Comfortable? Hungry? OK, here we go.
Bocata is an inviting wine bar serving Mediterranean-inspired plates to share. Tucked at the intersection of two small streets, it is an intimate and comforting hideaway from the emblematic wind/cold/rain/cold/slush of our oh-so-charming Canadian springs.
Having heard that they do wine events on Thursday evenings, mother and I showed up…on Friday. Still, Roberto the owner and Michel the sommelier, were more than happy to accommodate us. While we comforted ourselves with a Cava rosado (Joseph Forester, fruity and fresh), they swiftly concocted our culinary adventure for the night. A four-course tasting; I was accountable only to my stomach from this point on.
First came the 2011 Pheasant’s Tears Chinuri, an amber wine from Georgia. With grapes left in contact with the skins during fermentation, it had rather aggressive tannin. Perfect for a pairing with fat and salt, Michel followed suite with a plate of bruschetta & pata negra.
La Pata Negra. A true Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, it had beautiful clear lines of intramuscular fat and a delightfully smooth texture. Wondering how it could be so thinly sliced without breaking apart, I learned that the secret lay in Bocata’s newly acquired slicer. With parts manufactured by none other than Ferrari, the machine allows full control of the cut without creating heat or friction that could damage the meat. Serious business indeed.
As for the bruschetta, it came as a well-balance contrast to the cured ham’s richness. Its crisp tomatoes base brought in a subtle smell of garlic, it had hint of salt here and there, and it was oh-so-pleasant to bite into.
The next duo featured a red mullet salad and a Chardonnay Mâcon Bussières. From the south of Burgundy, this Domaine de la Saraziniàre carried a freshness and mineral notes that complemented the fish well.
And what a fish it was! Served at room temperature, it was displayed with a beautiful sandy rose-stripped dress. Firm, it was embellished by delicate roasted pine nuts. But that’s not all. The real wow came from the side crouton, served with the homemade rouille. A mayonnaise-thickened spread with a pinch of saffron, it was an explosion of pure garlic goodness. Without exaggerating, I can honestly say I still dream about it.
Cheese with red wine? Yes and how! Burrata doesn’t taste like much, but it has a unique texture, solid on the outside and creamy on the inside. Covered in a blanket of roasted mushrooms (Girolle, King Eryngii and Oyster) and sitting on a bed of ”balsamic & veal stock warm condiment vinaigrette,” it was simply delightful.
The Brunello was exquisite. Earthy, with an underlying note of spice and blond tobacco, it embodied everything that is picturesque about Tuscany. Whatever was in that barrel during those six years of mandatory aging, it rocked my socks.
Finally, the plat de resistance made its entrance: the bourguignon-braised flatiron. Ornamented with parsnip chips, Paris mushroom and grelot onion, it was tender to perfection. It was presented with a beautiful Bordelais, the name of which I’m afraid I can’t recall. Sadly, my scribbles resembled contemporary art more than actual writing at that point of the night…
Mother and I, well fed and more than content, were about to order our allongé when… surprise, surprise, there was still a pairing left for dessert! Michel introduced us to the Banyuls, pronounced ‘’Beeñññulzzz’’, a lightly fortified wine aged in basket-wrapped glass containers. A sweet and fruity wine, it complemented the decadent chocolat-fondant-with-homemade-vanilla-&-chestnut-ice-cream-and-crunchy-almond-flakes-on-the-side.
All in all, Bocata was an incredible celebration of Mediterranean cuisine. A definite must for any self-respecting gourmet gourmand.