The Wine Valley earned its restaurant qualification from the tapas, meaning "small bites" or appetizers, which Baklarov prepares for customers who want to enjoy imported cheeses and meats or light appetizers with their wines.
"Light is the key word. There are no steaks or heavy sauces. It's just little foods that complement the wine," he said. Both the wine flight and tapas menus change every six months.
The current tapas menu features a meat platter with five unique imported meats, which Baklarov procures from an import firm in New Jersey. Fillet elena, a thinly sliced and seasoned pork filet and Lukanka, a dry salami are both from Bulgaria. The platter also contains chorizo from Spain and Coppacola and Calabrese salami from Italy.
Baklarov might suggest a rich heavy malbec or zinfandel to go with the meat tapas.
The cheese plate contains four cheeses including Drunken Goat, a goat cheese with a wine-soaked rind, a Spanish bleu cheese, a sweetish Stilton with mango and ginger and Manouri, a Greek cheese that tastes like a cross between feta and fresh mozzarella.
A well-balanced cabernet would complement the Mediterranean tapas Baklarov makes on pitas with a vegetable spread, artichokes, pesto and Manouri cheese and topped with arugula.
Baklarov and McDowell offer Cocopatamus truffles for people who enjoy something sweet with their wine. The California truffle company specializes in truffles with unusual flavors such as Santa's Addiction, a double peppermint dark chocolate truffle, Planet Marz, a toasted almond and kirsch dark chocolate truffle and the Godfather with espresso, almond and rum dark chocolate flavors. McDowell, who selects the truffles and cheeses offered, lists Hulk, a green chile and caramel truffle, as her favorite.
They believe The Wine Valley's combination of unique wines and accompanying foods fill a gap that has been missing in local establishments.
"This is for people who don't want burgers and Bud Light. We believe the people of Teays Valley and Charleston deserve something different and unique. This is a segment of the population that has been neglected for too long," Baklarov said.
The Wine Valley, 6 Liberty Square in Hurricane, is open from 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday with live music on Saturdays. Closed Monday and Sunday. Call 304-760-0123.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.