CDA Food and Wine Festival
This weekend, the Coeur d’Alene Resort hosted its first ever Wine and Food Festival, and it was everything we hoped it would be and more. It was designed as a showcase of all of the remarkable wines served and enjoyed at the Resort, as well as a celebration of the delicious dining options from the Hagadone Hospitality team, and the gorgeous getaway that we are fortunate enough to have in our very own locally and internationally known destination resort.
The opening night was a solid first outing, and you’d never know this was the first year of their event. The sophisticated polish in both the service and the dynamics of the event were immediately obvious during the seamless check-in. Shortly after getting settled in our beautiful guest room with a view of the lake and a fireplace, we headed down to the Twilight Reception, which featured a diverse menu that was designed as a showcase of the small plates that the Resort’s accomplished food and beverage program employees are capable of producing every day.
There were lots of enticing foods to select from, and just as many wine stations, which allowed attendees to try different wines with different foods and be experimental! Food festivals are my favorite places to really branch out of my culinary comfort zone, as it has so many different options to try in a low-risk environment. If you don’t like a sample of one thing or another, you don’t have to feel pressured to finish it. You can just move on to the next bite! There wasn’t a short supply of marvelous choices, either. The room was filled to the brim with mouth-watering options such as crab cakes with lemon aioli and caviar (my favorite), Idaho poutine, freshly sliced Jamon Iberico (Rob’s favorite) with a selection of Spanish-inspired tapas, artisan pizza with duck prosciutto, oysters on the half-shell with champagne mignonette, beef tenderloin served with a rich demi glace, morel mushrooms and truffled potatoes, white wine braised chicken with pearl onions, smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms and fresh thyme.
The cocktail competition was a fun, interactive event to have inside that first night, because it gave the patrons a chance to evaluate the drinks presented. Having Bardenay, Beverly’s, Dockside and Whispers (the winner and one of our favorite spots for a cocktail year-round) who made a wonderful lemon and lavender drink that had some effervescence to it. There were wines from all around our region by Cinder Winery, Forgeron Winery, Maryhill Winery, Castaway Cellars and Townshend Cellars. Forgeron’s Chardonnay was one of our favorite wine selections of the evening, which had a nice acidity and pleasing finish, because they do a split between oak barrel and stainless. They also had several Rosé wines available to try (being a huge trend in wine selections at the moment), and it was wonderful to see how versatile they were in pairing with a variety of dishes.
The brunch was nothing short of the popular hastag: #brunchgoals. The highlights of the Beverly’s brunch were in the small plates that they were offering freshly prepared for guests. There was a short rib hash with poached egg, a crab cake benedict, wild boar Scotch egg (our very favorite - it’s something very hard to do well, and they nailed it). Their plating was colorful and tight, the hollandaise was very flavorful and something they really shine in executing well. For being able to showcase what Beverly’s can do, they were very successful, and we are frequent patrons. They also offered bacon, freshly carved ham, a selection of fruits, yogurt bar, pastries and lovely desserts. The mimosa bar was another bright spot and made our brunchy dreams come true, which was hosted by the talented and charming Sommelier Sam Lange and featured Treveri sparkling wine that was paired with orange, mango, grape and pomegranate juices as well as a selection of seasonal fruits. Sam even entertained guests, and himself (judging by the enormous smile on his face) by sabering a bottle of sparkling wine for the first time - a skill once learned is quite the party trick! He nailed it on his first attempt to the delight of the thrilled brunch guests.
Beverly’s is such a great space to host this event, as it’s a space you really want to linger in due to the spectacular view. The professional, beautifully skilled harpist provided a beautiful environment for our breakfast experience, and we love that a local musician was included. Live music is something we support wholeheartedly, as my husband is a professional bassist. We both very much enjoyed that additional thought. A humorous brunch surprise was the unexpected visitor in the window - a pair of Canada geese that caused quite a scene as they landed and interacted on the window boxes right by our table. It gave us all a good laugh, and kept a smile on our faces throughout our meal.
The classes that we were so grateful to attend were incredibly helpful in both acquiring new knowledge and getting to know some amazing chefs, winemakers and sommeliers. The cooking demonstration by Beverly’s Executive Chef Jim Barrett showed us how to skillfully break down a whole salmon, and then prepare it by grilling the fish on an alder plank and then topping it with a huckleberry gastrique. It was one of my favorite dishes of the day. Chef Chad White (of Zona Blanca in Spokane, Ja Justina in Tijuana, Mexico and Craft Pizza in La Jolla, California) is best known locally for his appearances on Top Chef and Bizarre Foods, and most of all, for his phenomenal ceviche. Graciously, he provided the recipe to attendees and encouraged us to try different ingredients to come up with a signature all our own in our home kitchens. It was so fun to watch someone as masterful as Chad make his signature dish, and we thoroughly enjoyed his showmanship and go through the process ingredient by ingredient. He revealed that he goes through 12 cases of limes per week to squeeze enough lime juice to cure the amount of ceviche he sells! Additionally, he shared about his favorite kitchen tool - his Vitamix - and how versatile it is for a home cook making these wonderful cured fish dishes in addition to a myriad of other kitchen jobs. More favorites include his knives and his trusty Kitchenaid mixer, which has enough attachments to “pretty much make anything you want to in your home kitchen”. We completely agree.
The learning around local wines was really beneficial, and quite surprising! TheColter’s Creek Sip and Swirl showcased 4 of their varietals, and showed attendees how to pair different cheeses with them. It’s a highly subjective art - what one person likes another person may not, but their tips gave a starting point for familiar and reliable combinations that will make you look like a pro. Rob’s knowledge is more than that of a typical consumer, as he is a passionate wine and spirits aficionado. What he learned about and enjoyed most was how they make wine, and where Colter’s Creek is geographically. The Lewis-Clark AVA is a unique space and gives their wines some challenges to overcome as well. Their Grenache does so well in that environment, that despite the fact that it isn’t often offered as a single varietal, they are able to produce it that way and it is a dynamite wine. Being able to taste two different vintages of Riesling from two different years that were nearly opposites was a surprising experience, because both were very well-done and couldn’t be more different. It showed the skill of these winemakers - regardless of the weather, this husband and wife’s ability to skillfully blend their juice into a quality bottle of wine was commendable. Their ability to grow specific types of grapes unique to that specific AVA shows their commitment to the quality of the end result.
The grand finale to the entire event was far and away the lake cruise to the Hagadone Event Center for the Lakeside Dining Experience. Spotted at this headlining event were Eater Seattle’s Editor, Adam H. Callagan, Angela Schutz of Come Eat With Me Events, Sarah Carleton of Gather & Savor, Chandler Baird of SpokaneEats, and Spokesman Review Food Reporter, Adriana Janovich. It was a joy to see our local culinary social media and blogging community come out to support the first run of this polished affair! After boarding, we were again treated to a duo of ceviches by Chef Chad Whiteside (which we were thrilled about) and Townshend’s Standard Brut and Rosé, which was the perfect complement to the lowering sun, and even a brief but spectacular rainbow as we neared our destination. Event-goers were greeted by what the staff lovingly called the “attack goose”, which was a mother Canada goose who was protecting the nest she laid on the dock (which typically is empty this time of year), and the crew deftly shooed her briefly away while we quickly walked up the stairs to the venue site.
When we entered the building, we were blown away by the level of detail the staff had put into preparing every dish for the evening, as well as the setting of the tables. It was every bit the party from start to finish, designed to celebrate these wonderful chefs. There were six different food stations and six different wine purveyors that allowed attendees to eat and drink to their heart’s content. There wasn’t a sad face in the room. The lighted seafood tower on ice that was placed on the table before we arrived was very fresh and cooked well with every accoutrement you could need, including claw crackers, lemon, aioli, wasabi and ginger (for the tuna sushi roll on the table), crab and prawns… it was the highlight of the night for our group. Don Townshend was continuing to pour some really spectacular selections, and Rob’s personal picks of all of the 2004 Reserve red wine blend, and it was the highlight of every wine that he tried.
The team provided the evening’s menu for each of us under our place setting so that we could clearly understand the ingredients in each of the choices at the stations placed throughout the venue. The Coté du Boeuf was a runaway favorite - served with sweet onion marmalade, rosemary, a Cabernet demi glace, horseradish foam, smoked sea salt, potato and cherry tomatoes were just stunning in both flavor and presentation. It gave guests the opportunity to mix and match selected accompaniments to their liking. Also served were pan seared sea scallops and tempura asparagus with lemon beurre blanc, Spanish pork tenderloin atop crispy polenta and salsa verde (another favorite), pistachio rack of lamb with an olive tapenade, fire-roasted Potlatch salmon with dill tartar and remoulade sauces, fried capers and lemon wedges, and a really lovely mixed green or caesar salad, which also featured a variety of toppings - with the port-poached pears and spectacular Veuve Cliquot Brut Champagne vinaigrette, which we both felt was the best-tasting (and most surprising!) menu item of the entire night. If we could get the recipe for that one, we’d have it every day!
At the end of the meal, the Resort’s pastry team did an absolutely amazing job of providing spectacular sculptures made of chocolate and spun sugar featuring truffles, cookies and tarts for every two people in attendance, and they were not just visually stunning, but delicious, too. It was a complete show-stopper. The audible oohs and aahs made the room very still for a moment. It was the perfect end to a memorable and dynamic first year of the Coeur d’Alene Food and Wine Festival!
Thank you to the entire Coeur d’Alene Resort team, guest chefs, vendors and winemakers who made this event possible, from the crew of the ship that took us to our destination, to the organizing team, to the hotel staff, to the attendees who made for such wonderful new friends.
We are truly grateful that the Resort team invited us to be their guests and be a part of this weekend of fun encompassing the joy in food and wine from our fair region.
We can’t wait until next year!
The Spokane Culinary Arts Guild works to establish an integrated social and professional network across Washington and Idaho where local food enthusiasts, chefs, farms and restaurant professionals can connect, collaborate and find the resources they need to thrive within local food webs that stimulate stronger local economies, encourage social equity and sustain our natural resources. It is our mission to recognize exceptional restaurants and industry partners in our region, and acknowledge superior business practices, concepts and achievements in our local community.