Apr 9, 2011

Wine Flight with a twist!

By Andrea Doucet Donida

Ok, here it is: my first blog entry for Montreal for Insiders!

The question was what to write about: because there are so many new and interesting things happening all the time in this city… That was my dilemma; until I thought about a really tasty experience I had a few weeks ago. For me, it represents what Montreal for Insiders can also bring to the blogosphere, information that can completely change the view one had on a particular place and inspire them to go back and experience it differently.

I’m talking about a new concept launched at Newtown, called “Wine Flight”, a wine pairing exercise with a twist: Wines are first selected from one region of the world by the sommelier, the talented James Graham-Simpkins, and then, a 4-course meal is created around those wines.

Before you judge too hastily my taste in restaurants, let me put things into perspective. Yes, Newtown was founded by Jacques Villeneuve, the car racer, and food was not the main attraction then. And yes, Crescent Street still pulsates during the Formula 1 weekend, but a lot has changed since the place was acquired by new owners. And it starts with the kitchen. First it got a breath of fresh air two years ago with the now celeb trio Chef Marc-André Jetté, Chef Patrice Demers and Sommelière Marie-Josée Beaudoin who brought the new market cuisine to the place. They have now opened their own restaurant Les 400 Coups, one of my personal favorites.

This led the way for Chef Martin Juneau to take the reins of the Newtown trajectory. He is the talent behind La Montée restaurant and he is the new 2011 Canadian Culinary Champion recipient of the Gold Medal Plates last month! Pretty impressive, don’t you think?

So now you can imagine my excitement when I received an invitation to this new “Wine Flight” concept with Martin Juneau freshly back from his victory, ready to take on sommelier James Graham-Simpkins choice of the Piedmont region in Italy as the culinary destination.

The expectations were high; there was no room for error. So I’m happy to report that the whole evening was a series of savoury and surprising plates and pairings, discovering wines and even grape varieties (have you heard of the very floral red Ruché from Piedmont?) making this event a delightful and memorable one.

Since Wine Flight visits different regions of the world each time and offers new menus, the plates savoured then were a one-time experience, making each event, unique. I have to mention however the charming and fresh handmade grissini with gremolata, confit lemon and cured duck breast paired with Gavi Fontanafredda 2009, perfect to start the evening and open up the appetite.

The dessert also deserves a special mention: the wonderful mascarpone yoghurt & Marsala, hazelnut, pear and orange was exceptional, light yet scrumptious and outside the beaten path, perfectly paired with the Mosacato d’Asti ‘’Bricco Quaglia’’ La Spinetta 2009.

photo Julia C. Vona.

The only disappointment was the coffee-chocolate mousse that was served at the end, too cold and the coffee didn’t taste very good, a bitter note that had better been forgotten. Below you can peruse the complete menu served.

The evening ended with a quick tour of the kitchen with Chef Martin Juneau, showing off the state of the art Newtown Kitchen (a fortunate legacy from Jacques Villeneuve).

So if you are in the mood to visit new regions of the world without leaving Montreal, you can safely reserve your seat at the upcoming Wine Flight at Newtown. The talented duo Martin Juneau and James Graham-Simkins will fly you there and back with enchanting pairings and culinary explorations.

Have a good flight!

Wine Flight evenings occur twice a month, on the first Tuesday and third Wednesday of every month.

Next departure
April 5th. Destination : Alsace in France
April 19th. Destination: Loire in France
Ticket: 75$ for a 4 course meal with 4 wine pairing
+ 20$ for dessert or cheese with wine

1476 Crescent Street
514 284 6555
PS: The restaurant is on the second floor!

More photos of this evening on Newtown's Facebook Page.

The Menu:
PROSCIUTTO STYLE CURED DUCK BREAST Gremolata & confit lemon grissinis // GAVI Fontanafredda 2009
«AGNELLO TONATO» Lamb loin cooked sous-vide & marinated albacore tuna, fingerling potatos à la «piémontaise » //RUCHÉ DI CASTAGNOLE MONFERRATO Cascina Tavijn 2009
BAROLO BRAISED NATURAL BEEF CHEEK Agnolotti, anchovy butter & olives //DOLCETTO D’ALBA ‘’Priavino’’ Roberto Voerzio 2008
MASCARPONE YOGHURT CREAM & MARSALA Hazelnut, pear & orange //MOSCATO D’ASTI ‘’Bricco Quaglia’’ La Spinetta 2009
« BICERIN » Hot chocolate & espresso mousse

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