb.
An outstanding inspired hors d’oeuvre of pate en croute was prepared by Chef Roger Ma (Boulevard in Vancouver) reigning CCC champion clearly showing his talented worthiness for this title. There is an excellent write-up summary on the evening prepared by ourleader National Culinary Advisor James Chatto posted here. Follow the exciting CCC in Ottawa early February.
Bobby Milheron of Homer St. Café and Bar wins gold at Vancouver’s Great Kitchen Party
Flying into Vancouver from Saskatoon gifted us a certain magic – we landed before we took off, and found a city still cradled by autumn, golden leaves not yet fallen from the trees. We were tempted to linger by the placid waters of Coal Harbour, but only for a moment. We had a party to go to – and a splendid party it turned out to be. Our Vancouver event was the first across the country to sell out, which may have been because of the awesome musical line-up assembled, headlined by Bill Henderson and Chilliwack, who rocked on late into the night, Neil Osborne and Dave Osborne of 54-40, Kandle Osborne and Geoffrey Kelly of Spirit of the West. We have had so much incredible music throughout this campaign and we ended it on a stratospheric high. Heather Moyse was our sparkling emcee and Beckie Scott had the whole room in the palm of her hand as she talked about the charity she has created and which is one of those that the Great Kitchen Party supports – Spirit North, empowering Indigenous youth through sport and play.
We included another special moment in the evening – a tribute to Andrew Morrison who was our co-Senior Judge in Vancouver for 14 years and a beloved member of our team, lost to cancer in 2021. The Great Kitchen Party has created a bursary in his name to be awarded annually and in perpetuity to a deserving culinary student from Vancouver Community College. Last night the recipient was Sara Li.
Andrew would have had a great deal to say about the dishes we tasted last night. The standard was exceptionally high all round, with gorgeous sauces in particular evidence, but a clear and unanimous winner emerged in the minds of the judges. Our jury included some of the finest palates in the land, led by Vancouver Senior Judge Joie Alvaro Kent (cookbook author, food writer, culinary judge, entrepreneur, and sipper of Boulevardiers) together with Sid Cross (wine food guru: globally respected educator-judge-media personality & bon vivant), Andrea Carlson (chef, owner of Burdock & Co. Restaurant, Bar Gobo, Harvest Community Foods), Hamid Salimian (VCC Culinary Arts instructor, GoodFlour co-founder, Culinary Olympics coach and gold medallist), Douglas Chang (chef turned quality knife and houseware dealer but forever an eater), and Roger Ma, the Vancouver gold medallist in 2019 and reigning Canadian Culinary Champion. The canapé he prepared for the VIP reception was a stunning slice of paté en croute with a circle of venison loin held in place by a pork and duck farce studded with chopped pistachios and truffles and finished with a quail aspic – an incredibly delicious start to everyone’s evening!
We awarded the bronze medal to Vish Mayekar from Caffè LaTana and Pepino’s Spaghetti House. His dish was a play on surf and turf that combined his roots in Mumbai with his life in Canada and paid homage to the Italian restaurants that have been such a part of his career so far. He presented two hand-rolled agnolotti, striped with squid ink, filled with a farce made of lamb shoulder and belly, seasoned with toasted Indian spices and leavened with a little ricotta. Beside them was a whole scallop, seared in ghee to give a bronze crust and brightened with lemon. The sauce was a carefully judged, long-simmered melange of tomato, curry leaves, 10 different spices, cilantro and mint while a curry leaf foam echoed some of its flavours in a different, more ethereal form. Tangy lime breadcrumbs added crunch while a coriander oil contributed freshy herbal notes. Chef chose a natural wine for his pairing, the fruity, boldly acidic 2021 Roussanne/Viognier from Artakama in Oliver, B.C.
Our silver medal went to Thachaya “Mike” Tuangkitkun from Maenam. He presented a mosaic of wild sockeye salmon that he brined for an hour with lemongrass, makrut lime leaf and galangal then smoked very briefly with grated dry coconut and brushed with squid ink. The fish was wrapped in betel leaf then sliced to beautiful effect. Beside it in the bowl was a single perfect Salt Spring Island mussel and a single perfect sidestripe shrimp, both of them steamed with a bouquet of Thai herbs. The sauce was the scene-stealer – a rich opulent yellow curry, silky with coconut cream, coloured by turmeric and soothed with fresh young coconut juice. A sturdy puffed tapioca cracker had the flavour to stand up to the sauce’s heat, dusted with a Tom Yum seasoning of lemongrass, lime leaf and galangal. Finishing garnishes included a lovely piece of fresh young coconut meat, lime leaf and microgreens. Chef’s wine choice was a perennial Canadian star, the tangy, elegant 2020 Old Vines Riesling from Tantalus in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.
The gold medallist – and also winner of the People’s Choice award – was Bobby Milheron from Homer St. Cafe & Bar, Tableau Bar Bistro, and Maxine’s Cafe & Bar. He turned to the ocean for inspiration. Geoduck can be awfully chewy – Chef Milheron cured his with salt, citrus and sugar, lightly smoked it, poached and then very briefly seared it to a remarkable tenderness. Its subtle marine flavour was echoed in the second element of the dish – a slice of spot prawn held in a matrix of shellfish mousseline, wrapped in bull kelp. Beneath the geoduck was a finger of grated sunchoke cake, creamy inside, crispy on the surface. Pickled bull kelp provided acidity and another taste of the sea. Chef’s sauce was a rich shellfish jus made from kelp and geoduck and he used more sunchokes to make scrumptious crisps. A scattering of intensely flavourful oyster leaves tasted just actual oysters – another marine nuance on this cleverly cross-referential plate. Chef’s wine was the refreshing, dry but fruity 2021 Reserve Rosé from Mission Hill in the Okanagan Valley.
So there we have it. Chef Milheron completes our line-up of champions heading off to Ottawa in February for the gruelling gastronomic trifecta that is the Canadian Culinary Championship. I can hardly wait!
Question: Would you please recommend an interesting wine region for me to visit during my 2023 European trip?
Answer: That is really a difficult one with so many possible vineyard choices out there throughout Europe. When are you going, how long do you have, and where in Europe are you planning to headquarter? Perhaps my best tip might be to check out the less touristy but interesting region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy near the cities of Trieste & Udine. Opportune time because until May 31, 2023 a Tourism promotion will refund Trenitalia train tickets to visit the region plus other tour enticements. Lots of fresh fruity en vogue white wines to discover there. Recommend trying some wines with those citrus notes of refreshing acidity from the native Ribolla Gialla variety (especially from that special Collio sub-region of Friuli). Also one of my favourite all-time whites is from this region being Vintage (find the 2020) Tunina by Jermann. Hope this unique wine region visit idea might work into your plans.
We are fortunate in #Vancouver to have a world-class Thai restaurant Maenam featuring outstanding @chefangusan producing fantastic dishes. Our Tastevin group held a special dinner there on November 15, 2022 of some of his many best courses that all were singing with delicious assertive flavours. From experience your scribe usually prefers matching slightly off-dry white wines with good acidity and a touch of residual sweetness to tame the spices of Thai food. Thinking like Sparkling with higher dosage, Chenin Blanc, and especially Riesling at the Spatlese level. Here the matching was dry white & red Burgundy all of which actually stepped up surprisingly well to this tougher challenge.
The aperitif was a spectacular 1996 vintage in large magnum format from quality producer Pol Roger that was brilliantly fresh and complex with the bubbles complementing the flavourful canapes served. Clever use of pineapple.
Three aged Les Clos Grand Cru Chablis followed with Fevre clearly outclassing the other two with the depth and signature textbook statement of this best vineyard. Brocard showed lighter refreshing elements with appropriate spice notes from the less ripe nature of 2008 while the two 2009s were richer and softer but Servin showed some pre-mox (their 2018 Montee de Tonnerre also is forwardly from another hot vintage but has better balance with their 2020 releases). Even though the 2009 Fevre Les Clos deep salinity was really excellent and wonderful paired with the truffled Crab dish, probably a younger fruit-forward more acidic Chablis or off-dry white would have calmed the unique 8 Spice Red Perch to better advantage. Fun education with this food matching!
The lobster course with 2011 puligny was fine. The Champs-Canet has lovely “sweetness” of fruit but Lucien LeMoine is rather reductive and drier from that outlying Blagny region vineyard La Garenne even though cleverly decanted an hour or so before by the talented Sommelier Kristi Linneboe.
Big reds that are quite tannic usually can be difficult with Thai food but Pinot Noir usually has less hard tannins and perfect natural acidity for balance. However, Philippe Leclerc uses older full extraction techniques and this perfect 2005 vintage from Cazetiers stills needs more aging. The lighter charming 2005 Volnay red Burgundy pairs better presently with the duck and Angus An skillfully tweaked the curry and smoking to make it work marvelously. Everyone knows that duck and Red Burgundy is a sublime pairing. What an amazing chef!
What are your choice wines to serve with Thai dishes?
Question: Thank you for you informative blog. I’m a long term reader and have learned a lot from you. My question regarding the BC Liquor Store 2019 Bordeaux release on Nov 19th:
A) What are your favourite appellations for this vintage? B) What are your top 3 picks for red wines? C) What are your top 3 value picks for red wines? D) what are your top 3 picks for dry whites?
Answer: Thanks for your most complimentary remarks on our “informative” IWFS Blog. Pleased you are “a long term reader and have learned a lot”. You ask some detailed questions that we will try to help you with on your upcoming purchases:
1. Favourite Appellations in 2019? Prefer the Left Bank – especially St. Julien & Pauillac – showing better structure with more acidity than 2018 to balance out that similar ripe fruit styling.
2. Top 3 picks for 2019 red wines: No Chateau Talbot available that was ranked #4 in the just released Wine Spectator Top 100 but there are 150 diverse choices. Three excellent ones are HAUT-BAGES LIBERAL (Under the radar Pauillac) $100, LEOVILLE-POYFERRE (much improved) $225, and LYNCH-BAGES (Classic) $300.
3. Top 3 value picks for 2019 red wines: LANESSAN (under-rated) $45, LILIAN LADOUYS (New Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel) $55, and LA VIEILLE CURE ( Rich drinkable Fronsac) $60.
4. Top 3 2019 dry whites: Harvest was quite early to save the lovely freshness. Suggest these from the18 offered: CLOS DES LUNES LUNE D’ARGENT (Semillon fuller texture good value) $40, LATOUR-MARTILLAC (Wonderful balance) $80, SMITH HAUT LAFITTE (Beauty – Cellar for maximum complexity) $280.