Some of us keen food aficionados have been a bit peeved by the usual Canadian omission from those annual lists of The World’s Best Restaurants. Lots of different factors come into play for this result. One is the diversity of food products produced in Canada. Another is almost too many locavores and not enough focus on the national picture. This all is changing by the work done by a lot of us but brilliantly led by Anita Stewart, C.M., LLD (Hon), M.A.(Gastronomy), P.Ag (Hon) who is Food Laureate at University of Guelph with her #FoodDayCanada “Shining a Light on Canadian Cuisine”. This year will be a bigger and better celebration than ever right across Canada with red & white lights shining on @FoodDayCanada August 3. See the website map but BC Place has an early one on August 1 followed by Confederation Centre in St. John’s Newfoundland, CN Tower & St Lawrence Market in Toronto, Vancouver City Hall, BC Legislative Assembly in Victoria and so many more. In fact a Twitter Party will start things off on July 30 8-9 pm (EDT) for farmers, foodies and all of us. Join in. Recommend reading this interesting article of “Putting Canada on the Menu” with a shopping list of some 151+ “Maple Leaf on the Label” items to consider using. Canada really does have some unique and distinctively high quality products.
Your scribe attended a fantastic Food Day Canada Preview July 19 on the Wildflower Terrace at Fairmont Chateau Whistler. This dinner truly epitomized the quality that can be achieved by a skilled team using fresh local ingredients in a menu as shown here paired with Roche wines from BC. Executive Chef Isabel Chung, Executive Sous Chef Derek Bendig, Executive Pastry Chef (superb chocolatier) Anup Chaubal and their whole brigade led by Jason Gnanaprakasam Director of Food & Beverage did an outstanding culinary job with superb ingredients so artistically prepared. A bright spotlight of our top food right across Canada like this one is so appropriate. Support @FoodDayCanada please. We will make an impact on those world restaurant lists in the future.
Do you have a national food focus day like this one in your country? Chime in.
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Question: What does Old Vines on a wine label mean?
Answer: Good point. It is confusing. Many vineyards are a combination of older vines and younger ones due to replanting and expansion. Therefore you often hear about what is the average age of the vineyard. Different regions use different criteria for “Old Vines”, “Vieilles Vignes”, “Vinas Viejas” and other language names. Priorat in Spain is doing the most current job in trying to regulate this area with a new more stringent 75 year rule. Your scribe did a tasting of 100 year old vines which brought forth lots of Zinfandel from California and Shiraz from Barossa Australia. But some places go as low as 35 (Chile), 40 (Greece), and 50 (California). Personally would prefer it to be not less than 50. Would like to see more uniformity on this as it presently is very difficult for the wine consumer to know what age is needed to qualify.
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Chain restaurants usually conjure up consistency but often also rather stuffy standard menus. That is not the case in Canada and especially British Columbia. They have been leaders on the Vancouver dining scene for some time now. First it was Earls with 66 locations including 10 in the USA showing the way as perennial Chain restaurant winner at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurants Awards. More recently it has been the Cactus Club Cafe with some 30 locations spread across Canada leading the way with innovative dishes of star Chef Rob Feenie. Currently there is another contender JOEY Restaurant Group (with their Top Employer Award) that has been slightly under the radar till now but moving more into the spotlight as a rising star with 27 locations expanding this week with the largest street level patio in downtown Los Angeles at 7th & S Hope Street with Chef Zach Helm. Credit goes to the Fuller family who are the driving force investors in all three of these leading chains. Lots of other emerging chains too like Browns, The Flying Pig, Nuba, and check out Tacofino who has Michelin-starred chef Stefan Hartmann with their upscale Ocho in the trendy Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver.
Dined last week at Joey Bentall One and was blown away with the overall hospitality of the well trained staff. Our server Jessica was alertly on the ball and Group Sommelier Jason Yamasaki is a leading knowledgeable wine guy. Really like the clever short list of wines by the glass & the bottle he puts together which are diverse fairly priced and manageable for the diner. The 4 different sensible bubble choices are a very good example of this. Not surprised to see Jason is first again in collecting and pouring the brand new hot demand product release of delicious 2017 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau. The Chef brigade is led by the talented Executive Chef Chris Mills (a winner of our IWFS Scholarship decades ago when he first started out at Diva at the Met) who has taken his team to the James Beard House on three occasions. Now on board is the amazing winner of Top Chef Canada Matt Stowe as Executive Director of Culinary raising the bar even higher. Really admire the special courses they have at their showcase location at Bentall One – especially that remarkable Sake Glazed Sablefish with wok-fired vegetables, fingerling potatoes and dashi broth! Their Chicken Parmesan is always consistent but you have to try some of the best starters in the City – that Hummus with dill & olives has true tzatziki and winning crispy pita.
Look at some Chain restaurants in a different light. You will be surprised at the high quality innovative dishes. How are Chains doing in your part of the world?
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Question: How much milk is needed to produce one wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese?
Answer: Those wheels are very large cheeses which weigh around 38 kg (or 84 lb) each. This natural cheese Parmigiano Reggiano usually uses about 500 litres of cow’s milk to produce each wheel (called “scalzo”). Fantastic product.
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As followers of this blog know well your scribe has been a long time big fan of Chablis. Remember so well buying in December 1977 at a British Columbia liquor store all 86 bottles on sale of 1976 Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru by J. Moreau at $8.05 each. Over the next 10 years they were all opened consuming the last marvellous one with fresh Petrale sole on September 20, 1987. My cellar book notes show a lot of bottle variation as some corks looser and some tighter than others plus differences in ullage resulted in higher fills being much more dependable. However the inital light green colour showing so much glycerol legs inside the glass with high acidity brought with ageing increased rich complexity. Even back then our exciting passion was further enhanced by pairing Chablis with food – from seafood to cheeses. So admire those Grand Cru Chablis!
This Chablis love-in has continued even more frequently over the many years since and especially over this last month with the first fresh wild Sockeye salmon of the season, Sablefish, and Dungeness Crab available – three really outstanding matches for Chablis. Enjoying so much the outstanding quality for price from excellent producer Christian Moreau Grand Cru Right Bank vineyards – particularly my favs of Les Clos & Valmur. However also use their fresh minerally Premier Cru Vaillon with mature vines though prefer even more the specific lot within that vineyard of Cuvee Guy Moreau with vines almost twice the age planted in 1934 by current winemaker Fabien Moreau’s grandfather. Not only are they very old vines but are also located on the steepest part of this Left Bank slope with good drainage and south & south-east exposure on Kimmeridgien clay. So pleased they made the important decision to keep this separate and continue to do so. I have noticed that this Cuvee (which IMHO competes for best 1er Cru with Montee de Tonnerre next to Blanchots & northern end Vaulorent a special part of Fourchaume next to Les Preuses) needs time but has a wonderful rich intensity often showing a bit more wood initially. It is a textbook example of what very old vines can bring to the overall complexity of the resulting wine. Congrats! Lately I have had several bottles of the 2012 with lively verve and rich full intensity that rivalled their 2012 Les Clos for perfection right now. The 2010 is a richer more mature year, 2011 & 2013 somewhat simpler while the 2014 has perfect vital Grand Cru-like balance with depth and 2015 is forwardly riper. The 2016 use those Diam composite corks to advantage. In 2017 frost really affected the Grand Crus with very low yields and total production but mainly spared Vaillon. Therefore highly recommend buying some Vaillon Christian Moreau in 2017 – and worth the search to find some of that special Cuvee Guy Moreau! Old vines can make a big difference moving a Premier Cru to a Grand Cru look alike!
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