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Four Calling Birds

14 Dec

I’m not a huge fan of calling birds – or any type of birds for that matter. They generally sit outside my apartment window in a tree and make lots of noise until someone throws something off a balcony at them.

What I am a fan of? Killing two birds with one stone (and no, I don’t mean literally, PETA-supporters). I’m talking the popular holiday dishes, turkey and ham. At my family dinner, we always have both. Why? Well, first of all because the gene to overfeed had to be passed down to me from somewhere and also, they’re both double-plus good. And who does one turn to, to match these yummy meats?

Welcome to the party, Gamay. Now, if you’ve read this blog ever before, you’ll know of my love affair with this particular grape. I’m going to do you a solid and present to you two potential holiday dinner bottles.

The first comes from our friends in France, DuBoeuf Beaujoulais Brouilly ($16.95, LCBO#70540).

Beaujolais is the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or AOC (a region in France that’s important enough to be distinguished) known for its Gamay. On the labels of many French wines, you won’t see the type of grape written, they’ll have the AOC they’re from as the main identifier instead. For instance, when you’re drinking white Burgundy, that’s Chardonnay; red Burgundy, that’s Pinot Noir.

It’s a mighty confusing situation to many of us young wine drinkers who are used to having everything spelled out to us on a label (next to a sketch of an panda bear, or something equally cute and fuzzy). It gets even more confusing when the appellations divide up into sub- appellations, villages, etc. And generally, the more specific the area; the pricier the bottle.

This Beaujolais is from Brouilly. What does that mean for you and me? Well, it looks fancier to impress your girlfriend’s mom. It also has greater complexity (re: more bang for your buck). This pretty ruby red coloured wine is medium-bodied and plump full of cherry, berry and herbal notes. It’ll knock out the turkey and then turn to the ham and say “You’re next.”

If you’re looking to purchase locally, I recommended Malivorie’s 2009 Gamay (#17.95, Vintages#591313) in the Harvest issue of VINES.

“A zippy little wine that’s bursting with energy, this shows what Niagara Gamay has to offer. This scarlet coloured, organic wine is rich and fruity with spicy and earthy undertones. Medium-boded with juicy cherry, plum and a refreshing acidity especially apparent on the finish, this wine goes down easy and nly improves the next day. Pair with almost anything, from cheese and charcuterie nibbles to turkey dinner.”

Yeah, that’ll do just fine. Show up for a holiday dinner with either of these bottles and you’ll be welcomed with open arms – which is more than I can say for the calling birds at my place.

Make hay when the sun shines…

13 Aug

I never really understood that expression, until I was looking in my fridge the other day and saw a literal cornucopia of Ontario’s finest produce staring back at me. And while I won’t ever advocate going to bust your butt hauling hay on the hottest day of the year, I will defend the right to make corn chowder before the cobs are gone.

You see, I live across the street from the mall where a farmer’s market is set up three glorious days a week. Sometimes I wander and buy things I don’t need or couldn’t possibly eat all of before it goes all nasty and rotten. I consistently buy whack of berries, peaches and herbs that all leave me wracking my brain (and Twitter) for alternative uses.

This week, those heavenly, buttery yellow knobs of delight were staring me down.

“I’ll take a half dozen.”

I ate two in the purest form possible – boiled, coated in the rich, melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt. I ate another two later in the week, bbq’ed in its husks and smothered in parmesan, paprika and lime.

Then what’s a girl to do? Well, like my Grandma used to say, “Make corn chowder when the sun shines.” Or something like that.

I adapted a recipe from The New York Times, because really – they’re The New York Times.

Here’s what I did, more or less, because I cook like my mother. Which really means, I cook with the cookbook closed. I also halved the recipe, which made me a nice bowl for dinner and a rather large serving for lunch the next day.

First things first, strip two cobs of corn into a bowl.

Get the cobs in a pot of  two cups of simmering water. Cover and boil.

In another pan, fry up  two chopped strips of bacon and when they’re half way to crispy and delicious, add in half a diced red onion (okay, I only had like 1/3 of red onion leftover, so sue me) and a chopped medium-sized potato.

After the corncobs have cooked at least 10 minutes, strain the liquid into a container and toss away those precious corncobs – they’ve done their job.

Mix the liquid and potato/onion/bacon mixture together and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender and then throw in the corn kernels you’ve set aside and half a cup of milk or cream, whatever you have on hand.

Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Place yummy corn chowder into a bowl and top with something green. I was lacking parsley, but had green onion, so that’s what I went with.

Serve alongside kick-ass summer salad of greens, ripe Ontario peaches, candied pecans from The Good Earth Food & Wine Co and cheese niblets of delight from The Upper Canada Cheese Company mixed in a homemade strawberry vinagrette.

Bonjour, you’ve entered summertime produce heaven. Please enjoy your stay.