.The Date and Time: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 6PM to 9PM
The Event: Borealia launch dinner
The Venue: Borealia, 59 Ossington Avenue
The Target Audience: wine and food media
The Quote/Background: This was the launch of an indigenous food restaurant in Toronto www.borealiato.com. We had small plates for sharing of a variety of dishes (eight in all) sourced from Ontario farms and waters, for the most part. Chef Wayne Morris had a modern take on recipes dating back to the 1600s (think Order of Good Cheer). Currently, the restaurant is open Wednesdays through Sundays, at 5:30 PM.
The Wines: We had Southbrook Chardonnay Triomphe 2013 VQA (93 points, one of my faves this year) and Southbrook Cabernet Franc Triomphe 2012 VQA (90) as the red, for a reception wine. There was also Borealia's signature cocktail, Grapefruit Shrub Spritz, made was grapefruit shrub, aperol, and cava. The reception wine continued through the meal.
The Food: Seating was on benches, tables or booths. I was in a booth with two other wine writers. It certainly helped that indigenous wines went with indigenous foods. Preps were dated on the menu, from their first appearance. In celebration of her heritage, co-owner Evelyn Wu contributed devilled Chinese tea eggs with sausage and five spice, referenced back to about 1855 and the beginning of Chinese immigration. She also had chopsuey croquettes (like arancini) from that same time period, and it was a revelation of flavours. Bravo! On to the bison bresaola done pemmican style with wild blueberries and lardo – worked well with the smokey Chardonnay. There's a story behind every dish, and the staff are pleased to talk about it. Next up was the braised whelk with seaweed and burdock, it was a lot like conch with a similar shell but more tender. So far I had been coasting on Chardonnay since I appreciated it more than the Franc, and actually of all the dishes, the Franc probably really shined with the last meat course (pigeon pie). So I continued with the white wine, no hardship there! Next up was l'eclade from 1605 (mussels smoked in pine needles with pine ash butter, served over red fife bread and cultured butter). It had a light dusting of singed pine tones, and went rather well with the Chardonnay. Next was a salt cod quennelles prep from 1776 with lobster veloute (a natural for Chardonnay of course), followed by the pigeon pie which had roast squab breast and parsnips (this was from 1611). For dessert, there was Louisbourg Hot Chooclate Beignets (spiced chocolate ganache, beer batter, and lemon sugar, from 1795 and a definite West Indies influence). No wine or drink, but maybe next time a Southbrook Whimsy The Anniversary, a fortified aged chardonnay straight up – to continue the Chardonnay theme.
The Downside: it was bitterly cold that night and the Oz bus was packed, but I walked down from Dundas. Brrrrrr....
The Upside: we were given a small takeaway sample of the grapefruit shrub base: my wife loved it once I added bitters and cava to the glass.
The Contact Person: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92.