It’s getting close to Friday which at our house means we’re running out of food, and I’m running out of ideas and energy.
Enter tomatoes on toast–which sounds much nicer being called Pan Con Tomate. Thanks to the Spanish for this recipe–you literally toast some buns, rub with a garlic cloves and add some tomato pulp. But the sum of the parts…….oh boy!!
Aaah yes, our menu–it’s hand scrawled on our blackboard far, far across the room.
No, we don’t take reservations, but we can seat 2-6 people.
Minimalist pine tree to remind our guests we’re green…. (you can eat it for dessert)
Everything is local.
And please don’t forget your foraged leg braces after you’ve had one too many of our hand crafted cocktails.
My husband photographs abandoned houses as a hobby and they are fascinating. Things are just left as if people had walked out minutes before. I became fascinated with the list of items in the kitchen cupboard in this house (Campbellford, Ontario) and it just got silly from there….click on any picture to enlarge. Thanks to Tad Seaborn for sharing his photos.
Well, the above just about says it all. But, Ivy Knight, organizer-Royale has more to say about this lip smacking event where I get to be a judge. A judge of fried chicken… I picture myself with a drumstick gavel and greasy paperwork. Can Monday night come fast enough?
Here is what Ivy has to say about how and why she pulled together this first (annual) fried fiasco.
I have been wanting to do a fried chicken battle ever since watching David Chang go head to head against Questlove on Jimmy Fallon. I just really wanted to fill a room with people eating lots and lots of free fried chicken. Unfortunately I don’t have a budget to buy a bunch of chickens so I got in touch with my old friend Peter Sanagan and asked if he’d be willing to donate the birds. I barely got my request out before he said of course. So then I talked to some of my chef friends, Matty at Parts & Labour, Fan at Happy Child, Teddy at the Drake, the girls who run SNACKS (famous for their food at the Junction Flea) and Brandon at Bar Isabel, we picked a date and I started thinking about judges.
I didn’t want to have chefs come in to compete and be judged by their peers, I wanted the judges to come from outside of the peer group – so I often look to cookbook authors and media. The guys at Munchies were an obvious choice, they suggested Bad Day Magazine and since I know and love you I figured we’d bring you in to add a little class to the panel(Ivy knows how easily I fall for sweet talk–don’t worry, I’ll never bring a lot of class, perhaps just a cufflinks’ worth SR). And of course, Peter is a judge since he’s the reason we’re able to pull this off.
This is the first of what I hope will become a yearly tradition where I give away five hundred pieces of fried chicken to the masses.
So… friends, foes and people who accidentally got to this page and are thinking WHAT? THANK GOD I FOUND IT, don’t wait til next year. Come on down next week!
And no, I’m not sharing my chicken. Get your own damn chicken. 8pm, Monday night. It’s FREE y’all.
Adam Blanchard with his smoked Cheddar- photo by Tad Seaborn
In 2011 Adam Blanchard bought a two-pound cheese press online and taught himself cheese making, initially for friends and family but he eventually set up a stall at the St. John’s Farmers Market in 2011. He sold out in two weeks.
Five Brothers Smoked Cheddar
The response from customers was enthusiasm mixed with a bit of shock. “The look on some people’s faces, I’ll never forget. ‘Cheese?’ they would say. And I would say, ‘Absolutely.’ ” No one had ever come across hand-made cheese in Newfoundland before- until Five Brother’s Cheese came along.
I was lucky enough to meet Adam and catch up with my friend Julia Bannister (Five Brother’s retail manager) at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton. He was sampling his smoked cheddar, queso fresco and fresh mozzarella but he also makes a Monterey Jack and looking to make some chevre in the future (maybe in his new space??).
A packed house Saturday AM–can you find Felix and I?
I’d also like to share some pics from the amazing Great Canadian Cheese Festival this year, 4000 people and 3 dozen cheese makers from across Canada. It was so much fun, there was so much great food–cheese, sausages, condiments, wine, cider and beer that I just kept running out of sampling tickets! This is such an amazing event–there are tutored tastings run through the weekend and I always learn so much while eating amazing cheese (thanks Julia Rogers and Cheese Culture).
I also got out to do some wine tasting at Clossen Chase (love their chardonnay) and Hinterland (love all their sparkling wine-amazing). But sounds like Norman Hardie’s was the place to party that weekend. He was hosting a bunch of people including the whole Five Brothers crew.
Albert Borgo of Quality Cheese Holds his Grand Prix Winning Ricotta
One of the amazing things about the festival is that it is a place you can meet all the people who make the amazing products we all salivate over during the year. For instance, here I am with Albert of Quality cheese and below…
… is Felix riding Yvette, the water buffalo who lives on one of the two water buffalo farms in Ontario. She supplies milk for our fabulous, local buffalo mozzarella.
And this could be you next year, sipping wine, eating cheese, wandering around the county….( hopefully not aimlessly wandering, its good to have a destination–even if it’s just bed).
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar
One of my all-time favourites. The Avonlea clothbound cheddar, gorgeous as always.
Or perhaps you prefer a bloomy rind?
Or tasting the “new aged”- like the latest cheese from Finica (makers of the Lindsay Clothbound Cheddar) called Tania.
And finally back to kick back on a patio chair outside the Picton Harbour Inn–where are the cool people stayed. Unless you were staying at Norman Hardie’s–then that was cooler.
But best breakfast in town right here, or so they say…..
Fifth Town, a Platinum Leed, facility is set to reopen its store end of May
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Patricia Secord, one of the new owners of Fifth Town Cheese. They are set to reopen the store on May 31, in time for the Great Canadian Cheese Festival. As the fate of Fifth Town remained unknown after going into receivership last summer, I don’t think anyone in the cheese community wanted to believe this award-winning cheese company with so much heart (and so much delicious fromage) could be kept down .
Due complicated regulatory paperwork to re-register the dairy to it new owners, cheese making will not begin until earliest September (for fresh cheeses). There are also renovations to be done ranging from general maintenance to expanding the existing waste water, solar, geothermal functionality and ageing areas to be more efficient.
In the meanwhile, Ms. Secord who has access to amazing artisanal farmstead cheese through her import business (Bertozzi Importing) will be selling those at the store just to get momentum and begin to bring the business back to life. (cool fact: Ms. Secord’s grandfather had been a Parmesan Reggiano producer in the Parma region before WWII broke out and her father came to Canada and bought his first Parm wheels to sell here with gold he had saved and brought from Italy). The business has offices in Montreal and Toronto.
The upcoming Italian cheese line-up sounds pretty mouth-watering and ranges from fresh cheeses, washed rinds and cave-aged varieties–all artisanal, goat, sheep and cow’s milk products-some raw and some organic. Ms. Secord was a little hesitant in the beginning about bringing in international products knowing Fifth’s Towns reputation had been built on its support for local product but says the community has been very supportive, “everyone wants to get the place up and running and this is going to help us get through the period of reconstruction.”
YES WE DO! (And btw–they are hiring! Check the website.)
If you get sweaty palms watching the cooking intensity of Iron Chef you’ll know how excited I was to be part of the 5th annual Nickel City Chef cook-off in Buffalo this year. Taking place over four weekends, I was asked to be a judge for the final competition on April 14th.
Chef Adam Goetz and sous-chef Adam Cook trying to beat the clock.
The chefs in the challenge both wield impressive resumes of training and cooking internationally and across the US. Chef Adam Goetz who was days away from opening a new resto called Crave has previously been Executive Chef Saucier at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
What do you want people to know about the food scene and chefs in Buffalo?
I want visitors to understand that while we may be known for chicken wings, limiting the understanding of our food scene to a common bar snack is not unlike assuming NYC is made of nothing but pizza. We share the same terroir as Ontario, so those restaurants that focus on local, seasonal fare are as adept and capable as a good Toronto restaurant. We also have more independent restaurants per capita, than many other cities our size, with very few chains located within the city limits. An abundance of young, engaged, well-traveled chefs have returned to open their own restaurants here, and while it may not obvious to those who come to Buffalo to see a game or shop at the mall, there is a groundswell of passion here for the excellent dining experiences that can be had.
What frustrates you about people’s perception of the Buffalo culinary scene?
It makes me sad to think that visitors choose to eat at chain restaurants. If I thought that Toronto was only the few blocks surrounding the Air Canada Centre or the inside the Eaton Centre, I’d have missed out on so many amazing, delicious meals! And while it would be wrong of us not to embrace the Buffalo chicken wing as part of our city’s edible history, it is not the summation of our region.
What is your goal with Nickel City Chef?
Nickel City Chef seeks to showcase Buffalo’s culinary talent, giving a proper stage to our hardworking chefs and skilled farmers.
The secret ingredient was fresh cheese: mozzarella and burrata from Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile
Felix making choices at Nickel City Cheese
As for the menu, here it is. Both were outstanding, especially given the limited time but Chef Edward Forster won the competition…this time.
— Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz, Crave
Nickel City Sous Chef DJ Cook
Fresh Mozzarella and OrangeAgnolotti
Braised swiss chard, tomato, pecans, brown butter
Pancetta, fine herbes, carrot mousse, peppered buratta medallion
Rack of Lamb
Burrata polenta, asparagus, red pearl onion, spicy squash, beech mushroom, fried mozzarella, tomato beurre rouge, herbed burrata quenelle
Course 3: Cheese Course
Buratta, wild mushroom crostini, tomato strawberry chutney, herbed parmesan shortbread, balsamic, fresh mozzarella, pine nut brittle, compressed watermelon, kalamata powder —
Challenging Chef Edward Forster, Mike A @ Hotel Lafayette
Challenging Sous Chef Scott Crombie Course 1:
Fresh Mozzarella Salad ( I LOVED THIS)
Pine nuts, herbs, hay smoked mozzarella, olive tapenade
Braised barley, English peas, black barley burrata, pea-stained whey broth
Warm Mozzarella Tart
Rhubarb and strawberry compote, long pepper, almond
The Mansion (of my dreams) on Delaware
And one last thing–for an amazing weekend getaway, book some dinners in this emerging culinary destination and stay at the Mansion on Delaware. So beautiful, so comfy, so luxurious….the service impeccable but relaxed. Amazing buffet breakfast and lovely happy hour in the beautiful sitting rooms. We will be back as soon as we can. Leaving is not easy.
Hey everyone– just a reminder that the annual cheese festival taking place in Picton on June 1-2 is not so far away. Perhaps farther than Spring…..but perhaps not. Sigh.
It’s an amazing weekend where you can sample cheese from across the country (Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair) while sipping local wine or cider and there are some fantastic seminars about everything from pairing beer and cheese, wine and cheese, different types of milk, Quebec cheese and so on. Plus all the dinner—Jamie Kennedy’s shin dig is sadly sold out–sorry.
As a special promotion for Cheese and Toast I can offer you a promo code to get yourself a discount on the event—just a little THANK YOU to all the people who follow the site.
Get 25% off tickets for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival by entering the promotional code CF13TOAST before starting your online ticket order ONLINE here. Good only on tickets purchased online in advance of the Festival on June 1-2. Visit cheesefestival.ca for information on the Festival.
Kelsie is back with an amazing video about the festivities at Fromagerie Presbytere and some cool viz of cheesemaking taking place. If you want to read more search “Curds and Eh” in the sidebar. Or focus on Kelsie’s favourite new Canadian cheesemakers from 2012. -SR
People often ask me what my favourite cheese is and I find that it’s such a hard question to answer. I usually change the question and respond, “Oh there are so many, but right now I’m enjoying ___________” or “well, if you were to limit my choices to goat milk blue cheeses from the Gulf Islands in British Columbia then I’d have to choose_______.”
But I wouldn’t hesitate if someone restricted all my future cheese consumption to only one fromagerie (ie. cheese factory). Before the challenge left their mouth, I’d blurt out “Fromagerie du Presbytère!”
Making cheese at Fromagerie-du-Presbytere
The aptly named Fromagerie du Presbytère is based out of a renovated Presbyterian rectory in Ste-Élizabeth-de-Warwick in the Centre-du-Québec region. It is home to two cheese companies, Fromagerie du Presbytère, maker of the multi award-winning Louis d’Or (among others); and Fromagerie Nouvelle France, producer of the multi award-winning Zacharie Cloutier.
There are three main reasons why I’d choose this fromagerie: the passion of the cheesemakers, their extraordinary cheeses and the community that comes together to support them.
Jean Morin serves samples of Louis d’Or at the party
Jean Morin (Fromagerie du Presbytère) and Marie-Chantal Houde (Fromagerie Nouvelle France) are always smiling. They are welcoming and playful and their passion and love of cheese is obvious. Together, they are on a mission to make the best cheese in the world and seem to be having a great time doing it.
Laliberte cheese triple cream cheese
Between the two cheese companies, they make every style of cheese that I need. There are fresh cheddar curds, a rich triple cream, a sweet and creamy blue, a raw alpine style cheese, and a raw sheep cheese similar to Manchego. Both companies make extraordinary cheeses, the names of which often evoke the rich local heritage and culture.
Laliberté is named after Alfred Laliberté, a sculptor from Ste-Elizabeth-de Warwick who became a founding member of the Sculptors Society of Canada. Unlike his sculptures which were typically made from marble or bronze, the cheese is soft and melts in the mouth like butter. Laliberté is a triple cream with a bloomy rind and boasts flavours of vegetables, fresh mushrooms and cream. It’s a truly indulgent cheese.
Louis d’Or is named after a French gold coin and shares its name with the Morin family farm. This cheese is made in 40kg wheels, has a nutty flavour similar to a Swiss Gruyere and seems to win every competition in which it’s entered. It was crowned the Grand Champion of the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, earned a 3rd Place (Best of Show) spot at the 2011 American Cheese Society competition, and won five awards at the 2012 Selection Caseus in Quebec.
Zacharie Cloutier has the same braided reed patterned rind as Manchego but lacks the wax coating of its Spanish ancestor. This washed rind cheese has flavours of nuts and hay and is one of my favourites (I have many favourites but sheep cheeses have a special place in my heart). Zacharie Cloutier shares its name with an early settler of New France who happens to be a distant relative of Marie-Chantal Houde (and other Canadian celebrities such as Alanis Morisette, Louis St Laurent, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion and Shania Twain, seriously).
Marie-Chantal separates the curds and whey
Recently, Jean and Marie-Chantal collaborated and released a cheese made from a combination of their milks, raw Holstein and Jersey milk from Presbytere and raw sheep milk from Nouvelle France. The resulting cheese is named Le Pioneer, weighs in at 40kg and has been aged for a year. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m anxious too. It promises to be another outstanding product from two of the very best cheesemakers in Canada.
The population of Ste-Élizabeth-de-Warwick literally doubles on Friday evenings during the warmer months of the year. Hundreds of visitors set up tables and chairs on the yard of the rectory where they enjoy fresh cheese with wine and beer. A retired baker bakes breads and sweets on site, musicians play from the balcony of the rectory, and people make new friends and catch up with old ones.
The Friday gatherings are, in a way, a celebration of fresh cheese. While visitors to the fromagerie eat, drink and are merry on the grounds of the rectory, Jean, Marie-Chantal and their team are busy making cheese inside. The fresh cheese is available at three stages during the production process:
4pm – Fromage de petit lait – curds in whey. To be eaten from a bowl with a spoon.
5pm – Slab cheese – unsalted, unmilled, slabs of cheese (this isn’t cheddar yet!). Customers can sprinkle salt to add extra flavour.
6pm – Fromage en grain – AKA cheddar curds. Straight from the vat to the customers! Warm curds are a real treat.
Louis D’Or at the American Cheese Society Competition
This past summer I spent a Friday evening at Fromagerie du Presbytère. Their Friday parties are, perhaps the most honest celebration of cheese I’ve witnessed. There’s no corporate sponsorship, no advertising, no pretension, and no need to buy tickets. It’s simply a bunch of cheese lovers coming together to celebrate the work of two talented cheesemakers.
Here’s a little video my buddy Ian Langohr and I put together about our experience.
Weather permitting, Fromagerie du Presbytère will host the first Friday fête of 2013 on April 19th and they will continue EVERY Friday afternoon until the autumn.
I seriously hope no one will actually restrict all my future cheese consumption to just one fromagerie but if they did I think Fromagerie du Presbytère would be a great pick.
Now, if you were challenged to only eat cheese from a single fromagerie (it doesn’t have to be French), who would you choose and why? (You can be sneaky like me and choose two if you want)
And seriously, how can you actually choose one cheese to be your favourite!?
We drove to the Zuni Cafe straight from the airport with loads of time to get there. Or so we thought since we allowed not too much thought for finding parking (you’d think coming from Toronto…) but I suppose we were in vacation mode.
Anyway, 40 minutes later, many one way streets and devastating parking spot “sightings” that were not parking spots because the street cleaner has priority wed between 12-2pm we found a place. And headed down to the Zuni Cafe
The famous made-to-order Caesar salad and house cured anchovies.
“Billy West opened Zuni Café in 1979, with a huge heart and exactly ten thousand dollars. In the early years, the restaurant consisted of a narrow storefront with a creaky mezzanine, roughly one quarter of its current size. To capitalize on the neighboring and highly visible corner cactus shop, (where Billy had been a partner, until it became clear cactus sales wouldn’t support three partners), he hand-plastered the walls and banquettes of his new space to give it a southwestern adobe-look. He chose the name Zuni, after the native American tribe, and decided to offer mostly simple and authentic Mexican food, drawing inspiration from Diana Kennedy’s cookbooks. A Weber grill was an important early investment, and was rolled on to the back sidewalk for each day’s service. Next came an espresso machine, which doubled as a stove since you could scramble eggs with the milk steamer.”
Tad’s lunch: roasted quail…
I started with a glass of white wine (my actual request was local and not excessively oaky) and ended up with a lovely glass of minerally Zuni Chardonnay which hails from a vinyard in Santa Cruz. Felix has the best apple juice he’s ever sipped-organic, fresh pressed. Tad had an Anchor Steam beer. His main was the Wolfe Ranch quail with quail egg, pan-fried sweet potatoes, kale salad and harissa.
It looked a lot less phallic when it was on the table in front of me I promise you.
I really was torn about posting my lunch photo which was described as house-made Llano Seco Ranch fennel sausage (so juicy and delicately flavoured it was heavenly) with escarole, roasted Yellow Finn potatoes, cracklings, watermelon radish and caper-shallot vinaigrette— but somehow my photo has turned it into something phallic. Avert your eyes if you have to.
So while Felix used the best manners at his disposal to finish his pasta and tomato sauce (with a side of fennel sausage) Tad and I decided we made the wrong decision by skipping the fresh oysters and remedied the situation.
We shared a pair of Pacific Hog Island Oysters (bottom, from Tomales Bay just north of San Fran) and Marin Miyagi’s (top, also from Tomales Bay). Here is a great blog piece about the Tomales Bay oysters and area. We liked the Hog Island the best, lighter and a little sweeter but both were lovely–the ocean in your hand.
And then dessert. Meringue crisps, coffee and chocolate whipped cream with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds. With a coffee. And Felix only ate a bit–too full. Spoils for me.
Moe proof we were in San Francisco–Felix watching the cable car being turned.
Anchor and Hope on Minna Street
Our second day we went for lunch at the Anchor and Hope (thanks Janice!) Here is their lunch menu-there was definitely a business lunch scene happening but the overall atmosphere is casual, open and funky space with huge nautical ropes strung around the ceiling beams.
Kettle Chips and garlicky aioli arrive when seated.
And would have been nice had we all been there at the same time–again not knowing the parking secrets, it took Tad about 35 minutes to park and finally Felix and I had to order without him. I had the Cubano, roasted pork, jamon de paris, swiss cheese, pickles, Dijon, taro chips and Tad had their extremely juicy burger. Felix had their fries, aioli and ketchup. (yes, I just gave in to maintaining calm child while people negotiated business around us.)
The beer menu was impressive and long and a satisfying read in itself if you like beer.
S’long San Francisco…..may we only ever take the amazing vintage style trolley next time we visit.
HMM, I guess the above menu could have used an outline or something. Well, let’s just call it free form blogging.
So I am off to San Francisco tomorrow and still have to pack, wash hair, pay some bills, charge iPad, iPhone and laptop, remember to pack passports, panic that I forgot to pack passports, panic that my name does not match my passport on my ticket and figure out how to wake at 4-year-old gently at 4am knowing we have 15 minutes to be out of the house.
And snacks. Must pack snacks.
But otherwise–check out the deliciousness that will greet me at 1pm California Time. Will report back from the ZUNI Cafe.
And did I mention my reservation at Chez Panisse? Oh boy oh boy.