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Canadian Culinary Championships 2019

February 4th, 2019

CCC 2019

Your scribe always enjoys the challenge of judging over three main events this endurance culinary test for eleven talented chefs each coming off just winning their own city competition for Canada’s Great Kitchen Party (

The first task was to shop and cook for several hundred guests on an extremely limited budget of just over $1/per guest with ingredients to match a mystery wine which turned out to be fruity good acidity 14.9 powerful finish 2016 Mission Hill Family Estate Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc from East Oliver producing only 26 barrels under their Terroir Collection series spending 18 months in French oak (25% new). Chef Christopher Hill of The Taste Restaurant Group of Saskatoon led after this start in a close photo finish with a lovely artistic braised crispy pork belly confit in its own fat for 5 hours with a squid ink agnolotti stuffed with moist brandade of long cod.

The second event is the most difficult challenging Black Box cooking a dish in 1 hour using compulsory all 7 items – this year all vegetarian: Saffron, Sweet Potato, Mushroom, Whole Grain Buckwheat, Sheep Milk 5% Yogurt, Whole Quince, and Sweet Chestnuts. The winner again in a close battle was Calgary Chef Dave Bohati of Murrieta’s who did the best job of utilizing the tough hard buckwheat element in a tuile wafer.

The third concluding Grand Finale on February 2, 2019 spotlighted some very outstanding and innovative cuisine including even aerated foie gras, reindeer moss, sea buckthorn, and shrimp okonomiyaki. Chef Takashi Ito from Aura Waterfront Restaurant in Victoria who stumbled to last place in the Black Box section with a thick undercooked dumpling bounced back to win this event with an amazing Sake poached spot prawn & seared scallops seafood winner.

After the final voting marks from the triathlon were totalled the consistent Chef Yannick La Salle from Les Fougeres in Chelsea Quebec representing Ottawa/Gatineau prevailed with Chef Hill second and Chef Bohati third.

Congrats to the three medalists plus all these participants for the very high quality of their preparations. Very well done indeed!


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Ask Sid: Do you prefer Syrah or Shiraz?

January 30th, 2019
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syrah shiraz wine grapes which is better

Question: Do you prefer Syrah or Shiraz?

Answer: I like both but don’t feel it is as easy as that simple alternative choice. It is the same grape that produces full-flavoured big bodied wines with lots of polyphenols. You see the Shiraz name used more in Australia & South Africa but it can turn up anywhere. Look to compare two fantastic examples from South Africa of Leeuwenkuil Syrah 2015 with Luddite Shiraz 2014. Syrah is historically more French Rhone-like in style often with less ripeness and more elegance and is the grape name used most commonly today. When Mission Hill Family Estate released their first wines they had two distinct bottlings one called Shiraz in a big rich full spice almost jammy style and another called Syrah in a somewhat lighter less ripe white pepper style. Both were popular. Note that these roughly defined styles can cross over. Better to taste each wine and find the style of wine you prefer regardless of the name used. Enjoy the experiment.

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Binkley’s Restaurant in Phoenix Is Highly Recommended

January 28th, 2019

brinkleys restaurant phoenix arizona

Your scribe had heard lots of complimentary reports about the cuisine of James Beard acclaimed Chef Kevin Binkley. Therefore it was with eager anticipation to attend a special dinner held at his restaurant in Phoenix Arizona on January 26, 2019. Everything very impressive indeed from the warm welcoming ambience start to the finish with each course utilizing seasonally ingredients so perfectly prepared. It was also a joy to unite again with Christian Giles who was at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago for 16 years and is now their general manager. An excellent team in place and an outstanding menu served:

Hors d’oeuvre – Seared scallop sandwich with marinated cucumber & dill; Salmon tartare vol-au-vent; Foie Gras filled kumquats (innovative way to enjoy this combo); Truffle Avocado Slider of charred sweet onion & watercress; Ham Biscuit with pear butter. All matched superbly well with that great 2008 balanced Champagne vintage of Guy Charlemagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs from old vines. Liked the alternative aperitif choice too of the intense minerally 2010 Valmur Grand Cru Chablis from William Fevre in Magnum.

First course was a brilliant artistic painting of half seared on one side Bluefin Tuna in paillard style with tangerine, slow roasted pineapple, cucumber, arugula, and lime pickled red onion. Outstanding presentation with true flavours paired well with a young classic 2013 Meursault Genevrieres of Latour-Giraud in Magnum.

Second course of a so-called Perfect Paprika Farm Egg was just that. Never experienced an egg with such a bright concentrated orange colour that blended into the special many hour preparation whipped potatoes (better than Joel Robuchon rendition) and delicious mushroom ragout. Heavenly and earthy a wonderful teaming with the 2003 Pommard Les Grands Epenots of Michel Ganoux – again in Magnums.

Third course main was a lightly smoked lamb loin au poivre with butter nut squash, cippolini onion, olive & huckleberry vinaigrette. One of the world’s best wines was served with it of a young vibrant complex 2005 Clos de Tart. Sublime.
To finish was the Delice de Bourgogne cheese served at exquisite ripeness with appropriate stewed prunes, spiced walnuts, and crostini. Never had one in such perfect condition. The attention to detail in all the items prepared and the service was truly outstanding.

If you are ever in Phoenix this is a must detour. Check them out at


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Ask Sid: How much wine is there in a Jeroboam?

January 23rd, 2019
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How much wine is there in a Jeroboam?

Question: How much wine is there in a Jeroboam size bottle?

Answer: Yes this is rather confusing. Generally you think of a Jeroboam as being the same as a Double Magnum containing 3 litres or the equivalent of 4 standard 750 ml. bottles. This is the situation for example in Burgundy and Champagne. However, in Bordeaux they refer to a Jeroboam (or Rehoboam) as the rather unusual 4 1/2 litre size or the equivalent of 6 standard bottles. Depends where you are and who you ask!

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January 21st, 2019

Always have been a big fan of Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er Cru in Burgundy. Fortunate a few times to celebrate appropriately with it on Valentine’s Day. In fact a couple of years ago in Boston your scribe took a devil’s advocate position against a knowledgeable wine friend who adamantly expressed the view that the only 1er cru that should get elevation was Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques (actually another worthy candidate). Les Amoureuses always seems to please me and don’t recall having had a poor bottle that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. The 2 Grand Crus covering 26 hectares of exquisite Le Musigny & more muscular Bonnes Mares prevail but there are 24 Premier Cru vineyards (largest Les Charmes at 9.53 hectares) totalling over 60 hectares producing about 2300 cases/year and 94 hectares of pretty worthy Village Chambolle-Musigny wine. Les Amoureuses has about 5.4 hectares (with Groffier the largest of 17 owners at 1 hectare with that infamous sign). There is a lot of limestone soil and less clay on this site which delivers wines of delicate intensity with amazing complex floral raspberry perfumes and a palate of pure smooth silk and lace with real finesse!

Therefore looked forward to a review of them at a dinner at Blue Water in Vancouver on January 15, 2019 and again was impressed with their quality. There were 10 wines presented including one village wine that showed forwardly well, four other 1er crus, and 5 Les Amoureuses served together in one flight. Four wines were from the younger already drinking nicely 2006 and singles of backward 2005, 2004, 1999, 1996, 1993, and 1989. Here is the lineup as shown on the menu with a few brief comments:

1. 2006 Meo-Camuzet Les Feusselotes
2. 2005 Louis Jadot Les Fuees
3. 2006 Alain Burguet Les Chardannes – This much lighter and only an AC Chambolle-Musigny but acquitted itself as delicious, elegant with floral styling. The other two similarly dark but 2005 deep right to the rim. Jadot 05 closed for the future but Meo open lovely developing enjoyable now but no rush.
4. 2006 Robert Groffier Les Amoureuses
5. 2004 Amiot-Servelle Les Amoureuses
6. 1993 Jacques Frederic Mugnier Les Amoureuses
7. 1999 Joseph Drouhin Les Amoureuses
8. 1989 Joseph Drouhin Les Amoureuses – This was an excellent flight only marred by the corked bottle of 04 Amiot-Servelle. Groffier was aromatic dense rich classic and impressive. An excellent 2006. Mugnier closed in and a bit tight but big solid colour presently lacking the desired elegance & finesse. The 2 Drouhin wines were the stars. Older but very fine indeed. They tend to be overlooked as so called negociant wines but believe me they always show as outstanding examples of the special terroir. 99 at 20 years so much potential and a wow wine that may prove ultimately best. On the night though was hard to beat the really beautiful classy so much finesse of the delicious underrated 30 year old 1989. Fine showing.
9. 2006 Meo-Camuzet Les Cras
10. 1996 Georges Mugnier Les Cras – Big colour difference with 1996 very dark. Both young but Meo much lighter. Both have that hidden depth and strength more towards Bonnes Mares.

Another quality showing by Les Amoureuses yet again. Have you tried this Premier Cru red Burgundy? What other vineyards do think should be considered for elevation from Premier Cru either red or white? What about Meursault Perrieres?


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