FOOD & WINE- The Sip x Rachel Bies: A perfect pairing

The Sip in Wellington. (Olivia Timm for the Gazette)




The Sip opened mid-July. It is unique: a gift and lifestyle shop by day — and a speakeasy by night.

Not surprisingly, owner Cynthia (Cyn) Normandin approaches Countylicious in a unique way as well.

Ms. Normandin has partnered with local nutritionist and chef, Rachel Bies. Ms. Normandin does the wine, Ms. Bies does the food. Together, they are a perfect pairing.

“We source all of our product from small to medium sized female-owned businesses. That’s an incredibly important part of opening this business, supporting other women in their endeavours,” Ms. Normandin explained.

“I knew we wanted a food program. I knew that it had to be female-led based on my values. I tried Rachel’s food and thought, ‘What a wonderful pairing.’ So, we got together over wine and kind of cooked things up.” It’s a pairing that will go beyond Countylicious.

“We wanted the food to be warm and familiar and comforting, and that is reflected in the choices we made on the menu. The wine room in The Sip is just that: it’s meant to be a place to gather. We hope in time it becomes the place that people go to to celebrate the big and small moments in their lives, and that it becomes an extension of their homes,” said Ms. Normandin.

“Who doesn’t like a good mac and cheese? Paired with a cooler red or a nice pinot,” said Ms. Bies. “Our working together is a fun addition to Countylicious. It’s not a brick and mortar restaurant, we’re doing it together. Cyn’s wines and my food pair quite nicely.”

This is also Ms. Bies’ first time participating in Countylicious. She wanted to make sure the menu was inclusive.

“As a nutritionist, I know there are so many health issues and dietary concerns. We wanted to make sure a number of good things were available so people didn’t feel like they were getting a side salad.”

“I do a lot of catering for vegans — they feel like they are just eating the sides. They feel like an afterthought. I like to give them the whole menu. The soup, every lunch and dinner, is gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. The salad has a vegan dressing and you can omit the cheese or nuts. The curries are vegan. The mac and cheese is vegetarian. The curry is also gluten free.”

“Our selections are classic, very approachable, and hearty. On those cold fall days, it’s that bowl that will warm you up.”

For Ms. Normandin, the fun in wine is pairing not just to food, but to the moment.

“There’s something about cozying up with a big bold red in front of the fire and reading a book. Wine and moments go together, and food is part of that. We wanted to create those moments of warmth and comfort through food and wine.”

Menus of all participating restaurants can be found at