Allow me to run my own little awards corner in this Golden Plates edition of the Straight.
We’ll call it the Golden Glasses, and it’ll be a ridiculously arbitrary, subjective quartet of the city’s best wine pairings, at least according to this writer.
Best brunch and tumble
Though some may consider it something for a little later in the day, I have no issues tucking into a steaming dish of pasta when brunching. I’m particularly prone to do so when it’s chef Jean-Christophe Poirier’s tagliolini alla carbonara and poached egg at Railtown’s cozy Ask for Luigi (305 Alexander Street).
I’m no expert on the subject, but wherever I am, if there’s a carbonara on the menu, I’m going to order it, and Poirier’s is my favourite one yet, a pitch-perfect rendition made with house-made pasta, perfectly balanced with pancetta, a soft-poached egg, plenty of pepper, and then a flurry of Parmesan cheese atop all of that goodness. Perfectly suited to the pasta (and brunch) is Leone de Castris 2015 “Five Roses” Negroamaro out of Salento, Italy ($12.50 per glass).
It’s a fresh and crisp rosé with an assortment of red and dark berries; house style has it being served in a tumbler, which suits its crushability very well. It’ll lap up all that salty goodness in the pasta, leaving you bright and ready for each forkful that follows.
Best thinking out of the box
Over in Kerrisdale, James Iranzad and Josh Pape’s (Wildebeest, Lucky Taco) Pizzeria Bufala (5395 West Boulevard) has been packing ’em in since opening in the summer of 2014. Although can’t-miss starters like burrata with pear, honey, and basil are a must for setting the scene, it’s the Napolitana-style pizzas out of their stone oven that regularly cause lineups.
While it’s tempting to order one and keep it to yourself, do round up a crew of pals so a variety can be shared. The green peas and ham version, with smoked ham, English peas, Taleggio, and truffle oil, is a personal favourite, but I’ve also never met a finocchiona (fennel sausage) pizza I didn’t like.
A fun exclusive that Iranzad has lined up with local importer Sedimentary Wines is a three-litre bag-in-box of Cirelli Montepulciano 2015 from Abruzzo, Italy ($9 per glass). This organic wonder bursts with fresh berries and herbs, and the packaging ensures that each glass poured is as fresh as can be.
Best controlled chaos
Chef Trevor Bird’s Fable Kitchen (1944 West 4th Avenue) has been walking the walk of farm-to-table cuisine since opening its doors in Kitsilano almost five years ago. A constant hit on the menu—in fact, it’s practically criminal to have a Fable experience without it—is what Bird has dubbed “the Best ‘Canned Tuna’ ”.
This starter involves a sealed Mason jar packed with albacore tuna, lemon marmalade, fingerling potatoes, tomato confit, tarragon, and olive oil; it’s quite the flavour bomb. Mashed all together and then dolloped upon a side of crostini, it’s quite addictive and its popularity is quickly obvious.
Do up the ante with SOAHC Estate Wines Chardonnay 2015 ($12 per glass), a biodynamic gem hailing from Fruitvale in British Columbia’s West Kootenay region. Along with French biodynamic farming consultant Philippe Armenier and Alain Sutre, a winemaking consultant out of Bordeaux, owner-winemaker Jamie Fochuk has quietly been making some of the most fascinating wines in B.C. of late.
This Chardonnay has waves of apples and citrus fruit crashing down on a nutty, mineral undercurrent; plenty of stuff going on to complement all of those flavours sailing across your palate. Oh, and the name SOAHC? It’s chaos spelled backwards, a nod to the marvels of biodynamic farming.
Best culture clash
How does an Indian-style, vegetarian pizza served with B.C. wine in Chinatown sound? Since opening this past autumn, Main Street’s plant-based pizza joint, Virtuous Pie (583 Main Street), has become a constant in my life.
Hey, I’m an omnivore, but I’m outright smitten with their offerings, from $4 mouthwatering side salads—roast butternut squash, roast parsnip, kale, shaved Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, and roasted pumpkin seeds, with miso-tahini-orange vinaigrette, is just one example—to the creative array of pizzas that are in your hands within six minutes of ordering.
My favourite of the moment is the India-inspired Curry Mile, with butter chickpea curry, mint raita, roasted cashews, mango chutney, and pea shoots. Bring a little West Coast flavour to the mix by accompanying it with Okanagan Crush Pad’s Haywire 2015 Pinot Gris ($8 per glass—or just $6 per glass during weekday happy hours, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.), a fantastic British Columbian wine served fresh on tap.
All of its lime, grapefruit, and herbal notes provide a fantastic lift to each bite.