The new West Wing of the Vancouver Convention Centre opened recently to great acclaim and the Vancouver Branch of the IWFS was treated to a very special visit and tour of the spectacular facility and the state of the art kitchens with the guidance of highly-awarded Executive Chef Blair Rasmussen. Our evening also featured a pairing menu of Chef’s creations with wines from our cellar. It has been said that, thanks to Chef, the VCC is “a culinary experience masquerading as a convention centre” and we were about to experience the truth in those words.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a glass of 2004 Marqués de Gelida cava paired with several canapés including Okanagan Chèvre and Roasted Vegetable Tart, Caramelized Pear, Mascarpone and Serrano Ham, Espelette Spot Prawns with Mango Salsa, and Quebec Foie Gras with Apple Relish. Our main course pairings were a 2005 Mâcon Fuissé, La Soufrandise and Seared Spring Salmon Cube with Shaved Fennel and Trout Roe, and Vancouver Island Scallops with Roma Tomato and Saffron Emulsion, followed by a 2005 Château de Chamirey Mercurey paired with Duck Confit and Lentils du Puy and finishing with a 1998 Château Mayne-Vieil, Fronsac paired with a Merlot Braised Beef Short Rib, Cêpes à la Bordelaises.
During the evening we toured the magnificent new West Wing with its ballroom for up to 5,000 people and a huge exhibition area, with over 1 million square feet of space in total. Built over land and water, with floor-to-ceiling glass throughout that treats guests to phenomenal harbour and mountain views, the new West Wing is a masterpiece of design, inspiration and sustainability. The commitment to green technology can be found in every corner: the “living roof,” seawater heating and cooling, on-site water treatment and even fish habitat built into the foundation. The kitchens are impressive and we enjoyed seeing chefs at work plating a “small” dinner for 550 people while we sipped a glass of Champagne Baron-Fuenté Tradition Brut paired with smoked trout and soufflé straight from the ovens.
Following our tours, we prepared ourselves for a dessert selection including Savoury Apple Tart with Poplar Grove Tiger Blue, Cranberry Valrhona Truffles, Okanagan Sour Cherry Gâteau Basque, Walnut Cookies, Granny Smith Apple Sorbet with Merridale Cider, Okanagan Spirits Vieille Prune Ice Cream, and Saffron Orange Crème Brulée with a 2006 De Bortoli Noble One Semillon, and a 1994 Niepoort Vintage Port.
Our thanks go to Chef Blair Rasmussen for a spectacular evening with delicious food, and also to his team in the kitchens, to the chefs preparing such tasty morsels at their stations and to the gracious and considerate serving staff – an immaculate performance! Thanks also to Milena Robertson for her creativity in assisting with the organization of the event. It was truly an evening to remember!