TRAVEL | Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge Launch by Jenn Chan

 

There are times when I’ve flown across an ocean or a continent and had a long layover before my next flight.  The airport hotels I’ve stayed in have been a welcome respite on a long journey.  Some are basic; a shower and a bed for a few hours.  Others are more luxurious.  The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel definitely fits the latter category.  The crème de la crème of the rooms available in the hotel are on the Gold Floor, essentially a hotel within a hotel.  Fairmont has recently renovated and updated all the Gold rooms and the results are impressive.

 

The hotel access is via escalator (or elevator) next to the USA Check In area on Level 3, the departures level.  From the escalator to the main lobby is a walkway with a great view over the concourse.  A horizontal chandelier the length of the walkway signals that you have left the hustle and bustle of the airport behind and you are now entering a zone of elegance.  Elevators from the main hotel lobby take you to the 14th floor, the Gold Floor.  The redesigned Gold Floor reception desk has changed from an enclosed office to a more friendly open desk.  The styling is West Coast inspired.  Aeronautical, streamlined, efficiently luxurious.

 

Fairmont YVR
Fairmont YVR

 

There are 37 Gold Rooms (36 of them on the 14th floor) and the first one we checked out was room 1422.  Talk about a room with a view!  Each and every room has mesmerizing views through the large windows.  A plane spotting guide and an optically excellent spotting scope (Olivon brand) are standard features in every Gold room.  1422 has two queen beds; rooms with a single king bed are also available.  The feeling is residential with furnishings carefully chosen to not impede the view.  Even from the soaker tub there is a clear view out the window if the privacy doors are opened.  The sleek aeronautical design of the headboards is reminiscent of a sleeping pod on a First Class long haul flight.

 

Connected travelers will be happy to see USB charging ports are plentiful and integrated with the regular electrical outlets.  Rooms have nice wall mounted large flat screen televisions, Nespresso machines, and cool wall switches by the beds to control lights and drapes.  I should mention that the sound proofing is excellent.  I did not notice any noise from outside and there were jet airplanes taking off and landing frequently.

 

Fairmont YVR Gold Room
Fairmont YVR Gold Room
Fairmont YVR Gold Room

 

As wonderful as the Gold rooms are there is another option for the discerning traveler.  The Jade Suite, room 1445, is the type of room that one believes movie stars and royalty would stay in.  The bed is king sized, the bathroom opulent with jade, the bespoke wood furnishings (by a Vancouver Island mill worker) fabulous.  The suite is large with a comfortable relaxed seating area and a dining area.  The expansive windows wrap around two sides of the suite.  I’m almost tempted to describe the suite as splendiferous but that doesn’t really convey the level of relaxed elegance I experienced.

 

Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite
Fairmont YVR Jade Suite

 

The Fairmont Gold Lounge, located directly behind the reception desk, serves a Deluxe Continental breakfast buffet between 6:30am and 10am.  There is an option to have breakfast delivered to your room should you have an earlier departure.  The Gold Lounge is like a Business Class or First Class airport lounge, only better and more exclusive.  Snacks are available in the afternoon.  Canapés and desserts are available later in the day.  The honor bar is open noon to 9:30.  I quite enjoyed the food I sampled.  I estimated 36 people could comfortably sit in the lounge.  The style is equal to the Gold rooms with bespoke wood furnishings and, of course, amazing views out the floor to ceiling windows.

 

Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
Fairmont YVR Gold Lounge
IMG_3565.jpg

 

I was very happy to see the redesigned Fairmont Vancouver Airport Gold Floor.  It already had an excellent reputation and my expectations were exceeded.  The hotel is one of the top 10 airport hotels in the world and the Gold Floor is a fantastic choice for First Class and Business travelers.  I would even recommend it for a staycation if you are looking for a luxury hotel stay near home.  Downtown Vancouver is easily accessible by taxi or skytrain.    As Austin Powers’ villain Goldmember said, I love Gold!  You will too if you stay on the Gold Floor of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel.

 

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is located in Vancouver International Airport.

https://www.fairmont.com/vancouver-airport-richmond/accommodations/fairmont-gold/

 

YVR Airport
 
 

FOOD | New Menu items at Tractor Foods by Jenn Chan

Tractor Foods

 

When I was a kid the typical salad on the dinner table was iceberg lettuce with Kraft Ranch Dressing, or maybe Kraft Russian Dressing.  For variety it might be Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing on the lettuce with some added croutons.  As you might have guessed my childhood did not engender a fondness for salads in me.  As an adult I am pleased to say that I have found some excellent salads that have managed to turn my salad opinion around.  I will even go so far as to say that these salads qualify, in my opinion, as comfort foods.  This much needed correction to my salad bias is due largely to Tractor, the Everyday Healthy Food restaurants.  A fifth Vancouver location recently opened at 601 West Broadway and that is where we tried some new additions to the menu.

 

The layout of each Tractor location varies but the premise is the same: fresh, nutritious, delicious, locally sourced healthy foods served in a cafeteria style setting.  The Broadway location has patio seating on the large plaza at the corner of Broadway and Ash.  Once inside the line for food starts to the left.  Seeing all the freshly made food and looking at the menu may make you want to order one of everything, and maybe some wine or a craft beer too.  The soups are hearty and the stews satisfyingly filling.  Sandwiches don’t skimp on the fillings and can be ordered half size or whole.

 

Tractor Foods
Tractor Foods
Tractor Foods Menu
Tractor Foods Menu

 

The Everyday Rice Bowl has a base of rice and power greens.  With one market side and grilled avocado and you’ve got a meal for $9.95.  I loved the grilled avocado!  Should you, for some reason, want something other than avocado you can get the Everyday Rice Bowl with tofu or a hard boiled egg instead of avocado.  For a market side I had a kimchi topping.  If you are concerned about the kimchi being spicy you can rest easy, it is a mild type of kimchi that was enjoyable and not tongue searingly spicy.  There is a good choice of market sides so you could have a different Everyday Rice Bowl each day of the week and still have more options for next week.

 

A new mocktail, the Tractor Natural, is light and refreshing to drink.  It has sparkling water, grapefruit juice and rosemary.  It looks and tastes summery and I think quite a few of them will be seen on the patio this summer.

 

 New Bowls at Tractor Foods

New Bowls at Tractor Foods

 New Mocktail: Tractor Natural

New Mocktail: Tractor Natural

 Everyday Bowl: Rice + Power Greens + 1 market side + grilled avo

Everyday Bowl: Rice + Power Greens + 1 market side + grilled avo

 

The Short Rib Bowl has certified Angus Beef Short Rib and adds a second market side to the rice and power greens for a price of $14.50.  We tried it with Mediterranean Couscous (couscous, grilled asparagus, basil, Kalamata olives, radicchio, shredded kale, orange thyme dressing) and Artichokes (artichokes, white beans, napa cabbage, watermelon radish, cannellini beans, parsley, orange balsamic vinaigrette) as the two sides.  However the bitterness of radicchio doesn’t appeal to me so I picked it out of the bowl.  To my taste this made the Mediterranean Couscous much better and I would not hesitate to order it again.  The Artichokes market side was quite good, no quibbles from me.  The beef was tender, moist, mouth wateringly delicious.  A great combo bowl, with that one small caveat.

 

 

 Short Rib Bowl

Short Rib Bowl

 

The third new bowl item on the menu we tried was the Wild Coho Salmon Bowl which cost $15.50.  The salmon is Ocean Wise, which means it is an ocean friendly sustainable seafood choice.  The chermoula sauce on the fish was amazing!  Chermoula (aka charmoula, aka charmola) is a marinade that originates in North Africa with variations from Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Morocco.  The market side with the salmon was equally amazing.  Grilled pears, arugula, candied walnuts, blue cheese dressing.  This is the kind of salad that makes friends easily.  The blue cheese dressing alone could make any salad better.  Maybe even a salad with radicchio.  The thin slices of grilled pear compliment the salmon well.  This dish is a winner all round.

 

 Wild Coho Salmon Bowl

Wild Coho Salmon Bowl

 

Tractor has several grab and go items that could be eaten as desert after your meal, while binge watching Netflix, or as a mid day snack at the office.  The Dark Chocolate Bark could be described as a decadent granola bar but without the granola.  It has goji berries, apricot, pumpkin seeds and a slab of marvelous dark chocolate.  The Zucchini Loaf is densely packed with healthy goodness.  I initially compared the density to Christmas cake (which I dislike).  The zucchini loaf won me over and later in the day I found myself wishing I had bought a slice or two to take home.  Since it is a hefty hunk of healthiness you may want to enjoy it with a beverage and my choice is the ginger flavoured Kombucha.  It is a mildly sparkling and tasty cold tea drink, also available in a berry flavour.  Of course the chocolate cookies from Tractor are incredible, and gluten free too.  Jenn’s drink choice was a Matcha Latte, which she loves.

 

 Dark Chocolate Bark, Zucchini Bread, Ginger Kombucha

Dark Chocolate Bark, Zucchini Bread, Ginger Kombucha

Dark Chocolate Bark

 

This location at Broadway and Ash has only been open for a short while.  It is already very popular and every seat was filled at lunch time.  Service is fast, which you would expect from a cafeteria style eatery, and the food was excellent.  Hours are 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.  The other Vancouver locations have different hours, and may have some menu variations.  I’ve never been disappointed when eating at Tractor.  The food tastes great, it’s healthy,  the prices affordable, and take out is available.  There are a wide variety of vegetarian choices.  What more need I say to convince you to go there?  Maybe two words: grilled avocado.

 

Tractor Everyday Healthy Foods

601 West Broadway (Broadway & Ash)

 

 
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | Old Docks Tour with Eating London Tours by Jenn Chan

 Old Docks Tour Starting Point

Old Docks Tour Starting Point

 

Leigh Savage would be a great name for a pirate! Or, maybe, a porn star (sorry Leigh!), but it is most certainly also an excellent name for a tour guide! Mention his name while booking and you'll get a discount, mention mine while booking and you will only get a puzzled look. The tour started where all great food tours start: at a large, 19th century industrial engine house. No visit along the docks of Rotherhithe and Wapping, I'm told, would be complete without taking in the Thames Tunnel. The world's first tunnel built successfully under a navigable channel connecting these two beautiful boroughs despite the Thames' best efforts. 

A quick jaunt up the street and you come upon the The Mayflower Pub, the oldest pub on the mighty River Thames. It was from here that the first pilgrims to colonize the Americas left England bound for the new world. Just think about that. Now think about bangers and mash and blood pudding all sat on a bed of fresh vegetables and chased down with a bitter, yet smooth pale ale. Aside from the really good pub food, a cheerful decor, ample historical significance and ambience the pub also boasts a huge patio that hangs out over the ancient river. If you peek between the slats you'll see the water lapping the shore and the sound and the sun and tranquility of the space makes this pub a must-see!
 

 

 The Mayflower

The Mayflower

 Bangers & Mash at The Mayflower

Bangers & Mash at The Mayflower

The Mayflower
The Mayflower

 

After we have descended the Thames Tunnel and examined the impressive, old-fashioned engineering we come up on the other side; Wapping. All along the way our cheerful, knowledgeable guide whips out his folder of history and photos and we take delight in standing on the sidewalk and learning about our surroundings. A tour like this gives you nothing, but time to smell the flowers! The Prospect of Whitby Pub also stakes a claim to the oldest pub on the Thames, but upon reading the fine print is relegated to being on the site of the oldest pub, advantage Mayflower. The Whitby wrestles away the title of my early favourite after a delicious plate of fish and chips is laid in front of me with a nice light lager to compliment it. It was so nice that I went back and got another glass halfway through my meal! The Prospect of Whitby is a place where they used to hang folk. They don't shy away from that fact either as a noose still swings in the wind at the edge of the balcony. Hanging Judge Jeffries was said to have executed some 700 men during his duties under the reign of King James II on this very spot.

 

 Brunel's Thames Tunnel

Brunel's Thames Tunnel

Old Docks Tour
Old Docks Tour
 The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

 The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

 Fish & Chips with mushy peas at The Prospect of Whitby

Fish & Chips with mushy peas at The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

 

Joseph Turner was an eccentric man. A lover of women and secretive to the point of almost losing his own identity. Around the docklands of Wapping he was known as "Puggy" Booth. Puggy due to his slight stature and Booth adopting the name of one of his mistresses to further obfuscate his activities. When he inherited a pair of cottages in Wapping he converted one into Turner's Old Star and the pub still stands today after several renovations. Paul and Bernice Drew now run the freehouse and make their famous steak pies themselves from scratch! These are worth a trip all on their own, but the pub also has sports playing on every screen as well as billiards and darts. You could spend some time there!
 

 

 Turner's Old Star

Turner's Old Star

 Turner's Old Star

Turner's Old Star

 Steak Pie at Turner's Old Star

Steak Pie at Turner's Old Star

 

Captain William Kidd was a notorious pirate. There is some debate whether he came about the monicker justly, but he was executed nearby for piracy. A converted warehouse with plenty of space and extraordinary views of the Thames. An alcove table with 180 degree views of the river and a spacious patio are just a few of the highlights. Oh ya, they also have beer, a lot of it! I would definitely recommend it for a calm night out or the starting point of a rager!
 

 

 Captain Kidd

Captain Kidd

Chocolate Stout
Old Docks Tour
Old Docks Tour

 

Four hours is a long time to spend with strangers, but with the masterful guidance of Mr. Savage we bonded and by the time we came up the Dickens Pub it was almost too early to say goodbye. Luckily, we were greeted with a giant cheese and fruit platter and some ciders, a truly European dessert! Excited chatter turned into a constant murmur and laughter rose up as the room started to fill around us. Leigh gracefully took his leave and we were left to socialize and eat and drink until our heart's content. I can't remember another tour where the group was left together at the end and the fun just simply continued! I would highly recommend it and don't forget to tell them who sent you!

 

Old Docks Tour
 English Cheese and Cider at The Dickens Inn

English Cheese and Cider at The Dickens Inn

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

FOOD | Blue Plate Bonanza at Joe Fortes by Jenn Chan

Joe Fortes

 

A century ago you might walk into a diner or cafe for lunch and order a Blue Plate Special.  You would get a reasonably priced meal of meat and some vegetables (no substitutions!) that might have been served on a plate with a blue willow pattern.  The Blue Plate Special became a popular generic term for any inexpensive full meal, usually different each day.

 

Also about a century ago Joe Fortes was Vancouver’s first official lifeguard.  Originally from Trinidad and Tobago the well loved English Bay lifeguard was named Citizen of the Century in 1986.  There is a Joe Fortes Memorial Drinking Fountain in Alexandra Park, a Joe Fortes Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, and a restaurant that bears his name: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House.

 

My brief research doesn’t indicate whether Joe Fortes ever ate a blue plate special but you, dear reader, have the opportunity to partake of the Blue Plate Bonanza at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House.  For a limited time five plates are offered every weekday for the very reasonable price of $11.95 per plate.  It’s a beautiful restaurant, plenty of daylight from the skylight and large windows, immense art pieces on the walls that might make you think you are in Impressionist era France, and a popular large rooftop patio that is scheduled to open again April 9th for the warm weather months.

 

Joe Fortes
Joe Fortes
Joe Fortes Blue Plate Bonanza Menu
Blue Plate Bonanza Lunch

 

The Seafood Pot Pie is like a seafood chowder topped with a large puff pastry.  Hearty but not heavy, its individual seafood and vegetable elements retain their flavour and texture nicely.  The golden pastry is tender and flaky enough to be cut easily, not so tender that it crumbles.  This might be a good time to mention that the seafood at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House is Ocean Wise.  This means that the seafood has been harvested responsibly and is recommended by the Vancouver Aquarium as an ocean friendly seafood choice.

 

 Seafood Pot Pie

Seafood Pot Pie

Seafood Pot Pie

 

When trying foods with Thai in the name there’s a slight wariness about the possibility of excessive heat from spices.  I was very happy that the Thai BBQ Chicken was delightfully flavoured without spicy hotness.  The chicken was tender, moist.  The bbq sauce slightly sweet with a faint hint of charcoal from the grilling.  I also liked the rice quite a bit, it too had a slight sweetness.

 

 Thai BBQ Chicken

Thai BBQ Chicken

 

The Panko Crusted Haddock takes the original description of a blue plate special (meat with potato and vegetables) and elevates it to a much higher form of special.  Fresh green beans and carrot, potato and some amazingly good haddock.  The crisp panko crust, fresh flaky haddock, and a chunky tomato topping... this dish is worth a return trip.

 

 Panko Crusted Haddock

Panko Crusted Haddock

Panko Crusted Haddock

 

Crispy Fried Chicken.  Three words that I love to see on a menu.  When this dish arrived I was surprised at the generous size of the chicken.  I detected a bit of heat in the chicken coating, perhaps black pepper, that Jenn did not notice.  The chicken itself was tender and yummy.  Also on the plate were coleslaw and beans.  I thought the beans had a sweet molasses flavour that was very good.

 

  Crispy Fried Chicken

 Crispy Fried Chicken

 

The West Coast Fish Cakes are made with salmon, cod, trout, haddock, and potato.  The accompanying tartar sauce with a lovely dill component was an excellent companion.  A marvelous combination.  Green beans and carrot round out the dish.  The fish cakes were great and had an excellent meaty fish to potato balance.

 

 Westcoast Fish Cakes

Westcoast Fish Cakes

 

The basic Blue Plate menu item is $11.95.  There is an option to add an appetizer or a dessert item.  If you get two courses add $7, if you add both appetizer and dessert add $10.  Speaking of dessert we tried both offerings, Vanilla Crème Brulee and Vanilla Gelato.  The custard of the crème brulee was lightly flavoured, the caramel layer on top had a nice contrasting slightly burnt flavour.  The gelato was bursting with vanilla, not the bland vanilla of supermarket ice cream but the wonderful delicious vanilla of childhood dreams.  This was two scoops of heaven.

 

 Vanille Gelato

Vanille Gelato

 Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

 

For the duration of the Blue Plate Bonanza each of the five lunch items is available any day of the week but not weekends.  Once the Bonanza is over the items are still available on the lunch menu but only one dish per day, Monday through Friday.  Don’t fret if you can’t make it to the restaurant between March 12th to 23rd, but you are going to have a difficult time deciding which day of the week you want to visit as each of the offerings is excellent.  Executive chef Wayne Sych deserves praise for the quality menu.  If pressed to pick a favourite I might choose the Panko Crusted Haddock.  Or the West Coast Fish Cakes.  Or....

 

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House has some new cocktails on the drink menu.  These are available any time, not just during the Blue Plate Bonanza.  From the Fresh & Cool selections Jenn picked the Umeshu Cooler and I the Pompelmocello Collins.  Umeshu is an appealing Japanese liqueur made from ume fruit.  The cooler also has Punt e Mes, fresh lemon and ginger.  Jenn liked this quite a bit.  Served in a rock glass with an enormous ice cube it will likely be a very popular drink when patio season arrives.  My choice,  the Pompelmocello Collins, was like summer in a tall glass.  Sparkly and grapefruity, easy to drink and easy to love.  Also from the Fresh & Cool selections was a drink called Medicinal Purposes.  Made with Grey Goose Poire, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime and Fentiman’s tonic this concoction is just what the doctor ordered.  It doesn’t taste like medicine but this light refreshing drink will have you feeling better should you be ailing in any way.  Or just thirsty.  Another category of drinks is Herbs & Spice.  True North is a fruity tasting drink that has Okanagan Spirits Aquavitus in it.  I’ve had shots of Aquavit before at Christmas dinners and it has a strong distinct flavour.  The combination of honey syrup, fresh lemon, lime and orange juice in the True North does much to soften and enhance the Aquavit.  One more drink selection from Herbs & Spice is Delightful Warning.  Aptly named as it has 2.25 oz. of alcohol, this rum based drink has a slight after taste of black licorice for some reason.  I enjoyed it, perhaps a bit too much.  The beer menu has also been refreshed and there are several solid tempting choices from local craft breweries.

 

 New Cocktail Menu

New Cocktail Menu

 Umeshu Cooler & Pompelmocello Collins

Umeshu Cooler & Pompelmocello Collins

 Umeshu Cooler

Umeshu Cooler

 New Cocktails | Medicinal Purposes, True North, Delightful Warning

New Cocktails | Medicinal Purposes, True North, Delightful Warning

 

Each of the staff members we talked to were warm, friendly, and more than competent.  Thank you to our server Heather, bartender Mark, and Assistant General Manager Jason for a great dining experience.

 

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House is located at 777 Thurlow, Vancouver.  Reservations are recommended.  The Blue Plate Bonanza ends March 23, each dish will still be available after that but only on a specific day of the week.

 

 
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | Sky 100 at ICC by Jenn Chan

Sky100

 

South African Wayde van Niekerk is the current Olympic champion and world record holder at the 400 metre dash with a time of 43.03 seconds. Coming in just under 17 slower, a respectable showing, is the bullet-fast elevator at the Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck. It covers the 393 metres to the top in 60 seconds flat. Take that Vin Diesel!



Once you exit the elevators into the 360 degree, floor-to-ceiling, glass-walled Sky100 the sheer elevation has been known to buckle some knees! On our visit a handful of tourists seemed more than happy to relax in the tables in the café noticeably avoiding approaching the glass for fear of plummeting to their death. Ya, it's high. Hong Kong is known for many things: delicious food, a bustling financial district, Disneyland, but with 7.3 million people living in an area the size of Vancouver, and its paltry 1.8 million people, there's got to be more of everything: cars, buses, planes, trains and factories. The result is smog. It plagues every major city on Earth and my beloved Hong Kong, sadly, is no exception. So what do you do when you run a multi millionaire business whose aim is to provide a view to its patrons when sometimes there just simply is no visibility? You install state-of-the-art virtual reality app and let people 3D their way around the view! I won't attempt to describe the effects, but, happily, on our visit the skies were clear and the views amazing! After a turn on the new virtual reality experience, hovering outside the windows of the Sky100, and a quick stop off at Café 100 by Ritz Carlton, the only establishment on Earth with the Ritz brand outside of their hotels, for some crêpes and a couple beers and we proceed on our photographer's dream walk. 2-3 laps around and 2-3 hours later with our cameras' memory cards full and our inner ears acclimated to Himalayan heights we descended the elevator. We'll be back I thought to myself. Probably every time we come to HK!

 

Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100 VR
Sky100 AR
 Cafe 100 by Ritz Carlton

Cafe 100 by Ritz Carlton

 Monkey Milk Crepe

Monkey Milk Crepe

Sky100
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

FOOD | La Pentola Sunday Supper Series - Pasta & Vino by Jenn Chan

La Pentola

 

There is a day each month set aside for a special culinary experience.  The Sunday Supper Series at Italian restaurant La Pentola takes place the last Sunday of the month, a familia style meal with a new menu each time.  Our visit was in February when the menu featured Pasta and Vino.  The six course meal was available with or without wine pairings.  The evening was like a virtual tour of Italy as each course was from a different region of the country.  I was a tourist in Italy a few months ago and had many excellent meals there.  I am determined to return some day but until that happens meals in Italian restaurants will have to satisfy my yearnings.

 

We arrived promptly at 6pm.  A large curved bar is the focal point of the warmly lit main room.  We were shown to a side room with seating for twenty two people at three tables.  Two windows facing Davie Street let in the dwindling daylight.  A large window to another side room in the restaurant was curtained off, creating a comfortable feeling of privacy and separation from the larger restaurant.  As we settled in we were brought fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to tide us over until the first course.  You might say that traditionally Italians don’t eat bread before a meal but as North Americans we are able to enjoy this without any qualms and it is so, so good.

 

Pasta & Vino Supper Series Menu

 

The first course, from the Piedmont region, was Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti with Side Stripe Shrimp, Lemon Butter Sauce and Bottarga.  Piedmont is a mountainous area in the north of Italy with Turin the largest city of interest.  The fresh shrimp was excellent, the agnolotti equally good.  The lemon butter sauce light, harmonious.  A Marchesi di Gresy Sauvignon Blanc was the wine paired to this dish, a fine match.  The Piedmont region scores high marks all around for this course.

 

 Piedmont | Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti, Side Stripe Shrimp, Lemon Butter Sauce, Bottarga Wine Pairing: Marchesi di Gresy Sauvignon Blanc

Piedmont | Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti, Side Stripe Shrimp, Lemon Butter Sauce, Bottarga
Wine Pairing: Marchesi di Gresy Sauvignon Blanc

 

On the central Adriatic coast of Italy is the Marche region which provided inspiration for the next course on the menu: Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo.  The lobster tortellini’s subtle flavour was nicely enhanced by the slightly spicy lobster brodo.  The summery white wine with this course was the Andrea Felici Verdicchio.  The Verdicchio grape is one of the best for white wines in Italy.  I found this wine easy to drink and a welcome respite from the slight spicy heat of the brodo.  (I have a low threshold for spicy foods so you might have found the brodo very mild.)

 

 Marche | Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo Wine Pairing: Andrea Felici Verdicchio

Marche | Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo
Wine Pairing: Andrea Felici Verdicchio

Marche | Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo

 

From the Adriatic coast to Sicily in the Mediterranean for the third dish of the evening: Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, and Saffron.  This dish had layers of texture and tastes.  I liked the currents quite a bit.  As sardines are slightly oily a full bodied wine was called for.  The lovely Mazzei Zisola Nero d’Avola fit the bill fabulously.  This rich dark red wine was my favourite of the evening.  As good as the spaghetti dish was this wine pairing made it better.

 

 Sicily | Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, Saffron Wine Pairing: Massei Zisola Nero d'Avola

Sicily | Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, Saffron
Wine Pairing: Massei Zisola Nero d'Avola

Sicily | Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, Saffron

 

The fourth dish to be brought to the table, inspired by the city of Florence, was Pappardelle, Wild Boar Prosciutto and Rabbit Ragu.  A translation of the word pappardelle is “to gobble up” and that is exactly what I did with this delicious offering.  The boar prosciutto and rabbit ragu were amazing.  Jenn said “I don’t know where the rabbit ends and the boar begins.  So delicious together!”  The wide pappardelle noodle was a perfect choice with this ragu, bringing so much flavour to the mouth with each bite.  If I had the talent to make this dish at home it would appear regularly on my dining table.  La Pentola makes their pasta in house so you can count on it to be fresh and excellent.  A dish this good needs an equally good wine.  The Tenuta Guado al Tasso il Bruciato, a blended red wine, did not disappoint.  It is a rich, full flavoured vibrant wine that paired very nicely with the dish from Florence.

 

 Florence | Pappardelle, Wild Boar Prosciutto and Rabbit Ragu Wine Pairing: Tenuta Guado al Tasso il Bruciato

Florence | Pappardelle, Wild Boar Prosciutto and Rabbit Ragu
Wine Pairing: Tenuta Guado al Tasso il Bruciato

 

The Veneto region is towards the north of Italy, on the Adriatic sea.  Venice and Verona are two of the tourist friendly cities of Veneto.  This region is represented on the menu by Potato Gnocchi, Braised Oxtail Ragu, Pecorino.  The oxtail ragu was the star of this dish.  Lots of flavour, accented nicely by the Pecorino.  The wine pairing was Werner Walch Saint Magdalener Schiava, a nice red similar to a Pinot Noir with hints of cherry.  I’d not tasted Pecorino before this evening and I am happy to say I very much like this cheese made from ewe’s milk.

 

 Veneta | Potato Gnocchi, Braised Oxtail Ragu, Pecorino Wine Pairing: Werner Walch Saint Magdalener Schiava

Veneta | Potato Gnocchi, Braised Oxtail Ragu, Pecorino
Wine Pairing: Werner Walch Saint Magdalener Schiava

 

Dolce is the logical conclusion to a great Italian meal.  Four different sweets appeared before me along with a sweet dessert wine.  I tried the Lemon Curd Stuffed Meringue first and loved it.  The Apricot Biscotti was warm and yummy.  A pleasing Raspberry and Rose Water Macaron was next, and my final taste experience was a Sour Cherry Gorgonzola Cheesecake.  I was initially surprised at the bold gorgonzola taste but quickly grew to like it.  I regret not noting the name of the dessert wine.  I can say it was a very suitable choice, as were all the wine pairings this evening.

 

 Dolce | Lemon Curd Stuffed Meringue, Apricot Biscotti, Raspberry and Rose Water Macaron, Sour Cherry Gorgonzola Cheesecake

Dolce | Lemon Curd Stuffed Meringue, Apricot Biscotti, Raspberry and Rose Water Macaron, Sour Cherry Gorgonzola Cheesecake

 

The six courses of this Sunday Supper Series were served over a comfortable three hours.  Our servers were well informed about the food and wine choices and were happy to share that information.  The theme of the supper series is different each month.  Prepare yourself for a variety of interesting courses that will leave you satisfied and full, with or without wine pairings.  La Pentola sources vegetables and meats locally and imports olive oils and prosciutto from Italy.

 

La Pentola is located in the Opus Hotel, 350 Davie Street near Hamilton.  The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Don’t drink and drive, plan ahead.  Bus, taxi and skytrain are all nearby.

 

La Pentola & Opus Hotel