Monday, June 8, 2020

5 Wines to Try During Quarantine: A Sommelier's List with Food Pairings

Wine is one of the most essential of non-essential things during quarantine. Wondering what wines you should buy? I have compiled this small list based on wines I tasted and loved while working as a sommelier in the UK. They are little gems that you can easily pair with the food. Indeed, you will find a list of suggested pairings. 

Ready? Let’s dive right in.

1) Occhipinti SP68, Italy.
Natural wine from Vittoria (Sicily) made with Albanello and Zibibbo grapes. Fruity and mineral in the mouth, with hints of camomille and grapefruit. Fermented and aged in cement vats, this wine pairs perfectly with seafood and young cheeses.  The producer is Arianna Occhipinti, a young woman inspired by the principles of biodiversity and the full expression of Terroir.

Occhipinti SP68

2)Petritis Kyperounda, Crete.

Light-bodied white from Cyprus, made at one of the highest vineyards in Europe, up to 1400 metres above sea level. It is made with the indigenous grape Xynisteri, in the Troodos mountain range. High in minerality, this wine has a long finish and a great complexity: in the mouth offers hints of peach, acacia flower, citrus and orange peel. The high altitude gives rise to high acidicity and a touch of oak aging provides some spicy notes, like white pepper. Suggested pairings: seafood pasta, octus, salmon crostini. Great aperitif wine!

Petritis Kyperounda

3) Domaine Comte Peraldi Ajaccio, France.

Extremely complex, light to medium bodied red from the French island of Corsica. Made from the indigenous grapes Sciaccarello and Nielluccio; blended with Cinsault and Carignan. Smooth and persistant, this wine is characterized by aromas of almonds, berries and spices like black pepper. Made in a terroir composed mainly of granite soil, it pairs well with goat cheese, charcuterie and red meats. Keeps well in cellar for up to 12 years!

Comte Peraldi Ajaccio

4) Le Prieuré Chateau Ksara, Lebanon.

More than 150 years ago the Jesuits founded “Chateau Ksara” in Bekaa valley (Lebanon), planting vines at high altitude. Today this winery is the oldest and largest winery of the country, producing around 3 million bottles per year. “Le Prieuré” – loosely translated as “the monastery” – is arguably their most iconic and representative wine since its main grapes (Cinsault and Carignan) were the among the first to be planted by the Jesuits. A true taste of Lebanese terroir, this wine has spicy notes of clove and herbaceous hints of bell pepper and spinach in the nose. Smooth and medium-bodied, this wine pairs perfectly with spicy charcuterie and red meats.

Le Prieure Chateau Ksara

5. Kuyen Antiyal Valle de Maipo, Chile

Chile is often associated with Carmenere but there are many interesting other grapes grown there.  I recently came across the Kuyen, a very rich blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Petit Verdot. It is a full-bodied red from Maipo Valley made by a small and eco-friendly winery that grows certified organic grapes. Spicy, with notes of black pepper and lots of ripe red fruits like cherry. Also, hints of licorice and dark chocolate in the mouth. This wine has a good ageing potential and can pair well with a rib-eye steak, lamb stew and pork tenderloin. Highly recommended, especially for a dinner with spicy and meaty dishes!

Kuyen Antyal

Here you have it: 5 wines to try during your quarantine that can impress your friends and family. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

8 Things to do in New York: A Foodie's Guide

New York City is a must-visit city. But what should you visit while in the "Big Apple"?

Below I tell you 8 things you should try in New York, with a special focus on food and culture.

1. Stay at the 'hipster' neighborhood of Williamsburg. A nice and relatively calm area to stay. Taking the subway to Manhattan is a must and there are many places to visit. Being there only a few days I would recommend for sure walking around the High Line Park, former railway turned into a pedestrian walkway with lots of greenery and views on Manhattan.

2. Have a nice and long walk around Lower Manhattan and enjoy the view at High Line Park at sunset time. 

Sunset view at High Line Park

3. Visit Ellis Island is worth a visit to learn more about the history of immigration in the US. Though, bear in mind that there might be a long waiting time to catch the boat that takes you there. 

4. Enjoy a cocktail with a view at  The Standard Hotel High Line on the rooftop. Live music will entertain you while you watch the stunning view and the beautiful layout of the bar, which is open to everyone. 

Brooklyn Cocktail at The Standard Hotel High Line

5. Taste authentic Neapolitan Pizzeria Gino & Toto Sorbillo. Enjoy the Calzone with Escarole. The wine selection is also good. Try their Greco di Tufo if you fancy white. For dessert, tiramisu, a classic that here will not disappoint you. 

Calzone with Escarola


6. For a great burger, go to Juanchi's in Williamsburg. Great selections of ingredients (I went for the grass-fed beef), craft beer, good price and a friendly service will make the experience one to remember.

7. If you are craving for coffee, Birch is actually a great option. As an Italian, I was quite impressed with their espressos. Also, there is a cozy atmosphere and you will find a few locations in the city.

8. Shop at Chelsea Market in Lower Manhattan. It features all sorts of restaurants and shops, including a wine shop with a wide variety and premium selection of fine wines. Walking around the market one realizes how much cosmopolitan food NYC offers. 

Spice Selection at Chelsea Market

Here you have it: 8 things to do in one of USA's best travel destinations. 


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

5 Things to Do in Friuli Venezia Giulia: A Foodie's Guide

Ever heard of Friuli Venezia Giulia? This is an autonomous region located in the northeast of Italy bordering Austria in the north and Slovenia in the east. Friuli Venezia Giulia is one of the most culturally diverse regions in Italy. The presence of people of different ethnic backgrounds, the unique history and terroir have given rise to a multiethnic cuisine that any tourist interested in traditional food should try.

In this article I tell you 5 things to do in the region.

1. Visit the main city of Trieste, which is located along the Adriatic coast and used to be the port of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. It is a cosmopolitan city inhabited by people of different ethnic backgrounds, including Slovenians, Austrians and Serbians.

2. Check out Piazza Unita’ d’Italia, which is the largest town square in Europe next to the sea. It hosts various buildings, including the City Hall.

3. Try an“osmiza”, an Austrian tradition that involves farmers who prepare and serve meals using their fresh products in a farmhouse during a certain part of the year. It dates back to the 18th century, when the Austrian ruler Joseph II emanated an edict that allowed farmers to sell their products directly to consumers for eight consecutive days. In fact, the name “osmiza” derives from the Slovenian word “osmen”, which means eight. Today, however, osmizas are open for a longer period, usually around a month, during which tourists can taste local products such as salami (usually made with pork meat), cheese and wine.

4. Taste the most iconic product of Friuli Venezia Giulia: Prosciutto San Daniele, known worldwide as high-quality salami. The pigs used to make it come from Italy and are fed only with milk and cereals. The production process involves several steps. First, the legs of the pig are covered with marine salt and are pressed so the salt penetrates well into the meat and the leg gets a “guitar shape”.  The legs are cleaned with warm water and dried in very humid places. Next, they are left in hot and cold storage rooms. The change of room temperature is fundamental for the loss of water. After that, the Consortium checks the quality of the legs and, if the standards are met, it marks the leg with the trademark along with the ID number of the company. The product is aged for a minimum of 14 months. In the mouth, this prosciutto is sweet and has a very soft consistency. 

Slices of Prosciutto San Daniele DOK Dall'Ava

Ageing of prosciutto San Daniele

5. Try the local desserts such as Putizza goriziana, a dessert made during festivities. Its name derives from the Slovenian word “potica”, which means “rolled sweet”. It is filled with chocolate, milk, walnuts, cinnamon, toasted and grated bread and rum. 
In Trieste you will also find a special version of the strudel, called "Struccolo De Pomi" or "Strudel di Mele Triestino", filled with apples, raisin, cinnamon and pine nuts.

So here you have it: 5 foodie things to do in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

3 Things to Try at Saint Lawrence Market in Toronto

Going around the stalls at Saint Lawrence Market on a Saturday in Toronto with friends can be an incredible learning opportunity as you get to taste some delicious food in a rather large but well organized food market, which features some seating too, and original street signs. This is a market with a strong history that dates back to more than two centuries ago and it is definitely one of my favourite spots in Toronto.

What should you try at this incredible foodie delight of Toronto? In this post I outline 3 foodie things to do. Ready? Let's get started! 

The Dining Area of the Market

The Street Signs in the Market

1. Try the Canele at Eve's temptation. Originally from France, this delicious pastries are hard in the outside and soft in the inside. You will love the caramelized crust!

Delicious Caneles

2. Head to to the lower floor  to Everyday Gourmet Coffee Roasters for some delicious coffee at the coffee bar. They also have a great retail section and some great blends available from a wide variety of regions. Espressos are definitely a must-try.

The Coffee Bar 

3. Taste the bagels at St Urbain Bakery. These guys have brought the famous bagel tradition of Montreal to the city of Toronto and you should definitely give it a try! The bagels are delicious and are a great snack to taste while walking around the market.

Bagels at St Urbain Bagel Stall

Here you have it: 3 things to try while visiting the most important market of the cosmopolitan city of Toronto.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Après Wine Bar: Cozy Culinary Spot in Toronto

Curious about nearly extinct grapes and wines made with organic and biodynamic practices? Then you should ahead over to Après Wine Bar located near Queen and Dufferin in Toronto. This sister restaurant of Canis focuses on food pairing and natural wines.

Here the menu is designed by chef and owner Jeff Kang, who created an innovative menu. There are various options going from Fogo Island snow crab to Albacore tuna from British Columbia. Also, one can find over 150 wine bottles from small unique wine producers from lesser known wine regions such as Georgia and Canary Islands.

The Wine Selection

Fogo Island Snow Crab

The wine list changes regularly, so one can always find something interesting and fun to try. There are also special cocktails like clarified milk punch (made with absinth, goats milk, gin, cloves, amari, cardmom, citrus and raw cane sugar) and bolur, made with verjus cocchi americano and dunya, a quince brandy.

Orange wines, basically white wines with extended skin contact, are also one of the specialities of this cozy place. They pair extremely well with different kinds food, going from cheese, to white meats, vegetables and seafood risotto. We tried the Moscholifero Hoof & Lur from Greece, unfiltered and with wild yeats. It has a vibrant acidity, floral notes, with orange peel dominating in the palate. A great example of orange wine.

The Making of Cocktails

Serving the Orange Wine Moscholifero

We really enjoyed the hospitality and quality of food and wine. Go there for an aperitif, light dinner, or late night drink.

Après wine bar is open everyday from 6pm to 2am.

For the video review check out the link below and subscribe to the page to being posted on new episodes.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top 10 things to Do in Paris: a Foodies' Guide

Paris is a city full of culture and history. Food and wine play an important role in Parisian daily life, thus there is a lot to discover for foodies.

Let's look at 10 Foodie Things you can do whilst you are visiting the city.

1. Visit Montmatre and enjoy the whole view of Paris. Check out the only remaining vineyard of Paris: "Clos Montmatre". It dates back to 1932 and includes 27 grape varieties, including Gamay and Sauvignon.

The view from Montmatre

The Vineyards

2) Eat Local food at the food market "Le Marche' Des Enfants Rouge". At "Le Coin Bio" you will find organic products and you can sit inside.

Organic Chicken for lunch

Coquilles St- Jacques

3) Want some macarons? Go to Damyel Paris in in the Marais. There is a wide variety of flavours and the quality is excellent.


The entrance at Damyel

4) Have breakfast at Cafe St-Regis, near the Notre Dame Cathedral. Get the Formule Coupe De Couer, which includes bread, croissant, egg, coffee and juice.

Formule Coupe De Couer

5) Try jewish pastries, like the "Cigar Libannais" at the bakery Korcarz, in the Jewish area.

The Entrance of Korcarz

Cigar Libannais

Schen Cerise

6) Sample Korean food at restaurant Bekseju Village, near Place D'Italie. Bulgogi and fried chicken are must-try.

Fried Chicken

7) Need a break during the trip? Have a Parisian hot chocolate (with whipped cream, of course) at Café Des Concerts.

Parisian Hot Chocolate

8) Buy some wines to bring back home at "Le Repair De Bacchus", a chain of wine shops in Paris.

The entrance of the Le Repaire de Bacchus shop

9) Have dinner at Le Verre Vole' near Canal Saint Martin. Get the cooked ham and the cheese platter. You can choose among a variety of natural wines to drink or take away.

Cooked Ham

Cheese Platter

10) Have a crepe bretonne at Alizée Creperie. You'll find organic crepes, both salty and sweet. One of the best is with jamon serrano!!

Crepe with serrano

Sweet crepe

Here you have it: 10 foodie things to do in the city of Paris!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The 4 Best things to at St. Jacobs Market

It's Saturday and it's market time in a small town in Southwest Ontario, one hour and half outside of Toronto. St Jacobs holds a strong Mennonite heritage and indeed it is common to see Mennonites using traditional horses. Farming and tourism are two of the main economic activities. In particular, St. Jacobs Market, which takes place every Thursday and Saturday, is the main attraction of this little town of around 2.000 people.

The crowd

The Music

I would recommend going to the outdoor area for buying fresh vegetable and fruits (now the cherries are in season and are delicious). In the interior markets, I would recommend eating at the area with local foods rather than the international stall, which had anything available in every other market.

The Vegetables of the Market

Here are 3 things that you should try:

1- Back Bacon, Egg and Cheese at Country Cravings. They make top burgers and back bacon at a very reasonable price. A must try.

The Sandwich

2- Apple fritters with Ice Cream at The Fritters Co. 1/2 portion is enough for one person! Delicious fried and local apples with vanilla ice cream. Add some cinnanomon at the end and you are ready for a delicious snack!

Apple fritter with ice cream

3- Buy bacon to take away. Amazing quality at Stone Crock Meats and Cheese Stall.

The Bacon

4- Enjoy an espresso to end the meal before leaving the market.

The Coffee Bar

Here you have it: 4 things to do at St. Jacobs Market.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 3 Things to Do in Quebec City: A Foodies' guide

Quebec City is a mixture between European and North American culture. Situated along the Saint Lawrence River, it is one of the oldest settlements in North America and dates back to 1608, when the French navigator Samuel De Champlain founded it. Old Quebec feels like being in a charming little French town.

Quebec City is a very popular tourist destination, especially during the summer period. Old Quebec is divided between the Upper Town and Lower Town. The Historic District of Old Quebec was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1995 and is characterized by the presence of fortified city walls. One of the most famous monuments of the city is the Chateau Frontenac, an old hotel that dominates the Upper Town.

View of Quebec City from Upper Town

Lower Town at Night

One can find exceptional local food in Quebec. Here are three things to do:

1) To start off,  I highly recommend the restaurant “Cochon Dingue”, located in Lower Town, if you are craving for seafood. It offers many local dishes. I tried the tasty “Lobster Roll”, a fresh lobster sandwich, served with salad, French fries and mayo. The “Cochon Bourgeois” is a good choice for meat lovers. It is a pork burger, served with salad and French fries. The restaurant offers also a few Quebec wines, including the red “William”, if you want to drink local.

Chaudrée de la mer

In Quebec City, you can also find many restaurant chains. In particular, I went for dinner to “L’entrecote Saint Jean”, which does not have much to offer besides steaks. The service is poor, prices are expensive and the place is usually very crowded. In fact, I could not even hear what my sister was telling me at the table. So, I suggest avoiding eating at this place. 

2) For lunch, try the “Casse Crepe Breton”, where you will find delicious crepes of all kinds at a reasonable price. For drinks, they also have Quebec beers, including the Saint Ambroise Cream Ale, made by the MacAuslan brewery. The waiters are friendly and the service is quick. So, this is the ideal place for a quick meal.

Quebec Beer St-Ambroise

Lobster roll

Farmer's Market

3) Before leaving Quebec City, you should visit the city’s farmers' market: the famous Marché du Vieux-Port de Quebec, where you will find a wide variety of local foods and drinks. For example, there is a stand where they sell maple syrup and local vegetables like fiddleheads, while another stand has a great selection of ice cider. This farmers' market has a great selection of Quebec products, so it is a must for anyone interested in local gastronomy!

Here you have it: 3 foodie things to do in the beautiful city of Quebec!