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Ontario

Goose Island Comes to Ontario

Bottles of Goose Island Sofie and Matilda

At the same time that a new brewery seems to open in Ontario every week, we are also treated to the release of widely-recognised, international beers almost as often. Two Belgian style ales from Chicago’s goose island brewery – Sophie and Matilda – will be making their Ontario debut this April.

The plan is to have them in LCBOs by the week of April 29. Until then, they are exclusively available at Nota Bene on Queen Street West. I had the pleasure of attending a media lunch there last week to mark the occasion. (more…)

Organic Meadow Farm Visit

There is a feeling of ease that comes from knowing that the other humans involved in producing what we eat are happy about that participation.

My visit this September, organised by Organic Meadow and their communications firm, to the Birchwind Holstein Farm made it obvious that the Vices are happy to be organic dairy farmers. They were friendly, generous hosts that freely shared with us all facets of their operation.

This ice cream is really quite delicious.

This ice cream is really quite delicious.

Organic Meadow started in 1989 in the organic grain marketing business, added eggs in 1993, and organic milk–now their retail mainstay–in 1996. They are a co-operative of dairy farms spread across the province and are gradually adding their own processing and packaging facilities. (more…)

Strawberry Comparison

Reading about most of the email conversations I have with PR reps would make your eyes bleed from boredom. They have a product they want bloggers to write about and because most of them are well outside the purview of this blog I politely decline. Sometimes I elaborate a bit more about why I won’t be covering the product they represent and this usually leads to a brief back-and-forth.

I had one of these more in-depth conversations with someone at Harbinger Communications who represents California Strawberries. From this I promised to compare Ontario strawberries to the ones from the golden state as soon as our came in season.

Ontario farmers have planted long-bearing strains of strawberries so that the season now extends through August and into the start of September. With more time to work with this can just be considered a first test, to be repeated more formally in the near future. I’m still working out the kinks in the methodology so don’t take any of these results as final or necessarily objective. (more…)

Back to the Polls

Photo: Benson Kua

Torontonians have dealt with our municipal election and that means four years of Rob Ford but it also means that our next election is the provincial one on October 6, 2011.  There were some bright moments for food policy in the municipal election: farmers’ market organiser Mary-Margaret McMahon soundly defeated Sandra Bussin and Joe Pantalone–he of the wrong-headed attack on bistros who want liquor licenses–didn’t come anywhere near to winning.  I hope that food policy gets more attention during the provincial round of campaigning and I’m going to start right here with this post.

To fully cover the political issues that interest me and are relevant to this space I’m also going to include alcohol policy.  They’re sometimes very distant from each other but the two realms of policy do come together in our important restaurant industry but also cross when you consider how closely they’re both affected by a government’s willingness to play an active role in affecting consumer choice. (more…)

Inniskillin Winemaker’s Pinot Gris

Thanks to the generosity of Inniskillin I have been given the chance to take four of the wines from their Winemaker’s Series on a test run.  First up was the 2008 Inniskillin Barrel Aged Pinot Gris.

Judging from the label at least, this wine is the direct mirror image to the un-oaked Chardonnay.  A fashionable and widely popular grape, Pinot Gris (known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and various New World regions), has been treated here in the manner that was reserved for its older cousin before everyone convinced themselves that oak gives them headaches.  Obviously though it’s what’s in the bottle that matters more and I’ll deal with that in a moment. (more…)