Monday, 15 October 2012

Traditional French Meal in the Heart of Leslieville

Date night with a french flare is one of the few things  that my wife and I rarely have the chance to take advantage of. Fortunately we were been able to do a baby-sitting swap with our nieghbours across the street. They watch ours, we watch theirs, that kind of thing. I digress.

We made a reservation at a restaurant in Leslieville in the East end of Toronto. One of those "up and coming" areas that is actually "up and coming".

The restaurant is Fare Bistro. A lovely little place that strikes you as high end and the feel really is. In a traditional French style the atmosphere is fantastic. Quiet, yet not in the way that you are going to get shushed by others.

Our fantastic server greeted us and showed us to our table. My wife and I decided to of with the Prix Fixe menu that they run on Tuesdays to Thursdays. We weren't let down either.

We started with an app that we split. The house pate with mushrooms, green peppercorns, and Armagnac. Cornichons and warm baguette. Let me qualify by saying that I'm not a fan of pate, but OMG this was yummy! The portion was right and the warm baguette helped it melt in your mouth.

I also had the fresh beef and barley soup. This is one of my favourite kinds of soup, so I had to try. The thing that impressed me the most was that there was slices of perfectly cooked beef. Not the stuff that was leftover from the night before either.

We moved on to the mains. I with my roasted chicken and my wife with the mushroom risotto.

The risotto was was fantastic. The right consistency and a great mix of 4 different types of mushrooms. My chicken was, well....NO SWISS CHALET! It was a supreme of chicken and the seasoning was perfect. Crispy seared on the outside and juicy and tender inside. The veggies weren't raw nor were they grey. The prep and presentation was ideal.

You know how you sometimes check out a restaurant's website before you go to check out the menu and they have pictures of the food? Well the Creme Brulee I had for desert looked exactly like the one on their website. And it tasted as good as it looked.

I kid you not. This is what it looked like. Same cookie and everything!
Now on to the good stuff. Not that the food isn't.

The wine we had was the 2010 Saint Chinian - Domaine du Sacre Coeur, Languedoc France. The price point on this was about where it should be at $50 per bottle and worth every drop. I chose that particular one as it was a good compromise for both the chicken and the mushroom risotto.

As for our dessert wine, we had a glass of Muscat de Beaums de Venice Vidal Fleury
A bargain at $10 per glass.
They also have a BYOW for a corkage of $20/bottle.

So my overall conclusions for Fare Bistro.

Go. Take your friends, tell your friends about it, and seek out the food that chef Brad Clark is bringing to you.

Price Point: Very reasonable.
Food Quality: Outstanding
Location: Easily Accessible (free street parking after 6:00pm)
1097 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON - 416-645-0914
Make a Reservation: Recommended

This is a place that will be heading back to. No questions asked.

As always, enjoy a glass.

Fare Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Back Into the Groove

Yes, I'm still alive.

I know that it's been ages since I've done a blog post, but I think I have some pretty good reasons for it.

Now that being said, I'm making this a regular thing again along with all the other things that I have on the go.

Since I last gave you an update on what I've been up to, I have finished 2 more wine classes, applied and was accepted into the CAPS program, done a handfull of wine events, and been consuming buckets of wine.

Did I mention a trip to Napa? That too.

So with that being said, this is just a teaser post to let you know that I'm alive!!!

I'll make sure that my updates are a bit more regular now that things are starting to smooth out a little.

Well, not really. Things smoothing out that is.

Enjoy a glass.

PS - Want to keep up to date on things going on with me? Follow me on Twitter. I'm there all the time!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Tattoos and Drinking - UPDATE

Well hasn't today been an interesting day. I happened to be minding my own business having a quick read on Twitter when I saw a post by Justin Trudeau MP.

For those of you outside of Canada he is a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and has a seat in the House of Commons. He also happens to be the son of, in my opinion, one of the greatest Canadian Prime Ministers of my time - Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

When I read his tweet (yes it is actually him that tweets), I figured that I would respond back about this blog post, considering it has him in it.

I figured it was worth a shot. To my surprise, unlike many many other "famous people" on Twitter, he responded. It was a quick response, but a response indeed. That thrilled me.

Here is what he said. "That pic is of my old tattoo. It's much bigger now. But agree with the post." Now it may not sound like much, but it really impacted me in a positive way.

This is coming from a man who was able to yell out in the middle of a Parliamentary Session and call Federal Environment Minister, Peter Kent a "piece of shit" and get away with it. He quickly followed up in the media scrum with a quick apology and immediately was able to put the focus back on the issue which was that the Conservitives blocked the other parties from attending a conference that Peter Kent had blamed them for not attending.

Justin Trudeau MP, a man that I have a lot, and I mean A LOT of respect for now.
Good on you Justin Trudeau.

Original Post:
An article was brought to my attention by @SandraEMartin in this week's Huffington Post about a people that have tattoos drink more than those without them.

Hmmmmm. So what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that everyone with a tattoo is a drunk? Of course not.

Here are excerpts from the article that describes how the study was completed.

"The researchers asked nearly 3,000 young men and women as they were exiting bars on a Saturday night if they would take a breathalyzer test. Of those who agreed to take it, the researchers found that people with tattoos had consumed more alcohol than those without tattoos, the researchers said."

It also goes on to say that individuals with tattoos are "more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, theft, violence and alcohol consumption, compared to people without tattoos."

I want to tell you that I have two tattoos (both within the last 18 months).
Celtic Knot and Celtic Tree of Life on my Left Forearm
Let me go through the list and tell you what "risky behaviours" I have done.

1. Unprotected Sex - Draw your own conclusions (I have 2 kids and yes with my wife).
2. Theft - Do ketchup packages count?
3. Violence - Only when I'm playing video games and it's usually me getting my but kicked.
4. Alcohol Consumption - I'm a wine guy, so yes.

Sooooo, am I a risk to society? I think not.

Doing the study when people were leaving a bar on Saturday night? DUH! What did they expect? Did they ever think about asking the question to those individuals, are you driving? Because, here is why I would take a breathalyzer test for a study. It would tell me if I can drive home or not. It also doesn't say if it was excessive drinking or not. It just says more.

At one time, tattoos were for those that were either in the Navy or other branch of the military, have some type of indigenous ritual connection, or, dare I say it, enjoyed some time in the "pen".

Here is what I have to say about the study.

WAKE UP! This is 2012, for cripes sake. There are more people with tattoos, piercings and other types of body art than ever before. At all levels of business and society. Including Justin Trudeau, Liberal MP.

Tattoos have become mainstream, a thing of beauty and some of the artists that do this work are simply amazing at how they can transform your body, which I already view as a work of art on its own, into something spectacular.

Please don't get me wrong, there are a lot of really really bad tattoos out there.
Really? Was that a wise choice?
So do I think that we (those of us with tattoos) drink too much? I think they need to look at this study from a different perspective. Find those willing to be in the study and follow them over a longer period of time and track them longer term. Not on just one Saturday night.
In the mean time, maybe we should all branch out a little and have some fun. Just make sure that you have some common sense about it.

How about a tattoo? If you are thinking about getting one, one word of advice. Think long and hard about your choice of art and artist.

Not feeling that adventurous? Then simply go have a great glass of wine. Just be sure to share some with me because apparently I drink too much.

Enjoy a glass.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

What Does a "Good Time" Mean to You?

Let me start by saying that this didn't get posted on the original date which was last Saturday.

So are you looking for a good time honey? Wink wink.

I know what you are thinking. SEX! But, alas, this isn't going to be one of those blog posts. If you want me to write one about it, let me know. I'll make sure to look into it or at lease refer you to a good wine and sex blog.

Sorry, I got a little distracted.

So what what does a "good time" mean to you? And how does a great glass of wine come into play?

Well let me begin with my week of wine. It has a pretty heavy one too.

I started my class called Grape Comparison at the George Brown College Hospitality School here in Toronto. This is one of the only courses that I know of that is set up in this format. We will be tasting about 15 different wines in about 2 1/2 hours with proper 100 point scoring (don't get me going on that one again) and all of one variety. 15 Cabernet Sauvgions from different countries and regions around the world. This will give me a break down of what a California Cab compares to a Bordeaux Left Bank. Pretty cool.

Took the night off for my poor liver to recover.

My wife has her band practice at League of Rock and I had the girls. Needless to say we ended up going out for dinner and it was $2 off any glass of wine for Wine Wednesday! Had a big glass that night.

Here in Toronto the New Zealand Wine Event took place at the Design Exchange in the heart of the Financial District. All I can say is WOW! The #NZWine event was one of the best I have ever been to. I tasted about 40-50 different wines. There were a tonne of amazing wines and some that still need some work. One of my favourites was Doctors'. Doctors' is an amazing low alcohol Riesling and Sauvgion Blanc. Both have an alcohol content below 10%. Both have an amazing balance that are worth seeking out. Overall was one that I am going to remember for a long time.

We had some friends over for dinner and my wife makes an amazing fish oil and celentro skinless grilled chicken. We started with some anti-pesto with buffalo mozzarella, caper berries, mushrooms, and grilled baguette.  Over the course of the night, there were about 3 bottle of red that were thoroughly enjoyed by all.

So here we are on Saturday. I'm a bit sluggish this morning and sitting in my daughter's dance studio listening to some Kimbra writing this blog.

Even tough this week has been really crazy week, looking back, I'm going to have to put this week as one that I had a "Good Time".

Next time you aren't sure if you have a chance to slow down in the hectic live we all lead, look back and it might just turn out that you did have a "Good Time".

Enjoy a glass.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Hotel Wine Lists - Why are they so bad?

At one time eating in a hotel restaurant what the height of fine dining.  When dress codes were in place and a stain on a white table cloth meant that you would be asked to change tables.

Oh how the times have changed.

This week I spent 3 days in the lovely city of Halifax for work. I love Halifax. I've been there more times than I can count, so I have a pretty good idea on the places to go and have a great meal and those to avoid.

Some of my favourite place to eat are the Economy Shoe Shop. A great place for a decent meal at a reasonable price with a really cool atmosphere. My favourite place for a good beer has got to be the Split Crow. If your form Halifax, I know that you are thinking "what about the Lower Deck?" No doubt, but I have some great memories and some really fuzzy ones from the Split Crow.

So this trip I had some free time and figured I would go throw some money into the Nova Scotia coffers by making a donation at Casino Halifax. I figured I could afford $20 at the blackjack table. Well 2 hours later I was up 110 big ones! I should have stopped a few hands earlier and would have had a bit more. Didn't matter as I was ahead.

So I cash out and am a bit tired and haven't eaten, so I make my way back to my hotel for a bite and a couple glasses of wine to celebrate.

I pull myself up to the bar in the restaurant and the bartender passes me a menu and the drink list. Before I look a the menu I flip to the red wines. My thing when I look at a wine list is for the most expensive price per glass and work my way backwards. The first thing that grabs my attention is $10 a glass for Campo Veijo Reserva. My first reaction is that I can buy a bottle at the LCBO for about $18 off the shelf! Why should I pay 10 bucks for an ok wine that I've had many times before?

Then I take a look at the rest of the wines they have listed and it's abundantly clear. Let me clarify something. The hotel that I'm staying at isn't a Super 8. I'm at the Delta Barrington. Probably one of the more expensive hotels in Halifax. In the heart of downtown and easily accessible to everything by foot.

So what to do. Well I had cash to burn and was hungry oh and did I say tired? Needless to say, I had a couple of glasses and a Southwest burger and salt and pepper chips. The food was pretty good and as close as a match as I could find for a wine.

The moral of the story is for my next trip, buy your own wine at the local liquor store and order in room service.

Enjoy a glass.