THE GLORIOUS VEGETABLES OF ITALY (Chronicle Books, 2013; distr. Raincoast, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-0886-5, $30 US hard covers) is by Domenica Marchetti, author of three other Italian cookbooks. It comes with log rolling by Frances Meyes and Tracey Ryder (co-founder of Edible Communities), and with glorious photos from Sang An. There is an opening chapter which describes and photographs the veggies and their seasons: artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beans, cardoons, chicory, eggplant, fennel and more almost 50 if you include the herbs. Behind all these are about 100 Italian recipes, including some preserves and condiments. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Audience and level of use: Italian food lovers. Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: crepe cannelloni with mushroom and zucchini, penne rigate with blistered green peppers, spring risotto, grilled lamb spiedino on caponata, pumpkin gelato. The downside to this book: it is not a vegetarian book since there are meat dishes, but these are mostly mains. The upside to this book: good photography. Quality/Price Rating: 90.
++ Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc Brut South Africa, +216705 LCBO, $12.95: a decently priced sparkler that is light and fruity for summer imbibing. Some bell peppers and tropical fruits, follow through to a clean and zesty citric finish. Patio or first course, brunch. 12% ABV. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
++ Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 South Africa, +382713 LCBO, $11.45: green and herbaceous, great as a first course wine, lightly tropical but good finish. 13.5% ABV, twist top. Overall, light and crisp. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
++ Zonnebloem Place in the Sun Shiraz 2012 South Africa, +286088 LCBO, $12.95: you don't think of South Africa when you think of shiraz, but that might change with this red wine. 13.5% ABV, solidly medium bodied and fruity, twist top, and a Fair Trade wine. Plummy and spicy, at home on the deck or as a first course. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
++ Domaines Paul Mas Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2011 Nicole Vineyard Pays d'Oc IGP, +293134 LCBO, $13.95: I first had this wine at a reception in the Spring. We tasted the 2010, 2011 and 2012 vintages. The 2010, also at the LCBO at the time, was $14.95. The current new vintage 2011 has a label change and now sports a twist top screw cap. Otherwise, the vines are a year older. My bottle was number #512. Cabernet here (about 56%) is from 25 year old vines, while the merlot (44%) is from 30 year old vines. Exceptional value, since these are Vieilles vignes on an 80 hectare estate in Nicole near Montagnac. 14% ABV, vinified separately and the blend is aged in new and old 80% US and 20% French oak for six months. Expect both red and black fruit tones plus local garrigue and vanilla/cloves from wood treatment. The long finish is great with food rather than patios. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
++ Primal Roots White Blend 2011 California, +321497, $12.95: the parade of off-dry white blends continues Many are at or under $13, such as this one. 13% ABV, mostly viognier, followed by French Colmbard (for acid spine), riesling and gewurztraminer. Expect floral peach, apricots, and exotic fruit tones. Nicely done for that patio special! All it really needs is a twist top screw cap, and not an insert finish. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
The Availability/Catalogue: There is a catalogue listing all the chefs and the beverages.
The Quote/Background: This is the annual fundraiser for Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada, and it raised about $200,000 this time. For 18 years, Eat to the Beat has celebrated 60 female chefs while raising funds and awareness. More than $3.3 million has been raised during that time. There were silent auctions, raffles, mystery bags, and sponsors that illuminated the affair.
The Wines: My wife and I tried to get everywhere, but missed one section, so we never tasted any Chateau des Charmes nor Churchill Cellars. But we got some stunning Riesling from Cattail Creek, some white and red from Cave Spring Cellars via The Vine, Portia Ebeia Roble Tempranillo Ribera del Duero (+307710, $14.95) and Ogier Heritages Cote du Rhone 2011 (+535849, $14.95), and a variety of Girls Night Out from Colio. To make up in the beverage category, we went after tasting samples of Hockley Valley Beers: Amber, Dark, 100, Classic, and Georgian Bay Beer great refreshments on a hot, steamy night inside the RTH lobby.
The Food: the 60 chefs included 2013 GE People's Choice Award winner Lindsay Haddock (Scaramouche, valrhona araguani chocolate tart whipped dulcey ganache sesame snap and caramelized banana), Nuit Regular (Sabai Sabai, Thai noodle salad with chicken), Andrea Nicholson (Killer Condiments, wild BC sockeye baby potato smoked tomato chutney), Nicole Rumball (All The Best Fine Foods (truffle and blue cheese arancinis with spinach walnut pesto), Vanessa Yeung (Aphrodite Cooks, sun-dried tomato risotto cakes stuffed with beef brisket), Trista Sheen (Crush, duck confit agnolotti), Netty Cronish (Fair Trade, red quinoa salad with toasted pumpkin seeds), Lynn Jones-Adams, (Inn On the Twenty, ice wine cheesecake balls), and Donna Dooher (Mildred's Temple Kitchen, breast of duck with a polenta cream). Yummy all These were my faves.
The Downside: I bid on five dinners and a KitchenAid never got any of them at my bid level
The Upside: the 20 cheeky corset models and the live jazz.
The Event: Taste Ontario, from Wine Country Ontario and Vintages
The Venue: ROM
The Target Audience: wine trade
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available, either through the LCBO or through the winery.
The Quote/Background: This is the annual major promotion for Ontario wines, especially to the trade. The media were fortunate enough to have about 3 hours off on their own to taste most of the wines in the show.
The Wines: I did not taste every wine, preferring to try only most of the red and white still table wines. Most of the wines were from Niagara, so for clarity, I added PEC or LENS after other wines. Prices listed are retail consumer unless otherwise specified.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Cattail Creek Estate WineryCreek Riesling2012+2415$13.75
-Charles Baker Wines Charles Baker Picone Vineyard 2011 $35.00