Eat

I find happiness in an honest meal. Whether it's a simple pasta or an exquisite risotto, a perfectly cooked steak or an intricately prepared curry, all great dishes are a seamless blend of ingredients and indulgence, of style and substance.

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Many poets have waxed philosophical about the values and virtues of wine, about its power and principles, its joy and attraction.

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Travel isn't about the destination; it's about the journey. It is about the people and places you meet along the way.

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As I crisscross the globe I often discover innovative wine products, new gadgets or the perfect gift for wine lovers; and so I have created a collection of Wine Portfolio merchandise.

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Wine can sometimes seem complicated and intimidating but it doesn't have to be. Wine should bring joy not stress and you don't have to be an expert to learn to love wine.

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A Biker-Chic Dinner Defined

June 19, 2015 11:10 am - Posted by Jody in Eat

What happens when you fly a celebrity Chef from southwest California up to Toronto to work on a Biker-Chic Menu?

Well, you know dinner was good when you don’t even want to think about breakfast!

I woke up this morning with memories of superb Lobster Bisque, Crispy Eryngii Mushrooms (encrusted in parmesan, garlic and lemon!) and killer Kurabuto Confit Pork Belly on Togarashi Seared Fijian Yellowfin dancing in my head. I’m no culinary genius, but the folks at Ufeast.com, so far, are doing it right!

Böehmer Restaurant at 93 Ossington, just north of Queen Street in Toronto is becoming iconic to foodies. The ambiance is a casual mix of natural and industrial materials, anchored by a comfortable long bar and stunning wood and a crystal chandelier. The room beckons you to just chill out! Owner and Chef Paul Boehmer has impressed groups, couples and the masses (I just learned he does weddings!) with dishes like his succulent grilled hammer steak, Butter Poached Shrimp and an almost infamous lobster mac & cheese, unusually presented with a small pellet pasta, (I believe called Acini di pepe(?)).

Take one Toronto Chef with great dishes in his own right, and introduce him to a celebrity Chef from San Diego and what do you get? A night of North-East meets South-West food genius, that’s what!

Chef Ivan Flowers and Chef Paul Boehmer concocted quite a feast for the senses on this Chef Concert Series evening brought to Böehmer’s by a food club with a twist; U-feast. Chef Flowers, a Le Cordon Bleu SCI Culinary Institute graduate, came by his love of food honestly, from his dad in New York. Brooklyn born, he worked his way across the USA in four diamond award winning restaurants, eventually landing in San Diego, California where he turned the “Top of the Market” restaurant into a celebrated food landmark for the city.

Ivan’s food virtuoso was fundamental to this delectable evening. The 6-course-meal (plus desert) started with a Lobster Bisque with Porcini Mushroom Infusion Starter-Shooter, the secret recipe held fast by Ivan, was given to HIM by a revered Chef and friend in Monaco. Fantastic! I found my tongue embarrassingly sneaking into the shooter glass. The small second platter was an appetizer of sorts, consisting of parma ham wrapped around a soft serving of Lobster Boursin Roulades, topped with a drop of Confit Tomato Lobster Rose and Jalapeno Syrup Tip. You’d almost think you could just whip these little babies up at home. You can’t. The platters of Chicken Fried Quail served on ripped up Bacon Corn Bread with Pickled Jalapenos and Red Eye Jus seemed very southern to me, and were finger lickin’ good. This was followed by Ivan’s innovative take on Kurabuto Confit Pork Belly on Togarashi Seared Fijian Yellowfin with an Ell Sauce Glaze, Black Garlic Tempura and Smokey Piquillo Droplets. Yes, I’m stealing the ingredients list off of the menu, a little hard to recite off of the top of your head – but wow, what a fantastic blending of flavors. The saltiness of the pork belly complimented the tuna perfectly, and this all went down nicely with a somewhat understated Henry of Pelham wine called “Sibling Rivalry”. Best selling wine author and sommelier Carolyn Evans-Hammond even complimented the inexpensive but well balanced red and white – which happened to be the wine of the evening. Before dessert Chef Boehmer entertained with a brilliant lamb dish that anyone who lives in Toronto will want to try.  I’ve almost cited the whole menu here, but must move on to the eclectic crowd in attendance.

Things started off with Comedian and Personality Mike Bullard pulling up on his white Harley Davidson (horse? LOL) and a crowd of well-wishers gathering at the front of the restaurant for pictures on the U-feast red carpet. Both Chefs came out front to greet our host for the evening, and all had trouble getting back inside due to the interest on the street.

The press turn out on such an intimate event (sold out at around 100) was great, with the Toronto Star, Newstalk 1010, The Best of Toronto, The SUN, CP24 and others milling about for early cocktails and food-chat. A cool little tasting bar was set up with Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack for the tasting, provided by Cocktails, The Fluid Experience – thematically this was a really perfect fit, and very warm and tasty! The theme of the evening was biker-chic, as both Chefs (over 6 foot tall, burly guys) are motorcycle enthusiasts, along with host Mike Bullard. Doc’s Leather’s was a key sponsor for the evening, filling the swag bags with bike-themed gifts and Doc himself showed up for the dinner. The other sponsor included Steam Whistle Beer. It all seemed to “fit” in a comfortable way, with the relaxed and very unpretentious (yet gourmet) evening.

U-feast is doing it again soon, bringing cheeky, punky and very talented Michelin-Starred Chef Cristina Bowerman in from Rome July 9th for a “Three-way at the Windsor Arms Hotel”. I don’t know what that means food-wise – but I am IN! Here’s the link for tickets.

To attend more events like this register and become a member of Ufeast.com
PS: Want to learn some of Ivan Flowers’ great recipes? Check out this link.
Oh, and like him on Facebook .

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Global celebration of baijiu planned for August

June 16, 2015 9:35 am - Posted by Jody in Drink

baiju

Assorted baijius. Photo provided to China Daily Beijing wine and nightlife blogger Jim Boyce announced this week that bars and restaurants in several countries will participate in World Baijiu Day, a series of events designed to make consumers outside of China familiar with the nation’s popular white spirit. The world’s most-consumed alcoholic beverage is little-known abroad,… read more

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Taiwan Earns Its Chops

June 11, 2015 1:44 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

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The island’s seasonal produce is the highlight of slick, new restaurants Taipei – Pungent slices of fermented tofu, piping hot pork buns and crisp green guava slices are some of Taiwan’s classic street eats, with the best stalls attracting queues of locals and visitors. Now these no-frills favourites are being joined by a new wave of… read more

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Dresden Is The New Unlikely Place for Fine Barolo Wine

June 9, 2015 1:40 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

dresden

Martin Schwarz has only 30 bottles left of his new wine. Despite their hefty €50 price tag, 70 have already been snapped up since the batch went on sale a few months ago. That may be because it’s the first-ever barolo grown in the East German state of Saxony. “Saxonian barolo” is what Schwarz jokingly labels… read more

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The grape revolution

June 4, 2015 1:37 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

porto

Portugal is the dark horse of Europe. Often ignored until the 21st century, it has undergone a wine revolution. Portugal has not been helped by the fact that it’s traditionally a country of blends rather than easily identifiable ‘celeb’ grape varieties. Having been tongue-tied about its native grapes, Portugal is suddenly starting to take pride in… read more

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wine news

Paris (dpa) – The United States retained its ranking as the world’s biggest wine drinker in 2014 as China crept to second place globally in terms of vineyard surface area, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine said Monday. Americans drank 30.7 million hectolitres of wine last year, beating the French who drank 27.9 million hectolitres.… read more

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To Make Cheap Wine Taste Good, Say It’s Expensive

May 28, 2015 1:22 pm - Posted by Jody in Learn

wine

Cheap wine: the go-to alcohol for sophistication on a budget. Whether it’s the lovely brew that comes in a box or the discounted bottle at the grocery store, sometimes wine is a necessity even when we can’t afford it. But even the desperation of our cravings cannot make cheap wine taste good, no matter how many… read more

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white

Verily, verdicchio, vernaccia and vermentino are the “veni, vidi, vici” of Italian white wine grapes, the Italian Vs of wine. (I could add the grapes verduzzo, verdiso and vespaiolo, but you rarely see them, in this country, as wines.) Verdicchio is also known as trebbiano di Soave and called such when grown in the north of… read more

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‘China Will Rock Our Wine World’

May 21, 2015 9:22 am - Posted by Jody in Drink

winechina

China is in the midst of another red revolution, but this one involves red wine. Over the past 15 years, its fledgling wine industry has expanded dramatically, with vineyards now occupying more than 3,000 square miles of land, according to a report by the International Organization of Vine and Wine. That’s more than 10 percent of… read more

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Millennials Drive Craft Beer Growth

May 19, 2015 3:10 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

Craft brewers have broken into the big leagues of brewing — breaching 11 percent of beer produced in the U.S. by volume in 2014, marking the first time that small and medium-sized breweries have topped double-digit production levels in a market long dominated by a handful of large brewers. Craft beer’s share last year was up… read more

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