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Languedoc-Roussillon Via Montreal: A Dishcrawl

by Lesley Trites

You’ve probably heard of a pubcrawl, but how about a dishcrawl? The concept is similar: just swap the brews for haute cuisine, the beer swillers for foodies.

I was one of the lucky bloggers and writers who were recently invited to participate in a special dishcrawl that featured not only dishes, but also wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.

A cocktail of Rivesaltes and Blanquette de Limoux (photo by Lesley Trites)

Since the dishcrawl locations are kept secret, we showed up at the meeting point, Bota Bota spa, with no knowledge of where we’d be headed next. After an appetite-whetting cocktail, we boarded our respective buses.

As our black bus left the Old Port and went further and further up the Main, the guesses started flowing on board. Finally, we pulled up in front of Pastaga, one of Martin Juneau’s latest projects, where we’d be having appetizers.

Our welcome at Pastaga (photo by Lesley Trites)

First came an arctic char gravlax, topped with grated jerky made from the same fish for added texture. The fish was fresh and flavourful, and came paired with two white wines. The first was a lush, lemon and pear-infused Saint-Chinian, “Les Fiefs d’Aupenac” 2011 from Cave de Roquebrun. Second, a creamy, citrus-laced Côtes du Roussillon, “Cuvée Centenaire” 2010 from Domaine Lafage. Sommelier Alain Bélanger was on hand to present the wines.

Chopped liver "à la juive" (photo by Lesley Trites)

Next came something much more decadent: chopped liver “à la juive” with hard-boiled egg, bagel chips, and small onions marinated in red wine vinegar. Wow. The perfect flavor and texture combination was tied together with the acidity of the marinated onions. With this, we had two red wines.

Domaine Cazes Marie-Gabrielle 2009 (photo by Lesley Trites)

Vignoble Jeanjean’s “Devois des Agneaux d’Aumelas” 2009 from the Languedoc was sun-kissed and rich, showing smoky, meaty Syrah flavours. Domaine Cazes’ “Marie-Gabrielle” 2009 from Côtes du Roussillon, my favourite of the night, was a bit more restrained, with lovely red berry fruit, a slightly gritty texture, and a fresh, lively acidity.

Tables at Brasero Hardi (photo by Lesley Trites)

Before we knew it, we were back on the bus. Next, we found ourselves at Brasero Hardi, a swanky new spot in the Old Port. Our main meal was a magret de canard with pearl barley risotto and a bitter orange sauce. It certainly didn’t disappoint. We tried it with three different wines, which were presented by sommelier Nick Hamilton.

Chapoutier’s Domaine Bila Haut 2010 from Côtes du Roussillon was full of fresh red fruit, while the Château Rouquette Sur Mer Cuvée Amarante 2010 from Languedoc La Clape was darker, richer, and more structured. The Château du Grand Caumont Cuvée Impatience 2009 from Corbières added a bit of sweet spice to the mix.

Brasero Hardi (photo by Lesley Trites)

Finally it was time for dessert, and I decided to forgo the bus to work off at least a few of those calories by walking to our next spot, Les Éclusiers par Apollo. Once there, I admired the Restoration Hardware-style décor. Then a mini lemon meringue tart was paired with a sweet white wine, the rich, intensely lemony Muscat de Rivesaltes 2009 from Dom Brial. A hazelnut profiterole paired with a nutty, sweet red wine, Domaine de Valcros’ Banyuls, added the cherry on top of this most decadent of evenings.