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Wine N' Dine

Cat dips its paw into tastings

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Even though they forgot to advertise, the owners of Burlington's Blue Cat Café and Wine Bar had to turn people away at their first wine-and-small-plate pairing at the beginning of August. The idea: 20 patrons pay 40 bucks each to sample six imbibables and six complementary dishes. The August offerings included servings of cocoa-rubbed beef carpaccio with cherry salsa and a glass of Petite Syrah, and sea bass ceviche with Riesling.

The tastings happen on the first Tuesday of each month. "There's going to be a theme for every tasting," explains co-owner Mariasha Giral. She describes the first as "Wines that we really love." In September, it'll be "Old World meets New World," with three "very traditional European wines" and some "very modern, wacky wines."

The tastings aren't the only novelty at the cozy spot. A couple of months ago, Giral took the reins in the kitchen after Blue Cat's original chef departed. "It's one thing I really love to do," Giral says of cooking. "I always planned to take control of the kitchen." But during the hectic start-up period, she had to focus on too many other aspects of the business to prepare the food, too.

Although panini and tapas-style dishes still make up the bulk of the options, there's now a seasonal menu with a few, more filling entrées. "We want to do more meat dishes. It's hard to get a really good steak in Burlington," Giral asserts. A couple of popular dishes from the Cat's summer menu, including the best-selling Thai mussels, will continue to be available.

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