Interactive Mondays at Casel Marche

>> Thursday, April 19, 2012


After several months of back and forth through email with the organizers of Interactive Mondays at Casel Marche, I was finally able to get a hold of my schedule and attended the event. Since I booked it in February, I would see it every time I looked at my calendar and couldn’t wait for the date to approach, which felt like forever. Of course when I wanted the time to fly, it didn’t. So when the right Monday finally rolled around, my husband and I fought our way through downtown traffic and off to Casel Marche we went.

When we arrived, there was already a group of people at the J. Webb Wine store, the retailer that provided all our libations for the evening. They also offered several wines for tasting. Apparently this happens monthly and there are different wines featured each month. We were able to sample a 2009 Schloss Reinhartshausen German Riesling, a 2010 Domaine Serol ‘Les Originelles’ gamay from France, a 2009 Mastroberardino ‘Lacrimarosa’ aglianico rose from Italy and a Nebbiolo (which I didn’t quite catch the name of). We’re generally red wine drinkers but both my husband and I were very impressed with the Riesling and had to pick up a bottle right away.


Before we sat down for dinner we also got to tour Market 17. They were the providers of all the ingredients for our meal that night. We’re no strangers to the market, picking up items that are unique only to that location, also for some Sidewalk Citizen baked goods and Vie CafĂ© treats. We learned that they’re also willing to bring in items on specialty order. So if you’re looking for a specific ingredient and can’t seem to find it anywhere, check out Market 17. They might just solve that hankering for pickled harissa smoked jellyfish (if that is your thing).

Pierre Lamielle author of Kitchen Scraps (I highly recommend his cookbook, great fun to read) was the guest chef that evening and prepared us a wonderful meal, which we got to enjoy in Cassis Bistro’s dining area (for those who haven’t been to Cassis, don’t wait…run there and order the Paris Brest dessert if its available). The meal consisted of 3 courses showcasing the spring season. The first course was a light Fennel Apple Radish Salad with blue cheese dressing. Everybody agreed that it was refreshing and tasty. It had the perfect hint of blue cheese taste without overwhelming the palate, which I find is often the case with such a strong cheese. The natural marriage of apple and fennel brought forth both sweet and earthy flavours, all of which were accented by the crisp radishes.


Our second course was termed a Green Risotto, topped with savory ratatouille. After hearing Chef Pierre described the dish, I learned that the green was obtained from extracting the chlorophyll from the parsley and mixing it in to the base of the risotto. It provided a slight hint of herbaceousness to the base of the risotto where all the flavours just built on top. The rice was cooked al dente and provided that much needed texture against the creamy sauce, while the ratatouille gave the dish a salty character. I soon realized that each perfect spoonful had to include a bit of the tasty ratatouille.

Dessert was a smooth and silky Avocado Panna Cotta, topped with a tangy lemon syrup. The tartness of the lemon was a distinct contrast against the buttery avocado, which brought the dessert to new heights. Without the lemon it would have been similar to other panna cottas, soft and rich. However the lemon added the needed kick, preventing the dessert from being overly sweet and had me craving for more.


As an encore to dessert, we were also treated with Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars and Organic Chocolate from the market. I made a mental note to pick up a couple of each as we were sampling them. Dark chocolate with quinoa, orange dark chocolate and mint dark chocolate, who can say no to any of those?

Aside from the wines we started with at the beginning of the night. J.Webb also paired our meal with a La Vis Storie Di Vite Pinot Grigio. It was clean and crisp with hints of pears and grass. The PinoG complimented the risotto nicely, refreshing the palate after every bite, so I could enjoy each spoonful like I did the first. It also highlighted the other dishes we tried that evening as well, since they were all lighter akin to the spring season.


At the end of the meal, we were introduced to the different partners that own and operate Casel Marche and we were allowed to purchase products offered by each of the vendors at a discounted price. I meant to pick up a list of items (mentally adding to it as the evening went on). However we got a bit sidetracked chatting with the owners, learning about their backgrounds and what led them to pursue this venture. It was a neat story indeed. It’s refreshing to meet people who have a passion for what they do and understand the value they’re bringing to both the community and this city. It wasn’t my first time at Casel Marche and after meeting the individuals behind such an innovative concept, hearing their stories and experiencing the hospitality, it definitely won’t be my last (I still need to pick up that list of items)!

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