By: Sheila Stagnitta, Volunteer Trip Leader
Hmmm. It’s January. The holidays are way behind me. What to do now? Cocoon in the corner of the couch? No, winter or not, I want some fresh air. Need to move around. And see some people. Check out the Venture Outdoors schedule – there’s a hike followed by a wine tasting on Jan 23. I’m in! I did one of these last fall and it was great! We hiked into Frick Park for a couple hours, at a pace that was just right – made me work some to get the blood moving but didn’t kill me. The exercise kept me warm. There were hills, not too bad, with a stop at the top to catch my breath. The views were so different with the leafless trees – you could see the terrain of the park so much differently. We found some fairy doors. You have to attend the hike to see these whimsical treasures!
After the hike, we moved down the street to Pino’s Contemporary Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar on Reynolds Street in Point Breeze. What a warm welcome! Both a cozy space and the smiles from the gracious owners, Chef Joe and Jen Mico. Chef Joe is a master of Italian cuisine and pours his heart into his creations. Jen is the wine expert, pairing the wine to the food to bring out the best flavor in each. Jen has a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) certification, and has put together a wine cellar for their restaurant that you don’t often see in an intimate neighborhood restaurant. She also shared her knowledge during our wine tasting, sprinkling tidbits of wine info throughout the event, tying the wine’s flavor notes to the growing region and characteristics of the grape.
After settling in, the first wine was poured, a bubbly prosecco. A creative crostata appeared in front of us, a prelude of good things to come. Yum!
Chef Joe has a new pasta machine that he uses to turn out excellent pasta. Al dente took on a whole new meaning when we tasted our second small plate, freshly made, perfectly prepared pasta with an earthy, creamy mushroom sauce.
Another wave of food and wine followed, with the chatter getting livelier and the noise level going up as everyone savored and commented on the goodies we were being presented with.
As the event wrapped up, everyone was saying goodbye to old friends and newly-made friends. “What Venture Outdoors event are you doing next?” was the common question, with plans made to “see you out on a trail soon!”