Now I am nearly a year into blogging (just a couple of weeks until my “blogiversary”), I often have people ask me how Neil feels about it (and I totally know I am opening myself up to Neil making snide remarks in the comments section here). Whilst he might have some opinions about the matter, I believe that my food blogging has become a most excellent and convenient excuse for Neil to suggest we attend (even more) food and wine-related events… (errr… like we need an excuse!).
Such was the case a while back when he shot me an email suggesting we attend the Books, Food and Wine: Tasting Menu as part of the Keep Toronto Reading Festival 2010, an event with food by Lucy Waverman and paired wine by “Wine Doctor” Edward Finstein (who happens to have taught Neil at one point in his Wine Appreciation Certificate at George Brown College). An event pairing three of my favourite things? Of course!
So last week, in the middle of a hectic week (when isn’t my life hectic these days???), we found ourselves at the beautiful Bram and Bluma Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library, a haven of quiet and beautiful natural light in the bustle of downtown Toronto.
The evening was a lovely mix of information and entertainment, just was like being at the dinner table with a (big) group of friends. The menu was chosen from Lucy’s new cookbook, A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen, and the meal was peppered with both Lucy and Edward’s anecdotes as well as food and wine advice in a relaxed setting with an open mike where they encouraged people to come and ask questions.
Wine pairings were provided by Authentic Wines and Spirits.
First up: Swiss Chard Tart with Four Cheeses:
Served with Seregro Aligheri Rosso
This was actually my favourite pairing of the night. The salty cheese, the slight sweetness of the pastry and the bitter chard all worked magically with the acid and lack of tannin in the wine. (Aren’t you impressed? I actually wrote that down and then I felt like a bit of a fraud so stopped taking notes. Neil’s the wine guy in this relationship!). But actually the pairing was most impressive. It’s the sort of thing I could see myself eating on a warm summer night after a long day at work – light but not light on flavour. According to the tasting notes, the wine also pairs well with mature cheeses, burgers, grilled red meats and pasta – an all round good guy!
The “main course” was dubbed “The Ultimate Brisket”:
Paired with Mommessin Chateauneuf-Du-Pape:
I enjoyed this brisket though it was nowhere near as good as the one I tasted at Buster Rhinos Southern BBQ a few days later. It was a lovely dish, and certainly for brisket served to a large group, I was surprised at how tender it was – not an easy dish to serve to large numbers and have it stay moist and juicy. This was pretty tasty so hats off the the chefs for managing to pull it off. The wine was not so much to my liking, though I think it was Neil’s favourite of the night. I found it to be really spicy and for me, this overpowered the so-called “plum, herb and red berry” on the tasting notes. But you know, if it was the only thing on offer, I wouldn’t say no…
The dessert was a Rhubarb Pistachio Crisp:
Now normally, I am not a rhubarb fan – I have memories of icky stewed rhubarb from when I was very little (sorry Nana!) – but this was surprising. I liked the slight saltiness of the pistachios combined with the tart rhubarb and the sweet crumble. I really enjoyed the cremant de Loire – even I could pick up the “biscuit” notes.. When I lived in Paris, I drank cremant all the time (well, you know what I mean, not ALL the time!) – it’s a wonderful alternative to champagne. The tasting notes suggest it pairs well with prosciutto-wrapped figs, asparagus or a cheese and fruit tray, or my personal favourite way to enjoy a nice bubbly, straight up.
This was a very pleasant evening – I mean, a food writer, a wine “doctor” and a great meal? Who could ask for more?
I will be looking at Lucy’s book in more detail once my life calms down a little as I was impressed by these recipes and love that her inspiration is fresh, seasonal ingredients. I have heard wonderful things about her recipes which have been described as “surefire” and completely embrace her philosophy that fresh and tasty does not necessarily mean complicated; one which I am trying to instill in my petits chefs! According to her website, “with monthly features on making the most of seasonal ingredients and on pertinent techniques–such as slow cooking in November and grilling in June–A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen helps you share the pleasures of the table with family and friends all year long.” In our ongoing quest to eat more seasonally more often, I have a feeling this book will join our cookbook collection fairly soon.