Renaissance of the Farmers’ Market

Photo courtesy of The City of Brampton
Photo courtesy of The City of Brampton

This article was originally published in Tidings Magazine.

It’s Saturday, eight in the morning, and already the street is buzzing with conversations and activity. I’d hoped to be here early enough to miss the crowds (a pet peeve of mine) and have first pick of the colourful produce. I guess everyone else had the same idea. Ten years ago, you could roll a bowling ball down the middle of Main Street at this hour. Now, people come out early, carrying bags or pulling wagons ready to fill them with the freshest vegetables, the sweetest fruit and the juiciest pies. I’m at the Brampton farmers’ market this morning, and like so many other markets around Ontario, mine is undergoing a kind of renaissance. Continue reading → Renaissance of the Farmers’ Market

My Barolo

vineyards-458226_1280

This article was originally published in Tidings Magazine.

Sometimes, a visit to a place leaves a lasting impression. Barolo is such a place. The people, food and architecture imprint so profoundly that one’s real home begins to feel distant and unfamiliar. Luckily, experiencing Barolo is easy no matter where home is. Whenever I feel memory tugging at me, I might descend the steps to the cellar and pull a bottle from my collection. We have a few Barolos – two of which are pretty special – a 1961 (an exquisite vintage) and a 1967. The latter wasn’t such a great year, except that it is the one in which I was born. So, I’m sentimental about it. Continue reading → My Barolo

Spread Thick

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.30.31 PMJust out: Quench magazine April 2014.

In “Spread Thick”, I asked some great Canadian chefs to share their favourite breads and spreads recipes. I think you’ll agree these are mouthwatering!

 

 

  • Jesse Vergen, Smoking Pig Real BBQ and Saint John Ale House (New Brunswick): Sweet Barbecue Pork Butter; Campari and Honey Jelly; Tapenade with Digby Chicks (Cured, Smoked, Dried Herring)
  • Effy Ligris, Kalikori Olive Oil (Quebec): Taramosalata
  • Victor Bongo, Bongo’s Food (Vancouver): Chocolate and Figs Bread; White Chocolate and Cranberry Bread

Bocconotti

bocconotti

I know I’ve published this one already, but I wanted to bring it forward again for this special Christmas traditions posting for The Canadian Food Experience Project. These Bocconotti are treats that my family only enjoys at Christmastime. The job of making them passed to me a couple of years ago. So, today is the big day – Bocconotti making time. I’d share them with you, if you were here. So, failing that, I’ll share their story and the well-tested recipe.

This summer, Valerie Lugonja over at A Canadian Foodie embarked on an interesting journey. She founded The Canadian Food Experience Project.  Beginning June 7, 2013, participants are encouraged to share their stories about their own remarkable encounters with Canadian regional foods. By doing so, we can all gain a clearer perspective on what makes the Canadian culinary identity. Continue reading → Bocconotti

The Dirty Truth About Winemaking

Some days I think I am insane to move from straight winemaking into the business side of things … I believe if you keep moving forward with your passion, eventually you will reach your goal. At least I hope so! Kevin Panagapka, Owner/Winemaker 2027 Cellars

Just imagine making your own wine. Sip and savour it while you gaze out over your very own expanse of vineyards. Host parties, eat great food, be one with the land. It’s certainly an idyllic thought. Winemaker Adam Delorme at The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery concurs. “Every spring you get to witness the miracle of life in the vineyard.” But reality isn’t always so picture perfect. Unpredictable weather, fickle consumers, the cost of equipment … all of these and more can wreak havoc on so noble a pursuit as winemaking. From an outsider’s point of view, it might seem that passion is all you need to make it work. Yet, John Bookwalter, Owner/Winemaker of Bookwalter Winery, admits that knowing how to make money might indeed be as necessary a talent.

So, should you throw caution to the wind and open your own winery? Do you have what it takes to succeed? I asked 12 wine producers to spill the nitty gritty truth about the wine biz. Continue reading → The Dirty Truth About Winemaking

Raisins

raisinsUsually, at this time of year, I start to see packages of concord grapes lining shelves at my grocery store. Well, last week, there was a newcomer among those thick-skinned, purple grapes. I spotted a few packages of Coronation grapes. At a quick glance, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two varieties. But, they definitely taste different. The flavour of Concord is often described as “foxy”, that musty flavour that isn’t always pleasant. Coronation grapes lack that foxiness, which makes them a bit more flavourful and certainly sweeter. So, I couldn’t resist picking some up.

Find the rest in Chaos and Canapés on quench.me.

Crave

jeffreywVariety is indeed the spice of our lives, and this allows us to really diversify with minimal additional effort. –Joel MacCharles

Let’s call it the persistence of imagination. We’ve all seen it, if not actually experienced it. It’s that unquenchable desire that drives a person to turn a passion for food, such as a love of chocolate, into something that explodes beyond the boundaries of their own kitchen walls. Maybe it’s a special jam recipe or homemade wine. Whatever the creation, before long others end up craving it, too. What begins as a simple food experiment meant to sate a personal hunger turns into something bigger — maybe even something lucrative. Connecting with people who relentlessly pursue the dictates of their taste buds is truly inspiring. There’s a vibe. Soon, their endless pursuit of flavour will have you believing that anything is possible. But who are these people? And why do they bother going to such lengths when all they need do is walk into a grocery store and find loads of products that are already there? Dan Luciani, a technology expert by day, Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison, who run wellpreserved.ca, Angelo Bean, the Sausage King, and Jefferson Alvarez, executive chef at Vancouver’s Fraîche, had a ready answer for me: when passion takes hold, there is no turning back. Continue reading → Crave

Cantaloupe Calamity

cantaloupe-cocktailThere I was out for my weekly food shopping. Pushing my cart up and down the aisles, I couldn’t help but be drawn by the heady aroma of ripe cantaloupes. You know, I’d normally wait for the local ones to come in sometime in July. But, these smelled so good. How could I resist them? I picked each one up, weighed them in my hands, inhaled that musky aroma and put the best one in my cart. I couldn’t wait to cut into it. I bought one and brought it home.

I left the cantaloupe in its plastic bag on my kitchen counter to keep until Sunday when we were planning to have a barbecue. Did I mention shopping day was Friday? Oh, and did I mention that the stretch of days from Friday to Sunday were super hot and humid (i.e. 32°C feeling like 38°C)? I should have stored the cantaloupe in the fridge. Who knows why I didn’t put two and two together. All I can say is that it happens sometimes. It’s like a brain blip … or something. I probably thought it would just continue to ripen. Well, I wasn’t exactly wrong about that, was I? It’s just that I wasn’t completely right either. Continue reading → Cantaloupe Calamity

My Cherished Canadian Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Tarts

pumpin-pin-tartsThis summer, Valerie Lugonja over at A Canadian Foodie embarked on an interesting journey. She founded The Canadian Food Experience Project. Beginning June 7, 2013, participants are encouraged to share their stories about their own remarkable encounters with Canadian regional foods. By doing so, we can all gain a clearer perspective on what makes the Canadian culinary identity.

This month’s theme really gave me pause. What exactly is a Canadian recipe? What came immediately to mind under the heading of ‘Canadian’, after Saskatoon berry jam, was Ambrosia salad. Hmm, the former’s good; the latter, well, is not what I’d call a favourite. Is it something the pioneers would have made? But then, which pioneers – the English, the Ukrainians, the French and so many others? Don’t forget all the Native Canadians with their own special recipes. Continue reading → My Cherished Canadian Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Tarts

My Robo Guy

robo-guyOh no – the robots are coming!

Just kidding … sort of.

The robots are actually already here. This little guy in the picture is a Robo Vacum made by Hog Wild Toys, though it is not, actually, a toy. My Robo Guy (as I call him because I haven’t thought of a name for him yet; if you come up with one, let me know.) is a mini vacuum. I picked him up when I dropped into the Robot Café in Port Dover, Ontario recently. It’s a really fun store (attached to a guitar store) that sells all kinds of toys, comic books and old record albums.

You know, whenever I see a new product on the market, one question always jumps to mind: what problem does it solve. If it doesn’t solve a real problem, then why would I buy it? Ditto if it doesn’t solve the problem well. So, I asked myself that exact question when I examined Robo Guy. Well, I just couldn’t think of a good answer. What can Robo Guy do that a damp cloth doesn’t do better? Well, it picks up crumbs (like a cloth). It’s quite the conversation piece (unlike a cloth). Robo Guy is not automated; but that’s a good thing. I’d hate to have to stand sentinel making sure it doesn’t tumble headlong off the edge of the table. After giving it some thought, one thing became perfectly clear: none of that mattered. It was cute, and I wanted it. Now, I feel like I have to justify having bought it. To that end, I share with you one of my crumbiest (in the best possible way) cookie recipes. These oatmeal cookies taste amazing, but you can’t eat them clandestinely. The trail of crumbs will give you away.

(Crumbly) Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups oats (instant)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir well.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir until well combined. Add chocolate chips and stir.
Place rounded teaspoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.