Thursday, September 08, 2005

Friday Evening at the Tapas Lounge

Life is simply too short not to eat dessert first.

DucCat and I were on the way to have dinner with friends at the Tapas Lounge in Port Warwick. We stopped by Cowboy Syd’s to check in on the Cowboy himself, and see how his family in Mississippi had weathered the storm.

Luckily, they had not only survived, but come through with minimal damage to their properies. Somehow, this talk of miracles turned into tales of fabulous new desserts. Following the Cowboy back into the depths of the kitchen, we crouched behind a tall, stainless steel cart stacked high with freshly-made bread to taste the newest creation.

The little cake was perched on a rich, macademia-nut crust, and bisected in the middle by the same. The rest was smooth as silk, less like a cheesecake, more like an ultra-refined cream pie. Lemon exploded, then wrapped around the richness of the crust, eaving the most pleasing flavour on the tongue. If I could be assured that dessert would always this good, it would come first every time.

We said our good-byes, then went on down to the Tapas Lounge. That Friday had finally seen the departure of the dreadful summer humidity, so we were seated out on the open-air patio, beneath a canopy of passion-flower vines and funky little lanterns. We decided to order a bottle of wine as we sat waiting for our friends. Although, I’m not entirely convinced that DucCat didn’t simply want to play with his new wine-key. After a few minutes of ratcheting away happily, the cork was pulled, and the first wine of the night had arrived: the 2001 Wild Yeast Chardonnay, from Springfield Estate.

This South African is a true, creamy beauty. The nose is full of lush tropical fruits, a real pleasure just to swirl and inhale, swirl and inhale. The first sip creeps across the tongue with silken feet, leaving impressions of more ripe fruit, pineapples and vanilla pods, before absconding down the gullet with a heartfelt and sigh-inducing wave. Now, take a moment to let it all sink in, and relax into the lingering finish. The good news is, we get to do this again.

Our friends arrived by the time we were on the second glass; obviously, time for bottle number two. We ordered the same thing, and spent quite a while catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones.

It was finally time to feast, so in true Tapas fashion, we ordered several enchanting-sounding plates of food, along with the next bottle: the Folie a Deux 2001. This wine holds a very special place in our hearts, as it was one of the last wineries that we’d visited during our time in California Wine Country. Even now, the nose alone invokes memories of that warm, late-spring day at the winery. They were having a fire sale, getting rid of the wines at half off, and the crowd was crazy, jostling for space at the tasting counters, spilling wine left and right, yet jovial and friendly at the same time.

But, back to the meal. The hour had grown late, and the sun was rapidly disappearing. Our first dish arrived, the fondue, and was the only one I was able to photograph, due to the low light levels.

The fondue changes frequently, and I believe tonight’s was a smooth, creamy blend of three cheeses. Accompainments were soft slices of baguette, and an array of blanched vegetables, perfectly al dente, just right for dipping.

The rest of the dishes that we tasted throughout the night are too many to list, but one in particular stands out in my mind, the Tapas take on carpaccio. Rebecca, the owner, told me that this dish had been a very hard sell to the Newport News crowd, but once tasted, the patrons loved it.

As did we, that lovely evening.

Goodnight, moon.


Anonymous sher said...

Sniff, sniff. I'm feeling deprived. I want that yummy little cake. And the fondue. Don't want to cook!

May 06, 2006 6:36 PM  

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