Fleur Du Cap Wine Tasting At The iYellow Wine Cave

Nothing cures a case of the Thursdays like relaxing music, good people and a glass (or two or three) of vino. It’s Thursday once again, and I am caught reminiscing of last week when I hurried down to Queen Street after work for a wine tasting at the iYellow Wine Cave.


iYellow Wine Cave. 243 Queen St. West. Toronto.

Don’t know where that is? Neither did I. The space belongs to the iYellow Wine Club and its’ doors are on an alley just south of Queen Street; it’s a hidden gem…or basement. Upon entry, you immediately take a staircase down into “the cave”. We entered from the bright, sunny outdoors into a cool, dimly lit cellar. I felt a little like I had entered into another world. The room had a cozy, relaxed feel to it and was decorated with hanging lamps, candles, bookshelves, mirrors, tables, comfy couches and WINE (of course).


Inside the cave.

I won’t lie, I’m no wine connoisseur. To be honest, I was a bit nervous at first about going to a wine event and not knowing enough about wine. Don’t sweat it. I found out within minutes that iYellow wasn’t about wine snobbery, but wine education…and fun! The iYellow Wine Club is a free-membership community of wine lovers founded by Angela Aiello with over 10,000 members. It’s a place where you can taste, learn and build wine confidence. I got a chance to chat with Angela, who explained the whole idea behind the club and told me about some of the events and tours they hold. They hold wine tastings, tours, classes, vacations and other events. Check their website for more details.

I was handed a wine glass and the evening began. This was a tasting event for a South African Chardonnay by Fleur Du Cap Wines. The wine was full-bodied and delish. (With my unrefined palette) I would say there was a nice fruitiness to it and I did go back for more…and more…and more. I found out this wine sells for about thirteen bucks a bottle at the LCBO. Bargain!

I jumped a little with excitement when I started to smell scallops sizzling on a pan nearby. The event was also catered by Sliced Gourmet. Scallops and quail were on the menu and both were cooked using the featured wine. Genius…and YUM. The roasted quail was served with preserved lemon over a bed of mielie pap (a South African staple very similar to polenta) with a balsamic drizzling over top. Scallops were seared and served over puréed peas with asparagus on the side. Some may have found the quail a little awkward/difficult to eat at an event as such, but we all know I have no problem going all cave woman in public when it comes to eating food. The wine paired wonderfully with both dishes.

All in all, it was a lovely time! I brought a friend and we mingled, nibbled and sipped to our hearts content. It did get a little crowded at one point, but I didn’t mind. It was short and sweet, lasting only a couple hours; perfect for a weeknight. Leaving the wine cave, I opened its’ door only to find that the sun was still out! Those two hours seemed so much longer, thanks to the enchanting effects of no windows. It was refreshing to know the night was still young (or younger than we thought) as we headed off to dinner.


Ceili Cottage: My Kind Of Pub

I think I’ve fallen in love again…with Ceili Cottage. It’s my favourite pub in the city, located in Leslieville on Queen Street. Actually, it’s the only pub I’ve ever loved. This Irish local, owned by world champion oyster shucker Patrick McMurray (also the owner of Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill), exudes Irish authenticity, from the food, to the drinks, to the decor, to the live music. I love restaurants with personality. If you take the time to look around inside, you’ll start to notice all the little details. Almost everything in this place has something to do with oysters or Celtic culture, including photos, awards, shucking tools, books, and boardgames. The building, once an old garage , consists of two rooms: the cottage room and the bar room. The patio out front is also REALLY GREAT (with oyster shells embedded into the concrete floor). Definitely a good summertime spot to visit if you’re looking to enjoy good food, drinks, and the gorgeous Toronto weather. They’ve got a great selection of beers to choose from…it wouldn’t be a good pub without good beer, right? They have twelve taps offering a mixed selection of beers from Ireland, Ontario, and Quebec.

“Ceili (pronounced Kay-lee) is an Irish word for a social get-together of music and dance. With that come the food and drink. Our “Irish Local” is a place for friends and families in the neighbourhood to convene for conversation and good “craic” (Irish for good fun).”
I took that bit from the Ceili Cottage website, because I thought it was pretty wonderful. You can find a full menu and more info by clicking on the link.

They serve amazing oysters, which is another reason I absolutely love this place (you must know by now that I’m an oyster lover). Their selection usually includes an oyster from the east coast and Clarenbridge Bay oysters from Ireland. I don’t get the chance to eat Irish oysters very often so this excites me. If you’re an oyster lover, this is your kind of pub.

If you’re lucky you’ll walk in on a flute and fiddle session, which adds some wonderfully lively Irish folk-sound to the experience. Continue reading