Pacific Specific menu

North Vancouver’s Fishworks hosted New Zealand’s Konrad Wines last night, the final day of Vancouver Playhouse’s International Wine Festival. And despite the cold, dreary weather, the North Van restaurant was nearly at capacity.

Pacific Specific

The winery event was Pacific Specific, meant to pair Chef Shallaw Kadir’s seafood dishes with six of the South Island’s wines, including a dessert vintage.

Pacific Specific

Pacific Specific

I was seated at a table with three women who were no strangers to wine dinners. We chatted over wine, travel, and festival experiences, while Konrad’s director, Sigrun Hengstler, introduced each wine with its chosen pairing. Fishworks’ Manager, Reggie Malebranche, gave a brief rundown of each dish.

Sigrun Hengstler and Stile Wines' Carmen D'Onofrio
[Sigrun Hengstler and Stile Wines’ Carmen D’Onofrio]

Chef Creek oyster, with orange aspic, orange blossom mignonette, and chive
[Chef Creek oyster, with orange aspic, orange blossom mignonette, chive]

Our first course was a Chef Creek oyster, with homemade orange aspic, orange blossom mignonette, and chive, paired with Konrad’s Sauvignon Blanc 2011. The lovely apple, citrus, and pear notes combined nicely with the mignonette, prepared with orange blossom water. The wine also contained tropical hints. Pale straw green in colour, Konrad produces what they call a classically restrained style of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The oyster was fresh and delicious, combined with the chef’s interesting combination of ingredients.

Crispy pork belly, scallop, and parsnip puree
[Crispy pork belly, scallop, parsnip puree]

Crispy pork belly, scallop, and parsnip puree arrived at our table next, paired with a Riesling 2011. The crispy notes of the riesling worked beautifully with the pork.

Riesling 2011
[Konrad Riesling 2011]

The riesling wasn’t as dry as is typically normal. I tasted lime and crisp apple. Konrad hand picks their Riesling grapes and harvests them in fermented stainless steel tanks.

Honey mussels with lemongrass, basil, jalapeño, and coconut juice
[Honey mussels with lemongrass, basil, jalapeño, coconut juice]

Our third dish was a plate of Honey mussels (large and succulent right now, harvested from Quadra Island) prepared in a bread-worthy broth of lemongrass, basil, jalapeño, and coconut juice. I’m not a huge jalapeño fan, so I was happy that this ingredient took back stage as compared with the other ingredients in the mix. The Gewurtztraminer 2011 had a drier finish than most I’ve tasted. Sigrun explained that the area where the grapes are grown is a cooler area; as well, the wine doesn’t contain too much flower and lychee in the composition. The pear I was tasting in the wine was delicious when combined with that broth!

Salt and pepper seasoned steelhead, potato leek gratin, oven dried tomatoes and capers
[Salt and pepper seasoned steelhead, potato leek gratin, oven dried tomatoes, capers]

Konrad chose two Pinot Noirs to complement our next dish: Salt and pepper seasoned steelhead, potato leek gratin, oven dried tomatoes and capers. Glasses of both 2009 and 2010 vintage were poured, and our table was split down the middle as to which vintage paired better with the soft, creamy steelhead. Pinot grapes are one of Marlborough region’s most commonly grown, and both wines had a deep cherry/plum finish to them.

2009 and 2010 Pinot Noir
[2009 and 2010 Pinots, side by side]

The 2010 was slightly more peppery, which subtly set it apart from its older cousin. The steelhead was perfectly cooked and delicate, enriching the body of both wines. I did prefer the 2009, as it contained a bit more body and roundness than the 2010.

Apple and cherry crumble with vanilla ice creame
[Apple and cherry crumble with vanilla ice cream]

To cap off our New Zealand wine experience, we were served a dish of apple and cherry crumble with vanilla ice cream alongside a glass of Sigrun Noble Two, a wine with the owner’s namesake, and in 2003, a winner in the dessert wine category in Sydney. We tasted a 2008 version, with 240 grams of residual sugar in each bottle. The cherry tasted right on target with the dessert wine; another well chosen match.

Sauvignon Blanc on ice

Konrad originated in 1996 and the winery’s first grapes were harvested in 1999. The Hengstler family own two vineyards in the Wairau and Waihopai valleys of Marlborough, with a total of 40 hectares. Konrad prides itself on family owned, grown, and hand crafted wines. Their collection includes Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürtzraminer, Grüner Veltliner and Pinot Noir, as well as the Sigrun Noble Two dessert wine.

Chef Shallaw Kadir, Reggie Malebranche
[Chef Shallaw Kadir, Restaurant Director Reggie Malebranche]

Reggie Malebranche, Fishworks' Manager
[Restaurant Director Reggie Malebranche]

Chef Shallaw Kadir and team
[Chef Shallaw Kadir and team]

I’m happy to have had the chance to sample Konrad’s wines as well as chef Kadir’s dishes. Fishworks is located at 91 Lonsdale Avenue. Stile Wines is Konrad’s BC importer.

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