Yearly Archives: 2016

  • How to serve sparkling wine like a sommelier

    The only shutterstock image I could find of someone pouring sparkling properly.

    I originally wrote this story about how to serve sparkling wine for Niagara Life magazine.

    You could say I have a bit of a Napoleon complex with Champagne. I’ve always wanted to know how to sabre a bottle of bubbly like the French emperor did when he was victorious in battle.

    Problem is, I don’t have a sabre, and as it turns out, I’m not good with sharp objects anyway. The words “bomb” and “shrapnel” also don’t sit well with me, and both flowed freely from David Hulley’s mouth as he explained the risks of putting blade to bottle of any sparkling wine.

    The director of customer service at Vineland Estates Winery, who trained under a master sabreur, has successfully sabred many a flagon. He’s also experienced the nerve-shattering explosions and cuts when the spectacle has gone awry, so he was quick to put my inner Bonaparte in his place.

    Instead, Hulley offered a safer technique for opening and serving sparkling wine, requiring no sharp objects or first aid kit within reach. Best part is, unlike Napoleon, you won’t spill a drop, making it a truly revolutionary way of serving that méthode classique.

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    Category How To's


  • Peach Tree
  • Giving the gift of Niagara: The 2016 EN Holiday Gift List

    Cue the Dean Martin. It’s the time of year when I share that tiny iota of wisdom I’ve been granted and point you to great made-in-Niagara Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and any-other-reason-to-give gifts.

    I usually reserve my holiday gift list for my column in the local papers. But that real estate will be used up this year by a list of Strip Mall Gems I wasn’t able to write standalone stories about — a different kind of gift list, really.

    So here goes. Many of these are great last-minute buys that fit as perfectly into a stocking as they do under the tree.

    (Note: there are no affiliated links in this post. One day I’ll get my act together and set up something with the mighty Amazon.)

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    Category Food Finds


  • Peach Tree
  • Mixing things up: Apple-delicata squash shakshuka

    This post was sponsored by the Ontario Apple Growers (OAG). What does that mean? I was paid to develop this recipe for apple-delicata squash shakshuka. The recipe and story I’ve told below are my own, without input or editing by OAG.

    I tend to follow Micheal Pollan’s rule of never eating where I fuel up my car.

    I take that one step further and avoid eating where my husband buys coffee cream late on a Sunday night when he’s in a bind, or anywhere I have to flick the dust of a grocery item. Ditto for places where sandwiches come shrink wrapped and stamped with distant expiry dates.

    In other words, I don’t usually eat at my neighbourhood convenience store.

    But what happens when you walk into that neighbourhood convenience store to pick up your Niagara Local Food Co-op order and find shelves lined with half-pecks full of the most beautiful Mutsu apples you’ve ever seen?

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    Category Recipes


  • Peach Tree
  • 100KM Foods connects farmers and chefs

    Paul Sawtell of 100KM Foods.

    I originally wrote this story for Edible Toronto Magazine. 

    There was a time when Paul Sawtell had an affinity for shiny, expensive items.

    Such objects still occasionally catch the former pharmaceutical sales rep’s eye. He gets excited, for instance, when he sees a newly washed delivery truck sparkling in the sunlight behind the warehouse of 100km Foods. These days he prefers his flash with substance – the kind that comes from trading a career with lucrative financial rewards for one rich in social benefits.

    100km Foods Inc. is a wholesale and distribution business bridging the gap between farmers and chefs and getting more local food onto our plates in the process. The venture, started by Sawtell and life partner Grace Mandarano nearly nine years ago, was admittedly “warm and fuzzy” at the beginning. But it has become an important link in Ontario’s food economy – by handling product marketing for farmers who’d rather be tending their crops, while sourcing the best ingredients for chefs who prefer to spend their time behind the burner.

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    Category Beyond Niagara