Yesterday, a rare and special culinary event was held at the ultra-modern and high-tech wine cellar private dining room at Treadwell, NOTL. The purpose of this gathering was to showcase the versatility of Riesling as being one of the world's most food-friendly wine.
Vertical flight of relatively old Niagara Riesling from 2006 to 2009 and covering both cool and hot vintage seasons were presented. These wines were provided by four of Niagara's best Riesling producers:
- Thirty Bench ( Wood Post Vineyard )
- Cave Spring ( Cave Spring Vineyard )
- Flat Rock ( Nadja's Vineyard )
- Henry of Pelham ( Speck Family Reserve )
Wine makers were present to provide comments and feedback.
To complement these '16' wines, a special 5 course tasting menu was conceived by Chef Stephen Treadwell featuring some of his new creations. Each dish was then meticulously matched by Sommelier, James Treadwell with wines according to the characteristics of the four different cool or hot growing seasons. The dishes were:
- Roasted Parsnip Soup with Crispy Parsnip & Panelle (2008 Vintage)
- Whisky and Maple Cured Salmon with Roasted Heirloom Beets (2007 Vintage).
- "Sunnydale Farms" Sweetbreads with Butter Poached East Coast Lobster, 'Vik's' Radish, Lemon Mayonnaise ( 2006 Vintage )
- Assiette of "Cumbrae Farms" Pork served with Apple Puree (2009 Vintage)
- Trio of "Colbey's" Wild Honey: Ice cream, Walnut Pie, Blue Cheese
Whilst most of the attendees, comprising mainly of representatives from the trades and local vineyards, were clearly biased toward the wine as being the stars of the evening. However, I beg to differ and felt the FOOD clearly outshines the wines.
In addition to eye appealing plate presentation and delicious and interesting taste profiles, Chef Treadwell once again demonstrated his culinary mastery by incorporating various textural components into the dishes to enhance different mouth feel and interplay. These were best illustrated by the presence of ultra crispy strips of Parsnip and chewy Panelle on and in the deliciously creamy sweet and velvety soup. The new wave 'Surf & Turf' of Crispy and crunchy crusted Sweetbread paired with delicate and umami filled chewy lobster claw was another master piece! My vote for the stand out dish of the evening. The house-cured Gravlax with Heirloom beets reminded me of a similar dish I had at NYC's 1* Aquavit. However, I prefer Treadwell's 'dill-less' rendition which allowed the Salmon sweetness to shine. The final 'Trio of Pork' dish was quite enjoyable. However, I found the roasted 'perfectly pink' loin to be slightly one dimensional. The addition of some pan juice to lessen the dryness would elevate the dish to another level.
All in all, a very satisfying and enjoyable meal with the goal of confirming the food-friendliness of Riesling satisfactorily accomplished.
From my own personal perspective and liking. I still prefer the more classic, perfumed, creamy and voluptuous German or Alsatian style Riesling than the fresh, steely, modern and crisp style of the Niagara version.
To each its own!