Date Night @ Salt Tasting Room
After work one Friday, Chris and I spent a low-key evening basking in wine, cheese and each other’s company. While normally this activity would be limited to our own quarters, we found ourselves seated at the end of a long common table in a typical trendy Gastown setting, complete with red brick walls and wooden-beamed ceilings. A giant blackboard on the far side of the room revealed the features of the day: a local chèvre, Chimay à la Bière, Cornish Yarg, Chorizo Vito, head cheese, corned beef, Basque olives, Guiness mustard… the list goes on. The variety was overwhelming, perhaps a bit intimidating I’ll admit, but when our server came around to explain how it all worked, I felt much, much more at ease. It was pretty simple – choose three items from either the cheese or meat selections, and pair each of them with a condiment. As for the wine, either pick three to try, or leave the pairings up to them!
“If you need help with anything at all,” She added, with a smile. “Just ask any one of us – that’s what we’re here for!” It was then that I realized, this wasn’t a pretentious wine and cheese bar exclusive to connoisseurs alone, but rather, a watering hole for wine and cheese lovers, both old and new, and anyone else curious to give it a try.
Before she left us to make our decisions, I asked her to tell us more about the cheeses that were listed on the board, and off she went, describing each of the 10 featured cheeses. This really helped narrow our choices down, and by the time she came back around, we were ready with our tasting plate picks. We decided on the Chimay à la Bière, Saint Andre, and La Roche Noire with a side of apple compote, peach jam, and local honey, and left the wine pairings up to them. Shortly after, along with a basket full of crusty French bread, our wine and cheese arrived, each item labeled and paired off with a specific condiment and wine.
Looking at the tasting plate, I couldn’t help but think, this will be all gone before Chris even blinks. The portions are definitely on the smaller side, but with that said, it is a “tasting” room after all – you don’t go to eat, but to taste. And so taste we did, savouring each and every bite and sip. In between the mmm‘s and ahhh‘s, Chris and I bonded over the creamy, sweet, fruity flavours tickling our tastebuds (cheesy, I know).
We were particularly pleased with the pairings they had chosen for us – Stag’s Hollow Confusion, Eblin Fuchs Riesling, and Taylor White Port – each wine delicately complementing and accentuating the cheese and condiment they’d been paired with. My personal favourite was the white port paired with the La Roche Noire and local honey. As if I needed to be craving blue cheese any more than I already do, thanks to them, I now find myself salivating for a mouthful of blue cheese, honey and port on a random week night!
But besides the expensive addiction they have left me with, I have come to understand the art of eating, or perhaps I should say tasting, slowly, savouring each and every bite, sip, and flavour, and bonding over it with a friend or partner. This was what I particularly appreciated about Salt Tasting Room – unlike the few other wine and cheese bars I’ve been to, it’s whole concept, I feel, is designed around trying something new, and enjoying it in good company – perfect for a date night.
Pssst! While you’re there, make sure to try out their goat cheese cheesecake if they have it. I refuse to have my cheesecake any other way.