– Story by Angela Cowan Photography by Darren Hull
Play Estate Winery in Penticton fuses expertly crafted wines with amazing food and spectacular lake views for a unique dining experience. We asked Play Bistro’s Executive Chef Bill Myra a few questions about cooking with wine.
You have a new menu at Play Winery. What is your philosophy behind it?
“I just wanted to give our clients good food at a reasonable price. All the old classics with just a little twist on them.”
You’ve incorporated Play Winery vintages into several of your menu items. Can you describe a few of them?
“Well, the beet salad for one. I started with a balsamic gastrique and then infused a red wine reduction. It adds a sweet and sour flavour. Most of my salad dressings incorporate wine with gastriques — that’s kind of a classic spin on things. And for the scallops, I use a red wine reduction — our Play red wine, the Dramatic — incorporated with a brown butter, and it plays on the meatiness of the scallop and brightens all the natural flavours. Also, in the Quinoa Prawn Salad, I use a white balsamic gastrique and a white wine reduction, and then six whole kiwis and olive oil. Nobody does a kiwi dressing, and it’s an underutilized fruit. It offers a nice tanginess and pairs well with the prawns.”
Are there certain types of wine that are best for use in cooking? Are there some that aren’t?
“The wine that I like to drink is the one I like to cook with. You don’t want something that’s bitter or too sour to cook with, because it’ll change the flavour of your food. Once it reduces down, all you’re doing is enhancing all that flavour. I would use what you like to drink.”
Where would you use white wine and where would you use red?
“Usually you pair your whites with chicken or fish and the reds with red meat or bolder flavours, but you can think outside the box. Look at my scallop dish. You don’t always have to be safe. If you’re looking for acidity, you’re going to pair it with fish. Your full-bodied wines go well with more fall foods, comfort foods, like stroganoff or braised short ribs.”
Are there any rules when it comes to cooking with wine?
“Just have fun! And don’t reduce it too much. You want to bring it to a syrup. Don’t burn your wine, because then it will be quite bitter. Or you can use wine in a pan and start to deglaze it. You want to cook the alcohol out; you just want the flavour of the grape.”
Wash the beets, then rub with olive oil, salt and pepper. Braise until they’re fork tender. Cool, peel and thinly slice. Place balsamic vinegar in a pan on medium-high heat and reduce at a slow boil, adding honey as it nears a syrup consistency (this makes it a “gastrique”). In a separate pan, reduce the wine until it also reaches a syrup consistency, stirring occasionally and being careful not to burn it. Mix half the gastrique and half the wine reduction together, and marinate the beet slices in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Reserve the other halves of the mixtures.
When ready to assemble the salad, arrange the beet slices on a plate. Top with a selection of your favourite salad greens, crumbled goat cheese, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes and radishes. Take the remaining halves of the gastrique and wine reductions, mix together, and whisk with the cup of olive oil. Drizzle over the salad, and add salt and pepper to taste.