Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong

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Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong

New Zealand began growing its famous cool-climate wine grapes 200 years ago. To celebrate the bicentennial, a group of winemakers and wine aficionados sat down on September 24th at Café Belong in the Evergreen Brick Works for a special dinner that paired 10 of the Pacific island country’s most inimitable wines with a five-course menu designed by chef Brad Long. Before the seated dinner began, guests schmoozed on the restaurant’s patio while sipping new-wave, low-ABV New Zealand Lighter wines and snacking on canapés such as crispy polenta squares and smoked trout. Here’s how the evening unfolded.

You never know what mid-September weather in Toronto will bring, but the conditions were perfect for some outdoor socializing.
House-smoked trout with dill crème fraîche and pickled red onion on scallion pancakes.
A selection of chilled, lower-ABV wines from New Zealand.
Master sommelier Jennifer Huether explains how the wines for the evening were chosen.
And here’s Brad Long dishing on the night’s menu.
The first course: pork terrine with cherries and walnuts, arugula, radish and a parsley emulsion.
Legendary New Zealand winemaker Kim Crawford was in attendance, and addressed the crowd between courses.
The second course: a fall harvest salad with heirloom carrots, squash and sweet potato, finished with a shallot vinaigrette, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and Monforte cheese.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Long prepping the final savoury course.
A trio of pinot noirs from Babich Family Estates, Astrolabe and Loveblock to pair with the third course.
About that third course: It’s a big hunk of tempura-fried Fogo Island cod with shaved fennel slaw, beet-and-chive aioli and a smattering of pickles.
And the final savoury course: grilled rack of lamb served on corn purée with pattypan squash, charred onion, stonefruit mostarda and chili oil.
Here’s the full menu.
And here’s the room in full swing.