by Lara Gladych –
My visit to the Villa Eyrie Resort for their second Wine Society Social is hard to recap without feeling a bit nostalgic – that’s how much I enjoyed it! The entirety of the experience from beginning to end was full of lovely details, and I dare say even enchantment when you consider the snowy circumstances of that evening back in February.
The Wine Society was designed to bring together a group of like-minded people to enjoy superb cuisine paired with wines from around the world. It’s unique in that, rather than wine tastings alone, guests enjoy a delectable five-course meal while learning about the vineyards and foods of the region that inspired the menu. It’s an effort to support a “wine culture” on the Island, and is a must-do for the wine and food lover.
Going into the event, it’s easy to overlook the social aspect of the evening given that you’re likely arriving to a room full of strangers. Do not underestimate the power of wine and delicious food to make way for wonderful conversations with people you barely know.
I felt utterly convinced that I was alone in the world with the other guests at the resort for this one night. We had a branch of the dining room to ourselves and an ample view of the snowscape outside. I can’t recommend it enough if you have the desire to escape a day-to-day life of busy-ness and bustle.
This was the Wine Society’s second instalment, an Italian Fiesta. It was a five-course meal with wine parings celebrating the vineyards and regional foods of Italy. The monthly event is held at the Summit Restaurant, in the newly reopened and renovated Villa Eyrie Resort, nestled atop the mountains of the Malahat summit. The theme and design of the evening will vary each month, keeping it fresh and new for returning guests.
The man behind the wines, and our Wine Educator for the evening, was Ingo Grady, Director of Wine Education for Mission Hill Family Estate and von Mandl Family Estates. It was Ingo who selected for us a repertoire of everything from a light and sunny Aperol Spritz prepared with Mionetto Prosecco, to the more intense Guado Al Tasso il Bruciato, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. Imagine, if you can, the respective food pairings of a Kusshi oyster with blood orange mignonette, the amuse bouche, and later on, a red wine braised Pemberton beef short rib.
In preparation for the event, Ingo and Executive Chef, Terry Pichor, collaborated to put together the perfect menu. To highlight each wine, Chef Terry created each dish with authentic Italian inspiration and his own West Coast mastery, using local, fresh and organic ingredients where possible.
It’s a symbiotic pairing of wine and food. Terry designs a menu that brings the notes of each wine to the forefront, and likewise, the wine selection enhances each dish and highlights Terry’s culinary expertise.
When I met with Chef beforehand to discuss the upcoming dinner, he emphasized that while guests can expect unrivalled cuisine, it is the intent for the evening to unfold in an unpretentious and casual manner. The team delivered. It was a perfectly executed evening with a very approachable, yet elegant, air.
Throughout dinner, guests paused for an introduction from both Ingo and Terry as each course was tabled. I think it was notable to all of us that Chef was present as much as he was, and for me, it was also charming to have Ingo dine and socialize with us.
The intent is to move the Socials outside where possible in the warmer months to come. I can’t begin to imagine what creative delights are in store for guests of future gatherings, but rest assured, this is an event that will not disappoint.
For more information, visit http://www.villaeyrie.com/the-perfect-pairing/.