Paired Wine-Food Dinner with Ingo Grady at April Point Resort (Quadra Island)

I’ve covered some of the best wine and food festivals in British Columbia, so it’s not like I am new to the game (see my coverage of, just for starters, the Chef’s Congress President’s Ball Dinner 2011 in Vancouver, Chefs Across The Water 2011 in Salt Spring Island and Parksville Uncorked 2010 and 2011 in Parksville). And I can confidently say that Tastes of April Point 2011 (at the gorgeous April Point Resort) qualifies as one of the best food and wine festivals I’ve attended.

April Point Resort (Quadra Island)I was very, very pleasantly surprised with the attention to detail that the organizers of Tastes of April Point put on organizing every single detail of this festival. And clearly, my table companions (Barbara from Mission and Mary from Abbottsford, a mother and daughter pair with whom I had the pleasure of seating) were just as impressed. One of the things I do whenever I cover an event is ask the attendees why they participated and how they heard about the event. Barbara and Mary had heard great things online about this event and had already been to Quadra Island so this was a no-brainer. And they both loved the festival as much as I did.

I met Ingo Grady a few years ago at Parksville Uncorked, and I have drank Mission Hill wines for a while now, so I kind of knew what to expect (amazing food paired with fantastic wines). I also attended an event earlier organized by Tastes of April Point called the Affinities Experience (you can read about it on my blog). Dinner was served, first of all, with a booklet that had space to write comments about each wine, as well as the tasting notes.

Sunset at April Point Resort (Quadra Island) Tastes of April Point 2011

A booklet like this is a brilliant idea, and I can tell you from seeing my fellow food bloggers/writers, we all DO take notes about the meals we are getting served, so facilitating this process really enables the writer to focus more on what they are eating and less on trying to remember how it tasted and what kind of wine these delicaces were paired with.

To open our apetite, dinner started with a First Course of butternut squash soup, Quadra Island scallosp, hazelnut oil, garlic puree and creme fraiche, paired with Lucien Albrecht Cremant Rose. You simply can’t go wrong with butternut squash soup, although I will fully admit that the scallop was a surprise in and of itself. The garlic and hazelnut oil complimented perfectly the sweet flavour of the butternut squash, while the scallop maintained a very firm texture that enriched the soup. I could have had that dish for a meal and be content. The Lucien Albrecht Cremant Rose wine was another surprise because it tasted almost briny and salty, with a hint of sour/tart (probably coming from the green plum) and fizzy bubbles. Strange for a rose, but very nice compliment to the background scallop in the soup.

Tastes of April Point (Quadra Island, April Point Resort) dinner with Ingo Grady

The Second Course was by far my favorite: Moroccan spiced albacore tuna “Nicoise”, Russian blue potato, taggiasche olive, quail egg, salsa verde, preserved lemon and champagne vinaigrette, paired with Gunderloch Fritz’s Riesling. The wine last-minute substitution proved a smart move, as this apricot-flavoured, sweet and nimble Riesling was chilled down to almost zero degrees Celsius, which liberated the sweet flavours of the Riesling. I am in love with Rieslings, I’ll have to say. And this particular one, the Fritz, was a great compliment to an albacore tuna that was chock full of flavour (the Moroccan spices gave it a great spicy and almost hot kick, whereas the taggiasche olive tapenade fully rounded up the ‘Nicoise’. I wouldn’t have cared much for the quail egg, although it was tasty, and the Russian blue potato was tart and fresh, which proved a nice counterpoint to the salty/spicy Moroccan spiced albacore tuna. Pairing a sweet wine with a spicy fish: beautiful.

Tastes of April Point (Quadra Island, April Point Resort) dinner with Ingo Grady

The Third Course consisted of pan-seared Pacific halibut, Manila clams, fennel puree, pea coulis, bacon jam paired with a Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay. Now, admittedly, you can’t go wrong with bacon. And this dish was my second favorite. The vanilla and spice hints in the Chardonnay compliment very nicely the robust, well-cooked and nicely spiced halibut. The choice of bacon jam was spectacular here, because it provided a nice salty flavour to the halibut, that also combined well with the Manila clams. I’ve never really been a fan of fennel puree or pea coulis, but I’ll say that they provided subtle hints of mild flavour that neutralized a somewhat stronger bacon jam.

Tastes of April Point (Quadra Island, April Point Resort) dinner with Ingo Grady

The Fourth Course would have been a winner with JT, since he loves his meat almost blue rare. But I don’t, unfortunately. So, while I can appreciate every other element of the dish, the meat was not my favorite. A slow-roasted Island bison strip loin with parsnip puree, porcini mushrooms, Pattinson Farms organic baby red beets, flat leaf parsley and black truffle sauce was overall, incredibly well-assembled. All the strong flavours of the porcini mushrooms, the black truffle oil, went very well with the Antinori Il Bruciato red wine, which is extremely intense, deep in colour and has a little hint of menthol and lots of hints of sweet spices. That Il Bruciato red wine is a delicacy in-and-of-itself (a little too robust for my taste, since I’m more of a white wine kind of guy, but delicious nonetheless). While I only had a bite or two of the bison, I could appreciate how nicely done it was, but I could have just eaten the garnish elements (porcini mushrooms, parsnip puree, black truffle oil). I wish my bison had been a lot more cooked. But that doesn’t detract from the quality of the dish nor the assembly.

Tastes of April Point (Quadra Island, April Point Resort) dinner with Ingo Grady

Tastes of April Point (Quadra Island, April Point Resort) dinner with Ingo GradyI would have stopped at this point (and so would have my lovely table companions) but we were promised dessert and we weren’t about to waste it. So we waited for the Fifth Course (dinner took a solid 3 hours, which went by so fast it was incredible). A chocolate tart with strawberry coulis, sugar tuile and vanilla ice cream topped a delicious evening.

Paired with Cockburns Special Reserve Port (a port that while it can be consumed alone, it went really well with the vanilla ice cream), this dessert was worth the 45 minutes run I will have to do the next day (and my photos of the dessert actually turned out horrible so I am not posting them!).

Listening to Ingo Grady explain each one of the pairings as well as seeing the whole (packed) room (with people of all ages, I must add) give the Head Chef a standing ovation was an absolute delight. I asked Mary and Barbara how they liked the dinner and they would just not stop gushing about the whole experience of Tastes of April Point. Frankly, neither can I. Absolutely loved it.

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest of Tastes of April Point. I flew into and from Campbell River compliments of my hosts, the Oak Bay Marine Group. This post was neither paid for nor expected, but I do think that Tastes of April Point is an excellent event and so do the numerous people I interviewed while on site. As always, all views are mine, and I retain editorial control on anything I publish on my site. You can read more of my coverage of Tastes of April Point 2011 in Quadra Island here

Related posts:

  1. #TravelTuesday Get away to Quadra Island for Tastes of April Point 2012 (contest) #TAPHB604
  2. House of Atypical Pairings at April Point Resort (Quadra Island, Tastes of April Point 2011)
  3. April Point Resort and Spa (Quadra Island, BC)
  4. Tastes of April Point 2011 at April Point Resort & Spa (Quadra Island)
  5. Wines of Mission Hill Dinner with Ingo Grady #parksvilleuncorked

Comments (1)

Laura RitchieOctober 3rd, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Hi it was very nice to read your comments. My daughter is the Head Chef at April Point and I know the amount of work and effort that her and her staff put into making this event a success. Glad to hear you enjoyed the evening and I hope April Point continues to put on great events. Thanks for your wonderful comments.

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