Chilean Wine From the Heart of the Maipo Valley

Chile is revered for wine and poetry. Long admired for its diversity of wines and high quality production, there is poetry in the vineyard, and in the bottle. At the vanguard of the Chilean wine industry, ambassador for the promotion of Chilean “designation of origin,” Marcelo Papa has coalesced taste of place with pride in place to extract the best expression of the Maipo Valley, and elegantly show the fruit of what this world class wine region is producing today through wines like the Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. Continue reading “Chilean Wine From the Heart of the Maipo Valley”

Weekend Staycation at St. Regis Hotel

A weekend at the cottage holds no appeal for me. I prefer a weekend in the city. A stay-cation at the luxurious St. Regis Hotel is my idea of a getaway.

The dramatic black and white marble entrance of St. Regis takes us far away from the chrome-to-chrome traffic of Bay St. An afternoon of quiet comfort enjoying a book with a cup of Sloane Tea passes quickly. And the welcome gift of a chocolate replica of the hotel as well as other sweets is appreciated. Continue reading “Weekend Staycation at St. Regis Hotel”

Dining With Chef Ken Yau

Dining with Chef Ken means flavour bombs in every bite.

On any Monday night, when most restaurants are closed, a dozen or so intrepid young foodies, friends, lovers or strangers file in to Chef Ken Yau’s pop up dinner party. They are prepared to be surprised, educated and delighted with the food and wine pairings (or BYOB) as well as the company. With excellent credentials, a sense of humour and winning ways, Ken entertains, cooks and serves a multi course dining experience of small bites. His raison d’etre: cooking and sharing food with friends at a private supper club in the East end.

Each dish is a flavour bomb: perila leaf, pear, shiso leaf, salted plum, chili enhances the two tartars, beef and tuna, and fish skin roasted in green tea. A crisp puffy chicken skin acts as a ladle for beet, rhubarb and buckwheat honey. He fills a glass domed plate with fragrant smoke that flavours Swedish lumpfish caviar to pile on duck confit, crumbed with prawn chips and deep fried in duck fat. Ambrosial caramelized onion soup poured over a tiny bag of fresh parsley comes with perfect toasts with onion, brown butter and Madiera.

An amusing surprise is a small plate of paper strips scented with Yuzu essential oil. Breathe deeply and let the perfume fill your palate, then slide a fresh oyster into you mouth. Wow.
Between courses, Ken recalls Monday evenings past when strangers became friends and made plans to meet again. Or one couple who realized, while sharing a luscious plate of seafood, that they had much in common and began dating.

And there is more: cauliflower pureed with vanilla; butter poached scallops and king mushrooms, followed by a serving of prawns, calamari and jelly poached salmon. Ginger, garlic and burned soy add some magic to simple bok choy. We are expecting the unexpected for dessert, and we get it: panna cotta and a fish-shaped pastry filled with duck egg. In the spirit of fun, we’re offered a plate with a dry chicken wishbone and a small and a larger coconut sweet. Turn to your table mate, break the wishbone, and the winner gets the larger piece. But, in fact, we have all been winners this evening.

There go my Monday nights. Book direct: k.dinner.info@gmail.com

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Spicy Jamaican Lemonade

We Called Her Sexy Lexy

An exotic creature who came to our Manitoba town from Paris one summer. She knew everything there was to know about beauty. She always took lemons to the beach. We, of course, copied everything she did and by mid-July we all had wonderful golden sun streaks in our winter brown hair. We didn’t know then that lemon oil contains furanocoumarin compounds that act as photo-sensitizing agents, which increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light. We only knew that it bleached our hair in a most natural looking way. Sexy Lexy even understood aromatherapy before it had to name. The handkerchief in the pocket of her pedal pushers was always scented from rubbing it over of fresh lemon, extracting the aromatic zest from the tiny oil globes in the rind. She’d touch her hanky to her nose. “It clears my head and makes me feel good,” she’d say. “It helps me make up my mind.” Continue reading “Spicy Jamaican Lemonade”

Chiang Mai Curry Noodle with Chicken

On a tour of Northern Thailand, a visit to the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai represents the height of luxury. Here we plant rice, dine on exquisite Northern Thai cuisine, sip blended watermelon, orange and pineapple juice, and learn to cook.

After lighting incense offerings to the Gods, our teacher demonstrates, and we follow along, pounding spices and chopping herbs into a velvety smooth bowl of richly textured Chiang Mai Curry Noodle with Chicken. Continue reading “Chiang Mai Curry Noodle with Chicken”

Stir Fried Chicken with Blue Rice

No tour of Thailand is complete without a cooking class. Our visit to the riverside Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok includes a stroll through a garden of edibles that serve as the pantry for our culinary needs. Donning aprons we stand behind our individual cooking stations.

On the menu: a tantalizing Stir Fried Chicken (Gai Phat Met Ma Muang Himmaphan) with blue rice – just because it’s cool. This panoply of ingredients is visually stimulating, aromatic, and will make your taste buds dance.

READ MORE: Thailand’s Tapestry of Flavour

Stir Fried Chicken with Blue Rice

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams skinless chicken fillet, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cashew nuts fried in oil until light brown
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (1 for marinade and 1 for seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 red chilies slice into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1-2 spring onions cut into 1-inch length
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Marinate chicken with 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dark sweet soy sauce. Then stir-fry in medium heat until half cooked and set aside.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a wok. Add chopped garlic and stir-fry until turn light brown.
  3. Add chicken and diced onion, stir quickly then season with fish sauce, sugar and a pinch of salt. Then add red chilies and spring onion. (If it is too dry add a little bit of water.)
  4. Put in cashew nuts and dried chilies.

For the blue rice:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Butterfly-pea flowers (you can add more for darker colour)
    – Whether using a rice cooker or pot of boiling water, simply add flowers to rice.

Yields 1 Serving

 

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The Stratford Forum

What might “dinner and a show” have looked like in Shakespeare’s time? It would not yet have included potatoes or tomatoes, coffee or chocolate, white tablecloth or instagrammable dishes. The grounds of the Globe Theatre would have been a mob of activity with food stalls selling pies and ales, meats on a spit and a “ploughman’s lunch.” In celebration of Shakespeare, and to enhance and enrich the theatrical experience, The Stratford Festival Forum has elevated dining and theatre-going by encompassing special performances, panel discussions, interactive workshops and dining that incorporate the themes of the play bill. Continue reading “The Stratford Forum”

Where To DINE Now: Sushi Masaki Saito

How many sushi restaurants are there in Toronto? Thousands? How many would I recommend? I can count them on one hand. What we commonly think of as sushi, even when purported to be high end, is generally below the highest level. The same can even be said in Tokyo where there are 160 000 restaurants of which 230 are Michelin starred, and of those not all of them are Japanese or serve sushi. Most diners have no idea what the height of sushi can be. We simply have not been exposed to it—until now. Enter Sushi Masaki Saito. Continue reading “Where To DINE Now: Sushi Masaki Saito”