Follow Me Foodie to a recap of the American Express “Taste from Platinum” dinner at Hawksworth Restaurant!

Follow Me Foodie to a recap of the American Express “Taste from Platinum” dinner at Hawksworth Restaurant!

Food is one thing and company is another.

I often take food over ambiance, but when it comes to events, I go with a different mind-set. After all it’s an event, not just a dinner. I look forward to meeting new people, making new friends, enjoying the company I’m with, and of course eating some good food. I always want good food. Who doesn’t?

It’s not necessarily hard to find all of the above in one place either, and it helps when someone’s doing the organizing for you. Hosting is fun, but being a guest is too.

Welcome to the American Express “Taste from Platinum” dinner!

2014-10-01_21.13.34Hair by Victoria Kuzma and make-up by Grace Lee

On September 30, American Express (Amex) hosted the “Taste from Platinum” dinner for Platinum Cardmembers at Hawksworth Restaurant. Cardmembers were notified of the event via e-mail and tickets were purchased online. About 60-70 people attended the exclusive dinner hosted in the beautiful private dining room, the York Room.

Upon checking in, everyone was welcomed with a glass of Nicolas Mailllart Rose Champagne. Considering not everyone knew each other, a little bubbly was a great way to get people socializing.

The crowd was a bit mixed, but many people came as couples, or diners in twos. There were a few groups and double-dates, and it was a nice social occasion to start the week.

I actually liked the smaller groups, which was not in any way planned, but just how things happened. It was more personal than corporate and it made things less intimidating and more relaxed. Nobody wants to feel like the outsider in social events, so here everyone was more or less in the same boat.

It was simply for those looking for an “off-the-menu” dining experience at an upscale restaurant.

Being a Tuesday night, it was also nice to see people dressed up and excited, treating the weekday as if it were the weekend.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 03

Guests were greeted at the door and seating was pre-arranged, so it was just finding your name card. Of course you get seated with the people you bought your tickets with, but you can always make a special request if the transactions were separate and you want to sit with your friends.

I was seated with a great table and by the end of the night we were all changing contacts to keep in touch. That, and we also wanted to e-mail each other restaurant recommendations.

That’s kind of my favourite part of food-focused events like this. Most likely the people going share the same passion for food and wine, so you already have something in common. Needless to say, we ended up sharing food and travel experiences and “geeking out” on food-related topics.

The event was classy and sophisticated, yet still casual enough to feel comfortable. Maybe I’m speaking for myself and I could be biased since I enjoy events of this nature, so I had to get another opinion.

At the end of the night I candidly asked the couples next to me if they would attend an Amex dinner like this again, and they said they had already discussed it, and they would. It was their first time, but not their last, and it was something to look forward to.

Events like this are just one of the perks to having an American Express Platinum Card. As I mentioned in my previous post, Follow Me Foodie to the American Express Platinum Dining Program, the Amex Platinum Card works really well if food and travel is a big part of your life.

It gives access to the Platinum Concierge, special perks at select restaurants, entertainment benefits, global airport lounge access, lodging benefits at over 700 fine hotels and resorts, and access to exclusive Cardmember experiences, like this dinner.

They have a 24/7 Platinum Concierge to help with restaurant suggestions, inventive ideas for memorable nights out, amazing places to visit when you’re travelling the world. And, it’s not just for dining, in the past the Platinum Concierge has been called upon to ship a wedding dress halfway across the world. I actually reminded my fellow diners about it. They were planning a trip to Barcelona, Spain next year and I had just come back from there so it was perfect timing. They wanted to get into El Celler de Can Roca which is one of the hardest restaurants to get reservations at, so I reminded them to take advantage of their Platinum Card benefits.

The Amex Platinum Concierge can help make reservations at hundreds of acclaimed restaurants all over the world, so there’s a good chance they can secure you a seat at that “impossible to get into place” with a year long wait list. It makes life easier when someone can help with planning because the last thing you want to do on vacation is stress. And yes, us “foodies” stress about dinner reservations, and many of us “intense ones” travel for food.

In Vancouver, the Amex “Taste from Platinum” Dining Program has partnered with upscale restaurants such as Black + Blue, Blue Water Café, Chambar, CinCin, Coast Restaurant, Glowbal Grill Steaks & Satay, Italian Kitchen, Market by Jean-Georges, West, and of course Hawksworth, but the list will continue to grow. Make a reservation at one of the participating restaurants through the Amex Platinum Card Concierge to receive special Card perks such as complimentary appetizers or a glass of champagne.

Taste from Platinum Hawksworth Menu featuring First Flavours of Fall

To commence the evening there was a welcome note from the representative from American Express, the sommelier, and Chef David Hawksworth.

The 5 course “First Flavours of Fall” menu included 5 wine pairings, and dietary concerns and allergies were taken into consideration.

Due to the nature of the event I’m not going to go too much into the food since it’s not representative of a regular night at Hawksworth. The menu was specially designed for “Taste from Platinum” dinners, which makes for a unique experience that can’t be had at anytime.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 02Housemade Black Olive Bread and Sourdough served warm

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 05Roasted Acorn Squash and Pear Salad

  • Chèvre, walnut vinaigrette, fine herb
  • Wine pairing: Nicolas Maillart Grand Cru Brut Rosé Champagne
  • It was an effortless flavour profile. Pear and walnuts, squash and pears, pears and cheese… it was a nice fall salad to start.
  • It was tender wedges of sweet acorn squash with a creamy and tangy walnut vinaigrette with mild chèvre.
  • Almost more like an appetizer than a salad, but I could also enjoy it as a side dish.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 06Patiently waiting for this to be draped in Cauliflower Velouté…

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner VelouteCauliflower Velouté 

  • Seared scallop, parsley, caper, lemon
  • Wine pairing: Sanz Rueda Clasico, Vinos Sanz 2013
  • Velouté is one of the 5 mothers of French sauces and it’s my favourite styles of French soup.
  • It was silky smooth and rich with tiny segments of fresh lemon which added an unexpected pop of citrus to contrast the richness.
  • The lemon just brightened up the dish and the crispy fried capers added a bit of texture.
  • Parsley leaves were a bit large, but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this.
  • This was actually reminiscent to one of my favourite scallop dishes of all time I had at Redd in Napa Valley – see Caramelized diver scallops, cauliflower puree, almonds, balsamic reduction.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner RavioloDuck Confit Raviol0 

  • Heirloom carrot, burnt hay beurre blanc, parmesan, sage
  • Wine pairing: Erik Banti 2012 Carato IGT Toscana
  • This jumbo raviolo was generously stuffed with moist shredded duck that seemed marinated in Asian flavours like soy and perhaps 5-spice seasonings.
  • It was rich and juicy with a thin and firm pasta skin.
  • It didn’t need much of a sauce because there was enough jus inside.
  • I couldn’t taste the “burnt hay” and the beurre blanc was used shyly, but there was lots of umami in the duck jus.
  • I could have eaten 5 more.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 10Haida Gwaii Halibut 

  • Chanterelle mushroom, sunchoke, bacon sabayon, crispy chickpea
  • Wine pairing:2011 Marie-Pierre Manciat Macon Les Morizottes
  • The main course was your choice of halibut or lamb.
  • Being the end of the season I chose halibut.
  • I usually avoid halibut at restaurants because it overcooks easily, but this was okay.
  • It was topped with a crispy chickpea crumb to replace the skin, which I actually love when it’s crisped up.
  • The side sunchoke, chanterelle and pork belly cubes (bacon) was my favourite component of this course though.
  • It was simply sautéed in butter and natural fat from the pork belly bits.
  • It was almost like a sunchoke and bacon hash and topped with an egg I’d have it for breakfast.

OR

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 12Confit Lamb Neck 

  • Celeriac puree, chioggia beet, wild rice, gruyère crumb, natural jus
  • Wine pairing: Langhe Nebbiolo Pasqualin DOC, Pasquale Pelissero 2012
  • The other option for the main course was the lamb, which I actually preferred although I enjoyed my halibut.
  • The lamb next was sous vide or braised and very tender and moist.
  • Being a naturally fatty cut it was going to be moist.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 14The dessert option for those allergic to nuts was a sorbet tasting.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 15Dark Chocolate Crémeux 

  •  Maple, sweet potato
  • Wne pairing: Senhora do Convento Port Vintage, Portugal
  • I really enjoyed this dessert and it played a lot with textures.
  • There was fluffy aerated chocolate cake, creamy soft chocolate crémeux, crispy cocoa crumbs, crisp meringue and sweet potato ice cream.
  • The sweet potato ice cream was fantastic. Think of it as pumpkin, but it was distinctly sweet potato.
  • The dessert was sweet, salty (sprinkle of salt brings out flavour in desserts too), and bitter.
  • It was a bittersweet goodbye to summer and welcome to fall.

Hawksworth Amex Platinum Dinner 16Think of all the events and parties you’ve been to. Don’t the good ones include a bit of swag? Who doesn’t like a little token of appreciation and gift to take home? Every guest was given a bottle of wine and Bel Cafe macaron at the end of the night, which was a nice surprise!

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

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