Archive for November, 2019

Ask Sid: Best vintages to buy for Champagne, White Burgundy & Red Burgundy?

November 27th, 2019
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Question: Want to buy some Champagne and white & red Burgundy for holiday gifts – and for myself. Would you please guide me to the best vintages to put away for cellaring?

Answer: Lucky you and your friends. Generally all Champagnes including non-vintage or multi-vintage together with a wider selection of growers are pretty reliable these days. The hot new vintage is 2012. Look for those as they are released. However you can’t go wrong with searching for any remaining 2008s. A classic structured year of remarkable balanced acidity plus power to provide outstanding complexity with further cellaring. Burgundy are becoming more and more expensive with a limited supply. As you know the producer can be as important or more so than the vintage. For whites though I would concentrate on impressive 2017 & treasures from 2014 – truly a wonderful collectible in Chablis too! For reds I would definitely focus on 2015 and save some budget by being patient to jump on the 2018 top crus coming down the pipeline. Check your valuable IWFS Vintage Card Chart too.

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Chicory like Radicchio: Healthy Tasty Underrated Bitter Greens

November 25th, 2019

Your scribe’s update trip to Italy last month reinforced my opinion that Europe appreciates using more bitter greens for both taste reasons and health benefits compared to North America. Various chicories (dandelion plant family) are utilized there in many ways throughout a meal to great culinary advantage. In America the use seems much more limited to a salad course sometimes including radicchio for colour or some curly endive thrown in. Certainly those bitter flavours take some getting used to compared to our often “sugar” dependent taste preferences. Sort of like learning to enjoy a classic campari & soda as an aperitif or the increasing use of Aperol by the cocktail crowd. However this may be changing as there is a trend developing and it is encouraging to see farms now growing a wider range of these varieties with suppliers trying to make them more available for the consumer. This was brought home at several recent events including “Every Chef Needs A Farmer” written up here previously. Obtained impressive description cards to get to know several of these chicory varieties better plus a recipe on the back of each for a suggested use. Here are 6 interesting ones you might consider to persue further:

1. Chioggia Radicchio – Apple, Fennel & Radicchio Salad

2. Castelfranco Radicchio – Winter Radicchio & Citrus Salad

3. Sugarloaf Radicchio – Sugarloaf Pasta with Lemon & Almonds

4. Punterelle – Punterelle Salad with Anchovy

5. Escarole – Italian Wedding Soup

6. Pink Rosa Del Veneto – Rosa Del Veneto Winter Citrus Salad

You might want to buy some seeds and try growing some of these exciting greens yourself. Should be worth it!

Do you already enjoy a specific chicory bitter green you can recommend with a recipe?


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Ask Sid: How to locate that special wine?

November 20th, 2019
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Question: How can I find a special bottle of older wine I want to purchase that is not available at my liquor store?

Answer: Don’t know where you live but this is a common problem for wine purchasers everywhere around the world. Government liquor stores only carry a limited number of wine listings. Your local wine shop will probably be better in assisting you to locate that treasure you want or put you in touch with the wine agent who acts for the appropriate producer. Lots of larger wine shops have an extensive inventory of wines you can search on their site. Many of the auction houses (including Acker Merrall, Christie’s, Hart Davis Hart, Sotheby’s, Zachys among others) are worth monitoring for top wines coming up for sale. In Ontario check out However do your own searching on line too. Your scribe still uses to check possible locations and especially ball park wine values. Also check out lots of others including, and This last one is an Ontario company of President Warren F. Porter & Megan McDonald Sales & Acquisitions Specialist who this week held a Vancouver reception opening 1976 Krug Collection in Magnum plus other collectibles and have an impressive rare wine inventory on their website. Good luck. Enjoy your investigation.

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November 18th, 2019

An important initiative by the British Columbia Government through the Minister of Agriculture (Lana Popham) is a program aptly called “Every Chef Needs A Farmer & Every Farmer Needs A Chef”. It delivers an important timely food message and is something that should be looked at closely by other regions around the world. It provides a wonderful opportunity for chefs, food service professionals, and consumers to connect directly with the farmers, seafood providers, and other local food producers. An extension of your weekly local Farmer’s Market. The Second Annual one was held in Vancouver on November 12, 2019 with interesting exhibitors and panel discussions. The later included:

(a) Success Stories: Hand harvested wild edible seaweeds by Dakini Tidal Wilds; Finest At Sea; B.C. Garlic Growers; Fraser Valley Hazelnuts; Aurora View Farms; The Acorn + The Arbor; Gaia Kitchen; and others.

(b) Opportunities for more BC Foods: Emphasis was on getting more chefs out visiting the farms. Some ideas presented included the use of more berries like huckleberries, haskap (first fruit of the season), aronia (chokeberries), freeze-dried blueberries, peppers, squashes, stinging nettles (as a substitute for spinach), game birds, fresh water fish, bison & buffalo, diverse vegetables grown, olive farms,…

(c) Opportunites for Storage & Distribution of Local Food: Berrymobile Fruit Distribution; Coastline Markets accessing seafood directly and “skip the middleman”, Long Table Grocery, B.C. Co-op. etc.

(d) Videos “Inspired by Farmers” – example Chef Rob Belcham with BC Dairy Association.

(e) “Building a Local Brand for BC Beef” by Kevin Boon of BC Cattlemen’s Association.

(f) Keynote Speaker Executive Chef Ned Bell of Ocean Wise on “The Future of Food in BC”: “Food connects every human” but like “an octopus with many arms needs to all work together” for the produce from our land & oceans. “5 million people with 20,000 farms & 10,000 edible plants in our oceans”. Ned inspired everyone to become more of “a conscious consumer!”.

Your scribe particularly enjoyed connecting with many producers & assisting in their distribution channels through The Chefs’ Table Society of BC (@ChefsTableBC) including these 7:

1. @VanRadFest with farms growing a diverse range of radicchio varieties for salad selections.

2. for Wild North Pacific Seafood Products (including Albacore Tuna & Ling Cod) “From Our Boat to Your Table”. – Ian Bryce

3. Vancouver Island Sea Salt @vanislesalt hand-harvested & all natural.

4. BC Fruit Growers’ Association ( establised in 1889 “Changing Times Unchanging Values”

5. Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry ( “Our Family Loves To Farm and Produce Good Food” – Duck & Goose Farm.

6. West Coast Wild Scallops ( in Courtenay on Vancouver Island – Joel & Melissa Collier.

7. “Naturally harvested Seafood supplied to people who care by people who care” – Carlos Perez.
Spread the word!


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Ask Sid: Less expensive substitution for Nebbiolo or Pinot Noir wines?

November 13th, 2019
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Question: I like the style of nebbiolo and pinot noir red wines but find them rather expensive. Would you kindly recommend a possible alternative?

Answer: Your scribe is also a big fan of wines using the nebbiolo or pinot noir grapes. I agree they can be rather expensive if you go for the top cru Barbaresco, Barolo, or Burgundy. Some rather new good values to seek out include the expanding Langhe Nebbiolo quality wines, the better Bourgogne AC wines, – both being helped for riper grapes by climate change-  and pinot noir from Alsace, Germany & the New World. Suggest as an alternative you try the Baga (“berry”) indigenous grape from Portugal (especially from Bairrada or Dao) with some of those same characteristics of acid, tannins, food friendly, and some complexity. One top pioneer producer to look for is Luis Pato.


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