I received an invitation from Trudeau to a natural wine tasting event held a week ago at Pastaga, the lovely Little Italy restaurant owned by chefs Martin Juneau and Louis-Philippe Breton. It was my first time visiting the restaurant which almost has been open for a year now.
The restaurant looks beautiful with its mix of modern design and many types of wood. It feels classy without having to dress up for dinner!
Since I was part of the first guests arriving, I got a warm welcome from Jessica Harnois who is the president of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers and was also our host for the evening. Once I got seated, I realized the wine tasting wasn’t going to be as serious as what I’ve gotten used to seeing the poker chips, game boards and guides on each tables.
Once the group was complete, Jessica introduced herself and her brilliant entrepreneur idea VEGAS. Think about a mix of poker, blind tasting and wine lovers… yup that sounds like a blast and it was! It was also very stressful at first to try and guess what type of taste profile, region or year the wine had especially in a crowd mixed with simple foodies (myself) but also professionals!
We got started with two rounds of practice while tasting two lovely white wines, a Lison Pramaggiore from Italy and a Viognier from Ardèche, France. Frankly, I got all my answers wrong on both wines! But it didn’t really matter after I got to eat the amazing appetizer proposed by Martin Juneau, a plate of marinated Nova Scotia arctic char with a creamy potato salad topped with grated char jerky.
For the main course, we were served a generous piece of pork belly on top of a creamy blini. It went perfectly well with the first official game round which ended up being a Pinot Noir from Rheinhessen, Germany (what?). The only part that I got was the Pinot Noir part but considering I have never thought of Pinot Noir and Germany, it was over for me!
The dessert course was a chocolate bread pudding with a banana purée. It was once again a lovely dish but I would have preferred it warm. Still, it was perfect to end an evening generous in wine.
While we were enjoying our sweets, the last game went on with a fun prize from Trudeau to win, their Blink wine chiller. To my huge surprise, I ended up winning the game after getting a few good answers in the previous round and putting all my chips on the final question, the year! It ended up being a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from Vallagarina, Italy. Not bad, eh?!
I’d like to thank Jessica Harnois, Trudeau and Pastaga for a delicious evening and genuine fun and laughs! Look out for VEGAS in the future, for someone who runs away from any type of board/group games, I loved it!