While I love cooking, sometimes the time and energy required don’t jibe with my evening. Sure, I love dining out—but that obviously gets pricey if it happens too often. I find that as the winter months approach, I’m more likely to get some takeout on the way home and pour a little something to go with it.
It’s hard to believe that only a few years ago, there was hardly any authentic Mexican food in Vancouver. Now we’re blessed with the likes of Tacofino, La Casita, La Mezcaleria, and La Taquería (various locations). One of the first to hit town as part of a new wave of real Mexican, La Taquería is super casual, the food’s good for you, and I’m always impressed with how quickly your order arrives. Personal-favourite tacos are the Al Pastor (pork marinated in achiote chili with pineapple) and the fresh and lively Pescado (zarandeado fish with chipotle mayo, radish, and pepitas). Yeah, some wines go quite well with these (think bright and citrusy, like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Portuguese Vinho Verde), but I can’t help but have a hankering for beer—something citrusy, with a good dose of hoppiness to punctuate things, but nothing too heavy or boozy. Central City Red Racer India Session Ale ($16.99 for 12 355-millilitre cans, B.C. Liquor Stores), at a mere four percent alcohol, continues to be my favourite of all the local session ales I’ve tried; some definite hoppy character is driven by fresh lime, lemongrass, and a little flintiness on the finish.
Before Nuba (various locations) became popular in Vancouver, I couldn’t even tell you a thing about Lebanese cuisine. Now I know Nuba’s homespun, healthy, and natural fare like the back of my hand and am constantly singing the praises of their falafel, baba ganoush, hummus, lamb kibbeh, and halloumi cheese. Oh, and don’t get me started on Najib’s Special (crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, served with tahini)—it’s an absolute must. Just as Tuscan wines are a great match for Tuscan food, let’s stay right in Lebanon with the country’s best-known winery and pour ourselves a big glass of Château Musar 2013 Jeune White (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon; $23 and up, private liquor stores). Equal-ish parts Viognier, Vermentino, and Chardonnay, it has enough body and richness to carry all of those flavours, with plenty of juicy grapefruit and orange-blossom notes to keep ’em aloft.
Pizzeria Farina (915 Main Street) is my local, and even though I get their Neapolitan-style pies on a regular basis, I’ve yet to tire of them. My go-to is the Funghi (mushrooms, mozzarella, Parmesan, red onion, garlic, and arugula). It might not be too adventurous of me, but I like to stay in Italy, in this case heading on down to Sicily for Planeta 2013 Cerasuolo di Vittoria ($28 and up, private liquor stores). This is a softer red, roughly the structure of a medium-bodied Pinot Noir, made from two indigenous varieties: Nero d’Avola and Frappato. The former brings darker fruit, white truffle, and dried black olive notes, while the latter offers cheery red fruit with a smattering of baking spices. A lighter wine with a lot of charisma, it’s highly recommended.
I know, I know—we all have our favourite sushi spots. Tsuki Sushi Bar (509 Abbott Street) checks all the boxes for me: it’s close to my office, the sushi is incredibly fresh, it has a focus on sustainable seafood (as part of the Ocean Wise program), and it offers a full vegetarian menu and delivery! Some say it’s hard to pair wine with sushi; I say it’s not so tough when you have a kick-ass dry Riesling at hand. Charles Smith 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Washington state; $21.49, B.C. Liquor Stores) is a perennial favourite, gleaming with Meyer lemon, key lime, pomelo, mandarin orange, and shimmering minerality. As added encouragement, if you grab it before Halloween, it’s $2 off.
Finally, congratulations are in order for Meat & Bread (various locations) on this month being their fifth anniversary. While you can get a perfectly gooey grilled cheese sandwich or a hearty soup-and-salad combo, I think it’s a crime to leave the premises without their signature porchetta sandwich: perfectly rolled pork roast with crackling, salsa verde, and a healthy lashing of mustard. Wash down all of that salty goodness with a dry pink wine like Bodegas Olivares 2014 Jumilla Rosado (Jumilla, Spain; $11.29, B.C. Liquor Stores), a blend of Monastrell and Syrah with a dizzying amount of dark currants, blackberries, raspberries, and spice.
Any great takeout pairings I’ve missed? Follow me on Twitter @KurtisKolt and let me know!