Good Stuff

Time flashes by, doesn’t it? Last weekend I was girding my loins in preparation of emceeing Terroir, the culinary symposium organized by Arlene Stein and other stalwarts of the hospitality industry. It was great fun and full of fascinating ideas but I was too busy to take notes. Luckily, Jamie Drummond and Good Food Revolution did that job admirably. Here’s a link to their report:

Meanwhile, I have so many recent treats to report, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll start with Bestellen’s burger, which really is one of the best in the city. Chef and co-owner Rob Rossi uses a combination of chuck, striploin and prime beef (you can see the meat ageing in the windowed meat locker in the restaurant) that ends up rich and sweetly beefy and attractively lean, keeping its shape nicely between a brioche bun. He adds a slice of tangy raclette which reaches melting point but stops short of actual liquefaction, and a layer of caramelized onions to bring out another dimension and boost the meat’s own sweetness.

It’s an excellent burger and doubly enjoyable with a glass of Joie Farm’s Alsatian-style blended white, A Noble Blend. I don’t think Joie Farm (they’re in the Okanagan Valley, B.C.) ever made a less than stellar wine but this Blend is terrific. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Auxerrois, with a splash of Schoenberger, are the components. It has a truly zaftig Alsatian body and focused, complex aromas of elder and baking spice with lychee, spice and citrus on the palate. This is a big, grown-up white wine that worked remarkably well with the burger.

Another, vaguely related gustatory happening concerns Canada’s first raisins. In 2009, Klaus Reif of Reif Estates vineyard in Niagara bought two old tobacco kilns, intending to use them to dry out grapes for an appassimento-style Riesling wine. At the same time, a local grower of Sovereign Coronation table grapes was having trouble competing with imported fruit and wondered what he could do with his unsold crop. Grapes + kilns = Canada’s first native raisins – and now they are being marketed commercially as Reif Naturals Kiln Haus raisins. They are truly delicious – robust and a bit bigger than Californian raisins but with a real fruit flavour to back up the natural sweetness. I found myself scarfing them by the handful. An extension of the line also sees them covered with a glossy milk or dark chocolate, courtesy of another Niagara company, Chocolate FX. These are definitely treats to look out for, and I love how local they are.

Next up: Adam Kreek’s fabulous green tea; Hogtown ale…


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