Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Food of Prince Edward County

One of my favourite things about Prince Edward County is the food… Oh, the glorious food! On our first visit, Shawn and I got a little lost looking for the Lavender Farm and drove by a little barn with a sign offering fresh bread. So we stopped and were invited onto the porch of a lovely farmhouse – where we proceeded to buy some of the best bread we’ve ever eaten. Such is the way of life (and food) in PEC.

So, when I participated in the #IndulgePEC blogger event a few months back the food was a big draw. Several restaurants participated and we got to sample some truly fine examples of the best food the County has to offer. I spend a lot of time talking about what to drink in PEC, so I thought it would be fun to give you some ideas about where to eat.

Not much in the way of written reviews here - I figured I'd let the photos do the talking. And, believe me, any place that made this list earned their spot through my stomach. Delicious all around.

Agrarian – 275 Main Street, Bloomfield - Delicious grilled cheese, desserts coffee and more

Buddha Dog –172 Main Street, Picton

The Hubb at Angeline’s Inn – 433 Main Street, Bloomfield

Humble Bread and Seed to Sausage - Available at several places locally...

The Merrill Inn - 343 Main Street East, Picton, ON

Pomodoro – 280 Main Street, Wellington, ON

Portobella – 265 Main Street, Picton


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Help Build a Winery

When I started to fall in love with wine, one of my earliest supporters was John Sqauir, then at Sandbanks Winery in Prince Edward County. He has continued to be a huge influence on my wine education and a wonderful friend who has generously invited me out on many wine tasting adventures. He is one of my favourite people in the wine industry.

John and his lovely wife, Sacha, have recently begun work on their dream – Three Dog Winery – and I couldn’t wish them more success with this challenging endeavour. I wasn’t able to make it out to their recent planting party (though by all accounts it was a wonderful and very dirty success), but I can contribute to their Indiegogo fundraising campaign. I may not have much to give, but I think it’s so important to help truly good people create something special.

And Three Dog will be very special – John and Sacha envision a place where dogs can play (they have three Golden Retriever rescues) and artists can create. They want to help local artisan chefs and provide space for local food stuffs to be sold. Three Dog will be a community within the thriving PEC community and I can’t wait to visit.

Interested in learning how you can help? Check out their Indiegogo fundraising page and read more about their dream – then consider making a donation. There are fun and interesting items available in return for your contribution and every penny really does count.

Three Dog Winery on IndieGoGo:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sip and Savour Ontario

I'm super excited to be attending the 9th annual Sip and Savour Ontario event on Wednesday! This fabulous and fun evening raises money for Houselink - an important charity that provides homes and local opportunities to people recovering from mental illness.

Sip and Savour Ontario brings together chefs cooking locally grown gourmet cuisine with Ontario VQA wines - so it's right up my alley! It's associated with Tony Aspler's Ontario Wine Awards, so you know the best of Ontario will be showcased. Plus, it gives me an excuse to spend more time in the Distillery District, which I always love. I live so close and yet we hardly ever get there - it's a shame because I always have a great time when we do.

After last week's #ONWineChat about what Ontario wine we'd like to see on restaurant wine lists, I'm looking forward to another example of how well local wine and food go together. Shawn is super jealous that I'm going without him because chef Tony Starratt from Barque Smokehouse will be there and we just watched their episode of You've Got to Eat Here. Chef Tony is just one of many great local chefs participating - you can find out all about the others at the Sip and Savour website.

Interested in attending? Tickets are $85 and there are still some available. You can purchase them here:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
7:30 pm to 10:00 pm
The Distillery Historic District
Fermenting Cellar
28 Distillery Lane, Toronto

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wines of New Zealand

Until recently, I’d never attended an international wine trade show, so when I decided to buy a ticket to the Wines of New Zealand, I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully, I had my wonderful wine friends Rob and Sophie to help make my first wine fair a fun one.

As you’d expect, there was a lot of fabulous Sauvignon Blanc on display at this show – New Zealand is known for its Sauv and it’s a well-deserved recognition. I couldn’t believe the quality of their Sauvignon Blanc and just how different each wine was, while still retaining the qualities of the grape. I think that’s one of the most interesting things about attending a show like this – you get to try so many different wines and can really taste how the winemaker and the terroir affect the wine.

So what were some of my favourite discoveries?

I tried Astrolabe Wines 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and really liked it – a lovely, fruity nose with lychee, melon and good minerality. But the Astrolabe Valleys 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was totally different – it was very green, with asparagus, garden veggies and even soil on the nose. On the palate, the greenery continued. It was so unique and interesting – like drinking a garden! I think I’d pass on this one right now, but I’m really curious about how it would be after a little aging. I thought the wine was completely fascinating and a great example of why these shows are such a great opportunity to taste.

Elephant Hill drew us into their booth with their fantastic signage and the wines were worth staying for. Their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was light, fruity and fresh – one I’d definitely want to try again. I liked their 2011 Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, but the surprise standout was the Central Otago 2011 Pinot Noir – lots of candied fruit, cherry and sweet red fruit on the nose of this one.

Looking back at my reviews for Hunter’s Wines I can only assume that the ‘Yum!!!’ I noted for the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was an indicator that I’m definitely hoping to try that one again. I also enjoyed their MiruMiru Sparkling. I found the te Pa 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to be a winner – very fresh with great acid and Waimea’s 2012 Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Viognier were fabulous. Both of those should be available at the LCBO in August and I’ll be looking out for them.

There were some great botrytis-affected wines at the show too. I thought that Marisco’s Sticky had a fun name (their whole line-up of wines actually does) and I found it to be a tasty dessert wine. I also really enjoyed Konrad’s 2011 Noble Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc – a delicious sweet, but not too sweet, wine.

So, other than a lot of wine, what can you expect at a wine fair? Well, at the New Zealand one there was lots of great food available (though I’m told this isn’t the case at all of these shows) and an opportunity to learn more about the region from the New Zealand wine rep. It was a nice, relaxed vibe and while it got a bit crowded at times it wasn’t overwhelming like some of the other non-wine specific shows I’ve attended.

I also wanted to add a mention of The Village Press Olive Oil, which is made with Hawke’s Bay olives and is completely delicious. I picked up a three-pack at the show and have been really enjoying it. Those in Toronto can find it at Olive and Olives or at A Bisket-A-Basket. It's also available at Olive & Kiwi in Hamilton or at The Wandering Locavore in Niagara. It's worth seeking out.

For more information on the wines of New Zealand: 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wine School Update

So, I spent my weekend doing a little light reading...

Apologies for the lack of updates recently – it seems that while wine is my major writing inspiration, it’s also the cause of my lack of time to blog! It turns out that Wines II is about ten times harder then Wines I, so I’ve been spending my evenings and weekends with my nose buried in wine books. Not the worst fate in the world, but I’m starting to miss my life just a little.

I’m not sure why I struggle so much with wine classes. I mean, I covered some of the reasons in my Wine Overwhelm post, but I definitely spend more time than most of my classmates studying, yet they seem to be ‘getting’ it a lot quicker. How do they remember all the wine communes in the Medoc so easily when I spent a week cramming just to get those down? And some of them can remember the Chateau too!! I really should have paid more attention in French class. Not to mention that I’m still figuring out the whole tasting part. I mean, lanolin is a hard concept in wine! Not to mention all those other things…

We’re moving on to Italy now, which I suspect will be even harder, so we’ll see how that goes. I may get a lot of flack for saying this, but I’m not a huge fan of Italian wines (at least the ones I’ve tried so far). There were no wines in our Southern Italy class that made me go ‘wow’ and other than a very good Valpolicella I had at Sugo recently and an amazing Amarone I got to try at a #TOWineDinner, I haven’t been blown away. I’m told that once I try some especially good ‘big Bs’ I’ll change my mind, so I’m open to the fact that I may come around. Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section because I’d really like to know what I’m missing.

While I’m very much enjoying my current course and have been lucky enough to get a really good instructor, I still wish there was a great Ontario or Canadian wine program available. We don’t really cover Canada in my current course and, realistically, if I ever end up working in wine it will be in Canada. I’ve certainly done my fair share of tasting and learning here, but it would be nice to have a class I could take that focused on Canadian viticulture. Anyone have tips on that? In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to keep pestering the winemakers with questions (and luckily they’re a friendly and informative bunch).

Regularly scheduled posts should be back this week – I’ve got lots to cover, including my first international wine trade show and our upcoming trip to Ottawa, where I’m treating Shawn to a few days of beer tourism in return for all the time he’s spent driving me around wine country. Thanks again for reading and keep those wine suggestions coming.