Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

More Niagara Wine Tours

November27

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While touring the area of St. David’s bench and dining at Ravine Vineyards, it was also recommended to check out this amazing new build that is being lovingly recreated as a Tuscan villa.  Since we were taking this little sojourn as consolation for not being able to swing some time in Tuscany, this was a very pleasant surprise indeed.  As much as I love tasting the wines at the vineyards, it is the stories of the wine families that most intrigue me and this story was one of love and family.

“Owned and operated exclusively by the Colaneri family, Colaneri Estate Winery opened its doors to the public in 2010.  It is a testament to the Colaneri family legacy, both in Niagara-on-the-Lake and in their homeland of Frosolone, Italy, where the rather enchanting story of how this winery came to be begins.  When Joseph Colaneri set eyes on Maria it was love.  They soon wed and had two sons, Mike and Nick.  The possibilities of the new world beckoned and in 1967 the family moved to Canada, eventually acquiring a 40-acre vineyard, which ‘Ma and Pa’ Colaneri lovingly tended to.  The boys married sisters, Angie and Betty, they had children and they all settled in the vineyard, the place that would eventually house the winery that would be dedicated to the Colaneri family and ancestors.”

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In a short drive, we felt like we had left the golden villas of Italy and had suddenly arrived in the French wine country.  I had met Michelle Bosc of Chateau des Charmes at the Canadian Food Bloggers conference last spring in Hockley Valley and just before we were departing for Toronto she sent me a note telling me about their wine store opening in the GTA.  Unfortunately, I was going to have to miss the urban store because we were on our way to Stratford and Niagara on Lake, when of course it dawned on me that we were traveling to the place where it all began for the Bosc family.

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Peter was our knowledgeable guide of the Chateau des Charmes estate and told us fascinating stories of weather and grapes and even roses, particularly how the growing of them is intricately entwined with the growing of grapes.

“Château des Charmes was founded in 1978 by Paul Bosc, a fifth generation French winegrower. Paul and his young family arrived in Niagara in the 1960’s with the idea that growing our own grapes was the best way to make fine wine.”

We were so intrigued by Paul’s story that we bought a book later that day entitled “Niagrara’s Wine Visionaries” by Linda Bramble to read more about his fascinating wine journey.   Above all, we were impressed with the Bosc’s family love of the land and their efforts to use technology for the good of the grapes, the soil and the wine-growing region.

“We believe we are custodians of the land. From the beginning we have been committed to using sustainable practices and are charter members of Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario. Paul and his team are meticulous. They use modern science and a lot of TLC to coax the best out of every vine. And with more than 30 vintages in our vineyards we think we now know which varieties grow best in which spot. But there is always more to learn.”

Kath’s quote: “Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”-Benjamin Franklin

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

Snackbox Opened For Grey Cup Game

November25

Yesterday during the festivities of cheering Rider Nation onto their well deserved Grey Cup win and gnoshing on homemade pizza and wings, we opened our first Snackbox.  It is a monthly subscription of healthy, natural, and most of all, delicious snacks.  Each month they ship 10 – 12 items to their members across Canada through Canada Post.  All of their snacks are “curated” by their in-house holistic nutritionist, so busy professionals and parents don’t have to spend time reading the labels.

The Quinoa Skinny Cracker proved to be a tasty way to scoop up the mango salsa that I chopped up just before game time and the Veggie Straws were perfect when dipped into the baba ganoush that I had in the fridge.  The Fruit and Nut Medley was a big hit as were the Pear Slices.  The latter are dried without the use of any additives or preservatives and tasted as close to a fresh pear as you could get.  For dessert, J2 indulged in the Toffee Coconut Dark Chocolate Bar.  You can taste the quality of the dark chocolate with every bite and the bar is rich and satisfying.  D is on the road this morning (for a business visit to our victorious neighbours to the west) so he packed up Hemp Protein Bar, a Cashew Lara Bar and My Smoothie Green .  I have a Green Tea chilling in the fridge to accompany my lunch of left over pizza.  At first we mused that the Sponge Bob Square Pants Cheese Puffs were an odd inclusion but J2 thought that they tasted just like Cheetos without the concern of unnatural ingredients.  In fact, J2 decided that they would make a perfect first fun snack when the Wee One is old enough to begin her solid food journey.  The last ingredient of our Snackbox was a Gobi Spice package that is recommended to toss with cauliflower.  I intend to pick up some fresh veggies today capitalize on this organic certified exotic, spice mix.

The cost of a subscription goes from $24-$33. +tax per month depending upon the length or your subscription.  The lovely folks at Snackbox have created a special code for Food Musings readers if you would care to sample your own box of healthy goodies: “FOODMUSINGS”. It entitles you to $15 off your first Snackbox, and it expires on Dec. 31, 2013. It is valid for new customers only. The coupon code is not valid for gifts.

Snackbox is also launching gift subscriptions this week. It is the same as their regular subscriptions, except the subscription does not auto-renew, and shipping is free.

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The Wee One was decked out in Vikings gear for her Grandpa but failed to go home and change into her Giants jersey for the second pre-Grey Cup game.  The results?  Vikings won, Giants lost and the Riders didn’t need any help at all.

Kath’s quote: “I am out of words”.  John Chick, Defensive End, Saskatchewan Roughriders, on yesterday’s win

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Love-that is all.

 

 

Main Street Niagara

November21

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On this visit to the Niagara on the Lake, we loved the culinary and wine scenes but did not have any opportunity to take part in the other significant reason for visiting the area- the Shaw Festival.

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As enthralling as wine country is, the town of Niagara on the Lake is just as breathtaking.  From the exquisitely preserved Victorian architecture…

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to the gardens and main street plantings.

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We were absolutely enthralled by everything that the community had to offer.  In all honesty, we were also pleasantly surprised that there is such a beautiful vacation spot in the province just next door to our own.  We are constantly scouring on line sites for affordable prices to Europe when a mini vacation is right here combining the vineyards of France, Italian and Germany with the quaint villages of Great Britain.  The theatre scene is like the bonus cherry on top of a delicious sundae.

Kath’s quote: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”-George Bernard Shaw

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Love-that is all.

Casa Mesa

November20

Our son and his wife spent extended time in the Philippines, in Manila and the beautiful island of Puerto Galera.  They came home describing their culinary adventures including the eating of fertilized eggs that had baby chicks inside, feathers and all.  Perhaps this is why I had never been too anxious to seek out the cuisine of the Philippines.  But given the cultural diversity of our fair city, it seemed somehow preposterous that I had never been to a Philippine restaurant, until I visited Casa Mesa (617 Selkirk Ave.).

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We started with Philippine spring rolls which I often enjoy when I visit Confusion Corner Bar and Grill.  There were stuffed with a savoury pork mixture and were excellent with the provided sauce for dipping.  In fact, the sauce was so good that we dipped just about all of our forkfuls into it.

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At the recommendation of our son, I sampled Tosilog otherwise known as Philippine breakfast.  He says that he ate a version like this most mornings while he lived on the islands.  My plate did not have the spicy sauces that he mentioned, but it was still a hearty breakfast and so affordable at $4.99.  There were two perfectly cooked easy over eggs, garlic fried rice and this amazing pork concoction.  Our server (who is also the cook and owner) indicated that she marinates the pork overnight to give it the distinctive candy-like quality.  The sauce was like a sweet chili sauce but without the fieriness from the chilies.

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My youngest daughter, who was my lunch date, chose a two dish special of Pancit Bihon (that is to say Philippine chow mein) and breaded shrimp.  The latter had been lightly tossed, just before cooking, into panko flakes.  Panko are Asian “bread crumbs”, which are coarsely ground utilizing rice and tend to be light and crispy.  Rice accompanied her dish as well.  Her plate was also exceptional value.

Casa Mesa has occupied this Selkirk location for just a year.  As you open the door, you are taken by surprise at how bright, sparkling clean and cheerful looking the restaurant is.  Beverly Mesa is equally cheerful as she welcomes you to her casa (home).

Casa Mesa is cash only, so get organized in advance to avoid disappointment.

Casa Mesa Eatery on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”-John Gunther

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Love-that is all.

Cafe ce Soir

November18

Café ce Soir is coming upon their first anniversary and I cannot believe that it took me this entire year to discover them.  Located on the north stretch of Portage Ave. between Arlington and Wall St. (937 to be exact), you will not find French spoken here, as is often the case when you dine in St. Boniface, but the passion for wholesome ingredients and classic French cuisine is authentic.

As you enter the sun-filled bistro, you note that Chef Cam Tran is a member of “Slow Food Canada” who’s vision and Mission is “… a world in which people can access and enjoy slow food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.  Slow Food is an international grassroots membership organization promoting good, clean and fair food for all.”  Slow Food figures prominently into a book that I am currently reading entitled-The Table Comes First, where the movement is additionally described as encompassing: “localism, seasonal cooking, farmer’s markets (and) organic produce“.

Chef Tran worked for many years in the restaurant kitchen formerly dubbed La Vielle Gare, where I first tasted French cuisine west of Quebec.

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Lunch began with the sharing of a roasted beet salad, crowned with whole, raw walnuts, creamy goat cheese and pear strings enhanced with a dressing of lemon, oil and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Large nuggets of pink sea salt adorned the plate and brought out the glistening tastes of each bite.

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My daughter-in-law spied the gnocchi on the menu and could not resist.  The best way to describe the old-world treat is that it is a dumpling-like pasta made with the inclusion of potato.  When gnocchi is prepared by a skilled chef (and Chef Tran is definitely this), they are lighter than air and taste like the food that angels might feast upon.

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In direct opposition, I decided upon the fried frog-legs with a thyme sour cream.  I first tasted frog legs on the very first night of my honey-moon at a Quebec City Bistro.  At one time Picasso’s Seafood Restaurant here in Winnipeg served them and more recently Inferno’s.  I have missed the taste.  I can best describe the flavour as being a blend of chicken and seafood and I love both.  Chef Tran can pan fry them with notice if you are gluten sensitive.

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Pink deserts were beautifully concocted to raise money in October for Women’s Cancers.  So lovely when a restaurant is so willing to give back to the community.  They and others, deserve your patronage.

Cafe Ce Soir on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Fish in the hands of a skilled cook can become an inexhaustible source of gustatory pleasures.” –Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

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Love-that is all.

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