Dinner with Friends
Small plates with big flavour matched with vino.
The lamb meatballs
Photograph by Caroline Barlott
Entering the small space of Tzin Wine and Tapas is like visiting a friend’s house and sitting in the kitchen. There are just a few tables and an open kitchen, so you can see the chefs creating the appetizers you’re about to eat. The menu features descriptions of little bites, along with coloured dots indicating which wines would best pair with each of the different tapas.
The menu changes every few months. The grilled scallops and the eggplant are on it the day we’re there. We order them to start, and a half glass of the Sequana Santa Lucia Pinot Noir. The scallops come on top of a bed of thinly sliced golden and red beets, and the balsamic taste of the vegetables also permeates the soft scallops. The second dish is a special that sees spongy eggplant accompanied by quinoa, mushrooms and arugula, with tomato chutney on top of the three slices. The slightly bitter arugula adds kick to the nutty quinoa.
Next, we get the warm wild mushroom and spinach tart, and it’s our favourite so far. It looks like a slice of pizza with homemade crust topped with sauted mushrooms, merlot-truffle reduction, gruyre and, finally, more mushrooms. The pinot noir has a subtle woody flavour that especially complements the smokiness of the generous helping of mushrooms on the plate.
But the lamb meatballs pack such a flavourful punch of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and pecorino cheese that the dish threatens to topple the tart from its pedestal. We can’t decide which is better, but we know a different wine is needed, and the menu confirms it. So, we try a Banfi Cum Laude blend that’s more aggressive and isn’t overpowered by the meat like the subtle pinot noir. Like traditional Spanish tapas, the portions are modest, leaving room for a bite of many different dishes.
(10115 104 St., 780-428-8946, tzin.ca)