Cooking with local, healthy, sustainable ingredients should be a goal we all aspire. Knowing where our food comes from and how it was harvested can help us make sustainable food choices. For Chef Ned Bell, it has been a journey to learn about sustainability, first from the land to the plate, and now from what is in our oceans to our plates. Ned’s passion for sustainable seafood has led him to be part of the Chefs’ Table Society and Chefs for Oceans, and more recently to be the Ocean Wise executive chef and ambassador, travelling throughout North America, working with chefs and teaching them and their customers about sustainable seafood. His work has also led him to writing a cookbook with Valerie Howes, called “Lure: Sustainable seafood recipes from the West Coast“.
I, and a few other lucky media people, were invited to sample some of Ned’s dishes from the cookbook, cooked by Ned, at Nourish Café & Cooking School. And to complement these seafood dishes, we had Joe Luckhurst from Road 13 Vineyards from Oliver, BC, bring 5 of their wines to pair with the dishes. BC is blessed with white wines, with vibrant acidity, and juicy, ripe fruit flavours, that pair fabulously with seafood.
The seafood was all either wild or sustainably farmed. One interesting observation from Ned is that 50% of the seafood eaten in the world is farmed. We need farming to help feed the world. Let’s make sure we do it sustainably.
Our Food and Wine Pairings
Seared tuna with avocado on a tortilla crisp
Road 13 Vineyards Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2013
- Roasted scallops with grapefruit, brown butter and thyme (recipe on p.151)
Road 13 Vineyards Roussanne 2015
- Pan-seared arctic char with lentils, parsnips, vanilla vinaigrette and hazelnuts (recipe on p.41)
Road 13 Vineyards VRM 2016
- Sablefish with cranberries, cashews, cauliflower, birch and Road 13 glaze (recipe on p.73)
Road 13 Vineyards Old Vines Chenin 2016
- (Sea)weed brownies with dark chocolate and kelp (recipe on p.175)
Road 13 Vineyards 5th Element 2013
Starting off we had the seared tuna canape and the Road 13 Vineyards sparkling Chenin Blanc. Sparkling wine is very versatile and has been said to be able to pair with any food. I enjoyed the difference in texture from the seared outside to the soft centre of the tuna. The avocado added some creaminess to it. A lightly flavoured dish. The Road 13 Vineyards Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2013 had a light toasty oak flavour together with citrus, with a salty minerality following up later on. Medium acidity. The combination of citrus, light oak and minerality provided complementary flavours to the tuna.
Our First course was the roasted scallops with grapefruit, brown butter and thyme. This is a richly flavoured dish, with the sear from the scallops and brown butter, and the acidity and tartness complement from the grapefruit wedge. A rich dish like this needs a rich wine; and that is what we received with the Road 13 Vineyards Roussanne 2015. Rich, deep, smooth and round on the palate, with flavours of honey, apricots and dried peaches, and light sweet spices. Longer length and good acidity. A great pairing.
Our Second course was pan-seared arctic char with lentils, parsnips, vanilla vinaigrette and hazelnuts. Many different flavours and textures in this dish. The char has a soft texture to it. The lentils earthy and crunchy. The vanilla some soft sweetness plus scenting the dish. The Road 13 Vineyards VRM 2016 is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. Three white grapes from the Rhone Valley that grow nicely here in the southern Okanagan. This wine had a light stone fruit nose. Medium plus body, round with flavours of stone fruit, some rose petal and bramble leaf, and a peppery finish. Tasting this wine with the arctic char brought out a tropical fruit component to the wine and made the stone fruit flavours stronger. A tasty pairing.
The Main course was a sablefish with cranberries, cashews, cauliflower, birch and Road 13 glaze. The sablefish was cooked so that it came apart nicely in big flakes. The roasted cauliflower provided a strong flavour to the dish, while the cranberries and cashews added bits of tartness and texture to the dish. The Road 13 Vineyards Old Vines Chenin 2016 had a light honey and dried stone fruit nose. Medium body, round and soft, with light acidity and oak touch. Ripe tropical fruit and honey, followed by pepperiness on the finish. The wine in this case did not add or change the flavour of the dish. It’s acidity added a balance to the fattiness of the sablefish. Another complementary pairing. BTW, this is the last vintage of the Old Vines Chenin, so buy it up. The Chenin will continue with the sparkling wines.
Our dessert was not made from fish, but with bull kelp. The (sea)weed brownies with dark chocolate and kelp was quite surprising. Deep and delicious dark chocolate flavours. There was no seaweed flavour that I could detect, but maybe the kelp added some grainy texture to the otherwise creamy brownie. I am going to try making this dish myself. Our pairing was the Road 13 Vineyards 5th Element 2013, a red blend dominated by Merlot, with lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, I believe. 2013 was a hot vintage in BC so you get lots of ripe black fruits from this wine. It is absolutely opaque garnet in the glass. Ripe cassis, plums, and deep, ripe, dark fruit aromas that carry through to the palate. It is full-bodied and has some sweet spices to complement the fruit flavours. A rich wine that you should enjoy sooner rather than later. The pairing was of course delicious. Rich chocolate from the brownie and the ripe fruits and vanilla from the wine. An excellent way to end the evening.
Overall a very entertaining evening. I learned some about enjoying our seafood sustainably and some nice BC wine pairings, followed by this wonderful cookbook, Lure, that lays out the process of purchasing and preparing your seafood, and all the sauces, carbs and vegetables to go with them. Truly a cookbook that you could consider giving for Christmas holidays, and for yourself. Enjoy!