Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise

Visit beFOODled on Flickr.

Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise is a beautifully landscaped winery that is as much a celebration of art as it is of wine. We sampled some tasty whites and a peppery red that I also liked, and purchased a bottle of the Seyval Carte D'Or (on the far right in the photo above).

The grounds are lovely. There's art for sale on the walls of the building where you do tastings and buy wine. There's also a small, modern freestanding kitchen (for a very lucky chef!) next to a pond with beautiful plants and sculptures in the water.

We took a long walk about the grounds and made a nice discovery. Scattered about the vineyard every few feet are different sculptures by various Quebec-based artists. Called Nature et Creation, it's the province's largest outdoor sculpture exhibition and the winery hosts it every year.

Here are some photos of my favourite sculptures. Quirky and interesting and so very French!

A cute family

Half a violin that is very eighties meets Art Deco

Adorable metal tree sculptures that reminded me of dainty bonsai trees

The lovely front door with a sign commemorating the winery's 30th anniversary

Wandering the grounds to meet the next great sculpture

Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise

879, rue Bruce, (Road 202)
Dunham (QC) J0E 1M0

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Tel: 450-295-2020

Monday, August 22, 2011

Les Trois Clochers, a winery in Quebec's Eastern Townships

It is very hard to pick a favourite vignoble in Quebec's Eastern Townships because they all have their unique charms. However, if I have to pick just one, it would be the winery Les Trois Clochers.

The boutique is in an old barn, full of lovely wines and sweetly furnished. The grounds are very secluded and overlook three churches in the nearby city of Dunham, Que.

It is so peaceful and rustic as you can see from the photos. The grounds had little treasures dotted here and there, like an old barrel, a weathered wooden door and a piece of long-forgotten farming equipment. We had lunch on a picnic table under a tree. For a while, we were the only living things there, with the exception of the owners' two turkeys, who were quite nice company!

Like many of the wineries in this region, this one is about 30 years old. It's first vines were planted in 1986. We had a tasting and bought a bottle of their blanc boisé, a dry oaked white, which was very light and fresh, and made from Seyval grapes.

We drank it later with my family and some nice cheeses bought on the same road trip: one from Ferme Diodati just outside of Montreal, and another from Saint-Benoît, an abbey in the Eastern Townships whose monks produce their own cheeses. (More on these extraordinary places later.)

Vignoble Les Trois Clochers
341, rue Bruce RR 3
Dunham, QC J0E 1M0

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wine tour of Quebec's Eastern Townships

Time for a long-overdue feature on our trip to Quebec's Eastern Townships, where we visited an abbey that makes cheeses and ciders (St. Benoît), and toured several of the region's wineries (more on those later). The photo above shows some of the wines we bought during our visit. We stayed at À La Maison Campbell, a B&B run by Jean and Danielle Goyer, who make delicious, delightful breakfasts. We also ate at several nice restaurants, our favourite meal being mussels and fries at La Table Alain Roger. It's a place that specializes in, well, mussels and fries! I have never tasted mussels like this before. So much flavour and such a high quality. The fries were great too, and came with several different kinds of mustard and mayonnaise for dipping.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pasta primavera with roasted vegetables

I made a big batch of this on a Sunday afternoon, and we ate it for lunch all week long. It's a nice treat after a morning at work, plus you save so much money not buying lunches every day. The trouble is you have to resist eating it the night you make it! This recipe is adapted from one by Giada de Laurentiis in her cookbook Everyday Italian, long a source of pasta inspiration for me.

Pasta primavera with roasted vegetables
serves six to eight

one acorn squash
one red pepper
one yellow pepper
two carrots
two zucchini
one onion, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
pinch of chili flakes
2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 lb penne pasta
20 grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the first five vegetables into a large two-inch dice. Toss the vegetables and the sliced onions with the olive oil, herbes de Provence, chili flakes, and salt and pepper in a large, high-sided baking dish.

Transfer half of the veggies into a second baking dish.

Bake both trays of vegetables for about 25 minutes, stirring after the first 10.

Meanwhile, cook the penne according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Reserve a cup of pasta water for adding to the final dish.

In a big glass bowl, toss the pasta with the roasted vegetables and enough of the pasta water to moisten. Season with more salt and pepper, and stir in the grape tomatoes and grated Parmesan.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and put in the fridge for lunches all week long :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Luscious beef cheeseburgers with tomatoes, arugula and melted cheese

Lately, I've been dressing up my burgers with tomatoes, arugula and melted cheese. Sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions are also nice toppings. Here's my burger recipe below. I like to add a handful of arugula or spinach right into the beef mixture to top up my vegetable servings for the day. (If you are a meat-lover like me, you just don't get enough!).

Luscious beef burgers
Serves five or six

500 g minced beef
one medium onion, diced
one clove garlic, diced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch of chili flakes or diced jalapeno
pinch of smoked paprika (regular will do too)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
one egg
(optional: handful of arugula or spinach)

In a big mixing bowl, combine the garlic, onion, Dijon mustard, chili, paprika, thyme, breadcrumbs, egg, and salt and pepper, and stir it into a paste. Add the beef and stir it into the seasoning.(At this point I go in with clean hands!)

Heat a wide, high-sided frying pan until getting hot. Add a splash of olive oil and let it heat up until you see ripples in the oil.

As you wait for the pan to heat, form the meat mixture into five or six burger patties. Fry them a few minutes per side, flipping over only once. I don't time them precisely, but I watch the sides of the patties and turn them over when I see the cooking line is about a third of the way up.

When the burgers are cooked, top each with a slice of cheese, put a lid on the pan and set it aside off the heat. Leave the lid on for a minute until the cheese melts.

Serve burgers in a toasted bun with condiments and your favourite toppings.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rosemary and parmesan popcorn

It's Oscar night! My favourite night of the year for fashion dos and don'ts! I'm heading to a party with some gourmet popcorn in hand, a recipe adapted from one recently published in the Globe and Mail.

Rosemary and parmesan popcorn

3 bags unsalted popcorn
1 cup butter
1/2 cup rosemary
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp pink rock salt
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper

Strip the rosemary leaves off the stems and finely chop them. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the rosemary bits, and the salt and pepper. Stir to dissolve the salt.

Grate the parmesan cheese.

Meanwhile, pop the popcorn in the microwave. Put all the popped popcorn in a big stock pot. Drizzle the melted butter mixture over top, and turn the popcorn with tongs to evenly coat.

Serve immediately, or put into two big plastic freezer bags and head to your Oscar party!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A sea bass duet at Canadian Celebrity Chefs

From left to right, Chef Norm Aitken, emcee Kevin Brauch and Chef Mike Howell demonstrate how to cook sea bass at the first-ever Canadian Celebrity Chefs Event.

When I was a journalism student in Montreal, I bought a Chilean sea bass and cooked it in the kitchen of my shoebox apartment. The next day I told my classmates about my delicious fish and was on culinary cloud nine until one of them crashed me down to earth by saying “but Chilean sea bass are endangered!”

I really had no idea, and I felt terrible for contributing to the slow demise of a species at risk.

Nine years later, sitting in the audience at Ottawa's first-ever Celebrity Chefs Event at the National Arts Centre, I am reminded of my delicious environmental transgression. Norm Aitken and Mike Howell have just announced they are going to show the audience how to cook sea bass, but they are better informed that I and have chosen the non-endangered European species.

So let me tell you about their dish. They prepared the fish in two different ways using cooking methods that they've used to great success at their respective restaurants (Aitken works at Juniper in Ottawa and Howell at Tempest in Wolfville N.S.).

Aitken pan-seared his fillet in a very hot skillet with butter, and salt and pepper, and Howell cured his in a mixture of mostly salt and a little sugar, and lime and orange zest. “Fish is particularly suited to curing,” he said. “The longer you do it, the firmer it will become.”

They also made a citrus and fennel salad, a golden beet coulis made with a maritime seaweed called dulse, and married the two fishes on the plate with a little applewood-smoked mussel. It was the first thing that I ate at the reception later that evening and it was lovely.

In telling the audience they do not serve farmed salmon at their restaurants, Howell and Aitken provoked a lot of discussion. They are both environmentalists, and Howell recommended that consumers choose Sea Choice or Ocean Wise certified products if they are interested in supporting sustainable fish farming.

I wish I had known this before I feasted on endangered Chilean sea bass in Montreal!

After journalism school, I became an editor at the Canadian Wildlife Federation and discovered two great websites with searchable databases on species at risk: COSEWIC, which focuses species in Canada, and the IUCN's Red List, which covers species worldwide. I've since used them to make sure I'm not buying anything endangered for my next meal!

In short, I had a great time at this event. It was a lot of fun, and Howell and Aitken's dish are but one of several tasty creations that I got to sample. In my next post, I'll publish an overview of the day in pictures … and more food porn! In the meantime, you can read more fine coverage on these other blogs:

The Lemon Kitchen
Whisk: a food blog
Simply Fresh
The Twisted Chef
Rachelle Eats Food
If Music be the Food of Love, Play On

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Canada's celebrity chefs are coming to the NAC!

Canadian celebrity chefs Michael Howell (left) of Tempest and Norm Aitken of Juniper.

Tomorrow is going to be so exciting! I've been invited, along with several other Ottawa food bloggers, to shadow the chefs at the first-ever Canadian Celebrity Chefs Event at the National Arts Centre, and guest blog about the proceedings.

This event is a Canadian first and the brainchild of Michael Blackie, executive chef of Le Café at the NAC. The premise is really clever: A visiting chef from elsewhere in Canada is paired up with a local Ottawa chef to collaborate and produce a main that showcases the best of Canadian flavours.

Each blogger has been assigned to a chef pair and I'm happy to introduce my talented duo as Norm Aitken of Ottawa's Juniper restaurant and Michael Howell of Tempest in Wolfville, N.S.

They are making a crispy-seared transverse Nova Scotian sea bass with a cool fennel and citrus salad, warm gold-beet puree and hay brown butter, dulse and beetroot coulis, and an applewood smoked mussel bridge.

I'm a big fish fan and this sounds absolutely amazing! I can only hope I'll have the pleasure of tasting it on top of seeing how it's made :)

Here's the lineup of all the delicious demonstrations:

Transverse Nova Scotia sea bass crispy seared | citrus cured cool fennel and citrus salad | warm gold beet puree and hay brown butter | dulse and beetroot coulis | applewood smoked mussel bridge by Norm Aitken (Juniper) and Michael Howell (Tempest).

Oyster | honey flavour roasted foie gras terrine | marrow bones and Chardonnay vinaigrette | bacon foam by Marc Lepine (Atelier) and Mathieu Cloutier (Kitchen Galerie).

Shiitake poached pickerel | beurre noissette | dressed grains and greens | crispy crème fraiche oyster by Charlotte Langley (Whalesbone) and Brad Long (Café Belong).

Sweet grass cold smoked Charlevoix veal | crisp potato girdle | Clarmell on the Rideau feta + sage infused retention firecracker spotted prawn crisp | Cloud Horse mead-lychee sting by Michael Blackie (NAC's Le Café) and Michael Lyon (Hotel Eldorado).

Poached Atlantic lobster | Bridge sparkling wine beurre blanc | Le Coprin mushrooms | sweetbreads with candied fennel corn flan, water cress sprouts | black olive purée by Clifford Lyness (Perspectives) and Ray Bear (MIX).

Drunken squab and Newfie screech | tatin of sunchokes | foie gras crepinette by Michael Moffatt (Beckta) and Anthony Walsh (Canoe).

Beet risotto | crispy pig cheek | seared Qualicum beach scallop | Granny smith slaw by Cesare Santaguida (Vittoria Trattoria) and David Rocco (Dolce Vita).

North country bison hash | Quebec goat cheese and cauliflower ravioli | preserved lemon and rendered bacon hollandaise | ancho chili plum gastrique by Robyn Bowen (Empire Grill) and Paul Rogalski (ROUGE).

There will also be a food and wine tasting and reception in the evening. You can buy tickets for the demos and the reception through the NAC's webpage. You can also follow the day's events on Twitter at celebchefott and on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chez Edgar, a food blogger's restaurant in Gatineau

Marysol, author of food blog She Eats Bears, has recently opened her own restaurant called Edgar in Gatineau, Que. It's a sweet little place where you can sit down for a coffee, and buy sandwiches and innumerable baked goods, all made fresh daily. You can also get garden-fresh soups and dips and pasta dinners to go.

S and I took some friends there recently and we all tucked into some wonderful paninis: big, toasted sandwiches full of quality ingredients like spicy eggplant, apples, cheddar and homemade aioli. They're delicious and an incredible value at less than six dollars!

Edgar's treat counter is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. A popular item is the brioche, which comes in unique flavour combinations, such as dates and bacon topped with an orange glaze. There's row upon row of apple and chocolate/walnut tarts, yummy muffins of the day, big sugar cookies and Edgar's signature bars.

Marysol has a lot of experience cooking and baking in various kitchens. Before she opened Edgar, she used to work at the The Urban Element where she would help local chefs test their recipes and make them user-friendly for cooking classes.

Today, she oversees all the cooking and baking at Edgar. In fact, she does most of it herself with the help of a few volunteers, an incredible feat given how hard it is to run a kitchen. For paying customers, her attention to detail is worth it. You can taste the love and tenderness that has gone into her food in every bite.

When Edgar was only a few weeks old, Rachelle gathered a few of us Ottawa-area food bloggers together to visit Marysol after-hours. We helped her prep for the next day and brought her some much-needed food. Rachelle put together a sumptuous cheese and cracker spread, and Lynne, who volunteers at Edgar and is also an accomplished baker, made a delectable sugar pie. (You can see Marysol making the first cut in the photo at the top of this post.) I brought some shrimp with a chili-lime drizzle, a tried and true party recipe. I had such a great time getting to know everyone and helping out! Thanks for a wonderful evening ladies!

60, rue Bégin
Gatineau, Que.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Salmon potato patties

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! These little salmon potato patties are a nice way to turn boring leftovers into something new and exciting. I combine mashed potatoes (and/or stuffing) and canned salmon in roughly equal parts, and then add an egg, a tablespoon of breadcrumbs, some herbs, and salt and pepper, and then fry the patties until they are golden on both sides. I hope you like them!

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