I have been assigned the task of declaring the most romantic restaurant in Winnipeg in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. So let me start by sharing with you the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me:
In celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary, D and I traveled to the Mediterranean. We started in a village in Sicily and sojourned by train up the west coast of Italy and stayed in Prariano on the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Nice and then Paris. D arranged that with every hotel stay, there were bouquets of my favourite flowers waiting for us in our room; we shared bites of perfect food and sips of amazing wines and saw the most breath-taking scenery. And yet, travel can be stressful as was the case for one leg of our journey.
We had to catch a 6 am bus to Sorrento but were anxious that we would not get our wake up call as it had been the first time on vacation that we had to rely on one, so we had both been awake since 4:17 am. It was a good thing, because we never did get the call. In addition, the espresso machine had not been fired up for the day at our hotel, so we were caffeineless. Our bus was jammed with school-aged kids who created a deafening din so we were relieved to transfer to a train for our next connection in Naples. Both D and I had been to Naples before but for D it had not been a positive experience and train stations are not necessarily in the best part of town. The Naples station was huge and confusing. We were very stressed and this was made worse by a very angry Italian “gentleman” who claimed that we were sitting in his train seats. After that was resolved the time to Rome passed uneventfully. But then when we switched trains again to take us to Spezia someone else claimed that we were in their seats. This man was more handsome and less angry than the first, but it was disconcerting, none the less. We had an hour wait in Spezia and decided to perch ourselves and our luggage on an outside platform to get from fresh air. We took turns sitting with the luggage and freshening up in the washroom and stretching our legs. When we boarded for the last train ride of the day, we realised that the piece of luggage that contained all of our souvenir shopping from the trip had been snatched from the platform! I was devastated, not only because we had spent precious money selecting particular gifts for our family but because both D and I had splurged and purchased Italian linens to wear at an anniversary party that was being thrown for us upon on return. Once we arrived in Riomaggiore, I had no idea that our apartment would be an almost vertical climb up the side of a mountain. By this time, we were exhausted and hungry and I for one was in no mood to have my heart stopped by a cardio work out, so we waited for a shuttle. Twenty minutes later we were being shown around our home for the next few days only to find that there was no AC and because the breeze was blocked by the mountain, absolutely no movement of air. I had had it! I was a mess. I sobbed and threw myself such a pity party, I am embarrassed to admit it, even now. And then this amazing thing happened. Doug eye-balled the size of our terrace, went inside and pulled the mattress off the bed, bedding and all. He dragged it outside and after an amazing dinner in town, we slept under the stars that night. I not only cooled off sufficiently but heard the most amazing sounds of birds singing in the morning, bells chiming and the village below us, coming alive. It was so romantic to watch the sun come up over the mountain and see the sparkling sea below us.
So when the romance bar is being set, mine is very high indeed which makes selecting a place for Valentine’s Day dinner a difficult task. Terrace in the Park is located in a glass atrium which has been built onto the side of the historic Pavillion of Assiniboine Park. D and I had the pleasure of being invited to their opening but have not yet enjoyed dinner.
The samplings on that preview night were a delight, starting with San Francisco Cioppino,
Albacore Tuna Tacos,
Steamed Pacific Snow Crab Legs,
Flights of Oysters,
and what turned out to be be favourite of the evening: Smoked Pike Rillettes.
We were not surprised that the seafood that preview evening was stellar as we have heard only great things about Chef Simon Resch. He studied at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and then under the tutelage of Chefs Julian Bond and Rob Clark before returning to Winnipeg and the Beaujolais and Amici Restaurants. Old Montreal lured him away and then an opportunity to work on the French Rivera (we must have travelled through his community on our Mediteranean train ride). But Winnipeg was able to attract him back with positions at the Inn at the Forks and the Niakwa Golf and Country Club. He joined WOW! Hospitality to work alongside Chef Mike Dacquisto before his final move to Terrace in the Park.
And so Valentine’s Day awaits and I will celebrate with the love of my life in the best way we know how-in a beautiful place, supping on exquisitely prepared food with perhaps a glass or two of a fine beverage.
Kath’s quote: “Most seafoods…should be simply threatened with heat and then celebrated with joy.” -Jeff Smith
Love-that is all.