The Toronto Wine Elitist Cabal ™ enjoyed a visit last weekend from friends board member Chris Koyste and Catherine from the US which began with our dinner at Auberge du Pommier, continued with the 2014 Chablis Pool Party I posted about, and ended with dinner at Paese.
Like Auberge du Pommier, Paese is another long-standing North York dining institution but goes in a completely opposite direction. It’s a more casual but still high-end Italian restaurant established 25 years ago. The cuisine is rustic Italian with a modern Canadian flair. We dined on their outdoor patio and took a different approach to the wines for this more laid-back but no less delicious dinner.
A. MARGAINE LE BRUT NV CHAMPAGNE – Michael and Jay purchased their wine contributions off of Paese’s list, starting with this. Riche style Champagne with sweet baked apple and brioche flavors. Rich entry with a tart finish to uplift it. Very nice.
BARON DE ROTHSCHILD NV CHAMPAGNE ROSE – Crisp watermelon and crabapple flavors. The bright color belies that this is also a riche style Champagne with a strong brioche entry. I was expecting a leaner style on appearance alone. Excellent as well.
BEAU FRERES 2008 THE UPPER TERRACE PINOT NOIR – Chris brought this well-aged Pinot from Oregon. Strong rubber nose leads into sweet black cherry and sweet graphite flavors. Quite smooth in texture, too. This is in a really good place.
SEAVY 1994 NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON – The second of Chris’ contribution, this was utterly delicious and went extremely well with the food. Classic and still powerful Cabernet red stone fruit flavors with a hint of eucalyptus. No signs of TCA on this one.
FEILER-ARTINGER 2010 RUSTER AUSBRUCH – Ruster Aubruch is an Austrian sweet wine that falls in between Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese and is rarely seen on our North American shores. This one was a cuvee of botrytised Chardonnay and Muscat. This was insanely good and easily on par with a Kracher, the best TBAs to come out of Austria. Intensely honey sweet white peach, kumquat and apricot flavors are balanced by blazing and I mean blazing high acidity that left us all awestruck right off the bat. Much higher than any TBA I can ever recall including many of the finest Krachers I’ve had. Finish goes on and on and on and never loses its perfect balance. My God but this was good. I immediately felt awful that I had but one mere bottle of this nectar of the gods and it was now gone. Ah well, at least we all got to experience it.
Our meal began with the lovely Ava bringing us an amouse bouche of Focaccia with Bruschetta dressing on the side.
We followed this up with a trio of appetizers. I ordered the Cavolo Nero, a fresh kale salad dressed with farro, golden raisins, pine nuts, pecorino cheese, and red wine vinaigrette:
Jay ordered the Mushroom ‘Calamari’, deep fried oyster mushroom threads served with a vegan lemon aioli on the side.
Chris ordered the Funghi pizza, which was topped with roasted mushrooms, fontina, arugula, and truffle oil. These were served with the housemade condiments on the side.
On to the mains. Jay ordered the Gallina Al Mattone, literally translation of Cornish Hen. This was plated with olive oil, rosemary, chicken jus, and roasted potatoes and asparagus spears.
Cat ordered the Bolognese Di Tacchino, a slow-cooked turkey bolognese with caserecce pasta dish.
The rest of us ordered the Scallopini Di Vitello, a veal scaloppini plated with roasted mushrooms, vegetables, potatoes, asparagus and veal jus.
Then it was on to the desserts. We started off with a uniquely presented cheese platter:
We then followed this up with some classic Coconut Cream Pie to share:
Then I had the dessert of the day, the Passion Fruit Trifle:
Jay had the Caramel Cheesecake:
Cat had the Apple Crostata:
And Michael and Chris each had a steamed pudding:
This was a fabulous meal and it was in many ways to me actually a more enjoyable experience that our previous night at the esteemed Auberge du Pommier. TWEC ™ looks very forward to returning to Paese in the near future.