The only thing that could possibly go better than wine and cheese, is wine and chocolate.
CasaVino, the brainchild of residents Rod and Dee Conklin, opened at 4873 St. Mary’s St. in the Village of Radium Hotsprings on December 17.
Fridays are chocolate-tasting nights. Each week, a new selection of freshly-made, delectable chocolate desserts will be available for guests to enjoy.
“It’s different every week. I don’t want the same thing served every Friday,” said Aaron Sarson, the new food and beverage manager at CasaVino.
At a recent chocolate night at CasaVino, on January 21, three chocolates were served: a chocolate marquise, a white chocolate mousse tart with raspberries (which CasaVino’s owners usually grow in their own garden in the spring and summer), and French chocolate macaroons.
The list does not stop there, however.
CasaVino also serves chocolate-covered gooseberries and chocolate-covered strawberries, to name a few.
Brenda Hall makes the chocolates at CasaVino, and also offers her culinary skills once a week for baking other dishes.
Sarson has worked in the food and beverage industry since he was 15-years-old, learning under top chefs at two fine-dining restaurants in Victoria, B.C., and one on the Sunshine Coast.
He has worked every position in the business, from sous-chef, server, to kitchen manager, and now finds himself at CasaVino.
“I’m really excited about being here,” said Sarson. “[CasaVino] is something that Radium needs.”
Sarson hopes to have gone to the Okanagan by the end of the summer to earn his first level of Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
Sarson works with Rod Conklin, cellar master at CasaVino, on developing the menu, and prefers taking a home-grown approach when collecting ingredients.
“I like using local, fresh ingredients and supporting local business,” said Sarson.
CasaVino’s honey, for example, comes from Spillimacheen, and their meats are from Konig in the District of Invermere.
Sarson also hopes to promote a different “way” of eating.
“People put a plate in front of you, and you feel that you have to eat all of it at once,” Sarson said. “I want to change that way of eating by serving in small bits.”
Sarson guarantees that those who have dinner at CasaVino will be full by its end, however, even with the slower serving pace.
Rod Conklin, who has completed an intermediate level course with WSET, works with wine and food pairings to help enhance the flavour and quality of CasaVino’s dishes.
“The basic principle of wine pairing is to match the weightiness of the food with the body of the wine,” said Conklin.
A heavier, richer food, such as red meat, would pair will with a heavier, more acidic wine, like a full-body red wine.
On the other side of this spectrum, lighter dishes, such as salmon or other fish, pairs well with a light, white wine.
The paired dishes and drinks help enhance each other’s flavours.
“Wine and food pairing is so huge now,” added Dee Conklin. “It used to be a choice between red wine and white wine. Now people are more sophisticated with their pairings, it’s wonderful.”
CasaVino was originally the Parkside Cafe. It has since been renovated into CasaVino’s current, casual setting.
The business offers over 100 selections of wines, as well as specialty beers and other spirits.
For more information, visit casavino.ca, or call 250-341-5938.