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

By Toronto Life| Photography by Josh Fee

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.

Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
You never know what mid-September weather in Toronto will bring, but the conditions were perfect for some outdoor socializing.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
House-smoked trout with dill crème fraîche and pickled red onion on scallion pancakes.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
A selection of chilled, lower-ABV wines from New Zealand.
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Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
Master sommelier Jennifer Huether explains how the wines for the evening were chosen.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
And here’s Brad Long dishing on the night’s menu.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
The first course: pork terrine with cherries and walnuts, arugula, radish and a parsley emulsion.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
Legendary New Zealand winemaker Kim Crawford was in attendance, and addressed the crowd between courses.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
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 what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Long prepping the final savoury course.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
A trio of pinot noirs from Babich Family Estates, Astrolabe and Loveblock to pair with the third course.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
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.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
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 what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
Here’s the full menu.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong
And here’s the room in full swing.
Here’s what went down at the New Zealand. Naturally. wine dinner at Café Belong

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