On Friday, L had plans that didn’t involve me, as none of his friends were bringing out their old broads. Boys’ night out is not only gender-unfriendly but is also the bane of my social life. To quell my displeasure, he promised we would go somewhere nice for dinner on Saturday. I wish I could say I am exaggerating that I subsequently spent hours debating between River Cafe and Cassis Bistro, but I’m dead serious. Did I want to go somewhere scenic and romantic? Or should I go somewhere close and charming? Cassis won in the end because the wines are more to my taste, and the latest Google reviews are consistently excellent. For this post, let’s listen to “Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son” by France Gall.
Unlike Rea’s Italian Cucina, which is packed at 6:00 pm and empties out by 8:30 pm, the guests at Cassis Bistro dine much later in the evening. When we arrived at 6:00 pm, only a quarter of the restaurant was full. However, when we left at 7:30 pm, it was starting to bustle with customers.
L started off with a beer ($8), I picked a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ($12), and we shared the Foie Gras Torchon ($24). The sauvignon blanc was delightfully cold, with bright acidity and green notes. I remarked to L that the temperature was optimal, as I like my wines cool and crisp.
I told L I was surprised he wanted foie gras, as he doesn’t usually eat rich foods. He responded that Cassis’s version is the best in the city, and he still remembers when we last tried it over a year ago. The texture of the foie gras was light and buttery. The thin ginger crisp was sweet and crunchy, accentuating the delicate savouriness of the liver. The portion was so large, so we added a side of French bread to mop up the last smear. Oh my gawd, the bread was terrific, crusty on the outside with soft, silky innards. Even the butter was sublime, creamy and grassy, unlike the waxy version I eat at home.
We ate slowly to make each morsel last as long as possible. As we tenderly shared the last piece of bread, I felt like I was in the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp. At this point, I was getting excited for our main courses. L picked White Cream Veal ($44) for his main dish, and I ordered the BC Spring Salmon ($42).
The owner of Cassis recommended pairing our dishes with an oaky Novellum Chardonnay ($14). Pro-tip, always get the recommended wine pairing for each course, as this is the second time at Cassis that the wine and food pairing blew me away. Even L raved about the wine pairing. Again, my wine was served delightfully chilly – colder than my fridge can achieve.
The veal was firm but tender, and while the meat tasted clean and mild, the white cream was deliciously boozy. The side of potato gratin was piping hot and fluffy. The lentils were my favourite – lusciously seasoned and slippery smooth.
I typically order the mussels at Cassis, but I’m glad I ordered the salmon. The large flakes effortlessly fell apart when I took my fork to the salmon, which soaked up the rich, satiny smooth lobster sauce. I loved the fatty, fresh flavour of the salmon. This dish was so stellar that L was envious of my choice.
We shared Marquise ($14), a chilled dark chocolate bomb so damn good that I cleaned the plate. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so it has to be excellent for me to eat dessert.
This meal was so good I proclaimed that I would die happy if I died that night. When we woke up alive the next morning, L said that was one of the best meals he’s eaten all year. I concur. If you haven’t been to Cassis, I would highly recommend it.
This last week has been a food fest. I met up with Zoomhahaa for oysters, L for pizza at Two House, Lululemon and Kournikova for beer, pizza, wine and dessert, and a takeout lunch of Chinese BBQ. Let’s listen to “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus for this post.
Zoomhahaa and I met up at Koto Sushi. Our server was friendly and didn’t make us feel bad for taking advantage of their wicked happy hour oyster special. West Coast oysters were only $1.25 each, and that is the deal of the year.
Zoomhahaa and I prefer West Coast oysters over East Coast because we like our oysters fat and creamy. In comparison, East Coast oysters are flatter and thinner in size, with briner, saltier notes.
We started with a dozen oysters each. Each oyster was shell-fragment-free, a major shucking feat, especially for happy hour. The sea morsels were milky and smelled like the ocean. We alternated between the green onion mignonette and eating the oysters with lemon and its natural juices. Paired with a cold Sapporo ($6) and a big glass of wine ($6), we both exclaimed there was no better way to spend an hour after work. We ordered a second dozen oysters each, and the last round was even better than the first. We left full and happy, and I swear, I was just one oyster away from gout.
The next night, I felt chipper after work, so I told L I was taking him out for pizza at Two House Brewery. We shared the Formaggi ($23) pizza. This pizza is so simple but so good. The cheeses paired well with the sweet drizzle of honey. We washed our supper with Yuzu Shio beer (12 oz, $6), a light, lemony beer.
I met Lululemon and Kournikova on Thursday at the Bear and Kilt on Stephen Avenue. Once you walk in, you feel like you are in ye olde Calgary. The whole setup is adorable, with old furniture and vintage memorabilia. We bumped into Christina, the co-owner of Klein & Harris, who rushed in to check something. Kournikova also knows Christina, and she mentioned she was heading to her restaurant for a late dinner with her husband.
Lululemon and I drank Wild Rose beers ($7.99) and personal pizzas ($14.99). Kournikova ordered Patron and soda ($14). For our second drink, Kournikova felt like wine, so we walked to Annabelle’s Bar across the street for another drink. There, we shared a bottle of sparkling rose. We met the manager, Simon, who knows Eric, the co-owner of Juice Imports. We chatted about the restaurant culture in Montreal and how getting wine from Pinard & Filles in Calgary was easier than in Quebec, where the winery is located.
Kournikova settled our tab and took off to meet her husband across the street for dinner. Lululemon ordered us beverages, as well as Whipped Ricotta ($15), Tiramisu ($12) and Crème Brulée ($12). I was so full from the pizza, but the tiramisu was so light and soft, it was too delightful not to devour. Lululemon took that photo below, in case you are wondering why there’s one good photo on the post. She told me not to fight for the bill, and she said it was such fierceness I backed down and said I would get the next one. When we finished, I called an Uber to take us home. The driver pretended to be outside but wasn’t and cancelled on me. Lululemon hailed us a taxi instead, and the next day on Good Friday, I slept off all the dessert and wine.
On Saturday, I went to Sun’s BBQ to pick up some duck and BBQ pork. After I made my purchases, I walked a block over to BBQ Express and picked up a two-meat-on-rice lunch combo ($11). I ordered soy sauce chicken and crispy pork. Two things stood out. First, the owner was so friendly and polite. Second, he was so generous with the meats he had to put a rubber band over the container so the food wouldn’t spill out.
When I got home, I hastily snapped a photo. Unfortunately, the angle of my image is awful, as it doesn’t show off the crispy skin. The pork was tender and cut well, so each slice of meat with crunchy skin was proportional and fit nicely in my mouth. There’s just something so winning about the combination of the plainness of the steamed rice in contrast to the rich, fatty crunch of the skin. The soy chicken was the show’s star, as the meat was plump and silky. The sauce on the chicken skin was light but flavourful, with a touch of sweetness. The food was so good I posted it on Calgary Food – FoodYYC.
Unfortunately, I received three unpleasant comments. One complainant doesn’t know how to use contractions. Another thinks anyone that has a cash only business is a thief, liar, or criminal. The third person tried to argue that I didn’t eat crispy pork, even though I said I did and you can see the crackling skin poking through. All I wanted to do was spread some good news about a cheap and cheerful eatery, but hey, it’s the Internet, and everyone has an opinion.
When I looked up the names of a couple haters, I recognized their writing style and realized they used to write nasty comments on my previous employer’s Facebook page. What a small world! I think I’ll stick to sharing my experiences on my blog, where it is a safe place to spread the word about delicious eats in Calgary.
Bex.oxo received some excellent news and took me out to celebrate at Stonyslope Brewing Company. She knows the owners, and ever since she attended the soft opening, she’s been raving about the homemade bread and sour cherry beer. Let’s listen to “I Bake the Bread” by Reckless Johnny Wales for this post.
The brewery has a safe, family vibe. We sat near the front, so I could overhear several customers coming up and wishing the owners success on their new venture as well as the arrival of their newborn baby. Ten minutes after our arrival, the owner’s father announced that it was his wife’s birthday. Everyone sang happy birthday to a slightly embarrassed but happy-looking wife.
We couldn’t order the cherry sour, as it was so popular it sold out. Instead, I ordered an Osmotar (12 oz, $6.50), a light Finnish farmhouse ale. My beer was cool, mellow in flavour and foamy.
For food, Bex.oxo ordered most of the menu. She requested two orders of Bread and Butter ($12), Meats ($7), Cheeses ($7), Pickles ($4), Popcorn ($4) and Perogies & Sausage ($18). Stonyslopes nailed the food. Now, this is a quality charcuterie!
The homemade Amish bread was warm, and the hand-churned butter melted in my mouth. The bread is baked daily and brought out fresh from the oven. The bread is so good, I saw a customer buy some bread and butter to bring home. I like combining each bread piece with butter and meat or just butter and cheese. Bex.oxo loved the Ski Queen Whey, a Norwegian cheese which tastes like a cross between fudge and caramel. Her favourite combination was to eat the popcorn with the Ski Queen.
For meats, we sampled the Soppressata, Landjäger, prosciutto salami, and Mennonite sausage. Each meat was impressive – thick cut, chewy and delicious. I’m bringing L next time, as I know he would appreciate the selection of meats and cheeses.
The asparagus, pickles, and carrots are clearly from a local farm. Crunchy, bright and tangy, these are some of the best-pickled vegetables I’ve consumed. If Stonyslope sold their pickled vegetables by the jar, I bet they would fly off the shelves.
The perogies were sensational. The dough on the perogies was ultra-thin, while the piping hot filling was silky yet fluffy. The Spraggs sausage was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I would get this again.
I left super stuffed and blissfully bloated from all the beer, bread, meats and cheeses. Thanks, Bex.oxo, for treating me out to a delicious night. I’m a fan, and I give Stonyslope two phat thumbs up!
When I took my new job, no one warned me of the constant flow of treats. I’ve been trying to say no to these temptations, but it’s been a losing battle so far. For this post, let’s listen to “Half Photograph” by Kay Starr.
I walked in to get a glass of water and stopped dead in my tracks. Our CEO was in town, and he dropped off a massive box of doughnuts from Jelly Modern Donuts ($41.95). I opened the lid, and my eyes popped at the gorgeous array of donuts. I gently closed the cover and ran to M and N to tell them about the treats.
I return to the kitchen an hour later to eat half a doughnut. I noticed people had already taken a knife to cut some of the treats in half. I cut the half donuts in quarters and tried the hand-filled maple, lemon curd and s’mores.
The donut itself was soft, fluffy and sweet. Each flavour and topping were distinctly different from the others. Unlike Tim Horton’s, I also noticed that Jelly Modern donuts stay fresh hours later.
The following week, our office celebrated Steve Drake Day. Steve was an undergraduate engineering student at the University of Alberta and took eight years to finish a four-year degree. He was a legend for procrastination and his penchant for Hawaiian shirts. We celebrate this day by wearing colourful shirts, playing mini golf / video games, and eating pizza to honour Steve Drake’s legacy.
W ordered pizza from Verona Pizza. I overheard her say that Verona has great reviews. Usually, you can tell if the food is good by how busy a place is or if customers look happy. For example, Omi, Hannki,Van Express always have a massive lineup. At Sukiyaki House, you can see the gleam of zeal as customers savour their food. I’ve walked by Verona before, but it was usually before it opened or by the end of the lunch rush.
We tried the All Meat (13-inch, $30) and Greek (13-inch, $30) pizzas. The crust was thick but light and ultra-crusty. The toppings were so generous that the vegetables in the Greek pizza would topple over. The cheese was heavy and molten-hot. I also liked how Verona broiled the top layer of meat in the All Meat pizza, making it curled up and crispy.
We have another corporate lunch in April, and I’m excited to hear where it will be. Hitting the Sauce gives her office eats two phat thumbs up.
L and I met with Caviar and Numbers at Two House Brewing for after-dinner drinks. L wanted to go a bit earlier to get something to eat, as he’s a fan of Acme Pizza, located inside Two House. Let’s play “Touch of Grey” by Grateful Dead for this post.
L ordered a Juicebox NEIPA (18 oz, $8), and I opted for an El Hefe Hefeweizen (14oz, $6). L recommended we try the Cacciatore ($23), as he and his buddy had eaten here the previous week, and it was his favourite of all the pizzas he’s eaten. Pro-tip – you must order your food at the counter rather than through your server, as Acme Pizza operates separately from Two House.
When the pizza arrived, I had difficulty dislodging a slice from the pie, as each piece was only semi-cut. In addition, the crust was rock-hard and noticeably bitter.
When I brought our pizza to the counter, a Two House employee came over to inquire if everything was okay. I asked if we could get our pizza replaced because it was burnt. She immediately apologized and said a new pizza would be whipped up and delivered to our table.
I’m so glad I asked for a remake because the pizza here is phenomenal. Our second pizza was perfect. The mozzarella was hot and oozy, accented by the sweetness and tartness of the citrus vinaigrette. The dough was thin with large bubbly air pockets and crackly edges. I loved the chew of the sausage and the bite from the red peppers and romesco sauce. I can see why L raved about the cacciatore pizza. I would order this again.
When our friends arrived, I asked Caviar what she was drinking. For wine, Caviar sticks to the house wine (2021 Domaine Rimbert “For Me” Merlot Languedoc, France, 5 oz $9, 9pz $15, $42 bottle). I enjoyed the merlot; it was light and fruity but not sweet. We relished the pizza and appreciated the service so much that L and I returned the following week.
This time around, I wanted to order Caviar’s recommendation, the Burrata ($26). I ordered the house wine and wanted to know if I would like it as much as the last time or if Caviar’s charming company made the wine taste extra delicious. I took a sip and was relieved it still tasted good.
Another group sat at our communal table as we sipped our drinks and waited for our pizza. They wanted to order food but needed help finding the pizza menu on Two House’s online menu. After a minute of listening to their confusion, I turned around and told them they needed to get up and order at the Acme counter.
L doesn’t usually like arugula on a pizza, but he thought Acme’s version worked well. The balsamic vinegar’s sweetness complimented the crisp, peppery arugula leaves and the soft freshness of the cheese. I snapped the crust together to sandwich the filling and ate it like a mini sandwich.
Two House offers locals a welcoming neighbourhood hub. Each time we’ve visited, there are families playing board games and groups of friends enjoying the beer and food. Hitting the Sauce gives Two House and Acme Pizza two phat thumbs up.
For Five Stars’ last meal in Calgary, he wanted either eggs benedict or a burger. I checked around and all the hot spots, such as Maven and OEB, had a waitlist of 90-120 minutes. I suggested we go to Waterloo Pub, as I heard their burgers are top-notch. For this post, let’s listen to “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas.
I wanted to walk to the pub, but Five Stars doesn’t like to exert any more energy than is absolutely necessary, so L drove us. L complained he was all gluttoned out so he didn’t come inside to eat with us.
Five Stars and I were the only ones in the restaurant when we walked around noon. However, within 10 minutes, another couple pulled up at the bar, and then a large group slowly trickled in. The men wore colourful clothes, like shiny red vests and metallic blue ties. I asked our server if it was a wedding because their clothes were so flashy. She replied it was a regular church group that comes every Sunday.
I ordered the Marda Loop Brewing Big Juice ($9, HH $6) and a coke for Five Stars ($3.95). For food, we shared the Bacon Cheddar Burger ($21) with a Caesar Salad, Duck Confit Eggs Benny ($17) and Side Fries ($6).
Hands down, Waterloo Pub makes one of the best burgers in the city. The patty was warm and juicy pink, soft and yielding against the crispness of the bacon. The best part of the burger was the flavour of the ground brisket and chuck. The meat was mouthwatering, and unlike some other pubs, the patty tasted like good quality beef and not a meat puck. I liked how the cheddar cheese was soft and melty, while the tomato and pickle were chilled and crunchy. The fresh butter lettuce was the crowning touch. I told Five Stars that Waterloo makes a better burger than Gordon Ramsey’s pub in Vegas. Never ever have I enjoyed such a burger.
The romaine in the salad was cold and crisp, slippery with a garlicky dressing, punctuated with real crumbled bacon and shaved parmesan. This is one of the better caesar salads I’ve had in a while. Our side of fries was blazing hot and perfectly salted. Of course, I had to make this meal more fattening by adding a side of mayonnaise.
Five Stars and I were impressed with the generous amount of confit duck in the eggs benny. The yolk in the poached eggs was bright orange. Five Stars wished more of that house-made hollandaise, as that’s his favourite part. We ignored the side of the fruit and left it to dry out. I reminded Five Stars how our older brother used to nickname me Scurvy because I didn’t eat vegetables or fruit as a child.
As this is my third time eating at Waterloo Pub, I can say with some authority that whoever is cooking back there truly cares about how their food tastes. Hitting the Sauce is so impressed that she’s putting this underrated pub on her list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.
I wanted to take my brother Five Stars (formerly known as Jacuzzi) out for Italian food. I picked Rea’s Italian Cucina, a restaurant I’ve heard from acquaintances who swear the food at Rea’s reminds their nonna’s cooking. Let’s listen to the “Pasta Song” La Famiglia for this post.
When we arrived, I noticed most of the customers appeared to be of Italian heritage, which I considered an excellent indicator of what was to come. L commented he liked the old-school vibe, dark furniture, prominent paintings, and curtained windows. Five Stars said he was surprised every table was filled by 6:35 pm. L informed him that Calgarians prefer to eat early.
Our server, Dante, greeted L as he recognized him. It turns out that Dante is the owners’ son and a Haskayne School of Business student. What a small world.
For drinks, I ordered a glass of Ripassa (9 oz, $19), L picked a glass of Peroni ($8.50), while Five Stars chose an Orangina ($4.50). For food, I ordered the Calamari ($17), Salsiccia Casa Sausage ($17), Linguine Mare ($31), Fusilli Ferraro ($23), and a medium pizza, the Sandro Special ($24).
I recommend ordering appetizers, as the two we tried kicked some serious ass. The sausage had a spicy kick with a generous fat-lean ratio. What stood out for me was the chewy texture and unique seasoning. The tomato basil sauce was just beautiful, robust with a vibrant tomato flavour. All sausages should aspire to be Rea’s sausage. L and Five Stars said this was their favourite appetizer.
Five Stars noticed that I handed my phone to L to take pictures of the food and asked him if he usually took photos. With a long-suffering sigh, L rolled his eyes and confided that he had always taken the pictures but never received any credit. I retorted that L has a better eye for photography than I do, and I also make Five Stars take photos for me. I thought but did not say it was lovely they could bond over a common complaint.
I preferred the calamari wasn’t deep-fried because you could enjoy the satiny texture, and L mentioned it was cooked perfectly. The ringlets were silky smooth, and tender. We both loved the tangy sauce. L pointed out the big difference between the sausage’s tomato sauce and the calamari. I tried the two side-by-side and thought the tomato sauce in the calamari tasted more like olive oil. I would get the calamari again.
After a suitable amount of time, our mains arrived. The pizza dough was homemade and in between a Greek-style and Neapolitan crust. Covered in molten cheese, I could detect a pleasingly strong smoky flavour. The olives, prosciutto and cheese tasted extra good to me.
The fusilli was my favourite because of the pure decadence of the rose sauce. The creamy sauce was so smooth and luscious that I cleaned the plate. Five Stars mentioned he liked the texture of the fusilli. Slick with a slippery sauce, the surface still had a slight chew.
The linguine mare is one of Rea’s signature dishes. There was almost as much sauce as noodles, which I loved because the tomato sauce was so thick, fresh and balanced. L and Five Stars were surprised there was so much seafood. The ratio of clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp and calamari to noodles was even. The flavour of all the shellfish was prominent, though the brightness of the tomato sauce cut through some of it. I dig the cheeses Rea uses in the pasta and pizza – it’s more flavourful and tastes better than the one I use at home.
I would come back. I’d order everything again, but I want to try the veal tortellini for variation, and L said he wants to try the chicken parmesan. We shared everything, so the amount of food we ordered was perfect. We only had half a pizza left over. Five Stars declared this was his favourite meal in Calgary. He asked how we found it. L gestured to me, and I explained I’d heard about this restaurant for over a decade now, as it has a reputation for homestyle Italian food. Hitting the Sauce gives Rea’s two phat thumbs up.
Jacuzzi is in town! As he arrived in Calgary late at night, I suggested we check out Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey for their late-night menu. For this post, let’s listen to “Nashville Skyline Rag” by Bob Dylan.
When I checked in, I learned we landed a table on the second floor, where live music plays from 8:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. The venue itself is charming. The cozy vibe is similar to Nashville’s bars but cleaner and more contemporary. The room is fresh and modern, with white panel walls. The stage is lit up with neon lights and a bright background screen. Under the ceilings, strands of tea lights twinkle.
L ordered a Pilsner ($9), and I picked the South Block Tree Shaker Peach Bourbon Ale ($9) for myself and the non-alcoholic Village Blonde beer ($8) for Jacuzzi. I took a sip and could tell it lacked the bite of booze.
For food, I selected a pound of brisket (HH $17) and Pulled Pork (HH $16), Smoked Wings ($17), and Bacon Mac n Cheese ($16). All our food came out at optimal temperature. The wings were meaty, so blisteringly hot my fingers tingled from the heat. The chicken skin had an extra crunch from the layer of salt and spices. Jacuzzi and L raved about the wings and mentioned the seasoning reminded him of his all-time favourite place for wings, Hooters. I asked him when he was last at a Hooters. He recollected it was 15 years ago when he lived in Toronto. Wow, that must have been some memorable wings.
The beef brisket was so tender that the meat fell apart when I forked a piece. L and Jacuzzi raved about the soft texture and the smoky flavour. I appreciated the contrast between the fattier sections and the more rigid surface of the bark. The pulled pork was juicy and paired well with the tangy house BBQ sauce. Of the two types of meat, the clear winner was the brisket.
The macaroni and cheese were a hit. The cheesy sauce was velvety and sticky, similar in texture to the molten orange nacho cheese 7/11 uses for their nachos. I appreciated the spicy heat in the sauce. The mac and cheese tasted even better with bits and pieces from the pulled pork, as the sweetness of the meat cut through the heaviness of the sauce.
Hayden Block is a hidden gem. I would return in a heartbeat to enjoy the music and steaming platters of smoked meats. Hitting the Sauce gives Hayden Block’s second floor two phat thumbs up, and it makes it on my list for best BBQ and live music.
My new job is proving to be appetizing. So delectable that the sleeves on my suit are starting to feel like sausage casings. For this post, let’s listen to “American Pie” by Don McLean.
The Edmonton, Calgary and Victoria offices ordered pies for their employees to celebrate Pi Day. Our social event leader, Miss K, drove to Pie Junkie to pick up our pies in Kensington. I asked her why she didn’t order delivery. She said Pie Junkie turned off the delivery option on Skip the Dishes. I reminded her that a dozen stores located below our floor sold desserts. Miss K responded that she knew we were foodies and wanted to ensure she got something special for us.
Miss K ordered Key Lime ($29) and Toffee Banana Pie ($29). I tried both and thought the toffee was the best of the bunch. The toffee filling was decadently satiny and buttery. I loved the contrast of the whip cream’s fluffiness against the pie crust’s hard crunch. One of the most satisfying things about Pie Junkie is the trademark thick crust, which is substantial enough to stand against the richness of the ingredients. I don’t eat dessert, but this was so good that I went for seconds the next day.
Two days later, our office held their monthly corporate lunch. We ordered chicken tenders from Strip Joint Chicken. I ordered Hotty Honey ($13.50). The batter was mouthwatering – I liked how it was crusty, with a heavy crunchy batter. The sweet fermented pepper honey and jalapenos were similar in flavour to ginger beef but with a heady cheesiness from the shaved parmigiano reggiano.
L would have appreciated the quality of the chicken, which was white breast meat. B ordered the Big Parma, and his chicken tenders looked even better, loaded with noodles, basil and mozzarella. He said it was delicious. M ordered the Chicken Tender Poutine ($12.75), which he enjoyed but mentioned the fries were too salty. I chatted with Video, and she commented her poutine was good but overly salted. I noticed both M and Video didn’t finish their food. I wanted to take pictures of everyone’s dish but thought it was too soon.
I haven’t worked out once since I started my new job, and I have to get back on it. I don’t want to stop eating all this delicious food. Hitting the Sauce gives her snugger-fitting clothes two phat thumbs down.
I snagged tickets to Juice Import’s second-ever Pinot Fest ($50). Bricks Wine Co. sent an email recommending guests to eat beforehand due to the anticipated massive selection of wines. I invited Sunflower as my guest, as she is my number-one wine buddy. She, in turn, insisted on treating me to brunch a Deane House. Let’s listen to “Take Me To Church” by Hazier for this post.
We sat in the peaceful nook by the windows. The natural light filtering through the windows illuminated the white framed walls in the historic building. We both ordered the specialty mimosas ($13), I tried the house-made apple, and Sunflower chose the cherry flavour.
I was craving seafood, so I ordered the Salt Spring Island Mussels ($24) while Sunflower ordered eggs benny with potato rösti and house preserves ($18).
The mussels were of varying sizes – some were supersized and plump, and others more petite. The thick garam masala sauce made reddish-brown splotches on my white linen napkin. The shoestring fries were tasty and crisp, similar to Mcdonald’s but superior in caramelized potatoey flavour. Delicious, and a different take on the usual moules frites.
The service at Deane House is top-notch, from the welcoming committee at the front of the house to every employee we encountered. It’s a darling spot, and I enjoyed the experience.
When we finished our food, we walked over to Bricks Wine Co. Our group was divided into two sections: bubbles and the red wine section. Like everyone in our group, I wanted to start in the champagne area. I pulled Sunflower to the front of the group because I predicted Juice Import co-owners Erik and Mark would remove the extra guests from the back. As usual, I was correct, and Sunflower and I scored the first part of the tasting in the bubbles section.
The crowd was different from the usual Sunday gang. I recognized only one Juice Import groupie, Coke. I spotted a woman who resembled the profile picture of a Calgary Herald food writer. I also recognized a bearded guy who was dining at the Deane House the same time as Sunflower and me.
In total, we sampled 22 wines. There was so much to try, so out of the necessity of not turning this post into a novel, I’m only going to highlight my favourite bottles. For fizz, we tried three bottles: Adn De Meunier Mignon Champagne ($76.95), Vigne D’Or Tarlant Champagne ($104.95) and Vigne D’Or Tarlant Champagne ($201.95).
Erik described Adn De Meunier Mignon as “tight, fresh and minerally.” I enjoyed the gentle carbonation and thought it was a tad tart. The more I drank, the more I liked this one.
Sunflower and I loved the Migne D’Or Tarlant. She commented on the creamy mouthfeel, and I enjoyed the prominent carbonation. Coke announced if there was ever a time to eat potato chips now, it would now. I walked over to the bowl and scooped some potato chips for Sunflower and me to munch on.
At two hundred buckaroos, I was most curious about the Vigne D’Or Tarlant. Erik informed us the region was the coldest area in the Champagne area. Aged since 2006, we were surprised by the smoky flavour. Erik commented this champagne was “grippingly acidic.”
We moved on to white wines: Franz Weninger Feherburgundi ($29.71), Maloof Thistle Pinot Gris ($42.95), and Field Blend A Sunday in August ($45.96). I liked the Feherburgundi so much that I bought a bottle. The colour was cloudy and it smelled a little of the forest. Erik described this wine as minty, waxy, tart and lemony. Erik suggested pairing this wine with white asparagus or pork sausage.
At this point, I started to feel woozy. I followed the lead of the lady standing beside me. She sipped, smacked her lips, and spat into the wine spit bucket. She made a neat pinging sound, while my first few attempts sounded more like a cough and sputter.
We tried three orange wines: Maloof Rouge De Cris ($44.50), Craven Pinot Gris ($35.96), and Else Pinot Gris ($46.95). The Craven wine was a stunner. The colour shone like a Christmas red stained glass window. Erik described this wine as approachable, meaning the flavours would be familiar to a North American audience. I tasted a hint of smoke. I snagged a bottle for an upcoming dinner party.
Our final tasting with Erik was Peter Wetzer Rose ($35). Almost all the 120 bottles that Juice Import received were sold to Bridgette Bar. He only had two bottles left to sell to us. I took a sip and was so impressed by the smooth, sweet flavour that I snuck away from the group and bought a bottle. Coke saw me and grabbed the remaining bottle.
Everyone was loud and merry when we switched to Mark’s section of red wines. I overheard my new friend Kat ask another woman if she was Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, the Calgary Herald food restaurant and CBC radio columnist. She confirmed she was, and Kat squealed in delight. Kat declared she was a fan girl of Chorney-Booth. Others chimed in with questions about restaurants, John Gilchrist and her writing style.
The first three pinots that we tried were the Claire Naudin La Plante ($40.95), Lighting Rock Elysia Pinot Noir ($54.95), and Lighting Rock Canyon View Pinot Noir ($54.95). Sunflower and I enjoyed La Plante. I managed to score one of the last two bottles.
Our table was boisterous, and everyone made side conversations throughout the tasting. I felt bad for Mark, who was valiantly trying to quiet us down and proceed with our wine tasting. I’ve been to more than six Juice Import Sunday tastings, but this was the first time the tasters spoke more than the presenters. We talked so much that a Bricks employee, who was pouring our wine, joked about hurrying up and chugging our fifty-dollar wines because we were running out of time and the next group was coming in.
Mark described how at one winery, he helped harvest the grapes. Sunflower asked about the hygienic practice of crushing grapes. Someone asked, did one have to shave their legs or clip their nails before commencing grape crushing? Mark tried to bring our rowdy laughter down and described the physical work that went into grape-crushing. Sunflower exclaimed that it sounded like a great workout. Coke heckled Sunflower and called her Miss Lululemon. You know, he’s on to something. She’s so fit, it’s intimidating. Hereon, I will refer to my friend as Lululemon.
Franz Weninger Pinot Noir ($38.95), Marnes Blanches Pinot Noir ($54.95) and Hermit Ram Zealand Pinot Noir ($41.95) was the last trio of wines. Lululemon and I enjoyed the Franz Weninger Pinot Noir. I also bought one of the only two bottles of Marnes Blanches Pinot Noir. I thought this French beauty had a beautiful scent. Mark described the wine as aromatic, with black tea notes. He recommended pairing this wine with goat cheese and strawberries. Coke suggested a strawberry shortcake.
Elizabeth said she found the Hermit Ram wine spicy. Everyone at the table nodded in unison. Mark described the scent as tomato leaves. Lululemon and I sniffed and agreed it smelled like fresh garden tomatoes.
Many of the wines we tried are exclusive to the Bricks Store, and all the wines we tried were biodynamic and natural. I’m glad I got the opportunity to attend a power tasting as the Pinot-Fest was a rare wine rager. Thanks Mark, Eric and Erin for hosting the twice sold out event.