The first glass of crisp Pinot Grigio down, the light acidity resting on my palate and the lingering joy of elegant and enjoyable hors d’oeuvres, I settle into the wide, leather chairs in the screening room of the Hazelton Hotel in Yorkville. “Wine making is both scientific and emotional,” Silvia Corti, head winemaker at Argento Wine prophetically states in the short film Cerca del Cielo (Close to the Sky). The seven-minute glimpse into Corti’s passion for wine and the stunning country of Argentina is beautifully shot and a non-traditional prelude to an evening of silky vintages and tantalizing food at One Restaurant.
With friendly foodies, wine lovers, writers and members of the Argento Wine family, including Corti herself about the private dining room at One Restaurant, it’s not long before the courses start coming and the mood turns jovial. After all, how can one not gleam at the arrival of expertly curated cuisine at this Mark McEwan eatery, accompanied by an excellent arrangement of Argentinian wine? Plus, pair a sweet, seared scallop with airy double smoked bacon foam and set it in front of me and I’m a happy man.
Argento Wines are forged in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, at the western border of Argentina in the province of Mendoza. Due to a unique combination of high altitude terrain, desert climate, low humidity and natural irrigation from the glacial snowmelt, Mendoza is home to over 80% of Argentina’s wineries. Most notable for the production of Malbec, tonight was a special evening for Corti as she proudly unveiled her latest addition to the Argento Wine catalogue: the Bonarda, 2011.
The bright, red berry flavour and round finish of the Bonarda paired perfectly with the locro stew, a thin tomato broth with house made chorizo, corn, butternut squash, white beans and roasted red peppers. A duo of beef then graced us alongside a velvety glass of Malbec, 2012. The roasted strip loin with chimichuri and a fresh hit of pico de gallo was perfectly pink and the braised short rib with crispy black pepper, thyme frites and pecorino desardo melted in my mouth.
As if the relaxed yet sophisticated ambiance of the red-walled room, a delectable array of fine fare and an intensifying buzz from the well-rounded wines hadn’t already put me in a good mood, our final course would have sent me on a high akin to a bipolar episode! It’s likely you don’t know this about me yet, but as you’ll quickly come to find out, I am obsessed with cheese. Whether creamy, gooey and smothered on top of just about anything; baked, fried or caramelized; dry and sharp; stinky and raw – if I ever became a lactard I’d suffer through the stomach aches so I could get my fix!
Out comes our dessert course of four types of Spanish and Italian cheeses on a campy wood board, surrounded by fresh figs, walnuts, juicy red grapes, crostini and jars of sweet honey and grape jelly. Highlights were the Cabrales blue cheese – made from three types of milk (raw cow’s milk, goat’s milk and ewe’s milk) it was soft and smooth with a blast of ammonia that didn’t overwhelm. Also, the Don Panchego from Sardinia was a sheep’s milk cheese that was dry and mouthwatering with a sharp bite. Coupled with the rich body and cassis and sweet red pepper flavours of the Argento Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010, the platter and my company’s chatter, made for an excellent end to an overwhelmingly enjoyable evening.
Thanks again to One Restaurant for an exceptional dinner and most especially to Silvia Corti and Argento Wine for hosting such a superb affair. And check out Cerca del Cielo (Close to the Sky) below…