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Everything posted by Gourmando

  1. NCT Winery does indeed have some excellent wines at reasonable prices. They are also looking for a winemaker right now, so if anyone out there is qualified, you might want to give them a call.
  2. Good recommendations so far. Reif wines on the Niagara Parkway has some wonderful reds. Coyote's Run has two great Pinot Noirs (Red Paw and Black Paw), made from the same grapes grown in two different clay soils in their vineyard. The differences are really interesting. I second the strong recommendation for the NCT Winery (which is actually within the Town of NOTL, but in the extreme southwest corner of it, and right off the QEW at Glendale). Alas, their 2003 Pinot Noir is all gone. Their Late Harvest Vidal is one of my favourite sweet wines, and a bargain compared to any icewine. For pastries, try Willow Cakes & Pastries at the corner of Mary St. and Hwy 55. Outstanding. Breakfast at the nearby Little Red Rooster is a local favourite.
  3. Jake, you're not one of those heretics who believes that butter tarts aren't Canadian, are you?
  4. The peameal sandwiches at the SLM are served at a counter, and you might find a seat. This is indoor street meat, not restaurant fare, and our antediluvian liquor laws would not contemplate anything as scandalous as wine in such an environment. I have been known to have a mid-morning peameal sandwich as a snack, more than as lunch, so if you have time, you might want to consider strolling through the market around 10:00 with peameal in hand, and then heading elsewhere for another uniquely Canadian experience at lunchtime. One oft-forgotten place that I would suggest is the dining room at Osgoode Hall. They are only open for lunch Monday through Friday, 12-2, September to June, but the food is very good, and they have a decent wine list (albeit only 1/2 bottles). You should make a reservation. The surroundings are opulent and historic, as Osgoode Hall is a beautiful 19th-Century building that is home to the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal. Half the dining room will be filled with barristers and judges in their courtroom robes (we still do that here; no wigs, though). Finally, and most importantly, Osgoode Hall serves arguably the best butter tart in all creation. The only thing more Canadian than a butter tart is arguing about who makes the best one.
  5. There isn't much right in Niagara Falls. NOTL is a much better bet. Casa Mia is wonderful, and although I haven't been I understand that 17 Noir (not 21 Noir) at the Fallsview Casino is very good, although pricey. In NOTL, the newest kid on the block is Restaurant Tony Deluca at the Oban Inn. He is the former chef from Hillebrand, which is now steered by Frank Dodds (formerly at Langdon Hall). Solid choices in NOTL include Stone Road Grille, the Epicurean, Zee's and the Charles Inn. Hillebrand, Peller and Strewn are all good winery choices (for their restaurants). Worth the drive 15 minutes west of the Falls is Zest in Fonthill.
  6. Sure did, and I've passed them around. Loved the food porn! Ross
  7. Eric, I'm glad you had such a wonderful time. My two dinners at On the Twenty within recent months have both been flawless. I spoke with Kevin Maniaci this morning, and he was very pleased that you had enjoyed the experience! I have to get down to cook with you guys sometime soon... Cheers, Ross
  8. The Ontario Wine Society has a good website with lots of resources, and they run several tasting events each year in both Toronto and Niagara. Membership is only $35 a year.
  9. If Niagara is "GTA", there are several books by local authors. "A Year in Niagara" is a wonderful book by Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh. The Olsons (Michael and Anna) have authored a couple of cookbooks, and there is a new one coming in the fall. Current titles include the "On the Twenty Cookbook" and "Sugar". Tony DeLuca from Hillebrand has a cookbook called "Wine Country Cooking".
  10. I posted this earlier this week on "another" site, but thought I'd add to this recent discussion: For one reason or another, I've managed to have three great meals at three of Niagara's best restaurants over the last week, so here are some brief highlights: ZEST Zest is participating in "Summerfest", a promotion among several restaurants in Fonthill. Three course prix fixe at dinner for $25. Considering that Zest's mains are usually in this range, this was an unbelievable bargain. They even threw in a complimentary amuse, being an Indonesian rice cake with sriracha/hoisin dipping sauce. A fiery start to a splendid meal! Highlights included mussels in a roasted heirloom tomato sauce that was dark and smoky, tempura prawns with a mango dipping sauce, duck in a Thai broth with jasmine rice, and grilled salmon with new potatoes and heirloom tomatoes. The restaurant was understandably packed last Friday, but the service remained first-rate, and Michael Pasto and his crew put on a great performance in the open kitchen. Encore! HILLEBRAND Next was Hillebrand with a couple of good friends from Toronto on Saturday night. The "Taste of Niagara" was lovely, with tenderloins of pork, veal and beef prepared three ways, and served with a flight of three generous "2 oz." portions of wines mated to each. We all shared two cheese plates, trying all the cheeses on offer that evening, and were delighted with the candied nuts and wild blueberries that accompanied the wonderful cheeses on the plate. Dessert was a peach Tarte Tatin, which was made even better when our server told us that the peaches came from his family's farm down the road. The peaches were succulent, the caramel perfect, and the pastry buttery and decadent. ON THE TWENTY Last night was spent in Jordan with some colleagues and a good client. We had a truly splendid meal. Smoked salmon with dungeness crab, caviar creme fraiche and gewurtztraminer-cucumber jelly was delicate and beautifully presented. Grilled sweetbreads were crisp on the outside, creamy within, and served with an apricot bread pudding, walnut-scented lettuce hearts and fruit mustard. Absolutely outstanding. The rare tuna, wild striped bass filet, beef tenderloin and veal tenderloin mains were all great, and were made even better with a couple of bottles of Napanook from Yountville CA. (I understand that they also have a small, but growing wine industry.) Dessert was a marvellous bitter chocolate peanut tart with tamarind ice cream, nicely offset by the fruity sweetness of a glass of Cave Springs' own Indian Summer Riesling. THE VERDICT You can't go wrong with any of these restaurants, and they are great examples of our thriving restaurant culture in the Peninsula. Especially at this time of year, when the rewards of a long, hot summer are coming in from the fields, the fresh local cuisine in this area can't be beat. The winery restaurants are pricey, but generally there is very good value for the money. I have to say that I was really surprised to see that Hillebrand was still offering only Hillebrand and Peller wines on their wine list. I realize that the restaurant is to an extent a marketing showcase for the company's main product, but I think it is undesirable to arbitrarily limit the list like that. It makes the food seem like an afterthought somehow, and I think that Tony DeLuca's food deserves better. Cave Spring Cellars, on the other hand, does not limit its wine selections at On the Twenty, and offers its own excellent product legitimately alongside some of the best of the rest that Niagara and the rest of the world have to offer. Recently anointed executive chef Kevin Maniaci and his team are both talented and focused on delivering the best combinations of flavours and textures that our region can offer. I've never had a bad mouthful of anything at Zest, and it remains one of the very best examples of Niagara's "new breed" of locally owned, regionally focused, globally infused eateries. There's an apartment for rent upstairs from Zest right now: I wonder what the rent would be... P.S. - The new executive chef at Vineland Estates is Jan Willem Stulp, who was there under Mark Picone. I haven't tried his food, but the buzz is good. Mark has joined Niagara College as a chef-professor. Kevin Maniaci at On the Twenty worked there previously under Roberto, before becoming exec. at their sister restaurant, Twelve, in Port Dalhousie. He is now back in Jordan, and I think he's doing some great stuff.
  11. There are a couple of places in Niagara that deserve mention. Olson Foods & Bakery in Port Dalhousie (Anna Olson of "Sugar" fame) has a terrific selection of cheeses, especially from Quebec. By the way, the last time I spoke with Anna, she mentioned an intensive one-day cheesemaking course in Eastern Ontario that she and her husband had taken that sounded wonderful. Here's the link: Glengarry Cheesemaking & Dairy Supply DeLuca's in Niagara-on-the-Lake also had a fine selection the last time I was there. There is a new cheesemaker (!!) who is going to be opening in September in Jordan, just off the highway and near Harbour Estates Winery. Finally, there is a cheese vendor at the St. Catharines and Pelham farmer's markets who sells a nice selection of the stinky gold.
  12. One Winery. How very sad. Stratford is lovely, but have you thought about a longer pause in beautiful Niagara to enjoy the Shaw Festival, and perhaps savour more than one winery? That said, if you really must hurry past, go to the Niagara College Teaching Winery. It will suit your busy needs, if only because it is right at an exit from the Queen Elizabeth Way. But seriously, they are producing some of the most superb product there, including a great Pinot Noir, late harvest Vidal, and two of the nicest Chardonnays that you are likely to find. The "regular" Chard won gold as best white at the 2005 Cuvee, and the "Jim Warren Classic" Chard comes from the hand of a Niagara legend who now teaches at the College. As an added bonus, the wine store at the College is located beside the beautiful and superb restaurant at the Niagara Culinary Insitute, featuring some of the best, fresh local cuisine, and some of the most talented chefs in a very talented region. So you can exit the QEW at Glendale, park the car, wolf down lunch, load up on excellent wines, and be back on the highway within an hour. Sorry, but I can't resist telling you they don't have a drive-thru.
  13. Is there any news about a new website for Au PdC?
  14. I re-read it, and it does appear to be made here. It all seems very mysterious, though. There is another site for Americans at minus8vinegar.com, and the American company seems to be based in NYC. Their distribution also seems to be more widespread in the US. I mean, if this fabulous product is being produced here, why is their vineyard location a "secret", and their winemaker unnamed? I'll snoop a bit and see if I can find out who the culprits are.
  15. I found a website for the Canadian distributor Here. A 200 mL bottle is CAN$58.00. It looks as though it is being produced in the US from Canadian grapes, and has been available to the trade only until recently.
  16. Thanks for the reply, GC. I was looking for the restaurant's website online (It's Here if you're interested), and came across a press release for Winterlicious. On Monday, February 7th, Perigee will be doing a special 5-course "Omakase - Let the Chef Decide" dinner with wine pairings for $120 per person. Seems like a pretty good deal. Seatings are on the half-hour, starting at 5:30. I don't mean to be selfish, but I didn't want to post this until I had my reservation confirmed (which I did yesterday ). Can't wait to try it.
  17. I have to ask: How did you eat all that food? The word "feast" doesn't seem adequate. Don't get me wrong, I have eaten some huge meals in my time, but I think I might have keeled over by the time we got to the second main course! And another, equally impertinent question: What was the $ damage? Can you describe your favourite 2 or 3 dishes, and what about them made them your favourites? Lastly, was the fourth course really tongue in cheek?
  18. Typical YVR. I'm not from TO, Daddy-A, so you'll have to direct your spleen elsewhere. The only reason that I referred to YUL is that he actually posted something about his visit there (while he seems to have remained silent about YVR). Perhaps, after all, he was saying more about YVR that I had initially thought...
  19. I guess that's only a small fraud. Hardly seems worth the effort to save 20 Canadian bucks. I thought Bourdain's appearance on Christine Cushing rocked. I'm not sure I'd ever seen him actually cook before, but he works his knife as well as his mouth. (That was intended as a compliment!) Some random thoughts about the show: 1. The episode was called "Bistro Classics", the recipes they cooked were all classics, and I understand that the book is all about the classics. There were only 3 callers that got through, and the first guy on this "classics" show asked about mango creme brulee. Dipshit! Blasphemer! What planet was he on? He probably thinks a remake of Casablanca would be a good idea. 2. Was it just me, or was Christine Gushing (or is that Cushing?) 3. I'm paraphrasing, but AB was sweating some really nice looking bacon and said that few foods will not be improved by the addition of pork product. The man could write a gospel with lines like that! 4. "Erotically gaping mussels." Amen! Tell it like it is, Brother! 5. "Hollandaise sauce can sense fear." Allelulia! I have seen the light! I'm going cowboy style next time. The man is a Kitchen Prophet who has not lost his edge in the rush to popularism. The show was a commercial exercise to promote the book, but I'm sold. I don't have the time to stand in line to get it signed, nor to pull off complex $20-saving manoeuvres, but I'm going to find it somewhere cheap and buy one for me and two for friends. And AB, if you're watching this thread, what do you think about Toronto? I know you loved Montreal, and my sense is that YUL is much more your speed that YYZ, but we'd all enjoy your impressions. Cheers!
  20. Amen. I called a friend of mine in Ottawa last week and reminisced about the meatball sandwiches at the Prescott. Make mine with cheese, with a quart of Export, and the World Junior Hockey Championship on the TV.
  21. This is a subject that is close to my heart. I lived in Ottawa for 13 years, and moved back last year to my hometown (Welland). While I was in Ottawa, I often ordered from Pizza Mia, which was near my house in Orleans. There was a time when Milano's was good, and everyone seemed to like the Colonnade and the Newport (I vividly and fondly recall a waitress dropping a large hot pizza in my lap at the latter). For "designer" pizzas, La Favorita on Preston St. was great. But then I moved home. It was only on returning to a land where literally the sons and daughters of Italian immigrants still make their own sauce and cure their own pepperoni, that I realized that the pizza in Ottawa was vastly inferior to the real deal. I had lived here before, and I can't believe that the quality of the pizza had escaped my memory! And last but not least, the cheese goes under the toppings. Somebody should tell that to the pizza people in Ottawa. Cheese under gives cohesion; cheese over creates an unstable mass that is likely to slide off the sauce-lubricated crust.
  22. I recall a similarly paranoid proposal from Health Canada several years ago concerning raw milk cheeses. I wrote a passionate letter to the Minister confessing that such cheeses were my sustaining vice. I suggested that if smokers are allowed to emperil their health by smoking, I should be allowed to take the grave risk of ingesting my favourite, stinky, bacteria-laden cheeses. I thought that stark labelling ("This cheese can kill you") and cheese-eating sections in restaurants would adequately inform the public, while preserving individual liberties. The proposal was abandoned, as far as I can tell.
  23. Eastdell has a new chef in their Bistro (Guy Gnadinger-Harris, formerly of Biagio in Toronto). I had a splendid lunch there a couple of weeks ago, on the lovely terrace that looks across the lake toward Toronto. Ditto. Cave Spring has some terrific wines. I like both the Rieslings, and their Gamay Reserve. I have some other favourites: -NCI Teaching Winery Pinot Noir (sold out, but still available at the NCI restaurant). The best Pinot Noir I've had from Ontario, and as good as some from Oregon. -Malivoire Pinot Gris (on the deck, if the sun ever shines...) -Daniel Lenko Chardonnay (buttery, not over-oaked) -Lailey Cabernet Sauvignon (big big big) -Henry of Pelham and Harbour Estates Baco Noir, especially the Reserves There are dozens of others that are worth the trip. Living in Niagara can be awfully distracting...
  24. Chefs13, Who was the instructor? The have some great people: Mark Hand, Ray Poitras, Michael & Anna Olson, etc.. We have a lot of talented chefs in Niagara, and many of them are going to be involved at NCI.
  25. I don't think it is CIA that has opened in Niagara Falls; you must be thinking of the new Niagara Culinary Institute (NCI) at Niagara College. I was there for the international meeting of Les Marmitons a week ago, and the facilities and faculty are truly world class. Several people who had been to some of the best (including CIA) thought that it is the finest facility in North America. If anyone is interested in finding out more about Les Marmitons, I am starting a Niagara Chapter. Please send me an e-mail through the eGullet form.
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