Showing posts with label dining-out. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dining-out. Show all posts

Friday, July 3, 2015

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  • Friday, July 3, 2015

Lunch at Farmers' Table @Southbrook



Southbrook Vineyards
On my latest visit to Niagara last month, I had the pleasure of having lunch at Farmers' Table @Southbrook, a brand new restaurant by Southbrook Vineyards located on their property and attached to the winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Having driven by Southbrook many times, this was actually my very first visit to the winery - a modern building with clean lines, and an open, transparent feeling throughout. On my next visit to Southbrook, which I hope will be sooner rather than later, I think a tour of the facilities will be in order.

As we entered the winery, we turned left and walked through the tasting room and headed to the outdoor patio. Chef Shawn Murphy quickly recognized me as I stepped onto the patio and we had a quick intro while he prepared meals for the other guests. The patio was mostly sheltered from the beaming hot sun on this day. However, the outdoor kitchen where Chef Shawn prepares his meals is not - and he was feeling the heat on this day. Guests have the option of sitting under the roof or on the charming umbrella-covered wooden park benches.

Outdoor patio at Farmers' Table @SouthbrookOutdoor patio at Farmers' Table @Southbrook

Southbrook was Canada's first certified organic and biodynamic winery. This philosophy continues at Farmers' Table, where nearly all the ingredients used to prepare dishes are locally sourced from sustainable practices. Chef Shawn mentioned that just about everything was grown/produced no more than 5 kilometres from the property. Quite an achievement, I must say!

While we waited for our first course, Chef Shawn brought us some grilled organic whole wheat bread topped with Handeck cheese shavings, alongside pickled organic green tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, black pepper and salt. All of it was prepared fresh and tasted very good.

Braised lamb pizzaThe sheep at the back of the property

The second course was the Feature Pizza of the Day - a delicious braised lamb pizza with wild garlic scapes, asparagus, goat cheese, and garlic oil made fresh in their outdoor pizza oven. The dough is made in-house using Red Fife flour and Bioflavia grape skin powder, while the lamb is raised by Southbrook and likely from the same herd I saw out back. I've never had lamb on a pizza before, but had no doubt it would be delicious - and I was right! I would love to see this pizza on their daily menu. Because the pizza had good balance between all the different elements - meat, cheese, vegetables - it is quite versatile for pairing with wine. I enjoyed it with their 2014 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rosé (#279117, $19.95, 88 pts).


Strawberry salad
To waken up the palate before the main course, we were served up a very interesting salad made with... strawberries! These local strawberries were served with 12-month aged Handeck cow's milk cheese and fresh baby Arugula in a Petit Verdot Vinaigrette and topped with sea salt. What was really interesting was that the Arugula was grown in the raised garden bed located right beside our table. Awesome! Overall, it was quite the sensory explosion on the palate with sweet, salty and sour all making a delightful appearance, and the creamy cheese holding it all together.

Prior to arriving at Southbrook on this fine day, we had already visited Reif Winery and Pillitteri Estates Winery for a cheese platter, pizza, and grilled cheese and, unsurprisingly, our stomachs we were now starting to get full. However, there was at least one more course to go.

Roasted free-range chicken

Chef Shawn had roasted a whole free-range chicken on the outdoor the grill and seasoned it with black pepper and salt. It was then topped with a raisin salad dressing and the aforementioned fresh Arugula. The meat was tender and delicious - a very nice creation indeed. It also paired quite nicely with their 2013 Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay (#172338, $22.95, 89 pts). Since we were already quite full, we didn't get to eat too much of the chicken and ended up taking it home and ate it for lunch on Monday. It made for a very nice lunch to be sure!

We also had to take a pass on a delicious looking dessert - it appeared to be a strawberry rhubarb parfait - that nearly everyone else was enjoying.

I came to this dining experience with little expectations and left wishing that more restaurants do it the way Southbrook does. It was very enlightening speaking to Shawn and learning about the many practices that he and Southbrook have employed. It's not often one finds a restaurant where the produce is only a few hours old. Shawn also shared some of his other wonderful ideas that I hope come to fruition in the coming weeks and months.

Fresh herbs grown right beside our tableChef Shawn Murphy in his kitchen

Shawn Murphy’s passion for local food dates back to his childhood, having spent time growing up on his grandparents farm and eating the vegetables harvested from their garden. Shawn is a graduate from Niagara College’s Culinary Management Program, and is no stranger to the wine community after spending time in the kitchens at Hillebrand Winery and working as a sous-chef at Ravine Vineyards.

This was a very refreshing experience at Farmers' Table @Southbrook and one that I would encourage everyone to experience for yourself. Farmers' Table @Southbrook is open from June 4 to Thanksgiving weekend (October 12), Thursday through to Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Follow @SouthbrookWine for more details, updates and daily specials.


Monday, June 9, 2014

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  • Monday, June 9, 2014

Spring + Summer Wine Evening at Pukka with Peter Boyd

, I attended Pukka's first-in-a-series of wine evenings planned for this Spring and Summer. Located in the Bathurst & St. Clair area in Toronto, Pukka is billed as a "Modern Indian Restaurant" and very forward-thinking - both of which were quite evident on this evening. Leading our small group of 14 was Sommelier Peter Boyd, who has 30 years experience teaching and working in the restaurant industry.

The theme of this tasting was titled "Matching Wines with Indian Food". Being East Indian myself, I know firsthand that it can be challenging to pair wine with Indian foods, even more so when combining wine with a 5 course tasting menu complete with spices, dips, chutneys and salsas.

Tomato Chutney and Pakoras
The first pairing of the evening were some vegetable pakoras served with a side of tomato chutney and paired with the Cima del Colle Prosecco (Veneto, Italy). The vibrant acids and the bubbles from this sparkling wine cut through the oil from the pakoras very well. Also, the pakoras toned down and helped balance the sweetness that resided in the wine. Overall, a good pairing.

For each of the final four courses for the remainder of the night, two wines were paired with two menu items to allow for some mix-and-matching as we sampled both wines with both food items together.

Sweet Potato Samosa and Chicken Tikka
We paired a Herb-Infused Chicken Tikka and a Sweet Potato Samosa. The wines were a 2012 Monte Schiavo Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (Marche, Italy) and a 2013 Marisco Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand). Chutneys made from tamarind and coriander were also provided for dipping.

The Verdicchio balanced well with the Chicken Tikka, but showed very green, vegetal notes with the Samosa. The Chicken Tikka also paired well with the Sauvignon Blanc, very balanced, while also helping tone down the flavours of the wine. Indian chutneys can often dominate the flavour palate, and are often difficult to pair with wine. In this case, the Verdicchio and coriander chutney combined to provide a sensory overload consisting of very green flavours. Meanwhile, the (sweetish) tamarind, combined with meat and a lighter wine all provided a sense of balance.

Pan-Roasted Pickerel and Tawa Monkfish
Our next course was a Tawa Monkfish with a mango, tomato and red pepper sambal, alongside Pan-Roasted Pickerel with tomato-fennel curry on a bed of pan-fried veggies. The wines for these dishes were the 2012 Charles Baker Riesling (Niagara Peninsula, Canada) and the 2012 Rabl Grüner Veltliner (Kamptal, Austria).

With the Monkfish, the mildly sweet Riesling suddenly became quite dry, while adding the sambal brought spice into the equation. The Monkfish also overpowered the Grüner, resulting in neither wine pairing particularly well with this fish. Paired with the Pickerel, the Riesling overpowered the fish, while the Grüner was much better, including with the sambal.

Moving on to bigger dishes, the fourth course featured Butter Chicken in a tomato infused butter sauce and sweetened with maple syrup. Alongside this was a South Indian Vegetable Curry that was made in a coconut, tamarind, and mustard seed broth. The wines for this course were the 2010 Mittnacht-Klack Gewürztraminer (Alsace, France) and the 2011 Domaine des Lauribert Côtes du Rhône (France).

Butter ChickenVegetable Curry

The sweet Gewürztraminer and the sweet, ripe fruited nature of this Côtes du Rhône complemented the sweet flavours from the Butter Chicken very well. Pairing these wines to the Vegetable Curry was intriguing as it paired well with the Côtes du Rhône, while also bringing out some smoky flavours. The Gewürz was great on its own - it was my favourite white wine of the evening - but merited only an average grading in my books when pairing with the Vegetable Curry.

Grilled Lamb Lollipops and French Bean
And last but not least, we paired a couple of big, dry, red blends with Grilled Lamb Lollipops marinated in turmeric, mint and coriander curry, and served with a side of French Beans that were caramelized in onion, curry leaf and coconut. The two wines enjoyed with this lovely dish were the 2011 Stratus Tollgate Meritage (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario) and the 2011 Perlita Malbec-Syrah (Mendoza, Argentina).

Malbec and Syrah both pair wonderfully with lamb, so it's no surprise that the Argentinean blend (80% Malbec and 20% Syrah) paired really well with this dish. This Malbec/Syrah was my favourite red wine of the night. The Meritage is likely a blend of the classic Bordeaux grapes and paired relatively well with the lamb. However, I thought this wine was a bit too young to be opened right now (or could have been decanted prior to serving).

Overall, I thought this event was a great idea and fairly well executed. It's not often I see such great attention to wine pairings at Indian restaurants and was very refreshing! This was my first time visiting Pukka and I was quite impressed with the quality of their ingredients, including the use of fresh, high-quality meat. I would definitely come back.

Thank you Harsh Chawla, Derek Valleau, Peter Boyd and The Culinary Team at Pukka for putting together this special evening. Also, thank you to Krista Lamb for inviting me to this event as your guest. I very much enjoyed it and would highly encourage you to check out Pukka's Wine Evening event in August event - as all their other events are already sold out. And if you're not able to attend a Wine Evening, you'll be glad to know that most of the wines we paired tonight are available by the glass. Visit the Pukka events page for all the details.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

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  • Sunday, July 7, 2013

#TOWineDinner at The Miller Tavern on Bay - June 2013

On , I joined fellow food and wine folks at The Miller Tavern on Bay for the thrice yearly(?) #TOWineDinner. The event was organized by @TylerOnWine, and in attendance were @EssexWineReview, @GrapeSelections, @KristaLamb, @WhitbyFoodie, @WhitbyWino, @WineGPCi and @YYZdesign. And crashing the party towards the end, we welcomed @Vinetopia.

#TOWineDinner line-up

The format was very casual, we ordered whatever we liked off the menu for our appetizer, main, and if we were up for it - dessert. We also indulged in a charcuterie platter to start the night.

Everyone who attended brought (at least) one bottle of wine to share with the group and also shared their story about how they came to own that bottle of wine. One story seemed entirely made up, and provided 100% entertainment value. =) Wines were opened one at a time, over the course of the evening. We talked about the wine at great length before moving on to the next bottle. In all, there were 10 bottles of wine.

This was my first #TOwinedinner, and, reflecting back, it was a fun night overall. Everyone got to taste some wines that they otherwise probably would not have had the chance to taste. We laughed, wined, dined, and enjoyed each other's company. As always, it was great to meet some new winos! I am sure planning for the next #TOwinedinner is already in the works and I personally can't wait to do it all over again. Below you will find tasting notes along with food pairings.

The first bottle of the evening was a Cremant Sparkling Wine and was sabered by Tyler Philp outside on the patio. Here's my video recording:


LOUIS BOUILLOT PERLE D'AURORE BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE (NV) - Burgundy, France (#048793) (XD) - $18.95
Grapefruit and lemon rind aromas. Fine mousse with balanced aroma replays on the dry palate. Mid-palate is a little bumpy, while the finish is long and quite smooth. Score: 87+ pts

Louis Bouillot Perle d'Aurore Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne2004 Josmeyer Gewürztraminer Brand

For my appetizer, I ordered the Fried Mozzarella sticks with Marinara dipping sauce. A rather simple dish, with simple flavours, but it paired really well with the dry Chardonnay. The sweeter Gewürztraminer and Riesling Spätlese both offered good acidity to allow it to pair well with the fried cheese, but flavours in the wines were more conducive to sipping them on their own on this night.

BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#208694) (XD) - $35.95
Medium-intensity and inviting aromas of smoke, pear and hints of sweet fruit. Creamy mouthfeel and medium to full bodied, this white wine has flavours of butterscotch and orchard fruits. Laser-focused acidity and medium-long finish. One of my favourites of the evening. Score: 90 pts

JOSMEYER GEWÜRZTRAMINER BRAND 2004 - AOC Alsace Grand Cru, France (#) (D) - $????
Lovely peach, lychee and hints of honey and lime aromas. Creamy and oily viscosity. Lychee and peach on the palate with a lingering, dry finish. Aromas are much sweeter than palate would suggest. Good acidity and well-balanced. Is ageing gracefully and could last a few more years. Score: 91 pts

REICHSGRAF VON KESSELSTATT PIESPORTER GOLDTRÖPFCHEN RIESLING SPÄTLESE 1999 - Mosel, Germany (#313502) (MS) - $19.95
Medium intensity beeswax and mineral aromas with hints of petrol. Nice floral notes off the mark, with balanced aromas replays following. Quite sweet, but the high acidity really cuts the sweetness down. Finish is medium-long. Score: 89 pts

My main meal of the night was the Adobo Chicken Taco. These were soft taco shells wrapped in grilled chicken, roasted poblano & sweet peppers, goat cheese, sour cream and Adobo sauce. Except for some mild smokiness, there were no strong, intense flavours from the tacos, thus lending itself to be paired quite nicely with all of the red wines.

2005 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny2009 Tulip Syrah Reserve2007 Creekside Lost Barrel Red

ALAIN HUDELOT-NOELLAT CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 2005 - Burgundy, France (#979252) (XD) - $59.95
Medium-intensity aromas of sour cherry, red fruits and hints of earth. Sour cherry, bramble and red fruits on the long-finishing palate. Mouth-watering acidity and good tannins. Will continue to drink well 3-4 years from now. Score: 91 pts

ROSEWOOD MERLOT 2010 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#211896) (XD) - $22.00
First tasted (and enjoyed) last Fall, this red wine now has medium-high intensity inky, cedar and blackberry jam aromas. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity, palate is spicy with blackberry, black fruits and oak. Score: 87 pts

TULIP SYRAH RESERVE 2009 - Upper Galilee, Israel (XD) ~ $28
Quite intense aromas of fresh black and red fruits, ink and oak. Medium-bodied and very spicy on the palate with flavours of black fruits, violets and a steely quality. Good acidity for pairing with foods, and firm tannins will reward with 2-3 years cellar time. Finish is medium-length. Score: 89 pts

CREEKSIDE LOST BARREL RED 2007 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $65
From the great 2007 vintage, this red wine was crafted from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, and Malbec (exact quantities unknown). Intense aromas of lovely black fruits, cedar and plum. Medium-bodied dark fruits, plum, cassis, blackberry and some eucalyptus flavours. Complex. Big wine with very grippy tannins. I would cellar this another 2-3 years. Favourite red of the evening! Score: 91+ pts

I paired the final two wines of the evening with the daily dessert special - a large and decadent Chocolate Peanut Brownie topped with Ice Cream. Both wines were sweet and delicious by themselves, but could not hold their own against this very sweet creation.

2009 Stoney Ridge Passion2007 Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú Red Label

STONEY RIDGE PASSION 2009 - VQA Ontario, Canada (#) (MS) - $24.95
Fortified wine made with 50% Cabernet Franc Icewine, and the rest Baco Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, dried fruit with a mix of blackberry/strawberry jam aromas. Very smooth on the medium-full bodied palate with flavours of blackcurrant, cassis and sweet black fruit. Long, smooth finish. Delicious! One of the favourites of the evening. Only available at the winery. Score: 90 pts

ROYAL TOKAJI 5 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI ASZÚ RED LABEL 2007 - Hungary (#959031) (S) (500 mL) - $41.00
Medium-high intensity and charming aromas of honey, apricots and hints of orange marmalade. Medium-bodied palate with notes of orange, apricots and honey. Sweet, but has good acidity so as to not feel cloying. Very clean, smooth and lengthy finish, while showing great balance throughout. Score: 91 pts


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