Nouveau cuisine and vintage wines in perfect harmony
The evening is Tuesday, April 17, scheduled from 5:30 – 9:30 in the dining room. The cost is $125 per person for a 5-course meal (reception plus 4 course dinner) paired with 5 wines, including all taxes and gratuities.
When AURA waterfront restaurant + patio was approached to collaborate on an extraordinary evening to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hester Creek Estate Winery, Executive Chef Takashi Ito was more than delighted.
After all, he has completed Level 1 and Level 2 of a Sommelier’s course. The man knows a thing or two about wine. But, obviously not nearly as much as Hester Creek’s Winemaker Rob Summers. For Chef Ito, creating dishes to pair perfectly with Rob’s wines provides the ideal exquisite challenge.
We decided to sit down with Chef Ito and a representative from Hester Creek to hear what they have to say about the evening and what guests can expect.
Why are you doing this winemakers dinner with AURA?
HESTER CREEK: It’s our 50th anniversary since the first vines were planted here. We’ve worked in tandem with the restaurant for years. So, it was a natural. But this is our first time working with Chef Ito. We wanted to have this celebration with one of the best Chefs and restaurants in the region, creating meals that are harmonious with our wines, and share it with the public. Chef Ito is also meticulous and he honours the importance of this event.
Chef Ito, how do you go about selecting your dishes for the menu?
CHEF ITO: It used to be that a menu was set first, and wines would be paired accordingly. But in British Columbia, wines come first! I will be choosing dishes ‘blind’ to accompany the wines, without being influenced. I have sampled the five chosen wines and I want my response to be organic and intuitive. I’m going to follow my nose!
What’s the history of Hester Creek Vineyard?
HESTER CREEK: The vineyard began 50 years ago with clippings brought from Italy. The current owner Kurt Garland acquired the winery from the previous owners, and in 2010, he started constructing a new winery, restaurant, and villas with a Tuscan feel. 50 years is not a long time in Europe, but it is by Canadian standards. Our winemaker Rob has been with the winery since 1986.
What goes into preparing the cuisine for this event?
CHEF ITO: I have been sampling the wines and discovering their notes. I have developed dishes to complement their complexities. It takes me about two to three days to prepare the dishes in advance of the event. But even on the day of, things can change. By about 4 p.m., we open the wine and do final pairing and tasting. Sometimes I will add last minute spices or condiments to tweak a more finite pairing.
Which wines are being served?
HESTER CREEK: There are five wines, one for each course. They include a 2017 Cabernet Franc Rosé, our Trebbiano 2017 Italian Varietal which is one of a kind in the Okanagan from our 50-year-old vines, our sold-out 2015 Syrah Viognier, an award-winning 2014 Reserve Merlot and our delicious dessert wine: a 2015 Late Harvest Pinot Blanc.
What kind of atmosphere can guests expect?
CHEF ITO: If guests haven’t been here before, they will be mesmerized by the spectacular Inner Harbour views from our dining room. They will also enjoy the freedom to discuss the food and wine with us. They can expect west coast inspired cuisine. An upscale take on surf and turf. We are so passionate about our craft, and we wish to share and discuss that excitement with our guests. The enthusiasm starts with our staff in the kitchen, and that passion will carry through to the dining room. When everyone is excited and energized about their food and wine, I am happy too!
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