It’s November. It’s practically December, actually, and Matt and I just yesterday managed to go on our October Date of the Month: wine tasting at some local wineries for their Taste the Season holiday open houses.
So we haven’t exactly been very good about making time for each other, I guess. On weeknights we usually do our own thing. I read or bake or practice guitar while Matt plays video games. On weekends we spend a lot of time together, but it’s usually in the company of other people.
In fact, our date for this month ended up being with other people, at least partially.
Yesterday morning my dad and his girlfriend mentioned that they were planning on hitting the local Essex County wineries too, so of course we had to meet up with them.
Matt and I like wine tasting. Matt has a particularly good palate and can point out flavours in wines to a T. I, on the other hand, rely heavily on the description of the flavour notes. I’ll read the label and if it says, cherry notes then I might taste cherry. Maybe.
I’m like a wine-tasting Neanderthal. “Yum! Taste Like Wine!”
We’ve done tastings in Santorini, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and in Essex county numerous times. It’s the best to go during open houses or special events because you get free tastings and, if you hit up enough wineries, then you’re bound to get shitfaced on good wine free of charge.
So it sucks when you have to be the driver, like Matt was yesterday.
We started at Muscedere Vineyards where we sampled nearly all their red wines: a pinot noir, a meritage, a syrah, and a cab sauv. Everything but the baco noir, because, to my taste buds, baco noir tastes like crap.
The Cabernet Sauvignon was my favourite. It had a really nice finish. Their red wines are pretty steeply priced, but we snagged a bottle for Matt parents for Christmas.
Next we hit up Erie Shore Vineyard. They have a super tiny tasting room which was packed with a million people (approximately 8 people, but, ya know, it felt like a lot).
We tried a couple of their whites and a couple of reds. They have a killer Riesling, but we bought a bottle of their Chardonnay which was good, and made better by the fact it was on sale for $8.
They also served a bunch of little treats as well, like Apricots in Riesling which were delicious (note to self: soak dried apricots in riesling).
We met up with my dad and Silvia at Erie Shores and then headed down the street to Sprucewood Shores. They always have a really great set-up at the open houses with lots of wine and food to sample.
At this point in the day, I had so many tastings (read: I had a real nice buzz going) that I can’t really remember any of the wines that I had at Sprucewood. I vaguely remember a rose that had a really nice strawberry taste.
I do recall that there were 3 kinds of soup (the apple and squash was delicious) and mulled wine which was a perfect way to cap off the afternoon.
We finished the day off by having dinner at my dad’s house and then we went home and watched Casino Royale which I had never seen before (yes, I know it’s, like, 6 years old).
I’m happy that we finally got to go on our October date, but now we have 2 dates that we have to do in the ever hectic month of December.
Date of the Month Club
Check out other posts in the Date of the Month club, where Matt and I go on one special date every month of 2012:
January – Bookstore Scavanger Hunt
February – Board Game Night
March – Bowling
April – Detroit Walking Tour
May – Colasanti’s
June – Picnic
July – Next Restaurant
August – Detroit Tigers Baseball Game
September – Detroit Institute of Arts
Read part one here where we headed to Niagara College, Chateau des Charmes, Southbrook, and Cattail Creek.
Next stop on our little winery tour was Hillebrand. We’ve bought some of their wines from the LCBO (ie. the only place you can buy booze in Ontario. Literally.) and enjoyed them, so in addition to the icewine Matt wanted to do a tasting of their Reds. None of them really jumped out at me.
We grabbed a sample of their Vidal Icewine paired with warm chili topped with cocoa nibs. I remember liking the icewine, but loving the chili. Matt claimed it wasn’t as good as my mom’s chili recipe, but I thought it was some stiff competition.
I really liked the quaint atmosphere of this winery. We sat by the fire pit as the sun was starting to poke out for the 3 minutes of sunlight that we got the entire day.
Pillitteri Estates looks pretty unassuming when you approach it, but it’s definitely a winery you shouldn’t miss. It has, by far, the best selection of icewines, not surprisingly since they are the world’s largest icewine producers. We got a pairing of a shiraz icewine with a cheese tart as well as a tasting of 4 of their higher-end icewines. My favourite, and the best one of the day in my opinion, was the 2007 Chardonnay Icewine. It was really flavourful and sweeter than juice. Matt liked the Vidal Sparkling Icewine, which was my second favourite.
Last stop was Konzelmann Estate Winery which is located in a fancy stone castle in a beautiful property right on Lake Ontario. Matt wanted to do a tasting here, but we got there just as they were closing up shop. I was a bit disappointed that their icewine sample didn’t actually include icewine. Instead they gave us their Canada Red wine paired with “Trainwrecker Beans” which were a version of baked beans that included bacon, beef, icewine, and red wine. Oh and beans. The trainwrecker beans were to die for and luckily I got the recipe. I hope to make it soon and share the recipe with you guys!
5 o’clock rolled around and all the wineries were closing up shop so we headed to our hotel to check in. We stayed at the Angel Inn which I picked for 2 reasons: 1) the room was cheap, and 2) the first floor is a bar which I thought would be both fun and convenient.
The hotel room was a bit of a dump. It was clean but run down and not well maintained. It felt like crashing at a friend’s house after a long night of drinking. Luckily Matt and I have low standards.
The bar has live music until 12:30 in the morning, which didn’t matter much to us since we were at the pub downstairs drinking anyway. It would have otherwise been impossible to sleep until after the band stopped.
After walking around the deserted streets (the town basically closed down at 5 and there was nothing to do until dinner) we headed back to the inn for dinner.
The pub itself was really good. There aren’t many places to eat and drink in Niagara-on-the-Lake that are casual, fun, and laid back but the Angel Inn is a classic English pub that fits the criteria. They had a good domestic and imported beer selection on tap and even had their own brews (I liked the Angel Wheat beer).
Also the food was delicious. I’ve been on a pie kick lately (what’s better than a warm pie on a cold winter day?) so I was happy to see a variety of English pies on the menu. I went with the shepherd’s pie which trumped Matt’s steak and guinness pie, but not by much. We followed up dinner with a sticky toffee pudding cake and a too many more beers : P
Our friend Nathan who moved to Niagara Falls just last week met up with us for drinks later on which was awesome because I was in Florida when he moved away and didn’t get to see him before. Plus Nathan might be the most knowledgeable person I know which makes any conversation with him very interesting.
Since the Inn didn’t have breakfast we headed up the street for breakfast at Escabeche at the oh-so-swanky Prince of Wales Hotel. I just had some overpriced yoghurt and granola (which was, ya know, just yoghurt and granola) and Matt had eggs benedict with the most delicious Hollandaise sauce I’ve ever had.
We headed back home right after breakfast. I asked Matt if he wanted to hit up any of the Twenty Valley wineries on the way home.
“No”, he said, “we need an excuse to come back.”
As if I need an excuse to drink wine?3 Comments
My present to Matt for his birthday was to take him to visit some wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Matt loves wine and going to wineries so I thought it would be something that he’d really love. We often visit the Lake Erie North Shore wineries here in Essex County, but we’ve never tried any in Niagara so we were pretty excited.
We hit the road on Saturday morning for the 3 hour drive through snow and sleet. We hit up 7 different wineries. Seven. I know that sounds like a lot, and with normal tastings we would have both been completely shitfaced after visiting seven wineries.
But this wasn’t a normal wine tasting. We got tickets for the icewine festival so at each winery we went to we tasted an icewine that was paired with a dish.
Icewine, if you’re not familiar, is a very sweet dessert wine made from grapes that were picked after they had frozen on the vine. When the grapes freeze the sugars concentrate so the icewine has the most delicious sweetness. It is phenomenal.
(click on any of the pictures to make them bigger)
The first winery we hit up was the Teaching Winery at Niagara College. I really liked their tasting area and felt slightly jealous of the students who got to go to school there and learn all about growing grapes and producing wines. Sounds way more fun than my math degree.
We didn’t actually have any icewine here but we tasted the 2007 Dean’s List Meritage which was a really good full bodied red. I might have bought a bottle if it weren’t $50(!)
Chateau des Charmes
Next stop was Chateau des Charmes, a huge, classy joint which was definitely the fanciest winery we’ve been to. Here we had an icewine cocktail paired with a New York Cheesecake and a Salted Chocolate Cheesecake. The latter of the two was probably the most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. I wish they would have served us the icewine straight up so I could have tasted what it was like, but the cocktail was delicious.
Southbrook was a really impressive winery. It was the number one winery that I wanted to visited because it is a biodynamic and organic winery. They don’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides in order to maintain the integrity of the soil. They even have chickens and sheep (my favourite animal!) that graze between the vines and naturally fertilize the vineyard. So cool.
We sampled their cab franc icewine paired with an icewine cannoli. I can’t quite remember the flavours of the icewine, but I remember thinking the cannoli shells were really tasty.
Next we went to Cattail Creek which is a much smaller winery that reminded me of the smaller scale wineries here in Essex County. They paired their vidal icewine with butter chicken and mango chutney which was cool since I’m used to icewine served with dessert. I found that their vidal icewine wasn’t as sweet as I like my icewine to be, but it was still pretty good.
So it’s officially a brand new year!
While I’m usually disinterested in celebrating New Year’s Eve and am more keen to stay awake just long enough to do the official countdown to midnight, this year Matt decided to host a wine and cheese at our place on Friday which left me awake into hours of the morning that I haven’t witnessed in years.
In spite of the fact that the party was sort of a last minute effort we had a solid showing of about 10-12 people including best friends, friends from out of town, and surprisingly a friend I haven’t seen since high school! It was a great close to 2010 which was, itself, a pretty damn good year.
Matt and I may have outdid ourselves a bit with the apps, but that’s just our style—better to have too much food than too little!
We polished off 4 bottles of wine and a bottle of bambino.
And served up lots of yummy cheeses. . .
… with some homemade pain a l’ancienne and crackers
We played shot the shit, played some Smart Ass, and watched a terrible B movie (I’d suggest that you don’t watch Trail of the Screaming Foreheads… yes, it is a real movie.)
All in all it was a fun way to kick off 2011.
How did you celebrate New Years Eve 2010?7 Comments
I’m a sucker for a good wine tasting and lucky enough to live in a great wine-making region of Ontario. The wineries often host open houses (like the Icewine festival this past winter). This event involved food tastings too, showcasing local produce. I’m already stoked for any event that involves some tasty vino, give me food too and I’m in heaven.
Aleksander Estate Winery in Ruthven had some really great tasting sipping reds. Matt and I came home with a bottle of Cabernet Franc that I’m excited to open. They also make a Chambourcin, which I really liked. I had never before heard of Chambourcin, but apparently the grapes aren’t too common in Essex County– it is a very pleasant, light red wine.
Viewpointe Estates in Harrow gave us 4 tastings, including this Cab Merlot:
It’s by far my favourite local red wine. It’s a velvety, spicy full-bodied wine– just what I like in a red. But it’s a bit out of my price range. We came home with a Riesling from Viewpointe instead.
After Viewpointe, we headed up the street to Sprucewood Shores. I didn’t have too many samples here since I was pacing myself, knowing what was to come at Muscedere. We brought home a bottle of Sprucewood’s Late Harvest Vidal which is surprisingly refreshing and not too sweet for a late harvest wine.
When did these wind turbines pop up in Harrow? I swear there weren’t that many in the winter.
Muscedere Vineyards in Harrow is probably my favourite, not only because the wines are great but also because their winemakers are the most personable, down-to-earth guys you’ll meet. …plus they give generous tastings of almost all their wines! I was definitely light-headed after leaving this place
We got a bottle of their Riesling (I really like riesling, by the way) and since I was feeling drunk and generous I decided to splurge for a bottle of their ice wine. Knowing that my wedding anniversary is coming up, I thought that a bottle of this liquid gold would be the perfect way to celebrate
The fridge is officially stocked. Nothing makes me happier!
It was a perfect day.
Of course I got up early to head to the gym this morning and burn off some of that alcohol. It’s all about a healthy balance, right?No Comments
I was stoked a few weeks ago when Matt came home from the grocery store with fresh salmon fillets. Matt doesn’t like salmon, so whenever we have it in the house I get to make whatever I want with it. I had homemade lox on the brain (something Matt hates most).
There was a catch though. Damn.
He says to me, “I bought this so you can make me a salmon recipe that I’ll actually like.” With that, I tossed the fillets in the freezer to be forgotten for 3 long weeks until today when I came across the PERFECT recipe. Italian-style shallow fried monkfish scalopinne in a red wine sauce from my favourite Italian cookbook Molto Italiano.
I thought it would work really well with salmon and gave it a go.
As a bonus I got to use the first of the fresh sage from my herb garden:
And how did it turn out?
Okay, so it’s not the most photogenic meal ever, but it was a definite SUCCESS!
To quote the husband: “This is restaurant quality. Maybe even better.”
Best Compliment Ever.
I guess I just have to work on my presentation skills before I can start serving this dish up to the masses.
Salmon Scaloppine with Red Wine and Sage
Adapted from Molto Italiano
- 1/4 cup durum semolina (or all purpose flour)
- Salt and pepper
- 1-pound piece salmon fillet, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c. diced white onion
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- 12 small manzanilla olives, sliced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce of choice
- 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
Place the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
Pound each salmon slice with a mallet to a 1/4-inch thickness.
Heat the olive oil in a 12- to 14-inch nonstick pan over medium high heat.
Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour and sauté in the hot oil until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total.
Remove the fish and keep warm.
Add onion and sage to the pan and sauté 3 minutes, until softened and starting to brown.
Add the wine, the tomato sauce, and the olives and bring to a boil.
Reduce temperature to a simmer and return the fish to the pan.
Add the cold butter, and simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce should thicken slightly to coat the fish.
Man I love Italian cookingNo Comments
My life is one big countdown to the weekend. I miss school when you had some sort of termination point to look forward to– end of a semester, end of the school year, spring break. Now all I can do is wait patiently for the weekend. I had been looking forward to this particular weekend because today is a holiday (Family Day) and Sunday should be a holiday (Valentine’s Day). I have always loved Valentine’s Day, even when I spent it alone. I love it for the chocolates and I love it for the valentines cards.
Do you remember how much time you would put in to analyzing the phrases on those boxed valentine’s day cards making sure the right message got to the right person? “Be Mine” went to the secret crush, “You’re great, Valentine!” went to the weird nose-picker in the corner who had a crush on you– it was important not to give him any ideas.
I would so look forward to getting those little foil wrapped chocolate hearts from the other kids in my class! Especially the ones that were filled with caramel or, better yet, peanut butter.
Okay, so I still spend a lot of time wandering the aisle at Hallmark picking out the perfect Valentine’s Day card. But, my tastebuds have refined and foil wrapped chocolate doesn’t cut it anymore. Can you even call that industrial mix chocolate?
Matt and I decided to spend our Valentine’s night sampling some good quality dark chocolate while sipping wine and watching Chocolat. Cheesy? Very. (but also chocolatey, and that’s the important thing).
The chocolate: Lindt Excellence Chili, Lindt Excellence Madagascar (65%), Laura Secord with Cacao Nibs (70%), and Cote D’or Noir (86%).
The verdict: I liked the nuttiness of Cote D’or, but our favourites by far were the both Lindt bars. Lindt makes phenomenal chocolate.
Today being a holiday, I’m home ALL DAY. Yay! My plan is to bake bread, and to head to the gym, and hopefully not “graze” on food while I’m home all day.No Comments
One of the things I won’t do for the Bikini Birthday is stop drinking alcohol. While I don’t drink often, yesterday I got my fair share of one of my favourites: Icewine.
Matt and I went with my dad and his friends to 5 different wineries in Essex County to sample icewines (among others) as part of the Southwestern Ontario Vintner’s Association Festival of Ice. I had this event in my calendar for weeks now because I absolutely love ice wine! It’s so expensive to buy too, so I wasn’t going to miss out on some free tastings.
The development of icewine is often attributed to Inniskillin winery in the Niagara region, but it actually has roots in Germany. In any case, it’s truly a Canadian product because Canadian winters in Niagara, Essex County, and the Okanagan Valley provide ideal conditions– the grapes have to be hard frozen at below -8 deg C before they are picked.
We hit up 5 different wineries and I was buzzing after the first, Muscedere, who gave really generous tastings. Here were my favourites from each winery:
Muscedere: I fell in love with their 2008 Rosé because it was crisp and not as sweet as a typical Rosé. I also liked the 2006 Cab Franc Icewine because of its bolder caramel flavours, although everyone else preferred the Vidal.
Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW): The 2007 Riesling was my favourite. I also liked the 2006 Cab Sauv Reserve.
Erie Shores: Erie Shores’ 2006 Vidal Icewine is the best icewine I’ve ever had. Period.
Sprucewood Shores: 2007 Late Harvest Riesling Traminer Vidal; umm… what? I had to ask the guy to repeat the name because I didn’t know what it was. Did he say Vidal, or Gewurtztraminer? Whatever he said, it translated to delicious. It was not super sweet like most late harvest wines. Also, they made a fantastic mulled wine! It was one the the best things I sampled all day!
Viewpointe Estate: They weren’t taking part in the festival but we stopped by for some tastings anyway (because evidently we weren’t drunk enough). The girl serving us was kind enough to open a pricey bottle of the amazing 2002 Cab Merlot (called Balance Pointe) . Man, it was good. Full-bodied, but smooth. We even bought a couple bottles. My favourite red wine of the day.No Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
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Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
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Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb