La Fête des Vins du Québec

La Fête des Vins du Québec: 10 years is worth celebrating! A must-see urban event from 27 to 29 November 2015!

La Fête des Vins proudly celebrates its 10th “vintage” this year and there is much to celebrate! This urban event showcases the talent of Quebec winemakers and sommeliers, as well as the richness and uniqueness of the terroir, and promises a renewed festive experience! This year’s spokesperson is sommelier Philippe Lapeyrie.

fetedesvins

From November 27 to 29, 2015, meet winemakers and learn all about the wines and cheeses of Québec, from the production process through appellations and origins and wine-and-cheese pairing.

Admission:
10 $ (includes a INAO tasting wine)
Tasting coupon are available on site for $1. Costs for tastings vary by winery
MARCHÉ BONSECOURS: 350 Saint-Paul Street East, Montreal, QC, H2Y 1H2

Let’s raise our glasses to all the wine lovers that ventured on one or many of our five local wine touring regions: Cantons-de-l’Est, Basses-Laurentides, Lanaudière, Montérégie, Est-du-Québec.

Cheesy Garlic Party Bread for the 5th Food Film Marathon

How do you get everyone running to the buffet table? Serve a pipping hot bread laden with fresh mozzarella, minced garlic, butter, and parsley.

Hosting home parties, the Canadian Thanksgiving, the upcoming arrival of Halloween, followed by the American Thanksgiving, and after that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and insert-your-local-holiday-here. It is that time of year to start prepping your menu plan and finding the perfect party recipes. You can never start too soon!

For me, the perfect party food is one that requires a small number of ingredients, one that is easy and quick to prepare – preferably ahead of time -, and that once you put it in the oven your guest are swooning over the smells coming from the kitchen. This Cheesy Garlic Party Bread absolutely checked all these boxes. It truly was the ideal contribution for my 5th Food Film Marathon which took place a couple of weekends ago.

Cheesy Garlic Party Bread

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Maritime Road Tripping and Lobster Overdosing

A glorious pictorial Maritime Road Tripping tour of Nova Scotia & New Brunswick via fishing villages, spectacular coastlines, seafood galore and libatious finds!

I know, my title is technically false. How can anyone overdose on lobster! I was so happy to devour luscious lobster in some form for 6 out of my 9 travel days. I would have to say instead I had to face lobster withdrawal once back to routine and reality!

The docks of the fishing village Peggy’s Cove NS

cover

Today I plan on overdosing you on pictures! Very few wordy paragraphs, instead you will get loads of pictures with a quick commentary. Enjoy!

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Peachlove: Peaches Swimming in Red Wine

It’s summer and it is a hot one! I take a dive in a pool any chance I get. Everyone should go swimming. Even our food! Even peaches! They have been hot and sweating too on a branch in the sun for a while. Give then an inebriated break!

Some fruits can be paired quite well with wine, even red ones. In the case of peaches try coupling them with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Pinot Noir. This is the dessert version of a Sangria! So simple yet such a sophisticated taste.

Ξ Peaches Swimming in Red Wine Ξ

Per person…

1 ripe peach, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup red wine
A pinch of a powdered spice of your choice, such as cardamon, star anise, cinnamon (optional)

Using a slotted spoon, place peach, one at a time, in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove and place in iced water. The skin will easily peel off with a small sharp knife. Pit and cut peach into slices. Toss the peach slices with the sugar and a spice if you are using one. I tried a pinch of cinnamon. Place the slices in a wine glass or dessert dish and pour red wine over the sliced peaches until almost covered.

August is #peachlove month!

Please join in on the #peachlove fun by linking up any peach recipe from the month of August 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #peachlove event! The twitter hashtag is #peachlove 🙂

Nontraditional Raclette dinner party

Finally! My long promised post of the Raclette dinner party! A few weekends ago I had a little dinner party at my place with my 7 closest friends, making us a total number of 8. Eight was the crucial number. My friends came over for a Swiss Raclette dinner and the Raclette machine we used had 8 trays, one each. If you do not know what a Raclette is, imagine cut up potatoes, veggies, sausages, etc placed on a little tray which is covered with a slice of semi-firm cow’s milk cheese and then placed under a heat source to make the cheese melt. It is a really fun thing to do and the wine flows very easily.

So you can have a very traditional classic Swiss Raclette…or you can do like me and choose lots of stuff making it very nontraditional. I used a lot of different cheeses instead and prepared a variety of foods to add to each tray. I’ll go through my list below with you all. A lovely salad is great to serve as well. For dessert we had a Cherry Clafoutis which I blogged about already. Sorry the pics are not the best. Still learning how to use my new dslr and action shots or food shots on a shaking table will take a bit more time to learn.

Meats, seafood, protein: plan 150gr (5oz) per person

  • sausage lile mild Mergez
  • hard boiled eggs
  • shrimp
  • ham

Cheeses: plan 200gr (7oz) per person

  • Edam
  • Gouda
  • Emmental
  • Goat cheese
  • Asiago
  • Brie

Veggies and more:

  • tomatoes
  • broccoli, blanched
  • mushroom, pan fried a little bit
  • potatoes, boiled
  • pickle onions and gherkins
  • apples and pears

Notice I have no actual Raclette cheese…believe it or not I could not find any at my usual store. Grrr!

This is the Raclette contraption. Set it in the middle of the table and place the food dishes around the table. Dessert plates are perfect, not a big main course plate.

The grill on top is used to cook meats like sausages and roast veggies a bit if you like. I had everything partially precooked to speed things up. Below the grill you can see the little trays prepared with cheese slices on top…have the melted already? So hungry.

To make your tray: load up your plate with a little bit of the food dishes you like. Place in the tray in the food combo you desire, add your cheese on top.

Here is what your ready tray will look like with the cheese melted. Slide it onto your plate and enjoy! Then make another tray and so forth. I think here I used ham, tomatoes, potatoes, pickled onion and brie cheese.

This is a great concept for a dinner party. As the host you can prepare everything ahead of time so you are free to enjoy the party without stress. Your guest will enjoy participating and this is a great way to make a meal last longer and have more fun. Plan half a bottle of wine per person. I did a little research and I found two excellent wines that pair well with a Raclette.

– For a white selection go with a light bodied, dry white wine with ample acidity, crisp and fresh. Look for a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay or a Fendant . I chose a Lurton Pinot Gris Valle de Uco 2011.

– For the red try a light bodied, spicy and fruity wine with a low tannin: just make sure that is was not Oak barreled. Look for a Merlot, Pinot Noir or Syrah. I served a Tommasi Valpolicella Classico 2010.

Cinque Terre Memories and a 5 Star Pizza Perfect for a Youth Hostel Kitchen Meal

Quick announcement, my article Reviewing Restaurants – You Be The Critic was published today on the Food Bloggers of Canada site. Please go visit the site after reading this post.

I am sitting here on my couch leafing through the 2 photo albums from my fist backpacking trip though Europe. What a trip it was! It was 1996, I was 22 and I left my mom and dad for my first independent trip where I traveled through 9 countries and 25 cities in 60 days all by myself. It was a whirlwind trip as I did not want to miss a single thing just in case I never got to make it back to Europe. Digital cameras were a new thing back then hence the actual photo albums….I scanned a few pics for you.

This was years before the food blog, the food group or even really realizing my passion for food. But I knew I liked to eat and I was thrilled at the prospect of trying so many new specialties. It was my formative years in ethnic food. Budget was the first priority and before anyone would go spend the day sightseeing we had a few basics that needed to be settled, cheaply: food and shelter. Shelter as usually covered with a Youth Hostel and food took on many forms like sandwiches, pastries, going off the tourist path for a local cheaper joint and the occasional Youth Hostel kitchen.

This was years before the food blog, the food group or even really realizing my passion for food. But I knew I liked to eat and I was thrilled at the prospect of trying so many new specialties. It was my formative years in ethnic food. Budget was the first priority and before anyone would go spend the day sightseeing we had a few basics that needed to be settled, cheaply: food and shelter. Shelter as usually covered with a Youth Hostel and food took on many forms like sandwiches, pastries, going off the tourist path for a local cheaper joint and the occasional Youth Hostel kitchen.

When I was contacted by HostelBookers.com to submit a recipe for the Backpackers Recipe Guide, wow I was flooded by so many memories. This cookbook will be sent out to 20,000 youth hostels worldwide with a selection of cheap, easy and delicious recipes a traveler can cook in a youth hostel kitchen. How exciting it would be to have my recipe in there.

The village of Manarola

I have had my fare share of Youth Hostel meals and they were always fun and communal. There is one meal in particular that really stands out in my catalog of memories. And not just that meal but that destination, that youth hostel and the people I met there! It’s a doozy of a story so sit down and get comfy as I take you back 15 years (yikes), in early October, to a little town called Riomaggiore located in Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. Its a long post and story but I swear you will be thoroughly entertained!

The cool guide to travel with at that time was Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door. Do you remember his show on PBS? His travel show took you through the unknown, the cheap, the secret treasures that you did not find in regular travel guides. It was a great book to find cheap accommodation with sometimes quirky descriptions. And in those days Rick Steves was the only guy talking about Cinque Terre, a rugged stretch of the Italian Riviera composed of 5 villages:  Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Ξ Pesto and Mushroom Pizza Ξ

Ingredients:

  • 12 inch pizza crust
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 5 oz ( 150 gr) firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F /180 C.
  2. Place the pizza crust on a lightly oiled baking sheet (or aluminum paper).
  3. Spread the pesto on the crust leaving a clear edge on the crust.
  4. Top with mushrooms, tofu and the cheese.
  5. Bake the pizza for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Makes 6 slices.

I served this pizza for a potluck this weekend and it got rave reviews. This is truly one of the most flavorful pizzas I have ever made and it is so easy to make. Because of the tofu and the good amount of mushrooms, a couple of slices constitute a balanced quick meal. You do not need a lot of utensils besides a spoon, a knife and a baking sheet or aluminum paper. But my favorite part of this recipe is that it will satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores in one dish, not a claim many recipes can make. And who does not like Italian Pizza?

Back then there was only one option for cheap lodging and it was listed in the guide book: Mama Rosa’s Hostel in Riomaggiore. The guide said Mama Rosa met every train that arrived to round up the backpackers. The guide also said she ran her modest hostel with her son Sylvio. Although I doubted she would actually be at the train station a fairytale setting did start forming in my head of this private non touristy stop with Mama Rosa, the vineyards and her hot Italian son. That image got shattered real fast.

Oh yes Mama Rosa was at the train station. Try to imagine a 50 year old woman wearing a bright Barbie pink full jump suit with a bad light blond hair dye job waving her hands like all Italian mothers should announcing loudly:(say it with emphasis) MAAAma ROOOSaaaaaa, MAAAma ROOOSaaaaaa! I picked up my jaw off the Cinque Terre terre and followed her to the Hostel. What a dump! Some online reviews call it a slum and a notorious place. But what was I going to do!  I was there, it was cheap and I was in an isolated part of Italy.

Cactus pears, Mama Rosa's kitchen and outdoor bathroom

The set up was rudimentary at best, I remember the roof of my room was a corrugated roof – it rained and it made that unavoidable musical noise you hear in movies. And the outdoor bathroom was perfectly visible to the people living in the houses above that flank of the mountain, as in they could have seen us on the toilet! The common area was the basic kitchen with a long table.

And when you thought you saw the worst of it, Sylvio teh son made his appearance: carrying a bucket of dirty water the imaginary hot Italian son was actually an ugly and toothless middle-aged bachelor in tattered clothes. As stupid and vain as it may sound I was in shock. And I was not alone as I confirmed with all the girls I met there that we had all imagined Sylvio up into an Italian Stallion. NOT!

Thank god when you are traveling like a backpacker you can put all these things aside and go with the flow. Because you know what? This was one of the most memorable and enjoyable stops on my trip in the end. I met quite a few really delightful travelers there – all with a copy of Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door under their arm.

My first friend was a tall German guy who was also at the train station. It was late afternoon when we got in so not much to do except explore the tiny village. We spotted the vineyard terraces above the village and we decided to go for a stroll through the grapes. Of course to make it to the grapes we had to find out if permission would be granted to climb the old stone stairs leading to the terrace by the 3 typical widowed women, all dressed in black. It was like a militia guards post. A little apprehensive, German guy and I flashed our biggest smiles and said our best Hellos and How are yous in Italian. Well we got the blessing and were allowed to climb up the stairs and stroll in the vineyards. I could not resist and I grabbed a raisin and bit into it. That was the first time I ever ate a raisin right off the vine: it was heaven, sweet, luscious and destined for a great wine.

The next day I joined another small group of travelers who were getting ready to hike the famous walking trail joining the 5 villages. After all that was the point of going to Cinque Terre. I only remember bits and pieces of that hike. I know it took about 5 hours to do including very quick stops and a lunch. I have a very vivid memory of the most quintessential Italian scene I have ever seen in my life: a old man climbing out of his cellar into his house with his feet barefoot and purple from stomping the grapes. I remember the hiking path being so narrow at times it was scary.

Narrow path, Monterosso al Mare beach and a Mediterranean dip

I can still feel the little pricks on my fingers of the cactus pears I picked right of the cactus, a fruit my new friends had never seen. Yes even then I was introducing people to new foods. And my last memory of the actual hike was our destination, the tiny beach of Monterosso al Mare at the end of the day where I was going to swim in the Mediterranean come hell or high water. After all the sun was going down at the end of that cooler October day but I am from Canada and I can handle cold water. And the guy with us agreed to join me. The locals looked at us like we were absolutely crazy.

It was such a great day. We took the train back to Mama Rosa’s where we bought food for a communal dinner. During the hike we found out Pesto was from this part of Italy so we made a simple dish of pasta with a pesto sauce bought by the ladle in a small shop, got extra cheese and a few bottles of wine in tow. For dessert we enjoyed the sliced cactus pears I had picked – still feeling the tiny shards lodged under my skin. That is how I remember Cinque Terre: rugged in every sense of the word but such a beautiful raw experience. And I owe it all to Mama Rosa and her Hostel!

——————————————————–

Got a simple recipe up your sleeve? Enter it and thousands of people could be cooking your recipe from a special cookbook that will be in youth hostel kitchens all over the world. To submit a recipe check out how to enter.

Don’t forget to go check out my article Reviewing Restaurants – You Be The Critic on the Food Bloggers of Canada site.

Going Spanish with a Sangria Chicken Rustic Baguette: SRC meets 5 Star Makeover

It is Sunday night, 9:33 pm, I just finished cooking my challenge and I am about to have my dinner a. It has been a 2 weeks of procrastination, of being a general recluse. Blame it on fall? But I can honestly say I Gosh, cannot remember the last time I have been salivating over a home meal like this one.

Once again the cooking gods were with me and 2 challenge’s deadlines crossed paths…2 challenges one post. The first challenge is the always inspiring and noggin crunching 5 Star Makeover where a theme or ingredient is announced and must serve as the inspiration of our dish. This month the theme was Cooking with Wine, this being the season of the wine harvest (sorry Maya yes there is booze again).

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

The second challenge is the Secret Recipe Club and this is my group’s reveal day! What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time…. which is today! I can’t wait to see who picked me.

This month I feel like I hit the jackpot with Taking on Magazines. This is a beyond entertaining blog authored by Christiane who has self baptized herself “The Mom Chef”. The concept around her blog is brilliant: does that pretty magazine recipe really look and taste as good once you make it with kids running around you, your spouse hovering over your shoulder and the dog peeing in the corner. Well you get the idea!

Christiane and I share one thing in common, being the occasional lush. I found so many recipes with wine on her blog. Finally I settled on her  Sangria Chicken. Sangria requires a simple wine actually but I did go for a traditional pick, a Tempranillo. The dark grapes produce a ruby red wine with earthy notes of berries, plum, tobacco, leather and herb. I felt a Spanish meal was in order. I was just telling a friend today the only city I have traveled to that really felt like home was Barcelona. I had visions of enjoying a light lunch in a eatery along the beautiful main entertainment street, Las Ramblas.

 

Sangria Chicken

4 chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup sweet orange marmalade
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved lengthwise

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a heavy skillet, briskly simmer wine and marmalade for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup. Off heat, stir in lemon juice to taste.

In a large bowl, toss chicken with oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Lay chicken, skin side up, in a large rimmed sheet pan and cook until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Pour off juices.

Brush chicken with the glaze and put grapes around the pieces. Roast another 10 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze and roast until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes more.

In this fantasy I saw on my plate an open faced baguette first lined with a gorgeous layer of caramelized fennel strips and then topped with the Sangria chicken nicely sliced on the diagonal. I made my own baguette from a traditional Spanish Rustic Bread recipe, the quickest bread recipe ever but not the most successful this time around. Finishing touches included slices of lime and mandarin. This is truly the closest recipe possible to glass of Sangria on a plate. Salud!