Payback…the good kind

Every once and a while life provides you with an opportunity to repay someone who has been of assistance in your life. This past mothers day I was given the opportunity to demonstrate my gratitude to a woman who was kind enough to give me an internal piggy-back for nine months and then endure a world of pain to rocket me kicking and screaming into this world…this of course is my Mother.

Although it will likely take a lifetime to begin to pay back my Mother for her kindness and patience, my brother Cody and I attempted to make another installment towards this repayment this past Sunday on Mother’s day. I could have given my mother flowers or a spa certificate, but I decided it would be most fitting to use the currency I know best…food and wine. With the assistance of my brother, who although he did not get the good looks in the family does hold the advantage in the area of culinary skill, we prepared the following menu.

1st Course: Cheese

Although the French can be abrupt and crass at times, they did get one thing right…cheese! I would like to think that one day we will evolve into a perfect utopian society where free love reigns supreme, farts smell like flowers and every meal starts with cheese. I opted for a healthy variety of cheese for this occasion, all sourced from the always outstanding Divino Wine and Cheese Bistro here in Calgary. The selection included a firm and mild Dubliner Irish Cheddar, an amazing triple cream Brillat Savarin, a tangy Comte and several more. For anyone in the Calgary area I would highly recommend stopping by Divino for a selection of cheese and a glass of wine. With the cheese we enjoyed my mothers perennial favourite 2008 Dr.Loosen “Dr.L” Riesling from Germany’s Mosel Valley. This wine is definitely one of my favourite values and delivers a textbook mouth-watering granny smith apple quality. Delicious!

Course 2: Scallop Time!

I love the meaty, rich texture of scallops and Cody was able to find some particularly plump and juicy examples at the Calgary Farmers Market. We coated the scallops in egg whites and then “crusted” them with crushed pistachio’s and walnuts. Although our attempted pan-searing did not work as planned (the nuts prevented contact with the pan and basically fell apart), we were able to finish these nicely in the oven. The scallops were served with a pear-puree on a bed of baby arugula tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper garnished with thin apple slices. Delicious!

Course 3: Duck attack

Although it is a rare treat, one of my favourite guilty pleasures is duck breast. l’Epicerie is one of my favourite spots in town and although they are a bit pricey their duck breasts are absolutely glorious. Owner Dominique Moussu is the former executive chef at Teatro restaurant and is a culinary genius. It’s the small touches that count and Dominique was kind enough to put together an assortment of spices that would serve as a rub for the duck. Following his instructions, I massaged the duck “like it was my girlfriend” (his words, not mine) with the rub and proceeded to get a sauce pan nice and hot. These were some serious duck breasts, with the two weighing in at nearly a kilogram. Cody placed them fat side down into the hot pan and we proceeded to cook them covered for approximately 8 minutes before quickly searing the opposite side and then placing the breasts into the oven at 350 degrees to finish cooking. As the duck was finishing we tossed a combination of wild mushrooms and bok choy into the pan with the remnants of the duck fat. The end result was heavenly, with the thin slices of rare, delicious and perfectly seasoned duck seemingly melting in the mouth. The bok choy and mushrooms were a perfect asian-inspired accompaniment and a side of wild rice finished the dish off nicely.

As a wine accompaniment my father was kind enough to contribute a bottle of 2006 Favia Rompecabezas, a Rhone-inspired blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah from Amador County California. Only 70 cases of this rich, opulent wine were produced. The winemaker on this project is Andy Erickson, who also happens to be the winemaker at legendary Napa Valley cult winery Screaming Eagle. A real treat indeed and this certainly had enough body to stand up to the richness of the duck! Success all around!

Finale: Gelato + Sherry = Perfection

Leave the caramel sauce for the kids. If you want a truly mind blowing experience consider topping your next bowl of ice cream with a drizzle of rich and delicious Pedro Ximenez Sherry! After picking up some gelato at Famoso Pizzeria, I dropped by Metrovino Wine to pick up a bottle of Alvear 1927 Solera Pedro Ximenez Sherry. The long aging in barrel of this outstanding dessert-style sherry from Spain has concentrated this to the consistency of motor oil. It is bursting with aroma’s and flavours of chocolate-covered raisin, butterscotch and fresh fig. Served both on the gelato and slightly chilled in a dessert wine glass an ounce or two of this amazing nectar is all you need. As a bonus a half bottle is only $30.00 on the shelf! Just another example of why Spain is go-to country for top value wines.





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