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Brazil

Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America. The first vineyards were planted by Portuguese immigrants in 1532, and in 1626 Jesuit priests introduced Spanish grape varieties that failed to yield satisfactory quality due to the hot and humid climate. Much late, in the 18th century Portuguese immigrants from Azores brought varieties from Madeira and those also failed to thrive. Humidity and disease resistant American hybrids, e.g Isabella, thrived, but yielded mediocre quality wines at best.
In 1870 Italian immigrants established extensive vineyards in Sierra Gaucha in southern Brazil abutting the Uruguay border. Moet et Chandon from France started producing sparkling wines in 1970’s, and ever since many wineries switched at least some of their output to this style.
Today, more than any other style, sprinkling wine production dominates the industry. Some of the best are made using traditional varieties e.g chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier, but some very attractive sparkling wines are made from glera, Italian riesling, trebbiano and viognier, and blends thereof. Even some cabernet sauvignon and merlot are used.
Approximately 50 per cent of sparkling wines are made by the Champagne method. The biggest producers focus on brut wines, containing 8 – 15 grams of residual sugar per liter.
Brazil is spread over a vast territory and has varied climatic conditions. Rio Grande de Sul was the first region, and expanded to Planalto Catarinense just north of Porto Allegre, Campos de Cuna da Serra, Serra Gaucha, Serra do Sudeste, Campanha, and Vale dos Vinhedos, all of which are located in southern Brazil at 29 degree south latitude.
Brazil has three certified geographic regions for wine – Vale dos Vinhedos DO ( Designation of origin), Pinto bandeira ( Indication of origin), and Altos Montes (IP = Indication of provenance) Certifications stipulate grape varieties, yields per hectare, chaptalisation, and yeast species allowed.
The preferred varieties for wine production are : cabernet sauvignon, merlot, tannat, pinot noir, tempranillo, touriga nacional for reds, and chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, viognier, gewurztraminer for whites. Experiemental varieties are also planted.
The soils vary between sandy mixed with granite, and limestone, clay with pebble stones, and alluvial. New vineyards are planted on high altitudes up to 1400 meters above sea level.
These regions are in the Plan Alto Catarinense abutting the border with Uruguay.
Generally, the most successful wines of Brazil are sparkling , which comply with legal regulations.
Sweetness levels of Brazilian sparkling wines are defined as follows: Nature 0 – 3 grams of residual sugar Extra brut 3 – 8 grams of residual sugar Brut 8-15 grams Sec 15 – 20 grams Demi-sec 20 – 60 grams Doce/Doux 60 +
The following sparkling wine producers are considered to be the best:
Cave Geisse
Enos Vinhos de Boutique Vallontano
Arte de Vinha
Guatambu
Vinha Buna
Domino do Brazil

BOOK REVIEW: FOOD, SEX, AND SALMONELLA

FOOD, SEX, AND SALMONELLA

Dr. David Waltner-Toews

Greystone Publishing, Douglas and McIntyre Publishing Group

$ 22.95 soft cover

The author, a veterinarian by training, tells it like it is. Food, Sex, and Salmonella is a book every professional cook, homemaker, and culinary student must read to understand how “modern” food is produced, “inspected”, distributed, and the politics in all the steps before it finally ends up in kitchens.

The book is full of facts, science, and diseases caused by contaminated foods. It may save the lives of your family or yours and help professionals understand the implications of poor handling of raw or cooked food.

As a consumer you will be well equipped to make reasoned decisions about your food choices, what to avoid, and what type for restaurants to frequent in your home town or while traveling.

This book is all the more timely that unprecedented amount6s of food already on retailers’ shelves have been recalled and continue to be recalled in North America.

The good doctor explains how “factory produced” chicken, pork, and unnaturally fed cattle become contaminated. Unscrupulous huge-volume slaughterhouses also contribute occasionally to already questionable practices by some farmers.

“Eating is one of the great sensual pleasures of life. It is that fuzzy sense of mystical at-oneness with the world meets, and celebrates hard biological necessity. When we eat we are, quite literally, turning the world outside in.” writes Dr. Walter-Toews, and it is here that all sins knowingly or out-of-ignorance start creating havoc with one person or hundreds.

In most industrialized western countries significant amounts of foods are imported, and occasionally contaminated foods enter the food chain creating unforeseen tragedies. Agencies in charge of checking all the foodstuffs entering the fast-paced distribution network cannot keep track of everything. More importantly, much of the imported food is relatively safer; North American food production occurs in assembly line fashion with little regard to safety and flavour. Much of this is due to reduce production costs and keep prices low. The author addresses all these problems and more by scientifically explaining causes, embellishing them with real life stories and all these with unequalled humour.

In short, this is a book to keep on your bookshelf after reading it thoroughly, keep referring to it from time to time.

BOOK REVIEW: FAR TO GO

FAR TO GO

Alison Pick

House of Anansi Press, Toronto

280 pages $ 29.95

Far to Go is an emotion evoking book for all who have experienced similar situations as explained in the narrative.

It sheds light on what the Nazi regime of the Third Reich under Hitler, and how it proceeded to achieve its objective.

Far to Go is a book that shows how cruel human begins can be, and destroy one another in the most despicable ways imaginable.

It reminds me of the pogroms the Ottoman Empire under the guidance and planning of Talat pasha, who was responsible for the execution of a great number (one-and-a-half million), Armenians. It was done in a more cruel and inhuman way.

Far to Go, Alison Pick is fast paced, full of suspense, moving, and unique. It is a page-turner to learn techniques used by so called “cultured and sophisticated” people and their “brainwashed” army officers.

Alison Pick’s style is clean, crisp, and unencumbered. She cerates “moments” that are both lovely and frightening.

The author has a knack for narrative, and has researched content very well for this haunting story.

In the millennia of the human existence, many man-made pogroms have occurred, and one would hope that history teaches us how to avoid the repetition of such unspeakably cruel acts, yet there is no guarantee that such cruelty won’t happen in the future. Think of Tutsis and Hutus, the recent war in Iraq and how the rights and security of the minority who lived there for millennia were compromised.

The only way we can try to prevent them from occurring is by studying history, and be constantly alert about political developments, and what Alison Pick has tried to accomplish in this book.

Highly recommended

BOOK REVIEW: CATCHING FIRE

CATCHING FIRE

Richard Wrangham

Basic Books, New York

309 pages $ 33.95

Darwin theorized that intelligence and adaptability make us human.

Renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents in Catching Fire a startling and plausible alternative – cooking. His theory shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution.

Cooking, as explained in this extremely well researched book, has changed the whole body and how it has functioned over millennia.

Modern food and cooking techniques may contribute to further changes in the functioning of the human body.

Catching Fire is brilliantly conceived and written which may change a lot of theories about our evolution.

Professor Wrangham studied tribes in Asia and how they think about fire, and how it distinguishes us from animals, since none of them has ever been observed to make fire.

Quotes from different authors at the beginning of each chapter are enlightening like:

”Domestication of fire probably enacted on man’s physical development as has on his culture, … “, Kenneth Oakley, (Social Life of early Man), lead into author’s thoughts.

The good professor theory is convincing and should be further explored by researchers of archaeology, anthropology and other related disciplines.

This is a fascinating book that explores the daily routine of cooking and how it changed over time, also how it changed the way the human body functions.

The question is why no scientist before the good professor thought and wrote about it.

This is a highly recommended book for anyone interested in our evolution.

PROFESSOR B’s EVERYDAY WINE SUGGESTIONS

PROFESSOR B’S EVERYDAY WINE RECOMMENDATIONS

Drinking a glass of red wine daily helps you enjoy your meal more, prolongs your life and facilitates your digestion.

If you happen to like sweet , fortified red wine, try a glass of port

After an extended meal or in front of the fireplace with your family, or simply to watch the flames “ dance”.

Red wines

Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018, Montes Alpha, Chile

$ 19.95

322586

Cbrnet Sauvignon, 2018, Trapiche, Argentina

$ 12.95

614669

Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018, 19 Crimes Winery, Australia

$ 16.95

461525

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2018, Fantini, Italy

$ 6.95

LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) Port, 2015, Taylor-Fladgate, Portugal

$ 16.40

CHABLIS

CHABLIS

Chablis, located halfway between Paris and Dijon, and world-famous for its crisp, fruity and minerally white wines reflects the history of France perfectly.

Romans were the first to plant vines here, and under the reign of Probus in the third century A D vineyards were replanted.

Two centuries later, the first written records of Chablis tell that Sigismond, the first Christian king of the Duchy of Burgundy established a monastery dedicated to Saint Loup. The village of Chablis grew slowly. By 842, Charles Le Chauve built a church dedicated to St Mary. When Vikings invaded their monasteries in the Loire Valley (867), the monks of Tours in the Loire Valley sought refuge in Chablis.

During the Middle Ages, monks were the best educated and most fervent wine producers. They knew by trial and error that chalky soil yields fine wine grapes, and Chablis has Kimmeridigian soil composed of billions fossilized oysters, much like the town of Kimmeridge in England. The name of the soil type originates there.

In the 14th century, Chablis wines were exported to England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the U S A and Russia.

Today, Chablis has 4540 hectares under vines and produces four quality levels, starting with the best;

Chablis Grand Cru (100 hectares) only seven southeast facing vineyards are so classified

Chablis Premier Cru (760 hectares)

Chablis (3020 Hectares)

Petit Chablis (660 hectares)

The Grand Cru vineyards are: Les Clos (26 hectares); Vaudesir (15 hectares); Valmur (120 hectares); Blanchot (12 hectares); Bougros (15 hectares); Preuses (10 hectares), and Grenouilles (9 hectares). Each has distinct flavour and textural characteristics reflecting nuances of the terroir.

In Chablis the maximum legal yield is 58 hectoliters/hectare, although in reality the average is 48.

The secret in Chablis is the composition of soil, climate and yield. The lower the yield, the more concentrated the falvour of the wine, which must contain exclusively chardonnay.

There are 500 producers and one co-operative – La Chablisienne

In Chablis, vintages matter a great deal, since the region is climatically marginal and suitable weather occurs three to four times a decade.

In order to preserve the crisp acidity and fruit, Chablis is usually not barrel aged, but of late a five wineries started introducing oak aging for short periods (two to three months) in an attempt to achieve an additional taste dimension.

Reputable wineries large enough to export are: William Favre, J. Moreau, Domaine de Malandes, Jean Marc Brocard, Christian Moreau, Domaine Louis Michel. There are many more small producers but seldom export to Canada.

Chablis go well with oysters on the half shell with a few drops of lemon juice, boiled or broiled lobster, poached salmon with sauce hollandaise, or cold poached salmon with truffles butter or grilled scallops with herbed extra virgin olive oil, chicken breast Sandeman just to name a few.

When buying Chablis watch the vintage. Poor vintages are too acid and light.

CAVEAT EMPTOR

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Ontarians living in major cities seem to be looking more and more for fresh food, and most are willing to pay for perceived or advertised freshness.

First, allow me to point out that commonly used terms such as fresh, free-range, sushi-grade, grain-fed, cellar select, vintner’s select or grain-fed are not legislated, and if they were, there is no agency in control.

Fresh is a very abused term and depends very much on the imagination of retailers. Fresh fish by definition should be caught on the same day it is sold.  

In Toronto, except for lake fish, this is impossible unless the fish is flown in from the Atlantic Provinces or Boston. These days, fresh means pretty much not frozen! Sushi-grade tuna is another meaningless term, since the freshest fish that arrives is already reserved for top sushi restaurants. Then there is the so-called farmed and wild salmon. Wild Atlantic salmon tastes much better and has a firm texture and much more satisfying flavour, but most salmon sold as wild is actually farmed and no agency seems to control the veracity of claims by fishmongers.

Grain-fed and/or free-range chicken is both abused adjectives that rarely reflect the truth. Grain-fed should e the chicken was fed at least for a few weeks mainly on corn and/or other cereal, not a few grains here and there. Free-range chicken in winter is an anachronism, no consumer should believe. How much chicken would survive even 20 minutes at – 30 C in winter?

The term-dry aged for beef sirloin is bandied about at prices, which are too low to reflect that very fact. Dry-aged sirloin shrinks much more than cryovac-packed refrigeration-aged beef, and by definition must be significantly more expensive than the wet aged product. Dry-aged beef is dark in colour and smells more intense. Butcher shops use special lighting to make the meat look darker.

Law calls eggs that 21 days old can still called fresh. Anyone who has tasted a truly fresh egg that was just laid instantly recognizes the taste difference of a 21day old “fresh” egg.

There are restaurant menus that claim all kinds of geographical distinctions without adhering to them. If you see Atlantic wild salmon on any restaurant menu, just ask for the manager and insist that he/she produces the invoice for you. Similarly, a restaurant may claim dry-aged Albert Angus beef sirloin. Ask for the invoice. No manager will show you any invoice, since he/she will just say “you don’t  trust me”. This has nothing to do with trust, but simply with verification, as late American president R. Reagan famously claimed:”Trust but verify”.

In Europe special government inspectors walk in any restaurant and are entitled to ask for invoices of controlled appellations foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Brie from Meaux, Camembert from Normandy, Ementhal from Switzerland, chicken from Bresse, salmon from Scotland, butter form Normandy, asparagus from Lauris, or Belgium, just to name a few.

If the restaurateur cannot produce the invoice, the establishment is fined, may be closed for a few days, and worse, local press includes it in the news.

There are very few western European restaurants that would take chances with misrepresentation of food.

 Yet many restaurants in Toronto claim to use authentic caviar; in reality they use white fish caviar at a fraction of the cost of the authentic product.

Many also advertise to serve champagne and orange juice for brunch, but  the true  champagne is replaced with a sparkling wine from a country that simply produces sparkling wine at a much lower price.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is substituted with  a similar cheese form New Zealand, or worse Wisconsin, Grana-Padano from Italy, but certainly not the authentic product. Occasionally pecorino Romano may be substituted for the original cheese from Parma in Emilia-Romagna.

The list goes on!

“Buyer beware”, is more apt term today than when Romans first invented it!

BREAKFAST – THE BEST BRITISH MEAL

BREAKFAST – IS THE BEST MEAL FOR THE ENGLISH

Novelist Somerset Maugham claimed English breakfast to be the best meal of the day and recommended serving it three times a day.

English cuisine is better known for its lack of refined and heavenly specialties, yet breakfast represents an exception. Here the British cooks excel. Although British Isles yield fine beef, excellent fish, superb vegetables, great berries, apples, pears and all kinds of tree fruits, butter, cheese, and jams, English chefs have never achieved the level of excellence of their French counterparts.

French breakfast are skimpy affairs consisting mainly of croissants or baguettes served with butter and jam, and copious amounts of café au lait, but lunch and dinner are a different matter altogether.

An English breakfast starts with porridge and cream, a boiled or fried egg, served along with a few rashers of bacon or Canadian back bacon, or dainty pork sausages. Often baked beans on toast accompany eggs accompany egg dishes. (Toast is fried with lard). Coffee or tea is available for generous pours.

For those with a big appetite, grilled tomatoes are available, so are more toast butter and jam. Shortbread cookies conclude the meal.

In the country estates of the nobility breakfasts took a different dimension. The family took an early morning ride, and after freshening up, a buffet groaning with the following was awaiting them: eggs any style  (scrambled, fried sunny side up, easy over, omelettes, boiled, coddled, poached), sausages, grilled kidneys, rashers of bacon, ham, porridge, cold cereals, kippers, kedgeree (smoked haddock and rice), grilled tomatoes, game stew, home fried potatoes, grilled pheasant breasts, game pies, hams, toast, country breads, quince and apple jellies, marmalade, coffee and tea). Even today in well-managed upscale British Bed and breakfast establishments English breakfast is an attraction and much appreciated by tourists.

English must have understood naturally that a substantial breakfast is much better than a heavy dinner from a nutritional perspective, and healthier than a skimpy muffin, a glass of orange juice and instant coffee like most North Americans do.

Practically all medical literature recommends a substantial breakfast, light lunch and even lighter dinner. Surprisingly, in a time-pressed, modern society, people do the reverse with much unexpected and unpleasant results over time.

For many years now, hotels in Toronto have been offering sumptuous brunch buffets along the lines of an English country breakfast, and judging from long line-ups, their popularity continues although prices outpaced inflation.
Cowboys in the west get-up early and start working only after enjoying a large steak, home fried potatoes, a few fried extra-large eggs, orange juice and a few cups of coffee!

They need the calories and energy since their work demands a lot of energy!

AUSTRALIAN WINE INDUSTRY FACTS

AUSTRALIAN WINE INDUSTRY FACTS

Australia is the world’s largest island continent, home to approximately 20 million people. This large country, the size of continental U S A, offers a stunning diversity and picturesque grandeur, with a variety of man-made and natural wonders – Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and the Uluru in the center of the country and sacred to the aboriginals.

Across this huge continent, weather varies from cold to cool to warm, with soil types varying from deep black volcanic loams to sandy soils over gravel and rich red clays over limestone allowing winemakers to create wines of stunning diversity.

Australian winemakers blend masterfully to create products to please the palates of young and old alike. They aim to create wines to please the palates of different market segments and taste preferences. Continental Europeans prefer acid-driven, subtle wines, whereas English and North Americans like more fruit-driven products. The laws are designed to accommodate such blending practices.

This is the secret of Australian wines phenomenal success in large markets, i.e. the USA, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Entry- and mid-priced wines correspond to market demands.

High-end wines are highly individualistic and reflect the terroir very well. A Barossa shiraz is easily distinguishable from a shiraz from the Hunter Valley or for that matter one from Western Australia.

Tasmania produces wines more like Central European countries due to its climate.

Some markets are price sensitive and winemakers happily oblige.

Presently 167 thousand hectares are under vines yielding an average of one-and-a-half billion liters of wine. The industry boasts over 2000 wineries and exports to 111 countries. It is the fourth largest wine exporter in the world

Only two huge wine organizations control close to 90 per cent of the market. Fosters Group Ltd, BRL Hardy are the largest conglomerates. The former owns Penfold’s, Lindeman’s, Wolf Blass among others, the latter is owned by the largest wine organization in the world called Constellation Brands.

Australian wineries exporting must submit samples to ensure that the product is chemically sound.

Tasmania, discovered by the Dutch captain Abel Tasman, is a cool climate region and has increased vineyards acreage by 170 per cent in one year. You can expect to see spectacular pinot noirs, chardonnays, rieslings and sparkling wines from this region in the near future.

Australia is famous for its full-bodied fruit-driven chardonnay and shiraz yet other varieties grow well in many regions, ie. pinot noir in the Yarra Valley, Victoria and Tasmania, riesling in Margaret River, Western Australia and Clare Valley, South Australia, sémillon in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and mourvedre in Coonawara and other sub-regions of South Australia.

Pinot gris, viognier, barbera, marsanne, and tempranillo are some of the other grape varities that grow well in different regions of the country. It is matter of time to establish the best terroir for any of the above.

Large Australian export-oriented wine organizations like Foster’s market their wines aggressively in the U S A, the U K and Canada, and other potentially promising markets.AUSTRALIAN

BOOK REVIEW : THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FOOD PAIRING

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FOOD PAIRING

Peter Coucquyt, Bernard Lahousse, Johann Langenbick

Firefly Book, Buffalo, New York, Richmon Hill, Ontario, Canada

387pages, $ 59.95, US $ 49.95

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FOOD PAIRING approaches the question of

of foods in minute detail from both chemical and gustatory perspectives.

Traditionally, cooks paired locally grown or produced foods and wines. This was a logical evolution, but now many foods are grown in other regions where they originate e.g kiwi is indigenous to China, but now New Zealand produces the majority of this fruit, and Greece, Italy, Chile, and California produce and ship kiwi worldwide. Yet all have a slightly different taste due to terroir variations.

Bernard Lahousse is a bio-engineer, Peter Coucquyt a chef, and Johan Langenbick an entrepreneur with tech-savvy background.

These three authors have created Foodpairing, and agency that researches and collaborates with chefs, bartenders, and culinary schools to invent new food pairings using imaginative combinations based on chemical and organoleptic analysis.

One of these new taste sensations is pairing kiwi with oysters. This seemingly contradictory food pairing works well because of the aroma profile of kiwi being fruity, slightly floral, spicy, grassy-scented aldehydes, and green aromas of oysters.

Key aromas such as acetic acid, methyl butanoate, furaneol and many others are analyzed for each of the 57 common vegetables and fruits with suggestions of best combinations.

Another unusual but seemingly outstanding pairing is kimchi (Korean fermented Chinese leaf lettuce) with foie gras.

Inspiring chefs, bartenders, culinary instructors, and sommeliers will find this superbly researched book indispensable for their daily activities in creating new taste sensations and increasing sales.

Well-heeled food connoisseurs and aficionados travel thousands of kilometres to experience new taste sensations and many chefs have been able to attract thousands of gourmets to their establishments, sometimes even creating a unique venue to showcase their unique pairings thousands of kilometres away.

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FOOD PAIRING is a unique informative book that deserves a permanent place in the library of any modern chef inspiring to contribute to culinary art, all gastronomy instructors, students, sommeliers and gourmets.

Highly recommended.