Culinaire is a free food and beverage magazine tempting tastebuds, engaging appetites based out of Alberta. Sharing their secrets are chefs, sommeliers, brewers, mixologists, restaurateurs, and local food and beverage experts. Culinaire serves up features on dining in, dining out, wine, beer, spirits and cocktails.
With credit card statements arriving any day soon, here are three very different red wines from different countries that share one thing – good value!
Paul Jaboulet Ainé Cotes-du-Rhone Biographie 2015, Tainl’Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France
Warm berry aromas greet you like sunset on hedgerows, with a delicate herbal mint touch. Very soft, Biographie has a spicy finish with ripe fruit and a little liquorice. This silky wine is organic, and it will complement your lamb sausages, meatballs, or chops. Could also be a great accompaniment to eggplant in a tomato sauce too or as ratatouille. 55% grenache, 35% syrah, 10% mourvedre.
CSPC +787368 $19
Black Tower Dornfelder Pinot Noir 2016, Pfalz, Germany
Red wine from Germany – it’s not something we see much of in Western Canada as not so much is produced, and the clever people in the south of Germany keep most of it for themselves! It’s a light wine with lots of dark black berries and spicy, peppery aromas and flavour. You’ll be rewarded for chilling it for half an hour in the fridge if it’s warm or you’re curled up in front of the fire, and enjoy with charcuterie, and simply prepared chicken and pork dishes.
CSPC 580118 $13
Monte Creek Ranch 2015 Hands Up Red, Kamloops, B.C.
A very soft and easy drinking crowd pleaser, there are notes of plum and cherry, some menthol, and some dark berries – a veritable forest floor. It’s one of those wines that makes you hungry for a burger with caramelized onions and a touch of tomato relish – and fries with parmesan cheese and paprika. It’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and maybe some other grapes too. Definitely a kick back and just relax sort of wine.
Before privatization, Alberta had 209 liquor
stores and about 2,000 products available, but now 25 years later, we have over
1,500 liquor stores, and about 25,000 products that any store can order.
“Privatization has been an
incredible success, and we want to ensure that the next 25 years are as
successful as the 25 before this,” says Ivonne Martinez, president of the Alberta Liquor
Store Association (ALSA).
Martinez’s family immigrated to Canada from
Santiago, Chile, in 1982 when she was 13 years old, and she started early on her
career path encouraged by her Grande Cache school principal, becoming president
of the student council by grade twelve.
“He continued to encourage me to get involved
in politics,” she says. “And I became enamoured with the legislature building.
I didn’t know what people did there, but I wanted to be there.”
After a degree in psychology, Martinez took a
job in Ottawa, in foreign affairs, for a summer – and was hooked. She loved
working in government, and in 1994, came back and worked at the legislature, speech
writing, preparing news releases, and on research for the caucus.
Although she really enjoyed her work, she
wanted to be able to use her Spanish, and took a job with Nova (now Transcanada)
who had just gone into partnership to build a pipeline from Argentina to Chile.
For six years she worked on environmental government advocacy, before returning
to Canada for a position in Victoria as assistant to the Minister of Advanced Education.
A spell overseas followed, but Martinez wanted
to get back into government relations and it was opportune that in December
2000, ALSA was looking for an industry advocate.
“And with my experience of working at all
levels of government, and the fact that I like to drink wine, it just seemed
like a perfect fit,” she says. “We come up with what we think is best for the industry as a whole, and
work with the AGLC as partners to make the system even better than it is now.”
what is Martinez’s special bottle?
maternal ancestors come from Valencia, in Spain, but she’d never had opportunity
to visit the country. Finally, last October, Martinez took a trip to Barcelona,
then to Haro in the Rioja wine region, and to San Sebastian, where her great
grandparents came from.
was one of the wineries we visited there, and was just a family owned and run
winery,” she explains. “They make wine the same way that they were doing back
in the 1800s. Some of the same barrels are still being used. It was such an
experience just to see how much effort and love they put into every bottle.”
just took us in and it was lovely. The father, the son, and the daughter were
there and they hosted us – they even made supper for us, and it was to die for,”
felt like I wanted to live there, it felt like home in some ways. And so I
ended up bringing this bottle of Reserva 1998 back with me; and to me it’s a
representation of part of my heritage, and maybe even why I like wine so much. I’m
hoping that when my family is all together here for Christmas, we might be able
to pop it open.”
Will it be a continuation of the trends we’ve seen this year and last, or will we see some new and dynamic trends emerge?
First off, local craft
spirits are here to stay. But several years on since the rules changed that
fuelled this craft boom, we’re expecting fewer new openings, and further
consolidation of existing producers as they settle into house styles.
Interest in cocktails stays
strong, which could lead to more unusual expressions of spirits. Will we see
locally made amaro or aquavit? Hopefully! They’re already being produced in
B.C. We can also expect to see add-ons of spices and botanicals with white spirits,
to mix your own.
As more local distilleries
reach the three-year mark, brown spirits will start taking centre stage. We’ve
already seen the second release of Eau Claire’s whisky, and soon we expect most
craft distillers to follow suit with their whiskies – and can’t wait to see how
these come along.
For beer, we’re enjoying a
near embarrassment of riches, virtually every bar or watering hole has
Alberta-made beer available, and it’s easier than ever before to share a great
glass of something locally made.
On the wine front, folks
are still interested in wines that represent good value, but express that sense
of place. To that end, white wines from around the world utilizing indigenous
or uncommon varieties should continue to excite the palate and stock cellars.
Not to be outdone, red
wines will hopefully continue to move ever so slowly away from the over-the-top
fruit bombs or velvety reds, and this might be the year for gamay or
We love the “drink less but
better” movement, and we can expect to see more premium wines in the market
from countries better known for their entry-level offerings, such as Chile and
Orange and natural wines
are here to stay, and organic continues to gain traction – but watch out for
Japan – more premium sakes, whiskies, and wines too are on the way!
If we are lucky, consumers
will continue to discover wines of Spain, Portugal, and other parts of Europe
too, while Canadian wine continually improves and is comparable in quality and expression
if you are willing to pay more than about $25 a bottle. British Columbia’s
wines are still widely available to us, and well suited to our cuisine and
interest in “local” products.
Maybe this is the year for
ease of movement across provincial borders, and “Free My Grapes” becomes a
reality. We live in hope – well, it is an election year!
By Anna Brooks Photography by Ingrid Kuenzel and Dong Kim
It’s holiday season, which means it’s the
time of year to unabashedly indulge in desserts.
The crisp crunch of gingerbread, the warm
spice of a freshly baked fruitcake… there’s nothing more comforting than home
baked goods. We tend to stick to tradition when it comes to seasonal desserts,
so this month, we asked four local pastry chefs for some tips and tricks on how
to spice up our holiday treats.
For Jinnee Lu, pastry chef and owner of Reinette Café & Patisserie in Edmonton, the best desserts are like unwrapping a gift and finding something surprising inside. Lu recommends Galette de Rois, otherwise known as King’s Cake, one of her favourite holiday cakes to make.
A puff pastry filled with sweet almond cream, this dessert also has a lucky charm – usually a bean or an almond – hidden inside. “According to tradition, whoever finds the small token hidden inside the pie will become king or queen of the day,” she says. “Not only do I love this tasty treat, but it’s also fun sharing this tradition with my family.”
A yule log is another festive dessert Lu says
is easier to make than it looks. A chocolate sponge cake rolled with vanilla whipped
cream and topped with red berries; this cake is simple, elegant, and also works
as a great centerpiece.
You want to pull out all the stops during the holidays to spoil your friends and family, but sometimes you don’t have the time (or the know how) to whip up a double-layered crème tart topped with fresh macarons. Benjamin Griffon, pastry chef at Espresso Café in Calgary, says when it comes to baking, the emphasis should first and foremost be about flavour, not extravagance.
“For home cooking, the easiest thing
for bakers to do is make a simple pastry with one or two very special
ingredients. It could be a very good French chocolate, or something like a
syrup made with high quality whiskey,” he says.
Griffon says you can always jazz up your dessert afterwards with decorations like edible gold foil or chocolate truffle shavings. If your holiday wish is chocolate, try out Griffon’s recipe for a decadent chocolate tart!
If you’ve ever mistaken salt for sugar,
you’ve learned the hard way that baking can be unforgiving.
The baking bible warns never to stray from a recipe, but Jennifer Stang, executive pastry chef at La Boule Patisserie & Bakery in Edmonton, says there are some shortcuts – like cooking cake bases ahead of time and freezing – that can save you time and stress during a holiday baking marathon.
“A recipe may not show it, but a lot of
elements can be done piecemeal—you don’t need to do everything at once,” she
says. “Pastries freeze really well, so you can make your cake on one day, your
jelly on the next, and then just put everything together the day of. It also
gives you a better chance to focus on making one thing at a time.”
One of a baker’s biggest challenges, especially when everyone’s home for the holidays, are food sensitivities. Longtime pastry chef Marie Ghesquiere, owner of online patisserie She Bakes Bouquets, has a new favourite holiday dessert that’s both easy to make, and just about anyone can enjoy.
“Marshmallows are something new we do that
have less sugar and are gluten-free,” she says. “They are fun to make and you
don’t even need to cook, it’s just heating sugar and that’s it!”
Some of Ghesquiere’s more festive marshmallow
flavours are chai latte, chocolate and fresh mint, and lemon meringue.
Homemade marshmallows may sound daunting, but Ghesquiere says all you need to do – as every baker should – is follow the steps. For a light dessert or a treat to pair with hot chocolate, try Ghesquiere’s top-selling recipe for eggnog marshmallows.
Recipe courtesy of Benjamin Griffon, Espresso Café
This dessert uses few ingredients, so quality of the chocolate and attention to detail really matter on this recipe. You can always jazz up this dessert with decorations like edible gold foil or chocolate truffle shavings!
In a mixer using the paddle attachment, cream butter. Once soft, add icing sugar. Mix on minimum speed until combined.
Add egg (make sure it’s at room temperature) and gently mix. Add a touch of vanilla and mix.
Turn mixer off, and add flour. On minimum speed, mix until just combined. Tip: Do not overwork dough or it will become tough. Wrap and place in fridge for at least an hour.
Roll dough with some flour on a cold countertop down to 2 mm. Line mould or tart ring.
Preheat oven to 325º F. Blind bake (bake without filling) tart shell for about eight minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
To prepare the ganache, melt the chocolate. In a separate pot, heat up cream and honey together.
Add half the cream mixture to chocolate. Mix gently with a spatula (be careful, you don’t want air bubbles in the ganache). Add the rest of the cream and mix. Tip: If ganache is not perfectly smooth or breaks, use an immersion blender to blend it back together.
Pour ganache into tart shell. Cool tart in the fridge for two hours or until ganache sets. Top with whipped cream.
Note: it is important to let the pastry (or pâte sucrée) chill for at least an hour, but you can also make it a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge or freezer. Spread out the work and make each day a little easier!
Little gifts are a wonderful way to show the people around you that you care about them without requiring you to go on a spending spree. If you are looking for a cute little gift for the foodie in your life, look no further.
How cool and cute is this – a sardine-shaped soap on a rope from where else but… Portugal. The sea salt and lemon fragrance is really fresh and clean, and designed to wash away those fishy, onion, and other smells from your hands (we’d use it in the shower, it smells so good!). $20 at Knifewear and Kent of Inglewood, Calgary and Edmonton.
Glitter for cocktails
Getting bored of the same old, same old? Spirdust, is a food- and drink-friendly additive for drinks. It won’t affect the taste of your drink, but adds that little pinch of interest. In a bevy of colours, and in glitter and liquid form, it can even be added to juices or syrups to up your cocktail game. Each little container will “bedazzle” up to around 50 drinks, so a little goes a long way. $9-10 in liquor stores.
Using only free range, organic and/or grass-fed Canadian Prairie beef, Calgary’s Brazen Jerky is hand-cut and soaked in their own really tasty marinades. Choose from Cowboy BBQ with espresso and cayenne, Thai Lime with fresh kaffir lime leaves and jalapeno, or Ginger Beef – they’re soft and chewy, and delicious! $6 at The Italian Centre Shop, Bite Grocer and Eatery, and to order at brazenjerky.com.
Buying for an adventurer? Two local Alberta bartenders have done away with the hassle of carrying heavy liquids to create dehydrated cocktail mixers. Choose from five natural, gluten-free, and vegan pocket cocktails and just add water and your favourite liquor. $9.99 at MEC, Cabela’s, Amazon, and barcountrycocktails.com (you can even order for them for free here!).
Hippie Snacks Crisps
More very moreish nibbles from Burnaby’s Hippie Snacks – Avocado Crisps (our favourite Guacamole, and Sea Salt flavours), and Cauliflower Crisps (Original and Classic Ranch flavours). Baked crispy, you won’t be able to stop once you start on these! $5-$6 70 g bag from Blush Lane, Sunterra, Amaranth, Bite, Planet Organic, and Earth’s General Store.
Finally, a pot scrubber that does away with even the most stubborn stuck-on foods. Bright and cheerful, and environmentally friendly, these scrubbies have a soft foam centre, and don’t scratch pots, dishes or ceramic stovetops. Dishwasher safe too. $3 at shop.atco.com/products and ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen locations.