Pairing wine with meat and cheese isn’t rocket science, but matching them well takes knowledge of each element’s flavours. Killjoy Cocktail Tavern (1120 Hamilton Street)—which was recently renamed Killjoy Barbers Cocktail Tavern—is hoping that a new monthly event called Meat the Grape will help Vancouver diners become more familiar with specific wines or spirits and their pairings.
Each installment of Meat the Grape presents a different type and brand of wine or spirit, and at the most recent event, Hennessy was the feature. Tickets to Meat the Grape are $50 and can be purchased ahead of time online, or at the door, provided there is room. The ticket price includes a three-course dinner with wine or spirit pairings, and the event starts at 7 p.m. and lasts around two hours.
I attended the Meat the Grape featuring Hennessy event on January 22 as a media guest. The evening began with a short introduction to the history of Hennessey, which is a brand of cognac with a 248-year history and made from Ugni Blanc grapes.
The first course prepared by Donnelly Group development chef Alvin Pillay was a creamy foie gras torchon served with tart quince preserve and rustic-style bread. The rich dish paired with a glass of Hennessy VS (the VS stands for “Very Special”) brought out the warm, oaky aromas of the cognac, while the spirit’s fruity notes helped cut the buttery texture of the torchon.
As a palette cleanser, diners were served an extra drink—a cocktail called the Arm and the Hatchet made with Hennessy Black, dry sherry, Fernet Branca, and bitters from Vancouver’s Bittered Sling Extracts. The cocktail, whose name was inspired by the Hennessy logo, was fruity and full bodied.
The main course was a large charcuterie and cheese platter featuring Prince Edward Island’s Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, San Daniele prosciutto, and chorizo and fennel-seed salami from Granville Island-based Oyama Sausage Co. Also on the plate were slices of Red Bartlett pear, olives, housemade mustard, and flatbread crackers. The platter was paired with a glass of Hennessy Black, which has citrus and honey flavours, and balanced the sharpness of the cheeses and the pepperiness of the sausages.
The final course was a light almond cake accompanied with roasted banana slices and cinnamon-vanilla custard. The dessert was paired with a glass of Hennessy VSOP (which stands for “Very Special Old Pale”), and the cinnamon and vanilla flavours of the dish were reflected in the spirit. The VSOP was also the smoothest of the three glasses of cognac and provided a nice finish the meal.