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“Reif for Life” is a story of 13 generations of winemakers

Posted by Debbie

Monday, October 27th, 2014
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Reif Estate Winery

– October 2014 –

 

All of us in the Savvy Team hope your Thanksgiving was a great one!  To celebrate the bounty of this year’s harvest, this month’s Savvy Selections features a variety of wines from Reif Estate Winery.  Located in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake, this winery is one of the pillars of the Ontario wine industry. Reif PortfolioThere are many hidden gems at Reif – in particular those wines that are only available at the winery – or with your Savvy Selections!

There are so many to enjoy that Reif’s winemaker Roberto (Rob) DiDomenico says with a laugh, “I honestly have lost track of exactly how many wines we have in our portfolio!” Our Savvy Sommeliers specifically have chosen this trio of fine Reif wines for you to enjoy:

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012– this refreshing wine will be delicious with appetizers before dinner or enjoyed with ham & your family’s favorite trimmings

Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2012– you are the first to receive this red wine from the incredible 2012 vintage.  If you are taking a break from turkey this weekend, this red wine is ready for prime rib or a leg of lamb…or put away in your cellar for your next family feast!

The Magician VQA 2012 – This is our red wine pick for Thanksgiving turkey (yes red wines pair well!)

How does this year’s harvest look?

As the season changes, typical long weekend plans involve getting together with family & friends, tackling long to do lists to close down the cottage & pack away the pool.  Not so for winery owners and winemakers.  They are busy with one thing: the grape harvest.  With the warm September days we have enjoyed, 2014 harvest in Ontario has just started in the last few days and by all accounts looks promising.  “This spring was slow.  Then with the cool summer we had, we will give the grapes a long hang time so that they can ripen as much as possible with the autumn heat.

This extra time will show in the aromas & flavours of the final wine,” explains Rob.  And Rob knows.  He has over 30 grape harvests under his belt – all at Reif Estates. Read more about Reif and this year’s harvest in the following pages.  You will also find some delicious autumn recipes that our Savvy Team have chosen for each of the featured wines to consider including in your Thanksgiving feast (or enjoy with leftovers).

You won’t find these Reif wines at the LCBO

Reif Estate WinesEach month we delight in introducing you to new Ontario wineries & their hard to find wines. While Reif has a handful of wines available at the LCBO, call on us if you would like additional bottles of your favourite Reif wines – or other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections – simply give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.ca.  It is always my pleasure to introduce you to new Ontario wines!

Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Introducing…
Reif Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

‘Reif for Life’.  This great slogan showcases the longevity of the wines as well as a subtle reminder of the correct pronunciation of the name of the winery.  “We’ve heard it all,” says Rob DiDomenico (right in the photo) with a laugh & shaking his head.  “The best is when a visitor to the winery corrected me, stressing that the winery’s name is R-E-E-F.  He proceeded to tell me that he personally knows the winery owner.”

Reif Estates - Klaus and Roberto 2With over 200,000 visitors each year to the winery, everyone – including the winemaker – are all hands on deck in the tasting room to ensure that everyone has a memorable wine & food experience. “We put so much effort into making the tasting room a safe place to learn about our wines rather than feel like a store”, explains Rob.

“We have an interactive Sensory Garden full of herbs where people can go smell different aromas that they will find in our wines. We also have a Sensory Wine Bar to give our visitors the opportunity to enjoy our wines along with plates of artisan cheeses, charcuterie, even chocolate while watching all the-goings-on at the winery.”

Breaking new ground…

The Reif tradition of winemaking can be traced back to 1636 in Germany’s Rheinphalz region where winemaking is generations deep…to be precise, 13 generations. The story is told that as an agriculture student in Germany, Ewald Reif listened with great interest as one of his instructors spoke of his travels to Niagara.

Years later, in the 1960s, intrigued by Canada, Ewald followed his teacher’s footsteps & embarked on a trip to Niagara to specifically visit orchard fruit and grape growers. In 1977, Ewald was invited back to Niagara by Karl Kaiser (one of the founders of Inniskillin Winery & a forefather of the Canadian wine industry).  On this trip, Ewald bought a former fruit orchard on the fertile banks of the Niagara River.  Here, he planted select grape varieties, along with some French hybrids.

Then 6 years later, in 1983, Reif Estate Winery opened its doors to the first of its visitors. Ewald’s nephew – Klaus Reif – visited & spent the summer of 1978 planting some of those first vines with his uncle.  Fast forward to today, Klaus (left in the above photo) is now the President of this winery that now comprises of over 130 acres planted with more than 17 grape varieties.

Impressively small yet big

Reif logo“There are 5 of us managing everything in the wine cellar” explains Rob.  This is pretty impressive when you consider that their current portfolio amounts to over 50 wines. In the wine industry, a winemaker’s career often involves working at several wineries around the world.

In Rob’s case, he began his career at Reif on a co-op term while studying in University of Guelph.  “My eyes were opened to the Canadian wine industry by my prof at Guelph while I was studying Microbiology.  Keep in mind this was in the late 80s & there were not many wineries in Niagara nor specialized oenology programs that there are today.” His co-op experience evolved  into a job offer, and Rob has stayed ever since. “We continue to do research with my prof at Guelph University on many levels.

Recently, we worked on developing the appassimento method (winespeak: making wine with dried grapes – a method used in Italy for Ripasso & Amarone wines) using modified tobacco kilns from Southern Ontario.”  Now in addition to Reif, a handful of Ontario wineries are making wines using this new process.  You will taste & enjoy the fruits of their research with The Magician red blend wine in your Savvy Selections as it was made using the appassimento method.

An Italian at a Germany winery

Rob is first generation Canadian.  While his Italian roots are strong, he shares that, “the Reif wine business has existed for 13 generations. The Reif family have always treated me like one of the family. In fact, this carries on to the staff too – most have worked here for many years. I think that this speaks volume of our company.” Seems that the ‘Reif for Life’ applies to the business culture too!

What’s for dinner?

I always like to ask: If I came over for dinner, what would you make?  I have discovered that many winery owners & winemakers are good cooks too when they have time to take charge in the kitchen. Rob explained that Thanksgiving is not a big celebration in his Italian family, “It’ll be a feast of Italian proportions!  There will be 30 relatives with lots of food & wine.  For us, wine is food.  We have at every occasion; it’s not an alcoholic beverage.”

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Once our Sommelier Team chose the 3 wines for your enjoyment, Rob was delighted.  All of the wines are from the 2012 vintage. “2012 was one of the most impressive years we ever had.” 

Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012 $19.95 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Gorgeous classic Gewurz.  Off-dry with concentrated aromas of lychee, pear, apricot, beeswax & flowers.  These aromas continue in the taste with a summer-is-not-over-yet refreshing zip of acidity & a lime (or is it white pepper?) finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: Gewurz is usually paired with spicy foods – Mexican, Indian curry (made with leftover turkey perhaps?) or Pad Thai (a great recipe follows).  The Savvy Selections tasting panel thought that it will be remarkable with a roast turkey feast & the trimmings.  Or take a break from the harvest laden fare and serve with garlic shrimp or BBQed pork tenderloin with mango chutney.  

Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2012 $25.95
special Savvy Selections price (Reg $29.95)

Reif Charcuterie Red Wine Experience LRMark my words…you will thank me for including this in your Savvy Selections!  And if you don’t believe me, then hear it from Rob “just released, this is an absolutely beautiful wine – great texture, lots of cellaring ability.  I am blown away with it.” 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A BIG red wine that shows how incredible the 2012 vintage is.  You are the first to try this wine as it not even released yet. It is ready to be enjoyed now, or cellared for 5 years.  No real reason to wait! This is a complex wine with aromas of warm spices (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon), black plums, blackberries & figs that carry through the taste.

Suggested Food Pairings: The smooth velvet texture will mellow even more with age or with food…like prime rib or as Rob says, “Lamb, lamb, lamb!”

The Magician VQA 2012 $29.95

You will be amazed with this wine as it is a one-of-a-kind blend of Shiraz & Pinot Noir.  It is an experiment that Rob tried in 2009 and turned A LOT of heads.  He was playing with blending & different drying techniques to create a unique appassimento style wine with concentrated aromas & flavours.  “Remarkably, Pinot Noir & Syrah seem to be feeding off each other.” The percentage varies each year depending on the grape harvest.  In 2012, the blend is 70% Shiraz & 30% Pinot Noir. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Warm aromas of campfire, field berries & smoke that provokes fall like weather.  When you have a sip, everything about it reminds me of black – black currants, blackberries, figs, even licorice.

Suggested Food Pairings: The jam like texture this medium bodied wine would be great with lamb burgers, bacon wrapped meatloaf or a pork tenderloin roast (recipe follows).  Looking for a red wine to serve with your turkey?  This is it!

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

 With Reif Reserve Gewürztraminer…

Pad Thai

From Debbie’s kitchen
Serves 4

A good friend of mine taught me how to make Thai food and now I always make sure that have the ingredients for Pad Thai on hand….including a bottle of Gewurztraminer like this one from Reif.

Pad Thai Sauce 

Ingredients

1 cup water
1 ½  cups sugar  (less if you rather not as sweet)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 piece of tamarind (approx 1″ x 1″)
½ cup ketchup

Method

Combine ingredients in a saucepan, stir and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for approx. 30 minutes.

Strain sauce to collect remaining bits of tamarind (pits, skins etc).  Makes about 2 cups.

This sauce can be stored in the fridge for weeks.  Reheat when ready to make Pad Thai dish.

Pad Thai noodle mixture

Ingredients

1 package of rice noodles (medium width)
1 tablespoon oil
1 clove of garlic minced
2-3 teaspoons of fish sauce
1 lime
1-2 eggs
2 chicken breasts cubed (TIP: try with leftover cooked turkey too!)
a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts (washed)
2-3 green onions finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped peanuts or cashews
2-5 sprigs of fresh coriander (chopped – by scissors is easiest)

Optional
1 cup of cubed deep fried tofu
10-15 shrimp (cooked or raw)

Method

Soak noodles in warm water to soften. (approx 30 minutes or longer); this part of the assembly takes on 8-10 mins so have everything chopped and ready to go!

Heat wok. Add oil and garlic. Break eggs into oil and scatter fry then add chicken and stir until cooked.  If using raw shrimp add when chicken is almost done.

Drain water from noodles and add to wok. Toss continuously.

Pour Pad Thai sauce onto noodles.  Add green onions, tofu and cooked shrimp (if using) then add fish sauce to taste.

Keep tossing noodles until completely coated with sauce and food is really hot.

To Serve

Place a handful of bean sprouts on side of plate.

Mound noodles beside sprouts.

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, coriander and squeeze lime juice over top.

Serve immediately with spring rolls.

Reif Estate Wines

 

Klaus Reif tending to the vineyard throughout the growing season

 

 

With Reif Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve…

Rack of Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce

From the kitchen of Chef Roger Weldon
Serves 2 or 3 people

Ingredients

1 frenched 6-rib rack of fresh local lamb (Chef Roger prefers Lanark County lamb)

For the chimichurri sauce:

1/4 cup (125 ml) olive oil
2 tablespoons (25 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 mL) red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 clove shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) crushed black peppercorns
1 bunch fresh spinach, well washed
1/2 bunch each fresh parsley, cilantro, mint and basil

Method

Process sauce ingredients in food processor until minced. Let rest at least 2 hours before serving.

Place lamb rack on hot barbecue grill about 2 minutes per side to sear surface. Reduce heat or move rack to a cooler part of grill to roast about 10 to 15 minutes per side, using meat thermometer for rare (about 120 F/50 C) or medium (about 150 F/65 C).

Serve with sauce drizzled over the rack of lamb & serve.  

With The Magician…

Marinated Pork Loin Roast

From Fare for Friends Cookbook
Serves 10 (recipe can be halved)

Ingredients

4 to 5 pork tenderloins
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sherry
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon thyme, crushed

Sauce

1 10 ounce jar of black currant jelly
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2  Tbsp sherry  

Method

Place meat in a plastic bag.  In the bag, add soy sauce, sherry, garlic, mustard, ginger & thyme. Seal bag & massage meat with sauce ingredients until completely covered. Marinate for 5 hours or overnight

When ready to cook remove from plastic bag & place meat in a roasting pan. Preheat oven to 325 F.

Roast uncovered with any extra marinade on the bottom of the pan for 1 hour basting frequently until testing shows the meat is done.

To make sauce, combine all the ingredients & heat for 2 minutes.  Drizzle over top of meat & serve with vegetables

TIP: try putting fresh apple wedges on the bottom of the pan while meat cooks.  Serve roasted apples with meat.  

 

Happy Thanksgiving & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

 

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Riverview Cellars – a little winery making BIG wines

Posted by Erin

Monday, June 16th, 2014
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Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Riverview Cellars

– June 2014 –

 

Riverview Cellars is boutique winery that is a true family affair. There are 2 generations working together in harmony with a shared vision and passion to create beautiful, approachable wines produced in small batches. The family has been on the land since 1975 starting out with fruit farm. In 1992, the transition began with the first rows of vineyards took shape with Gewürztraminer vines that are now producing award winning vintages – more on that later!

What you need to know now is that the Pillitteri family comprises of Salvatore (Sam) & his wife Angelia (Lina) as well as their 4 children Angela, Maria, Connie & Michael (Mike).  Together this tight knit family fulfilled a dream of opening the winery in 2000 and it has been going gang-busters ever since.

Our Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling chatted with prodigal son Mike Pillitteri who is the General Manager to catch up with what has been happening at the winery since we last featured them in Savvy Selections (in 2011 – during their 10th anniversary) and to see what he thinks will make his winery THE place to see on your summer wine tour of Niagara.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Angelina’s Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012– $19.95 This wine is so consistent, it wins medals year after year.

Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011– $24.95 A signature wine & a personal favourite of Mike’s. He is very proud that we selected this wine as it just won a silver medal at the Ontario Wine Awards held in April.

Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012 $29.95 An incredible red wine from Niagara-on-the-Lake that is hard to come by as only 207 cases in produced. These vines did not fare well during the past harsh winter, so Mike is doubtful that there will be any 2014 Syrah wine made.

Where to find those hard-to-find wines…

Due to the small batch nature of wine produced at Riverview, it is rare to find a wide selection of their wines at the LCBO.  If you would like additional bottles of your Riverview favourites – or other featured Ontario wineries – just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.cato arrange an additional delivery for you. It is always my pleasure to introduce you to wonderful new Ontario wines!

Do you like Rosés?

Our Savvy Sommeliers have been hard at it, tasting 30+ recently released Rosés from across Ontario to pick out the best of the best for you to enjoy over the summer.  In the upcoming few weeks, we will be launching a new case of wine offering – that will make you think pink all summer long.  Stay tuned…

Cheers & enjoy your Riverview wines!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…

Riverview Cellars Estate Winery

Presented by Erin Bolling

Now that summer has arrived (fingers crossed) my thoughts are turning to vacation time, patio entertaining and BBQ – right?  The wines from Riverview Cellars suit all palates and foods year round with their style that will impress a connoisseur and make a novice feel comfortable with each bottle they open.  From the winery tasting room, to the glass, Riverview creates wine enjoyment. The following quote on Trip Advisor seems to sum up the experience: “We are tourists, not wine connoisseurs. They made us feel welcome and very comfortable.” Meanwhile, our panel of Savvy Sommeliers was impressed to the point there was debate about which wines to offer this month. Read on to see why Riverview is a must-visit when you plan your next trip to the Niagara wine region.

A family Affair

Mike and familyFirstly allow me to take a line to congratulate Mike and his wife Sarah (in photo on left) on the birth of their second son Leo a few weeks ago. I was amazed and pleased he had so much time for me with all the winery work while juggling fatherhood. The fact that we spoke by phone did not dampen his ability to portray his true passion for what he does and how grateful he is to be part of this family run winery.

His father Sam is his mentor and colleague. Sam focuses on the vineyard while Mike is the General Manager. Mike’s three sisters helped to launch the winery and contributed their artistic talents to developing the Riverview brand. You can still find the family matriarch (and mother) Lina working occasionally in the gift shop. While Mike’s sons are only 3 yearsold and 7 weeks – who knows – perhaps his boys will continue the next generation of the family business.

The Little Winery that Could

Riverview is a ‘boutique’ winery. This may be a buzz word these days, yet Riverview lives up to the image that a boutique winery evokes. The wines are made in small batches and carefully hand crafted by the winemaker. These wines are difficult to find at the LCBO because their production quotas are often not enough; what a loss for those who do not subscribe to Savvy Selections (shameless plug but I can’t help it)!

Mike stressed the personal relationship he & his team strive to establish with each and every customer. Even as a GM, can find Mike in the tasting ready to welcome visitors. For Savvy Selections subscribers, Mike asked me to mention that if you call in advance he’ll be happy to conduct a winery tour himself with you!  Equally, we look forward to introducing you to the Pillitteri family when they participate in an upcoming Savvy Event.

Boutique wineries are often thought to produce better wines, and this is definitely in the case of Riverview. In fact the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the Gewurztraminer reigned over the big wineries with recently having won silver medals at the Ontario Wine Awards. This is certainly impressive – Congrats Mike!

The Elephant in the Room…..

The trees may be in full leaf right now but I’m sure we all remember the harsh winter that just passed. Again, Mike’s candidness with me was a pleasure because of course I’m curious about what we can expect from the 2014 season (as far as he can tell at this point).

Old man winter did not treat all vines equally.  Mike reports that the Syrah vines in Niagara were decimated. Cool climate Syrah is gaining in popularity with its fresh, peppery qualities. When you open this bottle make sure to savour it….this wine is sourced from a trusted farmer in NOTL who was not able to save any of the Syrah after this past winter. The Syrah in your Savvy Selections is a hot commodity (and not even listed on Riverview’s web site).

Overall at Riverview, the vineyards seem to have fared approximately at a 60%-70% survival rate – and this is good news. The Niagara River sub-appellation has an extra pocket of protection and benefits from the lake effect as well as close proximity to the Niagara River. This results in earlier spring warming and moderate temperatures that shelter the vines from frost that result in an overall longer growing season.

Planning a Vacation?

Riverview Cellars barn - low resWith a young family it can be hard to get away. Mike feels Riverview has something to offer the whole family. They grow their own peaches, nectarines, cherries & apples that are often available to enjoy with their special cheese plates to enjoy on the winery patio. In addition to wine, there is grape juice for the kids.

This summer Riverview will be hosting local food trucks and hosting the annual ‘Fontana Party’ in August. Mike told me that since they’re part of the cyclist network he keeps a set of Allen wrenches nearby in case a bicycle breaks down he can help!

The cycling path follows along the river and is across from the winery so plan to bring or rent a bike and enjoy the scenery and great wines. Now that is a great way to explore Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

 

Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012 $19.95

When asked what wine he most often drinks Mike didn’t hesitate in stating this Gewürztraminer is the one! He enjoys the complexity of this wine and its ability to match with Asian and Indian cooking. The Savvy Selections tasting panel has to agree. In fact, Mike shared with us his personal recipe for Pad Thai that he regularly serves for his friends & cooking group ‘Dudes with Food’.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A classic example of Gewürztraminer. The first thing we noticed was the aromatic nose – teasing us with floral roses and ginger spice. The taste follows through with lychee, mango and apricot. The viscous mouth feel is like honey and the finish is satisfying and long, slightly sweet and spicy. Yum!

Suggested Food Pairing: Hands down, Gewürztraminer is one of the best food wines to serve with exotic foods. Whether you’re in the mood for Asian, Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll find a happy match with anything spicy.

 

Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011$24.95

A silver medal winner of 2014 Ontario Wine Awards, Mike is especially proud of this since 2011 vintage was not one of the best years for this grape in Niagara. He felt the upgraded drainage of the vineyard done 5 years ago helped hold in the nutrients that translated to this winning wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:This Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas of strawberry, rhubarb, cranberry and allspice with hints of dark chocolate that follow through on the finish. It is a well integrated wine with a smooth, juicy finish that lasts just long enough.

Suggested Food Pairing:  The Savvy Sommeliers agreed that this would be another great BBQ wine or take a pause to enjoy it with mushroom risotto, a Sunday roast or event pasta with meat sauce. With such a versatile wine, let’s try something completely different and pour a glass to unwind with an artisan cheese plate loaded with Canadian cheeses – just like they serve at the winery.

 

Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012 $29.95

According to the newly released Maclean’s Magazine special edition ‘Wine in Canada’, Syrah may be the new hot grape grown in Canada’s cool climate. Our Savvy Selections tasting panel certainly attests that Riverview may be one of the trail blazers in popularizing this grape in Ontario with this outstanding wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:   “Pow!”,  “Hmm”, and “Aaahh” were heard simultaneously around the table when this wine was poured into the tasting glass. It is a deep red wine with earth, warm spice, fresh pepper, loads of fruit such as pomegranate, raspberry, blackberry and chocolate notes. At 13.1% it is not an overly alcoholic Syrah but it still packs a warm spicy punch and finish to match.

Suggested Food Pairing: There was no question that this is a wine that begs for the BBQ. We bantered back and forth between ideas of grilled duck, ribs or steak…but in the end have settled on steak with a mushroom sauce. No matter what you drink this with the peppery freshness of the Syrah will be a winning combination with anything from your grill.

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Angelina’s Reserve Gewurztraminer VQA 2012…

Pad Thai
From Mike’s Kitchen

Ingredients

1 package of pad thai noodles (approx. 400g)
½ white onion (sliced julienne)
1 clove garlic
1 tea spoon of shredded ginger
2 table spoons coconut oil
2 table spoons peanut butter
2 large carrots (sliced julienne)
1 large red pepper (sliced julienne)
12-15 large shrimp uncooked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
2-6 drops of sirachi sauce (depends on desired heat)
1 green onion1 handful of cilantroSalt & pepper

Method

Get large wok ready to a medium heat.

Put vegetable oil and toasted sesame oil in pan while adding onions, garlic, ginger. Sautee until translucent, then add sliced carrots and peppers along with peanut butter, coconut oil, sweet chili sauce, and srirachi .

Boil noodles until soft and add to wok when ready.

Add shrimp into wok and cook with mixture until the shrimp turns pink.  Add salt, pepper and herbs to taste.

Toss frequently and serve, enjoy!

 

With Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011…

Artisan Cheese Plate

Holiday-Cheese-BoardWhen it comes to pairing wine with cheese there are no hard and fast rules.  It is a world of ‘drink what you like and eat what you like’. As a rule of thumb, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with hard cheeses such as Old Cheddar and Parmesan. Additionally, soft Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola or semi-soft Gouda would do the trick.

We turned to our Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons for specific recommendations of cheeses to match this Cabernet Sauvignon.   For more cheese ideas, read Vanessa’s blog: The Curd on the Street

 

Lankaaster Aged Glengarry Fine Cheese, Alexandria Ontario

Lankaaster from Glengarry Fine Cheese

 

2013 Global Cheese Awards – Supreme Global Champion 

Named for its local region (“kaas” the Dutch word for cheese), aged for 14 to 24 months, this extra old batch of Lancaster is from gourmet artisan cheese maker pioneer Margaret Morris. 

Vanessa’s Notes: Firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheese. It’s rich, dense & chewy with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever.

Bonnechère Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark, Ontario

Bonnechere from Back Forty ArtisanRecently changed ownership, with new & very young cheesemakers at the helm who have in the cheese biz for just over a year, this striking cheese has not changed. If you see this cheese, don’t blink, don’t hesitate, snap it up immediately.  (it is great with craft beer too!)

Vanessa’s Notes: Bonnechère is one-of- a-kind artisan cheese.  It’s a semi-firm, double pressed and unique both inside and out.  A beautiful, chestnut patterned toasted rind covers the interior smooth ivory paste.  Hand torching gives Bonnechère smoky aromas and a very distinct caramel flavor.  As it ages, these characteristics amplify the tangy, sweet, and fruity body of the cheese.  Sour milk lingers with a slight amount of acidity. Produced in very small quantities with seasonal milk, it’s a hot commodity.

Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm, Nova Scotia

2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist

A rare find! Take Note the recipe for this cheese is a closely guarded family secret.

Vanessa’s Notes: Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months. The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk. Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. More than worth the shipping charges!

Bleu D’Élizabeth Fromagerie de la Presbytere, Warwick Quebec

Bleu D'Elizabeth, Fromagerie de la Presbytere by Vanessa Simmons2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Category Winner: Blue Cheese& Organic Cheese

2013 Sélection Caseus, Quebec Fine Cheese Awards Best of Show Winner: Gold, Emeritus & Blue-Veined Cheese Category 

Vanessa’s Notes:A beautiful, semi-soft, raw organic cow’s milk blue cheese, it has a natural rind with spots of dark clay.  The creamy, silky, straw-colored paste is speckled with slate & blue-green veins throughout. Rich in flavor, with a hint of sweetness, spice, & salt, it pairs beautifully with iced wine, cider or port.

 

Building a Cheese Board with Pizazz

To create a cheese plate that will undoubtedly create ooohs and aaahs, Vanessa offers these tips in a recent blog: How to create a festive cheese board

Mix it up

Consider taste, style and texture. Choose a theme — region, milk type (cow, sheep, goat, buffalo) or category (fresh, soft, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard, blue). 3-5 cheeses display well on a board or serve one stellar cheese as an appetizer, or dessert. Buying cheeses that look different will offer visual appeal to your table. 5-10gms/cheese/person is a good rule of thumb.

Holiday-Cheese-BoardServe cheese with star treatment

Serve at room temperature. Offer one knife per cheese. Don’t cut up small pieces in advance. Allow breathing room between cheeses so aromas don’t mix. Use an interesting wooden board, cross cut log, plate, slate or marble tiles or tiered trays for visual appeal. Keep it simple and your cheese will shine.

Compliment your cheese

Serve specialty breads, gourmet crackers, fresh seasonal or dried fruits, figs, dates, raw or toasted nuts, olives, caramelized or pickled onions or milder charcuterie items as accompaniments

Store cheese properly

Wrap leftovers of soft, semi-soft and washed rind cheeses in parchment or cheese paper, and pop into a small Tupperware or Ziplock bag. Refrigerate in a container in the vegetable drawer (for high humidity).

Have a cheese tip for us?

If you find a particular good match with the Riverview Cabernet Sauvignon, let us know!  Send us your tip to cheers@savvycompany.ca or Tweet us at @SavvyCompany or directly with Vanessa @SavvyVanessa

 

With Riverview Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012…

Grilled Peppercorn Steak

From Foodnetwork.com
Serves 6

Ingredients

(10 -12 ounce) New York Strip Steaks
1 garlic clove, bruised, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil (or as needed)
1 cup cracked peppercorns, preferably a blend of black and white (approximate amount) or 1 cup fresh coarse ground black pepper (approximate amount)
salt, to taste

Method

Pat steaks dry with paper towels & rub both sides of each steak with garlic, then brush lightly with olive oil.

Line large baking sheet or tray with waxed paper.

Spread thin layer of pepper on plate, lightly coat both sides of steak with pepper, and place on waxed paper. Repeat with remaining steaks and additional pepper.

Meanwhile, prepare charcoal for grilling (or heat broiler); just before grilling, lightly salt both sides of steaks. Grill steaks over hot fire or broil 4 inches from heat until browned and crusty on outside but still pink at center, about 5 minutes each side for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks to serving plates and serve at once.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

 

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