It was Blind Date with a Star’s sweet sixteenth last week. The Learning Disabilities Association of NL’s annual fundraiser, built around pairing celebs and donors for a dinner date at various St. John’s restaurants, turned 16 on Tuesday, June 5th. Once again, it was a screaming success, thanks to the many local restaurants and chefs that donated time and resources to the event.
Obviously, celebs or “stars” – whatever that celestial reference means – need to be thanked as well. Giving up an evening to entertain, engage, answer questions and make small talk with strangers is definitely a case of having to “sing for your supper.” But, the volunteer celebs don’t mind, because supporting an organization dedicated to helping people who struggle with learning benefits all of us.
I went with a Rogers TV producer, Erin Sulley. Just under 400 guests filled the indoor courtyard area at the Sheraton for preprandial drinks. Between sips of Chardonnay, handshakes and hugs of greeting we kept half an ear tuned to the VOCM emcee who was pairing off celebrities with table sponsors and restaurants.
We were paired with a group of engineers, IT specialists and spouses from Newfoundland Power. Our assigned restaurant was the excellent Exile at JAG Boutique Hotel, George Street.
The menu began with scallop risotto, a superior starter. Extra creamy rice was flavoured with a hint of herbs and citrus, then topped with three plump pan-seared scallops. Decoration was two thin, very crisp pieces of salty prosciutto. I enjoyed the unctuous quality of the dish and its range of flavours.
Our main was roasted beef striploin, medium rare, served with red wine sauce, buttered herb fingerling potatoes, leek, bacon and garlic fiddleheads. It was a perfect meat and potatoes meal, which even managed to make me a fan of fiddleheads. I’d tried the popular maritime green vegetable before and didn’t much care for them. Exile’s preparation and the quality of the product easily won my thumbs-up.
Peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate ganache glaze put an exclamation point on our dinner. The word decadent was invented for this dessert. It came with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a couple of Disaronno soaked strawberries. Compliments to chef Andrew Dale and his crew.