A few days ago, Danny and I attended a roasting class at a little boutique store called, The Healthy Butcher. They focus on locally grown/raised organic products and strive to serve their patrons like a good ole fashioned butcher shop would. We had signed up months ago (and nearly forgot about it) but if was a great way to spend a few hours on an otherwise rainy weekday evening.
Our instructor started cooking professionally at around age 15 and had accumulated over 25 years of experience in the food industry (although he sure didn't look like he was over 40). We focussed on two main methods of cooking large cuts of meat - dry roasting and pot roasting (braising). With a variety of recipes on the agenda, we learned about which cuts of meat were most appropriate for each method and the techniques in which to prepare them.
Throughout the evening we prepared four distinct dishes:
(1) Herb Crusted Sirloin Tip Roast with Olive Oil Crushed Potatoes and Bordelaise Sauce
(2) Stuffed Pork Shoulder Roast with Dijon Braised Cabbage
(3) Crispy Herb-Roasted Chicken with Braising Greens
(4) Red Wine Braised Blade Roast with Celery Root Puree.
There was plenty to sample as the night went on and I was glad to add a few more meals to the repertoire. Hopefully I'll have a couple of them mastered by the time the holidays roll around.
This past weekend some great friends of ours were in the city to run in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. They're currently residing in Phoenix, AZ so I'm sure the temperature difference was quite the shock to their system up here in chilly Ontario but they finished well nonetheless. I was more than happy to cheer from the sidelines.
But watching from the sidelines wasn't exactly conducive to a good catch-up so we decided to take a day and head down to Niagara-on-the-Lake and tour a Winery. I had never been to either before so was excited to try something new.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a picturesque little town about thirty minutes drive from the well-known Niagara Falls and sits on the edge of Lake Ontario (hence the name). The relatively mild climate and rich soil makes the region an excellent place for fruit production and wineries. The town is also known for its luscious gardens, antique shops, art galleries, cafes and golf courses.
Window shopping with our friends.
First we started with a tour of the historic town centre. The fall colours were especially magnificent which only added to the beauty of the streets. After purchasing a variety of jams, spreads and spices (all locally grown and produced) we stopped for a delicious lunch. Lobster poutine, potato and leek soup, turkey/cranberry sandwiches and more...wish I would have taken photos.
Next we drove to the Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate to tour one of the many wineries in the region. I can't even begin to describe the wonderful aromas as we walked in the building.
We signed up for a tour where a guide took us through various aspects of the vineyards and wine production facility and cellar. It was pretty windy outside but were nicely shielded by the vines. True to form, I lingered around the back of the crowd and snapped a few photos.
I should note that we weren't permitted to walk through the actual production vineyards but rather a designated visitor's section. I guess there are too many curious pallets that tamper with the grapes making them unsuitable for wine production.
As someone who spends most of their time indoors amongst the steel and concrete of skyscrapers, I was more than happy to put up with a bit of wind if it meant the opportunity to view the expansive green vineyards and enjoy the sunny blue sky.
After touring the chemistry lab and cellar, guests were treated to a tasting session. I believe our guide served a Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and an Ice wine. All three were well-recieved.
Our final stop was the shores of Lake Ontario. If you looked really hard you could make out the Toronto Skyline across the water (although not in this particular photo). It was a great ending to a fun day with friends. Perhaps our next visit will be poolside in sunny Phoenix?
There are certain aspects I really enjoy about autumn (soups! harvests! leaves!) but one of those things I especially love is scarf season. I'm not too crazy adventurous with my wardrobe -- I mostly stick to staple pieces and neutrals -- but I really do crave a pop of colour, an interesting texture, or just a few extra layers around my neck to stay warm with. You can use scarves to dress up or dress down an outfit, they can be worn in many different ways, and if you spill on yourself while drinking the new seasonal latte you can use your scarf to cover up the stain...not like I've ever done that though.