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Monday, November 29, 2010

Nov 3/10 - [yellowtail] Reserve lunch and tasting at Buca

The Time and Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2010  11AM to 2 PM

The Event: A [yellow tail] Reserve wine tasting with founder John Casella and Zoltan Szabo.

The Venue: Buca Restaurant, King Street

The Target Audience: wine media

The Availability/Catalogue: The reserve wines are working their way through the Ontario system. 200,000 cases in total were made for international distribution.

The Quote/Background: John Casella spoke on his company. Eight million cases have been sold in the US (out of 11.5 million total), The grapes come from 39 different regions. The wine is exceptionally fruit-driven, but the Reserve has some advanced levels of complexity, primarily due to wood aging. Zoltan took us through the tasting, which was blind. We were to compare four different Shiraz wines and four different Cabernet Sauvignon wines, all from Australia. Yellow Tail Reserves were part of the mix. I could not identify any wines in each flight, but I did surmise that the most fruity of the wines would probably be the Yellow Tail Reserve – and I was right.

The Wines:


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Three Rings Shiraz 2007 Barossa (everybody's fave shiraz)

-Yellow Tail Reserve Chardonnay 2009


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz 2009

-Layer Cake Shiraz 2009 SEA

-Heartlands Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Limestone Coast (my fave cab)


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Yellow Tail White Sparkler (rince bouche)

-Angove's The Bull Shiraz 2007 SEA

-Mitolo Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 McLaren Vale ($65!)

-Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 SEA

-Yellow Tail Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (the fave cabernet sauvignon)


The Food: a first rate selection of nodini as an appetizer, followed by a cavatelli pomodori with nova tomatoes and capra di alma (wine: Yellow Tail Reserve Chardo9nnay 2009). Then there was a beef short rib with polenta and grana padano (wine: Yellow Tail Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Reserve Shiraz 2009).

The Downside: a bit of a chlorine odour in my corner made me move to another location, but the smell dissipated after awhile.

The Upside: there was a limo livery service to drop us off.

The Contact Person: Nicole Paara

The Marketing Effectiveness of this Event (numerical grade): 91 – it was a good exercise.



FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills (Elliot)

ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS COMPLETE BOOK OF KNIFE SKILLS; the essential guide to use, techniques & care (Robert Rose, 2010, 400 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0256-3, $34.95 Canadian spiral bound) is by Jeffrey Elliot, a Henckels executive chef and Director of Culinary Relations for the firm. His co-author is James P. Dewan, a food writer for the Chicago Tribune and a culinary instructor. Although it is a "product" book with endorsements for Henckel knives, any knife can be used. Chefs have to use knives for every aspect of cooking. Learning how to hold and use a knife correctly will help the home cook work more safely and effectively, efficiently, and faster. Knives also promote uniform cooking by proper sizing, and presentation. This book has 1200 photographs, mostly in a series of techniques. The only thing better may be a video presentation – you can find several out there on YouTube or DVD. The opening chapter is the primer: all you need to know about knives, including a useful history, techniques of forging, knife styles, parts of the knife, blade styles, and more. Henckels makes a Japanese line, and these too are included (the Gyutoh, the Santoku, the Usuba, Kamagata, Nakiri, and others). Knife care is important, and how to maintain an edge is discussed.  All of this takes the first 90 pages. Basic fruit and vegetable cuts (including how to pit an avocado or breaking up a garlic head) is followed by cutting poultry, cutting meat, cutting fish and shellfish, and carving cooked meats. For those with flair, the last chapter covers tomato roses, radish flowers, carrot flowers, and eight more garnishes. No recipes.

Audience and level of use: home cooks, culinary students.

Some interesting or unusual facts: bias-cut slices of meat are typically fanned out when they're plated for a nice look.

The downside to this book: I am always leery of spiral binding because it is easier to rip out the pages.

The upside to this book: the photographs.

Quality/Price Rating: 91.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing
Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at My
"Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net Compendium" is a guide to
thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers
and spirits, at since 1995. My tastings are based on
MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are QPR (Quality-to-Price
Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated wines are here. NOTE:
The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the release for wine
writers or product consultants. Corked wines are not available for re-
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Santa Rita Medalla Real Chardonnay 2008 Limari: ripe, balanced
flavours, a bit of a clove finish. +303628, $17.95, QPR: 90.
2. Charton & Trebuchet Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Beaune 2009 Les
Grandes Vignes: from 30-year old vines, quality production, lots of
flavour and finish. Best with food. At this price, load up. +183673, $18.95,
QPR: 91.
3. Zenato Lugana 2009 San Benedetto Lombardia: quality aperitif wine –
aromatic beginning, body on the palate, citrus finish. +707158, $13.95,
QPR: 90.
4. Feudi Della Medusa Albithia Vermentino di Sardegna 2006: very dense
and spectacular concentration for a white. Lush palate, finishes
slightly bitter (stone pits). +199224, $17.95, QPR: 91.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Louis Martini Ghost Pines Winemaker's Blend Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Napa/Sonoma: delicious California explosive intensity, 59% from Napa,
balance Sonoma. Delivers value. +135376, $19.95, QPR: 90.
2. Winesmith Planet Pluto Meritage 2006 California: another delicious
California restaurant wine, hits all the right buttons (45% cab sauv,
44% cab franc, 11% merlot). +205195, $18.95, QPR: 90.
3. Domaine La Bouscade Old Vine Carignan 2007: good depth of flavours
of black fruit, best with food. +78758, $16.95, QPR: 90.
4. Fattoria Dei Barbi Brusco dei Barbi 2007 IGT Toscana: wine left on
lees for two months, 13.5% ABV, full and demanding palate, heavy foods
needed to deal with tannins. +673160, $13.95, QPR: 89.
5. Monte Zovo Palazzo Mafei Ripasso 2007 Veneto: thick flavours, MVC
for the style, good fruit, berry character, value-priced. +183426,
$13.95, QPR: 90.
6. Valpantena Torre del Falasco Ripasso Valpolicella 2008: full, ripe,
off-dry plumminess. +642421, $15.95, QPR: 89.
7. Del Jalon Altos Las Pizarras 2005 Catalunya: delicious grenache old
vine stock, 14% ABV, all new French oak. +194746, $18.95, QPR: 89.
8. Mahler-Besse Taja Gran Reserva 2003 Jumilla: richly aged like a
Bordeaux (tobacco leaf, mocha, cherries, long length). +539148, $18.95,
QPR: 90.
9. Shottesbrooke Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 McLaren Vale: fruit is
Californian, and at 14.5% ABV packs a punch. Firm and dense. +198275,
$19.95, QPR: 89.
10. Jean-Claude Fromont Bourgogne 2009: bargain-priced pinot noir, MVC
for the region, fits profile. +199521, $17.95. QPR: 89.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are READY to enjoy right NOW. Consumers
should buy these wines to bring to restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2007 Beamsville VQA, +68817, $35.20
2. Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2008 VQA Niagara,
+33936, $25.
3. Peninsula Ridge Fume Blanc 2008 VQA Niagara, +8102, $24.95
4. Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Spatlese 2003 Scharzhofberger,
+712471, $21.95.
5. Malivoire Pinot Noir 2007 Beamsville Organic, +996777, $39.95.
6. Beringer Merlot 2006 Napa, +919647, $29.95
7. Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Napa, +936039, $119.95
8. Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal 2003 Pauillac, +190355, $54.95
9. Chateau Reignac 2008 Bordeaux Superieur, +192682, $24.95
10. Domaine Fleurot Nuits-St-Georges 2007, +185728, $44.95
11. Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2007 IGT Toscana, +727636, $31.95
12. Quintarelli Rosso Ca'del Merlo 2001 IGT Veneto, +958595, $83.95
13. Castillo de Sajazarra Solar de Libano Reserva 2004 DOCa Rioja,
+190587, $22.95.

Monday, November 22, 2010

DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! : Taste Buds and Molecules (Chartier)

TASTE BUDS AND MOLECULES; the art and science of food with wine (McClelland & Stewart, 2010, 223 pages, ISBN 978-0-7710-2253-1, $39.99 Canadian, hard covers) is an English translation of the 2009 French-Canadian book by Francois Chartier, a leading sommelier in Quebec and author of the annual La Selection Chartier, a wine-buying guide now in its 15th edition. He is currently researching more on molecular harmonies and wine stewardship. Certainly, one cannot beat the endorsement of Ferra Adria and Juli Soler of elBulli restaurant in Spain. He begins by identifying the aromatic compounds responsible for fragrances, and finding which ones are in common with wine and food. He takes the gustatory experience right down to the molecular level in both wine and food, and then makes suggested pairings based on the relationships. This is only the first of a series of books, as he works his way through the aromas of foods and wines. Obviously, he owes a debt to elBulli, but he takes the molecular experience steps further. There's a chapter on sauvignon blanc and anise-flavoured foods and wines; there's a chapter on gewurztraminer and ginger and lychee; strawberries and pineapples also have a connection. Rosemary seems to go well with Alsatian wines. There are chapters on sherries (all things to all people), maple syrup, oak and barrels, cloves, saffron, cinnamon, and capsaicin. He ends up with a molecular tasting meal with two master chefs. There are a few recipes and some menu ideas. There's a graphic display and a white-on-black layout that could be hard (or fatiguing) for some to read. Maybe it was an attempt to get younger readers? I think that I would really like to read this book as a text, maybe an e-text, without the pictures and graphic charts and arrows. It's really busy, and it does cause enough stress that I'd like a drink of wine after I read each chapter!!

Audience and level of use: the serious food and wine lover.

Some interesting or unusual facts: Eugenol is the dominant volatile compound in cloves and is one of the principal aromatics generated by charred oak barrels. Cloves also contain vanillin and other aromatics that are found in oak barrels. The connection is that an oak-aged wine goes perfectly well with clove-inflected foods.

The downside to this book: my eyes hurt from reading all the graphical-layout of the text with its many colours and arrows.

The upside to this book: the same layout may just appeal to younger wine lovers and attract them to reading about the quality of wine and food pairing.

Quality/Price Rating: 91.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nov/2010: THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK... one of the hottest trends in cookbooks.
Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such
proliferation. They are automatic sellers, since the book can be
flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a
celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up
on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans
of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of
the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the
restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books,
special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu.
Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But
because most of these books are American, they use only US volume
measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric
equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out.
The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks".
There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf
also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as
if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from
readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes
(not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work, but how could
that be? They all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many
books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with
tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life
in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding
about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem
to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a
lot of food shots, verging on gastroporn. The endorsements are from
other celebrities in a magnificent case of logrolling. If resources are
cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some
companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them
altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
11. TASTE BROADWAY; restaurant recipes from NYC's theater district
(Gibbs Smith, 2010; distr. Raincoast, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0486-
0, $19.99 US soft covers) has been assembled by Carliss Retif Pond, z
food writer living in New York city. These are signature dishes from 30
restaurants in the district, arranged by course from appetizers to
desserts (plus drinks). There are photos and engaging anecdotes from
the establishments. Preps have all been sourced as to name of chef and
resto. And there is a directory at the back with contact data and page
references to their recipes in this book. Leading the way with
contributions is the Russian Tea Room, Sardi's, and the Algonquin
Hotel. P.J. Clarke's has just one prep given (bubble and squeak).
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a metric table of equivalents. The print is a nice size,
and there is plenty of white space for eye ease and to write your own
notes. The book is more of a souvenir than anything else, as are the
best Broadway programs. Dishes include such as pasta e fagioli from La
Rivista, zuppa di broccoli from Lattanzi, and venison hash from
Lucille's Grill. Quality/price rating: 86.

12. THE HARROW FAIR COOKBOOK; prize-winning recipes inspired by
Canada's favourite country fair (Whitecap, 2010, 238 pages, ISBN 978-1-
77050-020-4, $29.95 paper covers) is by sisters Moira Sanders and Lori
Elstone, both culinary school graduates who worked in restaurants.
Moira has a food blog, while Lori writes locally about food and wine.
They have been assisted by Beth Maloney, a first cousin. You can check
them all out at The Colchester South and
Harrow Agricultural Society Fair was founded in 1854; it is held every
Labour Day weekend with a turnout of some 70,000. The 150 preps here
use local produce to make plates from scratch. There are preserves for
summer produce, pie bakes, and drinks. All of the recipes were inspired
by the fair and the surrounding area. Some are first prize winners,
such as buttermilk biscuits and rhubarb custard pie. Others are family
favourites passed on from generation to generation. All of them are
delicious and tasty. A full range is presented: breakfast, starters,
soups, sides, mains, desserts, plus primer data on preserving veggies
and fruit (sauces, jams, freezing, condiments, pickles). Preparations
have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Try the seven-
strata salad, the Great Lakes chowder, or any of the prize-winning pies
and cakes. A yummy book with nifty photography. Quality/price rating:
13. THE SEVEN STARS COOKBOOK; recipes from world-class casino
restaurants (Chronicle Books, 2010,; distr. Raincoast, 320 pages, ISBN
978-0-8118-7475-5, $45 US hard covers) has been pulled together by John
Schlimm, better known for his books on beer. The book is sponsored by
Harrah's Entertainment, the world's largest provider of branded casino
entertainment, operating on four continents under such names as
Caesars, Horseshoe, and World Series of Poker. It also has a majority
interest in the London Clubs International series of casinos. Despite
this provenance, there is still some heavy log rolling from Paul
Prudhomme and Rocco DiSpirito – and even novelist Jackie Collins(!).
The book features recipes from Bobby Flay and Paula Deen and other
executive chefs from casinos, including some from Canada. There's a
history of the company plus lots of photos of their casino operations.
Apart from that, it seems to be a coffee table book with oversized
photos on platings of dishes, and fare that fits into categories of
appetizers, salads, soups, sides, meat mains, pasta, fish and seafood,
desserts, and cocktails. There's a breakfast buffet-brunch and a VIP
luncheon menu. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents.
Recipes are sourced by casino and chef name. Prudhomme contributes a
leek and sun-dried tomato mushroom and champagne soup and a bronzed
fish, Paula Deen has her hoecakes and gooey butter cake, and Flay has
his blue corn-crusted red snapper. The book will undoubtedly sell well
at all their casino properties. Oh, and did I say that the book weighs
2.2 kilos? It's pretty heavy to lug around the kitchen when doing a
prep. Quality/price rating: 82.
14. EVERYDAY RAW DESSERTS (Gibbs Smith, 2010; distr. Raincoast, 143
pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0599-7, $19.99 paper covers) is by Matthew
Kenney, founder and chef at 105degrees Restaurant, and a TV
personality. He has also authored some books dealing with raw foods, so
he is a go-to person in the raw food front. He has 75 preps here. He
begins with a staples list, to establish a foundation. So he has
recipes for coconut milk, coconut powder, sucanat, nut flour, cashew
flour, Irish moss paste, date paste, candied nuts, toffee and caramel,
plus raw chocolate. The secret to raw cooking is the dehydrator – and
you cannot over-dehydrate. The drier the finished product, the longer
it can last. Desserts here include cookies and candy, brownies, fudge,
puddings, pies and tarts, custards, cakes and cheesecakes, plus frozen
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a metric table of equivalents. Try dulce de leche flan,
candied carrot-ginger cake, or cacao cake with lavender. Quality/price
rating: 87.

15. FRESH FROM THE MARKET; seasonal cooking (John Wiley & Sons, 2010,
328 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-40242-9, $35 US hard covers) is by Laurent
Tourondel and Charlotte March. He's the founder of the BLT chain,
Bistro Laurent Tourondel Restaurants. Log rolling comes from Rachel
Ray. He stresses the local and wild foods found at farmers' markets,
mostly from the Northeast US. There's about 167 recipes here, plus
menus for a variety of occasions. He also offers cocktails and wine
pairings. The arrangement is, of course, seasonal, from Spring through
Winter. Typical menus cover Easter Sunday brunch buffet, Mother's Day
brunch, BBQ and Picnic, wine harvest, US Thanksgiving, plus Christmas
and New Year Eves. Braised rabbit legs in Chablis with tarragon
tagliatelle and mushrooms grabbed my attention. So did spiced grilled
duck with plum mostarda and foie gras. Or how about the aromatic
stuffed suckling pig?  Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Sources are all American; indeed, suppliers are mainly situated in New
York state. Useful for those living in NE US. Quality/price rating: 86.

16. BOURKE STREET BAKERY; the ultimate baking companion (HarperCollins,
2010, 370 pages, ISBN 978-1-55468-881-4, $39.99 Canadian soft covers)
was originally published by Murdoch Books in Australia in 2009. Authors
Paul Allam and David McGuinness are chefs and co-owners of the
eponymous bakery in Sydney, Australia. They specialize in rustic
breads, gourmet pies, and sweets, and there are several other branches
of the operation. So this book concentrates on those three forms of
baked goods; it also gets an endorsement from Joanne Yolles, acclaimed
pastry chef at Scaramouche in Toronto. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of equivalents or conversion charts. There's some
text about the bakery and some memoir-ish notes as well. Some
interesting items include spiced fruit sourdough, light rye bread,
chicken pies with eggplant and mushroom, ratatouille pie, chickpea and
goat's curd and eggplant empanadas, and chocolate mousse tarts.
Quality/Price rating: 87.

17.TARTINE BREAD (Chronicle Books, 2010; distr. Raincoast, 304 pages,
ISBN 978-0-8118-7041-2, $40 US hard covers) is by Chad Robertson. With
his pastry chef wife Elizabeth, he had written Tartine in 2006,
eventually picking up a Beard Award. Here he concentrates on just
bread, and bread made just by natural leavening. His take on this
sourdough is a younger version with little acidity, making it a sweet-
smelling yeastier relative. He must be doing something right for his
bread sells out in an hour after leaving the ovens at 5 PM. In form,
the bread would be baked dark, with a substantial blistered crust. The
crumb would have a sweet character with holes. There's a lot of
material here about his bakery (history, business, memoirs) as well as
the usual pictures. We get to the basic bread at page 45, with black
and white photos for techniques. Start with a starter, move on to the
leavening, and mixing the dough. Everything is scaled for only weights
are true measures. Preps are detailed and based on one kilogram of
flour. The recipe ends on page 79, 35 pages later. Then begin all the
variations. This is a terrific book for would-be beakers, and it is not
for the faint of heart. He concludes with some 30 recipes for making a
meal from the bread: panzanella, escalivada, bagnet vert, aioli,
bruschetta, sandwiches, fritatine, and summer pudding. Bread
preparations have their ingredients listed in metric measurements, meal
preps have avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of
Quality/Price rating: 89.

18. BLACKBIRD BAKERY GLUTEN-FREE; 75 recipes for irresistible desserts
and pastries (Chronicle Books, 2010, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-7331-4,
$24.95 US hard covers) is by Karen Morgan, proprietor of the Blackbird
Bakery in Austin, Texas. Here she uses a variety of wheatless flours
(rice, tapioca, sorghum, almond) to create cookies, cakes, biscuits,
and pies. There's a primer on cooking without flour and a resources
list where gluten-free ingredients may be purchased. The preps include
popovers, pancakes, scones, muffins, banana bread, gingerbread, pound
cake, ladyfingers, shortbreads, crepes, apple pies, and more.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a metric table of equivalents. A useful book.
Quality/Price rating: 86.

19. MICHAEL CHIARELLO'S BOTTEGA; bold Italian flavors from the heart of
California's wine country (Chronicle Books, 2010, 223 pages, ISBN 978-
0-8118-7539-4, $40 US hard covers) is also authored "with Ann Krueger
Spivack and Claudia Sansone". The former is a cookbook author with a
Beard Award; the latter is a culinary set designer with an Emmy. The
team has garnered log rolling from Rick Bayless, Tom Colicchio, and
Hubert Keller (plus others from west coast restaurants). Chiarello runs
Bottega in Napa, just one of his many food accomplishments (his resume
is a yard/metre long) which includes Emmy-winning food television. He
opened Bottegs in late 2008; all of the preps here come from that
resto. There's a lot of restaurant memoir-history here, scattered
amongst the recipes. He begins, sensibly, with the CalItal pantry. This
is followed by the Italian meal pacing of stuzzichini (snacks),
antipasti, minestre e insalate, paste e risotto, pesce ed I molluschi,
carne e pollame, contorni (sides), and dolci. There's not much on wine,
just a minimal recommendation for most presps such as "champagne" or
"pinot noir". But there is a section on libations and cocktails. This
is followed by a list of US resources. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric
table of equivalents. Typical items include his grandmother's old hen
tomato sauce, chicken wings agrodolce (yum yum), cauliflower fritto,
grilled radicchio salad with tuna, garganelli with rabbit sugo and
mushroom, and, of course, a killer porchetta using a suckling pig
stuffed with a boneless pork shoulder. But the book weighs a lot, and
the pages are 9 x 12 inches. Quality/Price rating: 88.
20. VIJ'S AT HOME; relax, honey – the warmth and ease of Indian cooking
(Douglas & McIntyre, 2010, 230 pages, ISBN 978-1-55365-572-5, $40 CDN
paper covers) is by Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij. Vij is owner-chef of
Vij in Vancouver since 1994; Dhalwala and Vij together also run Rangoli
in Vancouver. Vij has appeared on many television shows. It's a useful
quick and easy guide to inspired Indian food: all preps can be done in
less than 20 minutes plus cooking times. There's a full-range of
vegetarian, seafood, poultry, meats and desserts. There's an opening
primer on Indian foods at home (spices, oils, staples) which includes
some guidelines for easier cooking, such as sizzling seeds or using a
lot of tomatoes.  Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents.
There is also the occasional memoir material on Indian family life. And
some really sharp notes on wine pairings with Indian food (Vij is a
certified sommelier). The advice, though, is general, for there are no
specific wine recommendations for the recipes. Recipes also list three
different other food to have with the prep. Try green beans and
potatoes and spinach in coconut curry, steamed marinated halibut in
black chickpea and potato curry, marinated duck breast with mung bean
and sesame see rice pilaf, spinach and split pea mash, and brown
basmati with Portobello mushroom pilaf. Quality/Price rating: 88.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Oct 27/10: Herdade Paco do Conde Winetastng Dinner at Chiado

 The Time and Date: Wednesday, October 27, 2010  6PM to 10PM
The Event: Dinner with Jose Antonio Ferrao Castelo Branco, Socio
Gerente for Herdade Paco do Conde wines, Alentejo region of Portugal.
His agent is Matthew Naranjo, Terroir Wine Imports.
The Venue: Chiado Restaurant, College Street
The Target Audience: wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: wines are available as consignment, or
private order. One is coming to Vintages in February 2011.
The Quote/Background: Both Matthew and Jose provided insight into the
wines and foods, through talks and one-on-one conversations throughout
the dinner. 80% of the wines are exported, mainly to Brazil, Canada,
and rest of Europe (but not to USA).
The Wines: The principles behind the winery are to blend indigenous
grape varieties with international varieties. Hence, Touriga nacional
with syrah or cabernet sauvignon.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
--Herdade Paco Do Conde 2007 Reserva Alentejo red, $35 Private order
(mix of 60% syrah, 30% Touriga nacional, alicante bouschet 10%.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Herdade Das Albernoas 2009 Alentejo white, $10.50 LCBO: entry level
white, very aromatic. The red version is $8.95 in Quebec, and sells
-Herdade Paco Do Conde 2007 Alentejo red, $14.95 Vintages February 2011
-Herdade Paco Do Conde Touriga Nacional and Syrah 2007 Alentejo red,
$20 Consignment
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Herdade Paco Do Conde 2009 Alentejo white, $14.50 Consignment
The Food: we began with appetizers and the Albernoas white (salmon on
blini, ham and melon, potato cakes, shrimp cakes). This was followed by
the meal, with fresh cheese as a starter, and then double plates of
tuna tartare and avocado with sliced carpaccio of grouper and olive oil
(aromatic wines worked best here). Next was tile fish with piri piri
sauce and monkfish wrapped in prosciutto on mash. The meat course was
lamb loin with lamb leg and risotto. A Portuguese cheese platter ended
the meal, along with coffees. Overall, there were too few white wines
to match with the food – the lighter reds did not really work.
The Downside: The TTC dropped me off too early (the Ford factor?)
The Upside: great food and wine and conversations.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 89.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oct 28/10: APVSA Trade tasting in Toronto

 The Time and Date: Thursday, October 28, 2010   9 AM to 4 PM
The Event: the monthly APVSA tasting (Association pour la promotion des
vins et spiritueux en Amerique du Nord).
The Venue: Delta Chelsea Inn
The Target Audience: wine agents.
The Availability/Catalogue: no wines are currently available in
Ontario. The group is here to try to get some agents to agree to rep
the principal. Some of the wines are available in Quebec and Alberta.
Most of the wines were French, and there is sales staff available to
comment on the prices and production. This road show also visits New
York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Calgary, Vancouver, Miami,
Washington DC, and Montreal. Occasionally, the show will have wines
from Italy, Spain and Australia.
The Wines: The problem I had with the wines, and one that must be
acknowledged, is that (by and large) they were no better than the wines
that we already have here in Ontario. There really did not seem to be
any price advantages, either. These 80 or so wines could be made
available through Vintages or Consignment. In the past, quite a few
have been picked up for sale in Ontario. Here were my faves, regardless
of price (all prices are ex-cellar Euros). I did not try every wine:
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Champagne Dehu Pere et Fils Grande Reserve NV, 14 E
-Champagne Dehu Pere et Fils Cuvee Leon Lhermitte NV, 24 E
-Maison Leon Baur Gewurztraminer 2009 Cuve Vieilles Vignes Alsace,5.43E
-Domaine Henry Natter Sancerre Blanc 2008, 8.80 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Richebourg Grand Cru 2007, 112 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Pommard 1er cru Les Rugiens 2000,40E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Beaune 1er Cru Les Boucherottes
2008, 20 E
-Domaine Modat Le Plus Joli 2008 Cotes du Roussillon, 19 E
-VTL Export Villa Blanche VDP d'Oc 2009 Chardonnay, 2.75 E

***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Conte Estate Over the Hill Reserve Shiraz 2007 McLaren Vale [old
vines] $11.66 AUS
-Maison Leon Baur Pinot Blanc Auxerrois 2009 Alsace, 4.43 E
-Maison Leon Baur Pinot Gris 2009 Alsace, 5.43 E
-Domaine Henry Natter Sancerre Blanc 2009, 6.50 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Echezeaux Grand Cru 2008, 50 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Clos Vougeat Grand Cru 2008, 50 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Monthelie 1er Cru Les Champs
Fulliots 2004, 14 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Volnay 1er cru Les Fremiets 2004,28E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Chambolle Musigny 2007, 22 E
-Domaine Andre Bonhomme Vire Clesse Cuvee Speciale Blanc 2007, 6.10 E
-Chateau de L'Ille Cuvee Emilie Corbieres 2009 Blanc, 2.70 E
-Domaine de la Grange La Grange Terroir Rouge Clos Prat Bibal Languedoc
2009, 3.28 E
-Domaine de la Grange La Grange Castalides Reserve Languedoc, 4.67 E
-VTL Export Villa Blanche VDP d'Oc 2009 Syrah, 2.75 E
-VTL Export Domaine Bergon Grain d'Automne Merlot VDP d'Oc, 1.80 E

*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Castell d'age Merlot 2006 Baixa Spain, 5.50 E
-Maison Leon Baur Riesling 2009 Alsace, 5.18 E
-Domaine Bruneau Anjou Blanc 2009, 3.25 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits
2007, 9.50 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Morey St. Denis 2008, 20 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2008, 8.50 E
-Domaine AF Gros & Francois Parent Vosne Romanee Aux Reas 2007, 22 E
-Domaine Andre Bonhomme Vire Clesse Jeunes Vignes Blanc 2007, 5.50 E
-Domaine des Gandines Vire Clesse 2009 Terroir de Clesse, 5.30 E
-Domaine des Gandines Vire Clesse 2008 Les Gandines, 7.45 E
-Chateau du Gaby Canon-Fronsac 2006, 7.50 E
-Chateau Cailley Graves de Veyres Toulouze 2006, 4.20 E
-Domaine de la Gayere Cotes du Rhone 2007 Rouge, 2.90 E
-Domaine la Ligiere Vacqueyras 2009 Vieilles Vignes, 10.70 E
-Chateau Bellefontaine Vielles Vignes 2009 Costieres de Nimes, 3.745 E
-Domaine Modat Sans Plus Attendre 2008 Cotes du Roussillon, 7.25 E
-Chateau de L'Ille Cuvee Leonore V P d'Oc 2009, 2.30 E 
-Chateau de L'Ille Cuvee Charline V P de l'Aude 2009 Blanc, 2.30E
-Chateau de L'Ille Cuvee Louis Corbieres Rouge 2008, 4.96 E
-Chateau de L'Ille Cuvee Angelique Corbieres Rouge 2008, 3.13 E
-Bergerie du Capucin Dame Jeanne VDP du Val de Montferrand Blanc 2009,
4.50 E
-VTL Export Domaine Bergon Prestige Petit Verdot 2009, 2.85 E
-VTL Export Calmel + Jjoseph Le Saint Chinian 2008, 3.40 E
-VTL Export Calmel + Jjoseph Le Vieux Carignan 2009, 3.40 E
-VTL Export Chateau Haut Vignals Eleve en Fut de Chene Corbieres 2008,
3.35 E
The Downside: selection is eclectic and some bottles arrive
haphazardly. Some bottles never arrived at all, but we were not told
this until we got there. Some bottles are in the show, but are not
listed in the catalogue. It can be frustrating.
The Upside: a chance to taste some engaging wines not available here.
There is a listing of wines with FOB prices in Euros.
The Contact Person: Pascal
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 84.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oct 21/10: Tasting "Sonoma in the City" wines, Harbour Castle Westin

The Time and Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010  1Pm to 4:30PM

The Event: "Sonoma in the City", Toronto tasting tour of about 90 wines.

The Venue: Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre

The Target Audience: wine trade in the afternoon, with a Vintages show for consumers in the evening (with slightly different wines that were not available for trade tasting).

The Availability/Catalogue: wines were available for ordering by the public, or at Vintages/Consignment, etc.

The Quote/Background: There was a seminar, a basic Sonoma 101 discussion on terroir, with eight wines sampled. There were different wines at night, but I pulled together what prices I could from a range of sources.

The Wines: I did not try all the wines; I favoured Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Chateau St. Jean La Petite Etoile Fume Blanc Russian River 2008, $29.95

-Davis Bynum Chardonnay Russian River 2007, $24.95

-Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay Sonoma 2008,

-Gary Farrell Chardonnay Russian River 2008, $39.95

-Geyser Peak Chardonnay Alexander Valley 2008, $16.95

-Geyser Peak Reserve Alexandre Meritage 2006, $56.95

-Rodney Strong Symmetry Alexander Valley 2007, $49.95

-Landmark Lorenzo Chardonnay 2007, $49.95


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Arrowood Winery Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2008, $35.95

-Arrowood Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2006, $37.95

-Buena Vista Carneros Chardonnay 2008, $22.95

-Buena Vista Ramal Estate Carneros Chardonnay 2007,

-Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay 2006,

-Clos du Bois Briarcrest Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2005,

-Clos du Bois Marlstone Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2006, $49.95

-Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc Sonoma 2009 (Feb 2011 Vintages)

-Flowers Winery Andreen Gale Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007

-Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2008,

-Geyser Peak Merlot Alexander Valley 2006, $21.95

-Geyser Peak Block Collection Walking Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $28.95

-Thomas George Estates Viognier Russian River 2009, $28.95

-Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel 2008 Dry Creek Valley, $15.95 Consignment

-Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2007

-Landmark Damaris Reserve Chardonnay 2007, $39.95

-Matanzas Creek Chardonnay Sonoma Valley 2007, $37.95

-Ravenswood Old Hill Zinfandel Sonoma Valley 2007,

-Seghesio Family Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma County 2007,

-Seghesio Family Home Ranch Zinfandel Alexander Valley 2008

-Simi Chardonnay Russian River 2007

-Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay Sonoma Valley 2006, $49.95

-Stonestreet Fifth Ridge Blend Alexander Valley 2006, $44.95


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Chalk Hill Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006

-Chalk Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

-Clos du Bois Calcaire Chardonnay Russian River 2007, $39.95

-DeLoach Hawk Hill Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River 2008, $54.95

-Ferrari-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2007

-Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2007, $36.95

-Matanzas Creek Merlot Bennett Valley 2006, $42.95

-Patz and Hall Dutton Ranch Chardonnay Russian River 2008, $49.95

-Patz and Hall Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2008, $44.95

-Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay Russian River 2008, $34.95

-Schug Carneros Merlot Sonoma Valley 2007,

-Schug Carneros Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley 2007

-Sebastiani Foley Family Chardonnay Sonoma County 2008, $24

-Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay 2008

-Simi Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2007. $44.95

-Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2006


The Food: cheeses, breads and fruits.

The Downside: the seminar ran over, so I left in order to get to the main show. My wine choices were folded into the listings above.

The Upside: nice room, lots of space, the trade people seemed more oriented to serious chatter than in the past.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 89.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oct 21/10: Tasting Two Paddocks NZ Pinot Noirs at Albany Club

 The Time and Date:  Thursday, October 21, 2010  11AM - noon

The Event: Two Paddocks trade tasting. Sam Neill was present, and he talked about his wines. Glen-Ward Wines is the agent.

The Venue: Albany Club

The Target Audience: wine trade

The Availability/Catalogue: Wines are available.

The Quote/Background: Actor Sam Neill opened Two Paddocks in Central Otago, NZ. He first planted Pinot Noir in 1993 and the first vintage was 1997. It is a typical small producer of NZ wines, specializing in Pinot Noir, along with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot. Two Paddocks label is the premium; Picnic is the easy-drinking entry level label.

The Wines:


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2007 Central Otago, $36.75

-Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, $36.75


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Picnic Riesling 2009 Central Otago, $19.25

-Picnic Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, $24.95


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Picnic Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago, $24.95


The Food: cheese and biscuits.

The Contact Person: Malcolm Cocks <>

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.