Braving the bitter temperature for a taste of Australia I got ready and left my apartment last Thursday evening. The event was scheduled to start at 5:30pm and at 6pm I emerged from the subway to take the streetcar to 2nd Floor Events at 461 King St. W. On that particular night Toronto had a sparkle I had not seen in a while.
As I approached the gated entrance of the venue I immediately felt excitement as I entered into the open concept space with a contemporary design, large bright windows, hardwood floors and 12 foot ceilings. I immediately wanted to explore the instinct that was pulling me toward the elegant tasting stations and alluring wine bar. Still shivering from the penetrating winter cold I had no second thoughts about making the wine bar my first pit stop.
Now that I was warming up I walked around to get a feel of the atmosphere and noticed that every chef was well-poised, concentrating on the task at hand, with their heads bent, hands in motion; yet I knew instantly who Chef John Placko was, the evening’s celebrity chef. His focus was absolute on a level above the others, despite many photographers and media gurus zeroed in on him.
With a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon by Stone Dwellers in hand, I began to socialize, looking forward at what each tasting station had to offer and not one disappointed – although I did not try each one of them.
From marvelous Melbourne, Victoria – Forestberry seasoned White Strip Lamb served with minted cucumbers and beetroot with Murray River salt flakes. Paired with Are You Game Shiraz 2010.
Stellar seafood, The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland – Buderim ginger and lime spiked barramundi with sweet chili, wilted greens with Australian olive oil. Paired with Sticks Chardonnay 2010.
After exchanging pleasantries with one of my colleagues and making a few new friends it was already time to try another dish and I delved into another culinary adventure in South Australia.
Kangaroo Island Canapes, South Australia – Mini kangaroo and peperberry sliders with native quandong peach relish. Paired with Chapel Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2011.
To top the night off I took a tour off the beaten path and ran into this:
Western Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania Outback – Liquid nitrogen made wattle seed ice cream, Anzac cookie crumbs and Australian honey foam. Paired with Evans & Tate Chardonnay 2012.
Not one person left this event without rosy cheeks and a smile on their face. It was clear that not even the extreme cold temperatures of that twinkling Toronto night were going to put a dent on the warmth and happy thoughts of one of the most noteworthy and wonderful continents of our planet. That night Dine Australia transported me and many others to Oz; a land rich in gastronomical culture. Thank you Australia Tourism, and Wine Australia for the unique menu and wine pairings. It was a feast for my senses.