Temperance and Temptation

“Is it just me, or does the Temperance lady have an ass like two duck eggs in a napkin,” whispers Micky Burns with a nudge and a wink as Eleanor Krumpacker inspects our bus for whisky. And so it goes as we sidle up for a most unique interactive tour to experience the scandalous history of bootlegging in York Durham Headwaters. Continue reading “Temperance and Temptation”

Thyme for a Summer Cocktail Recipe

Patio season is upon us. It’s the time when dining out means never actually setting foot in a restaurant, but soaking up the sun outside it.

According to lifestyle expert Danielle Finestone, low-alcohol cocktails and low-carb snacks will be headlining this season’s patio menus. This shift shows patio owners are accommodating Torontonians’ commitment to healthier living and the popularity of low-carb diets. “The benefits of low-alcohol, zero sugar cocktails is that we can indulge in more than one cocktail without the guilt, and it highlights other flavours in the drink more prominently when the alcohol is lessened,” shares Finestone.

Here are Finestone ‘s top picks for a quick and easy drink to combine with snacks that patio goers can enjoy at their home patios or out on the town. Cheers!

Summer Thyme Cocktail


0.5 ounces Crystal Head Vodka

1 ounce pomegranate liqueur

1 ounce Schweppes Zero Grapefruit flavour

Garnish: sugar (for rim), and thyme sprig


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, liqueur and mix. Shake well. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with thyme sprig and use sugar for the rim.


5-minute Summer Appetizers:


photo by Amanda Taylor

Goat Cheese, Fig and Prosciutto Bites


4 fresh figs, halved

4 tbsp of goat cheese (or to taste)

4 slices of prosciutto

Topped with drizzled honey and coarse sea salt


Halve the figs and top each fig with goat cheese. Then, wrap each fig with one slice of prosciutto and drizzle with honey. Add a dash of sea salt, to taste.

photo by Amanda Taylor

Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip


3 ounces of canned red peppers

1/2 cup Tre Stelle feta cheese

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

Chili flakes, to taste


Mix all the ingredients into blender until all items are blended entirely. Serve with vegetables or tortilla chips.

For more info and great ideas from Danielle Finestone go to: @tofoodies.

Afternoon Tea for Kids at the Omni King Edward Hotel

Afternoon Tea has evolved since it’s British inception. In the 1830’s and 40’s women were not welcome in coffee houses, so their social forum revolved around tea accompanied by a light meal of finger foods to stem the hunger between lunch and dinner. Ladies and their children would dress in appropriate attire, and proper etiquette was de rigueur. Victorian novels are replete with references to splendid tea times of great social consequences—the soap operas of the time. Continue reading “Afternoon Tea for Kids at the Omni King Edward Hotel”

Old Italian Style, New Niagara Wine

It’s been said there are many ways to skin a cat. Within the proliferation of Niagara wineries, it seems, there are many ways to make wine—beautiful wine across the region made in a variety of styles, but with one common denominator—the degree of passion put into the bottle is reflected in what comes out. Appassimento is an old technique that has attracted wineries from all corners of the region, and vaulted their wines to the front of the peloton of winemakers that are moving Niagara in an exciting direction. Continue reading “Old Italian Style, New Niagara Wine”

Indulging in After the Fire Wines at Toronto’s Ritz Carlton Hotel

“After the Fire” was a profound theme for a magnificent evening at TOCA, the beautiful restaurant on the mezzanine at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Toronto. Signorello Estate, in partnership with Michelin Star Chef Oliver Glowig of Rome, who happens to be the Executive Chef at TOCA, hosted a dinner to introduce the newest labels from the winery, literally after the fire that devastated so much of California. Continue reading “Indulging in After the Fire Wines at Toronto’s Ritz Carlton Hotel”

Interview with a Wine Maker: Peter Rotar, Magnotta Winery

Magnotta Winery is a winery of firsts: first sparkling ice wine; first iced grappa; first Amarone-inspired wine; first company of its kind in Ontario licensed to produce and sell wine, beer and distilled products; and first Ontario winery to partner with Canada Post for direct home delivery. Magnotta has been one of the most innovative and philanthropic Ontario wineries; it has the number one selling ice wine in the world, and with Head Enologist Peter Rotar, Magnotta it has gone on to win over 4,500 international wine awards. Continue reading “Interview with a Wine Maker: Peter Rotar, Magnotta Winery”

Raise a Glass to Michele Bosc

For years, driving along York Road in Niagara-On-The-Lake, it stood alone. I’ve always admired it—that grand palatial structure that appeared, plucked out of the French countryside—Château des Charmes. Indeed, the traditions of this family-run winery began in the Alsace region of France. Through the grapevine, the Bosc family traveled from France to Algeria, and then, finally, to Canada, to establish Ontario’s first winery built specifically with the visitor experience in mind. Continue reading “Raise a Glass to Michele Bosc”

How to Brew Japanese Tea

Japanese monks brought tea to Japan from China in the 9th Century. At that time only the religious and royal classes were consuming it. From it’s popularity among nobility came the Japanese tea ceremony. Today, Japanese typically drink green tea or oolong tea—hot or cold. Chinese green teas are pan-fired for a more roasted flavour profile. Japanese green teas are typically steamed to maintain nutrients and elicit sweet vegetal notes. However, to extract their optimal flavour, green teas must be brewed at lower temperatures and for less time than most other teas. Brewed too hot or too long and it all becomes bitter tasting. Continue reading “How to Brew Japanese Tea”