Books, Food and Wine

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:

Served with Château De Montguéret Cremant De Loire:

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.

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53 thoughts on “Books, Food and Wine”

  1. What a fantastic event. My three favorite things… It must be nice to live in such a culturally rich area. You are lucky to have partner that appreciates similar things. I wish my husband like wine and food more! Thanks for sharing! I might be visiting Canada soon!

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      • Good point! Bulgaria has an interesting traditional food culture, but some many things are just catching on here or years away. Maybe I can aid in speeding things up! 🙂 Unfortunately, I don’t get to take advantage of my continent as often as I would like to!

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  2. What a fabulous event! And oh how I love the library. Whenever I was sad and depressed I always went down there, it was my refuge. I would look up books on stuff like how to use acorns in baking, even though I had never baked anything, ever. Thanks for that trip down memory lane and wow, this even looks stellar! That brisket? Divine. Pistachios and rhubarb? Totally adventurous.

    I really hope that you also try the clementine cake, you will love it! You just need to get over the weird smell of boiling clementines, so odd, LOL! Seriously though, this cake is forgiving and worthwhile. I am still loving each bite although I can’t believe we still have some!

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  3. Everything looks tasty! What a fun evening, I’m jealous! I wish they had events like that around here. I picked up some rhubarb in the store this morning as a matter of fact, so I may be drawing some inspiration from the crisp! Looks like fun!

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  4. Sounds like you had fun….. wonderful meal. love the swiss chard… Food blogging has been always my excuse whenever I drag my hubby to some new resto, or foodie event…. Even without food blogging, we enjoy attending events like this, from the fancy ones to the cheat but good eats… U

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  5. I visited Toronto last year and barely missed the film festival. Now I find out about THIS festival. Darn! I need to learn to plan my trips better. Looks like it was a lot of fun!

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  6. I wish I could’ve been there, too! I worked for nearly 14 years in academic and public libraries – it is my natural environment and I love when such events are held to encourage everyone to make use of this most marvelous resource. When it comes to cooking, the library provides me with any cookbook I could possibly want without breaking the bank! (I save the funds for the ingredients and tools!)

    It’s great that Neil is so enthusiastic and supportive of your blogging – how much fun is it to share evenings like this together? 😎

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  7. ah- we had friends from Montreal so we could not attend. it is a hop and a skip from my place and i am a huge LW fan! and it would have been nice to have met you, too. thanks for posting these photos- i really wish i could have attended this. love the write-up you’ve done for us- thank you. x shayma

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  8. I had the privilage of attending this wonderful food experience. The rhubarb/pistachio crumble was music to my tastebuds! The brisket wasn’t bad either. Wine choices all excellent. I highly recommend having champagne with dessert.

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  9. that rhubarb crisp looks delicious! i think rhubarb’s tricky to get just right, and yet i keep trying – it reminds me of childhood. 🙂

    Reply

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