A D'vine Affair


A D'vine Affair

A Sunday Spent in D'Vine Style

Thursday, November 07, 2019

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T he highly anticipated Jamaica Food and Drink Festival (JFDF) wine-pairing event D'vine took place recently in the serene hills of Peter's Rock in rural St Andrew. Once again, it was a battle between delicious food and incomparable views, but as one attendee cheekily commented, “Well, you can't eat the view.” True, but guests sure did soak it up.

The afternoon began the way civilised events should: with Champagne and oysters. Fresh by Rainforest allowed guests to indulge in Loch Fyne oysters and plump poached shrimp accompanied by a delightfully piquant mango tikka sauce. Select Brands, the wine partner for the event, meanwhile poured copious amounts of Perrier-Jouët for guests upon arrival.

D'vine 2019 saw three chefs coming together to produce an 11-course feast that was, pardon the pun, divine. Tooksie Kay Catering principal Alexa Von Strolley drew on an array of culinary influences to prepare her five courses — fried zucchini blossoms, salmon poke, “fiyah” red curry lamb tacos, “freaky deaky” duck confit, and gnocchi.

Canadian-born, Cayman-based chef Dylan Benoit, fresh from filming his first season of the Food Network Canada show Fire Masters, too, prepared five courses — beet salad, popcorn lobster, seared scallop ceviche, wood-grilled octopus, and boneless beef short ribs.

The meal closed with dessert courtesy of the Frida Kahlo of pâtisserie Nadine Burie, who created a rosemary mango and chocolate mousse dessert so exquisite it could almost have been a religious experience. But more on that later.

The meal was paired with six fab wines from Michael David Winery, located in Lodi, California. Winemaker David Phillips (the David of the Michael David) was in attendance. Phillips brought with him Michael David Sauvignon Blanc, Freakshow Chardonnay, Freakshow Zinfandel, Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon, Earthquake Petit Syrah, and Lust Zinfandel.

Benoit alternated with Von Strolley for the first 10 courses, and both chefs showed their penchant for travel in their dishes. Von Strolley's fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with whipped ricotta and preserved lemon took guests to Italy with every bite. Benoit decided to bring it 'home' and took D'Vine to Nova Scotia with popcorn lobster that was more elegant than the name suggests. A plump perfectly butter-poached lobster tail was served swimming in a popcorn emulsion that was both a night at the movies and fine dining in one.

Another standout dish was Von Strolley's gnocchi tossed in a spicy buerre noisette fragrant with sage. Benoit confirmed his “fire master” status with his boneless beef shortribs redolent with allspice and thyme, and so tender the back of a spoon could break it apart.

However, Burie's 11th course was a revelation. She created a delicate dish of rosemary-mango coulis with orange blossom whipped cream balanced on a sable and served alongside a bean-to-bar chocolate mousse. Watch out, Dominique Ansel!

Since there wasn't enough food (ha!), the evening culminated with fireside Port and cheese. The bountiful and stunning local cheese table was created by Outland Hurders and guests praised cheesemakers Gordon Dempster and Kristina Budhoo with every bite.

As guests boarded shuttles to take them back to frenetic Kingston, peals of laughter carried across the air with birdsong and chirping crickets offering accompaniment. It is hard to think of a better way of spending a Sunday.

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