Sounds of a city rushing by outside fades as you step into Cibo Trattoria located inside the Moda Hotel in the heart of Vancouver’s entertainment district. This boutique hotel’s Italian-themed culinary gem offers a comfortable and romantic oasis with candles, smooth music, and bottles of wine adorning the walls. John and I were recently invited to Cibo to check out their Spring Lamb Festival (featuring Fraser Valley lamb). Boasting local and BC-grown ingredients, this tasting menu is paired with Nk’Mip Cellars wine from Osoyoos in the South Okanagan — recently voted #1 BC Winery by Wine Access Magazine.
Crispy lamb belly, salsa verde
Paired with Nk’Mip Winemaker’s Pinot Blanc 2011
Lamb loin carpaccio, smashed peas, fresh ricotta, crispy rosemary
Paired with Nk’Mip Winemaker’s Pino Noir 2011
Cracking the crunchy exterior of the lamb belly’s crisp shell revealed a tender and succulent core. The salsa verde was a light contrast to the darker meat and the pinot blanc played with the lighter notes of the garnish. The carpaccio was elegantly paired with smashed peas which instantly tickle your tongue with the taste of spring. My favourite garnish of the meal was the crispy rosemary which I bundled up with the ricotta and a thin slice of lamb into one bite-sized morsel after another.
Anolini of minted ricotta, Tuscan lamb braise, ricotta salata
Paired with Mk’Mip Quam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Roast Leg of Lamb with new potatoes, cipollini onions, rosemary, and honey
Paired with Nk’Mip Mer’r’iym 2009
John and I both agreed that we could have the anolini for dinner on every rainy day in this city and we would be quite content. This heavenly dish was a bowl full of saucy, cheesy, meaty goodness and unfortunately my photo of it did not turn out. I could have snapped a shot of John’s plate though, which he pretty much licked clean. The final lamb dish was much lighter than I expected with the lamb served in moist slices on top of a bed of potato and onions. I could have used a bit more moisture on the potatoes but the honey, onions, and juicy lamb medallions did help offset that.
How do you finish off a five-course lamb pairing dinner? Executive Chef Faizal Kassam found just the right thing: Pine nut semifreddo, with orange, chocolate, mint. The citrus and mint were just the right flavour combination to compliment the meaty meal and the pine nuts added a welcomed crunch and texture to the bowl. Dessert was paired with Nk’Mip’s Qwam Qwmt Riseling Ice Wine 2011.
The service was impeccable (with the same attention given to the small family next to us) and at the end of our meal we were given the option to adjourn to the adjacent Uva Wine Bar. Completely stuffed from an evening of indulgence with great food and wine, we declined but will keep the option in mind for our next date night.
There are just a few short days left to enjoy the Spring Lamb Festival at Cibo, which runs until the end of April. Make your reservations today and look for more fresh ideas from Cibo’s kitchen each month. The multi-course lamb dinner is $69 and you can add the Nk’Mip wine pairings for $59 (plus applicable taxes). Lamb dishes are available a la carte and wines are available by the glass as well.
Cibo is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at 900 Seymour Street in downtown Vancouver. With its proximity to the Orpheum, Commodore, and the Vogue Theatre it’s a fitting pre (or post) show date destination. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter for menu updates and information.