Tag Archives: cooking

My Love Affair with Walter – A F&B Romance

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My Love Affair with Walter – A F&B Romance

It started off with a teasing photo on someone’s Facebook page, which lead to some tasty shots on another’s Instagram feed and then he was staring me down on a friends counter top. Next I knew there was an introduction, the anticipation and well, the rest as they say, is history…Are your cheeks burning yet? This is no 50 Shades of Grey storyline…it’s a love affair with Walter – Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix that is.

 

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Over the years I’ve always had a few go-to drinks that I use if ever in doubt traveling and a Caesar has usually been in the mix with a good Dirty Martini or Sidecar – the kind of drinks that usually one can make at any standard bar. But as I and my healthy minded community have realized over the years, the standard mix for Caesars is just kind of , well full of a lot of junk like MSG (gives me blinding headaches), artificial colours & flavours and usually a High-fructose Corn Syrup which really is wrong on so many levels for our bodies. This is why I was so excited to be able to try Walter Caesar Mix – so much better and so tasty!

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Walter_MildlySpiced

Let’s break down the “Walter Difference”

  • ·         100% All-Natural Ingredients
  • ·         NO MSG
  • ·         NO Artificial Colours or Flavours
  • ·         No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • ·         Made in Small Batch Production
  • ·         Bottled in Premium Glass Bottles
  • ·         Comes in 2 Flavours – Well Spiced or Mildly Spiced
  • ·         It’s CANADIAN and launched by two fellow Vancouverites

All of these things honestly make an awesomely better tasting Caesar or straight up on its own if you like your tomato juice to have some zest and body!

I played around with the flavour and made up one heck of a tasty bevvie for myself on one of our now many snowy nights and this is what I came up with.

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A good amount of Walter Well Spiced, some lime juice, some premium vodka, some tasty garnishes (home-made Daikon pickles, bacon, and cucumber – my own snacky topper). The perfect blend of seasoning for me in the Well Spiced and on other days I most likely would add in even more heat.

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Currently you can find Walter at select BC and Ontario grocers, specialty food and gift shops, select restaurants and bars. For their complete, up-to-date list, visit their website at www.waltercaesar.com/find-us

I’m looking forward to my second hot date with Walter’s alter ego – Walter Mildly Spiced – just the right speed for a long week, snowed in on the proverbial “Hump” Day. Now just to sort out the tasty garnishes or perhaps think up some alternative recipes to use this amazing new all natural product in to further extend the tasty goodness of Walter.

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Go out and get some soon – it’s now a regular in my house for sure!

Much foodie love,

@TraveliciousDee

 

DISCLAIMER

This is a personal blog. All content is based on my opinions and experiences. I received Walter Products and Product Information from Walter All Natural Craft Caesar Mix  to review.

Deborah Peniuk  Freelance Writer. Dream Travel Maker. Health &Wellness Retreat Specialist and Master Planner of Culinary Adventures and Escapes. Enjoys Wine+Food+Travel+Music+Yoga+Good Humans

http://www.aya-life.com  www.lifeblissandallofthis.com

 

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All Things Food: A Little Pimentón Anyone ?

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Pimentón – translation – Spanish Paprika

Getting an invite to joing a group of foodie bloggers for a short form visit to local resto shop Pimentón, brought the flavours to start this foodie traveller’s senses aflame. The décor of the lime green and hot tamale red walls entice you to feel a little caliente and ready to consume some Mediterranean and Spanish taste pleasures. One must give immediate thanks to Mary Luz Mejia and Sizzling Communications for the invitation to come and enjoy such an amazing experience on a blustery night in Toronto.

“Venezuelan-born Jose Arato started his professional career as an accountant. One bite (or two) of sumptuous pastries lead him to reconsider his career choice. Upon completely switching gears and diving head-first into the culinary world, Jose interned at the Fairmont Royal York, worked as a chef de partie the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto and created ethereal pastries at some of the best shops in Toronto including Rahier, All the Best Fine Foods and Dessert Trends. He later staged in a prestigious chocolate program with Chef Sander Koenen in Caracas, Venezuela allowing him to gain a wealth of experience in various pastry styles and techniques. Approximately one year ago, he took over the Pimenton business from friend and mentor Lola Csullog-Fernandez who left Jose with her coveted Spanish recipes that he makes today, proudly in her memory and with a lot of amor.” ~M.L. Mejia

Imagine the people gathered for the class were writers and bloggers – all who share a passion for food! Our teacher – Chef José Arato who actually became a chef by way of accounting, then the pastry route. Follow him at @PimentonTO or check out the website at www.pimenton.ca .

We started the class then with a demo of how to make our dessert, best things first but you don’t get to eat until last because of preparation time : Ice Cream Turrón. The base of the ice cream was a simple vanilla custard and Chef José, who has worked as a pastry chef, did something so obvious that it made most of us gasp at the simple brilliance of it. While he was scraping the vanilla pods, he did what you would normally do and then well here it comes – ahh the simplicity of it – to ensure all the little seeds were used, he agitated the pod with the same sugar that vanilla was going into. As part of the finale of the end of the night, the ice cream was served with a drizzle of Tuccioliva Olive Oil and Sal de Ibiza. Delicious beyond belief!

We all participated in some of the prep work for the Paella a la Valenciana. There was about eight of us were stationed at cutting boards with knives ready waiting on our instructions from Chef Jose. Some diced juicy red peppers while others chopped the tear-making onions. Inch by inch pieces chef instructed and I did so diligently but not everyone did exactly as chef asked throughout the prep time stuff but it all worked out in the end as we had 3 pans of Paella to be making and sorted sizes of peppers ,onions and chicken between them all.

Frequent dashes to the hand washing station to make sure we were food safe was a bit of a dance move in between sampling all of the yummy appetizers that had been made in anticipation of our arrival. When it came time to clean the squid it all had a bit of a sensual nature to it and perhaps reminded some of us of things better left until after a wonderful meal! Chef taught us to clean the squid tubes by turning it inside out  – a trick I need to ensure I tell my mother about for future reference when she gets a notion to try something new.

An unforgettable cooking tip from Chef: Soak the mussels in water with a little flour first while they are still fresh and alive. The mussels will eat the flour and excrete a lot of the sand they contain and this will prevent getting a lot of sand in your paella dish or anything else you are using mussels for.

When we moved into the kitchen and hovered around the range it became clear paella isn’t exact cooking science; you eyeball it and guesstimate when it comes to the Bomba rice. Watching with both the naked eye and behind the lens, we all followed Chef José showed us when to put liquid in the pan, how to agitate – not stir – and how to finish the dish with a slightly crispy bottom.

Bomba Rice: A Spanish short-grain rice that when cooked, expands in width, which differs from most rice varieties that expand in length. It is able to absorb three times its volume in liquid, so it is one of the best rice varieties for the preparation of popular Spanish paella recipes. When cooked, the grains remain separate and do not stick together. Bomba rice is expensive compared to other rice varieties due to the care required in cultivation and the length of time required for it to mature. It is most often available in specialty shops and through mail order and you can do either at Pimentón.

RECIPES:

Sofrito: A basic classic tomato sauce that is made all over Spain.

Ingredients:

Good quality Olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1x 28-oz tin crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Directions: In a saucepan, heat olive oil, onion and garlic. Sauté for 6 minutes until fragrant . Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until some of the liquid has evaporated. Purée with an immersion blender. This recipe freezes amazingly well.

Chicken and Seafood Paella (Paella a la Valenciana) by Chef José Arato (Serves: 6-8)

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped coarsely
Pinch saffron, infused
4 chicken breasts cut up
2 squid, cleaned, cut into rings
16 small clams, soaked to remove sand
16 shrimp, shelled and deveined
Spanish Oil as needed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
Sofrito * see recipe above
3 cups Bomba rice
6 1/2 cup Chicken or Fish broth, hot
1 tablespoon salt (or more as needed)
1/2 cup green beans
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 lemon
2 sweet roasted red peppers
2 dozen mussels, steamed
Lemon wedges for garnish

Directions:

1. Place 1/2 cup of stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, and add the saffron and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside. This step is only necessary if your saffron is not dried enough.

2. In a mortar and pestle or small food processor, mash the garlic, parsley and some course salt to a paste. Set aside

3. Heat 6 tablespoons of oil in a paella pan and add the shrimp. Cook briefly and then add the clams and squid. Remove from paella pan. Add more oil if necessary, as dry paella can result if there isn’t enough oil. Add the onions, pepper and when these are soft but not brown. It’s time to add the sofrito, and the garlic/parsley & saffron mixtures. Add enough stock to come up the rivets of the paella pan. Bring to a boil. Squeeze the lemon and season the paella at this point. Add the rice in one line and then stir to mix with the stock. Allow to boil hard for 8 minutes.

4. After 8 minutes, add the green beans, peas and nestle the shrimp on top. DO NOT STIR, as this releases the starch in the rice. Continue cooking at a high roll for another 2-3 minutes or until the rice is no longer soupy but enough liquid remains to continue to cook the rice. Now, turn the heat to low. Place the mussels on the top of the rice and arrange strips of roasted red peppers on top of paella. If your paella bottom does not fit properly on the stove burner, continue cooking in a pre-heated 350F oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven when the rice still looks a bit wet. Cover with foil and let the paella rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley and serve from paella pan.

When all was said and done and we were all salivating, we were allowed to dig into our hard work – the Paella was amazing and Chef Arato prepared an Escalivada (grilled eggplant and pepper salad)  in advance and paired it all with a nice fruity Sangria, a squeeze of fresh lemon and all was set for a wonderful meal with new friends sharing a common bond in the kitchen.We finished off the meal with our amazing Ice Cream Turrón with a drizzle of Tuccioliva Olive Oil and Sal de Ibiza and Santiago Cake -Gluten Free Almond Cake – delish!

We all left with a little memory of leftovers and a sweet little gift from Chef to take home to get us started on our own versions of Paella.A huge thank you to Chef José for his patience and teachings with our group of eager learners in the kitchen!

Stop by for a visit to tantalize your tastebuds, share a little humour and enjoy the shopping experience to come home and create your own Spanish & Mediterranean themed food experiments at home. Or put together a group of friends, family or colleagues and take a cooking lesson on your own and learn the simple pleasures of the tasty meal we enjoyed on your own and know that you are in great hands with the staff at Pimentón. Look for an upcoming Sip N’ Learn session with AYA Life and Chef José soon! Learn about the wonders of Spain and the Mediterranean from a travel perspective while learning how to taste your way through a country.

Pimentón Spanish & Mediterranean Fine Food

681 Mount Pleasant Road

Toronto, ON

Tel: 647.343.4870

© Deborah Peniuk 2012

All Things Food: Tastes of Tuscany Brought to Toronto

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When foodie travel dreams take people to Italy – a little of Italy comes to Toronto

When foodie travel dreams take people to Italy, Tuscany is often their first stop. There’s something almost seductive & intimately charming about the region and its rustic good living. There is a lot to see and do in Tuscany; the true difficulty really, is where to start. Certainly most travelers should start with Florence, and then continue on to other top spots such as Siena and Pisa. The amazing list of “città di arte”(cities of art), is daunting: Arezzo, Cortona, San Gimignano and Lucca are all striking places to explore and the more you come to know the region, the more extraordinary Tuscany appears.

One mere kilometer from Siena immersed in a pristine countryside you’ll find a XIV century Carthusian monastery built in 1314, La Certosa di Maggiano. Among the first hotels in Italy to join the Relais et Chateaux Association, it turned into a Relais et Chateaux Hotel in 1978. This enchanting place which is dressed by light and natural luxury, carefully designed & interpreted by the famous architect/interior designer, Renzo Mongiardino.http://www.certosamaggiano.com

Immersed within 6 acres of parks and gardens, the Hotel Certosa di Maggiano offers to its visitors all the typical amenities of a luxury hotel with the addition of a gourmet restaurant, Il Canto, which it has been inducted since 2010 among the World’s Best 50 Restaurants.

The “art of the table” at Il Canto of Le Certosa di Maggiano brings people together throughout the pleasure of eating well while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding nature and the quality of the food ingredients that the chef Paolo Lopriore carefully selects and transforms enhancing their true essence and flavors.  “Il Canto” restaurant or “the chant” in Italian is home to one of Italy’s most noted courageous and innovative culinary artists, Chef Paolo Lopriore.

A mere kilometer away from the spectacular medieval city of Sienna, sits the Hotel Certosa di Maggiano- a 5-star, Relais et Chateaux property that was once a Carthusian monastery built in 1314. “Il Canto” is the hotel’s much lauded restaurant (considered one of the best restaurants in Italy, according to the Gambero Rosso Guide which awarded Il Canto its “Three Forks” title) where Chef Paulo Lopriore helms the kitchen.

A one-time student of Italian culinary master Gualtiero Marchesi (Milan), who has given title to Lopriore as his best pupil, the chef has also honed his craft in Florence at Enoteca Pinchiorri, France’s fabled Maison Troigros and at the Bagatelle in Oslo, Norway with Eyvind Hellstrom. These days, Chef Paulo Lopriore is known for creating a symphony of flavours by taking simple ingredients and elevating them to an art form, a modern twist on traditional Italian. By experimenting with textures and consistencies, using some of the raw, seasonal ingredients of Tuscany’s fertile countryside, it’s said a meal at Il Canto is a “multi-sensorial dining experience”. In 2002, he took over as Head Chef of Il Canto, moving up in ranking 39 in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011.

So imagine – the Stratford Chef School’s “International Celebrity Chef in Residence Series” brought Italian Culinary Maestro- Paolo Lopriore from Tuscany’s “Il Canto” to Ontario, Canada. Your tastebuds just might be tingling about now – if only you were a student chef – oh the enjoyable work you would be set upon in that kitchen! http://stratfordchef.com/

“According to the Stratford Chef School’s co-founder Eleanor Kane, bringing global culinary stars to Stratford is a key program that sets this culinary school apart.  “Providing first contact with international restaurant chefs is important in our recruitment strategy. During his 2010 visit to the Stratford Chefs School, Paolo’s creative use of ingredients, his exacting approach and attention to detail made a huge impact on students and our culinary instructors. We anticipate another exciting immersion into Italian cooking and culture” says Kane.”

Some of the dishes Chef Paulo Lopriore created and taught while in Stratford included:

  • Beef Carpaccio with Black Truffles
  • Riso al Nero di Seppia (Risotto in black squid ink)
  • Squab with Vin Santo
  • Lobster with Sweet Peppers

And the Desserts:

  • Meringata… Che Passion! (Meringue… What Passion!)
  • Semifreddo with Smoked Sugar

After a list of menu items like this -how can you not want to try and get in on the amazing talents that the Stratford Chef School brings in, but also hop on a plane and heading to Tuscany to visit Chef Paulo at Il Canto and enjoy a stay at Le Certosa di Maggiano – you definitely won’t be disappointed.http://www.relaischateaux.com/certosa

© Deborah Peniuk 2012

Photo Credits of Chef Paulo Lopriore to Terry Manzo of Zenfolio www.zenfolio.com

Passion + France = LOVE (a foodie crush)

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Foodie Love

There is nothing like meeting someone who is as passionate about what they do as you are and this was the case when I was invited to interview Michelin star Chef Alexandre Gauthier this January. A favoured choice by Alain Ducasse and Gordon Ramsay, Chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouillère participated in Stratford Chefs School’s Chef in Residence for the second time bringing Pascal (his maitre d’ hotel) and Nicholas (his sous chef).

As a week long event at the school(from January 24 through January 28, 2011), this allowed Chef Alexandre to work closely with the students, shopping daily for the evening’s menu and being a passionate mentor to the students for the evening services. The Celebrity Chef in Residence program offers students and staff of Canada’s premier culinary institute the opportunity to expand their culinary repertoire while learning from, and cooking with, the finest international chefs.

The family restaurant La Grenouillère, in Montreuil-sur-Mer, France is currently closed and experiencing a massive transformation into Chef Alexandre’s new vision and I for one am extrememly excited to see the final outcome. Not only will this be a reborn restaurant keen to a highlighted patron experience but also a 12 room Auberge with herb and flower gardens. (For those not in the know, an auberge is by definition: an inn or tavern providing overnight lodging for travelers) What an amazing experience this will become for those enjoying the new décor and the rustic, etheral setting with a small castle atop the hill in the backdrop and his fantastic cuisine.

Chef Gauthier has been the chef at La Grenouillère since 2003. The family restaurant is located in Montreuil-sur-Mer, France (a village mentioned in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables). He has worked with chefs Régis Marcon (Au Clos des Cimes), Michel Roth (Lasserre), and Grégory Coutanceau (Les Flots). In 2007, Chef Gauthier received his first Michelin star and brought back the star that had been missing from La Grenouillère since 2001.

The iconic chef Alain Ducasse encouraged Chef Gauthier’s talent early on in his career, inviting him to the famed Plaza Athénée to make two dishes (including an notable appetizer of soft & hard-shell clams- C’est tres bonne!). Chef Gauthier defines his cuisine as Cuisine Délurée (“smart”, “subtle”,”forward”,”impertinent and pertinent”), using French & Japanese techniques(offset plating) to create his distinctive dishes.

Amongst the many words that come across the many articles about this noteworthy chef – “radical”, “authentic”, “pertinent”, “provocative”, “wild”, “and “robust”.Chef Alexandre is the Ultimate recycler when it comes to ingredients and pays homage to all the food sources on his menu. He promises that there will be no “frontier” between the chef and the customer including lots of glass and open spaces with iron, leather and large fire pits to complete the new experience.

I would challenge anyone to not agree that this young chef, who has already accomplished so much, is an example of a Spiritual Entrepreneur who is following and actioning his dreams – making them a reality – great energy to be aligned with as a fellow entrepreneur myself.

When I asked this amazingly talented man to choose one word to describe him, he paused, challenged to find just one word and then said “PASSIONATE” et “UNCONVENTIONAL”. Certainly two words that make the tastebuds tingle in anticipation of the next outpouring from this extremely talented chef.

I will be taking a group to France later this year and will encorporate the short 2 hour drive from Paris to visit to the newly renovated resto & auberge to experience Chef Alexandre Gauthier on his own homefront stage.

Look for more about this amazing chef and upcoming trips designed by AYA Life.

Best dishes til then travellers and foodies alike.

Links::

Alexandre Gauthier

La Grenouillere www.lagrenouillere.fr

Alexandre Gauthier and William Elliott

Froggy’s Tavern www.froggystavern.com