Moka pots (like this one) are very old but still very good. If you agree, then head over to Bon Appetit for their idea of the the best moka pots. They have a really good range of options for you espresso lovers.
If you love espresso, but like something more futuristic, why not this?
Posted onSeptember 17, 2022|Comments Off on What is good food? What is fine dining? These are things I considered while thinking about Michelin stars and eating pasta in Montreal
I’ve been thinking a lot about food since Michelin recently announced the awards given to restaurants in Toronto. When they announced the winners, I thought: how is it that I eat so much good food in Toronto and yet I have not gone to these places? Maybe I don’t know good food at all?
I thought about it more as I travelled to Montreal and ate on my trip. Two things I ate on my travels were pasta. This dish of pasta was part of a tasting menu at Cabaret L’Enfer on St. Denis.
And this was a dish of pasta I had while on the train from Toronto to Montreal:
The first pasta was good, as was the second. The first pasta was carefully handmade, precisely cooked, smartly accompanied with intensely flavoured sauces and extras and wine and finally presented artfully and with a detailed explanation. The second pasta was factory made, warmed up, accompanied with not bad wine and presented politely without much explanation. Given these differences, how can I say both were good?
While the first pasta was excellent and superior to the second in many ways, the second pasta was still good. The second pasta’s temperature was neither too hot nor too cold, it had mild but pleasant flavours, and it fit in with a nice variety of other food. Eating it, I was reminded of all the meals I’ve enjoyed while travelling on planes and trains, and that made me think of all the joy I’ve had while travelling. I was hungry when it arrived, and afterwards I was pleasantly full. While it was not exquisite like the first pasta, it was far better than any of the other food I could have picked up at a train station. In this context, it was good — very good — and I was glad I had it.
While the first pasta was excellent, it was in no way filling. When combined with the overall meal I was no longer hungry, but it was not sufficient on its own to satisfy my hunger, nor was it meant to be. It did not remind me of other joys, though I enjoyed it. And while the overall meal was excellent, it was also very expensive.
Perhaps food is very important to you, and any food that doesn’t approach Michelin level is not considered good by you. But to me, good food is dependent on context. A rich cheese is no good to someone who is lactose intolerant. A fine steak is undesirable to a vegan. Likewise, if you are famished, fast food you can have right now may be better than a rich stew that takes you hours to prepare. On a bitter cold day, a simple hot chocolate may taste better than the finest champagne. Or you may desire a chocolate chip cookie that reminds you of your mom’s cooking over a slice of gourmet cake. We eat with all of ourselves, and the more we bring of ourselves to the food we eat, the more good food becomes a matter of the individual who is eating it.
Good food is also dependent on qualities. The next time you are eating, think of all the textures and the tastes you are experiencing. Think of the temperature and the toughness, the sourness and the saltiness and the softness. How does it look in front of you? What are the colours? How hard is it to make? How easy is it to eat? What do you think when you are eating it? How do you feel right after you swallow it? Or an hour later? All those thoughts and feelings that you have will help you to better appreciate your food and its qualities. It will help you realize what is good food — to you — and what is not. It will make you appreciate fine dining, whether it is in a beautiful restaurant or eating at a cafe counter or on a picnic blanket.
Michelin stars do not solely define good food or fine dining. Only you, the individual, can do that. Bon appetit.
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Posted onSeptember 2, 2022|Comments Off on Friday (French) Food for You in September 2022
I love French food, both cooking it and eating it. If you feel the same and you want to get into doing more French cooking, why not start with these recipes from Chatelaine? I recommend them. Especially, I am a big fan of their coq au vin blanc, shown above. I’ve made it a few times and each time it comes out well.
If you find the idea of making French food daunting, fear not. Here are some easy French Bistro Recipes to start with. That said, the ones in Chatelaine are not hard. Either way, you have no excuse not to start due to difficulty.
Posted onAugust 19, 2022|Comments Off on On the great Billy Munnelly and what he can still teach us about buying wine at the LCBO in 2022
Since the 1980s I’ve been getting expert advice from Billy on how to buy wine at the LCBO. So I was shocked to see he had moved away and he won’t be offering LCBO wine buying tips anymore. It’s great for him, but not so great for folks looking to know what to buy and what to avoid at the LCBO.
But here’s a tip. Go to his blog Billy’s Best Bottles, and with a pen and paper take notes on what wines he likes and what he likes about them. Do you feel like a good summer wine? He has posts on them. Do you feel like a good bistro red to go with your steak frites? He has a wine for that! It doesn’t matter too much about the year (most of the time). Go and seek out those wines he recommends. The prices will have gone up, but most times the quality will be consistent year over year.
There are wines from the 80s he recommended that are still good and recommended today. (I know because I’ve been drinking them all this time.) There are many newer and better ones since then: the LCBO has improved considerably in the last few decades. There is still lots of not so great wine, though, and Billy can help you avoid those.
There are a great many people writing about wine at the LCBO these days. But back in the 1980s such info was rare. Billy had put out a small comic book back then on how to buy wine at the LCBO, and it was my mainstay for many years whenever I needed something for dinner or a special occasion. He eventually moved to the web like the rest of us, but the spirit of that little comic book lives on at Billy’s Best Bottles, Go check it out, then go get some wine.
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Posted onJuly 29, 2022|Comments Off on Friday Night Cocktail: forget (Dirty) Shirley, go with Tom (Collins)
Sure sure, the Dirty Shirley is the cocktail du jour, and everyone seems to have dumped their espresso martinis and gone on to chug these instead. My attitude is the same as The Washington Post…so here’s their recipe for a Dirty Shirley cocktail — if you just have to try one.
That out of the way, let’s go with a classic. As the Manual says,
For a drink that has its own glass, you’d think the Tom Collins would be even more popular. It’s a classic, without a shadow of a doubt, but many imbibers don’t exactly know how to whip one up, let alone perfect it.
Posted onJuly 23, 2022|Comments Off on On restaurants loved and lost: Mike’s Lunch in Glace Bay
It doesn’t look like much. Only that Teem sign on the right tells you that this is the location of the famous Mike’s Lunch of Glace Bay. It had a good run of 109 years in various locations in my hometown before closing in 2019. It was one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world, and it was the first place I went and dined by myself as a young man.
Back when I was young, it was located on Commercial Street in a little galley type restaurant. It had a counter in the middle where you ate, while pinball machines lined the walls behind you and the cooking was done in front of you. In the summer I would sit next to the open door and look out at the beautiful house across the street (the only house left on Commercial Street). I can remember the sunshine and the warmth and the joy of sitting there while I waited for my food. While many diners had the famous fish and chips, my meal of choice was the Club Sandwich. Toasty bread and toothpicks held together chunks of turkey, crispy bacon, lettuce and mayo. Mine was completed with hot french fries coated with gravy and ketchup and accompanied by an ice cold Coca-Cola. To this day it is still one of the best meals I ever had.
Years later Mike’s Lunch moved to a nicer space in the Sterling. The pinball machines never made the transition, but it still had a counter. It also had nice tables and booths and friendly waitresses. I never failed to go any time I visited Glace Bay, often more than once a visit. I don’t know how, but no matter how long I had been away, when I returned they always remembered me. And the club sandwiches were as good when I was 50 as they were when I was 15. No wonder we all loved it.
I miss Glace Bay for many reasons: the Chip Wagon, Venice Pizzeria, and Colette’s, to name a few great places. But of all the places I miss, I miss Mike’s Lunch the most. Thank you Mike’s Lunch for all the great meals and great times I’ve had there. I have been to many great restaurants over the years, but if I could walk through the doors of any one of them one last time, it would be yours.
Bonus: footage of Commercial St in 1988. The town changed over time, but this is how I remember it growing up. By this point Mike’s Lunch had already moved to the Sterling. Teddy’s (or as this video called it, The Greasy Spoon, and a similar restaurant to Mike’s) was still there.
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Posted onJuly 22, 2022|Comments Off on Friday Night Cocktail: the Paloma
Why the paloma? Well, as Food52 explains, it’s a great drink to welcome the weekend with, especially their version, which is a
… fresh ‘n’ fruity riff on the classic Paloma: fragrant basil syrup, watermelon and lime juice, and Patrón Reposado (it’s sponsored -b :)). Finish the cocktail with a pour of grapefruit soda, and don’t forget the fresh basil garnish (an optional, but delightful detail).
Sound good? If you want the traditional version, here’s Bon Appétit’s take on that: Paloma.
Posted onJune 27, 2022|Comments Off on The great Starbucks retreat
For most of the pandemic, food/bev businesses worked hard to hang on and last through this period. Not Starbucks. They did the opposite. As soon as they could, it seems they shut down their locations. Locations that had barely been open a few years were shuttered. Even this location above, on Eglinton Avenue just east of Yonge in Toronto closed up despite a steady flow of customers even during the pandemic.
Apparently at the start of the pandemic their goal was to close 400 stores over 18 months. I would not be surprised if more than that closed.
I wonder what the fallout for all this will be? One thing for sure, the idea of getting Starbucks as a tenant will likely lose its lustre when they do come back and want to expand. Then again, given that people are reluctant to go back to the office, that expansion could take some time.
Posted onMay 20, 2022|Comments Off on Friday night cocktail: a formula to make your own
Tonight you can be your own mixologist by heading over to the Food & Wine web site and reading this article: How to Make Classic Cocktails Without Looking Up a Recipe. Think about what you want: bitter, boozy, bubbly, tart, or fizzy. Then use their ratios to make something new! If it’s good, name it after yourself and make one for your friends.
Worse case, you toss it out and head over to Liquor.com and make something they recommend (they have everything).
P.S. Hat tip to Dana McCauley who tweeted this.
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Posted onApril 22, 2022|Comments Off on Friday night cocktail: the negroni. A classic
I’ve become enamored with negronis these days! The 5 pound negronis at Brutto sealed the deal. The crimson cocktail has pushed aside a martini as my go to cocktail (though I still love a good martini, and a sazerac, and a G&T on hot days, and French 75s let’s not forget them).
Posted onApril 16, 2022|Comments Off on Coffee tourism: why coffee lovers should visit Toronto (and Torontonians should go to College St.)
For many years I’ve actually visited places partially because of my love of coffee. Really! I went to Vienna where the coffee was amazing and Costa Rica where it was less so*. I am sure there are many people like me who make good coffee a reason to visit a place.
If you are one of those coffee lovers, I recommend you visit Toronto. Just one street alone, College Street, has a wealth of diverse coffee shops to make you happy.
Posted onApril 8, 2022|Comments Off on Friday night cocktail: the white negroni (with thoughts on Brutto’s £5 negronis)
I’ve been enjoying negronis lately. If you have a chance to dine at Brutto’s in London like I did this month, you can even enjoy one of their £5 negronis at the start of your meal.
A classic negroni is a fine drink. If you want something unique, why not make this version? Like the classic, this one is also simple but delicious. See uncrate for the recipe.
P.S. New restaurants, if you want to get people into your place, be like Brutto and offer a small and low cost cocktail as a starter. You’ll get people talking about your place. “Did you hear X has a cheap Y cocktail?!” And you’ll get people who may never order a cocktail getting one because it is small. And small cocktails are good because people finish them fast and don’t feel rushed when the food comes out. Win win.
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Posted onApril 6, 2022|Comments Off on In praise of non-fancy French restaurants
When I used to think of French restaurants, I used to think “fancy”. Restaurants with nice table cloths, great lighting, complex dishes, and high prices. Places like Le Bernardin, Bouillon Bilk, Place Carmen, Maison (S.C.) and more. All fancy, all great and I love them.
While fancy French restaurants are good, I am here to praise non-fancy French restaurants. Restaurants with basic settings, everyday lighting, simple dishes (often bistro style), and relatively low prices. Sure, the cooking might not be as fancy, but it is still good and it satisfies the need I have for steak frites, moules, pate, croque monsieur, duck confit and inexpensive French wines.
I’ve been fortunate to go to many such places and have loved them. In London last week, I had charcuterie (shown above) at Le Beaujolais. A few weeks earlier I devoured a fine lunch at Fast and French in Charleston. Whenever I am in Montreal I try and dine at the justifiably famous L’Express. Closer to home, I’m a decade long diner of Le Paradis and for good reason. Finally, one of my all time favorite places to dine in Toronto is Cote du Boeuf. I was delighted this weekend to savour their oysters, pate, steak frites and duck confit. Fantastic.
There are lots of inexpensive restaurants that serve great Italian and Indian and Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. I love them. I wish there were as many places as those serving everyday French cooking. That would be heaven for me.
Let me know your favorite non-fancy French restaurants. I will add them to my list.
P.S. If you go to Le Beaujolais, get that charcuterie. You will need at least 3 hungry diners. At Fast and French, get the soup and sandwich and wine combo: it’s incredible value. L’express has too many good dishes to mention, but I love the ravioli, though many are big fans of the bone marrow. Le Paradis has great shellfish. Also cheap cocktails: I love their sazerac. The meat at Cote du Boeuf is incredibly good. I try to order many things there, but the steak frites is irresistable.
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The 212 is all about “revisiting New York institutions that have defined cool for decades, from time-honored restaurants to unsung dives.” New York is always NEW, but old New York is great and continues to be for good reason.
Salt and Lavender: S&L is not a recipe, but a web site. I have been enjoying cooking many of the recipes there. One thing I love about their recipes is how much they embrace cream! Give the web site a visit. So many good rich dinners, perfect for winter. Here’s two recipes from it to give you a sense of what it’s like: Mushroom Stroganoff and Easy Smothered Pork Chops and Gravy. Break out the heavy cream and enjoy!
Chicken: I have been making a ton of chicken recently. More than what is represented here. These are some I wanted to try:
Beef: unlike chicken, I have been making less beef lately. Which is weird because I tend to make it more in the winter. I still love beef, and I’d love to try some of these. Some are fancy, some are basic:
What could be a more appropriate cocktail for a pandemic than the penicillin? Medicinal it may not be, but it’s a perfect mix to get you through a wintry Friday. Uncrate has the prescription, here: Penicillin Cocktail Recipe | Uncrate
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Posted onDecember 24, 2021|Comments Off on Some thoughts on wine in Ontario after shopping for it in the US
Recently I have spent some time in Charleston, S.C. and enjoying many things about that city, including their wine options. These options have given me some insight into wine options in Ontario and has reshaped my thinking of what I am getting.
Before the pandemic, the way I bought wine was through the LCBO. If I wanted something special, I’d buy it from LCBO’s Vintages section vs the general section. When the pandemic hit, I could buy wine from nearby restaurants as well as other local distributors. I was glad to have wines options that were varied and weren’t too expensive.
However, as restaurants have been allowed to open, I’ve noticed their bottle prices outside the LCBO have increased. During the pandemic, I could find such wines for 20-40 dollars easily. Now the prices have all shot back up to what you pay in a restaurant. That may be good for the restaurants, but it’s disappointing for me.
That’s Ontario. Really, Toronto. In contrast, when in Charleston I could visit a number of wine shops that had lots of great wine around $20. Even with exchange rates, that was good. And these shops were as common as LCBOs in Toronto.
The other thing I noticed was that much of the US wine in the Vintages section of the LCBO is “supermarket” wine. I was under the impression that American wine in the LCBO was hard to find wine, but really it is stuff you can find in any store.
That got me thinking: is most of the wine in Vintages simply basic wine made everywhere in the world? Perhaps it is. That doesn’t make it bad: it just makes it everyday.
I think the LCBO still has a great selection in many ways. But I also wish there was another retail option like those in Charleston where I could get small scale wine that is good and affordable.
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Posted onDecember 23, 2021|Comments Off on How to easily buy wine as a gift at the LCBO
You want to buy wine for a gift at the LCBO. Maybe you know nothing about wine. Maybe you only know a little bit. Unless you know a lot, here’s what I recommend. It’s simple.
Go into your local LCBO. Ask for where the Wines of the Month are. Buy as many of those as your budget allows. That’s it.
You can also go to the web site and look for Vintages New Releases. Once on that page, look for Explore our featured products and click on it. Then look for Wines of the Month. Easy peasy.
What’s great about this is you can be sure those wines are very good and carefully selected by staff at the LCBO. Not only that, but most of the time they are around twenty bucks. Want to spent $40? Buy two bottles. If you want to spend over a $100, you can consider getting a half case or more. Or mix in a bottle of champagne: you can’t go wrong with that.
If you know what the person likes, then you can buy that. If you know wine, then you should pick what you think is best. Otherwise, follow this and you won’t go wrong.
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Posted onDecember 17, 2021|Comments Off on Friday night (festive) cocktails: the negroni*
You might exclaim: Bernie, a negroni is not a festive cocktail! True, by itself it’s a classic cocktail, good year round. But if you riff on it, like Food52 has done here, Winter Negroni Recipes for the Holidays, then it becomes a drink to have at this time of year. A perfect sip while wrapping presents or watching holiday specials.
For more on their apple negroni and mulled wine negroni, click on that link.
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For the last month I’ve been drinking coffee prepared in a French press and I’m enjoying it immensely. Based on this, I am not the only one: The Best Ways To Make Coffee, According To Our Editors in Chatelaine. While there are a few ways they like to make their coffee, the French press came up a number of times. I’m not surprised. While I love drip coffee makers, the press makes a satisfyingly strong brew and may convince me to make it my main way to intake caffeine in the morning.
If you want to get one but not sure how to go about using it, Illy has good advice here.
During the pandemic there was a number of great pop-up restaurants that appeared in my neighborhood. Perhaps yours too. It was one of the few good things during all the lockdowns. I was especially glad to wander down to the Dai-lo popup on Yonge near Davisville that served a small menu (4-6 items) of delicious Asian food in a coffee shop that was available for them in the evenings. Sadly, it’s gone now, but it was great while it lasted.
Well worth reading, especially if you love pop-ups or thought of running your own. My naive self thinks: oh, it would be fun to have such a place. I have just enough sense to know it might be fun, but it would not be a lark and it would definitely be a lot of hard work to be successful.
Posted onOctober 12, 2021|Comments Off on How to go vegan gradually (or at least become a reducetarian)
The irony is not lost upon me that yesterday I was blogging about Thanksgiving and now I am blogging about this topic.** But hear me out! This is a good piece on transitioning to being a vegan. I know two things: it’s not easy for some people (like me) to become vegan, but becoming more so is a good thing in many ways. At the very least you become a reducetarian and that’s not bad.
So if you have always wanted to do a full on proper Thanksgiving meal, now you have lots of options to choose from.
This year I’m going to do their turkey recipe with gravy (with a dry brine), their brown butter green beans, their yukon gold mashed potatoes, the fig and radicchio salad, chestnut and sausage stuffing, and the chocolate-bourbon pecan pie. (I’m also sliding Alison Roman’s Harissa and maple roast carrots in there too because why not. And canned cranberries because I just love them! 🙂 Eat what you love.)
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
(Photo is not my meal but close! I took this from Chatelaine).
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Posted onOctober 4, 2021|Comments Off on BBQ is over! :) It’s time for autumn cooking. (My cooking interests for early Fall, 2021 )
If you are thinking: Bernie, I could really use some good recipes to cook this fall, can you help me? Why yes, I think I can. (I even have some grilling recipes because hey, keep BBQing if it makes you happy.) Here’s my fall list of food links (mostly recipes) I’ve found interesting and that I think you will find interesting too!
I can’t remember how I came across Cafe Cancan on Harbord Street, Toronto, but once I did, I couldn’t wait to go back. I love French food, and their menu was full on French. They had classic dishes, but there were also innovative ways of cooking that felt both new and traditional at the same time. I wanted it all.
One of the things great about Cancan was their prix fixe. It was reasonably priced and extensive. You’d order and sit back while the servers brought out dish after dish of delicious food. Even better were all the extras. You might believe you would get five dishes with the prix fixe and you would end up with 7 or 8. Plus you would get an amuse bouche when you sat down and once while settled in at the bar they brought me a little additional sweet at the end of the meal. I felt pampered everytime.
The restaurant itself was a gem. The tables were fine, but it was equally fun to sit at the bar. What was especially great was sitting on the back patio during the warmer months. Whenever I was sitting there I wanted to stay all night.
The wine was always good, and they had Tawse rose on tap for cheap. Oysters were plentiful too, but even here they would come up with innovative mignonettes to make them extra special.
Sadly the pandemic hit it hard, as it hit other restaurants. In the first summer they opened but the menu was very different. Now they are gone.
Posted onSeptember 24, 2021|Comments Off on Friday night cocktail: tonight’s is actually a mocktail.
While cocktails are great, it is good to see the rise of mocktails too. Once they were rarities at a bar; now more and more places are serving them up. If you feel like you want to make some yourself this Friday evening, here’s 25 Booze-Free Mocktail Recipes That Aren’t Just Juice from Bon Appetit. That list has a range of drinks, from lemonades and others that are perfect in the summer, to the PG-13 Singapore Sling shown above.
It’s Friday. Time to relax. Make yourself a drink. The booze is optional. Cheers!
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One of my favorite words is lox,” says Gregory Guy, a professor of linguistics at New York University. “The pronunciation in the Proto-Indo-European was probably ‘lox,’ and that’s exactly how it is pronounced in modern English,” he says. “Then, it meant salmon, and now it specifically means ‘smoked salmon.’ It’s really cool that that word hasn’t changed its pronunciation at all in 8,000 years and still refers to a particular fish.”
That’s a great piece. Not just for the story of the word “lox”, but on the study of language and its origin. Recommended. It makes me want to run out and get a plate!
Ali Slagle does a great job of helping you put together a meal using a simple formula. So if the thought of getting out a recipe is painful and the thought of ordering take out is equally so, check out that piece from her.
(Photo: Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.)
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Posted onAugust 29, 2021|Comments Off on On restaurants loved and lost: Florent (and Odeon)
Here are a number of pieces on two great downtown Manhattan restaurants: Florent and Odeon. Florent has been closed for a number of years. But Odeon lives on, happily. What I love about both restaurants is how the embodied that era and how they both set a stage. You can see that in the pieces below about them. Florent in particular was a radical place that was like no other, right down to their menus and promotional material (like the one above).
When they both opened the lower part of Manhattan had nothing like them. There was no gentrification down there like there is now. They were an oasis of good food, good design, and good times.
I like lighter coloured rosés, but I find the darker ones have more substance and are more interesting. If you need convincing, I recommend you read that. Heck, read it regardless: it’s a good piece.
After you do that, I recommend you head out to your local wine shop and pick up a bottle or two. Maybe your favorite pale pink number combined with something darker. And if you do, why not pick up the ingredients to make a nice niçoise salad to go with it. I think they may be a perfect meal combo. If you want a minimal version of niçoise salad, I recommend this 5 ingredient version from Cup of Jo. Purists may disagree, but that is a fine dinner salad whatever you call it.
Posted onAugust 7, 2021|Comments Off on My cooking interests for Summer, 2021
Whew, it’s been awhile since I wrote about my cooking interests, and in the meantime the list has been building up with all sorts of delicious recipes. As well, I’ve found interesting essays and articles on food generally. Here they are: dig in!
Recipes: I have found so many good recipes I am going to separate them out just to make some sense of them.
Posted onJuly 30, 2021|Comments Off on Friday night cocktail: a Lambrusco Spritz
While we on this blog love a good glass of cremant anytime, in the summertime we want easy drinking cocktail and mixes like spritzes. Italian liquors are great for these. While you may be happy to chug back of sip Aperol spritzes all weekend, we’d like to recommend something different: the Lambrusco Spritz. There is much to recommend for the Lambrusco Spritz. For one, you can drink Lambrusco as a spritz or straight up. Two, it goes great with snacky food. As the Times shows:
Lambrusco pairs seamlessly with the rich foods of Emilia-Romagna, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, cured meats and gnocco fritto, meaning that a daytime bottle can easily linger past sunset. “A lot of wines that you might apéro with, you might not want with food,” Ms. Davis said. “The great thing about Lambrusco is that you can drink it all day, and then you can drink it all night.”
I am a big fan of Jacques Pepin: I watch his Instagram videos from start to finish. If you want to see why they are great, you can go here and see YouTube version of them all.
I especially liked this one:
Pepin also has a “new” cookbook out. You can find out more about it at the Times:
One thing I love about Pepin is his approach to cooking is truly about making the most of it. Every Tuesday he prepares budget versions of some dishes. He uses the microwave…he even uses Spam. Hey, he’s Jacques Pepin, he can do what he wants. And I think his use of low cost foods and his practice of not throwing away food or wasting it is admirable
Posted onJuly 23, 2021|Comments Off on Friday Night Cocktail: the shrub
What can be a more perfect drink in the hot days and nights of summer than a shrub? A gin and tonic? Yes, that is very good. And like a G&T, you can take that frosty cold glass and put it against your skin and cool yourself off. But a shrub also takes advantage of all that great fresh fruit showing up at your grocer. What can be better than that?
Posted onJuly 9, 2021|Comments Off on Friday night cocktail: an Old Fashioned
I am a huge fan of the Sazerac cocktail, but I really find it best if you use absinthe (something that is not easy to find). So I was intrigued when Esquire said an Old Fashioned has the bones of a Sazerac. And I looked and it does. So I’ll be making some of these soon and hoping it is as satisfying as its New Orleans’ cousin.
Sure, it is never fashionable. But it never goes out of style, either.
Posted onJuly 2, 2021|Comments Off on Friday night cocktails: the marg’
Ok, a marg(arita) may be more of a Saturday afternoon cocktail on a hot summer day, but here on my blog we only write about cocktails on Friday night. Regardless, as the days heat up, you need a cool drink to help you stay chill and relaxed and the margarita fits that description to a tee. If you’ve never made one before, or if you want to try new versions, Bon Appetit has the advice you need.
Posted onJune 30, 2021|Comments Off on Piquette: your new summer quaffable drink
I remember when rose used to be a hard sell in Ontario. It took years before people started drinking it in the summer.
Now people adopt new approaches to wine as fast as they can. In the last few years I’ve seen cremants, orange wines and pet nats all become hugely successful. (Though you wouldn’t know it at the LCBO). The latest thing to catch my fancy are piquettes. This write up of them in Toronto Life describes them better than I can. As they say, piquette is a …
…low-alcohol wine is made by fermenting the pomace—leftover skins and dregs of the winemaking process—and diluting it with water. What results is a wine lover’s answer to summer-y spiked seltzers. It’s zippy, sessionable, slightly bubbly and certainly affordable—you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bottle over $20. Traditionally, piquette was reserved for farmhands and winemakers to sip while working the fields, when wine may have been easier to come by than clean drinking water. And it’s low enough in alcohol (typically, 5-9 per cent ABV) to not impact productivity. “Vineyard work is very tough, physical work, and your body gets sore and full of aches and pains,” says Mike Traynor, of Prince Edward County’s Traynor Vineyard. “Piquette takes that edge off without putting you out.” There’s also a huge sustainability appeal to piquette. Once nothing more than compost, discarded wine skins can be a thirst-quenching source of revenue. “This actually allows me to bring down the prices on a lot of my wines because I’m getting a better yield from the grapes,” Traynor says.
A few additional thoughts:
piquettes are fun, but the taste of them vary widely. If you get an apple cider or a glass of sauvignon blanc, you know what to expect. With piquettes, I have not found that to be the case. The taste of one brand of piquette can be very different from another. They are like pet nats in that way.
I can see why winemakers like them: they can squeeze another product out of their harvest. Good for them.
I can’t see piquettes reaching a large audience like pinot grigio or moscato did. They will have to compete with beer and cider, which already have a huge part of the summer beverage market. But I am a bad predictor, so who knows.
a bottle of piquette can also be good at the end of the evening if you have a big group over for a dinner party. Try it sometime.
I’ve had a few piquettes now and I really like the one from Leaning Post. Indeed I like much of the wine from them. Good people, great wine.
The wine pictured above is from Leaning Post. It has a great punk rock vibe to it, which perfectly describes a piquette.
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Posted onJune 18, 2021|Comments Off on What is going to take veganism to the next level of adoption
My belief is that there are a significant number of people who have already become vegan for various good reasons. But if you were to put them on a bell curve (normal distribution), they would fit on the front part of the curve, the small part. To get to the next level, I think, vegan food has to get to the stage where people don’t even think of it as vegan. It’s just good food that happens to have nothing animal related associated with it. I think Alison Roman is one cook who has done that: there are vegetarian and vegan recipes in her cookbooks and they are delicious, but they are not called out. They are just there and people cook them.
It seems there is a new wave of vegan cooks and chefs who are upping the game in terms of making delicious vegan food. That’s great for a number of reasons. First, because it will inspire more cooks to jump on the bandwagon. Second, because all that will mean there are more people eating less animal food and more vegan food.
Here’s to everyone becoming more and more vegan over time.
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