I'll give you the moral of the story up front: even if you think you're not going to like it, try it anyway.
Hubby's birthday was last week, so off to Beckta we went for the five-course tasting feast. The catch phrase of the night was "I don't normally like this, but ..." as we were presented with various surprise dishes of items Hubby wouldn't think of ordering à la carte. But hey, these guys are pros. And (thanks to me) Hubby has become the adventurous type when it comes to food. Bring it on.
First: Hamachi sashimi sprinkled with pomegranate arils and dusted with shaved foie gras torchon on a long multigrain crisp. Hubby doesn't normally like sushi, but this went over well. The soft pieces of white fish were mild, with the sharp tang of the poms bursting through. I enjoyed the Charles Baker 2010 Riesling (Niagara) that went with it, the first CB I've ever tried. Well-crafted, balanced and classic Riesling.
Second: Seared scallops with maple-glazed carrots, lardons and tempura bits. Tinpot Hut 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand). We both thought the wine was just a smidge too acidic for this dish, but we relished the "surf and turf" elements of the delicate shellfish and chunky, salty pork (even though Hubby doesn't normally like scallops.)
Third: Truffled risotto with slices of parsnip. OMG, this was WICKED good. A thick, creamy dish infused with truffle oil, rice cooked just enough to straddle that fine line between crunchy and squishy. Its earthiness was reflected in the Cave Spring 2009 Dolomite Pinot Noir (Niagara), which had a plush, velvety texture and subtle red fruit notes.
Fourth: Magret duck breast, thinly sliced and cooked to purpley-rare doneness (something else Hubby doesn't normally like.) Bit of a miss with the wine this time around, though: Casa Marguery La Familia 2005 Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) was too alcoholic, fat and flabby.
The big discovery of the night was the Gai'a 2003 Anatolikos (Nemea, Greece) a late-harvest wine made from sun-dried agiorgitiko grapes. Here's where I became dubious. The aromas coming off of it gave me the impression of a harsh, vapo-rub liquor, something strong enough to remove bandage adhesive. Maybe even a hint of Varathane. But underneath its potency lay raisins, plums and cherry cordial. A sip later, my mind was blown: well-balanced sweetness mulled with spice, coffee and smoke. This was magnificent.
The Anatolikos held its own alongside a platter of festive nibbles: a dark chocolate gingerbread house; eggnog gelato on top of a giant macaroon (and Hubby doesn't even like coconut); and a homemade candy cane.
Remember the moral to this story, and eat well. There's something to be said for broadening one's horizons.