Family left at home with a sitter for Big Night 2014…

What’s the best way to start off the family day long weekend? 

Escape for the evening to satisfy your yearning for award-winning wines and decadent food. After all, you have the rest of the weekend to partake in family activities such as ice skating, watching the new Lego movie, or enjoying 50% off at local mountains.

Vancouver Magazine’s 8th annual Big Night took place on Friday, February 7th at Jewel Ballroom, bringing together a slew of Vancouverites with a thirst to be quenched and an appetite to be satisfied. Vancouver’s top chefs were serving up dishes that were concocted to pair with award-winning wines from the 2014 International Wine Competition. This included the Best of Show sparkling, Champagne Le Mesnil’s Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, as well as Sommelier of the Year, Samantha Rahn’s top pick, CedarCreek Estate Winery’s Platinum “Block 2” Pinot Noir 2011. The latter was not specifically paired with any of the meals, but rather poured by Rahn and enjoyed on its own. Liffardo Wine & Spirits, an event sponsor, was also doling out tasters in the form of mini Luxardo Limoncello cocktails and blueberry Luxardo Amaretto tea. 

It was interesting to see the different approaches that guests had for the evening, with some rapidly eating their way through the stations and others sipping and savouring each bite. I met a woman who was drunk by 7:30 (it started at 7) but also met a woman who at 8:55 (it ended at 9) had yet to make her way through all of the stations. The most bizarre sighting of the event though was every tabletop stacked ten plates high. Apparently the clearing staff initially underestimated the number of guests, or the speed at which they could eat. This was quickly resolved as they hurriedly gathered the plates, sweat dripping down some of their brows, but faces still lit with smiles.

In no particular order, here’s what we tried:

David Hawksworth (Hawksworth)

Sunchoke soup, Northern Divine caviar, brioche, meyer lemon paired with Best of Show: CHAMPAGNE LE MESNIL BLANC de BLANCS NV

Rob Feenie (Cactus Club Cafe)

Oxtail agnolotti with foie gras, caramelized onions, duck liver, Vacca Rosa parmesan paired with Best Rich Red: THORN-CLARKE SHOTFIRE QUARTAGE 2010

Cactus Club Cafe, Oxtail Agnolotti

Pino Posteraro (Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca)

Cannelloni of natural beef with chorizo paired with Best Medium Red: TENUTA SETTE PONTI CROGNOLO TOSCANA 2010

Cioppino's, Natural Beef Cannelloni with Chorizo

Chris Whittaker (Forage)

Pacific Provider Spring Salmon tataki with celeriac remoulade and Northern Divine Caviar paired with Best Rosé: POPLAR GROVE BLANC DE NOIRS ROSÉ 2012

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Angus An (Maenam)

Geng gati of mussels (Southern style curry of tumeric and mussels with kaffir lime leaf and young coconut) paired with Best Light White: DR. PAULY BERGWEILER RIESLING 2012

Maenam | Southern Style Mussel Curry

Frank Pabst (Blue Water Cafe + raw bar)

Seafood paella with squid, prawns, mussels, chorizo, rice and paella foam paired with Best Rich White: DEVIL’S LIAR MARGARET RIVER CHARDONNAY 2011

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Alain Raye (La Régalade)

Duck confit croquette and brussel sprout salad with kumquet and mustard seed dressing paired with Best Medium White: LAURENZ V und SOPHIE GRUNER VELTLINER 2011

Wesley Young (Wildebeest)

Lamb tartare, heritage onions, mustard seed gastrique, shallot crumb paired with Best Light Red: M. LAPIERRE MORGON 2012

Wildebeest, Lamb Tartare with Mustard Seed Gastrique

AND FOR DESSERT…

Thomas Haas (Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie)

Smoked vanilla-caramel cream puffs with Hawaiian sea salt paired with Best Fortified: GONZALES BYASS NUTTY SOLERA OLOROSO SHERRY

Adam Pegg (La Quercia)

Ricotta stuffed cannoli, cherry, pistachio paired with Best Dessert: INNOCENT BYSTANDER MOSCATO 2012

Crowd pleasers were seemingly the Oxtail Agnolotti by Rob Feenie, the Pacific Provider Spring Salmon Tataki by Chris Whittaker and the Lamb Tartare by Wesley Young, though I couldn’t choose my favourite.

Les Dames d’Escoffier BC raised $3000 through raffle tickets, benefitting their LDBC Scholarship program. The two prizes were a Wall of Wine valued at over $2000 and a Dame Dinner of a Lifetime, which included a magnum of Champagne and dinner for eight at the winner’s residence. I bought an arm’s length using a (tall and friendly) gentleman’s arm but, sadly, didn’t win. To say that I was envious of the two winners would be an understatement. 

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Check out what happened in 2012 and 2013.

Missed this food and wine event? No worries, there’s always next year! Or check out the Vancouver International Wine Festival which runs from Feb 24 to March 2.

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