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Tawse

Pickled Tawse Eggs

On our trip to Tawse a few weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting the winery’s chickens who do such a good job of foraging between the vines.  They also produce (as chickens are wont to do) some top-notch eggs and like any self-respecting group of foodster bloggers our group bought out the several dozen that were available for sale that day.  With the last of my Tawse eggs I made pickled eggs.

For me this is more than just a shock-value post or an attempt to check another box on the culinary to-make list.  I really like pickled eggs.  They’re vinegary, a little bit salty, a filling snack that feels quite healthy.  Though I don’t claim to be a dietary researcher I’m skeptical of the recent finger pointing at the level of cholesterol in egg yolks.  Historically eggs are one of the longest and most broadly consumed foods and while this is the ultimate in anecdotal evidence they always seem to garner positive mentions from centenarians asked for their “secret to longevity”. (more…)

Tawse Terroir: The Wines

The 2010 Canadian Wine Awards offered many superlative firsts that involved Niagara’s Tawse Winery on the Twenty Mile Bench.  They were the first Ontario winery to be named Canadian winery of the year; they won the most gold medals ever (five) for 2008 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay, 2008 Quarry Road Chardonnay, 2008 Lauritzen Pinot Noir, 2008 Wismer Lakeview Vineyard Riesling, and the 2009 Tawse Riesling; and the Robyn’s Block Chardonnay was named white wine of the year and now the record for highest table wine score (93) at these awards.  Last weekend I joined a group of Toronto wine food bloggers for an extensive tour of the fields and facilities at Tawse guided by winemaker Paul Pender and national sales manager Daniel Lafleur.

Tawse has practiced organic viticulture since Moray Tawse started the business in 2001 and has followed the tenets of biodynamic farming since 2006.  This movement is based on the ideas set out in a series of speeches by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 that, in short, call on farmers to produce as many of their inputs on their own farm as possible; substitute a selection of organic preparations for synthetic fertilisers; and schedule farm activities to coincide with the appropriate phase of the lunar month.  Corby Kummer wrote this outline of biodyamic winemaking for Techology Review. (more…)

Savour Stratford Festival

Perth County Courthouse: One of the many Stratford buildings that is obviously picturesque

Unlike some of my fellow, luckier bloggers I was only able to make it to the Sunday of this year’s Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival.  The event’s last day featured a slew of family-oriented events spread around Ontario’s largest small town but what really drew me in were the York Street Tasting Tent and the nearby farmers’ market.

Delicious bread from Rundles

As a town Stratford seems connected to the surrounding Perth County.  Many of the stations in the tasting tent were manned not just by the chefs who had created the food but also by the farmers who grew or raised the ingredients and that echoed this sense of connection. I can still taste the delicious smoked whitefish from Purdy’s Fish Market by Simple Fish and Chips; the duck confit and sweet onion relish from Wildstone Bar and Grill and Erbcroft Farms;  and the ecstatically delicious butter that Chef Baxter’s team at Rundles makes with milk from Hewitts Dairy.  (more…)

A Week of Riesling

Last week a group of friends and wine lovers–many of whom Twitter about food or wine–gathered to sample some of Ontario’s best Riesling.  We tasted ten bottles from Niagara plus two surprise outsiders.

The identity of each wine was disguised during the tasting and at the end of the night a favourite and least favourite was selected based on a show of hands.

The results were, if not startling, eye-opening.  Tasting blind the crowd managed to pick wines for our favourite and least favourite that are exactly the same $17.95 price.  The 2009 Tawse “Sketches of Niagara” Riesling took top honours and my notes have it as flinty on the nose and tasting slightly sweet with notes of pineapple.  Stripped of its clever packaging and catchy name the voters shunned the 2007 Megalomaniac Narcissist Riesling with whose nose I was particularly disappointed.  More intriguing is that the two wineries, Tawse and John Howard Cellars of Distinction (who produce Megalomaniac) are directly across Cherry Avenue in Vineland from each other and apparently the lion’s share of grapes used for both wines were grown by the same growers on the same plot.  Terroir-ists will, I’m sure, gasp in disbelief. (more…)