Fresh Halibut & Best Wine Matching

March 27th, 2017

Fresh Halibut & Best Wine Matching

March is the start of the annual fresh halibut season here on the Pacific coast. Over the last week we have indulged with pleasure in this Ocean Wise deep water long line caught sustainable first catch doing several recipes some new and others old favourites. I remember when this fish was relatively cheap but now it is rather expensive even on an opening special sale in Vancouver for steaks at $29.90/kilo (or filets at $39.90). Worth it. Halibut is such a clean versatile white fish whose dense texture melds so well with whatever other ingredients it is matched.

I prefer using the steaks with the bone in for added flavour and moisture retention. It can be roasted, baked, pan fried or perhaps the easiest method cooked in parchment paper “en papillote” – because you want to be careful not to overcook halibut! You of course can use some other material like aluminium foil or a dim sum steamer but the principle is the same to retain maximum moisture. The result is the cooked fish with your other chosen ingredients perhaps julienned vegetables and white wine really accentuate the resulting enticing aromas particularly if you open the package right at the table. Prefer a crisp younger wine with this cooking method and the 2012 Chablis 1er cru Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau from Christian Moreau is so full and complex from 80 year vines but also so fresh. A heavenly matching!

An old favourite of ours is an adapted recipe for halibut with a mustard-nut crust from Jean-Georges Vongerichten & Mark Bittman’s Simple to Spectacular excellent cookbook (Broadway Books, a division of Random House in 2000) as follows:

Mix equal amounts of butter & a good mustard, about 1/4 cup each. Stir in some toasted, finely chopped nuts (they use hazelnuts but we prefer pistachios) to make a paste. Spread this on top of the seasoned fish steaks (4) & refrigerate an hour or so to help the later browning of the crust.

Preheat oven to a high temperature. Butter the bottom of an ovenproof baking pan & place the fish in pan. Pour 1 cup of dry white wine around fish. On stove top, bring wine to a boil then place pan in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes depending on thickness of fish. (about 7 minutes per inch). Turn on broiler and brown the top of the fish. The butter in the crust melts during the cooking and keeps the halibut very moist. Serve the luxurious bubbling fish.

This is a super recipe with the pistachios just begging for a richer nutty chardonnay pairing. So many worthy choices including the balanced Hamilton Russell Vineyards from the Hemel-en-Aarde valley in South Africa. We found a truly outstanding one using two Meursault 1er cru from Bouchard Pere from the top rated 2010 vintage – the elegant smooth rich underrated Genevrieres and aristocratic mineral loaded still vibrantly young Perrieres.

meursaultfish


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14 Dishes for a Picturesque Sunday Brunch

March 26th, 2017

sunday brunch ideas food

By Joseph Temple

A good weekday starts with a good breakfast, but a great Sunday starts with a great brunch!  These ideas will be a sure fire hit at your next mid-morning gathering.  Bon Appetit!


blackberry panckes brunch
1. Blackberry Pancakes

 

Swiss Cheese Mushroom Panini brunch
2. Swiss Cheese Mushroom Panini

 

Granola and yogurt brunch
3. Honey Toasted Granola and Greek Yogurt

 

Lobster hollandaise brunch
4. Poached Lobster & Eggs with Hollandaise

 

Scandinavian open face sandwiches brunch
5. Scandinavian Sandwiches

 

Custard and fruit pastries brunch
6. Custard and Fruit Pastries

 

Frittata brunch
7. Veggie Frittata

 

Croissant eggs Benedict sandwich brunch
8. Croissant Eggs Benedict Sandwich

 

Croissant eggs Benedict sandwich brunch
9. Classic French Omelet

 

Scrambled eggs and toast brunch
10. Simple Egg Breakfast & Cappuccino

 

Belgian waffles brunch
11. Belgian Waffles

 

Crepes brunch
12. Crepes

 

Fried eggs and tomato toast brunch
13. Fried Eggs and Tomato on Toast

 

Toad in a hole brunch
14. Toad in a Hole

 


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Ask Sid: How to Maintain Cellar Humidity?

March 22nd, 2017
Ask your question here

Maintaining wine Cellar Humidity?

Question: My temperature controlled wine cellar in Scottsdale Arizona seems to do the job OK. But it seems almost too dry in there and I would like more moisture. Any tips?

Answer: Some systems have a “Demister” function and other humidifier options for maintaining a higher level of humidity (best between 55-70%) to help keep those corks from drying out. You probably don’t want the humidity any higher than that as this will encourage the growth of mold on the walls, bottles and labels. Check carefully for what you presently have or can easily add on. However, the simplest cheapest less accurate method is just to add a few larger surface open water containers on the floor to allow for evaporation. For a better cellar look you could get a fancy decorative fountain humidifier. Hope you find your “solution”.


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BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival

March 20th, 2017

BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival
Image: BCSeafoodExpo.com

Seafood remains a popular hot commodity here on the West Coast of North America. The annual BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival and the BC Seafood Expo were established to drive national, international and regional long term awareness of the importance and diversity of all seafood. It has become the largest seafood marketing campaign in Western Canada with the next one their 11th scheduled with some 30 events from June 9-18, 2017 in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island (BCSeafoodExpo.com and BCShellfishFestival.com). A media launch to help promote this upcoming Festival was held in Vancouver on March 15 with several highlights including:

1. Seafood menu selections were prepared by local chefs. Launch menu attached shows some of the innovative uses for seafood in outstanding culinary dishes. Rich moist sablefish was a delicious choice either baked in a taco or grilled after being marinated in mirin & tamari. Chinook salmon tartar uniquely served in a crispy dry-aged Prosciutto cup celebrated melded flavours and textures. Steamed mussels with Thai aromatics and Clams Creole style brought big flavours. Dependable year round available Steelhead from Lois Lake was turned into spicy gravlax.

2. Geoduck (www.geoduck.org) “nature’s buried treasure” is trendy. I blogged about this special item back on March 21 of last year. Nostalgic memories of fast digging for these special clams in the sands of Boundary Bay many decades ago. Still makes a super chowder. It remains in high demand in the Orient continuing to drive up the price. Top fresh product can now be found locally but at the price of around $40 per pound. Smart service by Chef Nathan Fong using small portions as sashimi with miso mustard. Special treat.

3. A variety of many oysters were available. Diverse preparations from freshly shucked, panko breaded or even pickled with bull kelp! Fanny Bay Oysters (www.fannybayoysters.com) located in Baynes Sound on Vancouver Island since 1984 grow, process, market and distribute their farm grown oysters (as well as Manila & Littleneck clams and Salish mussels) as eco-friendly and are now the largest shellfish farm (17,000 square feet) in Canada. They now have opened their own oyster bar & shellfish wholesale & retail market “From Tide To Table” at 762 Cambie Street in downtown Vancouver.

4. Salish Sea Foods (www.salishseafoods.net) is wholly owned by the K’omoks First Nation indigenous people with a wide selection of smoked salmon nuggets from a moist dense meatier style to the drier “salmon bacon” jerky ones.

Celebrate these treasures of the sea!

BC Seafood festival


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Where is the World’s Most Northerly Vineyard???

March 18th, 2017

Olkiluoto power plant wine vineyard

By Joseph Temple

Over the years, this blog has profiled several winemakers applying their craft in some of the most unfriendly weather conditions possible. Let’s face it—when we think of wine, most of us conjure up images of Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Napa Valley—not places like Quebec and Minnesota. At the same time, you can’t help but tip your hat to those vintners who are defiantly standing up to Mother Nature and successfully harvesting grapes in some of the chilliest areas of North America. It also makes you wonder how far (or how north) winemaking can go?

It turns out that Canadians and Americans aren’t the only ones pushing the envelope. Germans have been making wine on the island of Sylt for years while countries such as Denmark, Latvia, and Norway all have vineyards. But the award for the world’s most northerly vineyard goes to Finland; just north of the 61st parallel is a place that makes a little under 2,000 pounds of Zilga grapes annually.

In the Gulf of Bothnia, on Olkiluoto Island is a vineyard in one of the most unlikely places you would expect to see viticulture: right next to a nuclear power plant. “Flanked by a dense forest, the deep green plants protrude into a clear blue sky,” writes one journalist. “There is a soft breeze. It could almost be France. But the vines are shadowed by two imposing concrete structures and several tall red cranes.” Of course, given the arctic-like conditions (temperatures can drop to -5.6 C during the winter), the vines on this quarter acre of land greatly benefit from their atomic neighbor. Because of the heat generated by Olkiluoto, the vineyard is warmed by the waste coolant water, which is non-radioactive and flows through a series of underground pipes.

With 150 vines first planted in 2001, the Zilga is a fast-maturing grape which comes from Latvia and is known to produce abundant harvests while being resistant to harsh winter weather. However, getting your hands on a bottle might be tough. “Of course we don’t sell it,” said one plant employee. “It’s for our staff parties.”

 


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