Episode 21 Paris GOOD food + wine November 2016

Paige Donner, host-producer of Paris GOOD food + wine brings you the November ’16 episode of the program, the first-ever English language radio show and podcast about French food and wine broadcast from Paris. To contact Paige for hosting and … Continue reading

MSNBC’s First-Ever Food Correspondent, Chef Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio, celebrity chef and founder of Food Policy Action says, “We’re going to send a clear message to Congress that we’re organized, we’re viable, we’re strong, and yes we have a food movement and it’s coming for you.” Blog … Continue reading

I Love Lemons, Frozen Too

Reblogged by Paige Donner I have a major lemon addiction. I confess. And it’s not just during detox time, after the holidays. It’s a year-round thing. Lemonade in the summer, hot water, lemon and honey in the winter. So what … Continue reading

Finally – Deliciously Good News Delivered Right To Your Doorstep

Delivered straight to your Mailbox… the box of gourmet treats that will inspire your taste buds… and your culinary kitchen prowess too! Brand new in France – Sign up for your Easter Treats La BonneBox now. Click on the link … Continue reading

Cristal Vibrations

  by Paige Donner This title actually began as a chapter heading for my journal entry about my visit to Champagne Louis Roederer in Reims. But I liked it so much that I’m using it here, too. It just works so beautifully. It … Continue reading

Super Bowl Viewing Party Menu at MessHall

If you’re in LA this weekend – here’s one option where you can munch and watch the fraternal fracas that is Super Bowl XLVII…

Independent Winemakers’ Salon – France

by Paige Donner

Rarely do you get such a glimpse of how basic an element wine is to French culture than at something like the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants.  At an event like this one, you really get the feel of how wine is actually a basic food group for the French. It’s not a luxury or something that needs to be “mastered” but rather as elementary to daily life and basic needs as is water.

Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants Photos copyright Thomas Millet

As a tourist or even as a resident foreigner, this Wine Salon is something I plan trips around and mark on the calendar months in advance.  Held this past weekend at the ginormous Expo center that is Porte de Versailles in Paris, I had the chance to sip and taste new and just released vintages from over 250 independent wineries and winemakers from all the regions of France. The question was not a matter of access (entry cost 6 Euro) or accessibility (all the wineries were pouring). The question was whether I had the stamina to last a whole day.  If I were a real pro, I would have gone over the course of each of the consecutive five days and prolonged the learning and the enjoyment, the listening and the tasting, stretching it out for every last drop.

Vigneron-Vigneron

The Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants is something that everyone even remotely interested in wine must attend at some time. As a window onto wine and French culture, it’s unsurpassed. It’s also no-frills. And it’s held twice a year – in the Fall and in the Spring. The only people I envied as I roamed the alphabetized aisles, were those who were savvy enough to have come with their rolling suitcases which they packed full of bottles and cases of France’s most excellent and affordable wines.

Here’s a sampling:

Wine Tastings, France. Photo Copyright Laurent Hardhuin.

Champagne Philippe Martin

They are located right in the heart of Champagne just between Reims and Epernay in Cumieres. They grow their chardonnay and pinot noir grapes on 10 hectares and produce 6 crus.

Cuvée de Réserve Brut – dry, frothy bubbly. At 14.40 Euro per bottle at the Salon it stands up to any of the internationally known brands.

Millésime 2002 – aged and made with pinot noir grapes as well as chardonnay, the richer, fruitier grape is detectable as soon as the elixir hits your tongue. At 22 Euro per bottle, you can see why I wish I’d had my rolling suitcase with me.

Alsace

Domaine Gerard Metz “The power of harmony”

The Salon tipplers tended toward the Alsatian wines, I noticed. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Paris had just seen its first snowfall of the season this weekend.  It’s easy to think of a spicy Gewurztraminer and heavy spaetzle and sausages when it gets cold outside – all things that come from Alsace.

Gewurztraminer Vielles Vignes  2009 at 9 Euro per bottle this tending toward almost sweet gewurz tasted of the grape. In the sense that I almost felt like I had popped a whole grape into my mouth and was drinking of it, and a splash of alcohol.

Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Mégane” 2009 This guy was just shy of a late harvest wine. Its gold color spoke of its autumn, rich flavors even before it made itself known in the mouth. It sells for 13.50Euro per bottle.

Bourgogne – Chablis

It’s just too novel when you come to the realization that these wines you’ve long loved come from an actual place. In this case, Chablis.

Moreau Naudet at 5, rue des Fosses, Chablis offered Petit Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru and Chablis Grand Cru on offer. He ages his white wine for 24 mos. in barrel.

Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007 was smooth and classy; its light golden color reminded me of summer in California. 26 Euro

Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2008 had lively acid playing throughout the mouth. Well-balanced and a white you can keep for a few years and still enjoy. 26 Euro

Domaine Millet “Intensement Chablis”

The winery is in Tonnerre, still within Bourgogne. The Petit Chablis L’Angelus and Petit Chablis were noteworthy, all 2009. They also had their Chablis Vieilles Vignes and Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin for sale and to taste. The maturity of the old vines tend to be the wines I gravitate towards. www.chablis-millet.com

Côte du Rhône, St. Joseph

Domaine du Mortier, Saint Joseph by Didier Crouzet. What’s a wine tasting if you don’t indulge in a bit of the sacred St. Joseph? Part of the geography of Côte Rôtie, a St. Joseph can take good care of you through the Winter. On 10.5 acres Mssr. Crouzet cultivates his vines of character.

Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2008 A little light. Not often found in this wine or appellation, it can offer a more drinkable alternative to what is usually paired with a good steak or winter roast.

Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2009 is a considerably more powerful wine. 2009 vintages, like the 2010 harvest, will have legs for years to come. Dark fruit, some wood, wine with a backbone.

Bourgogne, Pouilly-Fuisse

In this cluster were three domains that are run by the same winemakers and which are all independent. The majority they’ve brought to market this year have won a medal or an award or even a “coup de coeur” from the Guide Hachette des Vins 2011.

Domaine de Fussiacus   Pouilly-Vinzelles 2008. These grapes are from 30-40 year old vines. This lovely tinted yellow gold nectar won the Medaille d’Or Paris et Macon 2010. It was selling for a mere 10.30 Euro.

Domaine Chateau de Chaintre Bourgogne Blanc 2008 is the one which you’ll find in the Guide Hachettes des Vins 2011 listed as the Coup de Coeur. It is burgundy chardonnay and its well-balanced, proper notes and aromas make it a perfect choice for a dinner with family and friends.

Domaine de Fussiacus Vielles Vignes Pouilly-Fuisse 2008 had a nose of citrus and a delicious mouth of calcaire and mineral hints.  Another one of those wines I wish I’d bought a case of. 15.10 Euro per bottle.

Corbières

From this region down near Perpignan which is still part of Languedoc-Roussillon you will find wines that have the garrigue in their molecules.

Abbaye de Fontfroide

A husband and wife winemaking team, Nicolas de Chevron Villette married his wife, Laure d’Andoque de Seriege, whose family has owned the Abbaye de Fontfroide and the vines that surround it for centuries. They have a tasting room, a restaurant and they offer vacation stays. It is also just 15 km. away from the region’s only 3 Michelin star restaurant run by France’s Best Chef 2010.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2007 A finessed red wine that speaks of the region and the terroir. The nose is aromatic, the mouth hints of the garrigue.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Oculus 2009 Though this is a white, it boasts a nutty mouth and an aromatic nose. At 7.10Euro a bottle, it is an elegant wine to serve at table with roasted poultry and new potatoes for example.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2009 The grapes are Roussanne, Marsanne predominantly and the juice is new barrel aged. 12.90 per bottle. www.fontfroide.com

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58 Tour Eiffel

Why just visit the Eiffel Tower when you can dine at the Eiffel Tower?  The Alain Ducasse restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel, located on the “First Level” of the Eiffel Tower lets you savor not just the taste of palatial views at panoramic heights, but also the Parisian version of a lunchtime “pique-nique” or at dinnertime, contemporary “French Brasserie” fare.

Every detail from the color schemes of red iron ocher contrasting with deep chocolate browns to the shapes of the glasses to the ornamental and decorative motifs on doors and menus and kitchen tiles…everything is taken from, and inspired by, the Eiffel Tower. Collaborators on the restaurant’s design are Chef and restauranteur Alain Ducasse himself and also Pierre Tachon.

Lunch will run you 17.50 Euro to 22.50 Euro and gives you a choice of appetizer and main course or appetizer, main course, dessert. Choices include creamy, chilled, green pea soup; seared salmon; Chocolate/nuts Crousti Eiffel.  The midday picnic concept is that you are given a picnic basket with your cold items when you arrive at the restaurant and are seated, then your server brings you your hot plate items and drinks.

By 5:30 p.m. the music changes to lounge as the lights dim and the restaurant transforms into a chic and seductive Parisian Brasserie. You may want to ask to be seated on the second floor of the 58 Tour Eiffel, and, if you can, overlooking the Trocadero for that world-famous view.  Dinner menu includes choices of the Menu Opera at 65 Euro and at 80 Euro, the difference mainly being whether wine is served with your meal. If you do order a’ la carte, you have additional choices that include lobster salad, seared scallops or sauteed veal chop and then a selection of French cheeses for dessert which is really something I wouldn’t dream of passing up.

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Domaine Bouchie-Chatellier ‘La Renardiere’ Pouilly Fume 2007: The Wine Spies

By: The Wine Spies

2007 Domaine Bouchie-Chatellier ‘La Renardiere’ Pouilly Fume

(http://thewinespies.com)

Mission Codename: The Fox and the Vine

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Acquire a delicious Pouilly Fumé for our operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Domaine Bouchie-Chatellier

Wine Subject: 2007 ‘La Renardiere’ Pouilly Fumé

Winemaker: Arnaud Bouchie

Backgrounder:

The central vineyards of the Loire Valley is Sauvignon Blanc country with arguably among the best examples of the varietal being molded into the world’s best wines. The Pouilly Fumé appellation sits on the eastern side of the Loire River across from Sancerre. The wines of Pouilly Fumé must be 100% Sauvignon Blanc and like its brethren from across the river are heavily influenced by the Terroir with its limestone, flint and marls composition.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Crystal clear light pale straw yellow with subtle green hues that becomes clear water pale along the edges. When swirled, the slightly springy wine clings to the side of the glass before forming legs that descend to the wine below.

Smell – Medium in intensity with bright and fresh aromas of citrus and green tree fruit with mineral notes of wet stone, and hints of subtle herbs and white flowers.

Feel – Smooth, with good weight, this medium bodied wine’s fresh fruit provides a slight touch of sweetness. Dry and crisp otherwise, with lively but balanced acidity.

Taste – Fresh and tart citrus and green fruit, specifically Meyer lemon and lemon creme and green apple is layered over slate and wet stone and steely gun flint minerality and touches of herbal grass.

Finish – Clean, refreshing and crisp, this wine’s vibrant acidity, steely minerality and good weight holds the fruit and other flavors perfectly as it gently fades and begs another sip.

Conclusion – The 2007 Domaine Bouchie-Chatellier ‘La Renardiere’ Pouilly Fumé is a delicious and fresh Pouilly Fumé that shows Sauvignon Blanc in its simply beauty and finesse. A lovely wine to sip on a warm summer afternoon as a prelude to an enjoyable meal. Also pair this wine with grilled whitefish.

Mission Report:

WINEMAKER INTERVIEW

SUBJECT: Arnaud Bouchuie-Chatellier, winemaker, graduate of Lycée Viticole of Beaune

AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Arnaud. We are thrilled to be showing your wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

ARNAUD BOUCHIE-CHATELLIER: Merci Beaucoup.

WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

ARNAUD: My great grandfather who was one of the first to plant Sauvignon Blanc vines in Pouilly-sur-Loire. He had a willingness to always improve quality through innovation and modern technology while taking into account what we have learned from past.

WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

ARNAUD: The wines at Domaine Bouchié Chatellier is made exclusively by family members. The knowledge of viticulture and winemaking has been passed down from generation to generation from the beginning of last century.

WHITE: Who do you make wine for?

ARNAUD: We emphasize natural wines and enjoy sharing this work of art that nature gives is with those who love wines like we do.

WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Pouilly Fumé so special?

ARNAUD: Our soils are silex or flint, we use the selection massale process of propagating sub-varieties of vines that are best suited to our vineyards. Also, the experience of four generations is present in our vineyards and our cellars. This is what gives our wines their uniqueness and character.

WHITE: What is your objective each day?

ARNAUD: We make authentic and natural wines but above all they’re meant to be enjoyed!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

· The location of the Domaine Bouchie-Chatellier in the Loire Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.

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Baboons Go Ape For Grapes

Yes, the World Cup is just days away.  And as you gather with friends to watch the games, you likely will be inspired to do some tastings of the very reputable S. African wines.  After all, their vineyards are some of the oldest under cultivation.

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A novelty that hasn’t been lost on the nation’s baboon population!

Taking the notion of “critter” wines to an altogether new level, South African vineyard managers have to outsmart and outmaneuver a pest of the monkey variety…turns out baboons find the sugar and starch of grapes altogether irresistible!  They particularly go in for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.

Here’s what’s been reported in the popular press:

by: Nastasya Tay  [Johannesburg]

Baboons, it seems, prefer pinot noir. They also like a nice chardonnay. Largely undeterred by electric fences, hundreds of wild baboons in South Africa’s prized winelands are feasting on ripe, succulent grapes, forcing winemakers to use noisemakers and rubber snakes to try to drive them off during this harvest season.

“The poor baboons are driven to distraction,” said Justin O’Riain, who works in the Baboon Research Unit of the University of Cape Town. “As far as baboons are concerned, the combination of starch and sugar is very attractive – and that’s your basic grape.”

Growers say the picky primates are partial to sweet pinot noir grapes, adding to the winemakers’ woe, for pinot noir sells for more than the average merlot or cabernet sauvignon.

Fauna Dynamics

Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman has even gone so far as to report that South African vineyards are now training baboons to harvest the grapes. So if you plan on lending a hand during crush, you might just find yourself harvesting side-by-side with a  few brethren baboons…

From Wine Specatator:

It turns out that the baboons are actually being trained to harvest the grapes themselves (the trick is keeping them well-fed so that they don’t do any on-the-job snacking). It’s all part of the latest viticultural movement known as FaunaDynamics, in which human labor is all but eliminated in the vineyard. Zoologists at the San Diego Zoo claim their 100 percent FaunaDynamic teaching vineyard will be online by 2014 (rhesus monkey-directed draft horses have just completed plowing a 4.1-acre parcel). Peregrine falcon nests surround the vineyard to protect it from grape-hungry starlings, and several of the zoo’s primates have been sent to the Cape to learn harvest methods from Stellenbosch’s simians. Not surprisingly, PETA has already announced plans to protest the first harvest.

If you’d like to drink some of the wines made from the grapes the baboons go in for, we suggest starting with these:

Quoin Rock [Excerpted from The Wine Doctor]

The Quoin Rock winery is located in Stellenbosch where the climate is continental (warm and dry summers, cool winters), although Carl van de Merwe was keen to stress that the summer temperatures are hot rather than merely warm. He clearly has no problems with ripeness of fruit, although he has had challenges protecting the sugar-rich fruit from the local baboon population prior to harvest; the marauding monkeys have a habit of responding to the sweet aromas of ripeness with a pillaging of the vineyard. The solution has been to install electric fences to protect the harvest and vines.

There were three wines on show from Quoin Rock, including recent vintages of the estate’s Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The Sauvignon Blanc is mostly fermented in steel, with a minor portion fermented in barrel. The wine is left on its lees for six months before bottling, the intention being to engender a fuller, more creamy mouthfeel. The Chardonnay meanwhile is 100% barrel-fermented, with 30% of the oak new in this vintage. The third wine was a 2004 Syrah.

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Hazelwood Herb Farm

When you find yourself in short supply of ginger jelly, cowslip, calendula anti-aging cream, and fresh sprigs of chocolate mint…not to mention Fairy Meadow Tea, make your way to Hazelwood Herb Farm just outside of Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.

Hazelwood Herb Farm, Ladysmith, Vancouver Island

Recently purchased in February of this year by Barbara Stevens and her husband, Hazelwood Herb Farm is a swath of acreage that former proprietor of 23 years, Jacynthe Dugas and her husband, Richard White, cultivated into a thriving business of fresh herbs.

Hazelwood Herb Farms Nursery - A Living Encyclopedia

When you walk the carefully cultivated and manicured grounds, through the outdoor nurseries, and into the nascent/ sprouting nurseries, it is startling to remind yourself that the whole business is based on the cultivation of seeds. Each year, each season, seeds are planted, nurtured, sown, and with these raw stuffs the business owners furnish themselves with the necessary raw materials to produce their other products, the jams, the jellies and chutneys, the face creams, arthritis salves, body balms, teas and tinctures sold in the compact and packed-full Herbal Heaven Gift Shop located on the premises.

Fresh  Herbal Gifts

Hazelwood Herbal Heaven Gift Shop - Only The Freshest Ingredients

“Come Christmas time we are always very busy,” admits Jacynthe, present one afternoon during a tour of the grounds by new owner Barbara and her enthusiastic remedy devotee and herbal novice niece, Sandra.

An uninitiated glance around the gardens as you enter and the grounds appear to be beautifully tidy and trim with planted areas of distinctively varied plants. A more careful and focused gaze and one quickly realizes that what you are seeing is a living encyclopedia of rare, and everyday, herbs, plants and latent remedies.

“What you see here is the best kind of functional beauty there is,” says Sandra, who, according to Barbara, helped talk her and her husband into purchasing the property and business. Barbara admits that she has been preserving her own food and cultivating her own herbal garden at home all her life but had “never thought of it as a business.” She, with the support of her husband, son and extended family acknowledge that it’s a demonstration of faith and courage to step out of their “bureaucratic jobs” and “city lives” and into the shoes that Jacynthe and Richard have fashioned out of soil and seeds for over two decades on this little patch of farmland just south of Nanaimo.

Hazelwood Herb Farm Vinegars

Hazelwood Herb Farm Oils

EconoMuseum

“There are 400-500 varieties of herbs here on Hazelwood Farm,” Jacynthe proudly tells you, “20-30% are culinary. The rest have medicinal or other properties.” Originally from Quebec, Jacynthe now does a variety of things, including teaching soap making to local students who come to the property from Vancouver Island University to learn the art of making soap using the plants picked from the garden.

“I like playing,” says Jacynthe, glancing around her on-site test kitchen as she pours a cup of Fairy Meadow tea, one of her proprietary blends she makes from Hazelwood plants, and pushes a plate of chocolate and mint scones towards you that is made from a mix sold in the Herbal Heaven gift shop in the room next door. She certainly has occupied her time productively “playing,” – the shop is filled to the brim with unique items that range from delicious ingredients for the gourmand, to sweet-smelling and purely natural body balms and body care products to remedies that have medicinal properties that keep people coming back…and ordering online from the farthest reaches of the globe.

In 2006 Hazelwood was nominated for a national business award, the Laureat de la Moyenne Entreprise. Jacynthe herself is all about the notion of “economuseum,” the phrase for learning artisanal ways of doing things, especially when traveling through a distinct region. Her husband, Richard, even shot a 13-part TV series, “At Home With Herbs,” some years ago.

Hopefully all of this inspires you to grow and make your own. As you walk the 5-acre property, Barbara joyfully tells you what every living thing is in her gardens: Greek Oregano (good for nerves or depression), St. John’s Wort (flowers are used for anti-inflammatory property), arnica (for bruising, popular with hockey moms), peppermint, English mint, orange mint and chocolate mint; four types of lavendar in the lavendar gardens including “twickle purple lavendar,” sea-holly everlasting, echinacea, Lily of the Valley, yarrow root (the original “band-aid”), Alpine ladies mantle (very rare)…and that’s just scratching the surface.

Hazelwood Herbs For Teas, Salad Seasonings, Meat Seasonings, Remedies, Tinctures, Balms and More...

In the outdoor nurseries, each plant is carefully labeled by name and most also have their Latin name tagged as well, especially for the traditional medicinal varietals. Hazelwood is a popular shopping spot for naturopaths, many who come over to the Island just to stock up at Hazelwood on their living raw materials. The little plants are sold for a few dollars each. Even the final products sold at Herbal Heaven are extremely reasonable, with few products topping $10 CDN. Hazelwood soaps make especially good gifts and the packaging is so sweetly simple, just a piece of dyed paper, tied with a cord, accented with a dried flower, that you feel like you’ve tucked something even finer and rarer than the finest French-milled soap from Provence, into your own personal “gift and souvenir bag for friends and family” as you linger before leaving Hazelwood Herb Farm.

Plant availability changes with the season. Open year-round but double check during the months of January and February. Www.hazelwoodherbfarm.com 13576 Adshead Road, Ladysmith, B.C.

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Cow Bay

For a day of delight, make your way to Cow Bay. This little seaside village boasts some of Vancouver Island’s star culinary attractions. They are: Hilary’s Artisan Cheese, True Grain Bread, and newly refurbished Cowichan Bay Seafood.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is also home to Fairburn Farm, the decade-long Slow Food and Water Buffalo mozzarella cheese farm championed by Mara Jernigan and the Fairburn Farm family.  Just a meandering island country road down from there is Blue Grouse Vineyards and Winery, one of the founding estate wineries of Vancouver Island. There’s also the Cowichan Valley Meat Market [and Quist Family Farm processing], an important component in ranking as a Slow Food Community, as Vanessa, on Cowichan Bay’s Slow Food Board, is quick to point out, “Everyone can grow their own vegetables and keep their own chickens, but what about the protein source?” she rhetorically asks, during a discussion about Vancouver Island’s unique on-island meat processing facilities.

Cowichan Bay is a small unincorporated area, more a village than a town, that is tucked inbetween Victoria to the South and Comox Valley to the north. Salt Spring Island is just a stone’s throw away across from the neighboring Genoa and Maple Bays.

Cow Bay Float Homes, Photo Courtesy Deddeda Stemler

If you’re into “Slow” then you probably already know that Cowichan Bay is the first North American community to be awarded the Citta Slow designation; a designation they won only just last August and due to the focused efforts of Mara from Fairburn, Hilary Abbott of the fore-mentioned cheese, Bruce of famed True Grain and Vanessa Elton of Affinity Guesthouse. Full membership of Cittaslow is only open to towns with a population under 50,000. To qualify as eligible, a town must score at least 50 percent in a 52-point Citta inspection – Cow Bay scored 93 percent, one of the highest scores in the entire International Network. This little village scored particularly high for their environmental policies and also, since Vanessa and her husband Dwight who run Affinity Guesthouse had something to do with it, friendliness as well.

Dwight And Vanessa, Cowichan Bay Slow Foodists and Canoe Paddling Instructors

An afternoon is barely enough time to take in Cow Bay, we recommend a weekend, and here’s some of the must-sees:

Check in to your B&B as only the view from a private residence will afford you the real glimpse of the Bay’s pastoral setting. The views from the two rooms at Affinity Guesthouse look out onto a river, a green and lush backyard that opens up onto the Bay and trees that appear to have popped out from the pages of a picture book. Likely Dwight will be jumping off of his tractor to greet you as you pull up. Don’t be swayed by the neighboring homes as you find your way to their off-the-beaten path Guest House, the destination at the end is well-worth driving through the few brambles.

Hilary's Artisan Cheese, Photo Courtesy Deddeda Stemler

True Grain Bread & Hilary’s Artisan Cheese

Next stop is True Grain Bread and Hilary’s Artisan Cheese, conveniently located side-by-side in Cowichan Village. Locals will tell you that on any given Saturday morning, there are lines outside the bakery for the fresh loaves and they’re often sold out by noon. Yes, they are opening a second location on April 15th in Mill Bay. What makes Bruce’s bread so different? They use no pre-made mixes or dough and bake only with organic grains. “We favor Red Fife Heritage wheat and ancient varieties such as Kamut, Emmer and Spelt that are pure varieties,” says Bruce, who, with his wife Leslie bought the business in 2008 and moved to the Island from Calgary. They bake all their loaves fresh that day or they give them away to the community. They use no preservatives, sugar, dairy, coloring, TransFat, GMO’s and so forth. Some loaves you will find: Hazelnut, Apple Cranberry, Bay Wheat, Kamut Pumpkin Seed, Whole Spelt…

True Grain Bakery, Cowichan Bay, Photo Courtesy Deddeda Stemler

Interestingly, for most Slow Food communities, protein is the challenging aspect as many regions do not have ready access to meat processing plants. The island, with their ingrained sense of “food security” has this aspect licked, but what proves to be a challenge to these native foodists is grain.

In answer to this, owners Brock and Heather of Makaria Farms, along with a few others, have begun the Island Grains project. This project has local residents planting, CSA style, rye, barley, Red Fife and hard white spring wheat. Participants are referred to as “grainies” and they get to take home a share of the grains planted on Makaria Farms. It’s the Island’s first-ever Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) grain and each participant this harvest will get about a 40-lb slice of the rye and wheat harvest. The communal harvest is forecast for August when grainies will show up with their “scissors, sickles and pruning shears.” True Grain will mill the flour and with respect to the threshing, hull-less oats, wheat, barley and rye are encouraged. On the wish list this year: a mechanical thresher! Www.IslandGrains.com

Hilary’s Cheese is a wonderful stop to stock up on picnic supplies such as his freshly made goat cheeses and the deli meats he keeps stocked behind the glass counter. It’s also a great place to grab a bowl of soup and sit at one of the tables in the lunch room overlooking Cow Bay’s “float homes,” (not to be confused with houseboats, an altogether different animal). If you think to call ahead and you get lucky scheduling-wise, we’ve heard that Hilary will give Cheese Tours from time to time for the chosen.

Cowichan Bay Seafood

Just a couple doors down and past a potter’s studio and other artist attractions, is Cowichan Bay Seafood. Recently bequeathed a new coating of paint, it’s one of the freshest, cleanest fish markets you’ll find anywhere. Fresh halibut, now in season, as well as crabs, shrimp, scallop and, yes, fresh oysters and mussels, are all ripe for the picking.

Blue Grouse Vineyards

Just a short drive up the road, across the main “highway” and down a country lane you’ll find Hans at Blue Grouse Winery and Vineyards. “True and healthy varietal wines,” is how Richard Kiltz and his father describe their wines. On a picturesque sloping estate, just a few kilometers from Fairburn Farm, the Kiltzes established their vineyards in 1989.

“Ja, we came to the island in 1989,” Hans will tell you, “At that time, there were 28 wineries in all of British Columbia. Eight of them were owned by Germans.” Richard, trained in the tradition of oenology in Germany, credits the pure air and spring water with providing the raw stuffs that make the grapes that great wine comes from. Ortega is a grape they’ve planted since the beginning and for a splash of freshness, drink a glass and take home a bottle of Blue Grouse’s Siegerrebe, an offspring of Gewurztraminer and Madeleine Angevine…mmm!.. rose petals and peaches. Www.bluegrousevineyards.com The Sixth Annual Cowichan Valley Wine & Culinary Festival happens in September.

Providence Farm

It’s time now to find a quiet little nook to enjoy your picnic foragings on your first Cow Bay food run. Find your way down to Providence Farms and once again, you’ll walk right into a picture book. It’s the tall Church Steeple and red farmhouse you will see as you drive along Tzouhalem Road. Providence is a “therapeutic farming community;” a 400-acre haven bequeathed by the Catholic order of the Sisters of St. Ann and was established in 1979 as the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association. Www. Providence.bc.ca

Fresh Island Produce, Photo Courtesy Deddeda Stemler

The grounds themselves are pastoral, picturesque, picture-book like scenery. But not to miss are the greenhouse and nursery where you can pick up annuals, perennials and herbs and the Farm Store where you can buy treats for yourself and to take home such as freshly baked cookies, canning from the Kitchen Program – a program that Dwight and Vanessa volunteer for – and fresh eggs from “the girls.” You’ll want those for your breakfast in the morning. All purchases go toward supporting the running of the farm.

Stinging Nettles

If you happen to be on the island in Spring, absolutely not to miss is the Stinging Nettle Festival at Fairburn Farm. Stinging nettle dates back to ancient times as a food source, and even farther back as a medicinal and clothing fiber source. It contains the most chlorophyll of any vegetable. It also contains 40 percent protein and has higher volumes of vitamins A, C, and D than spinach, even, when cooked, as well as potassium and calcium.

Stinging Nettles For Nettle Pesto

Mara Jernigan, who is soon off to Italy for an indefinite amount of time, but is, at the moment, still the Slow Food Canada President, is hosting this 5-course Nettle Dinner at Fairburn. Entry fee includes stinging nettle tea, taste workshops and guided nature walks. You can even purchase lunch items made with nettles at the “Stinging Nettle Cafe.”

Stinging Nettle Festival April 17th and 18th at Fairburn Farm. Www. Fairburnfarm.bc.ca

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Butter And Egg Days Parade

Everyone loves the Petaluma Butter & Egg Days Parade!

Petaluma’s Butter & Egg Days Parade and Celebration, now in its 29th year, has become a tradition in Downtown Petaluma, celebrating the region’s rich agricultural history as one of the premier dairy regions in the country.  The event typically draws over 25,000 attendees.

Together with The Petaluma River, eggs and dairy products created an economy that turned Petaluma into one of the most prosperous communities in the state in the early 1900’s.

The community parade showcases the best of Petaluma and Petaluma’s history. The parade features over 3,000 participants, more than a hundred volunteers and supports every aspect of community life.

Activities before, during and after the parade include four blocks of arts and crafts exhibitors, food vendors offering a wide variety of festival foods, sponsor booths, community and non-profit booths and a large area to entertain youngsters with inflatables, rides, and hands-on activities.  This is one of the North Bay’s largest events and one not to miss for young and old alike. After all, everyone loves a parade!

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Pebble Beach Food And Wine

It’s Here Again! April 8-11. 2010

Four days.    60 Celebrity Chefs.    250 Wineries.

Thousands of foodies…

It's that Pebble Beach Food & Wine time of year again!

In just a couple of weeks, thousands of kindred- foodies like you will descend on the exquisite Pebble Beach, California, a peninsula enclaved between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey Bay, for an event that has been described in past years as an “epicurean delight.”

Pebble Beach Food and Wine at Pebble Beach is set to bring you a culinary experience of a lifetime. Enjoy lunches, dinners and wine tastings. Educate yourself with cooking demonstrations. Experience the most legendary grand tasting the California coast has ever seen. And it’s all surrounded by the most beautiful scenery in the world.

The Kick-Off

Pebble Beach Food and Wine kicks off on Thursday with two fabulous events that marry the theme of the weekend with its spectacular setting.

The first event of the weekend is the Celebrity Chef/Winemaker Golf Tournament at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, pitting gastronomy’s stars against one another, and against Pebble Beach Food and Wine attendees. Tee-time is at 8:30 am and the morning starts with a Krug champagne toast.

Thursday evening, the famous Inn at Spanish Bay becomes a beautiful backdrop for an exploration of outstanding food and wine. The Lexus Opening Night Reception features food from 20 top chefs. Over 200 wines are available for tasting.

The weekend continues with event spectaculars that include Naked Chardonnay, To Oak or Not To Oak; Icons of Washington; Chef Thomas Keller – Ad hoc at home; Chef Wolfgang Puck – Make It Easy; Sommelier Blind Tasting and on and

on. The unspoken theme of the weekend is “It’s always a great time for bubbly!” so be sure not to miss out on Brut and Rose – 30 years of vintage at Veuve Clicquot.  Read More HERE >>>>>>>

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Culinary Tourism Anyone? Try Vancouver Island

By Paige Donner

Culinary Tourism makes perfect sense…at least to us!  When you travel for pleasure, at least half your time and itinerary are taken up with decisions like where to eat and what to eat?  When you plan a trip around destinations known for their exquisite culinary offerings and wine pairings, you’ve already done most of the hard work before you’ve ever left home. Then all there is to do once you arrive is…Relax and Enjoy!

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Spring and Summer mean Blooming Gardens in Victoria and all over Vancouver Island…

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The Comox Valley – also on Vancouver Island – is a Must See, Must Do, Must Eat and Drink and Be Merry kind of destination…

Can’t see the VIDEO?  CLICK HERE>>>

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Wine And Chocolate, Today’s The Day!

Today - and Every Day! - is The Day for Wine and Chocolate!

Anette’s Chocolates of Napa Valley used to make the chocolate sauces for the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. These are the sauces that are now made for over 100 different wineries across the US. Each winery’s particular wine is included in the making of the sauce, and then specially co-labeled.

When Anette took over this long-standing chocolate shop over 18 years ago, it was already a local anchor, having stood on the very same spot for some 40 years when it was previously called Patrick’s.  The current owners, Anette and her brother Brent and his wife, Mary, recall stopping off at the candy store on their way home from school.

When they first took over the candy shop, master candy maker Ed Ratcliff stayed on to teach Anette and her partners his 40 year craft of candy and chocolate making.  Most of their customers had been buying their candy from the shop since the 60s and 70s.

Brent and Anette made it a habit to ask their employees, most of whom they kept on when they took over the long-running business, what the assortment should be made up of.  Brent explains that the long-time employees are the watchdogs for some of the older candy flavors.

The dark chocolate they use and make themselves, is approximately 62%.  And Brent will readily tell you that their wine-infused sauces are actually made with a lot of wine. They count themselves blessed to be asked to participate in the many events around Napa and Sonoma including wine and chocolate pairings and wine auctions.

Wine Added To Chocolate For Anette's Chocolate Sauce

They focus mostly on truffles. Their boxed chocolates make elegantly beautiful gifts and memories for special occasions.  They have over 120 different kinds of candies and chocolates on offer. Anette’s rich burgundy boxes can be filled with as many as 30 pieces and come with gold satin hinges, vellum liners, all finished with a gold taffeta ribbon.

Looking for something tantatalizing?…how about Caramel Brandy Sauce?…Chocolate Martini Ganache?…Dark Chocolate Merlot Fudge?…or how about their signature Chocolate Wine and Liqueur Sauces.

Anette’s Chocolate by Brent

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On First Street in Downtown Napa

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