Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sooke Harbour House–Part One

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I am so very tempted to go wordless here.  The photos of my overnight stay at Sooke Harbour House almost speak for themselves.

But I should at the very least introduce you to my friend and co-worker Jane Mundy since it was Jane that made the whole adventure possible. :)

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Jane and I have worked together for the better part of 5 years, but since we don’t live in the same city we rarely get to actually visit.  She is a writer for the marketing company I work for but her true passion is as a freelance travel and food writer.

Recently she also compiled, edited, and released an amazing cookbook:  Ocean Wise: seafood recipes that are good for the planet.  (This was supposed to be my copy but she gave it to the Chef…my copy is on it’s way!)

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One day I saw her update her Facebook status stating something about visiting Sooke Harbour House…then later that same day she emailed me at work to let me know she was going to be away on a writing assignment for a week.  When I expressed my jealousy of her time at SHH she asked if I’d like to be her dinner and sleepover companion on her first night. :)  Um, yes please!!

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The only other time I’ve had the opportunity to dine at SHH was almost 5 years ago when Arron and I had our very first “uber-date”.  We had only been dating a few months and when he returned from a 56 day deployment he treated us to a truly lovely and one of a kind dinner.

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Needless to say I was quite happy to join Jane for dinner.

Charming and rustic, yet fancy and high end all at once.

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Unfortunately proprietors Sinclair and Frederique were not able to join us but they had clearly left instructions for their staff to take excellent care of Jane.  Sommelier Vincent Lamontagne made sure we had a delightful dining experience.

When asked if we wanted to order from the menu or if we would prefer a chef’s tasting menu we both immediately said the tasting.  So much more fun!  Vincent paired each course with gorgeous local BC white wines as well.  (Please forgive my lack of detail on the meals…some of the dishes were very complicated to remember!)

Sparkles to start.  Blue Mountain Brut.  Heaven.

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Our amuse bouche: violet and fresh spinach salad, walnut pesto, and Venturi Schulze balsamic vinegar.  Actually turned out to be my favourite part of the entire meal!  So fresh and complex.

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Appetizer: banana squash soup.  Slightly sweet and incredibly smooth.  That little leaf on top is a lettuce they grow right on the property.  Lovely.

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Our next wine pairing was Pilastro, another treat from Venturi Schulze (it does not seem to appear on their website and I don’t have any tasting notes…ooops!)

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Second course: sablefish.  Delicious, tender, buttery fish served with a small crepe filled with mascarpone and fresh items from the garden.

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Another delicious BC white wine, this time from Joie Farm.  Yes, the 2010 date seems young but it was a light and tasty Germanic blend.

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Third course: squid (octopus?) with shaved radishes and cubed potato.  I was really impressed with the melt in your mouth texture of the squid…in my experience (mainly sushi) squid can be tough and rubbery, but this was anything but.

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For our final wine pairing before dessert Vincent brought us a heartier white…Chardonnay from Foxtrot Vineyards.  In comparison to the other wines of the evening this was definitely bolder, stronger, and crisper.

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Main course: crispy lingcod. I wish I could remember everything in the dish, but just look at how much there was on this plate.  There’s a little ravioli under there!  Tasty for sure.

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At the end of our meal Chef Robin Jackson came out to join us.  What a treat!  Such a well spoken, passionate man.  Read his bio over on the restaurant’s website as his life experience and adventures show what a perfect fit he is for such a West Coast treasure.

robin Robin Jackson  our head chef

[photo source]

Dessert: Pentage Winery Late Harvest served alongside Quark Cheesecake.  We should have shared a piece because by this point we were full (and a little tipsy from all the wine!).  I was intrigued by the flavour of gingerbread in the dessert.

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After dinner we had a little camera fun… :)

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And a tour of the wine cellar!!  Sooke Harbour House used to boast one of the highest rated wine cellars in the country…they still do but have recently sent some of their oldest bottles to auction.  They had bottles worth over $20,000!

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The collection still boasts some pretty amazing finds though!  Vincent told us they hold bottles worth $6000-$8000… can you imagine going for dinner and ordering an $8000 bottle of wine?  Crazy talk.

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It was such a perfectly lovely evening.  So incredibly interesting, delicious and comfortable.  I really honestly couldn’t say anything bad if I wanted to.  Thanks so much to Jane, Vincent and Chef Robin for such beautiful experience…and to Sinclair and Frederique for making it possible.

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After dinner we relaxed in our room (which I will post tomorrow) and on Friday we had a fantastic tour of the gardens (stay tuned for photos). 

I think I need to work harder at this whole food writer thing.  Someone find me a job, stat. :)

{Sooke Harbour House – Part Two}  {Part Three}

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3 comments:

Jessica said...

that place sounds perfect!!
We actually looked at going there for our mini honeymoon, instead of over to Powell River, but it seemed a little bit to fancy for our "rustic" trip we had invisioned!!

Love it though, great post, you are a natural foodie!

Conny Mc said...

Amazing pics and blog.What a beautiful spot!
I just wish I could could like that too.

Orionbelt24 said...

Gorgeous! I don't eat seafood of any kind but from the looks of that food I know I would have enjoyed that!