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sparkling wine

VQA Sparkling Wine Tasting

Earlier in December I attended a sparkling wine tasting put on by Wine Country Ontario at Stock Restaurant in the Trump Hotel. It was one of those events that offered excellent company, great wine, and some useful information.

Angelo Pavan, Winemaker and Founding Partner at Cave Spring Cellars joined us for the educational and tasting portion of the lunch. Pavan identified two trends for Ontario sparkling wine that I think are worth examining from a consumer perspective. (more…)

Sabering with an Ax

For winning the guest blogger contest for the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition I received a Flip video camera.  This means that I can now publish video content to, as the kids say, further the multimedia experience here on Food With Legs. I’ve batted around a couple ideas on what to do for the inaugural video on my YouTube channel and I think I’ve settled on a real winner.

This past weekend at a friend’s family ski chalet I sabered a bottle of the Chateau des Charmes Brut Methode Traditionelle with a splitting ax. (The scenery and plaid shirt were entirely unplanned, I promise.)

As you can see in the video (shot by Jonathan Cooper) the sharp end works better than the blunt. The break wasn’t perfectly clean at the bottle’s lip, I think because of that slight twist I (subconsiously) made in the bottle’s orientation before switching to the sharp bit. Almost all of this delicious brut was preserved and matched excellently with a delicious chateau de bourgogne cheese. I’m happy this worked out so well and now find myself eyeing everything from Gatorade bottles to cans of soup with an evaluating eye.

I hope this goes without saying: Try this at home at your own risk. Whether sabering or opening a bottle of sparkling wine in the more usual way, always keep the cork covered and pointed away from windows, small children, and pets. Traditional champagne sabers are dull, axes definitely are not. If you want to use an ax like I have be mindful of its path and keep spectators well back. For accuracy I found it helpful to choke up on the ax but take into account that this will bring your right hand closer to the breaking glass.

Thorah Island Punch

My respect for Alton Brown does sometimes border on idolatry.  Along with Harold McGee, Jeffrey Steingarten, Julia Child, and John Thorne his work is part of what I consider the essential canon for those wanting to know more about the science of cooking from a North American-European perspective.  Good Eats is one of the last respectable Food Network shows and I can’t count the number of techniques I have learned from it that I realise I probably would have had more difficulty learning from a book.  Everything from crepes to brining.

Sometimes Alton puts out episodes that are obviously more about satisfying one of his side interests than a clamouring demand for information on a critical food topic.  All his cocktail episodes (ones with “raising the bar” in the title) fall into this category.  I have used and enjoyed his eggnog recipe and was particularly intrigued by the recipe for Cape Fear punch on the most recent installation in the Raising the Bar series.  To go with the appetisers (smoked salmon on homemade bread) that I made for my Terry Fox meal on Labour Day weekend I decided to slightly adapt this recipe in a fashion appropriate for the cottage’s island. (more…)