Saturday, May 9, 2015

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Sips Between the Lines, Curbside Bites and Tastebuds Edition

Sips Between the Lines, Curbside Bites and Tastebuds Edition

Just published this week, Curbside: Modern street food from a vagabond chef (Whitecap Books), is a terrific book by Chef Adam Hynam-Smith: he and his partner own the gourmet food truck – El GastrĂ³nomo Vagabundo (know simply as El Gastro to his many mates) that ranges throughout the Niagara Region up to Hamilton.

I just received my review copy a few days ago, and was totally blown away by the quality of the nearly-300 page book. Hynam-Smith, Aussie by birth and now Niagara-based, is one of the bright lights on the culinary scene, and in the book he shares his own innovative recipes, along with

those developed by friends he’s met along his expansive culinary journey.

Though I have not had the opportunity yet to road test (so to speak) the recipes as they appear in the book, I have, in the past, had the pleasure of cooking under his direction as he was getting his recipes together for publication. We tested instructions for Middle-Eastern Zhoug and Harissa, Asian chili salt and green curry, among others, and I can attest the food was bright, flavourful and an all-around
wake up for the taste buds.

I will be reviewing the book more fully later on, but in the meanwhile I’d highly recommend it to anyone who would like a culinary stretch. It’s a great buy at a tad over 30 bucks.

Speaking of Tastebuds, May 28th is the earth to table fundraiser for this worthy local venture that raises funds to support student nutrition programs in Hamilton schools, as well as the purchase of locally produced food for 3Acres, Tastebuds’ Local Harvest Program. Grace Evans, Community Development Worker with Tastebuds told me several restauranteurs will have food stations at the Ancaster Mill event. Attending will be Boo’s Bistro, The Other Bird – Rapscallion/Two Black Sheep, Aberdeen Tavern and Mezcal, among others.

Their silent auction usually has some great buys, and there will be music and an opportunity to connect directly with local farmers. Evans expects the event to draw up to a couple of hundred people and though tickets are selling well there are still some available for purchase via the website.

Finally a recommendation for a relatively new winery. I had the opportunity to blind taste both a Pinot Noir Reserve and Chardonnay Reserve from Between the Lines Family Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Each wine was presented along with three others of the same varietal, but from different new wineries, clad in paper bags. The Pinot Noir ($28) was a favorite of both my wife and myself and the Chard ($22) was a close second in its category for the crowd at the tasting.

I spoke with BTL Winemaker, Yannick Wertsch about the more affordable ($15.95) “Pinot Ordinaire” as my savvy wine friend, John, termed it. He said “The biggest thing about this clean, fresh wine is that it is all about strawberries, sour cherries and cranberries. It spends just two months in oak which is to help support the wine and not overpower it.” It’s an easy drinking everyday wine and a bargain at the price.

The Reserve, with its bigger structure, has spent a year in French Oak and is for ageing he added. BTL wines are available from the winery or at farmer’s markets as far afield as Milton, Waterloo, Guelph and London, and Wertsch indicated they are working on having a presence at the Hamilton market.

Cheers to that.

To see more pictures, click here
To see all past columns please see (and “like”) the Food for Thought Archives, click here.
Alex (Alex can be reached at fft@thehamiltonian.info or on twitter @AlexBielak)

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