This was my second attendance at a BonVida collaboration, held at Candela Lounge. The evening entailed a four course dinner paired with Tuscan wines from two wine estates. Our host was Mark Bata, a partner at BonVida, and guest speaker, Mirco Biliorsi, the export manager of Borgo Scopeto in Chianti Classico and Caparzo in Montalcino.
Guests were ushered into Candela’s lovely private room. Hanging over the dining table were a cluster of gold lamp balls. One side of the room, the windows look out onto the action on 4th Street, while the other side offers guests a view directly into the kitchen.
Our server, Lauren, was adept at putting guests at ease. I felt like I was dining at a friend’s house as she chatted me up and poured me a glass of sparkling wine. While guests sipped on their bubbly, we received several hors d’oeuvres. My favourite was arrancini with tomato garlic sugo. The exterior of the arrancini was crunchy, while the inside was warm and creamy.
During the first course, Biliorsi, who is in charge of international sales and exports for historic wineries, discussed the location and history of the wineries. I was one of the lucky guests who snagged a seat next to Biliorsi, whom I found to be an interesting and engaging conversationalist.
The first course was Squab with Sour Cherry Glaze, Balsamic Chicken Livers and Roasted Yam Cake, paired with a glass of Caparzo Sangiovese IGT Toscana (2011). I never tried liver before, but if it always taste like the way it was prepared by Candela, I’m a fan. The liver was soft and rich in flavour. The cherries went well with both meats, juicy with a balance of sour and sweet.
The second course was Frankenpork, Tenderloin, Pork Belly, Serrano Ham and a White Bean Salsa, paired with Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico DOCG (2010). The pork tenderloin was cooked so that it was tender and juicy, stuffed with pork belly and wrapped with serrano ham. I was surprised at the generous portions of all the courses.
The third course was Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shank, Green Chermoula Risotto and Vegetable Tagine, paired with Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (2008). This was my favourite dish and wine of the night. The serving of lamb was massive. The girls sitting next to me giggled and said it was a Fred Flintstone portion. I learned that the lamb was given a dry rub and braised for six hours at a low temperature, which allowed the moisture to stay in the meat. I like mixing all the items together, as it made for a good contrast of textures. The risotto was creamy, the vegetable tangine was crunchy and the lamb was so soft.
The four course was Dark Chocolate Tart with Raspberry and Vanilla Ice-Cream, paired with Nouvella Picante, an espresso dessert cocktail. I noticed my neighbour’s martini glass was more full. Being the kind soul she is, she gladly switched glasses with me. In return, I gave her my chocolate tart as I was too full to eat dessert. However, I did have room for more liquid gold. Cold, creamy with the strong flavour of espresso, I was in heaven. It was so good, I asked for the recipe. The martini is Candela’s take on tiramisu, and contains espresso, amaretto, frangelico, chocolate and chili, topped with whipping cream that is sweetened with maple syrup.
What I really like about this event was that I was exposed to a variety of wines that are outside my day to day comfort level and budget. Add in the lovely people I met, it makes this a value packed and fun night. Tickets to the BonVida and Candela Collaboration were $100.00, plus tax and gratuity.