Fine dining in Toronto is going in one direction: toward the more casual. With both fundamental and cosmetic changes–like changing their name–Red Bistro has become Reds Wine Tavern and joined that parade.
The biggest change is that Ryan Gallagher (of Top Chef Canada season 2 fame) was brought on as executive chef to design and execute a menu that focuses on communal plates that blur the lines between appetisers and mains. Chef Gallagher comes to Reds from the much smaller Ruby Watchco and when I chatted with him he joked that he’s used to being in a kitchen the size of the communal table at Reds. (more…)
Toronto’s Hotel Intercontinental has launched a programme that encourages restaurant guests to bring their own wine by offering a menu that they’ll draw from to create a match for your meal. The deal is sweetened by the offer of no corkage fees from Monday to Thursday and $15 corkage on weekends.
I accepted an invitation to join a media preview of this meal in early April. As an interesting twist we were invited to bring a wine from our collection to share with the group and have paired with one of dinner’s courses.
Sauternes and foie
In July I posted about the Riesling tasting I had a small part in organising. Before that we did one for Cab Franc and both of these were pretty professional. Alex Harber put his top-notch wine mind to the task of creating a pleasing order, each wine had its own brown LCBO bag, and guests were given paper rating sheets.
Last weekend a smaller group of friends, me included, did the same on a much more casual scale. Each of us brought a bottle of red to be matched with a steak dinner and a bottle of white for the turkey we had the next night. The identity of our wine was disguised and after sampling we each picked a favourite.
The reds were:
- Henry of Pelham 2007 Cabernet-Merlot, Meritage (Niagara)
- Open 2009 Cab 2 Merlot (Niagara)
- Karlo Estates 2008 Cabernet Franc (PEC)
- Château la Commanderie du Bardelet 2008 (Bordeaux)
- Ogier 2007 Heritages Cote du Rhone (Rhone)
After a lot of hard work we finally reached that milestone of lighting the first fire in our wood-fired oven last Saturday, July 24. Early May when we broke ground and were digging in very cold rain seems like such time ago now. I’ll be writing about more about what it took to get us this far in the project but now here are some more pictures.
Chimney is 2/3 finished
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…)