All posts in category “Beyond Niagara”

  • From Niagara winery to Shawn & Ed Brewing Co.

    Ed Madronich of Shawn & Ed Brewing Co. in Dundas.

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    The saying goes that it takes a lot of beer to make great wine.

    But one Niagara vintner is proving the opposite true.

    Ed Madronich, proprietor of Flat Rock Cellars in Jordan, is showing that it also takes top-notch tipple to turn out noteworthy suds.

    He’s doing it with The Shawn & Ed Brewing Co., the 10-month-old brewery that he opened in an old Dundas curling and skating rink with university buddy Shawn Till.

    The venture fulfils a nearly lifelong dream the two discovered they shared while shooting hoops for McMaster University’s basketball team some 25 years ago. And even though the beverage lineup at the brewery, known to locals as “the Shed,” is more hoppy than tannic, Niagara’s influence on this heady pursuit in a Hamilton suburb is undeniable.

    “I believe there’s lots of synergies between the wine business and the beer business,” Madronich said. “I’m leveraging both for this to be successful.”

    Madronich flouts all those old wives’ tales about never mixing beer and wine with a lager-heavy roster that shows the two to be a perfect pairing.

    Take the flagship Shawn & Ed brew, BarrelShed No. 1. This ruby-red beauty has sweet caramel notes and gets its body from aging in Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir barrels. Since batch No. 1, some of each BarrelShed brew has been set aside to use in the following ferment. The result is glorious — rich and layered.

    “I believe over time, it adds complexity,” Madronich said about the BarrelShed’s secret ingredient. “It has the complexity of wine. BarrelShed is our globally unique beer. There’s nothing like it in the world.”

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    Category Beyond Niagara, Food Finds


  • 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


  • Peach Tree
  • Blogging for a cause: Meet Charlene Theodore

    Publish, get huge hits, land a cookbook deal.

    It’s the recipe for success for many food bloggers. And why not? That sounds pretty sweet. But there other places food blogging can take a person.

    I heard the stories of a few who broke the book deal mould when I was at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Sacramento in July. The conference (if you’re a food blogger, go!) included a session called From Blog to Business.

    I didn’t read the fine print beforehand, so I figured it would be about turning food websites into big money makers through sponsored posts, advertising and book deals. It was better than that. It was a panel of three Sacramento food bloggers sharing their story of how food writing launched them into spinoffs that bettered their community. Blogging for a Cause would have been a more accurate name for this inspiring session.

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    Category Beyond Niagara


  • Peach Tree
  • Chef John Ash, a sandwich, and his mentors

    Chef John Ash at IFBC 2016. (It's a much better picture if you click on it).

    He’s been called the father of Wine Country Cuisine. Chef John Ash might just be the inspiration for the panini press, too.

    Turns out, the storied culinarian from Sonoma County who introduced the concept of cooking with local, seasonal produce and pairing it with wines from that region has a knack for making great sandwiches — by sitting on them.

    It was a talent he discovered while visiting with M.F.K. Fisher, the first lady of food writing, who made him get comfy on a lunch she prepared. His buns were the finishing touch on what would become the most memorable sammie he’s likely ever eaten.

    The woman who could make a semi-colon appetizing knew the magic that the body heat and weight of a grown man could work. But the soft centre of her muffuletta belied her own unyielding ways with her protege, Ash.

    The man, certainly no myth, but a legend, recently dished on the people who inspired him in his career, causing him to give up copywriting for the kitchen. He was the keynote speaker at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Sacramento last month, and set the tone for a weekend of professional development that was nothing short of inspiring.

    Mentors was his theme and we all know his by name: Julia Child, Fisher, and Wendell Berry. They’re people who inspire us with their work, if not in person like they did with Ash.

    I recorded his address, keener that I am, and dubbed it Episode 4 of Grub: A Podcast about Food.

    Have a listen, a laugh, and a flash of insight and inspiration provided by one the greatest people to ever hoist a spatula. And feel free to drop me a line with a note about the people who you hold up as mentors and muses. I owe a lot of credit to many for kindling something in me to do what I do, so let’s trade stories.

    In the meantime, enjoy the sound waves on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud and PodBean.

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    Category Beyond Niagara