Food & Wine – Baccano and Culmina

New Restaurant & Winery Review:20150718_173950Sometimes it’s nice to be among the first to try a new restaurant and sometimes it’s best to wait because they’re still ironing out the kinks. The latter wasn’t the case with the new Italian restaurant Baccano Osteria which was formerly known as “Smoking Dog.” The evening went very smoothly and the friendly service was excellent even if my server didn’t know all the pasta shapes I kept asking about from the menu.  I was among the first people to show up for their soft opening last Saturday having spent the last few months walking by on my way to the gym, talking to owners (Cal & Patrick Corsi of Quattro) and observing their day to day progress.  And anxious to try a good casual Italian place in my Kitsilano neighbourhood with an inviting outdoor space.  Here is what we ordered:

A glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to start (not very Italian but it was hot out).

The bread is made on site and because of that it’s very fresh, nice & crusty.

20150718_180734Jumping ahead to Secondi: Garganelli Spinci with swiss chard, spinach, shallot, butter, pecorino pepate, bread crumbs (very Italian, rich and satisfying).  I would order this one again.

Also tried Due di Maiale – Citrus scented pork belly & grilled pork loin with crispy pancetta, spring peas, faro and pork demi. The belly was more tender and it was a good dish if you love pork but I was not totally crazy about the veggies because I don’t love peas.20150718_185409

Dessert: I had a tough time making up my mind between 3 out of 4 desserts on the menu. I ended up going with Torta al Cioccolato (translation – Chocolate Torte, ha).  Dark chocolate mousse, amarena cherries, licorice creameaux (this sounds more French), panettone cake.   I like this better than regular chocolate mousse because it is a lot denser. In short – rich and decadent – just the way I like it!  I promised to be back before too long and I will keep my promise. Plus, I have to try the other three desserts.

A short while before dinner:

I had the opportunity to try a special wine tasting at Village Wines (a few doors away).  Don Triggs of “THE Jackson Triggs” was pouring wines from his new winery Culmina which is located in Oliver, British Columbia in the Okanagan wine region.

Don holds up the bottle of R&D (for Ron & Don)
Don holds up a bottle of R&D

With a little help from famous winemaker Pascal Madevon (of Osoyoos Larose fame), Triggs has placed an emphasis on pure quality with these wines. The label is already picking up accolades left and right and already selling like crazy.  Legendary tastings such as this one only happen once in a blue moon. He has a lot of stories as you can only imagine and was going fishing after the tasting with his twin brother Ron (on the R&D wine label with him – looks like photo was taken a few years ago).

Here is what we sampled:

Decora – Decora, which by the way is latin for pretty, accurately summarizes this straight Riesling. Perfectly balancing soft acidity with bold, bright fruit flavour, it’s a work of art.

Saignee – Sure, this is a delicious dry Rosé, blended from Bordeaux varietals and displaying unprecedented complexity, but what’s got people talking is its glass cork. Is a cork still called a cork if it’s not made of cork? Focus! This is Culmina’s hottest seller so far, and it’s easy to see why.

R&D – We trust Don Triggs with a big red blend, so we were excited to try this one, which wasn’t around for Culmina’s first vintage. A little more casual in its presentation, it’s Merlot-dominant, rich but smooth.  I purchased a bottle.

Hypothesis – This Meritage is one of the many reasons we trust Don with a big red blend! Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon are handled perfectly here, bringing out as much fruit and spice as possible while remaining finely tannic. In other words, is about as good as a BC red gets.

What a wonderful ending to a sunny Saturday after a nice bike ride over to Folk Fest.  Love days like this.

Baccano Osteria: 1889 West 1st Ave. (at Cypress) PH: 778-379-6920

Culmina Family Estate Winery

To purchase in Vancouver: Village VQA Wines – 1811 West 1st Ave. PH: 604-732-8827