Cover photo from Taste of Maclean's Dining Series website

You can really taste the Maclean

So there’s some new thing called Taste Of Maclean’s Dining Series. Yes, that Maclean’s. Anyway, it’s a series of dinners at great restaurants in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, hosted by excellent sommeliers, with Australian wines poured at each. We attended the Toronto event last night at Nota Bene.

The hosts

Jacob Richler mumbled his way through hosting duties. David Lee is an amazing chef…let him speak with his food, don’t drag the poor guy out to talk about it. John Szabo should have “Wine Bard” on his business cards. Seriously, after hearing him speak about Australian wine regions I want very badly to go back.

The menu

Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Sparkling Pinot Noir/Chardonnay 2011; Annie’s Lane Clare Valley Riesling 2013

NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER with Ataulfo mango, cashew milk, wakame, chili mint chutney
Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2013

QUEBEC DUCK BREAST “PASTRAMI” with Lennox Farm rhubarb compôte, honeyed Cookstown sunchokes, pumpkin seeds
Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

“TONGUE N’ CHEEK”: PERTH COUNTY BEEF CHEEK & CONFIT VEAL TONGUE with squash & jicama salsa, sweet English peas, smashed potato, Cotija cheese
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2011

ARTISANAL CHEESES: Picobello (cow’s milk, Holland); Grey Owl (goat’s milk, Quebec); Blue d’Elizabeth (cow’s milk, Quebec) with wildflower honey, lavash seed crackers
Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2011

DESSERT: salted caramel truffles; shaved almond biscotti; chocolate corn nuts

PORT: Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny

The verdict

THE FOOD: the lobster was fine. The beef cheek was very good, though Nellie didn’t like it. The veal tongue wasn’t for me; luckily I had Nellie’s extra beef cheek. The cheese were excellent. The duck, though, was SPECTACULAR.

THE WINE: the whites were decent, but just decent. The Wynn’s is, indeed, an excellent cab for the money. Both Penfolds were very good. But that port…good lort. That’s right, I said lort. Good lort. That port.

THE EVENT: good, and Szabo on his own is almost worth the price of admission, but I’m disappointed that with some kind of Australian wine association sponsoring (the name is Google-proof, alas) what they presented were Australian wine brands so well-known in Canada they’re practically clichés. Why not bring the 389 and Coonawarra to draw people in but then feature some lesser-known wineries? Not so small the LCBO can’t bring them in, but not Wolf Blass fucking Gold either.


Cover photo from Taste of Maclean’s Dining Series website

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