The Blackwood Dinner

images, clockwise from upper left: outside the Black Rock Resort, inside Black Rock’s wine cellar, rabbit and spot prawn course, cheese course and tuna course. credit: Treve Ring

Last Saturday I attended The Blackwood Dinner, the first of its kind, showcasing two of Ucluelet’s preeminent chefs. Chef Andrew Springett, of Black Rock Resort, welcomed Chef Richard Norwood in a collaborative, six course wine paired dinner. Each chef and his team created courses celebrating local, and specifically Ucluetian, cuisine. Held in Black Rock’s dramatic rock-cradled and glass-fronted wine cellar for an appreciative local crowd, this inaugural dinner was obviously well received. So much in fact, a table of locals’ jubilant voices, hoots and cheers increased in fervor as the evening progressed, ringing off the slate surroundings like the crashing waves below. It may have been a dark and stormy winter night outside, but inside was joyous and bustling. And you thought these dinners were stuffy?!

Wines were selected specifically to match each dish, so this should be thought more of as a chef showcase dinner rather than a wine dinner (where the courses are designed to highlight the wines). Wines were drawn from BC, Oregon and France to complement each course.

‘Outlandish’ Beach Oysters

– paired with Blue Mountain Sparkling Brut

Being welcomed with a glass of my favourite BC bubble? An excellent start. Oysters were being shucked in the wine cellar, and slurped up quickly.


Two Rivers Rabbit and Spot Prawn

Apple celeriac remoulade, sun dried apricots

– paired with Chateau Gaudrelle Vouvray 2007

Our first seated course was crafted by Chef Springett. Geometric rectangles, cones and spheres of local rabbit and spot prawn, united by the sweetness of the concentrated apricots and the crunchy bite of the celeriac remoulade. This consistent Loire Chenin Blanc shares the apple-apricot shades, and was a nice little entry.


‘Nerka 1’ Papad Crusted Local Albacore Tuna

Roasted noodles, yuzu sesame vinaigrette

-paired with Kettle Valley Pinot Gris 2009

This course was courtesy of Chef Norwood, was prizewinner for strangest dish title, and rival for my favourite taste of the night. Nerka 1 is a local fishing vessel operated by the Brice family, purveyors of sustainably harvested seafood. The Albacore was seared to perfection, crusted with papadum, and sitting atop crunchy roasted noodles. The whole was in a shallow pool of salty citrus sesame yumminess. While this may have been one of my top flavours of the dinner, it was also my least favourite wine pairing. A catching salmon-pink hue, the rich, fruity and aromatic Pinot Gris fell a little flat with the strong Asian elements.


Thiessen Farm Squab Breast

Braised leg pativier, BC mushrooms

-paired with Andrew Rich Pinot Noir Cuvee B 2007

Earthiness meets earthiness, and here complements attract. Chef Springett’s little pigeons were juicy and mildly gamy, partnered by the cute little shiny puff pastry pativier. Flavours of roasted onion, leek and sautéed king oyster mushrooms married the plate. And this wine is always a welcome site – a lovely example of Willamette Pinot Noir, all bright cherries and elegant currants, wild strawberry and spice.


Roasted Rack of Venison

Prosciutto wrapped potato and parsnip pave, fine green beans, red currant jus, Long Beach sea salt

-paired with Domaine Jean Deydier & Fils Chateauneuf du Pape Les Clefs d’Or 2006

The main course was Norwood’s, and did he ever run with it! Roasted rare, the venison rack was mighty and impressive, but it was the few grains of salt topping it that stole my heart. Chef and his team made their own sea salt from water harvested at Long Beach – and it was potently powerful stuff. The venison was offset by a plate-licking sweet red currant jus, made all the better by ample butter. This was paired with a black fruited, plum and peppery Chateauneuf du Pape – a textbook choice that worked well.


Sauternes Poached Winter Pear

Baked financier, almond crisp

-paired with Chateau d’Armajan des Ormes Sauternes 2003

I appreciate chefs like Springett who give you a little, light sweet at the end of a lengthy meal. The tender pear spent time poaching with the sauternes, lifted with a little lime leaf and warmed with some cracked cardamom. The financier was fixed with place with honeyed cream cheese, and a ladder of toasted, sliced almonds was there to add the crunch. The fact that they used the civilized sauternes in the cooking of the dessert was a coup – this honeyed apricot and bright orange oil elixir was a great pair.


That was the sweet ending to the seated portion of the dinner. Guests were then welcomed to stretch their legs and mingle, visit the tables laden with cheeses and Raincoast Crisps and sip on tawny or amontillado. I took this opportunity to bid adieu to the crowds, slip away to watch the wild west coast weather and contentedly contemplate the very fine chefs in Ucluelet. Maybe it was the winter air, maybe it was the wine, but this rhyme kept running through my mind…


There once were two chefs from Ucluelet

Who made great local cuisine and they knew it

Instead of heated competition

‘Twas collaboration in the kitchen

And they just proved to everyone they can do it!


Find one of Chef Andrew Springett’s recipes here. The next dinner on the schedule at the Black Rock Resort takes place on March 26th, during the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, hence the name: A Whale of a Dinner. Chef Andrew Springett will be joined by two amazing proprietors and winemakers, Roger Dossman of Alderlea Vineyards on Vancouver Island and Bob Ferguson of Kettle Valley Vineyards in the Okanagan.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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