Culinaire #7.7 (December 2018)

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Decadent Desserts | Milestone Anniversaries | Port & Champagne

Good company deserves great food. Find all your holiday favourites in store or online today!


42 32



Features 15

In It for the Long Haul The restaurant industry is notoriously tough, so hats off to Alberta establishments having special birthdays in 2018! by Elizabeth Chorney-Booth

20 Champagne! Why aren’t you drinking more? by Tom Firth

26 Warming Whiskey Cocktails …for the holidays – and beyond! by Linda Garson

32 Hotel for the Holidays Beacons of warmth and hospitality by Daniel Bontje

34 For the love of entertaining …and reducing the stress by Kelley Abbey


Culinaire Holiday Gift Guide Stuck for special food and beverage gifts? We’ve scoured local stores and the internet to bring you our ideas. by Linda Garson, Tom Firth, and Daniel Bontje

37 The Gift of Beer Suggestions for the beer fan on your list by David Nuttall

40 Making The Case: Home for the Holidays and perhaps a fine bottle with friends or family by Tom Firth

42 Open That Bottle Don House of IDMG Culinary Marketing Strategies by Linda Garson


Why Port Still Matters… Port wine faces a number of challenges as tastes and drinking preferences change. Does port still matter? We think so. by Tom Firth

Departments 6

Salutes and Shout Outs


Off The Menu – Fire Captain Todd Nabozniak’s Almond Lemon Cake


Book Review – Corbin Tomaszeski’s In Good Company


Chefs’ Tips and Tricks: Decadent Desserts


Spice It Up: Gingerbread

On the Cover: She Bakes Bouquets’ Marie and Yves Ghesquiere have captured our hearts with their baked goods and exquisite decorating skills, so we are thrilled for one of their seasonal masterpieces to adorn our cover. Many thanks to photographer Ingrid Kuenzel too for expertly capturing its glory! 3

Letter From The Editor on the clothes and getting outdoors for winter activities – snowshoeing for me. But then there’s that side that wants to party and be sociable, and being a very lucky person, if I’m not running dinner events myself, I often have a choice of events to attend to try some new foods, celebrate a new opening, or welcome a new wine or spirit to the city.

The year is racing headlong to its close, or at least it feels that way. And as always, there’s two opposing forces to the season; the annual tug-ofwar between hunkering down with a glass of something warming – a hot whisky toddy is always welcome, particularly if there’s any hint of a sniffle, or layering

And it’s the same over the holidays – do we entertain friends and family at home or do we escape to somewhere warm and relaxing? I had my fun last month, when I was even luckier to be a guest for my first visit to Mazatlan on Mexico’s Pacific Coast for a couple of days, and overjoyed to discover it’s the shrimp fishing capital. We'll hear more of that next year. In this issue, we’re focusing on entertaining, with suggestions for successful soirees and the food and beverages to serve for them. But we’re also considering hotel dining, as we

instinctively book restaurant tables but often forget that at this time of year particularly, hotels are open every day, many with wonderful seasonal menus for our celebrations. Then there’s our holiday gift guide; it’s always a treat to try new products, and we love to pass on our ideas to you, so you can enjoy them too. And it’s a time for thanks – to our advertisers and supporters who have helped make Culinaire possible this year; to our editors, writers and photographers; our marketing team; and to you for taking us home with you, and for your kind words and compliments. Here’s to very happy holidays, and an exciting and fun-filled 2019. I'm looking forward to sharing some exciting news with you too in our next issue! Cheers, Linda Garson, Editor-in-Chief

Buon Natale. (bwon-nah-TAL-ay)

This is how we say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Italy, but it really means we wish you and yours all the best of the Holiday Season.

Have a cookie. Grocery. Bakery. Deli. Café.

EDMONTON Little Italy | Southside | West End

CALGARY Willow Park

ALBERTA / FOOD & DRINK / RECIPES Editor-in-Chief/Publisher: Linda Garson Managing Editor: Tom Firth Multimedia Editor: Daniel Bontje Calgary Sales: Chris Clarke 403-990-1512 Edmonton Sales: Jenni Lavoie 587-336-7613 Contributing Photographer: Ingrid Kuenzel

Our Contributors < Daniel Bontje

Coming from a background in Psychology, Dan has always been passionate about not only how food and drink tastes, but how it makes us feel and connect with one another. Eager to try new things, Dan balances his love of cooking with his love of eating, and can be found scouring the city for new recipes and restaurants to share. Whether baking a wedding cake, hosting a pop up dinner party or enjoying a glass with friends, Dan is always thinking about food!

Design: Emily Vance Contributors: Kelley Abbey Daniel Bontje Anna Brooks Elizabeth Chorney-Booth Mallory Frayn Dong Kim Karen Miller David Nuttall

Contact us at: Culinaire Magazine #1203, 804 -3rd Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 0G9 403-870-9802

To read about our talented team of contributors, please visit us online at Twitter: @culinairemag Instagram: @culinairemag For subscriptions, competitions and to read Culinaire online:

< Tom Firth

Tom is a drinks writer, consultant, and judge who has been travelling the world and pulling corks for over twenty years. He is the Managing Editor for Culinaire Magazine and is the Competition Director for the Alberta Beverage Awards, as well as a judge for Alberta’s Finest Drinks List Awards. He has no qualms about tasting first thing in the morning, and his desk is covered in paper and bottles – somewhere under that, a corkscrew might be found! Follow him on twitter @cowtownwine.

< Ingrid Kuenzel

Food connects people and Ingrid loves capturing both. For six years she has been creating images for Culinaire. You may find Ingrid photographing a local event or see some of her other freelance work for companies such as Eat North, the Saddledome, French’s, Clubhouse, and Master Chocolate. In her free time she is skiing the Rockies with her family or exploring Europe in their tiny camper. Ingrid has sabred three bottles of champagne… and counting. Find her at, @ingridkue.

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.

Salutes... Congratulations to our Renee Kohlman, who won Gold at the Taste Canada Awards in her category of Best Single Subject Cookbook! Way to go Renee!

included in En Route Magazine’s Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2018! To CHARCUT’s Connie DeSousa, one of SAIT’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni!

And to Fiasco Gelato, winner of the 2018 ATB Small Business of the Year Award for significant business achievement, and to Grey Eagle Resort and Casino who won the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Award.

And our last congrats go to the winners of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Calgary: Chef Roy Oh of Anju took bronze, Chef Matthew Batey of the Teatro Group (a past gold medallist) won silver, and Chef Dave Bohati of Murrietta’s took the top spot (also a past gold medallist!).

And more congrats to Edmonton’s Bundok, the only restaurant in Alberta to be

and Shout Outs... It’s been another busy month for new openings so we’ll be brief, but do sign up for our newsletter at for more! One of our favourite Calgary breakfast spots has spread its wings – again! We’ve been loving these ultra-delicious dishes and their own free-run eggs since they opened in Calgary in 2009, and now OEB’s empire is growing – Edmonton has joined the flock at 10174 100A Street. Get there early; they’re only open until 2:45 pm. And now Namo Cafe & Bistro has opened in in OEB’s original location on Edmonton Trail NE. And it’s another great menu – six Bennies from Crab, Pepper and Artichoke to Smashed Avocado Picco to Short Rib and Mushroom; Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes, bowls of Laksa, Indian Spiced Lentils, and sandwiches. Vegan and glutenfree too. 8 am-3 pm Tuesday-Sunday. Cacao 70 Eatery is now open on 82 Avenue, in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona; a brunch, lunch, and sweet spot where chocolate is the star ingredient. Go for dishes such as Meat Lover’s Omelette and Croque Madames, and stay for the sweet menu that includes four fondues. Inner City Brewing has opened a new taproom on 11 Avenue SW, in Calgary’s 6

Beltline. They have a few snacks but don’t offer meals, and we love that you can bring your own or order in, and wash it down with your choice of their eight beers on tap. 11am–late 7 days.

of toppings; ginormous sandwiches, and baked goods from Pretty Sweet. Soup and liquor coming soon. Accessed from 3 Street SE, 7 am–an hour after the library closes.

Rob Tryon of Effing Seafoods is happily ensconced in his new St. Albert premises at 44 Riel Drive, after many years of farmers’ markets. Tryon is home now with his lobster tanks, oysters, and exotic fresh fish. He knows where each fish was caught – buy it whole, and you can watch it cut up for you.

Chef Guru Singh has opened his first restaurant, Aarde, at 10184 104 Street in Edmonton. Dutch for “earth”, the ingredients here are bought from local vendors and markets. Look for Mushroom Artichoke Tartine, Crispy Cauliflower, confit leeks, cod, and duck – yum! 5-10pm, 7 days.


Much has been written about Calgary’s new Central Library, but their edible side is noteworthy too! Lukes is a venture from Gareth Lukes (of Lukes Drug Mart) and Chef Eric Hendry (ex- Bar Von Der Fels); it’s unpretentious, and focuses on Prairie grains. You’ll find hearty, healthy, and inexpensive meals for every age of diner. Try the excellent Kale Risotto, oatmeal, and porridge with 14 choices

You’re in for a treat now when shopping at Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre – after 10 months of renovations and a $17 million investment, the new Dining Hall is open, and it’s bright, spacious, modern, and beautiful! There’s a choice of 20 food vendors, with seating for 835 diners. Shopping just got better!

Chinook Centre

Off The Menu by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL

This summer, I was invited to be one of the judges at the Stampede Kitchen Theatre's Calgary Police and Firefighter’s Cook-off. The police team (just) took the prize, but we were enormously impressed when Fire Captain Todd Nabozniak presented us with a cake he’d whipped up during the contest! It’s absolutely delicious – and gluten free to boot. Many thanks to Fire Captain Nabozniak for sharing his recipe with us!

Almond Lemon Cake 7 Eggs 2 Tbs lemon zest, about 2 lemons ½ cup (120 mL) butter 2 Tbs (30 mL) coconut oil 1 tsp baking powder 2 cups almond flour ½ tsp xanthan gum ½ tsp salt

3. In a separate bowl mix all the dry

ingredients. Add half to the eggs and whisk until smooth, then add the rest and whisk to make a smooth, even batter.

4. Line an 8 or 10-inch glass or ceramic

deep baking dish with parchment paper (the mixture will rise when cooking). Use a large sheet of parchment and push down into the edges as the mix is extremely sticky and will not come out of the dish easily without the parchment. Using a silicone spatula, transfer the batter into the lined dish and smooth top.

5. Bake at 350º F in a preheated oven


for 35 minutes or until light golden. Check at 30 minutes to ensure it isn’t overcooking. The cake can be cooked up to 40 minutes, but don’t cook too dark or it begins to taste eggy.

2. Melt the butter and the coconut oil,

6. When the cake is done, use the

1. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and lemon

and while whisking, slowly add to the eggs to temper them so that they don’t cook.

parchment paper to remove from the dish and set on a wire rack for glazing.

Lemon Glaze 1½ cup powdered sugar 3 Tbs (45 mL) lemon juice, room temperature

Combine the sugar and lemon juice until all the sugar is dissolved. While the cake is still hot, brush the entire surface with the glaze to soak in. Use a fork to poke holes in the top of the cake so some glaze can soak into the middle. Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes while soaking in the glaze. Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 110 g cream cheese, softened 1½ cups powdered sugar 1 Tbs lemon zest ¼ cup (60 mL) lemon juice

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and beat until smooth. Once the cake is cool, coat the outside with the frosting. Garnish with lemon slice twists that have been coated in sugar. If there’s a dish in a restaurant
in Alberta that you’d love to make at home, let us know at, and we’ll do our very best to track down the recipe for you! 8

Book Review



In Good Company

By Corbin Tomaszeski Figure 1 Publishing Inc. 2018 $35 Chef Tomaszeski has spent the better part of his career breaking down every aspect of preparing and cooking food as well as the act of getting it to the table, either in his restaurants or advising others. By deconstructing the process, he is great at explaining why to do or add something to a dish, showing how everyone can be more comfortable in the kitchen. He grew up on an Alberta farm, and like many good chefs was surrounded early on by good cooks. Many will relate to the story about his mother’s cookbook, one well-worn and stained from constant use, something many of us have seen in kitchens growing up before the internet! As the title of the cookbook implies, the recipes are meant for sharing with company, and all with fuss-free cooking! The recipes are straightforward and the directions and tips are helpful at planning all aspects of your menu and event.

@urbangrubyyc @urbangrubyyc !

U b g rban ru

Real Food Made Easy

“The best food I’ve found in Calgary!”

-Google Review “The best” Soups, Stews & Chilis in the whole darned city...minimally processed in re-useable jars, as well as prepared meals to re-heat

Great for the ski hill!

Christmas Dinner Made Easy bistro open weekdays breakfast, lunch & take-away

5524 1A St. SW, Calgary AB. T2H 0E7 403.723.4012 A division of Indulge Group


Even busy schedules are accommodated by identifying appropriate “time crunch recipes”. The “Tartines” chapter (a fancy French word for open-face sandwiches) is a fantastic tool for all cooks. As Tomaszeski says, they are an underused category of food suitable for any time of day! The “Basic Recipes“ chapter also provides many great instant flavour boosts. No part of the day is left out, including nutrition-packed muffins for early morning hockey practices (p.27) and Breakfast Pizza (p.28) for weekends, and lots of healthy sides – the Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes (p. 142) are a must! Desserts are simple, humble preparations of comfort classics, ones you love to indulge in. A “Salted-Caramel Bundt Cake” on page 178 seems like a great finish to me!




Karen Miller is a former lawyer who got on the “know where your food comes from” bandwagon earlier than most and now focuses on foraging her daily food from local growers.


Chefs' Tips


Decadent Desserts


It’s holiday season, which means it’s the time of year to unabashedly indulge in desserts. The crisp crunch of gingerbread, the warm spice of a freshly baked fruitcake… there’s nothing more comforting than home baked goods. We tend to stick to tradition when it comes to seasonal desserts, so this month, we asked four local pastry chefs for some tips and tricks on how to spice up our holiday treats. You want to pull out all the stops during the holidays to spoil your friends and family, but sometimes you don’t have the time (or the know how) to whip up a double-layered crème tart topped with fresh macarons. Benjamin Griffon, pastry


chef at Espresso Café in Calgary, says when it comes to baking, the emphasis should first and foremost be about flavour, not extravagance. “For home cooking, the easiest thing for bakers to do is make a simple pastry with one or two very special ingredients. It could be a very good French chocolate, or something like a syrup made with high quality whiskey,” he says. Griffon says you can always jazz up your dessert afterwards with decorations like edible gold foil or chocolate

truffle shavings. If your holiday wish is chocolate, try out Griffon’s recipe for a decadent chocolate tart!

Chocolate Tart

A chocolate sponge cake rolled with vanilla whipped cream and topped with red berries; this cake is simple, elegant, and also works as a great centerpiece.

Serves 4

175 g unsalted butter 100 g icing sugar 1 egg, lightly beaten Dash of vanilla extract 250 g flour 450 g milk chocolate (40%) 1¼ cup (300 mL) heavy whipping cream 3 Tbs + 1 tsp (50 mL) honey

If you want to start small, try Lu’s recipe for a French favourite – mini raspberry almond cakes.

Raspberry Financiers Serves 6

Note: Make dough at least an hour ahead of time (can also be made a few days in advance and kept in fridge or freezer).

1. In a mixer using the paddle attachment, cream butter. Once soft, add icing sugar. Mix on minimum speed until combined.

2. Add egg (make sure it’s at room

temperature) and gently mix. Add a touch of vanilla and mix.

3. Turn mixer off, and add flour. On

minimum speed, mix until just combined. Tip: Do not overwork dough or it will become tough. Wrap and place in fridge for at least an hour.

4. Roll dough with some flour on a cold

countertop down to 2 mm. Line mould or tart ring.

5. Preheat oven to 325º F. Blind bake

(bake without filling) tart shell for about eight minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

6. To prepare the ganache, melt the chocolate. In a separate pot, heat up cream and honey together.

For Jinnee Lu, pastry chef and owner of Reinette Café & Patisserie in Edmonton, the best desserts are like unwrapping a gift and finding something surprising inside. Lu recommends Galette de Rois, otherwise known as King’s Cake, one of her favourite holiday cakes to make. A puff pastry filled with sweet almond cream, this dessert also has a lucky charm – usually a bean or an almond – hidden inside. “According to tradition, whoever finds the small token hidden inside the pie will become king or queen of the day,” she says. “Not only do I love this tasty treat, but it’s also fun sharing this tradition with my family.” A yule log is another festive dessert Lu says is easier to make than it looks.

3 egg whites 50 g almond flour 50 g flour 100 g icing sugar 100 g butter 6 raspberries Chocolate chips (optional)

1. In a large bowl, combine egg whites,

almond flour, flour, and icing sugar. Mix until smooth.

2. In a deep pot, heat butter, stirring

occasionally until it turns brown. Be sure to use a deep pot as the butter will foam and may spill.

3. Pour browned butter into egg white

mixture. Mix well. Chill finished mixture in the fridge for at least one hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 375º F. Grease

a muffin tin or mould, and spoon around 65 g in each. Add a raspberry (and some chocolate chips) on top.

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Add half the cream mixture to

chocolate. Mix gently with a spatula (be careful, you don’t want air bubbles in the ganache). Add the rest of the cream and mix. Tip: If ganache is not perfectly smooth or breaks, use an immersion blender to blend it back together.

8. Pour ganache into tart shell. Cool tart

in the fridge for two hours or until ganache sets. Top with whipped cream. 11

“Marshmallows are something new we do that have less sugar and are gluten-free,” she says. “They are fun to make and you don’t even need to cook, it’s just heating sugar and that’s it!” Some of Ghesquiere’s more festive marshmallow flavours are chai latte, chocolate and fresh mint, and lemon meringue.

All you need to do – as every baker should – is follow the steps

One of a baker’s biggest challenges, especially when everyone’s home for the holidays, are food sensitivities. Longtime pastry chef Marie Ghesquiere, owner of online patisserie She Bakes Bouquets, has a new favourite holiday dessert that’s both easy to make, and just about anyone can enjoy.

Homemade marshmallows may sound daunting, but Ghesquiere says all you need to do – as every baker should – is follow the steps. For a light dessert or a treat to pair with hot chocolate, try Ghesquiere’s top-selling recipe for eggnog marshmallows.

Eggnog Marshmallows Serves 4

For eggnog: 70 g caster sugar 2 eggs ½ cup + 3 Tbs (160 mL) organic whole milk 160 g white chocolate 10 drops organic sweetener extract, vanilla 1 pinch of sea salt ¼ tsp nutmeg 6 g gelatin 1 Tbs hot water 130 g dark chocolate shavings, to garnish

For marshmallow: ½ cup (120 mL) water 30 g gelatin 10 g marshmallow root powder 200 g egg white ½ cup powdered sugar 870 g sugar 1 cup + 4 tsp (270 mL) agave syrup 1 cup + 1 Tbs (265 mL) water

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Joyous Holiday Season. A heartfelt thanks to every person who has walked through our doors to inspire us, encourage us, and support us, in our 60th anniversary year and through our journey. Without you this would not be possible.

The Scarpone’s Family 5140 Skyline Way NE | Calgary Tel (403) 275-3300 | Fax (403) 275-0536

WWW.ITALIANSTORE.CA Monday - Saturday, 9am to 5pm

60 years 1958-2018

Reims, Place Royale

20 drops organic sweetener extract, vanilla Pinch chili powder 2 pinches sea salt ¼ tsp nutmeg

2. To make syrup, place sugars, agave

1. Line a 13 x 13” pan with parchment. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

and cook without stirring for 8 to 10 minutes.

2. To make the eggnog, whisk together

4. Pour syrup mixture into gelatin

3. In heavy bottomed saucepan,

5. Increase speed to high, and beat

4. Pour milk slowly into egg mixture

6. Add vanilla, chili powder, salt, and

5. Once combined, pour back into pan

7. Using lightly oiled spatula, scrape

sugar and eggs in a bowl.

heat milk on medium (if you have a thermometer, until 170º F). while gently whisking the eggs.

and simmer on low heat until egg mixture coats the back of a spoon.

syrup, and 1 cup + 1 Tbs water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.

3. Bring mixture to a simmer,

mixture. Whisk on low until combined. until thick and fluffy or until mixture triples in volume, about 10 minutes. nutmeg. Beat until well combined.

chocolate, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg.

half the marshmallow mixture the prepared pan and smooth evenly. Take half of the eggnog composition and spread evenly on the first marshmallow layer.

7. Melt gelatin in hot water, and add to

8. Mix second half of eggnog and

6. Remove from heat. Add white

eggnog mixture. Set aside to cool. To make marshmallow:

1. Pour the water into mixer bowl. Add gelatin, marshmallow powder, and egg white. Set aside.

the other half of marshmallow composition. Spread evenly over top. Decorate with dark chocolate shavings, a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg, and set aside to cool at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Slice into small cubes and serve!

To Find a Retailer Visit: Follow us: @pacific_ab @pacific_canada pacificcanada

Orange Spiced Madeleines If you’ve ever mistaken salt for sugar, you’ve learned the hard way that baking can be unforgiving. The baking bible warns never to stray from a recipe, but Jennifer Stang, executive pastry chef at La Boule Patisserie & Bakery in Edmonton, says there are some shortcuts – like cooking cake bases ahead of time and freezing – that can save you time and stress during a holiday baking marathon.

A dusting of icing sugar works as a perfect holiday cover-up “A recipe may not show it, but a lot of elements can be done piecemeal—you don’t need to do everything at once,” she says. “Pastries freeze really well, so you can make your cake on one day, your jelly on the next, and then just put everything together the day of. It also gives you a better chance to focus on making one thing at a time.” And if your masterpiece doesn’t look quite the way you want it to, Stang says a dusting of icing sugar works as a perfect holiday cover-up. Try out Stang’s spin on a classic, with her mouth-watering citrus and cardamom-spiced madeleines!

Serves 6

260 g flour ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground cardamom ½ tsp ground ginger 7 g baking powder 212 g sugar 32 g brown sugar ¼ tsp salt 3 Tbs honey 2 tsp orange zest Around five large eggs 260 g melted butter

1. Sift flour, cinnamon, cardamom,

ginger, and baking powder together.

2. With a whisk, combine sugars, salt, honey, orange zest, and eggs until just incorporated.

3. Fold flour mixture into egg mixture using a spatula. Fold in melted butter.

4. Pipe or scoop batter into madeleine moulds until about three quarters full. Chill for at least an hour and a half.

5. Preheat oven to 350º F. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Immediately remove from mould onto cooling rack. Anna Brooks is an award-winning journalist and graduate student currently living and studying in New York City.

Edmonton’s Sugar Bowl, established 1943

In It For The Long Haul: Hats Off To Alberta Restaurants Celebrating Anniversaries In 2018 by ELIZABETH CHORNEY-BOOTH

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is a tough nut to crack. Experts say that the average restaurant fails at around the five-year mark — so making it to a decade is a major achievement for any dining establishment. In 2018 a number of Alberta restaurants are having special birthdays, marking 25, 30, 50 and even 75 years of operation. And every single one will tell you that getting to those milestones is no small feat.

Carriage House Inn opened in Calgary. The Carriage House originally opened as a café and a cabaret with an adjacent hotel, because in 1968, the business needed to have a lodging component to be granted a liquor license.

For example, things have certainly changed in the 50 years since the

Since then, not only has the Carriage House’s hotel grown in scope, the

property now hosts four separate restaurants on site: the Nineteen Thirty Dining Lounge and THÊ Restaurant, as well as Peanuts Public House, and Dudley’s Lounge. Lino Savino, the Carriage House’s Director of Food and Beverage, says that the restaurants survive for a few reasons. One is community support: despite being in a hotel, with the exception of weekday breakfasts, 80% of the Carriage House’s customers are not hotel guests, but members of the local community who are especially loyal to the hotel’s legendary Sunday brunch. 15

in 1943 as a wartime burger joint that catered primarily to military personnel. In the ‘70s it morphed into a coffee shop aimed at university students, and for the last 20 years or so it’s been a pub focusing on Belgian beers. While that concept is relatively new, current general manager Matteo Zenari says the room still has a very welcoming worn-in vibe. Even if patrons aren’t aware of the restaurant’s legacy, they can feel a sense of history in the room. Carriage House

Secondly, with some staff having been on board for as many as 40 out of the Carriage House’s 50 years, the business is able to offer an unparalleled sense of consistency. “We carry the same motto now as we did then, which is ‘We take great care of you.’” Savino says. “That’s run true for 50 years on our property.” The same goes for the owners and staff at Calgary’s Italian Store, the retail market and very popular café, coffee bar and lunch spot, La Cafeteria; and sister company, Scarpone’s Quality Italian foods, importers and distributors of fine Italian foods, who this year are celebrating 60 successful years. Scarpone’s has the advantage of being family-run and now on its second generation of owners/operators, a formula that has also done well for Buchanan’s, an iconic Calgary restaurant celebrating its 30th anniversary.

collection of brown liquor — is even more fashionable in 2018 than it was in 1988. In addition to her older regulars, Carol Buchanan is pleased to see a growing group of young customers come in to sample something from the restaurant’s list of over 400 whiskies. “We have been doing brown liquor for 30 years and I was just stunned the other night when I walked through the restaurant and every table in the bar and every table in the restaurant except one had a whisky glass on it,” says Carol Buchanan. “I thought it was just wonderful.” Consistency isn’t always the key to success though — Edmonton’s Sugar Bowl has been around for 75 years this year, but like the Carriage House Inn, it’s changed significantly since opening

Michael and Carol Buchanan set up shop in 1988 just as the Calgary Olympics were taking place. With employees who have been with the restaurant since it first opened, Buchanan’s has always felt like a family, but more recently the Buchanan’s son, James, has taken over the restaurant, giving it a chance to make it well beyond that 30-year mark. It’s helpful that Buchanan’s concept — a classic chophouse with a massive 16

Success is always going to be your employees “The food is comfortable, the environment is very comforting and it has a lot of character, which I think is something people like,” Zenari says. “It’s just a very nice place to hang out. It’s rustic.” 2018 has seen a number of other prominent anniversaries — like Edmonton’s Blue Willow Restaurant (60 years) and the Manor Bistro (25 years) and Calgary’s Cilantro (30 years), Teatro (25 years), La Chaumiere (40 years) and Chicken on the Way (60 years) who all celebrated birthdays this year. Each of those restaurants has a drastically different story, but like other businesses in the province that have persevered through the decades, they all show the ability to preserve the things about themselves that make them special, while remaining relevant, and continuing to appeal to new customers. “Success is always going to be your employees, because you’re like a family working together all day,” says Carol Buchanan. “It takes some pretty special people to make that dynamic work and somehow we’ve instilled that here.”


Elizabeth Chorney-Booth is a Calgary-based freelance writer, who has been writing about music and food, and just about everything else for her entire adult life. Elizabeth is a published cookbook author and a regular contributor to CBC Radio.








Spice It Up: Gingerbread by MALLORY FRAYN

Gingerbread: despite being a holiday staple, it too often gets relegated to gingerbread houses, serving more a “decorative” than “edible” function.

Given that the qualities that make gingerbread a good fit to be structurally sound also mean it has the potential to break your jaw, it can be a good idea to rethink your recipe if consumption is your final goal. Here are 6 tips to take gingerbread from “decorative” to “delicious”.


1. Try your hand at ginger “bread”… literally Traditional gingerbread isn’t cookie dough that you roll out and cut into the shape of little men. Rather, it’s a rich cake laden with molasses and warm spices. Perfectly simple and satisfying on its own, you can also spice it up with add-ins like toasted nuts, or dried fruit. Or, serve it drenched in warm caramel sauce to make it more reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding. Plus, if you end up with leftovers, you can always soak them in egg wash and make gingerbread French toast for breakfast, or turn the works into bread pudding.

2. Layer it into a trifle Whether you opt for a gingerbread cake or cookie base, try using it as one of the components in a holiday-inspired trifle. Layer the cake or cookie chunks with plenty of stiffly whipped cream, candied cherries, and chopped, candied ginger to create a show-stopping dessert that will feed a crowd. A good rule of thumb with trifle is to make sure you have something cake-y, something creamy, something fruity, and something crunchy. Other flavour combinations could include: –– Charred pineapple, boozy soaked raisins, banana pudding, toasted coconut –– Raspberry compote, chocolate pudding, crushed meringue –– Caramelized apples, butterscotch pudding, candied pecans

3. Play with sweet and savoury flavours Ginger is a versatile ingredient that plays well into the hands of both sweet and savoury recipes. Thus, it’s easy to add a sweet/savoury twist to your favourite gingerbread recipe. Think about savoury flavours that would complement ingredients like ginger,

molasses, and warming spices. Japanese yuzu kosho, a paste made from chilis, yuzu peel, and salt, is such an example. The salt balances the sweet, the chili complements the spicy “kick” that is naturally in gingerbread, and the citrus rounds out the works.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of familiarity

If you can’t decide on just one filling, why not set up a build-your-own cookie sandwich dessert platter? Lay out an array of festive fillings, crunchy bits to roll the edges in (think gingerbread crumbs, candied ginger, or crushed candy canes), and have your guests concoct their own, personalized creations! Just don’t forget to leave one out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

4. Good to the last crumb Chances are, you will wind up with some leftover gingerbread that is too hard to eat, but never fear, it doesn’t have to go to waste. Instead it can be ground up into gingerbread crumbs, which could then be used as the base to make a gingery crust for cheesecake or cream pie, or even mixed with breadcrumbs to then coat homemade chicken fingers. Just keep in mind that the added sugar in the crumbs will cause them to brown more quickly if you are using them in place of traditional breadcrumbs.

5. Gingerbread cookie sandwiches Chewy ginger cookies are perfectly snack-able on their own, but if you’re looking to up the anti and impress holiday guests, why not turn them into cookie sandwiches? You can fill them with everything from icing, to ice cream, ideally in holiday flavours like candy cane and eggnog.

6. Have dessert for breakfast The nice thing about gingerbread as a dessert is that it isn’t too sweet, so it doesn’t put you over-the-top at the end of a long, holiday meal. That being said, its lack of saccharinity also makes it a great candidate for a festive breakfast or brunch option. It’s easier than you think to try your hand at gingerbread-flavoured pancakes or waffles at home. Simply take your favourite base recipe and spice it up with staple gingerbread flavours. A tablespoon or two of molasses, a sprinkle of ginger (fresh or dried), and a dash of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, instantaneously transforms any traditional pancake/waffle batter into gingerbread form. No skimping on the toppings though. Caramel and chocolate sauces are definitely fair game instead of maple syrup. Mallory is a Calgary freelance writer and grad student now living, learning and eating in Montreal. Check out her blog and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @cuzilikechocla 19

Champagne! by TOM FIRTH

Every time I taste champagne, I virtually have to slap my hand away from my wallet. I taste it, and I want to own more of it. These wines are always a pleasure to taste, but I’m wondering why we don’t drink more champagne more regularly? It certainly isn’t inexpensive, making it more of a special occasion rather than a Saturday night wine for most of us, but there are plenty of good alternatives for midweek bubbles. Champagne only comes from northeast France, and is time- and labour-intensive, but this results in a depth and nuance that differentiates it from cheaper sparkling wines. Champagne really is the king of the hill when it comes to sparkling wines. This holiday season, while you might be splurging on a bottle of champagne (and we have a few recommendations below), please think on this age-old question, why aren’t you drinking more champagne?

Drappier 2008 Grande Sendrée With 7 years on the lees and a pinot noir dominated blend, Drappier’s Grande Sendrée is remarkably floral with great fruit, flintiness, and sourdough characters. Excellent mousse and a fine salinity make for an oyster-friendly bubble, but also great for a toast. CSPC +804164 About $105-115

Bruno Paillard Brut Rosé Premiere Cuvée Positively bursting with lemon and dried strawberries on the nose with a clean yeasty character and mild rose petal notes. Crisp and tart, this was highly enjoyable from first sip to last with zesty and mineral flavours. Excellent. CSPC +703747 About $85-90

Maison Ruinart NV Blanc de Blancs Made entirely from chardonnay grapes, look for an expression that might be a little softer and creamier than classic brut champagne. Dusty apples, flint, almond, and a bare hint of smokiness on the nose lead into slightly tart, but creamy palate notes with a touch of peanut and bread crust toastiness. CSPC +718220 $95-100

Larmandier-Bernier “Longitude” NV Extra Brut Extra brut champagnes are a little drier than the classic, brut versions and can be so much more versatile with food. Crisp and mineral driven, with notes of crushed almonds and salinity. While it should shine with almost any dish, this is also a champagne to savour as a first (and second) glass. CSPC +772077 $60-65

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rosé With 3 years on lees, this rosé delivers plenty of depth and nuance for the palate. Apple peel fruits with strawberry and so much floral character, it boggles the mind. Quite delicate on the palate with impeccable balance, it would be a treat any day of the week. CSPC +735587 $110-115


H. Billiot et Fils NV Brut Reserve

Pierre Paillard NV “Les Parcelles� Taittinger NV Prelude Grand Cru Bouzy Grand Cru

A 60-40 blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, the nose here is all about flint and steel, with rather delicate brioche toastiness and a fine salinity. Apple and citrus fruits emerge on the palate with an excellent mousse and long, mineral-laden finish. CSPC +525436 $63-68

Simply put, this is stunning champagne. With the right balance of mineral, toast, and fruits on the nose and the palate, this is a glass that is empty before you know it. Perfectly delicious on its own, it would also complement anything from fresh oysters, strawberries, or even popcorn. CSPC +477372 $60

A step or two up from the classic Taittinger Brut Reserve, the Prelude is all about precision and expression. Soapstone mineral character with clean apple fruits, flintiness, and spice. The blend is 50-50 pinot noir and chardonnay, spending 5 years on the lees. This bottle should never be overlooked. CSPC +719323 $95-100




HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE We’ve scoured local markets and stores as well as the internet, to bring you our tasty treats, stocking stuffers, books, gadgets, and boozy beverage gift ideas for the food and drink lovers in your life! The Tipsy Kitchen Cookbook

Historically, many well-known cultural dishes have utilised local liquor, so Black Diamond’s Florrie Wood, with help from Spirit Hills’ Hugo Bonjean, has brought out the Tipsy Kitchen cookbook with 50 recipes all including some Spirit Hills honey wine, 22 of which were created by Foothills residents. 120 pages paperback, $23.80 at Chapters and Indigo.

Burwood Distillery Gift Pack

Gift packs with small bottles are a great way to try new products, and Burwood Distillery have released a three pack of their brand new, freshly picked Apricot and Cherry Liqueurs (great to sip or would be wonderful on ice cream or cheesecake!), and Cracked Green Walnut Liqueurs, or you can mix and match with their other honey–based liqueurs and spirits. $87 at the distillery.

Phil & Sebastian Coffee Subscription

Stuck for a gift for the coffee lover in your life? How about a coffee subscription! Phil & Sebastian are offering flexible length programs, for espresso, filter, and decaf coffee, all ethically sourced directly from producers in 13 world regions. Their beans are roasted beside the Bow River in Calgary, and freshly shipped out. $27.15 including shipping.

Apocalypse Chow

Apocalypse Chow, by David Julian Wightman, is a parody of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It isn’t as dark, yielding a food-friendly tale suitable for gourmands and readers of all stripes. As for the classic line, Wightman’s might be an improvement. “Bacon, my friends. Nothing in the world smells like that. I love the smell of bacon in the morning…” $15 at Amazon and, or download for free. 22

Kuraidori Precision Cooker

Sous vide has long been restricted to restaurants and those who could afford to experiment, but happily we’ve seen a recent surge in smaller, more affordable units. The Kuraidori is ideal for home use as it’s only a little bigger than an immersion blender, and clips to the side of any deep pot. A great gift for gadget lovers, steak enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to cook hassle-free. $130 at Home Hardware.

Glen Grant 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Glen Grant has been distilling malt whisky in Speyside for 178 years but they’ve only been available for one year here. Scotland’s longest serving distiller, Dennis Malcolm, creates just a few super elegant whiskies at this small boutique distillery. His 12 Year Old is pale, delicate, and complex, with flavours of vanilla, spice, green apple and butterscotch. CSPC +794242 $65

Appleton 15 Year Old Rum, Jamaica An exclusive release just for Canada, and only for a limited time, this is one of the finest tasting rums we’ve had from Appleton; the bright flavours are countered well by a fine, molasses finish. Drink neat. CSPC +804930 About $70

BIN 905 Beer and Wine Advent Calendars

BIN 905’s advent calendars are filled with 12 unique bottles, including some exclusive picks. If you have your favourite wines already picked out, you can customize them too. An early holiday gift or treat yourself – nobody is judging… Order online at and pick up in store. Wine advent calendar $250, and beer advent calendar $150.

Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial, France

We’re always excited at this time of year for the seasonal festive packaging that the major champagne houses do so well. One of the best-dressed bottles is this limited edition Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial; intense, lively, and juicy – and made primarily from pinot noir. How many iconic French landmarks can you recognise in the gold hot foil stamping? CSPC +744692 Around $75

Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky

Still wondering what all the fuss is about with Japanese whisky? The Toki is a great place to start. With a similar profile to some lighter Speyside whiskies, look for dried herb, cereal tones, honey, and spice, with a little plum and heat on the finish. Highly enjoyable from start to finish - best enjoyed neat. CSPC +780196 $55

Bearface Canadian Whisky

There’s a brand new Canadian whisky on our shelves just in time for the holiday season. From the people who brought you Mission Hill wines comes Bearface, a small batch, handfinished, 7 year old Canadian whisky aged in American, French, and Hungarian oak barrels, each adding their own character. Vanilla and dried fruit lead to a warming, full mouthfeel. CSPC +807202 $40

Hansen “Purple Cow” Saskatoon Berry Cream Liqueur, Alberta Words we thought we’d never type. A saskatoon berry cream liqueur? Yes please! Smelling a bit like blueberry yogurt on the nose with the faintest of purplish colour in the glass, it all works where it counts - on the palate. Perfectly fine neat or on ice, it might… Irish up your coffee just as well. $33 at the distillery and online at


Tamdu 10 Year Old, Scotland

A 10 year old whisky that brings an abundance of smooth flavour to your whisky glass. Plenty of toffee leather and citrus tones, with a little dried flower petal and silly putty (seriously) on the nose. Silky textured with a character of apple crumble on the palate, it’s a great addition to your home bar. CSPC +778216 $75

Veuve Clicquot Chic Choc Spiced Brut NV, France Rum, Canada

Known for its unique and distinctive bright yellow packaging, from fridges and trunks to cooling jackets and shopping bags, Clicquot’s Magnetic Arrow Collection retraces Madame Clicquot’s six main historic destinations around the globe, and includes a magnet as a reminder of the magnetic attraction of these cities. CSPC +757431 $65-$70

With flavours just oozing the festive season, Chic Choc Spiced Rum is made from six native spices from Quebec’s Chic Choc Mountains. Making their debut are Peppery Green Alder, Pine Forest Spikenard, Witherod Berries, Lovage Root, Sweet Gale Seeds, and Wild Angelica. It’d make a great flambé, but you’d also enjoy it neat or in a host of cocktails. CSPC +767856 Around $36

Fauxmagerie Aged Ale Vegan Cheese

For the foodie on your list who may be dairy or lactose free, Fauxmagerie’s sharp, cheddar-style cashew cheese is perfect for burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and pasta dishes too. There are seven flavours to choose from, and we loved the new Ale Aged made with Beau’s Lug Tread Ale. Vegans and non-vegans will likely be back for more. $11-$13 in Sobeys and Save on Foods.

Inspirati Canada Tea Towel

Kappa Foods

Calgary’s INSPIRATI has a new division, “tap-s-tri Collection”, where they create personalised tea towels from inception to completion. New this season is a limited edition Bunchberry tea towel depicting Canada’s national flower – native to every province and territory – and custom woven in France. $40 in store and online at

We love this gift pack with three 100 mL bottles of Kappa Foods’, from Newmarket, Ontario, popular flavours. Black Maple is smoky and used as a marinade or dressing, Red Diablo is a Spanish-style pepper sauce, and the Golden Reserve is perfect for the holidays over your French toast, waffles and pancakes. $17-$19 at Italian Centre Shops, Enjoy Centre, Sunterra, and North Sea Fish.

Fraser Valley Gourmet Butter Crunches


Fraser Valley Gourmet’s Almond Butter Crunch is handmade in small batches in Langley, BC. They’re gluten-free and use pure butter to create a soft, yet crunchy, texture with a fabulous caramelized toffee flavour. Choose from Dark or Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Espresso, or Lemon Coconut Chai. $7-$8, 150 g at Safeway and Sobeys, Italian Centre Shop, and Springbank Cheese.

Stocking Stuffers


How cool and cute is this – a sardineshaped soap on a rope from where else but… Portugal. The sea salt and lemon fragrance is really fresh and clean, and designed to wash away those fishy, onion, and other smells from your hands (we’d use it in the shower, it smells so good!). $20 at Knifewear and Kent of Inglewood, Calgary and Edmonton.

Glitter for cocktails

Getting bored of the same old, same old? Spirdust, is a food- and drinkfriendly additive for drinks. It won’t affect the taste of your drink, but adds that little pinch of interest. In a bevy of colours, and in glitter and liquid form, it can even be added to juices or syrups to up your cocktail game. Each little container will “bedazzle” up to around 50 drinks, so a little goes a long way. $9-10 in liquor stores.

Brazen Jerky

Using only free range, organic and/ or grass-fed Canadian Prairie beef, Calgary’s Brazen Jerky is hand-cut and soaked in their own really tasty marinades. Choose from Cowboy BBQ with espresso and cayenne, Thai Lime with fresh kaffir lime leaves and jalapeno, or Ginger Beef – they’re soft and chewy, and delicious! $6 at The Italian Centre Shop, Bite Grocer and Eatery, and to order at

Hippie Snacks Crisps

More very moreish nibbles from Burnaby’s Hippie Snacks - Avocado Crisps (our favourite Guacamole, and Sea Salt flavours), and Cauliflower Crisps (Original and Classic Ranch flavours). Baked crispy, you won’t be able to stop once you start on these! $5-$6 70 g bag from Blush Lane, Sunterra, Amaranth, Bite, Planet Organic, and Earth’s General Store.

BarCountry Cocktails

Buying for an adventurer? Two local Alberta bartenders have done away with the hassle of carrying heavy liquids to create dehydrated cocktail mixers. Choose from five natural, gluten-free, and vegan pocket cocktails and just add water and your favourite liquor. $9.99 at MEC, Cabela’s, Amazon, and (you can even order for them for free here!).

Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee and Teas

On their homestead south of Strome, John and Irene Feddema have perfected the art of processing the roots of their abundant dandelion crop into Dandy Joe tea and “coffee” – and you’d be hardpressed to tell that it isn’t coffee you’re drinking! 100 g bags of tea are $15, and 225 g bags of coffee $20 by mail, at Edmonton’s Pure Health Naturally and Remedy Café, and often at Camrose and Wetaskiwan markets.

Pot Scrubbers

Finally, a pot scrubber that does away with even the most stubborn stuckon foods. Bright and cheerful, and environmentally friendly, these scrubbies have a soft foam centre, and don’t scratch pots, dishes or ceramic stovetops. Dishwasher safe too. $3 at and ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen locations.


Warming Whiskey Cocktails by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL

It’s chilly out there and we’re entertaining, so it’s the perfect time to do things a little differently, to try something new – and impress our family and friends too.

This month, we asked two Alberta restaurants known for their delicious cocktails, to let us have warming cocktail recipes that we can make at home for the holidays – and beyond!

Happy J. Byrne

Bar Manager, Ampersand 27, Edmonton “This drink is adapted from a recipe by Jacob Grier, a leading authority on beer cocktails,” says Happy Byrne of Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue craft cocktail spot, Ampersand 27.

“It combines all the warm holiday flavours in one, and is super easy to enjoy by novice drinkers and cocktail geeks alike,” he adds. The holidays are busy enough that you don’t want to spend the night locked in to drink making, so you can multiply this recipe by the number of guests you plan to entertain, and serve it as a punch. It’s very easy to pre-batch and store in the fridge; let it just sit in the corner of the room, and top up as needed.

Byrne’s Abbey Street Punch 3 oz Siding 14 Coal Pusher Stout (or Guinness) 1 oz Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey (or Jameson) ½ oz Appleton Jamaican Rum ½ oz lemon juice ½ oz allspice dram* Nutmeg, for garnish Lemon slice, for garnish

Shake all ingredients over ice, and fine strain over large ice. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and citrus pieces. *Allspice dram is a tiki bar staple, and can be bought or simply made at home with allspice and rum, brown sugar, and a cinnamon stick; a quick internet search will provide you with easy recipes. Tip: to reduce dilution for your punches, use a larger container to make an ice block for chilling rather than ice cubes from your tray.


Derek Mihalik

Maple Whisky Sour

Maple Whisky Sour was Mihalik’s first cocktail creation for Starbelly back in October 2016, and it’s been one of the restaurant’s most popular cocktails ever since.

1½ oz Dark Horse Whisky 1 oz fresh lemon juice ½ oz pure maple syrup ½ oz rosemary syrup (recipe below) 1 egg white 1 sprig rosemary, for garnish 1 lemon wheel, for garnish

Managing Partner, Starbelly, Calgary

“I wanted to create a cocktail that rang true to our brand,” he says. “Fresh, local, yet globally inspired. We use Alberta Premium Dark Horse Whiskey distilled in Calgary; Gosford Farms Maple Syrup from Quebec; fresh free-range egg whites from Mans Eggs in Nobleford; and fresh local rosemary, when available.”

Build cocktail in mixing glass: add first five ingredients and shake together without ice for 30 seconds to agitate whites. Add ice, and shake for an additional 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass over fresh ice and garnish.

Rosemary Syrup Makes 1 Litre

2¼ cups granulated sugar 2¼ cups (540 mL) water ¼ cup fresh rosemary

In a saucepan bring sugar, water and rosemary to a boil on high heat. When syrup reaches boiling point, remove from heat and steep for 30 minutes. Remove rosemary. Let cool. Stays fresh for 2 weeks in the fridge.

The fresh lemon is the perfect counterpart to the sweetness and richness of maple syrup and dark whiskey, and balances the earthy/pine tones from the fresh rosemary and syrup. Whether you are sipping après ski or keeping warm next to a fire, this drink will undoubtedly warm your soul this holiday season.



Why Port Still Matters… by TOM FIRTH

I’ve never made any bones about my love of the fortified wines of Portugal. As time goes on, we see a world that wants it now, we have online shopping with overnight delivery, we grumble when our favourite pizza joint tells us our delivery will be ready in 45 minutes on game day, and we see wine styles around the world chasing a ready to drink, softer, and more fruit-driven offering – no cellar required. Buy, drink, wash (those glasses), and repeat. Port wine, is of course as guilty of that as well. In the past, it was really limited to two major styles – bottle aged (think vintage ports) and barrel aged (think tawny ports). Nowadays there are rubies, single quintas – coming from truly exceptional vineyards, Late Bottled 28

Vintage (LBV), and even some real oddballs like pink port. The water is significantly muddied. Port comes in white and red styles; but also second labels that may not come in declared vintages; cheap(er) and more cheerful ruby ports; and yet a few more styles. At the very pinnacle of the port wine craft are the vintage ports, these are the flagship wines, made in only the very best years, made for long term cellaring, and made for a discerning consumer. Typically, only about 2-3 vintages will be declared in a decade; smaller quantities are available of these wines, making them scarce and sought after. It is the goal of the winemaker to blend across an assortment of grapes – primarily indigenous, from several

vineyards – often miniscule in size of varying qualities, to make a wine that speaks of a house style that will drink exceptionally well in 15 to 40 years. I’ve trodden grapes in a lagare, I’ve tasted raw samples of port wine that was being evaluated for vintage declarations – black as the ace of spades, densely flavoured, and texture-wise – about the same as full-fat coffee cream. And oh, don’t forget, it’s about 20 percent alcohol. It’s magical – really.

Only about 2-3 vintages will be declared in a decade – making them scarce and sought after While vintage ports get all the glory, the emergence of other styles reflects the story of changing tastes. Ruby ports deliver a fraction of the nuance, but at

and excited sommeliers started offering more selection,” he says. “I think port can benefit in the same way.” So, does port matter?

a stunning price. Crusted ports (mostly defunct now) were unfiltered but able to bridge the gap between nearly ready to drink and a legacy for the cellar; and in this modern time, we see Late Bottled Vintage Ports which, with a few extra years in the barrel, have settled down somewhat, but deliver the best of both worlds – at a competitive price too. Even more recently, the emergence of table wines from the Douro has shaken things up as the viticulture is already there, but table wine can go to market much cheaper and far more quickly than fortified wine. These wines are also damn good, but as Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership points out, “We are the only major port company that does not make table wine – but often make the trends as they pertain to port.” The Fladgate Partnership launched the Croft Pink Port in 2008, and they make a deliberate effort to market it to bartenders/mixologists rather than to sommeliers. Hold on, port in the hands of bartenders and mixologists? As a bit of a port purist and militant enthusiast, my head spins a little when I hear about port in a cocktail, but this is the trend.

Of course it does. From Opaz, “Port wine is still misunderstood by 95 percent of the North American travelers who come to Portugal.” "They think it is a sticky-sweet thing that old people drink. When they taste the various styles, their eyes are opened and they have a bit of an ‘aha’ moment.” When asked if port matters, Adrian Bridge tells us, “The obvious question is to whom? To us, yes. We have been making it for over 325 years. To the Douro Valley and its farmers – yes.” “Port accounts for 75 percent of the economic activity of the Douro Valley, and without it Douro table wines probably could not exist. To the country of Portugal, yes. Not only is port famous around the

world, but people’s interest in port is driving a tourism boom to Northern Portugal that has regenerated the city of Porto.” And finally, in conversation with Oscar Quevedo, director of Quevedo Port, a small and quite new port house, he notes, “Port wine matters. But people are drinking less of it. But better port. More expensive and in many cases, older. It is still very well known, and enjoyed by a mature wine drinking community… It takes time to understand the beverage and its complicated classification. But once you are in, it’s a beautiful and fulfilling drink.”

A Cut Above.

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According to Ryan Opaz, owner of, and a globally recognized expert on port and digital marketing in wine, cocktails are the next big thing in port. “Cocktails. Sherry did it by getting sherry (in front of) cocktail consumers (who) became more curious to what it was,

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Vasques de Carvalho 20-Year Tawny

Taylor Fladgate 2016 Vintage Port Caves Messias 2013 Late Bottled Vintage Port

The Best in Class winner at the 2018 Alberta Beverage Awards, 20-year Tawny ports represent great value but still some of the character of older tawnies; look for dried leather, fig, and caramel on the nose; while on the palate, rich, and almost spicy, with just the right amount of sweetness emerging towards the finish. CSPC +793199 $103

Always a pleasure to drink, Taylor Fladgate is a marquee producer to have in the cellar. The 2016 is a powerhouse from start to finish, but young, sleek and tightly wound, with all the undercurrents one wants in port. Dried herbs, wood smoke, crushed granite, and flowers are all there, waiting for a few decades in the bottle. Measure the finish in quarter hours. A showstopper. CSPC +804632 $162

Churchill’s White Port

Croft 2016 Vintage Port

White ports…. haven’t really taken off in North America, but represent an important component in the port world. Made from white grapes, the oxidation yields honey characters with a mild nuttiness, and ones like this are quite dry too. Serve lightly chilled, or try in any number of excellent white port cocktails, such as Portonic below. CSPC +793297 $31

After a few years of being painfully overlooked, Croft is back with a vengeance, making ports that bridge traditional styling with an enticing ripeness. In short, a wine that drinks well young but is also a good acquisition for the cellar. 2016 is bursting with red fruits, even leaning towards raspberry syrup with peppery spice, and not-too-subtle earthiness. Wait at least five years before pulling the cork, but it will also show well around 2025 and beyond. CSPC +804635 $124

Portonic One part white port 2 parts quality tonic water Ice Garnish

Pour white port into a tall glass with ice. Add tonic water and stir. Garnish with anything from fresh fruit, mint or lime, even a slice of cucumber.


Very reasonably priced, but also managing to pack in all sorts of depth. Inky black in the glass with plush fruits of raspberry and cherry, and plenty of dried herb and spice notes. Very smooth and easy to drink- no decanter required. Not sure what to serve with it? Try some good quality cheese or charcuterie platter. CSPC +725124 $28

Quevedo 1996 Colheita Tawny Port It might just be me, but colheita ports are some of the finest values around. This tawny port comes from a single vintage, spending at least 7 years in barrel. Look for fig and toffee aromas with caramel, spice, and even a touch of raisins. Damn good with pumpkin pies or great cheese. CSPC +790918 $68

Quevedo Port Advent Calendar What better way to delve into the wide world of port than with the Quevedo advent calendar. The box includes 12 different 50 mL ports (2 bottles of each), covering a gamut of styles and options. While 50 mL will only whet your appetite for port, it will make for a lovely 2018 holiday tradition as you sip and savour ports throughout December. CSPC +809274 about $105-115

Hotel For The Holidays by DANIEL BONTJE

If you decide to forego the dirty dishes and carefully timed casseroles that so often accompany the holidays, it can be daunting selecting a restaurant that checks all the boxes for a Christmas dinner or holiday feast, but luckily there is a beacon of warmth and hospitality: hotel restaurants. Why choose hotel dining to celebrate this year? To begin with, hotels are used to providing an exceptional level of service, going above and beyond for guests. This level of care and attention to detail is carried into the kitchen and dining room, creating a memorable experience that is made up of more than just excellent food. The Harvest Room in Edmonton’s Hotel Macdonald boasts a menu that focuses on partnering with local producers and highlights some incredible Albertan bison, beef, and freshwater fish, but the little details

matter too, down to the herbs from the chef’s own herb garden. Having visited on a recent trip to Edmonton, we still felt welcome and relaxed despite being in an upscale restaurant with some history and splendour to it. Clearly, the staff here set a high standard for both food and creating a perfect environment, and it shows. Over the holidays, you may want to feel a little pampered and the Harvest Room certainly achieves that. Often, hotel dining is simply able to offer you a little more. Whether it is more

The Harvest Room

choice, more grandeur, more special events and touches, hotels are eager to pull out all the stops for their guests. Nowhere says “more” quite like the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. “We have nine unique restaurants open over the holidays,” says Food and Beverage Manager Jeffrey Carpenter, as he discusses just some of the preparation that goes into making Christmas such a magical time at the Banff Springs.

“Our festive buffets on December 24th and 25th feature unforgettable menus”

The Harvest Room 32

“There is something for everyone. In addition to our restaurants, our festive buffets on December 24th and 25th feature unforgettable menus. 21-day aged Alberta prime rib, house-cured and smoked ham, lamb wellington, and lemon-brined turkey are just some of the items at our chef-attended carving stations. Our chefs even roast marshmallows on an open fire for

Smore’s at a fireplace that is over 130 years old!”

Yellow Door Bistro

With the resources of such a large operation all working together, there is an opportunity to create so many unforgettable moments that would simply be beyond the scope of any single restaurant. Jeffrey lists just some of his favourite holiday highlights, starting with the decorations. “Throughout November our team spends hundreds of hours transforming the castle into a true home for the holidays set in Banff’s winter wonderland.” The decorations even extend to reimagining the dining space, where the Oak Room is transformed into Santa’s home away from home over the holidays, and guests are invited to dine in “Santa’s Suite”. When they say that there is no better way to celebrate the magic of the holidays than at Canada’s Castle in the Rockies, we believe them!

“Our door is open 365 days a year, and we are very proud of that" Finally, of all the places around the province, we can count on hotel restaurants to be open when we need them. William Blennerhasset, General Manager at the Yellow Door Bistro, at Calgary’s Hotel Arts tells us, “Our door is open 365 days a year, and we are very proud of that. Doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, we are here. Christmas is typically one of our busiest days. All year, Banff Springs

I think guests have a different expectation coming to a hotel restaurant; we are all about creating an experience.” William assures us that it’s not just hotel patrons who join him on Christmas Day. “Oh, maybe about 70 percent of our guests on Christmas are Calgarians, just locals looking for something special. An awful lot of those are families.” This season, after five years, the restaurant is switching up their multicourse plated meals and offering a lavish buffet with carving and dessert stations on Christmas Day. When asked about his favourite Christmas traditions, William laughed a little. “I haven’t had a Christmas day off in about five years… not many of our staff do.” William worked his way up at the Yellow Door, starting as a breakfast server, so many of his Christmas memories are at work, but he doesn’t seem to mind. “It feels kind of nostalgic, really… I’m from Ireland originally, and a lot of people working here aren’t from Calgary, so if they don’t get a chance to go home it’s nice that they can be together here. We all sit down around midnight together, maybe 20 of us in the restaurant, open a bottle of wine and have dinner together.” Wherever you are from, that sounds like a great way to celebrate the holidays. Eager to try new things, Dan balances his love of cooking with his love of eating, and can be found scouring the city for new recipes and restaurants.

For The Love Of Entertaining by KELLEY ABBEY

Entertaining is an art form. It has many colours and textures that meld together (hopefully) to create an enjoyable occasion. Some welcome the challenge of having 10 people over at the last minute on a Friday night. To many, it’s an inconvenience, a daunting task that comes with a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of stress.

From someone who has been throwing parties for years, from bridal showers to cocktail soirées, my best advice is to relax, have fun, and keep it simple. Below are a few guidelines to follow when you’re having people over.


“Here’s to alcohol, the rose-coloured glasses of life.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offer your guests a drink when they arrive. As soon as you’ve said your hellos and hung up their coats, hand them something to sip on. Holding a drink in your hand when walking into a room full of people not only gives you something to do, but let’s be honest, it helps your guests relax.

Relax, have fun, and keep it simple. Having some wine or beer chilled and ready to go with glassware makes the process seamless and easy. It’s often fun to start the evening off with a signature drink. Pick one that generally everyone will enjoy; a glass of sparkling wine at a dinner party, or a lime margarita at a BBQ. This can even be pre-made so you can just grab a glass with ice and hand it over. Another useful idea is to set up a “Guest Bar” in the kitchen or dining room area. It doesn’t need to be fancy or fussy; just stock it with whatever drinks you will be serving, some ice, mix, glassware, and a corkscrew. Tell your guests you’ve taken care of their first drink and the rest is up to them. Say goodbye to the infamous kitchen party, and say hello to the bar party! 34

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Having 12 extra wine and highball glasses on hand will cost you next to nothing. Keep the boxes the glasses came in, and when the party is over, wash the glasses and put them back in the boxes to store safely in a storage closet or garage.

All in the Details

“The devil is in the details” – Proverb

When you know you’re having friends over, give your house a good clean so both you and your guests are more comfortable.


“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Food makes a party. Food is also the number one thing people talk about when remembering an event or occasion. Think about the most memorable wedding or Christmas party you went to. If you had a great time, chances are you loved the food. The main thing to consider is how much to serve and when. One of my pet peeves is being invited to a party that starts at 6:30 and there are chips, dip, and a veggie platter. That’s it. If you throw a party over the dinner hour, do feed your guests appropriately. Start with a selection of cold appetizers. Think veggie and cheese trays, charcuterie boards, and dips. Then introduce some warm appetizers into the spread throughout the night. Great choices are lamb meatballs, dumplings, and flatbreads, because they do a great job of filling people up. As a general rule, try to serve a new warm dish every hour until the food is no longer being eaten. Make sure the food table always looks appetizing. This means refilling the food, napkins, and flatware throughout the night, and above all, taking off any dirty dishes that have been left behind. 36


“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen

In the internet age, there is no excuse not to have good music at a party. Put on a popular play list, or curate your own. There’s no better feeling then when a great song comes on while you are with your favourite people in the world sharing food and laughter.

Setting the Table

“We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.” – Eduardo Galeano

There is nothing worse than drinking a $30+ bottle of wine out of a plastic cup. It’s also a proven fact that good glassware enhances the flavour and aroma of any drink. Even water.

Adding a few pretty details along the way always leaves a good impression too. Flowers at the buffet table, kitchen counter, and bar area, add the perfect touch. Pick up two or three inexpensive floral bunches at the grocery store in the same colour tone, and create a little ensemble in some vases. Candles also add ambiance to a room, and when it gets dark everything looks beautiful in candlelight. A lit candle in the Powder Room will keep that room smelling fresh. A good napkin is icing on the cake. Something with a bit of weight to it and an interesting design goes a long way when you are setting your table, and more importantly when your guests are using it. Entertaining in your home is a wonderful way to celebrate special occasions, catch up with old friends, and create new memories. Time is precious, so spend it with people you love and have fun while doing it. Try out a few of these ideas and you will hopefully find a love for entertaining in your own special way, and open up your home to family and friends for many years to come.

Lover of all things wine, food and fancy, Kelley is a natural event planner who loves a beautifully set dinner table and a room full of laughter.

The Gift of Beer by DAVID NUTTALL

The holiday season is the time for giving, and there is no better occasion for beer lovers than the period where autumn turns into winter. Not only are there remnants from the fall/pumpkin beers still hanging around, but the new winter warmers and spice beers begin to appear, along with seasonal mixer and unique packs bearing glassware and other goodies. Notably, probably the most anticipated items to arrive are the advent calendars. Yes, a veritable cornucopia of gift ideas abound! Although brewers the world over have being creating beers to celebrate the winter solstice since close to forever, it wasn’t until the Vikings began brewing in honour of Jul (Yule), around when the

calendar hit four digits, that we started getting the strong, dark beers we could recognize today. By the time Scandinavians introduced this holiday tradition, now combined with Christianity, to North America in the 17th century, it had already been practiced in Germany, Britain, and Belgium for centuries. Today, with all the craft breweries new to the world, there is no shortage of options. For gift ideas, you can give on many levels. The easiest, of course, is the single bottle. Find something special or unique, and since most standard beers are

under $5 and bombers well under $10, this also makes it very affordable. If you don’t want to seem cheap, then look for an exceptional beer that the recipient may not buy for themselves. There are some available up to the $40 range, or you can buy a collection of single beers as an ad hoc variety pack.

A veritable cornucopia of gift ideas abound! The next step up is the mixed pack. Many breweries have these available all year round now, some changing one or more of the contents as the seasons change. Find one from your friend’s favourite brewery or introduce them to a new one. 37

Some gift packs include glassware, so these become the most precious. What beer aficionado doesn’t like drinking out of a glass designed for that beer? The European breweries are especially good at producing these products, but they often are in limited supply, so grab them when you can. Finally, the pinnacle is the beer advent calendar. When introduced in Alberta in 2012, sales exploded, and continue to be so strong that there are now multiple versions available in sizes from 12 to 24 beers, and from multiple breweries and countries. They are not inexpensive, depending on the package, but you should find one in your price range if you are willing to go over $50 and beyond.

Mixed/Multi-Packs There are numerous 2/3/4/6/8/12 mixed packs available all year round. Some are from a single brewery, but now you can also find multi-brewery and collaboration packs too. Look for versions with special editions or seasonal beers in the pack. The most coveted versions come with a glass. Here, again, is where the Europeans shine, as seemingly every brewery has its own unique vessel. Since the branded glasses generally can’t be bought on their own, this is the best way to acquire them.

Here are some suggestions for the beer fan on your list.

Most Alberta breweries are so new, they don’t have much tradition to follow, but still, expect almost all of them to produce something exclusive for the season. This may require a trip to a brewery with a growler, as not all will be bottled or canned, but that’s just a good reason to see what the locals are brewing. Delirium Red Mini Keg CSPC +802270, 5 litre, $60 St. Bernardus Abt 12, 1.5 L CSPC +809785 (2017), +809784 (2016), +809783 (2015), $40. Different vintages


Samuel Smith 3 pack Selection Box with glass CSPC +740883, $23

Advent Calendars Since German Lutherans created the advent calendar, I am sure drinking a different beer every day in December was what they had in mind. Now too numerous to mention them all, the original from Craft Beer Importers this year will have beers representing 12 breweries from 12 countries and collaborations with different breweries for the other dozen. You will also find Canadian examples, German versions in either bottle or can formats, and even in-store hand-made examples. At time of writing, there were rumours of an all Alberta 24 beer calendar coming too. Search it out.

Single Bottles/Cans Many breweries do a special edition beer for the holiday season; when in doubt, the Europeans have the most history behind them, and their offerings have stood the test of time. You can also look for magnums and mini kegs (5 L) of certain beers.

Lindeman Lambic 4 pack with chalice CSPC TBD, $20

Howe Sound Carton of Coal 3 X 1L pack CSPC +760989, $35 Tripel Karmeliet 4 pack with glass CSPC +715774, $40 Kwak 4 pack with glass and stand CSPC +715775, $40 Averbode 4 pack with chalice CSPC +798132, $25 Duchesse de Bourgogne 2 X 750 mL pack with chalice CSPC +798131, $28

Craft Advent Calendar CSPC +808818, $160

Delirium Noel Xmas 2 pack with chalice CSPC +761985, $25

German Brewers Advent Calendar CSPC +809776 (bottles), +807865 (cans), both about $120

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Making The Case: Home For The Holidays by TOM FIRTH

There are quite a few reasons to enjoy the holidays, but perhaps best (aside from spending waaaay too much time with family) is the perfectly acceptable opportunity to cut loose, put on some clothes with a little stretch to them, and enjoy feasting and perhaps a fine bottle with friends or family. These past few years have been a little tougher than most for many Albertans, but we do sincerely hope that no matter how large, or how small your gatherings may be, that December is filled with laughter, fond memories – either made or shared – and hopefully a few fine wines see their corks (or caps) popped. Not all these wines are turkey wines, but this year, I tried to select wines that might match up with a nice little roast, a ham, or even some fish. Selecting wines for your holiday, I’d recommend matching the tannin to the protein when possible, but also considering the fixings when making your wine selections as well.

The Foreign Affair 2016 Conspiracy Niagara Peninsula A meritage style blend of cabernet franc with 25 percent cabernet sauvignon and 13 percent merlot, you’ll definitely notice a bevy of tart berry fruits with prominent bell pepper and floral characters, not to mention a little smoke and tar. Tannins are mid-weight making for a good, versatile wine, if one that is a little unsure if it’s a soft, big wine, or a heavy, medium one. CSPC +769631 $22-24

Domaine Saint-Cyr 2017 “La Galoche” Beaujolais, France Beaujolais is shamefully overlooked though it is an absolute rockstar with food, and can deliver complexity and excitement in the right hands. Take “La Galoche” cherry and blueberry fruits, menthol cigarettes, and tremendous spiciness and mineral characters. Drinks like a dream with fresh, tart fruits, a little berry sweetness, and mild tannins. Game meats? You’ve met your match. CSPC +800850 $23

But please, wherever the season may take you, have a safe and happy holiday. Domaine Faiveley 2016 “La Framboisière” Mercurey Burgundy, France

Tom is a freelance wine writer, wine consultant, and wine judge. He is the Managing Editor for Culinaire Magazine, and is the Competition Director for the Alberta Beverage Awards. Follow him on twitter @cowtownwine 40

Christmas dinner goes with pinot noir, like the deserts miss the rain. An absolute joy to drink, the Mercurey delivers sour cherry fruits – almost Kirsch-like, with spice, and carrot top aromas. Plush and sleek on the palate, its an “oh hell yes” sort of bottle any night of the week. CSPC +746003 about $50

Anciano 2015 35 Year Old Vines Grenache, Catalunya, Spain

Sichel La Reserve d’Angludet 2014 Margaux, Bordeaux, France

Domaine de Rocheville 2015 Le Page Cabernet Franc, Saumur, France

Who doesn’t love old vines? The lesser yields of older vines typically deliver better grapes, and old vine grenache is a treat any time of year. Cherries dominate the nose with a mild woodiness and a touch of salinity, on the palate. An excellent balance of flavours and textures. Could be paired equally well with a roast as with a nice charcuterie board. CSPC 795756 $25-$30

The wines of Margaux are among the finest expressions of Bordeaux; if you’re not hooked on Bordeaux yet – you should be. A mild leathery aroma is well-placed against black fruits and a kiss of cigar smoke, while flavour-wise, impeccably well balanced – do you need any more? Pair with rich sauces and meaty dishes well endowed with mushrooms or savoury spice. CSPC +756294 $50-$52

Definitely a red in the style of the Loire Valley, look for the wonderful spiciness that cabernet franc possesses with earthy dried herb notes like dill and thyme. Tannins possess a little greenness lending a bitterness to the finish, but wow, is this a wonderful cabernet franc. I’d happily pair this with rich stews or cassoulets, cured meats, or pancetta. CSPC +928017 $23-25

Culmina 2017 Unicus Grüner Veltliner Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Brocard 2016 Montmains 1er Cru Chablis, France

Pares Balta 2011 Blanca Cusiné Cava Penedes, Spain

Grüner veltliner is a sexy, sexy grape, and Culmina’s Unicus year after year just gets better and better. Light and polished citrus aromas and flavours match well with the pepper spice and herbaceousness good grüner is known for. Palate feeling bored? Try this; it’s a tonic for your wine-loving soul. Match with herb-rubbed poultry, turkey dinner with all the fixings, or panseared seafood. CSPC +773529 $35-$38

Lovely, just lovely. Those low yields and a little more sun in the vineyard from the SE exposure make the magic happen. Laden with crushed flower, apple cores, mineral, and pure sex appeal, this completely unoaked chardonnay is eminently “crushable”. Pair with the best seafood you can find, or barring that, a night in with someone special. CSPC +409714 $45-47

Tasting this for the first time (on these shores) was just as magical as I remembered. Have a try and thank whatever deity you wish, or just be grateful you live in a world with wines like this. A blend of xarel-lo, chardonnay and pinot noir, this bubbly is robust with a fine mousse, loads of mineral, and a little of that je ne sais quoi. Highly recommended. CSPC +803799 $48-50

Carmen 2016 Gran Reserva Carignan Maipo, Chile

Hillside 2017 Gewürztraminer Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Tendil & Lombardi NV Blanc de Noirs Champagne, France

With so few carignans available, its always a pleasure to try yet another one. Look for deeper, blacker, berry fruits with a generous dollop of tannin and acids. Pretty expressive, it’s a fine example of the grape. Try pairing with something protein-rich and perhaps smoked. CSPC +782835 $21

While riesling gets a lot of press at my house over the holidays, there is something special about serving a “gew” with your holiday feast. Look for lychee and pear aromas with clean floral notes and plenty of spiciness. Quite dry, although not bone dry, it’s crisp and fresh… perfect really. CSPC +505206 $20-$22

Hands down, Tendil & Lombardy is one of my favourite grower champagne houses. Mostly unheard of compared to the big producers, Tendil & Lombardy’s blanc de noir is made without chardonnay in the blend making for a lean, elegant, and intense champagne. Kicks ass with food, or just as a special treat. CSPC +761287 $47-50 41

Open That Bottle story by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL

“At the end of the day, it’s the relationships with winemakers and chefs, and the support of my family that have enabled my success,” says Don House, of IDMG Culinary Marketing Strategies. Raised just outside Toronto in the ‘sixties, House says he’s always loved Alberta and The Rockies, and used to ski in Banff while studying business and marketing at university. He worked in Toronto on golf and skiing magazines, and in sports marketing at a downtown agency, when he fell for a Calgary girl. “She was an opera singer, and I used to see her at The Hummingbird Centre,” he says. “We talked about buying real estate here and raising a family, and we came back to Alberta in the fall of 1998.” Having worked with Ski Canada, he consulted for the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival until he was invited to work at Avenue Magazine Group by a good friend. “I wanted to add some new energy into it. There was no real food coverage in this city at that level and we’d see other cities doing food issues, so I started the Avenue Restaurant Awards,” House explains. “Later it became Redpoint (Media Group), and we picked up WestJest and Wine Access magazine in the early 2000s,” he continues. “I used to say that the wine capital of Canada was Alberta, because there were more international wines here than there were anywhere in the country.” 42

He ran winemaker dinners, and started the Canadian Wine Awards and the International Value Wine Awards. “It was a great opportunity to see the world too through food and wine, and culture. It’s been a big part of the last 20 years,” he says. But House wanted to raise the bar of culture, and he put in volunteer work to become Chair of the Art Gallery, Chair of the Alberta Publishers Association, and eventually Chair of Alberta Culinary Tourism, after being approached to help promote Alberta visitation and taste of place through culinary arts. Here he helped them achieve the first ever Canadian Culinary Tourism Award. He ran Big Taste and Dine Out festivals, and educational events and dinners that led to a relationship with American Express, and ultimately to Visa and their new card, Visa Infinite. “In ten years we’ve probably done 1,600 dinners across the country, and worked with international chefs and master sommeliers; it’s been a great experience,” he says. “I feel very privileged to be able to share these experiences with people. It gives me a lot of gratitude and fulfilment; we get a lot of good feedback on the things that we do.”

House also runs programs for other wine-producing countries, but particularly with B.C. to promote their wines, creating boot camps and Chef Meets BC Grape in multiple cities. What bottle is he saving for a special occasion? House has collected a lot of wines over the years – some not so good, some great, but it's a magnum of 2004 Domaine Romanée Conti La Tâche from his wife that means the most to him. “Food and wine is a great way to celebrate milestones in life,” he says. “It was for the first 1,000 dinners we’d done, and celebration of the family. I take my kids on many trips, and educated them through food and wine as well. I have about 3,000 bottles in the cellar, and the best ones are saved mostly for family.” And when might he open it? “It’s interesting when you look back on a career of accomplishments; I think it’s important to celebrate milestones over the years. We haven’t got a specific occasion yet when we’re going to open it, but it’s going to be a special one. We’re married 25 years in another year and a half, so that could be the one.”

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