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Mango Salsa- so simple so awesome

Mango Salsa

Hello on Friday!  A sunny Friday even.  Just a quick post if you needed some inspiration for the weekend or for a Father’s Day menu item.

Here’s my easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy recipe- (as Felix would say).

Mango Salsa

Makes about 1 cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup finely diced mango (about 1 large mango)

½ cup finely chopped red onion

2-3 tbsp lime juice

2 tsp rice vinegar

Pinch salt

1 tsp sugar

3 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro.

½ teaspoon chopped chili

 Method

1. In a small bowl, combine mango, red onion and cilantro.  Now add the lime, rice vinegar, salt and mix together. Taste and add 1 tsp sugar if needed.

2. Add some chopped chili if you want to add zing.

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Go East for Cheese! Meet Adam Blanchard, Newfoundland’s one-man cheese stop

Adam Blanchard with his smoke Cheddar

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

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??).

You can read more about Adam in my Globe piece (get that thing tweeting for the East Coast!)  and also get Kelsie Parson’s perspective on cheese and the food scene from his visit to Newfoundland last year.

Canadian Cheese Festival Wide

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

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…

Felix riding Yvette

…  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.

Sampling wine and cheese

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

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

One of my all-time favourites.  The Avonlea clothbound cheddar, gorgeous as always.

Samples at the Cheese Fest

Or perhaps you prefer a bloomy rind?

Tania

Or tasting the “new aged”- like the latest cheese from Finica (makers of the Lindsay Clothbound Cheddar) called Tania.

Days end at the Picton harbour Inn

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…..

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Sparkling Lavender Lemonade

Lemonade

Partially I am posting this because the picture itself makes me think of sun and patio and holidays.  Which makes me immediately thirsty.

Tad and I pulled this one together for another one of the Globe Quick fix recipes, but it really is tasty and I wanted to share the simple recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup dried lavender buds

Juice of 1 fresh lemon (50 ml)

3 cups sparkling water (such as San Pellegrino)

1/4 cup agave syrup

Method

In a small pot, add water and dried lavender buds (you can buy them online or at most specialty food stores). Bring to a simmer for 7-8 minutes until reduced. Strain the infused liquid – you should have about 1/4 cup. Place in the fridge to cool.

Juice the lemon and add to a pitcher with sparkling water. Mix in agave syrup and lavender infusion and serve immediately.

Tip: This ratio works for me, but you may want to add the lavender infusion and agave gradually to adjust the desired sweetness and floral intensity.

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Fifth Town is back (and Cape Vessey with it!)

Fifth Town a platinum Leed facility is set to reopen its store in June

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 .

For my full piece and more details see The Wedge- Fifth Town article in Globe Food today.

CAPE VESSEY (image from dobbernationloves.com)

CAPE VESSEY (image from dobbernationloves.com)

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.

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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.)

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Asparagus Season–make pesto with your spring veggies

photo by Tad Seaborn

photo by Tad Seaborn/ click to enlarge  (not to enrage)

Here’s a recent favourite for the Globe “Quick Fix” column.  The recipe is with the article HERE.

It’s so hard not eat a whole lot of pine nuts when making pesto–almost mindlessly–and then I keep reminding myself that they’re a kazillion dollars for a handful–probably worth more than Jack’s beanstalk seeds.  But so yummy.

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And a little reminder if anyone is thinking about attending the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton June 1-2, you can get a discount through the blog.  Hope to see you there!

SR

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Nickel City Chef = I’m sold on fine dining in Buffalo (yep, time to forgo those wings)

The Coin Toss

The Coin Toss between Chef Forster and Chef Goetz

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 trying to beat the clock.

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.
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Challenging Chef Edward Forster of Mike A @ Hotel Lafayette has trained under chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Vong’s in London and been sous-chef under Chicago’s Graham Elliott.
The beautiful kitchen turned studio where the Nickle City Chef Competiton was held

The beautiful kitchen turned studio where the Nickle City Chef Competiton is held

The event took place in stunning and  fully restored turn-of-the-century warehouse on Buffalo’s west side.  My fellow judges were fellow Torontonian Chef John Horne of Canoe (@ChefHorne) and Buffalo Spree journalist/food writer Alan Bedenko  (@buffalopundit).

The judges- with John Horne of Canoe and Buffalo Spree journalist/food writer Alan Bedenko

Organized by  Feed Your Soul Productions which was founded by food writer Christa Glennie Seychew, I spoke to Christa about the food scene in Buffalo-and what she hopes to achieve through the competition.
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 picking cheese at Nickle City Cheese

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.

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Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz, Crave
Nickel City Sous Chef DJ Cook

Course 1:

adam 1

Fresh Mozzarella and OrangeAgnolotti
Braised swiss chard, tomato, pecans, brown butter

Crispy Sweetbreads
Pancetta, fine herbes, carrot mousse, peppered buratta medallion
adam 2

Course 2:

Rack of Lamb
Burrata polenta, asparagus, red pearl onion, spicy squash, beech mushroom, fried mozzarella, tomato beurre rouge, herbed burrata quenelle

adam 3

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)

ed 1

Pine nuts, herbs, hay smoked mozzarella, olive tapenade

ed 2

Course 2:

Mozzarella-stuffed Quail

Braised barley, English peas, black barley burrata, pea-stained whey broth

ed 3

Course 3:

Warm Mozzarella Tart

Rhubarb and strawberry compote, long pepper, almond

Mansion on Delaware

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.

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Best in Show: Quality Cheese Ricotta almost like eating cream–and why fresh cheese is trendy

The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Champion

The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Champion

Trying to spread the word about all the Grand prix winners and especially about the Grand Prix Champion, the first time a fresh cheese came out on top and a first for Ontario as well.  This really opens the door in all categories at the Grand Prix for any cheese to win and is a fantastic sign of the quality we should be looking for as all sorts of fresh cheese become more popular with all the different cultures and their cuisines permeating our country-especially as Latin American styles of cheese become more available.

Here is a bit from my article in the Globe, click on the link below to read the whole thing and please spread the word!

There was a dark horse contender at the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. In February, I was part of an eight-member jury that blind-tasted 225 cheeses over two days with unexpected results: When the individual scores were totalled, the top prize went to a simple ricotta. This unpretentious cheese had garnered exceptional grades in technical and aesthetic evaluation, surpassing the bloomy rinds, the washed rinds and the aged Goudas.

Read the whole article to find out more about how this cheese was made from a traditional Italian recipe and the first in Canada to be sold in individual molds purchased from Italy.

You can see the basket the ricotta comes in behind the cheese.

You can see the basket the ricotta comes in behind the cheese.

If you would like to hear a little more about the judging I wrote about it in this piece.   Thanks for supporting Canadian cheese.

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