What a spectacular event! Members and guests enjoyed a superb evening at Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks ice hockey team and venue for major concerts and events. Unknown to many are the fine dining opportunities for VIP guests but, for one night, each and every one of us was a VIP! Our visit combined a tour of the arena with snacks and drinks along the way followed by a dining experience as good or better than the best to be found in Vancouver.
Our evening started with an introduction of the Canucks Sports & Entertainment team by our host, Todd Jeannotte, Director of Premium Operations, after which we followed Executive Chef Robert Bartley to one of the main kitchens where we tasted a canapé of Pro Athlete's Performance Fuel (chicken, broccoli and sweet potato!) with a sip of 33 Acres of Sunshine. Next up, we were out to the very centre of the arena, at "centre ice" and surrounded by 18,830 empty seats, a light panel with a "Welcome to the International Wine & Food Society", and our IW&FS logo on the huge video screen above our heads. In this, almost intimidating environment, we munched on a Classic Hot Dog Toastie "All the Way" and sipped on our second beer, an award-winning 33 Acres of Euphoria.
Our tour was not yet over – next, a surprise visit to the Canucks' dressing room before heading upstairs to Club 500, an impressive, more casual location with seats for viewing and also for eating, where we enjoyed some serious Kusshi Oysters with a Cantonese Mignonette and a glass of Champagne Gardet Brut Tradition with a magnificent view over the whole arena. Not the place to be if you have no head for heights!
We left the rarefied air of the upper levels and returned to the very prestigious Loge 2, with every appearance of a very fine restaurant. We were not disappointed. We continued sipping our champagne with an Aburi Style Salmon Oishi canapé before sitting for dinner and a starter of Seared Scallop with Sweet Peas, Clotted Buttermilk, Smoked Bacon and Caviar accompanied by a splendid Burgundy, a 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru, Les Genevrières. What followed was unanimously agreed to one of the very best pasta dishes ever, Fagottini di Funghi e Ricotta with a 2004 Tolaini Valdisanti Tenuta S. Giovanni IGT wine from Tuscany. Superb!
Our main course was a beautifully presented slice of Slow Roasted Lamb with Soft Polenta, Taleggio Fondue, Sautéed Lettuce and Lamb Jus with a 2006 Chateau Laforge St. Emilion Grand Cru, a perfect match. Dessert was exceptional, a Cherry "Cheesecake" Plate with Ripened Goat Milk Cheese, Cherry "Newtons", Sour Cherry and Cherry Almonds, a heavenly deconstruction paired with La Querce La Dama Passito from Tuscany. Our final tastes were a selection of Chef Jacquie's mignardises and Hand Crafted Chocolates.
Our thanks go to Todd Jeannotte and Chef Robert Bartley, to Sue-Yen Lee, Manager of Catering, Courtney Buryta, Sommelier and Patrick Urekar, Event Manager who were our hosts for the evening, and to their talented teams. Thanks also to Cellarmaster Kim Mead who spoke eloquently to the wines and also to Historian and Photographer Milena Robertson and to President Jim Robertson, who arranged the event. A very impressive evening to be sure!