An edited version of this post also appeared in APT613. Music and food are universal unifiers. Whether or not individual palates synchronise we agree that both bring us together. So it is no surprise that the organizers of the JUNO Awards Gala dinner held this Saturday April 1st at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa pulled out all the stops to ensure the luminaries of Canada’s music scene have a memorable and pleasurable evening.
Shaw Centre’s Executive Sous-Chef Jennifer Sands and team bring all the flavourful goodness blending haute contemporary cuisine to an exquisitely comforting menu. Chef Sands, JUNO Awards CEO and President Allan Reid, and Sam Roberts did a fantastic and entertaining job showcasing the food, drink and the JUNO experience at last week’s media tasting.
Starting us off was a duck and chutney crostini; cured and smoked duck breast hugging a nest of caramelized Macintosh apples. The salty and sweet paired beautifully to the Steam Whistle Pilsner that cut through any potentially heavy duck aftertaste.
A lightly breaded goat cheese croquette – gluten free, as was the whole menu – served with a beet root and spinach salad on a savoury pumpkin seed pesto will delight diners with its fragrantly healthy and rich flavours. Jackson-Triggs complemented the salad winningly to a crisp and zingy Sauvignon-Blanc.
The piece de resistance is undoubtedly the 48 hour marinated low cooked Wellington County short rib beef nestled with a creamy polenta and butternut puree alongside only just-cooked heirloom carrots and beans. As Chef Sands aptly stated, “Slow and low makes the perfect decadence.” This meal is the foodie equivalent to a heartfelt cuddle. Del Rollo of Jackson-Triggs selected a fruity and warm Merlot 2015 that ignited the savoury depth of the entrée nicely.
It remains to be seen if following that feast JUNO guests will be able to tackle dessert. If they do however they are in for a creamy chocolaty treat as the final course of hot chocolate cheesecake with hidden chocolate ganache hits the table. Let me tell you it is worth it even if all you can manage is a bites of the richness with the beautifully light and refreshing raspberries sat on top. For those that can’t get enough of a good sweet Chef Sands has you covered tucking in a delicious marshmallow meringue shard.
A taste of the menu and a taste of the JUNO experience was beautifully served up by six times JUNO award winner and all around stand-up guy Sam Roberts who spoke to the camaraderie and quality of the evening where musicians come together for a rare evening amongst their own. APT613 was thrilled to get a taste of the menu and the JUNO experience.