Culinaire #7 (December 2012)

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Sweet treats for sweet teeth: An indulgence of pastries and chocolate




Italian....closer than you think

Sicilian Style Steaks, Thin Crust Napoletana Style Pizzas and Gourmet Pastas

Brand New Reserve Wine List - Fresh Savoury and Sweet Cocktails Pacini, 123 Freeport Blvd NE, Calgary (Deerfoot North, right on Country Hills Blvd, South on Barlow Trail) Phone: 403.930.8080 Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner 2 • DECEMBER 2012

Features 10

Edible Artistry


Sweet Satisfaction


Behind The Scenes With Calgary’s Hotel Chefs


Seeing Stars!


The Ultimate Festive Winter Warmers


Spirits Gift Guide

Culinary craftsmanship involves bringing together flavour and pleasing appearances, but Karthi Sengottaian’s tools of the trade are just a flattened chopstick and a paring knife. By Fred Malley, CCC

A chocolatier is a person who makes their living working with chocolate; only a chocolate maker makes chocolate. Brad Churchill is both and only one of three in Canada. By BJ Oudman

Hotel chefs are a special breed. They have varied backgrounds, but all share a passion for food. At the helm of culinary operations, they have to meet the demands of restaurant clientele as well as banquet and catering departments. By Fred Malley, CCC

While the rest of the world makes sparkling wines with names like Cava, Prosecco or Sekt, the Champagne region of France is responsible for the bubbling wine that aficionados around the world have come to covet and enjoy. By Adrian Bryksa

The Holiday Season is a special time of year for the beer world. It has long been a tradition for brewmasters to concoct a seasonal beer to celebrate this time of year. By David Nuttall and Meaghan O’Brien

Spirits are a very welcome gift, particularly at this time of year. Whether it’s for a host or that special someone, we’ve got you covered. By Andrew Ferguson


Photography by Ingrid Keunzel with the kind assistance of linens and decorations from Inspirati, cakes and pastries from Yann Haute Patisserie and chocolate from Choklat.



More Inside









7 Past Events: WPWS Charity Auction

by Linda Garson


Ask The Expert: Wine & Chocolate Pairing

by Peter Vetsch


Buffet 101

by Wendy Brownie


Just A Trifle

by Jeff Collins


A Moveable Feast - Jelly Modern Doughnuts

by Cory Knibutat


Cupcake Fatigue?

by Elizabeth Chorney-Booth


Inside Job: The Baker/Pastry Chef

by Cory Knibutat


Chef’s Tips (and Tricks!) by Cory Knibutat


A Fare Exchange

by BJ Oudman


“Trimmings” for Your Holiday Baking

by Vincci Tsui, RD

4 • DECEMBER 2012


Healthy Homemade Gift Guide

by Vincci Tsui, RD

Brittle, Bark, Truffle, Bar..

by Adrian Bryksa


Step-by-Step To Making Chocolate Truffles





by Natalie Findlay

Christmas Beer Gifts

by David Nuttall and Meaghan O’Brien


The New Norm - Luxury for All

by David Nuttall

Open That Bottle


Christmas Stocking

by Linda Garson

by Jocelyn Burgener

All That Sparkles..

62 Gift Ideas for Big Stockings and Little Stockings!

by Tom Firth

A Wine By Any Other Name.. by Tom Firth


Menu Gems


The Not-So-Humble Spud by Silvia Pikal

Sweetheart Of The Desert by Brenda Holder

by Gabriel Hall


Christmas Liqueur Guidel

by Janice Beaton and Chef Thierry Meret


by David Nuttall and Meaghan O’Brien


by Wendy Brownie

The Indomitable Blue

Dinner Jacket Napkin For New Year’s Eve


Turning Up The Volume



by Tom Firth, Cory Knibutat and Linda Garson


The Ideal New Year’s Eve


Home Bartending For The Holidays

by Gabriel Hall


Born in Sarajevo amidst the Bosnian War, Silvia managed to escape to Croatia on a cargo plane. Her family then immigrated to Canada. Growing up, her house was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread and savoury stews. Consequently, she developed an infectious love for food and is passionate about sharing healthy recipes. She has a personal food blog at ‘Like Mother, Like Daughter’, and is currently freelancing and finishing up her journalism degree.


Peter is a local lawyer by day and wine writer by night, pursuing his vinous passion by writing for city-life website ‘Calgary Is Awesome’ and maintaining his own wine blog at He has earned his formal wine accreditation through the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), where he recently obtained both his Intermediate and Advanced Certificates with Distinction, and he is always on the lookout for the next way to learn about and experience wine (and the next good bottle to try). A proud father, Peter is thrilled to be part of the Culinaire team and eager to help feed the growing appreciation of wine and wine culture in Calgary.


Heather Hartmann was lucky to grow up around good food, with both farmers and restaurateurs in the family. She ate Caesar salad at the restaurant where it was invented at the age of eight, and it was all downhill from there. In spite of such a significant salad experience, she spent several years working in the cattle business, and has participated in several agricultural trade missions abroad. A writer by trade, she’s the Calgary restaurant columnist for Examiner. com. A good German/Ukrainian, her consideration of garlic as a food group is understandable; her love for Mexican and southern food is not. You can reach her on Facebook and Twitter @DemocraticDiner


Cu inaire Editor Linda Garson Design Emily Vance Contributors Janice Beaton Wendy Brownie Adrian Bryksa Jocelyn Burgener Elizabeth Chorney-Booth Jeff Collins Andrew Ferguson Natalie Findlay Tom Firth Gabriel Hall Brenda Holder Cory Knibutat Ingrid Kuenzel Fred Malley, CCC Thierry Meret David Nuttall Meaghan O’Brien BJ Oudman Silvia Pikal Janine Trotta Vincci Tsui Peter Vetsch Advertising Joanne Black 403-401-9463

Natalie Findlay 403-771-7757

Nicholas Quintillan 403-700-8591

For more information about some of our many other talented contributors please visit us online at

Contact us at: Culinaire Magazine #1203, 804 -3rd Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 0G9 403-870-9802 Twitter: @culinairemag All Trademarks presented in this magazine are owned by the registered owner. All advertisements appearing in this magazine are the sole responsibility of the person, business or corporation advertising their product or service. For more information on Culinaire Magazine’s Privacy Policy and Intention of Use, please see our website at All content, photographs and articles appearing in this magazine are represented by the contributor as original content and the contributor will hold Culinaire Magazine harmless against any and all damages that may arise from their contribution. All public correspondence, which may include, but is not limited to letters, e-mail, images and contact information, received by Culinaire Magazine becomes the property of Culinaire Magazine and is subject to publication. Culinaire Magazine may not be held responsible for the safety or return of any unsolicited manuscripts, photographs and other materials. Reproduction of this publication in whole or in part without written consent from Culinaire Magazine is strictly prohibited.


Letter From The Editor It’s the time of year for celebrations and indulgences, and for our December issue the theme is very definitely sweet and sparkling. We’ve had a lot of fun researching the stories this month, and discovered a remarkable wealth of brilliant individuals and visionaries who create and craft our treats, treasures and pleasures (guilty or otherwise!). There are only three chocolate-makers in Canada, and we have one of the best here in our city. Brad Churchill’s story is one of determination and resolution, resulting in Choklat’s vast range of unique chocolate and baked products. We also have an abundance of very able chocolatiers too, and four of them tell us their stories, processes and practices that set them apart and keep us coming back for more. We meet the Fairmont Palliser’s self-taught chocolate artist, whose exceptional skill

leaves us all speechless in awe, especially when we learned of the tools of his trade – a chopstick. Yet he sculpts life-size realistic likenesses – we’ll take chocolate over wax any day! And he’s not the only talented person to be working in Calgary’s hotels. Have you ever wondered how chefs manage at least one restaurant if not more, plus overseeing all the banquets and catering operations too for our corporate, charity and private functions and events that take place at this time of year? Most of us can happily prepare dinner for six, but for six hundred? Here we meet the people to whom this is second nature, and take a peep behind the scenes in their hotel kitchens.

On the sparkling front, we read about the difference between Champagne and other bubbles, as well as fortified wines – all perfect for this time of year! There are special beers produced at this time too to spice up a chilly winter, and we take look at some high alcohol beers for the long nights indoors. Of course gift-giving is top of mind this month, and to help with the agonizing decisions of what to get for family and friends, we have lots of suggestions and ideas of special spirits, liqueurs, beers and wines in our seasonal gift guides. I wish you all a very happy holiday time, and to say a special thanks for your support. A big shout-out too to our contributors and advertisers, to whom we are ever-grateful. Culinaire has been so well-received in Calgary and I thank you for your very kind comments and compliments. Keep the feedback coming, we know that 2013 is going to be even better!

It’s not until you start looking that you realise just how many superb bakers are on our doorstep (some of them mobile!), and they share the tricks of their trade as well as their advice to help improve our home-baking. We have step-by-step dessert recipes for you to try, both extravagant and for the healthconscious too.

Linda Garson Editor-in-Chief

Willow Park Wines & Spirits 19th Charity Wine Auction By LINDA GARSON Photography by ACCENT PHOTOGRAPHY LTD. Where else would you be met on arrival with by a welcome flute of Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne and then taste your way through a vertical vintage sampling of Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor, from 1990, ’93, ’95, ’96, ’97 and 2007; a delight and an education at the same time.

November 3rd, 2012 Where in Calgary can you try the most amazing food from 22 of our top chefs while sipping on your choice of over 100 superpremium wines, all at over $50 a bottle – and raise around $230,000 for charity in three hours? The 19th annual Willow Park Wines & Spirits Charity Wine Auction had it all! This year’s theme was “Venetian Masquerade”, and most of the 450 guests dressed the part with some remarkable costumes. Dr. Jennifer Gerritsen won the $10,000 donation for the best costume, to her charity of choice, Youth Science Canada.

6 • DECEMBER 2012

Twenty winemakers, owners and vineyard principals were present including Celeste Pesce, winemaker at Argentina’s 1884 Escorihuela; Emma Swain, CEO of St. Supery Napa Valley; and Mario Bolag, who auctioned off a stay at his Terralsole vineyards in Montalcino, Italy. It was hard to pick favourites of the delicious small plates on offer, but notable mentions must go to Exec Chef Glen Manzer of Cibo for his beef and pork ravioli with gorgonzola cream sauce, chanterelle mushrooms, white truffle oil and walnuts; Chef Jordan Walsh of Hyatt Regency for his 8-hour braised short rib with celeriac puree; and Chef Landin Sharkey of Earls 8th Avenue SW, for his roast apple-based warm gingerbread cake with salty caramel sauce and vanilla bean gelato.

The live and silent auctions raised funds for Prostate Cancer Centre, Alberta Guide Dog Services, The Poppy Fund & Veterans Food Bank, and the Haskayne School of Business ~ thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Wayne Henuset and Peggy Perry, with assistance from their staff and volunteers. Since 1994 this annual event has raised over $2.5 million for charities in the city. Congratulations to everyone who gave generously of their time, energy and money to make such a splendid and memorable evening!

C ustomer ppreciation A

December 12, 2012 2PM – 8PM

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Ask Culinaire: Wine & Chocolate Pairing By PETER VETSCH

If you have a question regarding anything related to dining, beverages, events, cooking and ingredients, our experts are here with answers. Visit us at, click on “Contact Us” and ask away! We hope to hear from you soon!

I have tried a few different times to serve wine with chocolate or chocolate-based desserts, but I can’t seem to find the right match. What’s the best type of wine to pair with chocolate? A: This is a surprisingly difficult question. Wine and chocolate are often linked together in our collective consciousness because each conjures up visions of pleasure, celebration and romance. But this shared hedonism does not make for a trouble-free pairing match – it can be one of the trickier wine and food pairings to get right. Any good pairing should enhance the flavours of both the food and the accompanying wine, and the challenge with chocolate is that numerous elements of its flavour profile can subdue or overwhelm the wine you are trying to serve with it. If you can isolate these elements and then pick a wine that suits them, you will be on the path to a heavenly chocolate match. The first key thing to note about chocolate is that it is almost always sweet, and sweet foods tend to decrease our perception of sweetness,

fruitiness and body in any paired wine. To combat this, try to pair chocolate with a wine that is even sweeter than it is, which will keep the chocolate from making the wine taste thin, bitter and tart. Chocolate also tends to have bold, intense and assertive flavours, so shy, delicate wines need not apply. One shortcut to pairing harmony is to pick wines and food that have similar, complementary flavours; since chocolate is a flavour descriptor often found in red wines, your surest bet for a good chocolate match may lie in the often-underappreciated category of sweet reds. Here are a few winning choco-pairing possibilities: 1. Vintage Port: Unlike Tawny Port, which develops mellow, smooth, caramelized flavours thanks to years of maturation in large oxygenexposed barrels, Vintage Port is bottled early in its development and comes across as deeper, darker, fruitier and more intense. Vintage Port is the product of a single exemplary vintage and can be an explosive flavour powerhouse in its youth. When matched with chocolate, the Port’s aggressive tannins are mellowed out, its own chocolate tones are heightened and enhanced, and its bold sweet fruit plays happily with chocolate’s intensity and depth of flavour. 2. Banyuls: My personal favourite chocolate pairing, Banyuls is a sweet wine region at the southern tip of France making fortified dessert wines primarily from Grenache grapes. Banyuls tastes somewhat like Tawny Port (and is made in similar fashion), displaying a dazzling array of burnt sugar, raisin, citrus, maple and nutty notes, but it is more delicate and lower in alcohol. Although its flavours do not entirely overlap with those of chocolate, the two mutually enhance each other, with the chocolate rounding out the Banyuls and the Banyuls highlighting the warmth and complexity of the chocolate. 3. Brachetto d’Acqui: A low-alcohol, lightly sparking, mediumsweet red, Brachetto d’Acqui brings the bubbles, which reinforce the celebratory nature of chocolate while also scouring the palate to refresh it for the next bite of dessert. Made from the indigenous Brachetto grape in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, Brachetto d’Acqui brings a lighter hand to the pairing role, but its bubbly, creamy texture and bright fresh dark fruit flavour give it the palate presence to shine with chocolate. Enjoy!

8 • DECEMBER 2012

Buffet 101 By WENDY BROWNIE Photography by INGRID KUENZEL Holiday entertaining during the most wonderful time of the year need not be stressful if one chooses an informal buffet-style presentation. The meaning of the word ‘buffet’ (pronounced buh-FAY) is derived from a piece of 18th century French furniture, a ‘bufet’, often referred to as a sideboard from which a meal is served. Today, the actual piece of furniture, a freestanding table, is used as well as the kitchen island or counter tops for placement of the buffet menu items. Ringing in the festive season with style can easily be done, whether a breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet. Following the tips below is like a present in itself for the host. Skip seasonal stress, which can often accompany

a formal meal, by allowing your guests to serve themselves. Dishes prepared ahead will let you spend more time with your guests. Choose a theme, such as a ‘dessert’ buffet, where you might even consider making double batches to send home with guests. Welcome a crowd with a dessert buffet featured on the kitchen island. Practical, fuss-free presentation provides easygoing, yet enchanted, entertaining. Three main desserts, such as Hazelnut Praline Torte, Chocolate Yule Log and Pavlova with Poached Pears, accompanied by an assortment of shortbread, truffles and gingerbread are decadently delicious choices throughout the Holiday Season. Pair with a selection of sparkling wines, eggnog, coffee and tea and - voilà, you’ll have a party to remember.

Buffet Tips: Tip 1 – Start with a Plan Make your serving plan a few days in advance – know which items go on each dish or platter.

Tip 2 – Space is Important If two people can’t easily pass along the sides of the table, move the table and serve from the front.

Tip 3 – Creative Platters and Trays Take a look at your platters to serve the party foods – colour coordinate to showcase the larger items.

Tip 4 – Arrange Your Table Like the Pros Make sure you have different height levels on your table – anything that creates contrast to showcase the menu items.

Tip 5 – Use Extra Pieces to Make it Flow A side table placed adjacent to the buffet table for plates, utensils, glassware and napkins maximizes serving space and creates a flow for any size crowd.


Culinary craftsmanship involves bringing together flavour and pleasing appearances, among other attributes. The amazing facet is his tools - a flattened chopstick and a paring knife. An auspicious beginning modelling play dough under the tutelage of his artist father developed Karthi Sengottaian in his formative years, encouraging his natural talent to where he is now - an artist in his own right. He is largely self-taught and works in multiple mediums; sugar, ice, wax, salt dough, wood burning, paint, fruit, and his favourite - chocolate.

On learning of his talent, Executive Chef Paul Peddle seized the opportunity to bring Karthi to the Fairmont Palliser in June this year, to showcase the hotel and company. I had the opportunity to watch the master at work in the Palliser pastry shop, where he was putting the finishing touches to the bust of a keynote speaker. I am amazed at what he achieved in two days from only a photocopy mug shot of the man. When the function coordinator came to arrange to move the sculpture, she exclaimed ‘I was just talking to him and it looks exactly like him’. Needless to say, Karthi was relieved. One wouldn’t see him as the nervous type as he is very humble and accepts his gifts graciously. And he is also an accomplished pastry chef; his chocolate truffles simply melt in your mouth and on your fingers too.

Westin Grand Cayman called, and here he learned to work with wax and salt dough (winning yet another gold). A stint back in India was followed by a position with the Mars company and Galaxy Chocolate, working in Egypt. Karthi landed in Calgary just before the 100th anniversary of the Stampede, perfect timing to create a bucking bull and a full sculpture of Guy Weadick.

Karthi attended Madras University and earned a degree in Culinary Management. A subsequent job at J-M English Bakery in India fuelled his love of chocolate, both for eating and sculpting. He moved to Taj Hotels for three years, where he further developed his craft and won a gold medal for butter sculpture. Four years with Carnival Cruises followed, allowing him the opportunity to continue to develop his artistic talents, and wow the guests in the process. Then the

At home, Karthi likes to work on wood burning. He starts by rendering a sketch and then faithfully reproduces it on the wood with a hot iron. Speaking of home, he enjoys his wife’s vegetarian cooking and their young son. He makes the sweets, not always chocolate, as sugar is his ‘must have’ ingredient.

10 • DECEMBER 2012

Creating wedding cakes, especially edible ones, is possible for brides holding their reception at the Fairmont. Karthi can make a spectacular display cake too, and you can take it home afterwards. Want a blown sugar sculpture? Or do you have a lot of plastic milk jugs and need a floral arrangement? You might lose the recycling deposit, but his recycling efforts are a delight to see.

If you want to try your hand at working with modelling chocolate, you can start by making

this recipe from On Cooking, 5th edition Canadian. It is really very easy. 1. Take 160 mL of white corn syrup and heat it to body temperature over a water bath. 2. Melt 400 g of dark chocolate in the same manner and mix in the warm syrup. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature for 3 hours. 3. Knead the firm mixture before you try making a rose or you can lightly dust the table with icing sugar and roll out the chocolate plastique for a twist on sushi. Use rice pudding and fruit for the filling. You can enjoy Karthi’s artistry and the decadence of his Death by Chocolate buffet at the Palliser’s Rimrock Restaurant every Monday evening from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Take a sweet tooth with you and remember that dark chocolate is good for you. It’s a chocolate fantasy featuring an array of chocolate delights, such as chocolate cheesecake, chocolate pizza, chocolate pate, a fountain cascading with creamy chocolate, and many more celestial chocolate creations. On other nights of the week, a Death by Chocolate sampler is available on the Rimrock dessert menu.

Edible Artistry Story and photography by FRED MALLEY, CCC

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I own the family trifle dish. My Mother, at 87, is actively “de-cluttering”. Last year, she called to ask if I wanted the trifle dish. Note the name. This simple cut glass bowl was never used for anything else. When we were children, trifle was the traditional dessert of the holiday season. When the dish arrived, carefully packed, in the mail, my adult eyes were astonished. As a wee lad, high on sugar and the port wine called for in trifle, I saw that dish as huge! What I unpacked was tiny! Eight inches (200 mm) across and only 2 1/2 inches (64 mm) deep! There was a lot of family history packed into that little bowl. Lots of whispered tales of teetotalling aunts who got a little bit tipsy from too much trifle. Believable too, as this is a dessert made and served cold, so there is no heat to evaporate the 20% alcohol in the port. Trifle is an old idea. At first the name was used for a thick cream served on its own and flavoured with ginger and rosewater, then sweetened with sugar. That recipe goes back to a cookbook published in England in 1596. Decades later, an anonymous genius decided that adding alcohol to stale bread or cake was a way to extend the life of the leftover. On the website “What’s Cooking America”, Linda Stradley writes, “It was in the mid-1700s that cake (or biscuits), alcohol, and custard were combined in the trifle bowl.

The recipe for trifle (and many of its now-heirloom glass dishes) came to America via the British who settled in the coastal South. Its popularity remained firm with Southern planters who loved indulgent desserts. Supposedly, it was called “Tipsy Parson” because it presumably lured many a Sunday-visiting preacher off the wagon.” That explains those Aunts! Recently, I called Mom to ask for her trifle recipe. Of course, she had nothing written down, so she dictated the instructions over the phone, and left me to codify them. My first attempt at her trifle was tasty, but not pretty. Too much port on the pieces of sponge cake. I had forgotten to spread jam on the cake. I wound up with too much custard and not enough cream. A second attempt fared better. So now, I am the keeper of more than the dish. I am the keeper of a Collins family tradition. That’s a serious, if tasty, responsibility.



Mom’s Trifle 1 round sponge cake, 120 g 60 mL (1/4 cup) raspberry jam 120 mL (½ cup) port wine 45 mL (3 Tbs) custard powder 45 mL (3 Tbs) sugar 600 mL (2 ½ cups) milk 480 mL (2 cups) whipping cream 240 mL (1 cup) maraschino cherries Cover one side of cake with raspberry jam. Place in the bottom of a bowl jam side up and push down slightly so the cake forms a seal with the side of the bowl.

12 • DECEMBER 2012

Pour port wine over cake and place in the fridge to allow it to soak up the wine. Combine sugar and custard powder in a saucepan. On medium heat, whisk in the milk until everything is thoroughly blended. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then allow to cool until thick, but still pourable. Gently pour the custard over the sponge cake to form a second layer in the bowl. Return to fridge and allow the custard to set. Beat the whipping cream until it is thick, but still pourable. Add most of the cherries to the top of the custard around the edge of the bowl, so they show through the glass. Reserve about a dozen for decoration.

Pour a layer of cream over the custard/cherry layer then whip the rest until it forms peaks. Using a spatula, add a layer of whipped cream to the dish if you have room. Decorate with the remaining cherries and store in the fridge. Serve cool. Note: There are no hard and fast rules in Trifle. If you have no sponge cake, use angel food cake. Strawberry jam can substitute for raspberry, sherry for port, or even fruit juice if you want a trifle that’ll keep the Aunts stone cold sober.....JC “What’s Cooking America” ©2004 by Linda Stradley. USA Copyright TX 5-900-517


A Moveable Feast - Jelly Modern Doughnuts Since they opened their doors to rave reviews a little over a year and a half ago, Jelly Modern Doughnuts have continued to leave their mark on their customers and our city with their original blend of creative flavours and stunning design. As the business gained traction, sisters Rita and Rosanne Tripathy, decided to join Calgary’s healthy food truck community, rolling out the Jelly truck at the start of summer. “The food truck goes to festivals,” said co-owner Rosanne Tripathy. “It goes around town. We kind of had a permanent spot on Stephen Avenue and then we do private event bookings.” Of the 12 daily flavours, along with pastry chef Grayson Sherman’s weekend creations and seasonal favourites to choose from, the Jelly truck offers six flavours daily. Of those

six, they usually have fan-favourites Maple Bacon, Peanut Butter-Cup and S’mores, and the remaining three choices changing continually. “With the chef’s creations, you really get a sense of what’s working,” Tripathy said. “We did a curry-popcorn and a goat cheese-basil. They sound crazy but they’re so good. The savoury is really taking off.” With the help of the truck, a larger portion of business is through catering now, mostly to corporate functions and weddings. Like any catering, clients can select their own menu and make special dietary requests based on allergies or personal preference. As opposed to the main shop, catered events almost always want the smaller bite-sized doughnuts rather than the usual Calgary-sized ones, for obvious reasons. “My sister Rita’s son was having a birthday party right around when we opened and we were wondering if we could make something smaller for the kids,” Tripathy said. “They were so cute and people seemed to really liked them. People who didn’t want to fully indulge. It’s not so messy and people were sharing, so most of our events we do the smaller size.”

For the near future, the Jelly truck will continue where it left off at the end of this summer, becoming a fixture for the food truck crowds. But they’ll start earlier in the season, as they didn’t launch their truck until early June this year. “Now we know all the rules and all the festivals, so we’re going to be ahead of the game,” Tripathy said. “For next year we know which festivals are really successful and which ones we want to be in. The downtown crowd comes to know you’re going to be there. Lots of people were ordering and picking up there,” Tripathy added. Social media has made it easy to keep customers aware of the Jelly truck’s intended location, but food trucks are not immune to the hazards or the average downtown commuter. “Sometimes you can’t find parking, so we’ve moved more towards saying loosely where we’ll be because you can’t guarantee that you’ll be there if some trucks get there first,” Tripathy said. “But the city regulations and everything are easy to get and very doable and they haven’t made it difficult, they’ve made it so that they want you to succeed.”

• 13

Cupcake Fatigue? Elizabeth Chorney-Booth has been searching out other cute and tasty dessert alternatives for us. It was maybe a decade ago, with the rising popularity of boutique bakeshops like New York’s Magnolia Bakery, that cupcakes started to become everyone’s go-to dessert. With their girly, swirly frosting, fussy sprinkles and nostalgic feel, at the turn of the new millennium cupcakes felt like a fun fad, something that food lovers could enjoy with a sense of sweet irony as they wiped the inevitable dab of frosting off their noses. But, unlike a true fad, cupcakes didn’t go away. Eighteen years after the Magnolia Bakery first opened, cupcakes are still the default dessert of weddings, fancy luncheons, and, of course, children’s birthday parties. Calgary has several excellent bakeries that specialize in cupcakes, and a trip to Crave or Buttercream Bakery is almost routine for those who can’t find time to bake before heading off to a dinner party. Cupcakes are no longer the sweet du jour — they’re part of our dessert culture. As much as we love cupcakes, their ubiquity makes them less than ideal in certain situations, and they can be too sweet and heavily-frosted those who don’t harbour a dedicated sweet tooth. Luckily, even bakeries that have built their reputation on selling candy-coloured cupcakes piled high with frosting, have become more creative and offer alternatives for those of us hankering for something different on our dessert plate. Sylvia Kathol is the co-owner of Calgary’s Bliss Bakery, which has built a business on traditional cupcakes that also happen to be completely nut-free. While cupcakes still comprise the bulk of Bliss’ business, Kathol and her team also sell various other baked products, both out of their Bow Valley Square store and as special orders (the Chinook Centre location sticks to cupcakes). Popular items include traditional standards like cookies, brownies, cinnamon buns, and hand pies, which Kathol says she wanted to introduce for business people who may not be inclined to bake their favourite treats at home, as well as kids who need baked goods that are entirely nut-free. “From a business standpoint we did it for kids and it grew into something much bigger than that,” Kathol says. “I think some people have some misconceptions about why we did things other than cupcakes, people sometimes think it’s because we’re not making enough on cupcakes and that’s not the case. We do this because of the kids with nut allergies.”

14 • DECEMBER 2012

As for trendy alternatives to cupcakes, Kathol has found that her corporate and special occasion clients ask for a wide selection of treats at their functions to accommodate guests who may not appreciate the sweetness of cupcakes. She’s had a lot of success with pie-based treats, namely cupcake pies (tiny pies baked in a cupcake wrapper) and pie pops on a stick, an alternative to the cake pops that she also makes on special order.

Cream Puffs Bliss also sells cream puffs out of their Bow Valley Square store, but the mother of all cream puff shops in Calgary has to be Cruffs, located on 4th Street SW, as well as in Calgary Farmers’ Market. Cream puffs have a lot in common with cupcakes in that they’re fussy enough that many home bakers don’t want to deal with the hassle of making and assembling the pastries themselves. Cruffs takes the plain vanilla cream puff that many of us already know, and elevates it to a dessert worthy of a special event or even a wedding. “When people think about cream puffs, they usually think about frozen cream puffs they get from the grocery store,” says Cruffs manager Mario Adiwibawa. “So when they come in they don’t know how it works, that these are gourmet custom-made cream puffs.” Whether you’re attempting them at home or buying from Cruffs, cream puffs are surprisingly diverse. Cruffs offers a variety of fillings including classic Chantilly cream, hazelnut chocolate, salted caramel, Bailey’s, green tea, and various fruit flavours, as well as fun and fancy toppings. For special occasions, the shop sells croquembouche cream puff towers and other cream puff arrangements.

Doughnuts While doughnuts aren’t usually considered a particularly elegant pastry, they are making a comeback among those with discerning taste. Jelly Modern Doughnuts is leading the doughnut charge in Calgary with gourmet flavours like maple bacon and Madagascar bourbon vanilla, but even chains like Krispy Kreme and Tim Horton’s are upping their game with special seasonal doughnut flavours. Doughnuts aren’t just for the convenience food set - plenty of home bakers and food bloggers are making them at home. If you’re not

a stickler for tradition, you can bake them in the oven instead of deep-frying. And yes, they can replace cupcakes even for special occasions — Jelly Modern takes special orders for wedding cakes and centerpieces.

Macarons The dessert most likely to take on cupcake-level of trendiness has to be French macarons. Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, macarons are delicate cookies made with almond meringue. Because the key ingredients are almond flour and eggs, classic macarons are gluten-free, making them an ideal cupcake alternative for those with food intolerances. With their growing popularity, macarons are now available at several bake shops in Calgary, though Yann Blanchard of Yann’s Haute Patisserie says that Calgarians are still figuring out exactly what macarons are all about. “People have this belief that macarons need to be fresh. Which is insulting to me, because there’s no such thing as a fresh macaron!” Blanchard says. “We make sure our macarons are of the best quality, but a macaron cannot be fresh, it needs to be put into refrigeration after baking for at least 24 hours. The filling and humidity from the environment needs to transfer to the shell.” Part of macarons’ appeal lies in the diversity of flavours as well as their dainty, yet colourful appearance. Yann’s offers a rotating roster of macaron flavors like orange blossom and Grand Marnier, rose and lychee, and passion fruit, and Blanchard is always experimenting with new combinations including past special flavours like banana and avocado, and lime and basil. Macarons have become a staple at elegant weddings, either in the form of a macaron tower or as takehome favours. The world can never have too many delicious desserts and it’s not likely that the cupcake will lose its popularity any time soon. But with so many choices available (and this is without even mentioning whoopee pies, dessert sushi, artisanal marshmallows, cookie dough bites, or the plethora of other cute desserts out there), there’s no reason not try another option next time you’re planning to indulge your sweet tooth.

• 15

His passion for chocolate began “out of spite” in 2005 when he bought a box of chocolates "produced in Calgary.” The recipient of his token of affection opened it, removed the four chocolates she liked and handed it back; his research uncovered that the chocolate was actually NOT made in Calgary. Convinced that making chocolate could not be that difficult, having only four ingredients - cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla - Brad was determined to create a

perfect product. He searched the Internet, joined forums and built a contact list. The first thing he needed was raw cocoa beans, not usually available at the local grocery store; he convinced some suppliers to send him beans. After simply roasting in his oven, he needed a way to grind them. He broke almost every coffee grinder, blender and food processor he could get his hands on before making his own “Brad design". The experiments began - batch after batch of trial and error, gifts for his recipient and anyone else neighbours, friends, complete strangers! He would purchase the best chocolate he could find and sample next to his, critiquing until he got his blend down pat – three thousand hours of research later! Brad describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. A technical architect by trade, he has owned a ranch, a furnituremaking company, an IT company and raced motorcycles – so it was no giant leap that he could make chocolate a business. In August 2008 he opened at his current location, 1327A Ninth Avenue SE, and at The Calgary Farmers' Market in April 2012. The key ingredient to chocolate is a cocoa bean, actually the seed of a tropical fruit. The seeds themselves are bitter and astringent and covered in pulpy goo. Harvest occurs twice a year, and each tree can produce 1.3 to 1.4 kilograms of cocoa beans/year. Brad sources beans from five plantations; one in Mexico, one in Brazil and three in Venezuela. Ninety percent of the world's supply are Forastero, the workhorse, while ten percent are Criollo- more delicate, fewer pods and more difficult to grow, not unlike pinot noir. Choklat uses the sub variety of Criollo called Porcelana; he is one of only two chocolate makers in the world to have access to it. The third variety is Trinitario, a rare crossbreed between the two. Brad purchases directly from plantations to ensure the beans are harvested and more importantly, fermented to spec. The pods are removed from the trunk via machete and broken open; the seeds are removed and fermented in piles for five to seven days. Besides the bean variety, fermentation is key to developing the flavour profile. Much like grapes for wine, the same variety can produce a very different product based on where and how it is grown, fermented and processed. The beans are then dried on mats or on the ground for 30 to 45 days. Due to rain and humidity, the beans need to be gathered up every night before being laid out again the next day. Purchasing an average six metric tonnes/ year, beans are shipped by container to his warehouse. Considered contaminated by

16 • DECEMBER 2012

the FDA, only one hundred pounds at a time are brought to the store and roasted 30 to 65 minutes at 300º F (depending on the varietal). After cooling, they are broken into nibs and shells. Using a "Brad design" winnower, the shells are blown away. The nibs, along with the only three other ingredients of chocolate - deodorized cocoa butter, plain white sugar (grocery store varietal) and Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean are then mixed in a machine called a refiner for forty eight to ninety six hours. It is this process, reducing the particle size to ensure a creamy quality mouth-feel to the chocolate, as well as conching - removal of tannins, polyphenols and acids that are by-products of fermentation, that are key to producing great chocolate. The refiners at Choklat run twenty four/seven. Once made, the chocolate is poured into lined boxes, stored until needed for the products the store sells. All eleven hundred of them - yes, ELEVEN HUNDRED! As I looked around the store, as hard as I may, I could not see even ONE hundred, but then Brad pulls out a menu. They create seven baked goods, seven hot chocolates, eight varieties of bars, eight varieties of bark (fruit and nuts added) and over one thousand truffle combinations. Truffles are really the piece de resistance at Choklat. Made fresh, to order, on site. Pick your centre, dip in either milk or dark chocolate and then roll in one of twenty toppings. Voila - over one thousand combinations. Experienced staff can make a truffle in fifteen seconds. You can order one or one thousand, any combination. Another unique Choklat offering is the Choklat Snobbery 101 class - a behind the scenes look at exactly how fine chocolate is made, with sampling along the way before finishing with a wine and chocolate pairing. (Hint: great Christmas gift idea for those hardto-buy-for foodies). Brad offered a few tips, such as never refrigerating your chocolate and never ever freezing it! Truffles should be enjoyed within ten to fourteen days, dark chocolate bars within ten to fourteen years and milk chocolate about six months (due to higher milk fat it can turn rancid). As I left with truffles to sample, Brad would not divulge what he had chosen: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get!

What makes Choklat different? Proprietor Brad Churchill is the only chocolate maker in Calgary, and only one of three in Canada. But what about all our other chocolatiers? Are they not chocolate makers too? They may make chocolates but they don't make chocolate. A chocolatier is a person who makes their living working with chocolate; only a chocolate maker makes chocolate. Brad Churchill is both.

Sweet Satisfaction By BJ OUDMAN Photography by BJ OUDMAN AND INGRID KUENZEL

• 17

Inside Job:

The Baker/Pastry Chef Story and photography by CORY KNIBUTAT

These passionate individuals bust their tails to craft their visions of delicious breads and pastries. Calgary has an embarrassment of young talent as well as seasoned professionals. From a simple sourdough loaf or fancy tarts to impress dinner guests, this city has it all. Rustic Sourdough Bakery for using a lot of organic and natural ingredients. We have no shortening. We don’t use any trans-fats.”

At the heart of 17th Avenue SW, Rustic Sourdough Bakery specializes not only in traditional artisanal sourdough breads, but pastries as well. Swiss Master Baker and Master Pastry Chef, Jos Rehli, has highly skilled bakers and pastry chefs working for him to bring his recipes to life. “I really try to develop products with a clean ingredient label,” Rehli said. “We are known

Many independent bakeries in the city stress the use of organic and nutritious ingredients to distance themselves from the chemical and preservative-laced breads found at supermarkets, knowing full well they can’t compete on price. “It’s sometimes difficult to do, but I still want to offer my customer real bread with an ingredient list that is clean,” Rehli said. “If you look at the ingredient list of the bread in some chains with preservative powders added, it’s scary.”

Some new customers aren’t quite aware of the shorter life cycle of artisanal bread and have not been around real bread for many years, but you can’t really blame them if they were raised on Wonderbread. “It’s a bit of an educational process,” Rehli said. “Once in a while we have customers bring the bread back. We explain what happened and replace the bread free of charge,” Rehli added. “Working with natural and organic ingredients is challenging because you don’t have these powders added to the breads that make it more stable, but generally, people are more and more aware of what they’re eating. You will find Rustic Sourdough Bakery at 1305, 17 Avenue SW and also at Kingsland Farmers Market

Pascal’s Patisserie Tucked away in the South East is a bit of a hidden gem, Pascal’s Patisserie, which features traditional, artisanal, melt-in-yourmouth French pastries whipped up daily by, you guessed it, a gentlemen named Pascal. While the pastries that Pascal Bagioli, a pastry chef of 20 years, makes are in every sense of the word, delightful, they are designed to be taken home and finished in your own oven. In effect you, the customer, fill your house with the intoxicating smells of a French bakery that will make your Febreeze air-freshener fall out of the socket. Pastries are mixed and formed in the bakery, but immediately vacuum-sealed

18 • DECEMBER 2012

and frozen to keep them fresh for months. “With our product, we have to suspend the fermentation because you need it to last frozen for up to three months,” Bagioli said. “When you do the same thing fresh you don’t mind it because the dough needs to ferment to become stringy to keep the shape when you bake it. Ours needs to stop.” “The water needs to be a certain temperature, the butter needs to be a certain temperature, but the process shouldn’t start,” Bagioli added. “The dough shouldn’t be soft, always strong to stop the fermentation.”

The responsibility then falls on customers to finish the fermentation process at home by letting the pastries thaw, usually five to eight hours or overnight, then paying careful attention to the baking instructions that come with every product. “With this, we have a beautiful exchange with our customers,” Bagioli said. “We always ask them to send us a picture of their creations along with the baking times.” Pascal’s Patisserie is located at 101, 5240 - 1A Street SE

Yann Haute Patisserie What would a feature on pastry chefs in Calgary be without checking in with Yann Blanchard from Yann Haute Patisserie in the food-centric Mission district? Yann has made a name for himself in just a few short years, offering the city his irresistible French pastries, most notably his macarons. “The macaron for sure, by far that’s our flagship product,” Blanchard said. “For me I can only focus on what’s best. I want to keep pushing to create products that when you finish it, you want another one.” “Right now I’m revisiting the beignets, the doughnuts if you will, and making something a bit more French, a bit more fun. As long as you have the perfect ingredients and the skills and effort to make a good product, then I’m happy,” Blanchard added. As tasty as his pastries are, not everything is a hit right away, especially when you’re known primarily for one type of pastry. Dedication and the belief in his product, however, has often proved rewarding. “There’s a few products that I really like that don’t sell, that I keep,” Blanchard said. “I will be stubborn and I will keep them because I know they are that good. Sometimes after being stubborn for a while, they end up taking off and we have a hard time keeping them on the shelf.” Yann Haute Patisserie can be found at 329, 23rd Avenue SW

Canvas Coffee and Wine

Bringing stylish, contemporary, and of course scrumptious, treats to Canvas Coffee and Wine, on 11th Avenue SW in the trendy SODO area, is pastry chef Sandy Shek, with a pedigree that has seen her work in Hong-Kong and Spain in a two Michelin star restaurant. Sandy is using her experiences from around the world to put a new spin on traditional pastries and introduce new flavours that you may not expect but will be surprised by, with the marriage of her unique execution. “When I come up with desserts, it really depends on the spark of that moment,” Shek said. “I can taste it in my mouth and think, ‘that has to go on my dessert,’ or I go through magazines, see pictures and think, ‘that visually looks good on a plate, I’m going to try to figure out a flavour that goes into that.’” “Also when I taste someone else’s dessert, I think about how I can make that better or put my own twist on it,” Shek added. “That’s how my vision of a dessert comes.” The challenge now lies in convincing customers to give her new flavours a chance to become their new guilty pleasure. “I’m doing an infusion of Chinese flavours with French techniques,” Shek said. “From what I’ve tried so far, like the white chocolate ginger macaron and Kefir lime lemon curd, people say it’s good but they wouldn’t come back for it. They come back for my pecan tart.” Now all it will take is some more adventurous dessert fiends to be won over, one tasty pastry at a time. Canvas Coffee and Wine are at 602, 11th Avenue SW

• 19

Chef’s Tips (and Tricks!) By CORY KNIBUTAT

We asked our bakers and pastry chefs featured in our Inside Job story to offer some tips or words of wisdom to the at-home baker not afraid to get a bit of flour on their apron. Rustic Sourdough Bakery “Most home bakers are afraid of working with yeast. I tell them to bake with a vengeance,” said Swiss Master Baker and Master Pastry Chef, Jos Rehli. Rehli, who turns 62 this year, found success early on in his career coming from a family bakery right into his apprenticeship, where he excelled as a young gifted baker. He earned his title as Master Baker at the age of 22, the youngest baker to do so in Switzerland. Over the years he has trained many young bakers and pastry chefs and has a few words of encouragement for home bakers.

20 • DECEMBER 2012

Chef’s Tip:

“Buy regular dry yeast,” Rehli said. “Never instant dry yeast because the instant puffs up once and it’s gone. With regular yeast, if something puffs up, you can slam it together again, shape the bread again, and it will rise and even be better.” “Never mix salt and yeast together,” Rehli added. “If you use a bread machine, you have no choice, but if you do home baking with a regular mixer, I would always start mixing the dough with the yeast in it and add the salt and oil or fat and butter a little bit later so it allows the yeast to start working.”

Pascal’s Patisserie

a bit of salt and a pinch of butter and you have a beautiful base for a puff pastry.”

Pascal Bagioli has two decades of experience as a pastry chef starting when he was 15 growing up in Muret, France. At the age of 12, Bagioli worked with an uncle who was a baker in a village in the Pyrenees, learning the craft before starting his apprenticeship years later. “I was very lucky,” Bagioli said. “I never thought to do something else. It’s hard to explain. Since you’re six, people ask you what you want to do but I never answered pastry chef. You’re six, you should enjoy life before it gets too complicated.” “For me that was the only way to have a life, to have a future,” Bagioli said. “My vision was to put my hand in the flour. You put flour, water,

Yann Haute Patisserie For most of these chefs, surroundings and upbringing are a big factor in shaping their career ambitions and the same is true for Yann Blanchard at Yann Haute Patisserie. Blanchard helped out in his grandfather’s pastry shop when he was a child, learning essential skills and discovering his love of pastries. “Fortunately it came naturally to me,” Blanchard said. “I seemed to be good at it so I persisted. Sometimes it comes naturally or it doesn’t.”

Chef’s Tip:

“Be equipped, clean as you go and plan ahead,” Blanchard said. “If you start your recipe and think about it like you’re playing pool. Always think two shots ahead. If you’re organized when you’re cooking or baking it will take less time than ordering a pizza or going somewhere to get your sweet fix.”

“It’s smelling absolutely fantastic, just perfect.”

Chef’s Tip:

“Moisture is the enemy of puff pastries. Don’t be afraid to pre-bake puff pastries.” “Shape your mold. Put it in the fridge for 30 min. Take it out, shape it again after it shrinks a bit because of the elasticity.”

“Don’t be scared, love what you do. If it’s homemade it will always be good.”

Canvas Coffee and Wine Sandy Shek, pastry chef at Canvas has come back to Calgary, the city she grew up in, after working in China and Spain. Shek was drawn to being a pastry chef after a high school trip to SAIT to visit the culinary campus where, at the time, she had planned on being a chef. “At first I was going to be a cook and then found out there was a whole section about butchering and cutting meats, and that’s when I saw the pastry right next door and said, ‘I’m going to be a pastry chef, I’m not cooking at all and touching raw meat.’”

Chef’s Tip:

“It’s trial and error, it’s all hands on and you just have to try,” Shek said. “Cookbooks say to do things one way but there’s so many different ways to do things. I know five different ways to make chocolate mousse. Don’t always follow the recipe, try different recipes and figure out what works best.”

“Be clean, and it will make baking so much more enjoyable,” Blanchard added. “Baking is really about gratification. When you take that cookie out of the oven and you have a hard time letting it cool off, that’s when you really win.”

Tigre chocolat 5 egg whites 100 g flour 325 g sugar 450 g ground almonds 400 g butter 180 g chocolate chips 1. Melt butter until the boiling becomes silent and it turns brown. 2. Mix all dry ingredients together then add the egg whites to the brown butter. 3. Let the mix cool off for 15 minutes in the fridge then fold in the chocolate chips. 4. Bake at 350º F for approx 15 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. You can choose individual or large oven-safe baking pans or mould. Tigre Chocolats would be delicious treat with a glass of Grant Burge 20 year Tawny from Australia $75 or Eos Zinfandel Port from the USA $32.

Classic Madeleines 250 g sugar 100 g almond flour 100 g all purpose flour 5 g baking powder 150 g brown butter (melt butter and cook till browned) 250 g egg whites 1g salt 1. Place egg whites in kitchen mixer and add dry ingredients. 2. Add melted brown butter and mix. Leave to sit overnight. 3. Use a little bit of butter to grease mold and pipe in Madeline mixture. 4. Bake at 375º F for 5 minutes and serve warm Great for afternoon parties or with a cup of coffee on a rainy day. For a real treat, enjoy Madelines with a glass of Michele Chiarlo Nivole from Italy, 375 mL $15 or Evan Williams Egg Nog from Kentucky, 750 mL $15.

• 21

A Fare Exchange By BJ OUDMAN

My partner is a cookie monster! Chocolate chip, gingerbread, macarons - it does not matter what flavour, as long as it makes crumbs. But as I am the baker in the household, the responsibility of keeping the cookie jar at least partly full lies in my hands. And my hands are too busy sticking needles in people, writing, and tasting wine to spend hours in the kitchen. Cookie swap to the rescue! Cookie exchanges are a centuryold tradition that began around the holiday season; participants bake dozens of their favourite cookie, take them to a party where they trade their cache and wind up with a variety of cookies from everybody else, saving themselves from slavery to the mixer when they are busy with other important activities like shopping! The Wellesley Cookie Exchange, founded in 1971, made the practice of swapping homemade cookies among participants famous, but they didn’t “invent” the idea. The earliest print reference is from Betty Crocker almost a decade earlier: “A popular once-a-year party is the Christmas cooky swap party. Friends and neighbours gather, each bringing one dozen of her holiday specialty for each woman at the party. Cookies are set out to sample and admire and coffee is served. Afterward, each one takes home a wonderful variety of festive cookies.” - Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, facsimile reprint of 1963 edition. An even earlier article is from a

22 • DECEMBER 2012

1936 New York newspaper - it discusses a Home Bureau Unit hosting a cookie exchange meeting at the home of Mrs. I. B. Stafford! But cookie exchanges are not just for the holiday and are growing in popularity, maybe in part due to our busy lifestyles. Another good reason is to avoid twelve dozen cookies in the house just to have six flavours - nobody enjoys cookies frozen for three months. A swap is also a great social and networking event - enjoy it with colleagues, families or just the girls (or guys). Check out “Cookie Swap - Creative Treats to Share throughout the Year” or visit www.cookie-exchange. com for more “unwritten” rules than you can imagine. If you don’t belong to a swap already, you can easily start your own “local club”: 1) Make a list of participants, pick a date and send out an invitation. 2) Have everyone suggest a flavour – maybe a family favourite or something unique from their heritage; alternatively, the host can create an on-line invitation (try Evite) listing possible varieties, and guests can RSVP by clicking on that variety to avoid doubles. 3) Choose the quantity to bring (six to twelve per guest plus a few extra for the “monsters” to sample at the swap); make sure everyone bakes a few days in advance. 4) On the date of the swap, display all of the cookies; have everyone move down the line with their empty container to fill, choosing a few of each type, taking no more than the total number of cookies they brought! 5) Take the cookies home and wow friends and family with your baking skills and efforts. Happy swapping!

Because of these unique properties, it’s probably not a good idea to get rid of all the fat in a cookie. However, you can replace up to half of the fats with other ingredients that add moisture. On the other hand, recipes that use oil or melted butter can be completely replaced. “Brown blobs” was how dietician, cookbook author/editor and SAIT Professional Cooking program graduate Mary-Sue Waisman described some of the cookie recipes she received while editing Cook!, the latest cookbook from Dieticians of Canada. In an effort to make their recipes healthier, many cooks removed most of the fat in the recipes, mixed in flax and other add-ins and ended up with some decidedly un-cookie-like creations. While Waisman says she would rather just enjoy a regular cookie with a tall glass of milk and savour every bite, it is possible to make your baking a little healthier without sacrificing flavour or texture.

Trimming the Fat Fats affect the moisture, texture and sometimes flavour of baked goods. Solid fats like butter, lard, shortening and margarine help to inhibit the formation of gluten (which can cause toughness) and form air bubbles as they melt in the oven, adding flakiness to pastry and tenderness to cookies and cakes.

Fruit purees, like unsweetened applesauce, are popular. Sweeter and darker fruits, like pureed pumpkins, prunes or mashed bananas, are better suited for chocolate desserts, which help to mask their flavour and/or colour. You may need to adjust the sugar in the recipe. I have recently been experimenting with bean and lentil purees - just blitz cooked beans or rinsed canned beans in a food processor, or cook up some red lentils and mash them with a fork (they have a similar texture to softened butter). They are neutral in flavour and add protein, fibre and other nutrients to your end product. Low-fat, plain yogurt (particularly thick Greek yogurt) works great too.

Slashing the Sugar Sugar does more than add sweetness to baked goods. It helps to increase moisture by drawing moisture from the air; it also gives baked goods an attractive golden-brown colour as it caramelizes. Still, I find that for most recipes, I can cut the sugar by 1/3 (or

½ if I am feeling daring) without any negative effects. Other sweeteners, like brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc, are generally sweeter than sugar, so you can use less. Some people actually prefer these sweeteners as they result in a chewy, rather than crisp cookie. Otherwise, you may need to adjust the amount of fat or other liquids in the recipe.

Nutrition Boosters Healthy baking is not just about taking away - it can be about adding in as well! Fresh, frozen or dried fruit make a great addition to muffins and cakes. Shredded raw zucchini, or vegetable purees, like sweet potato or cauliflower, can add moisture to recipes and make them less calorie-dense. My favourite “nutrition boosters” are nuts and seeds - you can fold them in whole into cookie dough or cake batter, or you can replace up to ¼ of the flour in your recipe with ground nuts or seeds for extra fibre, healthy fats, protein and vitamins and minerals including calcium and phosphorus. Whether you decide to celebrate your holidays more healthfully or full of indulgence, may they be joyful and sweet!


for Your Holiday Baking By VINCCI TSUI, RD • 23

Healthy Homemade Gift Guide

Tired of making the same shortbread or gingerbread cookies every year? Registered Dietician Vincci Tsui shares some of her favourite holiday recipes, with a bit of a healthy twist!

Christmas Granola Makes about 1.3 L (5½ cups) I used to be PC and call this “Winter Spice” Granola, but the red and green from the cranberries and pumpkin seeds are decidedly Christmas! Commercial granolas are actually quite high in added fat and sugar; this one is still a little high in calories because of the nuts, but the fat is reduced by replacing most of the oil with applesauce.

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 2. In a large bowl, mix together rolled

24 • DECEMBER 2012

750 mL (3 cups) rolled oats 185 mL (¾ cup) pumpkin seeds, hulled, raw 125 mL (½ cup) almonds 125 mL (½ cup) pecans 125 mL (½ cup) sunflower seeds, hulled, raw 10 mL (2 tsp) cinnamon 5 mL (1 tsp) ground ginger 2 mL (½ tsp) nutmeg 2 mL (½ tsp) cloves 1 mL (¼ tsp) allspice 125 mL (½ cup) unsweetened applesauce 60 mL (¼ cup) maple syrup 15 mL (1 Tbs) vegetable oil 250 mL (1 cup) dried cranberries

3. 4. 5.


oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds and spices. In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, maple syrup and oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mixing until everything is moistened. Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The granola should still look and feel a little wet when ready. Allow granola to cool completely, stirring occasionally to avoid clumping. Mix in dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Lentil Coconut Snowballs Makes about 2 dozen

These shortbread-like cookies have about half the fat of regular shortbread as it uses lentil puree for some of the moisture and texture. If you don’t have lentils on hand, you can puree rinsed, canned lentils or white beans. They’re not too sweet – perfect with a mug of tea, cocoa or mulled apple cider. 45 g (¼ cup) red lentils 60 mL (¼ cup) water 100 g (½ cup) butter, softened 65 g (⅓ cup) sugar 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla Pinch salt 250 g (2 cups) flour 45 g (½ cup) unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for rolling

Mash into a puree and set aside.

3. In a bowl, cream together butter and 4.


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 2. Place lentils and water into a small

saucepan. Bring to a boil, then let simmer, covered, until all the water has been absorbed and the lentils become soft and turn yellow, 20-30 minutes.

sugar. Stir in lentil puree, vanilla and salt. Mix in flour just until moistened and beginning to form into dough. Fold in coconut. Use your hands to press the dough together into a ball. Scoop and shape dough into tablespoon-sized balls and roll in coconut before placing on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the coconut is toasted and the cookie is beginning to turn golden-brown.

Spiced Cocoa Almonds Makes about 500 g or 1 L (4 cups) Almonds are considered one of the healthiest nuts, as they are gramfor-gram higher in protein, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin than other tree nuts. They are also a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Add to that the antioxidants from the cocoa powder and cinnamon, and you have a yummy, healthier version of chocolate-covered almonds. Serve as a snack or wrap up as little gifts for your friends and family. 125 mL (½ cup) water 100 g (½ cup) sugar 454 g (about 4 cups) raw almonds 40 g (⅓ cup) cocoa 10 mL (2 tsp) cinnamon 2 mL (½ tsp) cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a rimmed 2.


baking sheet (or two) with aluminum foil. In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup by bringing water and sugar to a boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside. Spread almonds in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes,


until fragrant. Drizzle with syrup and toss to coat; continue baking for another 7-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts absorb most (but not all) of the syrup. While the almonds are baking, in a small bowl, stir together cocoa, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. When the almonds are ready, sprinkle cocoa mixture over almonds and toss to coat. Don’t worry if not all of it sticks to the almonds. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to nine months.

• 25

Brittle, Bark, Truffle, Bar... Story and photography by ADRIAN BRYKSA

There has never been a better time to be a chocolate lover, either living in or visiting Calgary. For me, not unlike Charlie Bucket from Willy Wonka and his Chocolate Factory, I won a golden ticket to visit some of the places where these magnificent creations are made and sold. After being surprised by the number of options we have of chocolatiers and retailers in the market, I quickly discovered that each option provides its own compelling story along with flavours to be enjoyed. While I couldn’t visit every store in the city, I did spend a Saturday talking with four of them. I hope this provides a handy mini-guide for the chocolate lover on your list, for the 2012 holiday giftgiving season. 26 • DECEMBER 2012

OLIVIERS CHOCOLATES Since 1909, Oliviers Chocolates have been providing Calgarians with hand crafted chocolates and confections. Not only do they offer these sweet treats out of their two retail locations (in Inglewood at 1316 9th Ave SE, or Bankers Hall, #265, 315 8th Avenue S.W.), chances are you have tasted their wares as a corporate gift or repackaged at your local food store or supermarket. If you have ever had one of those delicious caramel and chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks from Starbucks, Macs or 7-11, you were enjoying the fruits of their labour. When touring their factory, I learned they are the only confectioner in Calgary that still hand rolls their candy canes for the holiday season. They make holiday gift giving simple, with their easy-to-use guide offering a wide variety of brittles, barks, truffles and chocolates. Visit them online at and peruse their gift guide here:

BERNARD CALLEBAUT Since 1983, Chocolatier Bernard Callebaut has been setting chocolate lovers’ hearts aflutter with its copper boxes filled with truffles and chocolates. After rising from the ashes of corporate receivership, the new company directors’ goal is to maintain the reputation that was forged with its award-winning chocolate. It could be easy for the group to let the brand rest on its laurels, however a major modernization effort is being undertaken to make processes and practices more efficient, with the vision to catch up to European chocolatiers who have a ten year head start. Maitre Chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho has brought innovative concepts like hot chocolate blended with Earl Grey tea, and herb-infused chocolate bars, combining ingredients like rosemary, thyme and habanero peppers with their chocolate. To celebrate the 100th year of the Calgary Stampede, Derrick and his team crafted a Habanero and Sea Salt Milk Chocolate bar as a commemorative keepsake. If you’re wondering what it was like and worry that you missed out, don’t fret, its popularity has kept it in production over the 2012 holiday season, available in Bernard Callebaut shops across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The factory, just off MacLeod Trail offers daily tours where guests can watch these chocolate delicacies being crafted. Visit their website at for product browsing and online ordering.

COCOCO The company behind the resurgence of the Bernard Callebaut is Cococo, and recently they launched a number of co-branded retail locations with the vision of bringing a modern and fresh perspective, underpinned by the foundation of the Callebaut brand. With bright colours contrasting a black backdrop, Cococo shops have less of a stodgy, boutique feel and more of a communal, café atmosphere to them. You’ll find artisanal gelato, pastries and coffees, with comfortable tables to sit and socialize while indulging. For the 2012 holiday season, Cococo and Bernard Callebaut co-launched four new chocolate creations in the form of the Pumpkin Caramel, the complex dual layered Peanut Butter and Jelly; a Sea Salt Caramel; and the slightly spiced ginger and molasses tinged Butter Ganache Gingerbread. Look for Cococo stores in Aspen Landing and Southcentre Mall, with a new location slated for Chinook Centre in July 2013.

COPPENEUR Tucked away in a small shop beside Saltlik on Stephen Avenue Mall (8th Avenue SW) resides Coppeneur, who prides itself as a purveyor of small-batch chocolatiers from around the world. Not just content to represent German chocolatier Coppeneur, proprietor Bruce Toy is all about educating his clients in the intricacies of chocolate and how, properly made, it can express the terroir of the area from which the beans are harvested. From growth to harvest, down to bean fermentation and eventual conching (the technique to warm and blend the chocolate to accentuate flavours and reduce bitterness), the exact same cocoa beans can express different flavours depending on the how of each processing methods mentioned above are executed. He includes brochures on how to best taste chocolate, mirroring techniques found in assessing wine, coffee or tea. One striking line is the chocolate en bloc offered by Coppeneur - a visually stunning 6 mm portrait of decorative chocolate, with herbs like chili and lavender, along with pink and green peppercorns. The shop also offers raw, unroasted cocoa beans that, with an acquired taste, are widely viewed as a super food. This is certainly a stop for the chocolate-lover who loves to explore the complex world that chocolate has to offer. Visit their website at for online shopping opportunities At the end of my long Saturday of touring, tasting and talking about chocolate, it became clear to me that sometimes it is worth the extra effort and price to seek out the wares of these shops when looking for a chocolate fix. We hope this little tour inspires you to give the gift of chocolate this year, and to explore the wide variety of offerings to give to the special sweet tooth in your circles.

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Step By Step Making

Story and photography by NATALIE FINDLAY

Chocolate Truffles Legend identifies Auguste Escoffier’s 1920s kitchen as the place of the creation of the first chocolate truffle, where the only resemblance to the mushroom is the name and shape. As with so many inventions, it occurred by accident. The story goes like this; an apprentice accidentally pours hot cream in a bowl of chocolate instead of a bowl of sugar and eggs. Not wanting to be wasteful, when it cooled, Escoffier found it malleable and decided to roll it into a ball shape and dip in cocoa. He named it after the tuber because of its physical resemblance and elevated it from mistake to masterpiece. We have been enamoured of this delicate, luxurious chocolate treat ever since. Handmade chocolate truffles make a lavish and delicious Christmas gift. You can personalize the flavours for everyone on your list by mixing and matching different combinations of ganache and coatings. Have fun and be creative. This is a great way to spend an evening or weekend afternoon while listening to Christmas carols. You can get everyone involved in the excitement, plus clean up is a breeze. Preparation is key; making the ganache, and flavouring it prior to the day that you want to roll and coat, will encourage a smoother process. Ganache needs at least 4 hours to set and will be even better after a full day in the fridge. The general guidelines are: • Buy the best quality chocolate you can. This makes your truffles truly decadent.

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Use high fat cream. It will add to the smooth texture of your ganache and, of course, taste amazing.

Decide how many different flavours of ganache you will want to make and split out the chocolate into that number of bowls.

Decide on how many flavours need to be steeped in the cream and measure out the cream into separate containers.

Heat the cream.

Add to the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes in order for the cream to melt the chocolate.

Stir gently to incorporate without adding any air to the ganache mixture.

Refrigerate, covered overnight.

Use a spoon or small ice cream scoop to gather ganache into a ball and then roll in the palms of your hands until you form a ball.

Roll ganache balls in the desired coating and place on a baking sheet.

Set in fridge.

Package as desired.

Sit back and wait for accolades from your friends and family.

Packaging for Gifts: There are many different kinds of packages available to purchase and lots that you may have around the house. Here are a few examples to build on.

• Use tealight holders to package a few truffles and place at the table setting for a take away, or you can place them all on a table at your front door for guests to take home at the end of the night.

• A single truffle in a pretty, bright wrapper always brings cheer. These would also look beautiful as a tray on a dessert table.

• Cellophane bags come in many different sizes and styles to dress with bows for any occasion.

• Boxing up truffles and wrapping with a festive ribbon, will make a beautiful gift for anyone to receive.

• A great way to keep some extra gifts on hand over the Christmas season would be to package truffles in different size boxes/bags and keep them in the fridge in a sealed container (you don’t want fridge smells to attach to your delicious truffles). Then you have instant gifts to give out. To get your creative juices flowing, I’ve added a list of flavours. You can be liberal or go wild with your truffles creations this year: chili, rosemary, orange, coconut, lime, maple, raspberry, almond, coffee, curry, blue cheese, salted caramel, peanut butter, licorice, bourbon, banana, chai, olive oil, chopped nuts, cocoa, confectioners sugar, candy cane, toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, sea salt, and don’t forget its namesake - white or black truffle oil, or truffle salt for a true truffle truffle...

Milk Chocolate Amaretto Truffles Makes: 15

120 g milk chocolate, finely chopped or palettes 90 mL 35% cream 10 mL (2 tsp) Amaretto finely chopped almonds, or desired coating 1. Place chocolate in a bowl and bring cream to scalding. 2. Remove cream mixture from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes and stir until melted and smooth. Add Amaretto liqueur and incorporate gently into ganache. 3. Let chocolate firm up in fridge a minimum of 4 hours or preferably overnight. 4. Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, scrape forming a roughly shaped 2.5 cm (1 inch) ball. Repeat. Transfer balls to the parchment-lined pan. You can chill truffles in the refrigerator 10 minutes if they are getting too soft to roll. 5. Roll the truffles in desired coatings.

Orange Cardamom Semi-Sweet Chocolate Truffles Makes: 12

100 g semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped or palettes 90 mL (6 Tbs) 35% cream 3 green cardamom pods, crushed 8 peels of orange zest 5 mL (I tsp) Grand Marnier finely chopped walnuts, or desired coating 1. Place chocolate in a bowl. 2. In a small saucepan, bring cream, cardamom and orange peel to scalding. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. 3. Return cream mixture to heat and bring to scalding. Pour through a sieve set over chocolate; discard solids. Let sit for 2 minutes and stir until melted and smooth. Incorporate Grand Marnier. 4. Let chocolate firm up in fridge a minimum of 4 hours, or preferably overnight. 5. Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, form a 2.5 cm (1 inch) ball. Transfer balls to the parchment-lined tray. You can chill truffles in the refrigerator 10 minutes if they are getting too soft to roll. 6. Roll the truffles in desired coatings.

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Behind The Scenes By FRED MALLEY, CCC

Hotel chefs area special breed with many diverse opportunities. Most hotels feature a restaurant or two plus a banquet and catering department. They run the gamut of family-oriented to business and resorts. The people at the helm of culinary operations have varied backgrounds, but a couple of things are common among the successful chefs. They all share a passion for food. Mentoring staff to achieve the best from them is a definite requirement along with possessing a creative flair that meets the economic goals of the company. Not only do they have to serve a demanding restaurant clientele, the banquet business is experiencing its own demands for quality. 30 • DECEMBER 2012

Jason Assels, Chef; Acclaim Hotel A dynamic duo carved out a place in Calgary’s dining scene at Pacini Restaurant in the Acclaim Hotel just north of the airport. The boutique concept hotel is part of a local company with two properties in Canmore, the Sawridge and Falconcrest resorts. Executive Chef Jason Assels oversees the Pacini concept as a separate entity, also catering to hotel functions. The menu is strongly influenced by authentic Italian flavours and there is a bread bar and grill in the dining room for guests to grill their favourite bread and choose from five spreads. Chef Assels is quickly adapting to local tastes in food.

The short growing season presents some challenges for Chef Assels in sourcing local, fresh ingredients for the menu. Alberta beef served with grilled lemon and addictive parmesan and zucchini, red onion fries with Sicilian sea salt is a winner. The Hutterite chicken breast for two, stuffed with date, apple and leek cornbread begs for a glass of wine from former GM Nicholas Quintillan’s carefully selected listing. Check out the designer cocktails he created as well; the fusion Red Rocker with strawberry and basil in tequila, cointreau and citrus is fresh and clean and not too sweet ($7).

family-style dining as a trend. Jason almost always orders fish when dining out. He likes to add a fusion twist to his food, with cardamom his favourite spice. The yams and cinnamon butternut squash with honey on the chicken dish is sublime. You can experience a cross section of the menu by ordering the Italian Family style package: 3 antipasto, 2 thin crust pizzas, 2 pastas, 2 grilled meats (veal, chicken, tenderloin) and two desserts are an excellent value for $34.99 per adult; it’s worth the trip.

Chef Assels hails from Barrie, Ontario, training at Georgian College in Hospitality Management and Culinary. He spent ten years at the Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, where he honed his pastry skills, and did a season at Chateau Lake Louise. He believes you must respect the food from farmers and feels back-to-theroots dining, with simpler preparation methods and real flavours, will support

With Calgary’s Hotel Chefs David Flegel, Executive Chef; Hyatt Hotel Executive Chef David Flegel has been at the culinary helm of the Hyatt, Calgary for six years. He is a self-professed clean nut. A kitchen tour confirms it. He detests disarray and likes structure, organization and plans. He believes ‘you must see the vision’ to be successful. Fall is a favourite season for David as he is a hunter and enjoys preparing and eating game. His home fridge always has garlic in it along with bacon he cures and smokes. The Hyatt Hotel has a food philosophy, ‘Food thoughtfully sourced. Carefully served’. The focus is local, natural and organic. Chef Flegel leads his team of chefs and cooks, encouraging them to excel. He is perhaps one of the only truly executive chefs in the city. He has two executive chefs reporting to him, Jordan Walsh at Thomsons, Kyle Groves at Catch and an Executive sous-chef, Sudhir D’Souza. Add to that Pastry Chef Ramjee SB and David Muzia, Banquet Chef along with Adam Schaffer, banquet sous-chef. The Hyatt has the second largest ballroom in the city, seating 1,200 for dinner and 2,500 for receptions. When the General Manager dropped by and mentioned that David was ‘Chef of the Year’ for Hyatt North America in 2011, you can appreciate the man’s organisational skills and humility, along with a quiet, confident demeanour. They catered a sit down at the Olympic Oval for 5,000 a while back; then I saw how compact the kitchen is and it was

even more impressive. I can attest to the food quality. Menus are not corporate entities. Hyatt underwent a six-year transition to regional menus. They cook everything in house, including the pastries. Their children’s menu is engineered by Alice Waters of Napa fame. David relates an anecdote when corporate engaged Alice to establish the menu philosophy. At the roll out, not everything was local and organic at the tasting. She told them it wasn’t an option and started to leave. She stuck to her guns and corporate supported her, embracing the philosophy fully. A Regina boy, Chef Flegel’s culinary journey has taken him around the world. Most of his experience is in hotels, with a brief cruise ship stint and some restaurants when younger. He squeezed in a stint at the Westin Calgary along the way with Fred Zimmerman. The Brasserie Lipp, in Zurich, was an early experience that was followed by fifteen years among Guam, Santiago, Chile and Jakarta, Indonesia during 9/11. Returning to Canada, he accepted a posting in Regina for three years to be closer to his parents. Talk about culture shock. International postings come with perks. No maid, no nanny and you have to drive yourself, not to mention pay for it. Speaking of perks, the new staff dining area at the Hyatt is a full on bistro atmosphere that could be placed in the hotel lobby. It certainly contributes to staff loyalty. • 31

Duncan Ly, Chef; Hotel Arts

Hotel Arts’ chef is almost an institution in the city. Chef Duncan Ly is a familiar face at many fund-raising events both at the hotel and off-site, including the Chef’s Table in Kensington. Emigrating from Vietnam at four years of age, Lethbridge was home. He decided electronics wasn’t for him and ended up at the Wickanninish Inn as a dishwasher and fell in love with food. Inspired watching the chefs on line, he started his apprenticeship. Stages at Bishop’s, Lumiere and Diva at the Met, where he eventually worked, shaped his love of food and drive for excellence. Chef Ly’s preference is for the variety that hotels offer, but says it is also a challenge because you have to do everything. Hotel Arts is independent, meaning there is no multinational, corporate resource to draw on. He is actively involved in managing the hotel food operations, stretching his time and skills, running food preparation for Raw Bar and the banquet operations. Perhaps this explains his penchant for organization and cleanliness. And he hates it when someone takes the last piece from a box and leaves the empty one on the shelf. Chef Ly enjoys golf in his spare time and plays guitar, he is a rocker at heart. His wife, who works at the Petroleum Club, does most of the cooking at home and his favourite ingredient is sriracha sauce….on everything. Preparing seafood is his favourite, perhaps due to his west coast training. But it’s the challenge that intrigues him; you need finesse to prepare seafood in an exceptional manner. Hotel Arts is opening Yellow Door Bistro in December, next door to Raw Bar. The focus is North American, local, regional cuisine. Raw Bar will morph into an Asian, fusion tapas concept. A lot on his plate, especially when you consider they make everything in-house, including grinding their own burger. Another great experience for Chef Ly’s loyal following.

32 • DECEMBER 2012

Chef Peddle was chef at the Stone House in St. John’s, NF for six years before enrolling at the Culinary Institute of Canada (Holland College) in PEI. He always loved food, instilled in him by his Italian grandmother who taught him to cook and tend the garden, and his grandfather who got him up at 4:00 in the morning to go fishing. He is a strong proponent of hands-on learning, and learning from those around him. He views himself as a motivator and appreciates the skills of the cooks around him. He says, ‘You can read a book all you want, but doing it is the best.’ In his early years he tended to be one who tried to emulate whoever was famous at the time. He now believes that food likes are subjective, you must respect the food and ingredients, including the grower.

Paul Peddle, Executive Chef; Fairmont Palliser

Just two months in Calgary, Executive Chef Paul Peddle, at the venerable 98 year-old Fairmont Palliser, is putting his mark on the kitchen. November 20th launched a new menu for the winter season in the Rimrock. Chef Peddle’s philosophy of ‘back to the basics- don’t reinvent the wheel’ is evident in his flavourful house cold-smoked Sablefish with creamed cabbage and Dijon or Pork belly marinated in hoisin, yuzu and soy with lentils stewed in demi glaze and jus. For Chef Peddle ‘cooking is love’. His Newfoundland lilt adds charm to his folksy, down to earth thoughts and genuine humility. He takes simple ingredients and makes them beautiful. He adds, ‘Don’t put lipstick on a pig - smoke and mirrors don’t work. Use solid techniques.’

Chef Peddle is the proud father of a newly arrived daughter, in addition to a son. While at the Dallas Fairmont, where he was named Dallas Chef of the Year two years ago, he met his cheerleader wife and was embraced by her family. They love to eat out at mom and pop operations and he is always ‘chasing a memory, having an experience.’ He has fallen in love with the Calgary Farmer’s Market and the passionate growers there. When cooking at home, he must have Grizzly Paw and Brie cheeses to go with olive oil and great breads. At three in the afternoon, he always has a ritual peanut butter and jam sandwich; at work too. It’s his comfort food. He also likes grilled cheese and tomato soup. We reminisced about prior times at the Fairmont, where I apprenticed. Rumour has it the brick oven in the basement may once again bake that crusty bread that was an institution along with clam chowder on Fridays. Maybe if enough of us clamour for it….

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Frederic Hoffmann, Executive Chef; Westin Hotel Chef Frederic Hoffmann is the fresh-faced new guy in town who appreciates common sense. He had just accepted the Executive Chef’s position at the Westin when I chatted with him in late October. Born and raised in Montreal, he has a charming accent still and perhaps it endeared him enough for his California girl friend to follow him to Calgary. Frederic spent twenty years in Toronto after attending ITHQ in Montreal and George Brown in Toronto. He honed his skills with Albert Schnell at the Hilton, followed by seven years at the venerable King Edward. The style of the King Edward, with its fine dining restaurant, contributed to his enjoyment of working there for so long. Then back to the Hilton before heading to New York, Aspen and most recently the St. Regis, San Francisco. Chef Hoffmann wears his passion on his uniform: Cooking. Westin corporate practise is for each staff member to identify their personal passion along with their name. The food philosophy is to ‘EAT WELL’. He describes himself as an executive and working chef, and is very much hands on in the kitchen. Food excites him. His goal is to elevate and rework Essence restaurant’s position in the Calgary dining community. With the Owl’s Nest gone, the hotel is moving away from corporate menus and focusing on creating a western Canadian themed menu using local, seasonal product and supporting local producers. His focus on featuring the best that is Canadian is evidenced when he prepares a

34 • DECEMBER 2012

delicious lobster waldorf salad to highlight his classical training, with modern influences in presentation and ingredients. The lobster foam garnish along with lobster coral salt and walnut oil finished the plate admirably. Look for the new menus at Essence with a focus on nutrition and super foods as they expand their loyal following. The other big task for Chef Hoffmann is to rejuvenate the banquet menus. He says, ‘Customers demand more today and they know more because of Food Channel and their own travels. Even for large quantities there is an expectation to use restaurant techniques’. He will be adding some sous vide items into the offerings, but says it is important to ‘Let the food speak for itself’. He doesn’t like complicated food. Still living in the hotel while he waits for an Eau Claire apartment to be ready, he had not ventured too much from the hotel at interview time, arriving in midSeptember. His love of Chinese and Spanish foods will be well served in his new home. Smoked paprika is a favourite ingredient. He has time still to enjoy reading. Although an avid snowboarder, he is planning on skiing more now that cycling season is waning. And come spring he is excited about the prospect of learning to kayak on the Bow river rapids just down the street.

Dinner Jacket Napkin For New Year’s Eve By WENDY BROWNIE Photography by INGRID KUENZEL

Whether for an intimate romantic dinner for two or a festive party for a crowd, these gorgeous linen napkins folded ‘dinner jacket’ style are a must. 1. Fold a napkin 45 cm x 55 cm (18-22 inches) in half to form a triangle with the point towards the bottom. 2. Fold back 2.5 cm (1 inch) at the top edge. 3. Bring left and right points to the bottom point. 4. Fold the bottom up underneath approximately 7.5 cm (3 inches). 5. Fold each side underneath approximately 5 cm (2 inches). GIVE YOUR GUESTS THESE EASY INSTRUCTIONS, and they can have a party folding together. Happy New Year!!


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Open That Bottle By LINDA GARSON Photography by INGRID KUENZEL Dinner wasn’t dinner without wine in Michael Bigatini’s home, and growing up in an Italian family, they were allowed to drink wine from the age of five. Michael recalls happy times in Kelowna, making Grappa with his grandma at the age of four and was only fourteen when he made his first still! He always knew he wanted to work with drinks - when he was six and his friends all wanted to be astronauts and firemen, Michael wanted to be a bartender. At seven years old he already knew the difference between a Tom Collins and a John Collins! After graduating high school Michael took a year off, taking a bartending course to improve his knowledge before going back to school to study Business. While studying, he worked in restaurants in the Okanagan, earning a reputation as a wine-savvy server. He learned from winemakers in the Valley, but still wanted to know more, so in 1996, and being fascinated by meditation, he took a job in the tasting room at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. It was here that Michael fell in love with bubbles. At this time too he had his own radio show and became a local celebrity, resulting in him being head-hunted by Willow Park Wines and Spirits in 2001. They met at a wine tasting where Michael talked non-stop for two hours about wine, and they were so impressed that they snapped him up as wine room manager. It wasn’t long before he earned his current title of Senior Product Consultant at the store. His mother’s family has lived in Canada since the 1700s and his father’s family emigrated in 1909, but it wasn’t until 2006 that Michael met his Italian relatives while working in a vineyard in the Chianti Classico region, between Florence and Sienna. He was thrilled to find them living on Mount Amiata, the volcano that protects the Brunello vineyards of the area from inclement weather further east. So what is the bottle that Michael has squirreled away for a special occasion? “I have a bottle of 1990 Clos de Menil by Krug that I bought in 2002 for $160,” says Michael. “It was already twelve years old when I bought it but it’s head and shoulders above the rest. It’s a 100 point wine and from such a great vineyard. I was going to open it in 2004 for a friend’s wedding, but it needed more time to enjoy than on his wedding day. We had planned a Krug tasting for his special day and were going to sneak off before dinner but then we decided that it might not be a good idea! I don’t think it will be a big occasion now when I do open it. It will probably be New Year’s Eve with some bubble friends who will appreciate it. I also have a 2002 Richebourg by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which I may open for my 50th birthday. I prefer my wines on the younger side rather than too old. I enjoy the potential rather than when they’re on their last legs.”

36 • DECEMBER 2012

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Amazing Years for Vintage Champagne 2004 2002 1996 1995 1990 1988 1985 Champagne: the name alone evokes thoughts of glamour, royalty, celebration and sometimes decadence. While the rest of the world makes sparkling wines with names like Cava, Prosecco or Sekt, the area in France called Champagne is responsible for the bubbling wine that aficionados around the world have come to covet and enjoy. The area first saw vines at the time of the Roman empire, and it is unlikely that the farmers who first cultivated grapes in the area could have foreseen, even in their wildest dreams, how wines from Champagne would impact the rest of the world. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, sparkling wine producers from around the world have been working hard to play catch up with the branding and marketing juggernaut that the region

of Champagne and its wines has become. Champagne is located in the upper northeast corner of France approximately 160 kilometres east of Paris. Vitis vinifera barely ripens in this region due to relatively high altitudes and low average annual temperatures. Millions of years ago, the area was covered by ocean. Through tectonic action, a layer of marine fossils pushed its way to the surface of the earth, providing Champagne with soil consisting of layers of chalk, limestone and clay. This poor soil provides an excellent environment for Champagne’s three main varietals (chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier), to express the terroir of the region. Since the grapes struggle to ripen, their acidity levels stay high,

Seeing 38 • DECEMBER 2012

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affording this region’s wines long aging potential when properly cellared. Long ago, Champagne’s wines were called “The Devil’s Wines” as the bottles from this region often ejected their corks or exploded. The carbon dioxide byproduct of the fermentation process put pressure on poorly manufactured bottles, causing rather unpredictable results. Up until the 19th century, producers in the region would bottle wines still undergoing fermentation to capture the carbon dioxide, called méthode

rurale. Today, Champagne’s producers use what is called the traditional method, or méthode champenoise, to incorporate the highly sought after bubbles into these wines. This method involves a secondary fermentation of the blended, still wine using yeast and a blend of sugar and alcohol called liqueur de triage. These wines are aged on the lees, or dead yeast cells, for a minimum of fifteen months and as long as eight years, depending on whether the wine is a nonvintage or a vintage blend. Non-vintage blends can have constituent wines from a


Taittinger is considered by many to be the connoisseurs’ choice of Champagne, as each wine shows wonderful elegance and nesse. Proudly represented by Paciic Wine & Spirits • 39

variety of vintages, but a vintage wine must have wines within the blend from that specific year only, and are aged a minimum of 3 years on the lees. Vintage champagnes typically are more expensive than their non-vintage brethren due to factors such as higher fruit quality and relative rarity / scarcity. Blending, especially of non-vintage wines, involves some important considerations. Since wines from Champagne generally only contain chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, houses / producers have the opportunity to create styles they wish to express within these wines year after year. This poses a significant challenge however, as wines vary considerably in terms of production from year to year. Assemblage is a true art form; a blender will select wines from lots spanning vintages and quality levels and bring characters from each lot together to form a wine blend that will express the house style as intended. In the case of vintage years, houses have the opportunity to create prestige cuvées, which can be blends of all three varietals in varying proportions. Houses can also create blanc de blanc blends made exclusively from white skinned chardonnay, or blanc de noir, a white champagne made exclusively from the dark-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. Producers can also create rosé champagnes in both non-vintage and vintage form.

So what is it about champagne that makes it the finest sparkling wine in the world? It depends on whom you ask, but I think that its number one attribute is its acidity. The acidity of its grapes and subsequent wines is what allows champagne to cut through high-fat ingredients such as butter and oil. Champagne’s autolytic characters, a result of extending aging time on the lees, also set it apart. The ageing imparts notes of creaminess and body on the palate with flavours of oatmeal, nuts and bread. Finally, champagne’s bubbles should be plentiful and persist in the glass. While there is an entire world of sparkling wine to choose from, ask any wine professional and she will tell you there is only one region that matters: Champagne. Most wine professionals will call one example or another their “desert island wine.” This holiday season, treat yourself or someone you care about to a bottle of fizz from Champagne. Just make sure they share some of it with you. Happy Holidays!

Champagne Picks Non-vintage Piper-Heidsieck The non-vintage Piper-Heidsieck Brut holds a captivating, goldish, lemonyellow hue. With a bouquet of minerals, citrus, caramel and toffee, this wine stays true to the nose, with a flavour of almonds and toffee adhered to apple and citrus fruit. A sensational bubble for around $55.00

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Non-vintage Taittinger Nocturne Sec A gorgeously rich yellow hue with copious amounts of tightly wound strings of bubbles characterizes this champagne. With a bouquet of yeast, honey, flowers and red apple peel, it has a clean entry and is wonderfully creamy on the mid-palate. The sugar levels show themselves over the finish, and the bright acidity cleanses the palate wonderfully. An excellent choice for those who struggle with bone-dry extra brut or brut bubble. It represents a fine way to end an evening with a retail of around $75. It comes in an elegant box for gifting.

1998 Krug The house of Krug has established itself as one of the finest champagne houses on the entire planet. This vintage expression is lighter in body than Krug’s Grand Cuvee NV blend with a nose of lemon rind, pear and hazelnut. It provides a symphony of textures and flavours for the palate— creamy lemon meringue, raspberry, almonds and ginger. Bottles of this primarily chardonnaybased wine can be purchased for around $260 retail in a gift box. All bubble lovers must try wines from this house before they die.

All That Sparkles... By TOM FIRTH

The Champagne houses have spent a lot of money over the years convincing consumers that a bottle of its bubbly is the only way to celebrate. That any occasion worth dressing up for is a champagne moment and that anything else is really just a poor imitation of the wines of Champagne. There is no disputing the quality of champagne, but perhaps Champagne is a victim of its own success. We as consumers (those of us that don’t wear a tuxedo or ball gown at least once a week) often find it hard to commit to opening a bottle of champagne on a Tuesday night. The $50-$200+ price tag doesn’t help either…

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Sparkling wine picks Bellavista Brut Franciacorte, Italy $45 Franciacorte was Italy’s first sparkling wine DOCG and it has the same status in the EU as Champagne. Bellavista has been making sparkling wine since 1979 and is quality driven every step of the way. Plenty of toast and citrus characters, the finish stands out for me creamy, complex, and goes on forever.

Pares Balta Cava, Spain $18 I could tell you about the biodynamic vineyards, the modern approach to wine, or the wonderful flavours in the bottle, but I picked this wine to serve at my wedding-how’s that for a recommendation? Apple and toast flavours with some crisp acidity are perfect with appetizers to seafood.

Blue Mountain Brut, Canada $28 A respectable bottle of sparking wine and one that happens to come from Canada. Bigger, bolder flavours with a strong vein of food friendly dryness and acidity, this wine begs to be enjoyed with food. Think oysters, lobster, or even some popcorn and a movie.

Stellar’s Jay Brut, Canada $30 A classic Canadian sparkling wine in the champagne style, with toast, mineral, and some crisper citrus flavours, it’s released ready to drink but also develops a little in the cellar. I’ve never had a problem recommending this bottle of wine.

Domaine Carneros Brut, United States $32 The American property of the Taittinger Champagne house, this sparkling wine is produced with all the expertise and focus on quality that Taittinger is known for, but with a slightly easier to take price. Bright fruits, a little toastiness, and a rich texture, it’s good on its own or with virtually any food.

M. Chiarlo Nivole, Italy $15 375ml Peaches, honeysuckle, nectarines, the embodiment of summer fruits can be found in this beautiful little moscato that is perfect in a half bottle. Some might pooh-pooh it for a lack of “seriousness” but some wine is just meant to be enjoyed. A sweet wine, it is perfect with fruity dishes or a little breakfast treat on the weekend.

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Champagne and its wines are a protected term in the EU and sparkling wines made outside of the Champagne region of France are not permitted to use the term Champagne on the label. Far from a deterrent, many other regions around the world are producing good to excellent quality sparkling wines using either their own protected geographical terms (Cava, Cremant de Bourgogne, or Franciacorta for example), or indicating that their wines are made in the Method Champenois or Traditional Method as a mark of quality. It’s a time- and labour-intensive process that contributes to the premium price. Other sparkling wine regions can provide savings through technology, cheaper labour, and most importantly, vineyard land that is much less expensive than in Champagne. Throw in reduced marketing costs, and this is why most sparkling wines are great value. The champagne method produces sparkling wine of the highest quality. In a nutshell, a second fermentation occurs in the wine bottle you purchase turning a still wine into a sparkling wine, and the action of the yeast responsible produces the CO2 that dissolves into the wine. You pop the cork, the pressure is released, and this is where the bubbles come from. A cheaper, and inferior method of putting the fizz in your wine is the charmat method in which the second fermentation takes place in a large tank (rather than the bottle) and the wine is then bottled under pressure (such as in Moscato d’Asti). An even less expensive way to put the bubble in your wine is by just injecting CO2 into the wine while it is in the tank much like a fountain pop dispenser (this is the method used for such fine wines as Baby Canadian or Baby Duck). The finer the method of introducing the CO2 into the wine, the smaller and longer lasting are the bubbles tickling your palate. While there is a wide world of sparkling wines out there that don’t come from Champagne, here in Alberta, we pretty much have sparkling wines from every corner of the globe. Chile, Argentina, Portugal, France (sparkling wines outside of Champagne typically go by the name crémant), Italy, Canada, Germany, and everywhere in between have dipped their toes in sparkling wine production. Many use indigenous or local grapes and the results can be exciting, tasty, and perfect with food. Here are a few wines and styles worth checking out. Prosecco is still riding a surge of customer appreciation. Coming from Veneto, Italy, the best examples come from Valdobbiadene and although a major ingredient in a bellini, the best way to enjoy prosecco is on its own in a flute. Most prosecco has its second fermentation in tank rather than bottle, although a number of producers are making traditional method sparkling wines. Producers to try include Nino Franco, Zardetto, and Jeio. Moscato d’Asti is a perfect summertime wine, comparable to demi-sec champagne at a fraction of the price. With a little sweetness, typically less bubble in the glass than most sparkling wine, and

lower in alcohol, it’s a crowd-pleasing sparkling wine. Moscato is a rare grape that also makes wine that tastes “grapey”. It’s very refreshing, summery and very accessible, a perfect wine for casual entertaining or for those that find wine is too dry. Look for producers such as Michele Chiarlo and La Spinetta. Franciacorte - a seriously high-quality sparkling wine coming from Lombardy in northern Italy, near Milan. These are perhaps the best sparkling wines produced in Europe and in many cases the wine is very similar in quality to champagne. Ageworthy, complex, and delicious, there are also a small number of rosé wines from Franciacorte that are worth seeking out. Producers such as Bellavista and Ca’ del Bosco are available in limited amounts in Alberta. United States - if there is one place on earth just meant for growing grapes it would be California. The history of sparkling wine production in the US goes back to the 1840s but the drive for quality really started in the 1950s, resulting in a number of Champagne houses from France investing in wineries of their own in the Bear Flag state. Moët & Chandon, Taittinger and Mumm joined wineries such as Schramsberg focusing on sparkling wine with great results. Canada - with our decidedly cool climate, we can produce a number of wines in a classic champagne style without the champagne budget. Good examples come from BC, Ontario, and some of the best sparkling wine I’ve ever had, from Nova Scotia. Many are produced from classic blends of chardonnay and pinot noir, but good examples are made from everything from riesling to chenin blanc. In our market, Stellar’s Jay, Hillebrand Trius, Blue Mountain, and Summerhill are all worth trying. Spain - the top spot for Spanish sparkling wines are from Catalonia in south-eastern Spain near Barcelona. Although it’s a DO or denomination d’origin, only about 98 percent of Cava comes from Catalonia. Cava (meaning “cave”) is the Spanish term for sparkling wines and they are usually produced from the macabeo parellada, or xarel-lo grapes in the traditional or champagne method. Cava can be a bit on the tart or acidic side, however it is inexpensive, widely available, and great with food. Some producers to try include Pares Balta, Segura Viudas, and some of the higher end cavas.

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A wine by any other name... By TOM FIRTH Photograph courtesy of QUAILS’ GATE, OKANAGAN VALLEY I am a fortified wine purist. I believe that the wine called port only comes from Portugal, sherry only comes from Spain, madeira only comes from the island of Madeira and so on. Being a purist (or wine snob) doesn’t mean that good examples of these styles of wine only come from these places. Fortified wines are produced around the world and it’s time to shine the spotlight on these other wines. The fortified wine specifically called “Port” can ONLY come from the Douro region of Portugal - full stop. Anything else made in a style similar to port should be called a different name than port. Since history and geography have come together in northern

Portugal to make the wine we call port, it is a distinctive product of that region. The same as maple syrup from Quebec or BC cherries, it is a product with providence, and a guarantee of good quality. Most countries, including Canada, have come on board to protect these geographically specific products, and this means that Canadian-made sherry, champagne, and port will be going by a different name. It also means that products such as Canadian Whisky are also protected abroad. These Geographic Indications started in Europe and apply to products originating in Europe or products that are exported to Europe.

These indications are similar to a trademark or intellectual property and are “names given to traditional products produced according to traditional methods in a particular place”. Most countries are coming on board as it does have reciprocal protection for signatories when applicable. The United States is a bit of a laggard when it comes to acknowledging protected terms such as Port or Parma Ham, but I expect that they will have to come around sooner or later when someone starts making Bourbon in Luxembourg or Napa Cabernet in Spain. Just because they can’t, or shouldn’t, use the word “port” on their fortified wines, doesn’t

Fortified Wine Picks Grant Burge 20 Year Tawny Australia $75 One of the great fortified wines of the world, this tawny wine is rich and sweet with toffee, orange peel, leather, and caramel. In the mouth, maple syrup, raisined fruit and toffee are balanced, finishing sweet. Match with walnuts, Stilton, or just enjoy lightly chilled.

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Peter Lehmann “The King” 2000 Australia $27 A blend of the Portuguese port grape touriga nacional and Australia’s favourite grape, shiraz. Aromas lean towards resin, herb, chocolate and prune, while flavours are similar with intense black liquorice and tarry notes. A little lighterbodied than the average ruby, the price is excellent and this is a great pairing with chocolate.

mean that these wines aren’t any good. They offer a distinct and unique expression of fortified wine and are a suitable alternative to true port. In Portugal, vintage port can be made from around 40 different grapes, many of which are only found in the Douro region where port is produced. Australia for example, produces fortified wine mainly from shiraz, mataro (better known outside of Australia as mourvèdre), and grenache. These grapes all can produce good wines on their own, but can also be blended to produce wines of added complexity and depth. To make good fortified wine, one needs a warm or hot climate, producing ripe berries at harvest. With most examples of red fortified wines, the grapes are pressed in a way that maximizes skin contact with the fermenting must. In the case of port, once about half of the sugar in the grapes is fermented into alcohol, a neutral grape spirit is added to the fermenting juice (fortifying, or strengthening it), raising the alcohol level too high for the yeast to survive. This now fortified wine has around 16-20% alcohol content and still retains some of the sugar, leaving a sweet, dark, and high-alcohol wine. The wine is filtered, aged appropriately, and eventually released for consumption. There are other ways to make fortified wine, but this is the basic ‘how-to’ for port-style wines.

Australia is a leader in fortified wines and has a long history of making them. Many of the big Australian wine brands got their start as fortified wine companies and even as late as the 1960’s, 70 percent of Australian wine was fortified. Australian Fortified Wine, as it is technically known (or a ‘sticky’, colloquially), is typically produced in the warmer climates of Australia such as the Barossa Valley, by a fermentation and fortification process similar to that in Portugal. Both tawny and ruby fortified wines are produced in Australia with the barrel-aged tawnies being aged and blended in a solera-type system for consistency. For the bottle-aged fortified wines, they tend to rely more heavily on shiraz and spend a year or two in cask before bottling, just as in port. Notable Australian producers of fortified wines in the port-style include the classic Penfolds Grandfather Tawny, the award winning Grant Burge 20 Year old Tawny, and the vintage port-style wine from Peter Lehmann called “The King”. Other countries making good fortified wines available in Alberta include the United States; one notable producer being EOS, making a very good wine they still insist on calling a zinfandel port; Canada, examples are Quail’s Gate’s cool bottling of a fortified foch, and Sumac Ridge’s fortified wine they call “Pipe” after the type of barrel long associated in

Pisano Exte-Oneka Fortified Tannat Uruguay $30 Uruguay is having great success with this uncommon varietal. Grapes are slightly dried before pressing, giving a mild raisin sweetness. The nose is all about herb and tobacco with currant and spice. The sweetness is an excellent counterpoint to the rough tannins often found in tannat. Pair as you would for an LBV port.

Portugal with port wine; and Uruguay, Pisano is making a fortified wine out of the tannat grape, which is surprisingly suitable for fortified wine. Do port-style wines age? In the case of tawny or white fortified wines, they are not meant for further aging and are released ready to drink. For the ruby fortified wines, most are released ready to drink and unless it is a vintage port-style, it won’t improve much with time either. Although by their nature, fortified wines keep well in the cellar and some will improve with further aging. The wide world of port-style fortified wines, no matter their providence, pair with foods in similar ways. Tawny wines can be served slightly chilled and match up with walnuts, blue cheeses, fruit cakes, and will keep up to a few weeks or a month once opened. Ruby styles should never be served warm and can be served with full flavoured cheeses (including blues) and chocolate. After opening, the wine can be kept up to a week or so before losing freshness.

Eos Zinfandel Port United States $32 Jammy fruits with a brambly spiciness about them, cinnamon spice and chocolate/coffee bean characters. On the lighter side than some other fortified wines, it pairs very well with blue cheese, and chocolaty desserts.

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The Indomitable Blue By JANICE BEATON There I was, cautiously, fearfully descending the rough concrete steps into our farmhouse root cellar. Summoned by my father to fetch the “cake” of homemade (these days more commonly known as farmstead) cheese that had been ripening to (his idea of ) perfection, I was apprehensive about what I was going to carry back to our kitchen, and then cut and present to him. Without doubt, it would be rife with those intimidating veins of indigo blue that I already knew provided a taste even more fierce than their appearance indicated. Yikes!

Many years have passed since my childhood forays with blue cheese. I do know that those early experiences today help me win over those who eschew blue. Despite my fetching, cutting and serving, my dad had a hard time getting me to let a smidge pass my lips! So I understand, and perhaps people unconsciously know, that here is one they can trust to steer them in a direction that is surmountable. Now I am an intrepid blue cheese seeker. There is no other cheese family that piques my interest in the way that blue cheese does. When there is a new cheese to taste, I am ever at the ready – but blue takes that keenness to a new height. Perhaps I liken it to a person who has traits that I very much admire: feisty, strong, even regal. Don’t mess with me. I am what I am. There are those (unnamed) cheese types these days that have marketing departments determining what “flavour” we want our cheese, or wine, to have. That does not happen so much with our indomitable blues; they are pretty much left on their own to woo, or to be spurned. And were they human, their personality would easily shrug off the latter!

Here we are entering a season where blue reigns supreme. Yes, scads of beautiful triple crèmes, divine washed rinds, goudas and gruyeres galore are bought at this time of year - but truly, the blues are burgeoning. Stilton is purchased in 7 K drums, in quantities. Have you tried the exquisite Colston Bassett version, the only hand-crafted Stilton on the market today? It leaves the rest of them in the dust. And then there is Bleu des Basques, the fudgy, sexy sheep’s milk blue from the Basques region. Or Cashel Blue, the pungent yet silky blue from the Grubb family in Tipperary, Ireland. Think of all your favourite Irish people, and imagine them being a cheese and you’ve nailed it. Not to be overlooked, is the double header from those talented monks in the Eastern Townships in Quebec – Bleu Ermite (1943) and its much younger sibling Bleu Benedictin (1999). Or how about Queso Valdeon, the cow/goat/ sheep blue that is wrapped in sycamore leaves… could there be a more exotic and thought-provoking blue? My jury is out. And then we come to the cheese in this soufflé. Dragon’s Breath. Are you afraid??? The maker is a fierce and commanding man, he takes no prisoners, so no surprise that his cheese follows suit. Its aggressive upfront bite gives way to a meltingly creamy texture with a buttery, gentle and satisfying finish. All this translates in a glorious way in Thierry’s soufflé.

Chefs tip: This soufflé is great served with an arugula salad tossed in walnut oil and a dash of apple cider vinegar.

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Soufflé, which translates to “blown”, is a culinary specialty well known for its delicate texture and, to some novice chefs, may be looked upon as a challenging and technical preparation. This elegant dish can be either sweet or savoury, and a good understanding of its composition can demystify the secret of its technical difficulty.

Dragon’s Breath Soufflé By CHEF THIERRY MERET

Dragon’s Breath Soufflé


Pre-heat the oven to 375° F, low or no convection oven will give you better results.


To prepare the ramekins, melt the butter and brush the bottom and sides of all ramekins generously. Sprinkle with flour and shake off the excess.

Serves 4-6 For the soufflé: 50 g flour 50 g butter, unsalted 350 mL (1½ cups) milk 5 egg yolks 5 egg whites 50 g Dragon’s Breath cheese 2.5 mL (½ tsp) salt 5 mL (1 tsp) ground black pepper For the soufflé cups: 4-6 ramekins, 6.25 cm (2.5 inch) diameter 15 g (1 Tbs) butter, unsalted 15 g (1 Tbs) flour



Place the ramekins into cake pan or deep baking tray and add some cold water in the tray to 1/3 of the ramekin height. Keep aside. On medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan without browning and add the flour. Using a whisk, mix well and cook the mixture on gentle heat for 2 minutes or until it comes away from the bottom of the saucepan without browning.

To start with, you must have a sweet or savoury base, with either fruit custard or a savoury “béchamel” (milk based sauce thicken with flour), then comes the egg yolks to support your masterpiece in its structure and richness and, finally, the whipped egg white for lightness and texture… et voila!


Remove from the heat and add half of the milk. Mix well to a smooth consistency, breaking down any lumps. Then add the remaining milk, and mix thoroughly to a smooth and creamy consistency.



Place the “béchamel” back on a medium to high heat and whisk until the mixture thickens and the first bubbles break through the surface.

10. Gently divide the mixture into the


Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and the egg yolks. Mix well.


Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt to a creamy/medium hard consistency.

Take a spoon of the whipped egg white and gently fold into the blue cheese béchamel until absorbed. Then add the remaining egg white and gently repeat the process. Do not over mix. ramekins, filling to about 4/5 to the top.

11. Place the tray on high heat and bring the water to a quick boil.

12. Place into the pre-heated oven and

cook for about 30 minutes or until the soufflés are nicely puffed up and brown.


Serve immediately!

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Menu Gems Our contributors are sharing their “must try” desserts at local restaurants! Heather Hartmann

Adrian Bryksa While an espresso macchiato is usually how I finish a meal when dining out, there are a couple of desserts that I have a hard time saying no to. From Borgo Trattoria, their Tiramisu presentation; Buchanans Sticky Toffee Pudding; Pulcinella’s Nutella Saltinbocca is perfect to share, and finally Jelly Modern’s Maple Bacon Doughnut.

Wendy Brownie Favourite dessert in a restaurant? My husband and I enjoy sharing the lovely light Floating Island at Cassis. It is heavenly with the caramel and toasted almonds.

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Tom Firth I have a weakness for good crème brûlée and rarely say no to a new flavour or to try it out at a new restaurant. It’s a strain on bulging waistlines, so I am quite the critic when I order one. Favourite one in the city? Too hard to pick one or even ten, but the texture and the brûlée have to be perfect for me.

Gabriel Hall As someone who dislikes sweet dishes and only puts up with them to accommodate the lovely ladies with whom I often dine, it is difficult for me to pick my “favourite” dessert. Hence, the most impressive dessert I have tasted is the Stilton cheesecake at NOtaBLE. Chef Noble has managed to temper an incredibly strong blue cheese and create a harmonious balance between two polar flavours; a difficult feat worthy of recognition.

Linda Garson I don’t really have a sweet tooth, so I love to end a meal with cheese (specially blue!), but some desserts are truly noteworthy: the Stilton Cheesecake at NOtaBLE’s; sticky toffee pudding at Buchanan’s; Spiced Pumpkin crème brûlée at Escoba; and how about this - Warm Brioche with Cambazola cheese, Anardana Spiced Apricot and Homemade Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream at Open Range. They even made Blue Cheese Ice Cream for a Californian winemaker’s dinner once when we didn’t have any dessert wine. Heaven!

I’m actually not a big dessert person. More often than not I’ll take an extra glass of wine, or piece of meat, bread or cheese at the end of a meal, over a dessert. That said, the few things I like, I really like, and tops on my list are the chocolate mousses at La Vita Bella. The one currently on the menu is white chocolate blended with vanilla vodka and limoncello syrup, and it’s creamy and delectable. Sometimes they also have a dark chocolate one with amaretto. Between the two of them I can’t decide which I like better.

BJ Oudman I don’t have dessert often, so when I do, I go big! The maple bourbon pecan pie with house made praline ice cream at Open Range. Rich, sweet, savoury. All it needs is a piece of candied bacon on top!

Fred Malley I have two actually. Opposite ends of the spectrum. I enjoy just about anything chocolate, especially dark and bitter; detest white chocolate, maybe because it contains no chocolate. And I am a sucker for a crème caramel, the leaner version of crème brûlée. Refreshing way to end a heavier meal, followed by a chocolate truffle.

Silvia Pikal The Baklava Cheesecake at The Broken Plate is my personal favourite. I never thought baklava could be improved, but you can’t go wrong combining two delicious desserts in one dish. My mouth is watering as I’m writing this.

Peter Vetsch It’s not exactly a restaurant, but the Calgary dessert I keep coming back to is the salted caramel ice cream from Village Ice Cream on 10th Avenue SE. The first time I had it was at a local restaurant, and as soon as our meal was over we drove straight to Village to buy four pints. Small batch artisanal caramel ice cream is good enough by itself, but that rush of saltiness that hits you just after the waves of sweetness and richness puts it over the top. I have basically single-handedly kept Village in business since it opened.

Janine Trotta Although the pizza is much too heavy for this stomach, my mouth still waters for the homemade, fluffy cloud-like cheesecake served at Spiros Pizza on 17th. The chocolate sticky toffee pudding at Earls is always a fail safe, but for something completely sinful, the chocolate peanut butter pie with Grand Marnier whip served at Cilantro is a must.

Vincci Tsui My favourite restaurant dessert right now is actually not a dessert, but a beverage. I am obsessed with the Butter’d Beer at downtownfood. It’s Innis & Gunn and Wild Rose Honey Brown simmered with Demarara sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to bring out the beers’ inherent caramel and nutty flavours. Definitely beats the usual coffee or tea!

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The Humble Spud Recipe and photography by SILVIA PIKAL

Chocolate Walnut Potato Torte Serves 10-12

Less humble this month, although disguised, potato takes the starring role in this impressive dessert! This rich and creamy potato cake has a walnut base and is topped with a chocolate glaze. Chill it overnight for the best results, and if you serve it to guests, don’t tell them you used potatoes. See if they can guess the mystery ingredient! Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Walnut Base 3 large eggs, separated 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar 120 g (1 cup) ground walnuts 14 g (1 Tbs) fine breadcrumbs 1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. 2. Separate egg whites from egg yolks. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about two minutes. 3. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks for 30 seconds, then add granulated sugar and beat until fluffy and foamy. Add ground walnuts and breadcrumbs and mix well. Gradually fold in egg whites, mixing thoroughly until no egg whites are visible. 4. Pour the cake mix into a buttered and floured springform pan and bake for 30 minutes. Filling 1 K (6 medium) potatoes 200 g (2 cups) ground walnuts 200 g (3/4 cup + 2 Tbs) butter 300 g (Scant 2 3/4 cups) icing sugar 16 g (4 tsp) vanilla sugar 1. Carefully scrub whole potatoes. Boil them for 50 to 60 minutes, or until very soft. 2. Wait until potatoes are cool enough to handle, then peel and mash until they are smooth and creamy. 3. Gradually add 200 g ground walnuts, thinly sliced butter, vanilla sugar and icing sugar. Mix on high speed until well combined. Divide the mixture in half. Chocolate Glaze 225 g (1 cup) semi-sweet baker’s chocolate 100 g (7 Tbs) butter 1. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler, or a metal or glass bowl fit snugly over the top of a saucepan. 2. Add the butter and stir until glaze is smooth and shiny.

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Torte 1. When the walnut base is done, remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. 2. When completely cool, run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Remove the outside of the spring form pan and invert the cake onto a platter. 3. Place the sides of the springform pan back around the cake to help shape the potato filling. Spread one half of the mixture onto the walnut base. 4. Add four tablespoons of melted chocolate glaze to the remaining potato mixture, and spread as a third layer of the torte. 4. Carefully lift the cake pan and pour chocolate glaze over the top of the torte. Start in the middle and spread the glaze evenly using a spatula, letting it drip over the sides. 5. Refrigerate the cake overnight before serving.

Sweetheart Of The Desert By BRENDA HOLDER

For those of us who love meringues, this sweet treat is simply amazing. And no, it’s not made of those corn syrup nasties they call marshmallows these days! It actually is made from the Marshmallow plant also known as Hollyhock. The marshmallows we toast over the fire originated in Egypt but gained their popularity in the 19th century. Doctors used the sap from the root of the plant and mixed it with sugar and a few other simple ingredients. After frothing it and allowing it to dry, they had a great candy medicine that was easy to administer to anyone with a sore throat. It became so popular, that eventually it was taken up by candy manufacturers as a sweet treat. Sadly, this candy lost its medicinal effect, when speedier options and unappetizing ingredients were used to enhance operations for a quicker sale and larger production. The medicinal values of the mallow plant are staggering in number, so I’ll just highlight a few. It heals wounds, irritated skin and rashes, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, bladder irritation, burns, sore throats, ulcers, and tons more. Its natural sweetness makes it easy to ingest and as a soothing tea it is wonderful to drink any time. Marshmallow root, stem and leaf are an essential ingredient to some of the skin creams I make and use. As a beauty treatment, it is marvelous for regenerating tired skin, preventing wrinkles and moisturizing well!

The cowboys of the old west used to refer to it as the sweetheart of the desert, and considered it a miracle plant. Riding through the dry semi-arid desert areas, they would make camp and, week after week, see the withered and dying plants struggling to survive. All leaves lost and the stems beginning to shrivel, it seemed the death of the plant was inevitable. But during the night, if a rainstorm happened after a few weeks of dry, the cowboys would wake to the plants looking renewed, and within a few days leaves began to appear again, and soon after the beautiful pink flowers would show as well. As delicate as the plant can be, it really is a hardy one! It will grow in everything from marshy areas to very dry and sandy soil. But I digress! The root of this plant makes an outstanding meringue for Saskatoon pie, and for those of you wanting the full recipe it can be found in a book called Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas. But here is a quick recipe for making the meringue. John recommends using Mallow peas and making an eggwhite-like mucilage from it to whip up, but I like the root.

This is a very basic recipe: Marshmallow roots (as many as you need) Water Maple syrup (optional) Vanilla (optional) 1. Place the roots in a saucepan, add just enough water to cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer until 1/3 of the water is gone. Let it cool. 2. Mash the roots in the water. Strain. 3. You should now have a very slimy sort of liquid that is ready to be whipped into a froth. While whipping, you can add maple syrup and vanilla to give it an enhanced taste. It can be very finicky to use just the “mallow” whites alone, so if you do have some trouble, a little beaten egg white and/or cream of tartar should help it out. If you add some sugar, you can also whip the liquid a little stiffer and drop the meringue onto a baking sheet to make your own marshmallows!

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The Ultimate Festive Winter Warmers By DAVID NUTTALL AND MEAGHAN O’BRIEN

The Holiday Season is a special time of year, but especially in the beer world. It has long been a tradition for brewmasters to concoct some kind of seasonal beer to celebrate this time of year; so much so that even in beer judging guidelines, there are two categories reserved for these beers. Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer has its own category, and Belgian Spiced Christmas Beers fall in the Belgian Specialty Ale category. While there are no rules for what you can and cannot make for a winter seasonal beer, almost all will fall into one or more of these groups: spiced beers made only in the winter (winter beers); winter warmers, which are special Old Ales; a special or limited edition beer; and Christmas themed beers which have Christmas, Noel or a Santa on the label. They all tend to be higher in alcohol then regular beers, use a wide range of malts which evoke dark fruit flavours, are often enlivened with a variety of herbs, spices, and fruit and are commonly infused with an assortment of adjuncts like molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, etc. All of these combine to produce a beer that conjures up images of Christmas past and present. The holiday season calls for beers with just the right amount of warmth, spiciness and sweetness which also pair well as an after dinner treat or nightcap. Howe Sound Brewing Company’s Father John’s Winter Ale is great served alone or accompanied with cheesecake, candied fig, cheese and crackers. It is double-hopped with Nugget & Hallertau hops, with complex vanilla, nutmeg and caramel notes coming from the variety of different malts and spices. This beer is a tribute to the original Howe Sound brewer, John Mitchell, also known as the “grandfather of micro-brewing in Canada”. Hear, hear to Howe Sound and its brewers for continuing to brew a delicious winter beer. Another popular annual winter beer is Samuel Adams’ Winter Lager, which is also food friendly, warm and malty with a vanilla finish. New this year is Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice; an amber ale with nutmeg and spices but with a hop bite to balance its malty sweetness. Also new is Nonoq Brewery’s Polaris Winterbeer from Greenland. Yes, Greenland, and you can’t get closer to the North Pole than that! Look too for Dead Frog’s Christmas Beeracle, an amber ale with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, Paddock Wood’s Winter Ale and Innis and Gunn Spiced Rum Finish, a limited bottling finished over oak infused with Caribbean Spiced Rum. The result bursts with the flavours of Caribbean spices along with vanilla, toffee and oak.

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Winter Warmers are similar to winter beers, except without the added spices. While higher in alcohol than normal beers, their spiciness comes from the hops and malts used. If you want to think of sugarplums dancing in your head, try this tasty beer from northern England; Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. This light to medium bodied festive beer has a very delicate scent of candied plums and berries with a gorgeous copper colour. It is wellbalanced, with fruitiness, toasted toffee and pleasant dry hops throughout the finish. If you want to try an organic version of a Winter Warmer, look for Fish Tale’s

Winterfish. Try also Granville Island’s Lions Winter Ale and Lost Coast’s Winterbraun. The milder flavour of these beers allows one to enjoy them any time; before, during or after a meal. Christmas-themed beers can literally be anything the brewmaster desires. Many of these are onebatch only specialties that often change recipes from year to year. Starting with the more palate-cleansing of the bunch is Anchor Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale. This malty and spruce-spiced ale is a great pairing with any hearty meal. Though the full body of this beer goes great with roast beef or any other red meat, it also is the perfect accompaniment with turkey and all the fixings. This holiday edition is always a surprise and a treat, with the secret recipe and label changing each year since 1975. It will take just one sip of this special ale for it to become one of your holiday traditions. For other beers with a Christmas label, look for De Ranke Père Noël, Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve, Mikkeller’s Santa’s Little Helper, Thiriez La Noel Desquelbecq, Achouffe’s N’Ice Chouffe Christmas, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, Goulden Carolus (Noel) Christmas and Wychwood Brewing’s Bah Humbug Christmas Ale. One cannot talk of Christmas beers without mentioning Samichlaus (which means Santa Claus in SwissGerman), one of the most unique beers in the world. It first came to be in 1980, and is produced only one day a year, on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day to most of the world. As the saint most closely associated with Christmas, the beer became known as the Christmas Beer. It is aged for over 10 months and used to be the strongest beer in the world. It can also be aged in the bottle for 5, 10, 20 years and more, with its complexity changing with each year. Locally, two breweries make special festive brews for

Christmas. Each year Wild Rose releases Wild Rose Cherry Porter, a decadent delight brewed with whole B.C. cherries and is reminiscent of Black Forest Gateau in a bottle. The cherries really come through in the nose with hints of cherry and dark mocha on the palate. The chocolate lingers in the finish but with very light to moderate bitterness. The richness of this brew proves it can be enjoyed independently or with a subtle pairing. Try with a crème brulee or vanilla ice cream topped with fresh fruit. It is available in a 1 Litre re-sealable bottle, but in limited quantities. From another Calgary brewery comes Village Monk, a brand new limited edition Chai Winter Porter made with a mixture of peppercorns, cardamom, ginger, clove, fennel, cinnamon and mint. Dark, chocolaty and silky smooth, it is available in growlers around town until it’s gone. Lastly, Christmas is the time for special releases. Look for Rodenbach Vintage 2009, a Flanders Red Ale with a balsamic vinegar nose and a sweet and sour finish with hints of sherry and orange peel. Buy some to try now, but also try cellaring it until 2017, if you can. With the weather getting colder and the days are getting shorter, go and treat yourself to one or all of the seasonal beers covered in this issue. Though these are not the typical thirst quenchers that you may be used to, they will definitely intoxicate your taste buds with nothing short of full-bodied flavour. They are only available for a limited time, so get out there and pick some up today!

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Whether you travel the world drinking mass-produced beer, or drink the most familiar beers around, chances are they are around 5% alcohol by volume (ABV), a measure of how much alcohol is in a beverage as a percentage of the total volume. There are many exceptions, with English Pale Ales and light beers hovering around the 4% ABV mark and several beer styles which check in at well over 6% ABV (See Embracing The Dark Side, in May 2012 issue of Culinaire). There is, however, a growing trend in making beers with higher alcohol content. Just what is a higher alcohol content? A good question, as the scale has been sliding up higher and higher over the past 30 years, and has gone to extreme levels in the past five years. So, just how did this madness happen? Well, with more breweries and more creative brewmasters around today than any time in history, with knowledge of how to fiddle with beer’s ingredients (especially the yeast), and advances in technology which has allowed for more experimentation, coupled with a public which seems to devour the end result no matter the price or the quality, and BOOM, you’ve got more high alcohol beers than ever before. So what numbers are we talking about? The standard for high alcohol beers for most of the last 1,000 years used to be held by barley wines and a diverse range of Belgian abbey beers made with special yeast strains and copious amounts of unrefined or caramelized sugar. These hovered around 10%-12% ABV because the fermenting brewing yeast gives up at that level, literally inundated by the alcohol it has produced. Then in 1980, the Hurlman brewery in Zürich, Switzerland produced its first batch of Samichlaus*, which at 14% ABV, set the record for the highest

alcohol beer in the world (Guinness Book of Records, 1982). Today, that standard just barely cracks the top 100 list of the world’s strongest beers. To get to the previously unheard levels of alcohol, most beers employ a combination of special yeasts, multiple fermentations, and freezing the beer, then removing the resulting ice to increase the alcohol content. A legion of breweries on both sides of the Atlantic have begun making beers in the 20%-30% ABV range, but two breweries in particular keep lobbing beer bombs at each other across the English Channel. Kleinbrauerei of Germany released Schorschbrau Schorschbock 31% in 2009 and Scottish BrewDog replied with Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32%. Kleinbrauerei countered with Schorschbrau Schorschbock 40%, so Brewdog retaliated with Sink the Bismarck at 41% (the year the Bismarck was sunk). Kleinbrauerei has since upped the ante with Schorschbräu Schorschbock 43%. Brewdog fired back with The End of History at 55%, with the bottle presented in a stuffed rodent. Only 12 bottles were made at $765 each, but it was topped by Schorschbräu Schorschbock 57% Finis Coronat Opus. No reply from BrewDog yet, but another Scottish brewery, Brewmeister, has stepped into the fray with Armageddon, at 65%, the current world leader as of writing. Only a handful of theses beers are available in Alberta. Prepare to pay the price of good bottle of scotch for a bottle of these beauties, partly because of the higher tax they attract, and partly because they are expensive to make and arrive in very small quantities. Beer purists may snub their noses, but no matter the cost, they always sell out.

Turning Up The Volume

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Five of the top 30 strongest beers available in Alberta: BrewDog Sink the Bismarck, 41% A quadruple IPA, containing four times the hops, four times the bitterness and frozen four times.

BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin, 32% No Penguins were harmed in the making of this beer although some humans did get very, very cold. Double-barrel aged for 14 months and matured in Scottish whisky casks, then frozen three times.

Schorschbräu Schorschbock 31, 31% Starts incredibly strong, very alcoholic, like fire on the tongue. Goes down burning, like an earthquake, shows interesting fruity apricot notes.

Samuel Adams Utopias, 29% During fermentation, a yeast strain reserved for champagne is used. Fewer than 15,000 bottles of this limited-edition beer are produced due to the long aging required.

Schorschbräu Schorschbock Ice 20 Dunkler Eisbock, 20% After freezing down the already strong Bockbeer, the frozen water is separated, leaving behind a highly aromatic and very strong Icebock with 20% ABV. *For more on Samichlaus, see page 53. By DAVID NUTTALL AND MEAGHAN O’BRIEN

It’s the season for giving, and beer lovers love receiving unique beer gifts. Not only are special seasonal beers available now (see page 52), but a wide range of gift packs are also released at this time. These come in three varieties; those with multiple beers and a glass; those with special, otherwise unavailable, beers in the pack with or without a glass; and sampler packs, with a variety of beers, some of which may be available only in that pack. Fortunately, there are no shortages of items to help the beer geek on your list have a beery, beery, Christmas. Note: Some of these products are available year round, so they make great gifts the other 364 days of the year. All prices approximate.


The Craft Beer Advent Calendar Remember when you were a kid and you received an advent calendar with 24 chocolates to eat each day in December as you count down to Christmas? Now that you’re older, imagine it is a beer in each one of those windows. Well, your dreams have come true, with 24 unique European craft brews, unavailable anywhere else, behind each slot. Counting down to Christmas just became more fun.

Different Beers with a Glass Samuel Smith Selection Box- A selection of three Samuel Smith beers with a Samuel Smith logo imperial pint glass and two coasters, $20 Ommegang Gift Pack- A selection of three different beers and a glass from this fine New York brewery, $42 Chimay Trillogy Gift Pack- Two each of Chimay White, Blue and Red with a chalice, $40 Erdinger Bavaria Pack- One bottle each of Erdinger Weissbier and Dunkel with a glass, $16 La Chouffe Gift Pack- Comes with two bottles of La Chouffe and two bottles of Mc Chouffe and a glass, $33 Maredsous Gift Pack – Three different Maredsous bottles and its ceramic chalice. $30 Lindeman’s Gift Box- Lindeman’s Framboise and Pomme Lambics with an authentic full colour flute glass, $17 Westmalle Gift Pack- Three each of Westmalle Tripel and Dubble plus a glass, $36

Same Beers and a Glass

Karmeliet Gift Pack- Four bottles of Karmiliet and a glass, $35 Trappist Rochefort 8 Gift Pack- Two Rochefort 8 bottles and a chalice from this Trappist brewery, $37 Gouden Carolus Gift Pack- Four bottles of Gouden Carolus and a glass, $30

Gift Packs With Rare Beers Innis & Gunn Holiday Gift Pack- Features the new Winter Treacle Porter (their first ever Porter), Highland Cask (otherwise unavailable) and Innis & Gunn Original with an Innis & Gunn branded glass, $18 Affligem Combipack- Two bottles of Affligem Blonde comes with the otherwise unavailable Affligem Dubbel and Triple, plus its distinctive chalice, $22

Sampler Packs He’Brew Holiday Gift Pack- Because the holiday season also means Chanukah, eight different kosher beers from He’Brew with a custom glass, and Chanukah Candles to build and light your own Beer Menorah. L’Chaim! $63 St. Bernardus Mixed 6 Pack- a selection of six beers from this Belgian brewery, $37

Other Samichlaus Gift Pack- One 750ml Samichlaus and two 330ml. Samichlaus glasses, $35 Deus Gift Pack- One 750ml Deus bottle and 2 flute glasses, $32 Hobgoblin Glass and Bottle- One Hobgoblin and a glass in a tall tin, $13

Delirium Tremens Gift Pack- Four bottles of Delirium Tremens and its classic glass, $25 Fruli Gift Pack- Four bottles of this Belgian strawberry wheat beer and its glass, $21 Kwak Gift Pack- Four bottles of Kwak with its unique coachman’s glassware and wooden handle, $39 Duvel Gift Pack- Four bottles of Duvel and a glass, $30

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The New Norm by GABRIEL HALL

It is undeniable that Calgary has seen enormous growth in the last decade. Even when faced with the global economic downtown of 2008, Calgarians hunkered down and kept moving forward. Calgary’s insatiable climb upwards is visibly illustrated on a 17th Avenue patio on a summer’s day. One such beersoaked afternoon, I counted two Aston Martins; one Vantage, one DB9, two Lamborghini Gallardos, seven Porches of various models, a Ferrari 430 and a 458, and three Bentley Continentals GTs passing by. The world may still be stumbling along, but Calgary certainly hasn’t slowed down because of it. Marie-Pierre Gonneville of Charton Hobbs has certainly recognised this as well. Charton Hobbs is the local face for the premium wines, spirits and beers portion of the LVMH Group, one of the world’s leaders in luxury goods, spanning everything from fashion to alcohol. “We are seeing a more consistent demand year over year, compared to the historical trend. People are demanding value in what they are paying for. They don’t necessarily want to see a discounted product but want

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to ensure they are getting the best quality product at a reasonable price”, Gonneville observes. As Calgarians continue to see rises in their disposable incomes, they are increasingly willing to open their wallets to purchase items which are deemed to be of value. Gonneville notes that in 2012 they have seen demand for champagne and Scotch rise between five and seven percent. Demand for cognacs like Hennessy, and premium vodkas

like Belvedere, are increasing a commanding sixteen and twenty percent respectively. Champagne brands like Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon, which were once considered just for special and celebratory occasions, are now being bought throughout the year. “Calgary’s economic success is attracting people coming from all over the world and Canada.” Gonneville continues, “A big part

- Luxury for All open to trying wines from lesser known regions or grape varieties and are willing to spend money on quality wines or spirits.”

of change in consumer habits is driven by the number of eastern Canadians now residing in the West and the fact that liquor consumption is now a much larger part of day-to-day living. The economy has improved along with discretionary income levels and people are open to trying new products and therefore investing a little bit more.” For young professionals in their thirties and into their forties, the trifecta of decent disposable income, an influx of many different lifestyles, outlooks and cultures creating a sense of adventure, and the growing excitement around food and drink have enticed many in this segment to concentrate on quality wine, spirits and food. Jesse Willis, the co-owner of Vine Arts Wine and Spirits, has seen a massive interest from this group. “A good chunk of our clients are young professionals who are interested in learning more about food and wine, but don't necessarily have the wealth of experience that some older, more seasoned wine drinkers might. This makes things really exciting because people are coming in with a fresh slate and without any wine ‘baggage’. They're

Having said that, interest is one thing but capturing and harnessing that interest to translate it into paying consumers, does not come without effort and attention. Like all great products or services, the one that provides an engrossing experience wins. “I taste nearly every bottle before it gets to the shelf so that I am confident in the quality of the product and can also speak intelligently about what I'm selling. There is more and more interest in wine tastings, classes, education, etc. Wine and food has become an important part of the social scene for many people and we're seeing people become interested in wine and food at a younger age. As such, people are becoming more cognizant of what they're drinking” adds Willis. Because of this tabula rasa approach to hedonism, many Calgarians tend to pursue individual ideas unique to this area. The local mixology culture is increasingly turning to new tailor-made ingredients such as Hennessy Black to create new variations on old drinks like the Sidecar. Competitions to produce one-of-a-kind drinks are held in intimate settings like Vine Arts to allow groups of rabid cocktail enthusiasts to

interact and support bar-artists in showcasing their talents and imagination representative of local tastes. It is through this attitude that Calgary’s individuality is brought forth, and demonstrates the city’s singular approach to embracing affluence in Canada. Money often brings a multitude of growth. Often that growth can include excess and pretentiousness. Sometimes entire groups of people lose their soul as money comes flooding in and they become enamoured of the fast cars and expensive meals. I tend to think most Calgarians are resistant to this allure. With as much growth as we have seen in the city, a lot of people still want to drive pickup trucks. They may be nicer and larger trucks, but their instincts haven’t changed. Burger and pizza joints still flourish, even though we’ve admittedly shifted towards handmade burgers and thin crust pizza with prosciutto. Luxury is no longer just for the elite but for people who want something more; individuality, exceptionality. They’re connoisseurs like you and me, and yet Calgary is firmly rooted in reality whilst actively engaging in the best of what the world has to offer and infusing it with our own style and sensibilities.

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Spirits are a very welcome gift, particularly at this time of year. Whether it’s for a host or that special someone, we’ve got you covered. Here are some specially selected tipples to make this holiday season extra-Merry.

The Host/Hostess Gift Hendricks is quite simply one of the world’s finest gins, and if you’re in the mood to party it’s a great host or hostess gift. Don’t just plunk another bottle of wine on to the gift table; kick it up a notch with a cool bottle of gin. Hendricks is made with the usual botanicals of juniper, fruits, herbs and flowers, but also cucumber and rose petals. It can makes for a mean martini, a refreshing G&T or serve as the base for a classic Holiday punch. ­$42.99 Vodka is another great alternative to wine, and why not select a vodka with a cause. (BELVEDERE)RED ($49.99) is a collaboration between Belvedere Vodka and (PRODUCT) RED, an organization helping to finance the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. (BELVEDERE) RED is a limited edition, specially packaged vodka which will be available from select Alberta retailers in time for Christmas. 50% of the profits from each bottle go to the Global Fund. If mixed drinks are not yours or your host’s forte, why not consider taking a fine sipping spirit with you? The 1800 Anejo Tequila is excellent value for a very reasonably $59.99. Most anejos are matured for the minimum one year in American oak, but the 1800 has matured for three years in French oak. Though it’s lost some ground to

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whisky in the last few years Cognac producers are innovating to attract new customers and give their base something new and different. Drouet Fine Melina Cognac is a very fine, delicate Cognac, specially blended to appeal to the female drinker. Distilled without dregs it is very floral and soft with sweet vanilla-oak notes and a silky finish, $78.99. In the last couple of years sipping rums have really taken off, and one of the most respected of these brands is El Dorado. The rum is produced by Demerara Distillers of Guyana, which was formed by the merger of a number of different sugar factories. They kept the unique stills from each distillery, and use them to produce a range of blended rums including their flagship the El Dorado 21 Year, $108.99.

Whisky is going through a bit of a renaissance too, and the Alberta market has a better selection of it than any other in Canada. Don’t go mainstream though; look for something a little off the beaten path like the Bruichladdich Laddie 10 Year ($59.99), Bowmore Tempest Batch III ($79.99) or the Nikka From the Barrel. The Bruichladdich is your safe pick, unpeated, really tasty and from one of the most unapologetically eccentric distilleries in Scotland. The Bowmore Tempest is the bolder choice, moderately peated and really creamy. And the Nikka, which comes in a funky square bottle, is a beautiful Japanese blended malt which if nothing else the will spark a conversation.

Spirits Gift Guide By ANDREW FERGUSON

The Right Spirit for that Special Someone You need something more thoughtful and interesting than a bottle of vodka or gin. You’re looking for a beautiful sipping rum, a handsome bottle of tequila or a proud single malt to fill out the bar. If your recipient is a tequila drinker, it doesn’t get much more special than an “extra anejo”, or “extra aged” tequila. Though not a formal category, many tequila producers are using it to identify tequilas of 3-5 or even more years of age. A classic example of this style is the Don Julio Real ($393.99) a rich 5 year old tequila. Its decanter is stylishly decorated with motifs related to harvesting the agave plant. Rum drinkers will love the Ron Millonario XO ($108.99), a Peruvian rum distilled in Scottish copper pot stills and matured using a Solera system. On the palate it is sweet, fruity, complex and second to none! This rum should be enjoyed neat like a fine whisky or

Cognac, but it’s not so expensive that tears will be shed if it finds its way into a Cuba Libra or heaven forbid Eggnog! Christmas means stockings to stuff and if you’re like me, the last thing you want to see in your stocking is another hockey puck or mandarin orange (dad I hope you’re reading this). There are plenty of one-offs, but why not give them a small set or range to sample through. The Bowmore Distillery Collection is a set of three 50 mL bottles, one each of 12, 15 and 18 year olds. Springbank Distillery of Campbeltown has one too, the Springbank CV Set ($70.99) though its bottles are a little larger at 200 mL. Cute though they are, gift packs often aren’t enough. The Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams ($101.99), a special release from Scotland’s best-known distillery could make their day. As might the Glenmorangie Discovery Pack ($83.99),

which includes a full bottle of the 10 year old Original, and a 50ml of the three whiskies in the Extra Matured range. To really surprise them you could step it up to the Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength 20 Year ($314.99), a limited release from Scotland’s second oldest family owned distillery. It comes in a stylish box and is limited to just 120 bottles in Alberta. But if the sky is limit with respect to your Christmas budget, you can’t get much more posh than the Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 60 Year Diamond Jubilee ($13,999.99) bottling. Bottled to celebrate the Queen’s 60th year on the throne it is one of the world’s oldest whiskies. The Scotch industry aren’t the only one with gift packs, the Chateau Montifaud Gift Pack ($106.99) will delight them and can help fill their stocking too with three 200 mL bottles, one each of VS, VSOP and XO. You could also surprise them with an old bottle of Armagnac like the Darroze Grande Assemblage 60 Year ($687.99) or an aged Calvados like the Domfrontais 40 Year ($231.99). But if it has to be cognac, and they have been especially good this year, maybe treat them to a bottle of the Hennessey Paradis Imperial ($2,795.99), a blend of cognacs from the 19th and 20th centuries inspired by a Cognac made for Tsar Alexander I of Russia as a gift to his mother. It is bottled in an elegant crystal decanter with a gold plated label.

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Liqueurs have long been a staple of the holiday season. Not only do they fit perfectly for after dinner or for settling in for those long winter nights or après ski, but they are also front and centre at most parties this time of year. It’s no secret that more liqueurs are bought and consumed in December than any other month. To that end, they also make great presents. Alone or in a gift pack, everyone loves liqueurs. Even if the recipient is not a fan of the particular bottle, they always keep it around to bring out for company. Grand Marnier has over 130 years of history as one of the most prevalent Christmas liqueurs. Whether sipped on its own, as part of a cocktail, or with coffee, its subtle orange and brandy flavour seems created for the holiday season.

snifter so it can be consumed the way it was meant to be - sniffed, swirled and sipped slowly. The Grand Margarita Pack has one bottle of Grand Marnier and two margarita glasses with a recipe book with instructions on how to create perfect margaritas. The Grand Marnier and Ketel One Shaker Gift pack has one 375ml. bottle each of G.M. and Ketel One vodka plus a stainless steel martini shaker for those in the Bond martini moodobviously shaken, not stirred. Another big player in the gift pack category for years has been Jack

There are three different gift packs available this year featuring Grand Marnier. The traditional Grand Marnier and Snifter Gift Pack has one bottle of the liqueur with a large

two Jack Daniels shot glasses. Licor Beirão is a relatively unknown Portuguese liqueur, made with a secret distillation of seeds and herbs from all over the world, including Malaysia, Brazil, and Thailand. This gift pack has one bottle of the liqueur and two embossed rounded glasses. Two other liqueurs are worth mentioning as special holiday editions. What’s a Christmas without eggnog? What’s a Christmas without eggnog with booze in it? Boring, that’s what. The Evan Williams Egg Nog (750 mL $15) is certainly not that. Silky smooth, it is made with Evan Williams’ fine bourbon, which is a bit unusual for these parts. But it’s got a creamy texture, and a subtle hint of bourbon smoothness. Also available again this season is Kahlua’s Peppermint Mocha Coffee Liqueur. This famous Mexican coffee liqueur is a staple in every bar, and this offering has enough peppermint to make you want to hang it on the tree.

Daniels. There is no shortage of J.D. packs with glasses, shot glasses, cards and poker chips, etc. Their new entry into the market is the Jack Daniels Honey Liqueur, which, just as the name implies, is a sweeter, smoother version of the famous Tennessee Whiskey with loads of honey flavour. This gift pack comes with one bottle of the liqueur and

Christmas Liqueur Guide

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Christmas Stocking Before Martha Stewart, Hallmark Cards and Norman Rockwell sketches, before Charlie Brown and the Grinch, even before “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” and ‘‘Twas” the Night before Christmas,” the Christmas stocking was embedded in holiday traditions around the globe. Somewhere between legend and folklore, the story is told of an impoverished man with no dowry for his three daughters. Concerned that the father would have to sell one of his daughters to save the other sisters, St. Nicholas is said to have given the man three

sacks of gold coins, providing the dowries and saving the family. St. Nicholas was the bishop of part of modern-day Turkey in the early 4th century, with a reputation for leaving gold coins in the shoes of the poor. Legend says that the sacks of coins were tossed through the window and into the stockings hung to dry on the mantel piece, thus becoming the first stocking stuffers. Over the centuries stockings were filled with fruit and sweets, and today the candy cane is often the first treat found on Christmas morning. The candy cane originated in Cologne when, in 1670, candy was first offered to quiet the children during Christmas services. The choirmaster asked a local candy maker to shape the candy stick like a shepherd’s staff. The candy cane was distributed at Christmas nativity services throughout Germany and eventually throughout Europe. They were often used as a decoration on the Christmas tree and remain a favourite stocking stuffer. Over the past century, Japanese mandarin oranges have become a popular stocking stuffer, especially in British Columbia. In Japan the brightly-coloured oranges were harvested in December, so boxes of mandarin oranges were often

sent from Japan at Christmas, to relatives who had emigrated to BC and western Canada. Today with the convenience of online shopping and dedicated websites, the sky’s the limit when it comes to filling a Christmas stocking. Stocking stuffers range from a Tiffany’s blue box to jogging sox, from toy cars to car keys, and from teddy bears to a host of specialty Christmas fare. Some traditional favourites include:

Chocolate truffles, chocolate oranges, chocolate liqueurs, almond bark

Specialty teas, exotic coffee beans, cider spices

Miniatures: Baileys, Henkel Trocken, Harveys Bristol Cream, Dubonnet

Shortbreads, ginger bread, Fortnum & Mason biscuits

When Santa says “he’s making a list and checking it twice” I think he was referring to stocking stuffers. Whether hung by the chimney with care or found at the end of the bed, chances are your Christmas stocking will contain something delicious.

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More Gift Ideas For Big Stockings AND Little Stockings! There’s such a wide choice of great gift ideas to suit every pocket in our local stores, that we couldn’t resist including a few more of our favourites. The perfect corkscrew

is Spiced Green Tea and Bee Pollen in dark chocolate! Handmade and hand wrapped for $5.95 per 50 g bar. www.

By TOM FIRTH Ask any true wine lover, you can never have too many corkscrews. Available in Calgary only at Steeling Home 1010, 17th Avenue SW, Santa Fe Stoneworks produces beautiful corkscrews that are works of art; styles include mammoth ivory, Damascus steel blades and everything in between. Importantly, the corkscrew itself is of high quality too meaning you will get many years of use out of this gift. I even bought one for myself. Around $68

More Sipping Gift Selections Flying Monkeys Bare Naked Ladies Chocolate Stout

Something gimmicky that actually works. By TOM FIRTH Featured on the TV show Dragons Den, the Air Cork looks a little ridiculous in action but it works. A balloon is placed into your open wine bottle and is inflated until a tight seal is formed around the inside of the bottle keeping air out and your wine fresh. As a bonus, no more fumbling around for a cork to cram back into the neck of the bottle when you need to save some for later. $30 at Willowpark Wines & Spirits, 10801 Bonaventure Dr. SE.

Wooden Wine Puzzle By CORY KNIBUTAT It’s nothing more than a few pieces of wood and rope standing roughly a foot tall, handcrafted out of red oak, but this stylish riddle is what’s standing between you and a delectable bottle of wine ensnared within it. “It’s a fun puzzle that you place a bottle of wine in, close it up, give them the gift and they have to solve the puzzle to get the bottle out,” said Howard Hills, Owner and Operator of The Wine Tease.

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Would it be less cruel to give your friend or loved one their gift without a head-scratching puzzle to solve first? Perhaps, but where’s the joy in that? “What a lot of people do is put the instructions under the bottle they give them, so that once they solve it and get it out, they’ve got the instructions there for how it works so they can either keep it or pass it on as a gift,” Hills added. If you can’t solve the wine puzzle you can throw in the towel and check out the website for instructions on how to get to your prize. All puzzles are stained red oak or cherry, selling for $20. Visit the website to order or email Howard directly to place an order. www.

Drinking Chocolate? For a very different but very welcome stocking-stuffer, how about combining two favourites - locally-made chocolate with tea leaves? Made by Calgarian, Albert Kurylo, for the Naked Leaf in Kensington at 103 - 305 10th Street NW, there is a selection of flavours of his tea-infused chocolate. My favourite

Talking of drinking chocolate, how’s this for collaboration – Bare Naked Ladies and Flying Monkeys coming together to produce a very limited, one time release Imperial Chocolate Stout. It ‘s packaged as a 750 mL bottle, in its own individual, colourful box. At 11% alcohol, the beer is a big, rich stout, infused with chocolate and cocoa nibs (over $10,000 worth of chocolate alone went into the making of this beer). Planned for release at the end of November, it will retail for around $15 a bottle,
and will probably be gone very fast!

Vino Cacao And finally on the chocolate theme, here’s two new wines from Bordeaux, in France – Vino Cacao Ivoire and Noire, created by Franck Maupouet “World Master Chocolatier” and the son of a Bordeaux Vigneron. Ivoire is a blend of two Bordeaux white grapes, sauvignon blanc and semillon, infused with 54% cocoa dark chocolate and natural vanilla, while Noire combines two Bordeaux red grapes, cabernet franc and merlot – plus the dark chocolate and vanilla too. They say it will keep several months after opening – not in my house! 375 mL $18

Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine, Estate Bottled VQA 200 mL $27

Icewine is always a welcome gift but can be hard on the pocket for many. From Niagara-on-the-Lake, Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine presents a good value and a very attractive package, boxed with a clear front panel to see the bottle inside. Regulations specify Icewine grapes can’t be picked until it is at least -8° C. but Château des Charmes wait until at least -10° C or -12° C to be sure every drop of water in the grapes is completely frozen. An intense, mouth-coating wine, well-balanced with a good acidity and flavours of honey and apricot. Would be perfect with those crème brûlées we all love!

Taylor Fladgate Estates Collection $79.99 Taylor Fladgate is one of the oldest of the founding Port houses, dating back to 1692. This beautiful pinewood gift pack explains their pre-eminence as a producer of Vintage Port, founded on ownership of two of the most famous estates of the Douro Valley, Quinta de Vargellas and Quinta de Terra Feita. The Estates Collection contains a half bottle of the impressive 2005 vintage single estate Port from each of these acclaimed properties, to discover and compare the distinctive styles. A very special gift for a very special person.

Caves de Bailly-LaPierre Reserve Crémant de Bourgogne 375 mL $16.29


A half bottle of bubbly makes a very affordable gift without being showy. This cremant comes from Bailly, a village in Auxerrois in the northern part Burgundy, and the birthplace of the AOC Crémant de Bourgogne. Caves de Bailly-LaPierre’s are celebrating their fortieth anniversary, making sparkling wines in an underground quarry hewn out of the limestone bedrock and providing unique natural conditions.

...educating Calgary’s .. palates since 2005

The reserve is a blend of the appellation’s four grape varieties, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Aligoté to produce a typical light and creamy crémant with crisp acidity and flavours of brioche, fresh apples and peaches.

Calgary’s most popular Wine and Food events Public, cor porate and private tastings, dinner s and events in r estaurants, offices and homes

Fun and unusual gift bags from Champagne itself abound at this time of year and here are two from the houses of Moët et Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.

Wine Courses, and Vine and Dine Gift Certificates for the person who has everything!

Moët et Chandon Imperial and Moët et Chandon Rosé Imperial are both dressed in woven IsoSuits, convenient insulating jackets to keep the bottle chilled for longer. $69.99 This Christmas, Veuve Clicquot comes dressed in a bright yellow saddle-stitched shopping bag to keep your chilled champagne ready to drink for two hours at an ideal temperature. $65.79

Announcing 12 day all-inclusive luxury wine tour of Chile and Argentina February 21st - March 4th 2013 Experience the breathtaking scenery and discover the outstanding vineyards of Chile and Argentina in this all-inclusive escorted luxury tour.

contact: Linda Gar son at 403 870 9802 or email

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What Is Your Ideal New Year’s Eve? Our contributors are sharing their favourite ways to see in the new year.

64 • DECEMBER 2012

Wendy Brownie My ideal way to spend New Year’s Eve - staying at home and preparing a huge feast of giant prawns sautéed in garlic and chili sauce accompanied with a bottle of Spanish cava – simple and delicious!

Adrian Bryksa New Year’s is a pretty simple affair consisting of Thai from Calgary institution Spicy Hut Peking & Thai House on Edmonton Trail and a glass or two of bubbly from Langlois Crémant de Loire Rosé available at Wine Ink and Highlander North Hill. We are usually in bed ahead of the stroke of midnight as our little ones start their day usually around 7 am, regardless of year.

Jeff Collins A perfect New Year’s tipple is a glass of Blue Mountain Brut from BC. Drinks like a real champagne, at half the price, and ‘Canadian, Eh!’ With that, smoked oysters on Triscuit with a wee slice of havarti to glue one to the other after 10 minutes in a 350 oven. Happy New Year, indeed!

Tom Firth I’m out a lot, and love it when I can spend a night at home and not even think about going out. At home, with the family, maybe a movie, and a fire…that’s a perfect New Year’s for me. It’s a perfect night to open a great bottle of riesling or a little bubbly. It’s even better if I can be in bed nice and early for a change.

Gabriel Hall My ideal new years eve is how I spend December 31st almost every year: on a ski hill with a cabin full of my best friends. This year I’ll be cooking for 16 people; roast beef, scalloped potatoes in three cheese sauce and roasted veg complete with a bottle of vintage champagne.

Heather Hartmann For years now, a group of my friends have gone to the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Banff Springs. They’ve come home raving about the dinner, dance, champagne and martinis. Though I’ve never actually been able to join them, I’ve always wanted to - sounds like a glamourous way to spend the holiday. One of these years, I’ll get there.

Brenda Holder New Years as I usually spend it is my ideal way. Around a bonfire, a midnight walk in the forest. Food would be simple fare, but something wild of course. Jerked wild meat (deer, or sheep perhaps), deer liver pate, sliced roast moose or caribou (roasted root veg too, potatoes, beets and parsnips) for drinks, wine and or Drambuie! Oh and add in the northern lights with the hint of a chinook wind and that makes it stellar :)

Fred Malley My wife and I, and occasionally the boys, celebrate New Year’s eve at home most years. We have a nice dinner of perhaps seared sea scallops with tomato jam and roasted rack of lamb medium rare seasoned with Dijon mustard, pepper and lavender. We always enjoy something sparkling, whether a Spanish cava or something French and champagne (prefer Veuve Clicquot or Pol Roger).

BJ Oudman My ideal New Year’s Eve happens every year. Spending it at the cabin with friends, a hot tub in the snow followed by a five course meal that we all cook together with perfectly paired amazing wines from our cellars; maybe fennel stuffed porchetta with Anam Cara Heather’s Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir.

Janine Trotta Ideally I would spend New Years Eve on a cruise ship in the Alboran Sea - watching fireworks dance over Malaga whilst sipping a brandyheavy sangria. Need I translate that into a December 31 spent in Calgary, I would take the highest pair of heals I can dance in to Don Quixote’s and sip some sangria there.

Peter Vetsch As a parent of a toddler, the idea of a wild and outlandish New Years’ seems light years away - I’ll take it as a moral victory if I can stay up until midnight (and if the baby doesn’t wake up in the meantime). As a result, my ideal New Year’s would be a pretty humble affair: a couple of great friends, some fresh bread, cheese and olive oil, and a bottle of vintage Delamotte Champagne. Maybe not glamourous, but totally fulfilling. Happy New Year all!

Linda Garson New Year’s Eve always used to be at our best friends, just a fiveminute walk away down the hill, with a buffet that always ended with Blue Stilton and Port. We’d always end up with “jelly legs” - we thought we had legs and then we’d stand up and they were just jelly! Now New Year’s Eve is spent with my 82 year-old dad in Florida and I wouldn’t change it for the world! Let there be many more, dad!

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Within every family resides a legendary holiday tale of ruddy-faced Uncle Tony, waving a half-empty glass of overly boozy eggnog, while speaking a bit too boisterously of an embarrassing event about which the family would rather not hear ever again.

by Amazon Canada and other sponsors to allow amateur bartenders to access the same tools and materials that professional contributors to the site use. A justcocktails. org book highlighting techniques, tools and recipes will also be available in early 2013.

A lack of restraint often results in a less than spectacular morning after, but over-indulgence of poorly conceived drinks makes both the evening and the next morning forgettable experiences.

When asked what he sees as exciting this holiday season and over the next year, Grandbois mentions family-style punches, spices and bitter flavours. However, gin is also highlighted as one of booming themes for next year.

Over at, a group of Canadian bartending professionals have banded together to help lounges, restaurants and, most importantly, home bartenders create perfectly balanced drinks to enhance the enjoyment of the moment, no matter what the occasion. Each month, they will individually create, photograph, and explain how to make up to a dozen different drinks that anyone with the basic tools would be able to produce.

“Gins have become really intriguing. Small batch gin creators are able to create a really transparent product with simple distillation, providing multiple flavours in one bottle,” Grandbois notes. The varieties and combinations of juniper, herbs and florals have created a juxtaposition of complex notes inside a deceivingly simple, clear liquid.

“Currently 90% of the drinks we create are done in someone’s kitchen,” says Philippe Grandbois, one of the founders of, “We use iPhones to take the pictures and use parts instead of ounces to showcase the simplicity and the most important element of cocktails: balance.” There are currently over 170 inspired drinks on the site, broken down by ingredients and flavours, perfect for the home bartender who needs a quick reference. continues to expand and develop channels to help the novice bartender at home. Grandbois was recently approached

Pursuant to these themes, Grandbois has created two contrasting drinks for the holidays. The first is a nod to Christmas on the Mediterranean coast, highlighting a blend of nutty, bitter, sweet and sour. The second is a complex gin champagne cocktail balancing a multitude of delicate flavours in a refreshing drink to revitalize New Year celebrations. Culinaire, and I wish everyone a happy holiday and a prosperous new year. Please drink responsibly and stay classy, unlike Uncle Tony. Cheers!

Holiday Cheers The Monk Sour

Home Bartending for the Holidays by GABRIEL HALL

66 • DECEMBER 2012

1 oz fresh lime juice ½ oz maple syrup ½ oz vodka 1 ½ oz Frangelico Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. Pour over ice in an old-fashioned or rock glass and garnish with lime. Serve immediately.

New Year Celebration New Champagne Cocktail Sugar cube Fee Brothers Gin Barrel-Aged Orange Bitters ½ oz premium gin ½ oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur Prosecco (Save the Champagne for sipping) Twisted orange rind garnish Wet the sugar cube with a few dashes of the orange bitters. Place the soaked sugar cube into the bottom of the champagne flute. Add a twist of orange peel to the glass. Pour the gin and St. Germain over the sugar cube and fill the glass with prosecco. For maximum effect, serve before the sugar cube dissolves.







That which makes Hendrick’s ODD is precisely what makes it WONDROUS. It is distilled in absurdly SMALL batches by a single CRAFTSMAN working a duo of anachronistic copper stills. It is then finished with SUBLIME infusions of CUCUMBER and Bulgarian ROSE. To join our most unusual world, visit us at HENDRICKSGIN.COM PLEASE ENJOY THE UNUSUAL RESPONSIBLY HENDRICK’S GIN, 44% ALC./VOL. ©2012 REPRESENTED BY PMA CANADA LTD.

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68 • DECEMBER 2012

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