This is a bit of a composite “Date Night” post, as I had planned for a pre-symphony visit to The Cavern before an outing to the Winspear Centre last Friday. But an intense craving for wine and cheese hit me on Thursday, and I gave in.
The Cavern is the newest storefront to open up on the 4th Street Promenade, and in spite of being first and foremost a cheese shop, owner Tricia Bell has designed a dine-in concept that easily transitions from day to night. Early birds can head to The Cavern for an espresso and a bite of breakfast in the morning, while downtown office workers might be more interested in her daily grilled cheese lunch options. For the after work crowd, The Cavern offers wine and spirits alongside meat and cheese boards, great for some nibbles leading up to dinner, or as the main attraction before a night out on the town.
Mack and I walked in to a near full house that Thursday, and snagged the last two seats at the bar. During our previous visits, Tricia and the rest of her staff have always been warm and welcoming, and tonight was no different. It was clear they were all very busy trying to manage the room and handling new walk-ins, but we never felt rushed or not taken care of.
The Enomatic system makes it ideal for The Cavern to serve small 3 ounce pours of wine in addition to 6 or 9 ounce glasses, but Mack and I were fine with a regular glass each. For those interested in pairings, the cheese menu lists both wine and beer selections.
Malbec and Cava
We had to choose between a cheese board for two featuring three cheeses ($19) or a cheese and meat board with two of each ($24). We opted for the latter, and selected two meats from a list of five, and two cheese from a list of twenty. Tricia was a great help in answering our questions and guided us to a Quebec washed-rind cheese, Le Douanier, with a unique vegetable ash centre. It was soft and mild, with a lovely creamy texture. Our other cheese choice was Sylvan Star’s award winning Grizzly Gouda.
Meat and cheese board, with all beef salami and prosciutto di parma
The board was beautifully presented, with some fruit, fresh bread, and dollops of cherry jam and jalapeno jelly. I also loved the ability to imprint on the board itself with chalk, a seamless way to identify multiple items.
The Cavern was a wonderful place to spend the evening, and one that we will be returning to again.
The following evening, Mack and I walked over to the Winspear Centre for Radio from the Head, a show in the “Late Night with Bill Eddins” series. It has been a while since we last took in one of these concerts, but we knew we were in for an entertaining night, mostly due to the conductor’s personality and ease on stage.
The beautiful Winspear Centre
I was particularly drawn to this show because of the promise of a song to be paired with chocolate. Symphonic Chocolates by Maxime Goulet is composed of four movements, where the audience was invited to eat a different chocolate during the corresponding movement. The ESO partnered with local chocolatier Carol’s Quality Sweets, who produced the custom boxes of chocolates which were sold prior to the performance for $5 each.
It was an innovative multi-sensory experience that reminded me of Karen Brooks’ presentation at Feast in Portland which involved a communal tasting component, and the trend of food deliberately being paired with music. While we weren’t floored by all of the pairings, Mack and I enjoyed the dark chocolate which accompanied a theme cloaked in mystery, and a mint chocolate coupled with a movement reminiscent of a spring breeze.
The show’s special guest was Christopher O’Riley, known for his piano interpretations of Radiohead. Mack, more familiar with Radiohead than I, was drawn to O’Riley’s performances of the three Radiohead songs. And though we can appreciate the difficulty of the four-hands Stravinsky piece, its 33 minute length was a rather bulky way to end the late-night concert.
“Late Night with Bill Eddins” will be back in the 2013-14 Edmonton Symphony Orchestra calendar. No mention of chocolates, though.
2, 10169 104 Street
Monday-Thursday 7am-8pm, Friday and Saturday 7am-11pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Winspear Centre, 4 Sir Winston Churchill Square