An Evening of Artful Pairing at Haro’s

Photo: Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre   Credit:Rebecca Baugniet

“Are you ready to be transported to the bottom of the Salish sea?” It was a cool and rainy fall evening, and my aunt and I had just come in from a soggy stroll down the Sidney pier. Luckily, at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre you can enjoy the sights of this rich ecosystem without getting wet. And even more fortunately, for this particular occasion, the long counter just past the entrance which is usually home to a row of microscopes, had been transformed into a bar, with bottles of White Bear wines; Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, waiting to be tasted. It seemed fitting that as we toured this site dedicated to educating the public about the biodiversity of the Salish sea, we should be sipping wines that also support the conservation of a unique BC ecosystem. We did not have to wait long before servers from Haro’s emerged with tempting plates of canapés, the highlight definitely being the delicately spiced crispy duck confit rolls. It became evident that the ‘artful pairing’ advertised was a theme running through all aspects of the event, from the food and wine, to the thoughtful partnering of different ventures holding similar philosophies.

After an hour of admiring and learning about the jellies, invertebrates and other marine mammals, it was time to move on to the four course dinner, and the group assembled in the entrance of the Discovery Centre, where we were introduced to the evening’s special guests; Ingo Grady, the Director of Wine Education from Mission Hill Family Estate Vineyards, and Rachel Fisher and Heather Stretch from Saanich Organics.  I had the pleasure of being seated a table with these two farmers who had grown the spinach, leeks, and most of the other vegetables that appeared on our plates, and it occurred to me that it is not often enough that I get to share a meal with those who have tended the ingredients. Over dinner, I learned about Rachel’s new asparagus bed, and how her favourite crop is eggplant. I also heard how Heather’s heart swelled when her young son yelled to her across a field, fist clenched around a bunch of greens, “Mom – you’ve GOT to try this kale! It’s DELICIOUS!” and got an idea of some the challenges and rewards involved in small scale organic farming on the peninsula.

As the plates were delivered to the tables, Natalie King, Director of Food and Beverage at the Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa, took the microphone and introduced each course. We then heard from Ingo Grady, who described every wine in detail, mentioning the different grapes used, and whether they benefited from morning or afternoon sun. He also guided us through the layers of flavours, for instance, of the Reserve Riesling 2008, which was paired with Executive Chef Michael Ringland’s Organic Spinach Risotto with Moonstruck Feta (find the recipe here), he evoked “homemade orange marmalade.” Offering a palatable, slightly less formal terminology to compare the perceived aromas and characteristics to made it more accessible for those still new to wine tasting.  The risotto was followed by a beautifully moist serving of sablefish, accompanied by a pepper tuile and braised leeks. (All fish served at Haro’s is ocean wise.) The end of the event slowly rolled around, everyone beyond sated with bellies full of venison, aged Moonstruck cheeses and one perfect truffle made with the final wine pairing of the night, Mission Hill Family Estate’s Compendium 2006. Natalie invited the kitchen team out to take a bow and enjoy a hefty round of applause, thanked the maître d’ and each server individually, and we went back out into the drizzle, the sound of the Salish sea lapping at the shore behind us.


Haro’s Restaurant + Bar

2538 Beacon Avenue, Sidney



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