Yaletown

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
 
 

Lobster Fest at Provence Marinaside by Jenn Chan

Provence Marinaside

 

The Marinaside area of Vancouver is one of the most breathtaking communities in the city! The yachts, the seawall, the posh restaurants and the ultra luxury condos and townhouses. Poshest amongst the eateries is the decadent Provence Marinaside. 

 

Our experience starts, at Wine Director Josh's recommendation, with a nice, light 2016 La Beyssannette Rosé from, perhaps not coincidentally, the Provence region of France. A very pale pink with notes of strawberry and citrus that compliments, but doesn't overpower the vintage. Delicious! Out pops an amuse bouche from Chef Jean-Francis Quagua halfway through our first sips, perfect timing. The baby shrimp salsa pops with a fresh vegetable burst and the shrimp is perfectly cooked and as fresh as if they pulled it from the Pacific Ocean which lies a mere 50 feet from where we sit.

 

Lobster Fest Menu

Lobster Fest Menu

Amuse Bouche - Shrimp Salsa

Amuse Bouche - Shrimp Salsa

 

Lobster bisque is good. It's universally accepted. Paired with the 2014 Pinot Gris from the Okanagan's Kettle Valley winery it elevates it even further. The richness of the soup is neutralized perfectly by the acidity in the wine. A bite of lobster with a heavy spoonful of broth and chase it down with a sip of wine. You'll thank me! Emmenthal cheese has just recently come onto my radar, even a foodie misses some things, and it is good. Try melting it with Dijon, shallots and mushrooms then adding Atlantic lobster. It is a revelation. Again the sommelier reached into the Okanagan Valley for his pairing; the 2008 Summerhill Cipes Blanc de Noirs. If I had Josh in my employ I would have him pair my morning Cheerios, wine is life!

 

Lobster Bisque + Baked Lobster Thermidor
LOBSTER BISQUE | grapefruit chantilly cream Wine Pairing: Kettle Valley Pinot Gris 2014 Okanagan, BC

LOBSTER BISQUE | grapefruit chantilly cream
Wine Pairing: Kettle Valley Pinot Gris 2014 Okanagan, BC

BAKED LOBSTER THERMIDOR | creamy dijon, shallot and mushroom sauce with emmenthal cheese Wine Pairing: Summerhill Cipes Blanc de Noirs 2008 Okanagan, BC

BAKED LOBSTER THERMIDOR | creamy dijon, shallot and mushroom sauce with emmenthal cheese
Wine Pairing: Summerhill Cipes Blanc de Noirs 2008 Okanagan, BC

 

There's a reason that lobster is expensive. It's a similar reason that Maseratis are expensive. Demand. The flavour of a good lobster, drenched in molten butter, cannot be easily described. The performance and hand made detailing in a Maserati is likewise difficult to articulate and, as such, the demand is high so the price follows in lockstep. We ordered the Whole Lobster Gratin and Whole Atlantic Lobster and did not, for one second, regret our choices. The gratin offering is paired with the delicious Angels & Cowboys Rosé from Sonoma County and the latter with the eclectic 2014 Reichsrat von Buhl Spatburgunder Rosé Trocken from Germany. When a sommelier drops off a glass of wine and can't explain its bouquet or highlights, especially one as talented as Josh, it will make you curious. The German wine is quite nice, but certainly difficult to put a finger on. It did; however, pair extraordinarily with the lobster and helped propel it into a fine dining category that few eateries in Vancouver match. The Sonoma wine melded with the smoked tomato infused gratin lobster and it was probably my favourite of the two, but, like a doting parent, I hate to play favourites.

 

WHOLE ATLANTIC LOBSTER | sautéed provençal style, seasonal vegetables, seven grain rice Wine Pairing: Reichsrat von Buhl Spatburgunder Rosé Trocken 2014 Pfalz, Germany

WHOLE ATLANTIC LOBSTER | sautéed provençal style, seasonal vegetables, seven grain rice
Wine Pairing: Reichsrat von Buhl Spatburgunder Rosé Trocken 2014 Pfalz, Germany

WHOLE LOBSTER GRATIN | smoked tomato, corn, wilted spinach, forbidden rice Wine Pairing: Angels & Cowboys Rosé 2016 Sonoma County, California

WHOLE LOBSTER GRATIN | smoked tomato, corn, wilted spinach, forbidden rice
Wine Pairing: Angels & Cowboys Rosé 2016 Sonoma County, California

 

Something about rhubarb takes me back to childhood. I remember picking it in our yard as a very small child and washing it like mom had showed me and sprinkling a bit of sugar on it and going to town. Mama's little baby also loved shortcake, shortcake. Provence's strawberry and rhubarb shortcake elicited a gasp as it arrived at our table. The perfect combination of sweet and tart and the shortbread was so fresh and flaky! Paired with my first experience with a late harvest merlot, the Paradise Ranch Merlot Ice Wine from the venerable Okanagan Valley. Delicious! Even if you have just came from dinner you can still spoil yourself with an amazing dessert at Provence! Service is a near perfect 9/10, only to give them something to strive for, and ambience is a perfect 10. Full stop. Treat yourself to one of the best restaurant in vancouver!

 

BC STRAWBERRY AND RHUBARB SHORTCAKE | basil agave chantilly Wine Pairing Paradise Ranch Merlot Ice Wine 2013 Okangan, BC

BC STRAWBERRY AND RHUBARB SHORTCAKE | basil agave chantilly
Wine Pairing Paradise Ranch Merlot Ice Wine 2013 Okangan, BC

Provence Marinaside
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Spot Prawn Series: Provence Marinaside by Jenn Chan

Provence Marinaside


The first thing you notice about Provence Marinaside, after you've been able to pull your gaze away from the Quayside Marina and it's wonderfully eclectic waterfront to actually make your way through the grand entryway, is the long, long row of wine taps. The most wine options, by the glass, in Vancouver for sure.  Rumour has it Canada as well. My research to look into comparisons touts it to perhaps have the most in North America; over 140 different wine choices!  If you are a wine lover, as I am, you could spend some considerable time at Provence!

 

Provence Marinaside Spot Prawn Menu
Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche


To start we indulged in the Grilled Spot Prawns on a bed of arugula and frisée salad, gem tomatoes with a truffle vinaigrette.  It was paired masterfully with an Unsworth Allegro 2014 from the Cowichan Valley and the dish was near perfect.  The spot prawns were fresh to within minutes, the salad was crisp and the ingredients magnificently fresh. We also ordered the Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with avocado and spot prawns which was paired with the Fairview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc from BC's pristine Okanagan Valley. 

 

Grill Spot Prawns paired with Unsworth Allegro

Grill Spot Prawns paired with Unsworth Allegro

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho paired with Fairview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho paired with Fairview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc


Our mains arrived and the presentation was incredible! BC Spot Prawn Duo Grilled & Provençal Style with tagliatelle and zucchini ribbons which tossed in extra virgin olive oil.  The Provence sommelier chose a Road 13 Stemwinder, again from the Okanagan Valley, to pair with it.  The tagliatelle was very fresh, we aren't talking pasta from a box here, it was a near perfect 10/10.  Both iterations of the Spot Prawn were amazing and they soon disappeared.  I ordered the Halibut & BC Spot Prawns and the dish arrived with beautiful yellow tomatoes and purple potatoes in a preserved lemon vinaigrette. The Le Vieux Pin Rosé from the Black Sage Bench region of the Okanagan Valley was the pairing and it made the halibut melt in my mouth. The fish was perfectly cooked and the spot prawns incredibly fresh.  I am beginning to think there isn't a dish served at Provence that isn't near perfect.

 

Spot Prawn Entree
BC Spot Prawn Duo Grilled and Provençal Style

BC Spot Prawn Duo Grilled and Provençal Style

Halibut and BC Spot Prawns, paired with Le Vieux Pin Rose

Halibut and BC Spot Prawns, paired with Le Vieux Pin Rose



Near bursting, but needing photos of a dessert to complete our mission, our affable waiter talked us into the Lemon Tarte and the Berry and White Chocolate Clafoutis. The lemon tarte, my selection, reminded of my dearly departed Granny's lemon meringue pie made from scratch; truly delicious! The clafoutis was a slightly tart, subtly sweet concoction which is worth the price of admission by itself.

All the while we were seated by the window overlooking one of the most beautiful marinas in Vancouver. The star of the marina is a 115-food Hotei; a luxury yacht that once hosted Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Well heeled Yaletowner (Taletownies) pass by on their way to or from their, no doubt, incredible waterfront condo views, people watching is stupendous! The ambience, without even mentioning the incredible, simply devine, food or extensive wine options, is enough to make Provence a must go! So just go!
 

 

Dessert paired with Quails Gate Late Harvest

Dessert paired with Quails Gate Late Harvest

Berry and White Chocolate Clafoutis

Berry and White Chocolate Clafoutis

Lemon Tarte

Lemon Tarte


All the while we were seated by the window overlooking one of the most beautiful marinas in Vancouver. The star of the marina is a 115-food Hotei; a luxury yacht that once hosted Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Well heeled Yaletowner (Taletownies) pass by on their way to or from their, no doubt, incredible waterfront condo views, people watching is stupendous! The ambience, without even mentioning the incredible, simply devine, food or extensive wine options, is enough to make Provence a must go! So just go!
 

Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan