We recently attended an incredible culinary event at B.C.’s award-winning Mission Hill winery – located on a Kelowna hilltop with a breath-catching view of Lake Okanagan.
Just how amazing was the 11th annual “Spring Epicurean Dinner” – where Calgarians John Jackson and Connie DeSousa (the talent behind the wildly successful Cowtown restaurant Charcut) had been invited as part of the winery’s visiting chef’s program?
Imagine a five-course menu – the first three courses Charcut-inspired and the last two created by Mission Hill – featuring tender Slow Cooked Eggs and bottagra bread sauce, savoury Rabbit Pie, a daring Bison Heart Kielbasa, melt-in-your-mouth Hay Smoked Lamb with oculus cherries and, for dessert, a taste-bud exploding Vanilla Pear Parfait.
Imagine experiencing each of these courses with the perfect Mission Hill companion wine – an aromatic, fruit-forward 2008 Select Lot Collection Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp yet delicate 2009 Perpetua, a chewy red-fruit rich 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir, a 2008 Bordeaux-inspired signature red Oculus and, with desert, a 2010 Reserve Riesling Icewine with notes of caramelized tropical fruit.
And now imagine all this taking place in one of the most elegant dining rooms in Canada – Mission Hill’s Chagall Room, which features church high ceilings and clean white walls, one of which is draped with a rare and colourful tapestry entitled “Animal Tales” by the late Russian-born artist Marc Chagall.
Charcut’s John Jackson tells us he and DeSousa were thrilled to be included in Mission Hill’s prestigious program. To date, visiting chefs have included the likes of John Bishop from Bishop’s Fine Dining, Vikram Vij of Vij’s, and Ned Bell from the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.
“Connie and I jumped at the opportunity to do this,” says Jackson. “The Chagall Room was stunning even before it was set up. We walked in and it was like “Oh My God” – it’s going to be beautiful. And, of course, it was absolutely gorgeous.”
Mission Hill’s executive chef Matthew Batey says the biggest challenge during collaborations with other chefs “is to make sure the dishes are going to remain true to our philosophy of wine and food, not food and wine. We want to ensure our guest chefs can showcase their talents, but at the end of the day, we are a winery. This doesn’t mean visiting chefs can’t be adventuresome. Pairing Rabbit Pie – something that we wouldn’t typically serve – with our 2009 Perpetua, simply showcases the versatility of our wines.”
It turns out, the party has just begun. Charcut chefs Jackson and DeSousa – famous for their urban rustic cuisine and meat-centric menu – have invited Mission Hill’s Matthew Batey to Alberta on June 6 to collaborate on their home turf.
Batey’s menu for the evening? “Right now, I don’t have a clue. I will bring our best wines, of course. And I’m sure one of my dishes will be seafood,” he says. “As for the big meat courses? I’ll leave those to the folks who know best. By that I mean, those crazy Calgarians.”
P.S. Mission Hill apparently likes to host musicians as well as visiting chefs. So if you’re a Lyle Lovett fan, you may want to know that on July 12, he’ll be making his first Okanagan appearance at Mission Hill Estate Winery’s outdoor amphitheatre. For more information, visit missionhillwinery.com or call 250.762.5050