A special day needs a special celebration. Yesterday marked four years since David and I met. With one month to go until our wedding, we wanted to celebrate all the blessings in our life in the way that we love most – great food and wine!

David took me to Willow on Wascana for a spectacular meal. We chose the six course tasting menu with a paired wine flight. The Willow is always a special event, but this tasting menu was off the charts fabulous and the service was fantastic.

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We began the night with an amuse bouche of beets and goat cheese inside a green tea waffle cone! So cute and fun to eat, and the beets were very rich and flavourful. Matched with a dry cava … it was the perfect start.

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The appetizer was one of my very favourite dishes ever – heirloom tomatoes with parmesan reggiano, basil and balsamic vinaigrette. This dish also had some hidden flavours, like caramelized onions, that made it really delicious and paired well with the light glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

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The next dish was an adventurous one for me… Lamb Sweetbreads! I have never experienced this before, and decided to be all Anthony Bourdain and get adventurous and dive in! Thymus glands and pancreas really aren’t on the top of my list of things to eat.. and I was surprised at how delicious this bite was. Deep fried and salty, with a tangy and rich aioli to accompany it, I actually really enjoyed it.

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This is about the moment in the dinner that David and I realized how amazing the wine pairings were. Our server gave us an amazing explanation of how the golden, oaky white wine from North Western Spain is specially aged in oak barrels for at least eight years.. and why it pairs so well with the sweetbreads. For the rest of the evening, we really paid attention to how the wine tasted with our food (and how it tasted on its own) – really a revelation. We also were treated to some premium wines (that were not on the standard wine list) and learned about a fabulous new app from our server that we downloaded on the spot. Vivino lets you take a picture of your wine bottle and instantly connects you to reviews and information on the wine and winery. Apparently we have some great wine in our wine cellar (also known as a cardboard box in our basement)!

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The next course of lemon glazed trout with a lentil pilaf was perfectly cooked and nice and light and fresh. Paired with a Spanish Rioja from the same vineyard as the previous white, it opened my mind to having red wine with fish.

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The main course was a fantastic maple glazed pork tenderloin with roasted potato, green apple and carrots. Paired with a very special Clinet Cabernet Franc, this may have been my favourite dish of the night. I also realized at this time, I was satisfied, but not too full. The pacing of the dishes and the portions were perfect.

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Our last dish of a “Cup a Cherries” was a fun mini cherry pie with a coconut cardamom sorbet. It was wonderfully delicious and tangy and I loved the port that was paired with it to end our night.

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What else can I say about a special meal and a fantastic night? Treat yourself to Willow on the Wascana when you have something to celebrate (or you just want a great meal)!

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