Words can scarcely express my gratitude for wine bars. I was the sort of person (wait, why is that in the past tense? I still am...) who goes to pubs and bars begrudgingly, plots my escape, and slips away when no one appears to be watching. Wine bars are another barrel of libations entirely. They are intriguing, classy and enigmatic, and I wish to escape into - rather than away from - these establishments. I finally visited Tzin, a well-established downtown wine bar that has hovered at the top of my to-do list for far too long, and discovered (among other things) that there exists a vintage named after my third favourite dessert and fifth favourite action movie: Layer Cake.
Layer Cake is a full-bodied zinfandel that hails from Puglia, the heel of Italy's boot. It is, as its name so richly suggests, layered and complex. It is a sunny, giddy rush of crisp evenings and heady Mediterranean nights. And, for God's sake, it has a drawing of a layer cake on the label. I think I'm in oenophile heaven.
Tzin's menu is succinct and we nibble on baked brie with red wine reduction, cherry and pear compote, and small slices of bread. The tiny rounds of marbled rye are quite a treat and smartly support their weighty crown of melty, gooey brie and sweet fruit.
We progress to crab-stuffed prawns which, for a moment (and I apologize in advance, for old nerdy habits die hard) reminds me of a line from The Simpsons.
Moe Szyslak (the bartender): Bring me your finest food stuffed with your second finest!
Waiter: That would be lobster...stuffed with tacos.
No such stuffing here, mercifully. Instead, we nosh on plump prawns that just barely contain their crabby stuffing. It is a buttery bite of oceanic bounty.
Dessert features flourless chocolate cake. It is lustrous, seductive and is slowly devoured in infinitesimally small slices. I prolong the cake for as long as is reasonably possible, such that I may relish my surroundings. Tzin is like a hidden annex of rich tapestries, tall, multi-paned windows and flashes of light that burst from a small, open kitchen. I cannot resist a bad pun: it was Tzinfully good.