TASTE Resto-Lounge Opens Downtown – Food, Art, Music

Taste Resto Lounge chandelier and bar

Taste Resto Lounge chandelier and bar

Last week was the opening of TASTE Resto Lounge at 560 Seymour Street, in downtown Vancouver. It is next door to the nightclub, FIVESIXTY, so you may want to have a nibble here before dancing the night away.

On this evening we were served mini versions of the share plate menu items. Upon entering TASTE, you are struck by the red glass chandeliers, giving a Gothic or Bordello type atmosphere, depending on who you ask. At the back of the room is a long table, where you can sit with your friends, and make new friends, while you eat and drink, and view the featured artists’ paintings on the walls.

Sharing Plates Samples

Charcuterie at TASTE Resto Lounge

Charcuterie at TASTE Resto Lounge

We were given tastings of:

  • charcuterie, with a mix of sausages, prosciutto, capicollo, artisanal cheese, and sweet pickled beets
  • house smoked chicken liver pate with capicollo, pickled beets, pesto, onion marmalade on a crostini
  • bacon chutney with pear and brie stack and a chimmichurri sauce on a crostini
  • a salad of roma tomatoes, fresh Bocconcini with diced cucumber and white balsamic pesto

I think my favourite item was the chicken liver pate.  Lots of flavour, and paired nice with a glass of prosecco.  All of the ingredients, I was told, are local and organic by Executive Chef Renaldo Decembrini.

Wine and Other Drinks

The wine list has a range of wines from around the world, but BC wines were missing.  It would be nice to add in one white and one red in the list.  The food and wine list were designed to be complementary and they have some selections with food and wine pairings on a chalk board beside the long table in the back of TASTE.

On the white wine side, you can enjoy a glass of Marisco the Ned Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, full of herbal character, and have with a salad.  The Canti Prosecco as I mentioned to go with the chicken liver pate. Try the Fritz Riesling or the Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc with the charcuterie.

There are 2 Argentinean Malbecs to choose; Pascual Toso  and Dona Paula. I did have a sip of the Marques de la Mancha Tempranillo, very full bodied, lots of dark fruit and very smooth and silky. Definitely would pair nicely with the charcuterie or their house smoked beef tenderloin.

In addition, there are some BC/Canadian beers on tap.  They also invented some cocktails that are meant to pair with their share plates.  I did not have a chance to try these, but maybe on my next visit.

I wish TASTE Resto-Lounge the best of luck in their launch.

Charcuterie menu at TASTE

Charcuterie menu at TASTE

salad of roma tomatoes Bocconcini and cucumber

Salad of roma tomatoes, Bocconcini, and cucumber

TASTE chalk board recommendations

TASTE chalk board recommendations

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A Tailgate Party, Grilled Pork, & Wine for the Canucks Game!

This weekend I experienced pork nirvana. Pork sausages, ground pork, and bacon cooked several ways on the BBQ by an expert BBQ chef. This experience happened as I attended a class at Well Seasoned in Langley on how to BBQ for a Tailgate Party. Our instructor is Head Cook Andy Groneman, a 14-time Grand Champion and winner of over 150 BBQ awards including:

  • 2010 Jack Daniels World Invitational – World Pork Champion
  • 2009 National Champion—Chest to Chest Brisket Invitational
  • 2009 New York “Empire State” Grand Champion
  • 2009 KCBS – Team of the Year -5th place
  • 2008—Reserve Grand Champion—American Royal
  • 12x Grand Champion and winner of hundreds of BBQ awards

What is a tailgate party?

From Wikipedia, “In the United States, a tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. This is done in order for people to loosen up and have fun before entering the event and also to avoid paying stadium prices for alcohol and food… Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts. People attending such a party are said to be tailgating. Many people participate even if their vehicles do not have tailgates. Also, many people don’t even go into the game and just go to the tailgate to party…Popular tailgate party foods include picnic staples such as hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, and cold salads like coleslaw or potato salad” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tailgate_party)

Andy’s creative culinary skills brought tailgate cuisine to a higher level.

What did Andy teach us to BBQ?

  • Smoked nuts (no pork in this one)
  • Beer Bathed Brats
  • Pig Candy
  • Smoked Sausage Fatties
  • Atomic Buffalo Turds (It doesn’t sound nice but does taste good)

A nice way to start off any party is with some assorted nuts.  The smoked nuts in this case were almonds and pecans covered with a honey/apple/soy sauce and sprinkled with a BBQ rub of your choice.  Cooking this in the BBQ adds a nice smoky flavour to the nuts and the mix of sweet and a bit of spice enhances the nuttiness. I’d suggest a fino sherry or maybe a sparkling wine, such as a Spanish Cava.

Pig Candy is bacon that is coated in a mixture of brown sugar and cayenne/chipotle powder, then slowly cooked on the grill so that the sugar caramelizes, making a very addictive treat. Again sweetness with a hit of spice mixed with the smokiness of the bacon, plus the crunchiness from being on the grill. There are a few ways to pair wine with this. The first is to go with a Sauvignon Blanc which has high acidity, to cut through the fattiness of the pork.  Another pairing could be to embrace the smokiness and pick a Fume Blanc (that is an oak barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc). If you prefer red wine, maybe a chilled Gamay or a Pinot Noir would be nice. Both have higher acidity and lower tannins, which should complement the sugar and fattiness of the pig candy.

Smoked Sausage Fatties are thick ground pork sausage rolls (maybe 10cm across) that are seasoned inside and outside with BBQ rub, then slowly grilled and at the end coated with a BBQ sauce. The rolls are cut into thick slices, and can be served with a salad.  This could be a main course dish of your tailgate party.  For this dish, I suggest going with an Alsatian-style Riesling or a Pinot Noir from BC or New Zealand.

Sausages on the grill are always nice.  We enjoyed beer bathed brats.  In this instance Heineken beer was used along with various herbs and spices to make a hot bath into which the sausages were placed in the BBQ.  The sausages are taken out later and grilled before serving with fried onions on a bun, or by itself with some mustard. We had traditional bratwursts and as well one made with wild boar, which had a darker colour and more meatier taste.  This was very nice with the herb flavour infused into the sausages.  Pinot Noir, Gamay, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc all would work here.

Finishing off our evening cooking class was the atomic buffalo turds. This is made from jalapeno chiles cut lengthwise to make a “boat”.  Seeds were removed to make it less spicy.  A filling of cream and shredded cheese, crumbled cooked sausage filled each boat, then each was wrapped in a slice of bacon and then grilled.  It was quite spicy, smoky and creamy.  I think a Riesling here would be needed to cool the heat, or maybe a very fruity pinot gris.  If you are adventurous, try a pinotage!

Well Seasoned has a wide range of BBQ supplies; spices, rubs, and marinades which I have had hard time finding elsewhere.  Langley is a bit out of the way if you live in Vancouver, but it is not that far to go once you get onto the highway, plus you can then go and visit some of our Fraser Valley wineries!

Here is the link to Smoke On Wheels if you would like to read more about Andy and what he has to offer.  Also, a link to Well Seasoned cooking classes.  Enjoy with your Canucks or BC Lions tailgate party!

MyWinePal Picks from the California Wine Fair 2011 Canadian Tour

I look forward each year for the California Wine Fair to come through Vancouver. There was almost 120 wineries in attendance this year. Too many to try and taste at one time. But I hope I have a few gems for you.

California wines are big in the USA market. From a recent Decanter article, they noted “Wines from California accounted for 61% of overall US market volumes at nearly 200m cases, up 1%, with retail value estimated at US$18.5bn.http://bit.ly/ieHzkC.  That is a staggering amount to me.

In BC, California wines are well-regarded, but maybe only known for their Napa Cabs and oaked chardonnays. But there is more to California wines than just that. Try a Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Here are a few of my California Wine Fair highlights:

Sparkling Wine

  • Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2007. This wine is made from 100% chardonnay.  It had a light nutty nose.  High acid with small bubble.  Red delicious apple and citrus flavours.

White Wine

  • Ferrari-Carano Winery Fume Blanc 2009. This is possibly my favorite wine of the fair. Fume blanc is an oaked sauvignon blanc. This wine is pale lemon in colour with a greenish tint. Lots of herbal, gooseberry and grassy aromas. Round mouthfeel with herbal and green pepper flavours. A long length. A white wine to savour.
  • Rodney Strong Vineyards Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2009. This wine is tied with the Ferrari-Carano for my favorite wine of the fair.  Pale lemon in colour with a green tinge. Vanilla and lemon aromas. Cinnamon, apple, lemon and vanilla flavours.  Have a wow moment when you sip this wine.

Red Wine

  • Alexander Valley Vineyards Redemption Zin, 2007. Medium garnet in colour with a nice raspberry nose. Very fruity and jammy. Primarily raspberry flavours, with a bit of cherry and spice. Medium tannins and is drinking nicely now.
  • Bennett Lane Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. This cab is deep garnet in colour. A nice nose with ripe cassis and vanilla. Smooth mouthfeel with dark fruit and dry tannins. Long lingering flavours.
  • Clos du Val Wine Company Zinfandel 2009. Light garnet in colour. Smoky raspberry nose. Medium body with raspberry and cassis flavours, with vanilla and spice on the finish. An elegant wine.
  • Clos du Val Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. Light garnet colour in the glass. Light nose with capsicum and cassis. Medium body with cassis and raspberry flavours. Round mouthfeel with medium tannins. Another elegant wine!
  • Eberle Winery Syrah 2008. Medium garnet. Meaty, ripe red fruit, and herbal notes on the nose. Raspberry, blueberry and vanilla flavours. Medium body with dry tannins in the background.
  • Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel 2007.  Light garnet in colour with a light jammy nose.  Raspberry flavour with firm tannins and a medium body.  Some spice on the finish.
  • Hahn Family Wines Pinot Noir 2009.  Light garnet in colour.  Strawberry aromas on the nose.  Light body, with tea leaves and strawberry flavours.   Low tannins.
  • Mettler Family Vineyard Zinfandel 2008.  This is a relatively new winery although this family has been growing grapes for many years.  This is the 3rd vintage for this winery.  This zin was opaque purple in colour.  BBQ briquettes, woody and meaty nose.  Very round mouthfeel. Dark ripe fruit, cigar and vanilla flavours with some spice on the finish.
  • Perry Creek Vineyards Altitude:2401 Barbera 2009. Barbera is an Italian grape variety that is best known as Barbera d’Asti in the Piedmont region.  This California version was light garnet in colour.  Smoky, chocolate, and raspberry on the nose. Medium body with smoky raspberry flavours.  Low tannins.  This was one of my surprise favorites of the wine fair.
  • St. Clement Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  Deep garnet in colour.  Light cherry / plum on the nose.  Medium body and medium tannins.  Flavours of apples, plums, cherries and vanilla.
  • Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  Nice juicy raspberry fruit nose with a hint of capsicum.  Juicy flavours of cassis and raspberries.  Some vanilla too.  Fine tannins.

That’s all for now.  Enjoy some California wine this weekend.