Culinaire #9.6 (December 2020)

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A L B E R TA / F O O D & D R I N K / R E C I P E S D E C E M B E R 2 02 0

Holiday Sweets and Treats | Supporting Local | Seasonal Drinks


Volume 9 / No. 6 / December 2020

departments 6

Salutes and Shout Outs


Off The Menu


Book Review


Chefs’ Tips and Tricks

News from Alberta’s culinary scene

Anju’s Fried Brussels Sprouts (Sag Yangbaechu Twiggim)


Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies

Holiday Treats!

40 Etcetera...

What’s new?

42 Open That Bottle Diego Romero of Romero Distilling

28 14

Cheese for the Season Party pairings by Linda Garson

16 Happy Belly Kombucha

Brewing kombucha before kombucha was cool by Elizabeth Chorney-Booth



Home for the holidays! When did you last decorate a gingerbread house? Fortunately Black Dog Bakery offer gingerbread house kits ready to decorate, so many thanks to Chelsea Radke for doing the hard work with this beautiful little house atop a cake! And thanks too to photographer Dong Kim, for his vision to bring this tasty home to life!

The Hunger Game

Alberta organizations fighting food insecurity and waste by Lynda Sea

22 Pull Out All The “Punches” Fun for everyone, made with alcohol or without by Natalie Findlay

24 The Chain Effect of Supporting Local

Supporting local is more than a hashtag, it’s a mindset by Carmen Cheng

18 28 Step By Step: Holiday Desserts

…two super delicious options! by Renée Kohlman

30 Spirits for the Season

Whether hunkering down or evoking warmer climes by Tom Firth and Linda Garson

32 Alberta’s Finest

… results of the Best Italian Liquor Store Selection Awards

34 IPA All Day

What is old is new again by David Nuttall

38 2020 - Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish…

Making the case for sparkling wine by Tom Firth December 2020 | Culinaire 3


Almost there…


ormally December is filled with excitement and anticipation of fun and frivolity, evenings spent with friends and family, indulging and occasionally over-indulging. But this year, I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to welcoming 2021, in the hope that somehow a new year will bring a new optimism, and a fresh start (I think we’re all done with a “new normal” now aren’t we?). It may be New Year’s Eve that we’ll be celebrating, but meanwhile we have lots of treats in this issue for the holidays too. There’s always another side to December though, the gratitude that comes with surviving another year, and hopefully having had enough – not having had enough of the last year, but having had enough during the last year – enough to eat, enough to keep ourselves comfortable. But not everyone can say that, and in this issue we like to draw attention to Alberta

organizations trying to put an end to that, and suggestions of how you can help. And we’re looking at the effects of supporting local businesses, and how that flows back into our communities, and benefits far more than the business we originally patronised. What a feel-good factor! In the first week of November, but too late for our November issue, we launched our new Calgary’s Best Fish & Chips Awards in collaboration with the British Consulate General. We’re looking for your nominations of the best you’ve eaten to include and for judging, so please get in touch soonest with your favourite. Spare a thought for us this month, as we chomp our way through all the nominees to bring you the results in our January/February issue - I can’t wait! At this time, I must publicly thank everyone who has had a hand in helping us publish Culinaire this year: our

writers and photographers, designers and printers, advertisers, and of course – you, for your encouragement and compliments that make it all worthwhile. I hope it’s a very happy holiday time for you, and look forward to chatting in 2021,

Cheers, Linda, Editor-in-Chief

Mangia! Mangia! Wishing you and the famiglia a safe and joyful holiday season. 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 Keane Straub Sales Denice Hansen 403-828-0226 Design Kendra Design Inc Contributors Carmen Cheng, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth Natalie Findlay, Dong Kim Renée Kohlman, Karen Miller David Nuttall, Lynda Sea Keane Straub

To read about our talented team of contributors, please visit us online at

Contact us at: Culinaire Magazine #1203, 804–3rd Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 0G9 403.870.9802 @culinairemag @culinairemag For subscriptions and to read Culinaire online:

Our contributors Natalie Findlay

After a brief period with an Easy Bake Oven, Natalie’s mom allowed her to use the big girl’s oven and set her on the course for a life filled with delicious outcomes. Since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Natalie has worked in restaurants, hotels, bakeries, and her own business. Currently, Natalie is a freelance writer, recipe developer, and photographer, and is loving every minute of it.

David Nuttall

David has worked in liquor since the late 1980s. He achieved his Beer Judge Certification in 2012, and is the head judge for Calgary International Beerfest, as well as judging the Alberta Beverage Awards and Alberta Beer Awards. He has appeared on radio, television, and in the movie Aleberta: Our Beer History. He is also a freelance writer for print and online, speaker, and has run Brew Ed beer courses since 2014. Follow him @abfbrewed.

Carmen Cheng

Coming from a long line of food lovers and notorious over-orderers, Carmen has always loved to eat and try different dishes. Through sharing food, she’s gained exposure to her ChineseCanadian family’s stories and traditions, and learns about different cultures through understanding and honouring their culinary stories. She will try pretty much any food, and shares her food adventures on various forms of media including print, online, and television.

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.

SA LUTE S & S H O UT O UT S Snippets of good news from our everchanging food and beverage scene! Congratulations to Giselle Courteau, co-founder of Edmonton’s Duchess Bake Shop, whose cookbook, Duchess At Home, was featured in our Holiday Gift Guide last year, and now it has won a silver award at the 23rd Taste Canada Awards! Sidewalk Citizen has won an International design award at Hospitality Design (HD) magazine’s 16th annual HD Awards, for the year’s best and most innovative achievements in project and product design. Studio North conceived, digitally fabricated, and constructed the beautiful solarium in Calgary’s Memorial Park. Congrats to all! Jazz singer, Ellen Doty, has teamed up with Monogram Coffee for their fourth Holiday Giveback Campaign. $5 from each bag of Doty’s custom coffee roast goes to support The Mustard Seed, and the bags come with a free download of “Mittens”, featuring Plains Cree singer-songwriter, Wyatt C. Louis. Made by Marcus has created a limited edition coffee ice cream inspired by Mittens too, also supporting the Mustard Seed. Calgary cocktail bar, Proof, had $3,000 in glassware stolen last year at their holiday pop-up, so this year, Miracle on First Street is donating the difference between that and the amount stolen this year to CUPS, a charity for Calgarians facing poverty and trauma. We’ve been eagerly awaiting Chef Jinhee Lee, of Foreign Concept and Food Network’s Wall of Chefs’, Jin Bar, in Bridgeland’s ex-Waalflower location. From memories of growing up in Korea, where families would celebrate their paycheck with a fried chicken dinner, Chef Lee has long wanted to open a fried chicken restaurant. Choose appies, five flavours of moist and ever so crunchy fried chicken, sides, and a lemon dill or jalapeno cheese dip – but wait! Chef Lee, along with Chef Hyungjae Lim, is serving up four 00 Italian crust pizzas with Korean toppings, and they’re really good! There’s a great value wine list too, with draft and bottled beers, and six fun Korean-named cocktails from 6 Culinaire | December 2020

Photograph courtesy April Wilcocks

Kayla Atayiu. Sunday-Thursday 4 pm-10 pm, Friday/Saturday 4 pm-11 pm. Open for takeout weekday lunches. Fresh gelato churns before your eyes at Teatro’s newly opened Holy Cow Gelato and Donuts, right next door to their recently revamped Vendome Café, in Sunnyside. Nine flavours are on offer including staples of Coconut (vegan), Peanut Butter Salted Caramel (a fave amongst our team!), Vanilla, and Lemon Sorbet, as well as holiday specials of Chocolate Candy Cane Swirl, Eggnog, Pomegranate and Orange Sorbet, and Hazelnut. Choose from six flavours of sourdough donuts too – or a gelonut, with a scoop of gelato on top! Open seven days, 11 am-8 pm. Moonlight & Eli have launched a brilliant new concept – a condo with vintage furniture and Sage products, that’s styled and designed to feel just like the restaurant - available to rent on Airbnb! Pre-order the full fondue experience with your drinks of choice, and arrive to find the lights dimmed, music playing, and everything in the fridge waiting for you. Your close bubble can join you for dinner, but it makes for a romantic night away (or even for self-isolating!), and the following morning, enjoy a continental breakfast with pastries, cheeses, mimosas, and coffee. Owner, Mhairi O’Donnell, will even cook for you and serve your wine! Calgary’s Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market has new owners, a new name and a new mission! “A World of Flavours” includes 15 international restaurants, and

as well as 39 small local businesses, the new Fresh & Local Market & Kitchens offers a wide selection of local fresh farm produce. As a business incubator for emerging entrepreneurs, there are now rotating vendor booths too. Open for full service, on-line shopping, curbside pick-up and home delivery, Thursday-Saturday 11 am-8 pm, Sundays close at 5 pm. There are some pretty impressive things happening in Calgary’s Arbour Lake. Sakana Grill is now the next level Ponshu, sister restaurant to Ajito, and still in the same family as Sho Sushi and Point Sushi. A take on a Japanese izakaya, Chefs Takeshi Kawabe and Yusuke Yanagihara, previously of Dorinko in Edmonton, are joined by sushi chef Ryota Kosaka, and they’ve created an exciting menu - some dishes similar to Ajito, and many that are new and exclusive to Ponshu, all aiming for the perfect balance of salty, sweet and sour. Open seven days 5 pm–10 pm. Breaking news as we go to print – Edmonton restaurant owner, Abel Shiferaw, has opened La Petite Iza, a French bistro, on the third floor above his Garneau boulangerie, Eleanor et Laurent. Named after his daughter, who’s also in the business, you’ll be impressed with the beautiful glass ceilings from Italy, and classic French bistro fare. Don’t miss the escargot and superb crème brûlée!

Leave nothing for your kids. Except peace of mind. Being Albertan means we recognize the value of straight talk. It also gives us an edge in understanding your situation, which, in turn, leads to a more personalized service. So, before you make any legacy decisions, partner with one of our wealth experts. You’ll find a refreshingly frank approach. One where we continue to work for your trust by offering great advice and telling it like it is. ATB Wealth consists of a range of ďŹ nancial services provided by ATB Financial and certain of its subsidiaries. ATB Investment Management Inc., ATB Securities Inc., and ATB Insurance Advisors Inc., are individually licensed users of the registered trade name ATB Wealth. ATB Securities Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

December 2020 | Culinaire 7




e’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve been asked if we can get Anju’s Brussels Sprouts recipe! They are truly amazing and we love them too. We recently caught up with Chef Roy Oh and he told us to watch out for his new location, Roy’s Korean Kitchen! Meanwhile he’s shared his recipe for what could be Calgary’s favourite Brussels Spouts, and we’re eagerly awaiting news of his new “Roy’s Korean Kitchen,” where we might be able to get these gems from the maestro himself!

WARNING: Chef Roy Oh wants us to

know that Brussels sprouts will spit a lot of oil when frying, and Teok (the rice cakes) will explode VIOLENTLY when over-fried – even 15 seconds over. Please use a timer and a lid when frying for your safety.

8 Culinaire | December 2020

Anju’s Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts 45 seconds, make sure the fryer is covered Serves 4

450 g Brussels sprouts 1 cup fresh teok (Korean rice cakes) 1/2 red onion 1 green onion 1 cup double smoked bacon lardons 2 tsp mixed sesame seeds 1 Tbs (15 mL) soy sauce 4 Tbs (60 mL) maple syrup 1 tsp rock salt or Maldon salt 1. Preheat fryer to 350º F. 2. Trim the bottoms of the sprouts and cut in half. Keep any leaves that fall off. 3. Cut teok into 25 mm pieces and cut red onion into 25 mm cubes. Chop green onion and bacon lardons. 4. Place teok into fryer basket and fry for

when frying. Place into a mixing bowl. 5. Fry sprouts, sprout leaves, red and green onions, and bacon for 1 minute or until the sprouts are dark golden brown. Make sure to cover the fryer right away after dropping the fryer basket as the sprouts will spit a lot of oil at the start. 6. Place into mixing bowl with teok, and toss with sesame seeds, soy, maple syrup, and salt. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion. We would say, “enjoy” but we already know you’ll enjoy these! 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!


Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy:

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies By Alice Medrich 2010 Artisan


he title says it all, who doesn’t want cookies with that introduction? Medrich is a very talented and accomplished author of many cookbooks on desserts and baking. Although this is not necessarily a book meant for beginners, they would certainly learn a good deal from it. Other than the tempting recipe descriptions and photographs, it is the amazing amount of painstaking detailed information that stands out. The recipes incorporate all of Medrich’s baking skills with new, modern flavours, and creative variations of classics. Texture is key here, with the chapters divided into the chewy, gooey, crispy, and crunchy categories. But even before you get to the recipes, her brilliant “Users Guide” breaks down every aspect

of cookies: ingredients, preparation, baking and storing. Worthwhile for anyone to read! The photographs are so tempting, making even the healthier breakfast cookies look good (but really, aren’t all cookies “breakfast” cookies?). The biscotti recipes really impressed with how the flavour and texture descriptions are so exact. Most recipes have some flavour variations in “Upgrades” or a “Tech Support” recommendation, and scattered throughout the book are inserts dedicated to single subject matter like “Brownies,” explaining how all the different ways of preparing your brownies can affect the results, or helpful hints in the “Macaron Chat”. The “Components” section at the back of the book continues to provide more fine points with key recipes you will use time

and again in baking. Also included in the Components section is a helpful ingredient and equipment glossary explaining in detail their importance and what to look for. This cookbook is an excellent handbook just in time for the holiday season. Whether you are a beginner or a more seasoned baker looking for new ideas for a cookie exchange, or looking for a gift for someone you hope will share their baking, this cookbook will be put to good use whatever texture you crave! Karen is a lawyer by trade, who claims to have been on the “know where your food comes from” bandwagon sooner than most, and now focuses on foraging her daily food from local growers.

C H E F ’ S TI P S & TR I C KS



ELLO HOLIDAYS! It’s kind of hard to believe we’re here already, but we are and we made it. That’s reason enough to celebrate, whatever that may look like. As 2020 comes to a close, we can reflect on how we adapted to change, and discovered that things that are different and new don’t have to be daunting. We can continue our favourite traditions and create new ones, and in the process cultivate new memories and experiences to revisit and relish well into 2021. Seasonal staples like shortbread, gingersnaps, and mince tarts are plentiful on platters during the holidays, and there’s no harm in stepping outside our comfort zone. This month, we talked to pastry chefs, bakers, and chocolatiers in Calgary and Edmonton to bring you sweet success with holiday baking for yourself or for gifts. Stock up on walnuts, candy canes, and chocolate, and discover how sweet this season can be! At Edmonton’s Confetti Sweets, it’s all about evolving as the company grows, says owner Kathy Leskow. When the business first started, Leskow baked cookies in her home kitchen and sold them at local farmers markets. Now with a retail bakeshop and an expanded product line, Confetti Sweets treats are starting to appear in grocery stores, too. Customer favourites are classic cookies like Chocolate Chunk, Coconut, Sugar, and Gingersnap, and they’re made to perfection with premium ingredients. “Each cookie has the perfect balance of flavours with a crisp outer edge and a soft, chewy centre. They taste like homemade cookies,” says Leskow. For foodies looking to elevate their treats, Leskow suggests adding chocolate. “Dark, milk and white chocolate look beautiful drizzled upon baking. If you want to be really fancy, we love to half-dip our cookies and add a tiny bit of gold leaf or coloured sanding sugar.” Leskow’s final tip is to get everything ready in November, and freeze it until

10 Culinaire | December 2020

Jam Thumbprint Cookies Makes 12 - 14

you need it. She also recommends premaking variety trays that are sealed and ready for those on-hand gifts, or to add to a table when guests arrive. “Just make sure they’re sealed tightly so you don’t eat it all before Christmas!” Whether you’re making them ahead of time, or baking them the day of, Kathy Leskow’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies are a perfect pop of colour and sweetness. The recipe calls for raspberry jam, but Leskow assures us that any flavour works. Whatever you decide, they’re sure to make a lasting impression!

Note: If you want to make these cookies ahead of time, prepare the dough and freeze the thumb-printed dough balls. When you’re ready to bake pull them from the freezer, arrange on a cookie sheet, and fill them with jam.

1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup white sugar 4 egg yolks 1/2 Tbs (7 mL) good quality vanilla (we recommend Madagascar vanilla) 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 small jar raspberry jam 1. Preheat oven to 325º F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (at least 2 minutes). 3. Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix until just combined. 4. Add flour to butter and egg mixture and mix until the flour is completely combined. 5. Roll tablespoon-sized amounts into round balls and place 2 inches apart on the sheet. With your thumb, gently press down in the centre of each ball. Fill the centre of each cookie with raspberry jam (a piping bag works great here). 6. Bake for 12–14 minutes or until the cookies are slightly browned around the edges. Cool and enjoy!

Master Chocolatier, Patrick Senior, is part of the team of expert chocolate manufacturers and retailers at Calgary’s Cococo Chocolatiers. There they specialize in artisanal chocolates and fine cocoa confectionery produced from fairly traded cocoa and cocoa butter. Many of the products at Cococo are made by hand, and Senior points out that customer favourites are as varied as the customers themselves. “Different customers have different favourite chocolates that are special to them, sometimes for emotional reasons,” he says. Year-round, Senior finds fame in his own home with his pancakes, especially those that are fruit filled. But during the holidays, his thoughts turn to childhood memories, in particular his favourite treat: a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. When the weather turns cold it serves as inspiration, as Senior incorporates chocolate and orange in his recipes. Keeping miniature candy canes on hand for a tray of goodies or as part of a wrapped gift is a fun and easy way to add a little colour and sweetness, says Senior. And, they work great to add colour and texture. “What could be easier than rolling truffles in crushed candy canes, or coloured sprinkles?” If you’ve got some extra hands on deck, or kids that are looking for something to do, Cococo’s Best Chocolate Truffles are a simple treat that can be made in any kitchen by anyone. And, it makes everyone involved feel like a star chocolatier. “It’s a little bit messy,” Senior adds, “but it’s a fun family activity.”

Cococo’s Best Chocolate Truffles Makes about 24 truffles

1 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1/2 cup (120 mL) full fat 35% whipping cream 3 Tbs unsalted butter Cocoa powder for rolling Assorted ingredients for rolling truffles in: chocolate shavings, crushed candy canes, crushed ginger snap cookies, toasted coconut, a blend of Matcha tea and icing sugar, hazelnuts and cocoa nibs, cherry sugar crystals (like Jello powder), or try a blend of ground coffee, sugar and cinnamon. 1. Place finely chopped chocolate into a high-sided bowl or the bowl of a blender. 2. In a saucepan, heat cream and butter over medium heat until hot but not simmering. Remove pan from the heat. 3. Pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate and mix thoroughly with a blender or a hand-held immersion blender until you achieve a smooth consistency.

You can also stir by hand with a sturdy whisk, spatula, or wooden spoon. 4. Pour and spread the mixture into a baking tray with a minimum 2 cm rim. Let cool in fridge till the mixture is hard, about an hour. 5. Scoop small pieces with a melon-baller or a coffee spoon. Roll pieces by hand into round or oval shapes. (Tip: wear gloves, or dust your hands with cocoa powder or icing sugar before shaping the truffles into balls). 6. Roll truffles in your choice of ingredients. 7. Store finished truffles in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 14 days (the crunchier coatings will soften the longer they are in the fridge). 8. Allow truffles to warm to room temperature for 20 minutes before enjoying the full flavour of the chocolate.

Note: The truffle centre mixture freezes well and can be thawed in the fridge until it is workable (about 24 hours), at which time you can roll it and enrobe it in any coatings of your choice.

December 2020 | Culinaire 11

Calgary’s Patisserie du Soleil was always the dream of owner Ala Nahal. After working as a chef in Paris, and then later as a pastry chef in Calgary, Nahal was given an opportunity to take over a location of Amandine, another Calgary café. His desire, however, was to “create something different from anyone else,” and in 1999 Nahal founded Patisserie du Soleil. While they use decades-old European techniques, creativity is the backbone of the café. Always eager to come up with new ideas and creations himself, Nahal encourages the same of his staff, and inspires them to “not be afraid of different concepts or using different ingredients. That’s been our goal since day one.” Still, the most popular item on the menu with the customers is the millefeuille, or cream slice, a French-driven dessert. “We have over 150 different bakery items, but it’s number one,” Nahal says. And for good reason: Nahal and his team don’t shy away from real butter in the pastry, and custard made from scratch with whole milk, eggs, and vanilla. “When you make it fresh, it’s best.” A multitude of flavours make up Patisseire du Soleil’s holiday items, such as sweet ginger, candied cranberries, chocolate and liqueur, mulling spices, and eggnog. Nahal does his best to source everything locally, to ensure quality and freshness. If you can avoid cutting corners, Nahal says this is one way to ensure quality in anything you make. “If you make anything from scratch with real ingredients, give people real stuff, it makes all the difference.” 12 Culinaire | December 2020

Cranberry Walnut Sable Makes 24

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs margarine, softened 3/4 cup white sugar Pinch of salt 2 whole eggs 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla 4 ¼ cups pastry flour 1 cup dried cranberries 1 cup chopped walnuts 1. In a stand mixer, cream butter and margarine on medium speed. Add sugar and salt, and beat for one minute. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. 2. Reduce speed to low, add eggs and vanilla, and beat for one minute.

3. Add flour and mix until almost incorporated, then add cranberries and walnuts and mix well. Mixture will have a sandy texture but as long as it is moist, and can be shaped into a log, it will be fine. 4. On a floured surface, shape dough into log, and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in fridge to chill, about one hour. 5. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 6. Remove dough from fridge, unwrap, and slice into ½ cm thick slices. Place on baking sheet. 7. Bake for 7 minutes, or until firm and undersides slightly golden. Let cool on sheet for about 2 minutes, and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Ten Degrees Chocolate, on 16th Avenue SW in Calgary, is known for being a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. The team there brings the full experience of chocolate in everything they create, from drinks, to pastries and treats, and savoury eats. Because they offer such a wide variety of goodies using chocolate, customer faves are varied. Pastry chef Paige Flohr cites the signature S’mores cake boasting layers of decadence with almond-graham streusel, fudge cake, and vanilla bean Italian meringue. And the Peanut Butter Bombs are an explosion of honey, peanut butter, and chocolate. When it comes to holiday baking for Flohr, nothing compares to caramel and chocolate incorporated into homemade goodies. “Giving something home-made just hits in a different way,” she says. And when those homemade treats are made with family and friends, Flohr says it gives way to creating new memories. To surprise and delight guests, being just a little fearless can make all the difference. When making something like chocolate truffles, Flohr says, “Don’t be afraid to be bold with your flavours - try some fresh herbs or spices to contrast your ingredients.” She also suggests fruit purees, flavour-infused creams, and pairing crunchy texture with smooth truffle ganache. Keeping things simple, fun, and delicious is the key to a great holiday treat tin according to Flohr. Chocolate bark and ganache truffles are both included in those tins, but the real winner is Flohr’s turtle cookies. Chocolate, caramel, and pecans were just meant to go together. Don’t be fooled by their name: these cookies are sure to quickly disappear!

Turtle Cookies Makes 24


1 can (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk 1 cup unsalted butter 2 cups brown sugar 1 cup (250 mL) white corn syrup

The cookie

2/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup butter, softened 1 egg yolk 2 Tbs (30 mL) milk 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/3 cup cocoa powder 1/4tsp salt 2 egg whites 1 ¼ cup pecans, chopped 1. In a heavy-bottom pot, combine caramel ingredients on medium heat until they reach 230º F. Set aside to cool. 2. In a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla, and mix until

combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. 3. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until all flour is absorbed, taking care not to overmix the dough. 4. Chill cookie dough in fridge for 1 hour. 5. Preheat oven to 350º F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 6. In small bowl, whisk egg whites, and place chopped pecans in a shallow dish. 7. Remove dough from fridge, scoop dough into tablespoon-sized balls, rolling them round with hands. Dip rolled dough in egg whites and then the chopped pecans. Place dough balls on sheet and gently press down in the centre of each ball with thumb. 8. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly and then re-indent your thumbprint to make a well for the caramel. Fill each indent with caramel, and drizzle with melted chocolate.

Keane Straub has travelled from Tofino to Charlottetown, sampling the different flavours Canada offers. The passion people have for their craft and culture inspires Keane to tell their stories. December 2020 | Culinaire 13




oliday evenings for us mean a plate of really good cheese, especially stronger flavoured cheeses, a glass or two of wine, and close friends or family. But which wines? We don’t want to spoil the relaxed ambience with pairings that clash or leave your mouth tasting metallic or chalky, so for this month’s cheeseboard we’ve done the hard work for you and paired six cheeses with different drinks – something for everyone’s taste!

Jack’s Fancy Cheese with Rose Leaves - Jacks Cheese, Woerden The Netherlands

A cheese with rose petals inside. Wow! How gorgeous and elegant is this cheese? Soft and fragrant, it’s sure to impress. A yeasty sparkling wine such as cava or champagne will complete the celebrations and clean your tongue, preparing you for another bite… then another sip… and another bite… Montboissié du haut Livradois Société fromagère du Livradois Fournois, France

This mild cow’s milk cheese from the Jura Mountains, on the France-Swiss border, has a line of wine lees running throughout, and is really buttery, soft, and silky. With high fat cheeses, the bitterness of the hops in an IPA helps cut through the fat, and makes a great pairing. Blue Stilton - Oak Manor, England

Many thanks to Springbank Cheese who provided this beautiful cheeseboard for photography. 14 Culinaire | December 2020

For years, our New Year’s Eve was spent at close friends, with a terrific spread ending in Blue Stilton and port. Good Blue Stilton is creamy and a little salty, so best contrasted with something powerful and sweet – a vintage port is ideal, or any ruby port. Walnuts and digestive biscuits will complete the plate!

Port Salut - Groupe Bel (aka Fromageries Bel), Suresnes (Paris), France

A couple of hundred years ago, Trappist monks in the Loire Valley created this smooth and buttery, semi-soft cheese with an orange rind. Try a little drizzle of balsamic and some asparagus, apple, or pear, and a medium-body wine from the same region, such as Sancerre.

Comté Fort Lucotte Séduction Fromageries Marcel Petite, Granges Narboz, France

Just a few klicks away from the Swiss border, five generations of the Petite family have been caring for this semihard and grainy, cow’s milk cheese. As it’s not a fatty cheese, look for lower tannin red wines, such as a fruity and friendly Côtes du Rhône, and treat yourself to a fondue, a Croque Monsieur, or just nibble and sip…

White Stilton with Cranberries Oak Manor, England

You might think of cranberries as tart, but not in this cheese. This festive White Stilton is very different to its Blue cousin; crumbly and sweet, and a sprinkling would be fantastic on a fruit crumble! A sweet and spiced mulled wine is the way to go here. Cradle it and sip it slowly.

Happy Belly Kombucha:

Brewing kombucha before kombucha was cool BY ELIZABETH CHORNEY-BOOTH


decade ago, relatively few Calgarians had even heard of kombucha, let alone tried it. But while the fermented tea was once relegated to the realm of health nuts who brewed their own bubbling batches to improve gut health and digestion, kombucha has since become a mainstream drink, favoured by anyone looking for a non-alcoholic beverage with a bit of extra zing. Kombucha has come a long way, thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts like Calgary’s Victoria Lundgard, who established Happy Belly Kombucha, Alberta’s very first locally made

16 Culinaire | December 2020

kombucha label, almost seven years ago. Lundgard can safely say that she was the first Albertan on the commercial kombcha train - she was so ahead of the curve that she had to help the provincial government figure out how to properly classify kombucha in order to grant Happy Belly a license. Originally from Malaysia, Lundgard was raised on healthy, biodynamic, island-grown food and she’s always been interested in food and beverages that both nourish the body and please the palate. Her kombucha journey started about eight years ago when she and her husband Chas (whom she describes as her “Northern Alberta farm

boy,” to emphasize that they both grew up eating wholesome locally grown food) travelled to an American wholefood and health conference to learn more about the benefits of bone broth. While there, Lundgren came across a kombucha booth and started to consider the potential of the tangy effervescent drink. “There was this booth of hippielooking staff members, but they were just glowing and looked radiant. They looked so healthy and the whites of their eyes were so clear,” Lundgard remembers. “They were selling kombucha. I didn’t like the majority of the flavours they had, but I fell in love with one flavour and couldn’t

Calgary’s local food HUB

15 restaurants 39 market vendors get enough. I was buying and consuming four litres every day.” Lundgard ditched her bone broth plans and spend the rest of the conference learning the ins-and-outs of kombucha. She brought back some starter kits and once she realized that the kombucha available back home in Calgary was both imported and not to her taste, she started brewing it at home. At the time Lundgard was working as a certified holistic health coach and started offering glasses of her home brew to clients when they came in for sessions. Before she knew it, her apartment was full of bubbling bottles of fermenting tea. Clients would ask to buy kombucha to take home, so eventually the Lundgards decided to turn their home brew hobby into a business, and after jumping through those licensing hoops, Happy Belly was finally born. “It skyrocketed for us organically,” Lundgard says. “The requests from my clients got higher and higher and higher. So we found a community kitchen that we could rent by the hour in Cochrane and applied for a license.” Since those early days, Happy Belly has continued to grow, with their own production facility and taproom, a tasting and retail stall at Granary Road Farmers’ Market in Calgary, their kombucha available at various restaurants like the Craft Beer Market locations in both Calgary and Edmonton, and cans for sale at independent health food stores and larger grocery chains like Sobeys, Safeway, and IGA. Even though there are now a number of other locally produced kombucha

products on the market, Lundgard says that Happy Belly stands apart because of her continued emphasis on healthy ingredients and improved gut health. She claims that Happy Belly is the only commercial kombucha brand in North America that brews its kombucha base for over 30 days, while many other labels cut brewing off after about 10 days. While that extra brewing time significantly increases her costs, it also allows for the formation of specific acids that have additional health benefits. Happy Belly also brews its kombucha at a lower temperature than most — lagerstyle in beer-maker parlance — which makes for a smoother flavour without a strong vinegar taste. As far as flavours go, Happy Belly has come up with many enticing combinations, including ginger turmeric, strawberry hibiscus, purple ginger with pea flower, coffee, and a “love potion” made with lavender, rose, hibiscus, and blueberries. “People need to taste our kombucha and then also taste other brands because I think our taste buds tell us a lot,” Lundgard says. “Everyone thinks they have the best — if they didn’t they wouldn’t be selling it. But really, it comes down to the consumer, and your body will know the difference.” For more information, a list of retail locations, and to order kombucha for delivery, visit Cookbook author and regular contributor to CBC Radio, Elizabeth is a Calgary-based freelance writer, who has been writing about music and food, and just about everything else for her entire adult life.


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The Hunger Game:

Alberta organizations fighting food insecurity and waste BY LYNDA SEA


his 2020 holiday season inevitably looks different for everyone, no matter who or where you are. While food insecurity in Alberta has always been an issue, it has sharpened ever more into focus this year for many, amplified by the pandemic and struggling economy. Here are some community-led organizations addressing food access, nutrition, and sustainable food systems in Edmonton and Calgary so that no one goes hungry.

Grow Calgary

Nicholas Rowley was a young chef at Sheraton Suites Eau Claire in Calgary who found himself laid off in March at the height of the COVID-19 shutdown. After taking some odd jobs, he start volunteering at Grow Calgary, a community farm near Balzac in Rockyview County - something he always wanted to do but couldn’t due to 18 Culinaire | December 2020

working restaurant hours. “For me, it has been great to take stock, learn new skills and maybe even do a farm-to-table concept of my own, down the line,” he says. “I’ve been so used to having food brought to me to do cool things with, but haven’t been as involved with growing and making food.” Rowley is one of many Grow Calgary volunteers building beds, weeding and harvesting at this 11-acre community farm that donates 100 percent of its locally grown produce to more than 50 local social agencies. “We don’t sell anything, we give it all away,” says founder Paul Hughes. “The best food in Calgary is going to those that can least afford it. It’s for the poor, the vulnerable, the traumatized, lowincome and homeless.” After seven growing seasons at its original location by Canada Olympic Park, Grow Calgary had to relocate and start over to make way for

construction of the ring road. Since May 2020, Hughes and company have been rebuilding Grow Calgary, literally from the ground up again. All its fresh vegetables are given to charitable organizations like the Calgary Emergency Women’s Shelter, Veterans Association Food Bank, Inn from the Cold, The Drop In Centre and Dream House. “We’re big on issue, solution and action. We’re not commercial. We’re compassionate agriculture,” says Hughes. “We believe in the right to food and the right to shelter. We call it ‘the snack and the shack.’” In addition to facilitating food access and food security for vulnerable Calgarians, Grow Calgary is also currently offering a small scale agricultural farm management certificate program that’s entirely free and open to anyone who wants to learn about urban agriculture.

How to help:

Visit the Grow Calgary farm in person, volunteer your time or donate funds at

Fresh Routes

Fresh Routes is a social enterprise that provides mobile grocery stops so there are less barriers for people to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. It has been providing dignified and sustainable food access in both Calgary and Edmonton since October 2019.

“It’s about making the healthy choice, the easy choice,” says co-founder Rob Ironside. Purchasing food from their partner H&W Produce, Fresh Routes is able to sell their fresh produce at 25 to 45 per cent cheaper prices than typical grocery stores. Ironside says that translates to customers getting between $4.50 to $10 in price savings alone. Fresh Routes is a community-led model where it partners with local hubs and organizations already in place in their respective areas, from campuses to community associations and health centres. The aim is to increase fresh food accessibility in food deserts across the city, “areas that don’t have access to fresh and healthy produce and other grocery items, or only access to ultraprocessed foods.” When COVID hit in the spring, Fresh Routes had to temporarily put their stops on hold and shifted to doing emergency food delivery, where anyone could go online and request free produce delivered to their door. Mobile stops have since reopened in both cities, but the emergency food box deliveries have continued and nearly 4,000 COVID emergency food boxes were delivered to 2,166 households in both cities since March. Morgan Allen, Fresh Routes’ city manager for Edmonton says they’re operating in about a dozen neighbourhoods across Edmonton currently. “We underestimate how much people struggle with food security,” she

says. “COVID or non-COVID times, people deal with a lot of barriers to accessing food, and there is such a need to bring food directly to people.”

How to help:

The easiest way to support is to shop with Fresh Routes - find the Edmonton and Calgary schedules at to find mobile grocery stops near you.

Banff Food Rescue

Off Banff Avenue, in the lower level of Sundance Mall, volunteers with Banff Food Rescue sort through a carload of produce and groceries just picked up from the Canmore Safeway. It’s all food that would otherwise have been thrown out. Items like romaine lettuce, peppers, fruit and bread are quickly sorted into boxes and several fridges which will later be assembled into food bags for pickup that same day. “In Banff, I get friends often saying to me, ‘do we really have food insecurity? Do we really need to be doing this?’” says founder Alanna Pettigrew. “And the answer is yes.” Having worked in the grocery and hotel industry for years, Pettigrew says, “I’d see all this perfectly good food getting thrown out.” In 2016, she started Banff Food Rescue to divert food waste from the landfills and to help feed those in her community, all out of her home basement. It has since grown into a full-blown non-profit operating out of a

Waste Not:

The Food UpCyclers coRise

Partnering with Calgary microbreweries and distilleries, coRise CEO and founder Sophie Tang rescues and repurposes spent grains from the beer production process and transforms them into prebiotic high fibre food products. It reduces food waste and up-cycles grains that would otherwise be discarded into flours, baking mixes, granola, cookies and energy bars.

Anew UpCycling

1,100 square-foot commercial space that she now leases. Pre-COVID, Pettigrew says she typically saw 50 or people lining up for food. “At the height of the lockdown, we were open every night,” says Pettigrew. “We had times where we had 230 to 250 people lined up down this hall, up the stairs, out the back, across the street and over by the theatre.” Daily, upwards of 10 or so volunteers pick up and sort food donated by grocers, food suppliers and local businesses. Family boxes and individual boxes are also delivered for those in self-isolation in Banff and Canmore. “We operate seven days a week picking up food, and we distribute food three times a week in the evenings to people that come and line up, no questions asked,” says Pettigrew, who wants to eventually expand to Lake Louise too. “We hope to be feeding the entire Bow Valley.”

How to help:

Banff Food Rescue is a non-profit and 100 percent reliant on donations. Volunteer or donate food or money by visiting

20 Culinaire | December 2020

Calgary Community Fridge

Operating under the philosophy of ‘take what you need, give what you can,’ Calgary Community Fridge is a recent project that offers Calgarians 24/7 access to free food. Tucked in between buildings on the Tigerstedt Block in Crescent Heights, a weatherproof shed shelters a black Whirlpool fridge that houses perishables, a deep freezer that sees frozen meals, bread and more rotating through, while dry goods and cans line pantry shelves. It’s all entirely maintained by volunteers and stocked by the community. “Food access is such a basic human right,” says Alice Lam, one of the organizers. “It’s so important for physical and mental health but often the thing that people compromise on if they’re stretched on other fronts.” The pilot project started in the summer after organizers were inspired by the community fridge networks they saw popping up all over Toronto and New York. They wanted to address food access and dignity in Calgary, especially during the pandemic and lockdown, when more people were requiring extra support.

As a sister organization to Leftovers Foundation, Anew works with food growers, producers and manufacturers to upcycle them into new culinary creations. Leftovers provide donated food to Anew members who sign up, and they collaborate to create new products. In turn, a percentage of sales from the up-cycled product is given back to Leftovers. Local Alberta businesses like CoRise, Ollia Macarons & Tea, Sweet Relief Pastries, Bent Stick Brewing and Hello Mochi are currently members.

Lam says it’s not uncommon to see the fridge emptied out every few hours, but that it also usually gets filled up every few hours, too. “With a fridge, it’s mutual aid - anyone can come and take or give food, regardless of income,” says Lam, “It crosses political boundaries and across the demographic boundaries - it’s food and people need it.”

How to help:

Drop off food donations at 902 Centre Street N, donate to the GoFundMe campaign and spread the word online - follow @calgarycommunityfridge on Instagram.

Lynda Sea is a freelance writer/editor based in Calgary. Her writing has appeared in Avenue, Westjet Magazine, enRoute, and Flare. You can often find her hiking in the Canadian Rockies and eating her way through Alberta.



Pull Out all the “Punches” This Holiday Season

Rum Punch - No worries! Makes 5½ cups

3 cups (720 mL) apple cider 1 ½ cups (360 mL) cranberry juice 3/4 cup (180 mL) orange juice 3 Tbs (45 mL) rosemary simple syrup 1 ½ Tbs (22 mL) spiced rum 1/4 cup (60 mL) ginger ale Combine all ingredients together and serve with lots of ice. Rum Punch



Move over Caesar, the breakfast punch is here. Don’t you love a nice, relaxed breakfast or brunch during the holidays? This breakfast punch is refreshing, healthy and feels special. It comes together in no time and can be made a day or two before, so you just have to shake and add bubbles in the morning.

Orange You Ready For Your Breakfast Punch

Makes 3¼ cups (780 mL) + bubbles

Breakfast Punch


hatever holiday traditions you have, adding a punch (or two) to your repertoire will make any occasion feel special. Punch will make your prep time infinitely quicker with simple ingredients, ease of doubling or tripling the serving size to fit your guest list and ability to be made ahead of time. All punches should be served cold so make sure to have lots of ice on hand. Punches are fun for everyone, made with alcohol or without so the kids can enjoy and feel like they are part of the party too.

22 Culinaire | December 2020

MERITS OF PUNCH • easy • make ahead • alcoholic or non-alcoholic • great for all ages • ingredients are easy to find • serve for breakfast, brunch, dinner or cocktails • self-serve, which means more time for the host to be part of the party!

Note: May cause spontaneous outbursts of dancing

2 cups (500 mL) orange juice 1 cup (250 mL) carrot juice 1/4 cup (60 mL) lime juice 3 cm fresh ginger, peeled 2 cm fresh turmeric, peeled Sparkling wine to top 1. Add orange, carrot and lime juice to a glass container. 2. Grate the ginger and turmeric directly into your juices and stir. It can now be refrigerated overnight so it’s ready for the morning. 3. To serve: stir punch mixture, add ice to your glass, punch and top with bubbles. Options for Bubbles: Alcoholic - Champagne, Prosecco, ginger beer Non-alcoholic - ginger ale, soda water

Chailicious Punch

Flower Punch

2. In a small piece of cheesecloth, add the anise, cardamom, bay leaves, peppercorns and fennel seeds and tie to seal. Add to the water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let simmer 10 minutes. 3. Add the tea bag and return to a boil. Turn off heat and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and cheesecloth. 4. Add honey and stir to combine. Let mixture cool and then refrigerate until very cold. 5. When ready to serve: Add milk or milk substitute. Add orange liqueur, cinnamon whisky and simple syrup. Serve with lots of ice.


Chailicious Punch

Makes 4½ cups (1-1/8 L) 3½ cups (812 mL) water 1 ½ anise pods 9 green cardamom pods 4 bay leaves 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns, cracked 1 tsp fennel seeds 1 bag black tea 4 Tbs (60 mL) honey 1 cup (250 mL) milk (or milk substitute) 1 Tbs (15 mL) orange liqueur 2 Tbs (30 mL) cinnamon whiskey 2 Tbs (30 mL) mint simple syrup 1. Add water to a small pot over mediumhigh heat.

Having punch available for everybody to serve themselves takes the pressure off watching glasses.

Flower Punch

4. Add pomegranate juice, gin and simple syrup. 5. When ready to serve - top with ginger beer and plenty of ice cubes.


What a great way to start your dinner party - a signature punch! You can bring it back later in the evening as your guests will love it so much.

1-2-3 Punch

Makes 1½ cups (375 mL) 1 cup (250 mL) apple cider 1 Tbs (25 mL) bourbon ½ cup (125 mL) ginger beer Combine all ingredients together and serve over ice. So simple but so good!

Simple Syrup Recipe

Makes 6 cups (1.5 L) + bubbles

Makes 6 cups (1.5 L) + bubbles 3 cups (750 mL) water 6 dried hibiscus flowers (or hibiscus tea if you can’t find the flowers) 3 cups (750 mL) pomegranate juice 2 Tbs (30 mL) gin 3 Tbs (45 mL) sage simple syrup Ginger beer to top 1. Add water to a small pot over mediumhigh heat. 2. Add the hibiscus flowers (or tea). Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let cool. 3. Remove flowers or tea bag. Refrigerate until cold.

1 cup (240 mL) water ½ cup (120 mL) sugar Bring water and sugar to a boil for 2 minutes, making sure all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. If you would like to add the herbs in the recipes, add a sprig of rosemary or a few leaves of sage or mint to the pot. Remove before serving. Natalie is a freelance writer, photographer and pastry chef. A graduate of Cordon Bleu’s pastry program, she manages her own business too to create custom-made cakes.

tidings of

comfort & joy Happy holidays from Cococo! We are proud to handcraft delicious chocolate confections in Calgary using simple ingredients and sustainable, fair trade couverture chocolate, all for you and your family to enjoy. Shop in person: Victoria Park • Bankers Hall Signal Hill • Southcentre • Dalhousie Station Curbside pickup: Cococo Chocolate Factory in Mayland Heights Shop online: chocolate together

The Chain Effect of Supporting Local BY CARMEN CHENG I PHOTOGRAPHY BY DONG KIM

Smokey Bear’s pork chop


here are a lot of benefits when we purchase from local businesses, namely cycling funds back into our local communities, supporting jobs locally, and reducing environmental impacts. Supporting local is more than a hashtag, it’s a mindset and lifestyle. When we choose to dine at or purchase from a local business that embodies a philosophy of working with and buying from local producers, the chain effect of ordering that one dish can be incredible. Riley Aitken, chef and owner of Smokey Bear in Edmonton, developed his restaurant around the concept of cooking quality seasonal ingredients over an open flame. Allowing the simplicity of ingredients to shine requires both significant skill in controlling the

24 Culinaire | December 2020

temperature and timing, as well as sourcing beautiful, quality ingredients from numerous producers. It is why he began his search for producers a while before Smokey Bear opened. “Sourcing locally is very important to us at Smokey Bear but it has to come with a standard of quality. Luckily for us there is a group of very skilled and passionate suppliers and producers in Edmonton who we work with,” says Chef Aitken. One such producer is the familyoperated Gruger Farms in Nisku, well known in the Edmonton area for growing mushrooms vertically indoors, and which chef says are some of the best mushrooms he’s had the pleasure of cooking with. Smokey Bear uses Gruger’s most flavourful mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, King Oyster, Pink Oyster,

and Blue Oyster mushrooms. These meaty mushrooms are treated in a variety of different ways - pickled, fermented, and most often, cooked above the maple wood grill so the mushrooms take on the nice smoky flavour. Rachel Gruger, owner of Gruger Farms says, “The reason we got into this business is that we knew local agriculture would be important to our future. Smokey Bear cares about every ingredient that comes into their kitchen and you feel that when the staff are beaming while they educate you about each dish that comes to your table.” Smokey Bear also uses fresh and cured pork products from Edmonton’s Meuwly’s. Their sausages, cured meats, pickles, and preserves have been a staple of the Edmonton food scene for the

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past few years. The owners of Meuwly’s share a similar philosophy to Aitken: that a quality product starts with finding alignment with your producers in standards and values. “We created Meuwly’s because we wanted to bridge the gap between folks in our community and the incredible food being grown and produced all around us,” says Keith. The ‘Nduja specifically is made with Bear and Flower’s pork belly. Chef Aitken pairs the rich ‘Nduja with grilled flatbread and a silky and tangy cultured cream. When a diner at Smokey Bear orders and enjoys this dish, the cost of the dish goes to support Aitken’s operations, as well as Meuwly’s, Bear and Flower Farms, and not to mention the numerous other Alberta producers who work with each of these three businesses. “This local purchasing cycle has a ripple effect across the whole food system,” says Keith adding, “Furthermore, supporting establishments like Smokey Bear allows producers like Meuwly’s and our farm partners to innovate, experiment, and constantly improve. I know that many local farms have started growing unique heritage varieties of vegetables and herbs due to the increasing support from chef-driven restaurants. Diners discover new foods (like ‘Nduja!) and start to seek them out at the farmers’ market or local grocery stores, which feeds right back into Edmonton’s food community.” Stephen Deere opened Modern Steak with the idea that the best beef was available in Calgary’s backyard and he wanted to feature this stellar product to diners. With steak being the main focal point of the menu, Deere felt it was critically important to source directly from ranches. When Deere began looking for ranches to partner with, he had a list of strict criteria. Is the beef coming from small family operations? Would Deere and his team be able to meet the ranchers and see the animals? Deere also wanted to find producers who he could get to know, who exemplified a collaborative spirit and pride for their practices and quality. Meeting Michael Munton, owner of Benchmark Angus and Beef in Warner, Alberta, Deere felt alignment in their philosophies. Munton is a 26 Culinaire | December 2020

Modern Steak beef

fourth-generation rancher; his great grandparents began ranching when they came to Southern Alberta in 1912. Of his ranching philosophy, Munton states, “First and foremost we are environmentalists. You don’t ranch for 1 00 years without looking after our land, our cattle, and our water.” He adds, “Equally important is our commitment to our customers. We strive tirelessly to exceed and to deliver the best eating experience to the consumer every single time.” Munton says, “At Benchmark we have coined the phrase, “don’t ask where your beef comes from, ask who your beef comes from.” Deere’s admiration for Munton’s knowledge, passion, and care for the animals and environmental practices guided him to approach Munton about the possibility of collaborating on an exclusive line of beef for Modern Steak. This collaboration led to the purchase of an award-winning bull for over $80,000, used specifically to breed cattle for Modern Benchmark Black Angus featured on the menu at Modern Steak.

Although steak is a central ingredient at Modern Steak, Deere and his chefs also make it a point to carefully source locally for other ingredients that includes producers like Broxburn Vegetables, Common Crown Brewing, and Deepwater Farms. Describing why supporting local producers is so important, Deere says, “Buying local is like reading a great novel. As you read, you learn about the characters and you become invested in them. When you’re buying local you become invested in the producers, their stories, their products, and magically you get to fall in love. Buying local is a feelgood story.” There is a cascading impact when we dine at a restaurant that embodies a local community mindset. As Rachel Gruger, from Gruger Farms says, “Every dish has a story and behind every story is a real farmer in your community.” Carmen Cheng comes from a long line of food lovers and notorious over-orderers. She loves traveling, learning about different cuisines, and sharing her food adventures on social media.

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Step By Step

Holiday Desserts



hoosing which dessert to finish the holiday feast with is always the best part of menu planning. On one hand, nothing beats a chocolate tarte, especially when there is a buttery shortbread crust and pecans involved. Have I mentioned the rich, caramel filling that brings everything together like a warm hug? Yeah, there’s that too. On the other hand, there is the traditional gingerbread but with pears and crystallized ginger that lend it a seasonal, sophisticated air. There’s a lovely coupling of butter and brown sugar in the base of a cast iron skillet, so the edges get the crispy, caramelized treatment, which adds a lovely textural contrast to the tender gingerbread. The cake is inverted, which always impresses a crowd gathered nearby. With these two delicious options, there’s nothing saying you can’t bake both!

Double Chocolate Pecan Tarte Serves 10-12

This is a buttery, decadent tarte that is reminiscent of a box of Turtles, another Christmastime favourite in my house. Pecans lend their crunch to both the crust and the filling, and the chocolate lovers seated at your holiday table will surely be raving about this dessert for days.


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup ground pecans 2 Tbs granulated sugar ¼ tsp salt ¾ cup cold butter 1 large egg yolk 2 Tbs (30 mL) water 60 g melted dark chocolate, for drizzling at end 28 Culinaire | December 2020


4 large eggs, at room temperature 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup (250 mL) corn syrup 2 Tbs (30 mL) butter, softened 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract or coffee liqueur 90 g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans 1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, ground pecans, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate in the butter. Mix with your hands until the mixture resembles fine crumbs with a few larger pieces. 2. Mix the yolk with water and pour over the dry ingredients. Use your hands to mix and shape into a disc. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 3. Roll out the pastry between two large pieces of parchment paper. It should be

about 6-7 mm thick. Carefully ease it into an ungreased 28 cm (11-inch) tart pan with a removable bottom. Be sure that the pastry fits snuggly into the sides. Trim the edges. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling. 4. Preheat the oven to 375º F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla until light and thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate and pecans. Pour into the prepared shell. 5. Place the tarte on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, until the centre is set and the top is deeply golden. It’s okay to have a slight jiggle in the middle. Let cool on a wire rack. 6. Once cool, drizzle with the melted chocolate. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.



Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Serves 10-12

The baking of gingerbread, at least in my world, smells like winter, roaring fires, kisses on cold, rosy cheeks and the kind of magic you can’t quite name but know is hanging in the air. This gingerbread cake is one of my all-time favourites. It’s everything you want your gingerbread to be — spicy, tender, sweet, but not too sweet.

Pear Topping:

3 medium, ripe pears (Bosc or Bartlett) 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened 2/3 cup packed brown sugar 2 Tbs crystallized ginger, diced

Gingerbread Cake:

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened ½ cup (packed) brown sugar 2 large eggs, at room temperature 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened applesauce ½ cup (125 mL) molasses 1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 ½ tsp ground ginger 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground cloves ½ tsp salt 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the rack in the centre of the oven. 2. To make the topping, peel and core the pears, cutting each into 8 slices. In the bottom of a 25 cm (10-inch) cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Swirl the butter up the sides and stir in the brown sugar, mixing until it’s smooth. Remove the pan from the heat. (If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can pour the melted butter and brown sugar

mixture into the bottom of a greased 25 cm (10-inch) baking dish, with sides at least 65 mm high. Move the dish around to coat the sides.) Lay the pears on top of the butter/brown sugar in a circle, overlapping if necessary. Scatter the crystallized ginger on top. 3. To make the cake, in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the brown sugar, beating on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and then beat on high speed for another 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Beat in the applesauce, molasses and vanilla on medium speed. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and with the mixer running on low speed, mix them into the molasses mixture, beating until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter over the pears, smooth the top with an offset spatula and bake for 30–40 minutes, until the cake is golden and springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. 4. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the skillet and carefully invert it onto a serving platter. Let it hang out for a minute to let all of the topping dribble out. Carefully lift the pan off the platter. If any pear slices are stuck to it, use a spoon to lift them off and put them in their place. Serve the pear gingerbread warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Leftover cake keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


Renée Kohlman is a busy food writer and recipe developer living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her debut cookbook All the Sweet Things was published last year.

@Pacific_Prairie @pacific_canada @pacificcanada

Spirits for the Season BY TOM FIRTH AND LINDA GARSON


s our winter is well underway, our thoughts migrate away from white spirits like gin and vodka (for now) and move to richer, heartier spirits suitable for hunkering down near the fire, or spirits that evoke a warmer climate, or perhaps the beach vacations we aren’t having this December. So whether you are coming in from the cold or bracing yourself to get out there and shovel some snow – we’ve got you covered.

El Telquileño Cristalino Reposado Tequila, Mexico Cristalino tequila is the new big thing in tequila. An aged Añejo or reposado tequila is carefully filtered to remove the colour and stronger wood notes, yet still preserve the nuance and smoothness one wants in their top shelf bottles. Sleek mineral tones with limes, chalk, leather and a little smoke with great mouthfeel and silkiness. The smoothest white tequila you are likely to ever try. CSPC +836470 About $100-105 Sunday’s Whisky, Japan There are so many great stories surrounding spirits these days, do visit and read the backstory of this whisky made in Japan by five Albertans living in Hong Kong – some of whom are old buddies of ours! It’s a smooooth, easy-drinking whisky; we really enjoy it neat but it makes a great Old Fashioned. You’ll smell cocoa nibs long before you taste them, then a little white pepper and chilli spice. Sip and breathe deeply… CSPC +833870 $82-87 Torres 10 Year Old Gran Reserva Imperial Brandy, Spain Brandy enthusiasts know all about the value Spanish brandies offer. From Torres, comes this robust and smooth offering with a deep, dark colour and a woodsy, slightly smoky palate. Barrel notes evoke sweet sherry and creamy vanilla, making for a tipple just as suited for enjoying neat or in cocktails and hot drinks. CSPC +711733 $25-28 30 Culinaire | December 2020

El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum, Guyana A consistent performer at our Alberta Beverage Awards, the El Dorado 12 strikes that elusive balance of quality, value, and flavours. Toffee and citrus dominate the nose, while on the palate, the spirit presence is very well balanced against citrus fruits, a variety of spices, and the warmth of oak. Well-suited to any number of cold winter days. CSPC +912402 $35-40 Don Papa Small Batch Rum, The Philippines Rum from the Philippines? Yes, and what a rum! Don Papa is made on the southern island of Negros, from sugar cane grown on the island, and made into “Black Gold”, the richest and sweetest molasses – hence the notes of sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream. You’ll also be licking your lips at the vanilla, sultanas, and cinnamon flavours too. This is a warm and inviting, memorable rum, and we just can’t stop thinking about rum babas now! CSPC + 823006 $51-54 Appleton Estate 8 Year Old Reserve Rum, Jamaica Appleton has long been a well-loved and consistent brand for rum lovers, but it was very nice to see this bottle made to commemorate the distillery’s 250th anniversary. Smells wonderful with honey, toffee, and spice characters, but really shines on the palate with rich flavours, impeccable balance, and silken textures with a deep, molasses finish. Maybe too good for a mixer, but will not disappoint. CSPC +829043 $40-45

Uncle Nearest 1856 Super Premium Tennessee Whiskey Wow, one for the connoisseur now: a super premium Tennessee whisky and another terrific backstory. Inspired by the first known African-American master distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green, Uncle Nearest utilizes a filtering process brought to Tennessee by enslaved people, and taught by Nearest Green to Jack Daniels! Enjoy after your meal; this sipping whisky has aromas of crème brûlée and candied nuts, and finishes with milk chocolate coated almonds. CSPC +1175972 $105-109 St. Lucia Distillers Chairman’s Reserve “The Forgotten Casks”, St. Lucia A personal favourite in rums, in part due to the bright and expressive aromas that lift from the glass. Toffee and caramel with vanilla, lemons, and leather, plus so much more. Fairly smooth, but the purity of the spirit isn’t overwhelmed by barrel notes. It’s a rum that warms your belly by the fire or after some outdoor excursions this winter, while you dream of warmer climes. CSPC +749269 $60-65

Black Tot Rum, Scotland Named after Black Tot Day in 1970, when the British Navy ended the age–old tradition of daily rum rations; Elixir Distillers discovered the last flagons, and created Black Tot to commemorate them. A blend of three Caribbean rums: 60 percent Guyana provides the sweet and rich, molasses and banana bread tones, 35 percent from Barbados adds fruity and tropical notes, and 5 percent from Jamaica adds spice and complexity. Deeelicious! CSPC +832046 $60-65 Glenmorangie Limited Release “A Tale of Cake” Single Malt Whisky, Scotland The latest in a series of limited release, innovative whiskies from Glenmorangie, this one is perhaps the wildest one of the bunch. A Tale of Cake is meant to evoke the joys and memories of simply enjoying those moments we have cake in hand. Naturally, the whisky can pair with cake if desired, but it’s quite a pleasure to enjoy neat. Brighter, lemony notes with honey, tropical fruits and mild touches of herb and sponge cake. CSPC +839554 $110-125 Waterford Distillery Ballykilcavan Edition 1.1, Ireland We’re welcoming the first releases from Waterford Distillery, founded by Mark Reynier – the entrepreneur who resurrected Islay’s Bruichladdich Distillery from its mothballs. The Single Farm Origin Series whiskies are barley forward, fully traceable, terroir-driven, single malts, and they speak of their land. Savour the Ballykilcavan slowly… it’s smooth, with flavours of banana, light brown sugar, cinnamon and dark chocolate, and a long oily finish. CSPC +836112 $99-104

Alberta’s Finest Italian Liquor Store Selection


talian wines are so steeped in tradition, and so well loved and respected, that they’re almost synonymous with quality. While many might immediately think of Tuscany and its Chianti with their pasta dishes, or Veneto and it’s prosecco and amarone, Italy is home to 20 wine regions and around 350 indigenous grape varieties. For many years, Italy has topped the charts as the world’s largest producer of wine, with almost 20 percent of the world’s bottles - around double that of all the USA, yet the country is only three-quarters the length of California. And with a population of only 60 million people, Italians can’t drink all the wine they make, so nearly half is exported and Canada is Italy’s 5th largest market! Whether you’re a Barolo or Brunello fan, or if you’ve already discovered the wines of Sicily or Sardinia, finding a store with a top notch selection (and the people who can help you find the right bottle) for a special occasion, a fine meal with friends, a gift, or something to blow your mind, can be intimidating. So how and where can we find the best selections of Italian products in Alberta? With many of us staying in more and looking for quality wines to drink at home, in collaboration with the Italian Trade Commission, and to celebrate the calibre of Italian beverage selections currently available in our province, we set out on a quest to find the liquor stores that have the finest selections of Italian wines, spirits, and liqueurs. Lucky for us, we not only have the largest selection of wine, beer, and spirits in the country, but we also have some of the finest sommeliers, working hard in a competitive industry to find the very best in a bottle for their customers and visitors, and we want to celebrate these knowledgeable and enthusiastic buyers, with passion for Italian wines, who are working on our behalf.

32 Culinaire | December 2020

We asked over 300 Alberta-based beverage importers and agents to nominate these sales staff and their stores, to find out who they know are working with a wide variety of Italian wines - not just the big names and well known producers and regions - and who really embrace what Italian wines have to offer. Our initial plans were a waylaid a little due to COVID, as now is not the time to be travelling around to dozens of liquor stores and wine boutiques, so instead we came up with a nearly impossible task; we asked those stores with the most nominations to sum up their approach to Italian wine, the breadth and depth of their selection (such as a variety of prices, unique or uncommon wines, appellations, and producers) and also, in a video of less than two minutes, to encapsulate the passion of the people involved, for our judges to review. We also set ourselves a difficult task for our judges. We needed independent, skillful assessors, who didn’t have connections or affiliations

with any stores, restaurants, or other organizations that might lend some bias. We invited three experienced professionals in Alberta as well as three in British Columbia to judge the entire roster, to balance out any possible enthusiasm for the home teams. From Alberta, we thank: Darren Oleksyn, wine columnist of the Calgary Herald; Mary Bailey, Editor of the Tomato in Edmonton; and Tom Firth, Managing Editor for Culinaire Magazine for accepting the task. And we’re grateful to Kurtis Kolt of Top Drop Canada, Tim Pawsey of Hired Belly, and Daenna Van Mulligen of Quench Magazine and, in British Columbia. The competition acknowledges and celebrates the very best liquor store selections and sommeliers with a clear Diamond Award winner, as well as two Gold Award runners up. presented by:

in collaboration with Culinaire Magazine.

We’re delighted to announce the winners: DIAMOND AWARD Everything Wine & More, #25, 100 Broadview Drive, Sherwood Park. Sommelier: Marcia Hamm.

The Judges:

From Alberta, we thank:

Darren Oleksyn, wine columnist of the Calgary Herald

Italy’s amazing diversity is given a grand stage at Everything Wine and More in Sherwood Park,” says Darren Oleksyn. ”Knowledgeable staff help navigate a deep selection of bottles - wine, spirits and liqueurs - from the top of the boot to the bottom.

Mary Bailey Editor of the Tomato in Edmonton

Tom Firth Managing Editor for Culinaire Magazine

GOLD AWARD Wine and Beyond, 6284 Currents Dr NW, Edmonton. Sommelier: Chase Brackenbury.

From British Columbia, we thank:

The Italian wine selection at Wine and Beyond Windermere is huge and exciting, says Mary Bailey. “Good signage helps buyers find the ideal bottle from a humble bottle to have with pizza or a rare bottling for the cellar.

GOLD AWARD The Cellar, 137 8 Avenue SW, Calgary. Sommelier: Susan Bloor.

A well-curated selection of Italian wines can be found in The Cellar on Stephen Avenue,” says Tom Firth, adding, “Every wine on the shelf has a staff member who loves it. The premium selection of back vintages and specialty bottles really resonated with us.

Kurtis Kolt of Top Drop Canada

Tim Pawsey of Hired Belly

Daenna Van Mulligen of and Quench Magazine In collaboration with the Italian Trade Commission, we also set out to find the Finest Italian Liquor Store Selection in British Columbia too. Congratulations to the B.C. winners!

DIAMOND AWARD Legacy Wine, 1633 Manitoba St, Vancouver. Sommelier: Kady Smith. GOLD AWARD Everything Wine, 8570 River District Crossing, Vancouver. Sommelier: Jordan Carrier. GOLD AWARD Village Taphouse, C1-900 Main Street, Park Royal, West Vancouver. Sommeliers: Tyler Dawson and Rich Francis. December 2020 | Culinaire 33

IPA All Day: What is Old is New Again BY DAVID NUTTALL


he India Pale Ale (or IPA) has become the most important beer style of the 21st century - not bad for something created well over 250 years ago. Indeed, the original IPA itself is a variation of the English Pale Ale but has morphed into a plethora of varieties in the last 20 years. Today, the IPA has gone off in so many directions it’s difficult to see how they all relate to each other. The IPA was born in Britain in the 1700s as a more intensely hopped, higher alcohol version of the pale ale destined for long journeys to the far-flung outposts they were beginning to occupy. This style remained practically unchanged for over two centuries until the first craft brewers in the US (circa late 1980s) began brewing pale ales with American hops. Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale in 1975 was the first beer to use the then new Cascade hop and 34 Culinaire | December 2020

is generally considered the first American IPA. This unfamiliar beer style took two decades to be commonly accepted in the US but by the early 2000s it was being cranked to 11 when the Double/ Imperial IPA (with triple digit IBUs) was christened. These three IPA styles coexisted into the 2010s, when brewery creativity exploded. As IPAs were becoming the most popular craft beer style, brewers began to experiment with different hops, malts (Rye, Brown, Red, White, Black IPAs), yeast (Belgian IPAs), ingredients (Brut, Milkshake, Fruit, Specialty IPAs), and alcohol content (Session and Triple IPAs). Just when many thought the IPA had gone as far as it could go, in 2011 along came Heady Topper out of Vermont, and within the decade the less bitter New England IPA (NEIPA) had become a craze. New hops, including

those from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, are inspiring more IPA iterations, and you’d be hard pressed to find a taproom now that didn’t have at least one example of the style. Alberta-made IPAs were non-existent until 1996 when the newly established Wild Rose Brewery in Calgary released its cleverly named Industrial Park Ale. However, it took almost two decades for the style to become popular here before the new wave of craft breweries jumped on the IPA bandwagon with both feet. Unless special malts are used, IPAs are usually gold to amber in colour, slightly hazy when unfiltered, with NEIPAs sometimes looking like pulpy orange juice. They will have a full range of perceived bitterness and will produce a variety of flavours contingent mostly on the hops used and how they were brewed. All are best consumed fresh.

The spirit of Montalcino




97 96

Below is a selection of IPA styles with mostly local examples. There are over 400 IPAs regularly available in Alberta, with many more seasonal or rotational versions at local brewery taprooms. English IPA Known for subtle grassy, floral, and herbal notes from English hops like Fuggles and Goldings. Sadly, getting harder to find in this market. [Theoretically] Brewing Frequency Hopper, Samuel Smith India Ale (UK) American/West Coast/Northwest IPA This has become the default IPA in North America, usually higher in alcohol (over 6% ABV) and more bitter than the English version. The American hops provide citrusy and/or piney flavours. Try Situation Page Turner, Born Colorado Hyperopia, Legend Seven Temptation, Last Best IPA, Fernie Brewing Lone Wolf, Stronghold’s Toucans IPA, Town Square Cornerstone, Hawktail IPA, Dandy T2GIPA, Ribstone Creek Lone Bison, Banded Peak Summit Seeker and Southern Aspect, Origin Pioneer, Apex Predator White Raven, Tool Shed Star Cheek, Cold Garden This Must Be The IPA, Railyard IPA, Sea Change The Wolf Double/Imperial IPA An American IPA with even more hops, bitterness, and alcohol. The best ones are so well balanced it’s unnoticeable. Try Alley Kat Dragon Series, Apex Predator Double IPA

36 Culinaire | December 2020

Black IPA Black or roasted malts yield chocolate and coffee flavours. Try Piston Broke Smokestack Alberta Black IPA White IPA A cross between a witbier and an IPA. Often includes wheat malt, with added citrus and spices. Try Trolley 5 First Crush Rye IPA The addition of rye malt gives the IPA an increased sharpness. Try Canmore Railway Avenue Belgian IPA Made using Belgian yeast resulting in a dry, effervescent, and spicy version reminiscent of Belgian ales Brut IPA Another new style using enzymes to create a dry, almost champagne-like IPA. Try Big Beaver Brut IPA Session IPA A lower alcohol, less bitter version of the American IPA. Try Jasper Brewing Trail Session IPA, Fernie Brewing Slingshot Session IPA, New Level Session Wolf, Apex Predator Flint & Steel, Blindman River Session Ale

Brown, and Red IPA By using different malts, brewers can add caramel, nut, or other notes to the mix. Mostly brewed as tap room specialties. Try Siding 14 Harvest Train Red IPA NEIPA/Hazy/Juicy IPA Call it what you want, this is the current darling of IPA varietals. Additions of wheat, lactose, dry hopping, and more. Try Alley Kat Fish Bone, Fernie Brewing Hit The Deck, Bent Stick Electric Boogaloo, Canmore Misty Mountain Hops, Born Colorado Born _____, Analog Castleva, Railyard NEIPA Milkshake IPA A subset of the category above, with the lactose dominating, giving the beer a milky quality. Try New Level Wizard’s Revenge Strawberry Milkshake Specialty IPA Any IPA style with additions of fruit, vegetables, spices, or anything else that comes to the brewmaster’s mind, including dry or wet hopped versions. Try Town Square 2D Sour NEIPA David has worked in liquor since the late 1980s. He is a freelance writer, beer judge, speaker, and since 2014, has run Brew Ed monthly beer education classes in Calgary. Follow @abfbrewed.

You’ll be seated only with the people you request in your booking, no other people will join your table.

It’s very important to us to support our restaurants and help them to stay open, so we’re continuing to run pairing dinners to dine in and offer pairing packages to take out. However, your safety is an absolute priority at our Vine & Dine pairing dinners. The restaurants we are working with have gone over and above with the additional measures they have taken for us, and extra sanitary precautions, so everyone is completely safe; the tables are not at all close to others and exceed all AHS regulations.

We’re continually adding new dates so please check our website regularly. Email if you’d like to be included in our bi-weekly updates to hear about events before the rest of the city. For full details and to reserve places at a Vine & Dine evening, a private pairing dinner, and your paired dinner packages, visit

Vine & Dine Pairing Dinners at Flower & Wolf December 4, 12, and 18. Our 6-course pairing dinners at Flower & Wolf, at the Eau Claire Sheraton, are all Canadian, and we’re excited for Chef Cole Glendinning’s menu of beautifully executed, flavourful In order to be spaced far apart, our dishes, cooked with love and ingredients dinners are only available for around half the usual number of guests, and as from local farmers. Choose one of the three very tasty nights in our own private a result most are selling out - so let us dining room. $81.75 ++ know soonest if you’d like to join us!

Holiday Celebration Pairing Dinner at Hotel Arts December 3. Celebrate the Holidays with exquisite food and exceptional service at Hotel Arts. Join us for an indulgent 4-course meal with four to six superb premium pairings. Some courses may have
two glasses for you to decide which you like best! $94.50 ++ Vine & Dine Online Paired Dinner Packages Have you tried one of our online, multi-course, paired takeout dinner packages, with videos yet? These are restaurant meals from Calgary chefs to eat at home, with small format pairings for each course, and a video with stories to take you through the pairings and flavours. Contactless curbside pickup. Menus and restaurants change regularly, so check out our December paired dinner packages from a variety of Calgary restaurants, and reserve yours now at


Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish…

Er…. Sparkling wines for the holidays!



t’s that time of year, where we are set to gather together surrounded by loved ones, reflecting on past memories, and making new ones… or at least we normally would, except this is 2020. The past year brought incredible changes to our lives and livelihoods, and some of these changes may be with us for years to come. This month’s recommendations are more than suitable to toast or roast the year behind us, and welcome a new one. Who knows what the year ahead will bring, but I sincerely hope that the year ahead brings health, happiness and safety to those near and dear to our hearts and hearths. Find these wines by searching the CSPC code at; your local liquor store can also use this code to order it for you. Prices are approximate.

Moet & Chandon N/V Rosé Imperial Champagne, Champagne, France

A smashably good champagne that checks all the boxes, with tight fruits, wonderful mineral tones, and that little bit of softness that appears on the palate of well-made rosé champagne. Personally, I love the nuance of fresh raspberry, earthy, flinty mineral tones, and a long, graceful finish. CSPC +482026 $85-90

Pierre Sparr N/V Cremant d’Alsace Brut Reserve, Alsace, France

Cremant d’Alsace is painfully overlooked in sparkling wine for both quality and for price. In this case, a blend of pinot blanc and 20 percent pinot noir, and made in the traditional method. Look for flinty mineral characters on the nose and palate, well supported by fresh apples and a mild, blackberry fruit towards the finish. Stunning. CSPC +512095 $25-30

Valdo N/V Marco Oro Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Valdobbiadene, Italy

The epitome of a value driven, crushable sparkling wine, Valdo prosecco is positively bursting with apple and peach fruits, milder nectarine and floral characters and a clean, juicy finish. An everyday sparkler, or a wonderful bottle to have on hand for small to mid-size gatherings. Yum! CSPC +550111 $20-23

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.

38 Culinaire | December 2020

Veuve Cliquot N/V Rosé Brut Champagne, Champagne, France

A long-time enthusiast of the champagnes from Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin and the story of the incredible woman behind it, the rosé is one of my favourites from the house. Sleek and balanced with a steely core of tangy acids and mild berry notes, this bottle never lasts long around me. While champagne is often enjoyed without food in these parts, it will stand up nicely to a citrus or berry dessert too. CSPC +733615 $85-90

Mezza di Mezzacorona N/V Italian Glacial Bubbly, Dolemiti, Italy

Segura Viudas N/V Heredad Reserva Brut, Spain

CSPC +797215 $18-20

CSPC +558825 $30-34

Relatively new to our market, this wine from the foothills of the Dolomite mountains in northern Italy is all about freshness and opulence. Rich and round on the palate with pear-led fruits and more than a little peach and white grape flavours, the pinch of sweetness is excellent for a evening with a cool glass of bubbly.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes N/V Brut, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Nearly a legend of sparkling wine, Heredad is just as well loved for the quality of the juice in the bottle as its classy (if I daresay excessive) packaging. Lifted and toasty aromas come to the fore over zesty lemon and green apple flavours. A great bottle to enjoy with some light appies such as grilled seafood or some salty snacks.

One of the stalwart expressions of sparkling wine in Canada, well known and well loved for many years here in Alberta. And why not? It’s great wine! Made in the traditional method, the wine speaks of crushed apples, food friendly acidity, and lovely mineral tones. Can’t argue with the price either for local, Canadian bubbles.

Taittinger N/V “Nocturne” Sec Champagne, Champagne, France

Bleasdale N/V Sparkling Shiraz, Langhorne Creek, Australia

Codorniu N/V Ana de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Cava, Spain

CSPC +719322 $78-82

CSPC +714898 $25-27

CSPC +156075 $20-24

A bit of a rare treat as this is a sweeter expression of champagne which, while uncommon - compared to Brut can be a welcome glass indeed for those with a sweet tooth or for those just enjoying a glass of champagne for the sake of enjoying champagne. Juicy sweet fruits from start to finish, this is never cloying, but always a decadent treat.

A style of sparkling wine that Australia seemed to have perfected some years ago, but a style that drifts in and out of our wine consciousness. Well-made red sparkling wines (as this one is) treads the delicate balance of sweetness, tannin, fruit, and drinkability. Tart, red berry fruits with touches of dark chocolate and mild jamminess with good mouth-feel and spice.

CSPC +314419 $26-30

A classic cava brand, Codorniu has long bridged the balance between quality, style, and value for many a year. Ana de Cordoniu evokes a more elegant, if quaffable approach, and does it so very, very well. Lifted and clean characters of lemon and apple fruits, great mineral presence and a touch of sweetness to bring it all together. Very versatile for a more than casual gathering.

Benjamin Bridge N/V Method Classique Rosé, Nova Scotia

Pol Roger N/V Brut Reserve Champagne Champagne, France

Monte Creek Ranch 2019 Sparkling Rosé British Columbia, Canada

CSPC +803300 $36-41

CSPC +748717 $68-72

CSPC +834522 $22-24

One of the finest sparkling wine producers in Canada, and one that frequently works with unusual varieties – like L’Acadie blanc. A blend of several non-traditional grapes with pinot noir and chardonnay, this lightly hued sparkler has the right combination of summer berry fruits and just a touch of added sweetness. Somehow, my glass must’ve had a small hole in it, since the wine didn’t last very long.

One thing that has always resonated with me about Pol Roger is the wonderful freshness and mouth-feel of their wines. The “White Foil” bottle, using about a third each of pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay, brings out the best of each grape with sleek minerals, bright acids, fresh fruit, and creaminess. A perfect wine for oysters, or let’s be honest, popcorn on the couch with someone special on NYE.

Made mostly from an uncommon hybrid grape called “marquette”, which can handle rougher, tougher Canadian winters, Monte Creek Ranch’s rosé brings a slightly more tart and tight palate together than just strawberries and the like. Tart cranberry and cherry flavours bring a little more depth, making this a solid performer with food. If there was a great sparkling wine for beef or for chocolate desserts, this might be it.

December 2020 | Culinaire 39

E TC E TE R A . . . Cococo 2020 Advent Calendar

Whatever age you are, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without an advent calendar, and this year Cococo’s calendar is celebrating their winners from the last few years of the International Chocolate Awards – and Cococo has plenty of winners! All our favourites are here plus a few surprises; too many to list here as of the 24 chocolates in the calendar there are 12 different types, but we’re drooling just reading the list! 240 g, $49 in Cococo stores and at Floating Leaf Wild Rice Blend

Mother May I Hummus

Mediterranean-inspired food is really on-trend, and Calgary’s Nada Choufi makes some of the best hummus around! Her recipe is 100+ years old and is vegan and gluten-free. As well as the original, try Sweet Potato (with rosemary and spices), Roasted Beet, Spicy Sriracha, and Baked Falafel (where falafel spices are incorporated into the hummus). At Co-op locations in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer, as well as other good grocery stores. 300 mL $6-$7.

We’re really enjoying experimenting with this Prairie Gourmet wild rice blend; it makes a lovely change to some of our regular rice dishes and it’s particularly good as the star in a risotto or added to your risotto rice. It’s a blend of wild rice, riceberry rice (a unique whole grain brown rice), red rice, and medium and long grain brown rice. The wild rice is local from the prairies, and it’s glutenfree, vegan, and kosher. Widely available in markets and online. 400 g, around $5

Happy Planner Accessory Books

Even the most organised of us can use some tools for our recipes and recipe planners, and The Happy Planner Recipe Accessory Book does just the job. They say it contains 1129 different pieces of sticky notes, notepad and stickers (and we’re inclined to take their word for it rather than count ourselves!), but we do know that there are 20 sticker sheets, one notepad, and four sticky notepads of 20 sheets each! $18-20 at Michaels, Staples and Walmart. Hildon Water Ninja NeverStick Frying Pan

We’re always up for the challenge when we hear the claim, “no sticking, chipping, or flaking” so we put the new Ninja frying pan to the test – and they’re right. We used no butter or oil for our scrambled and fried eggs – and they just slipped right out of the pan! We tried searing, sautéing, and broiling, and we love that the coating and handle are oven safe up to 500° F, so it goes from all stovetops straight into the oven. Dishwasher-safe too. A range of sizes and prices at Canadian Tire. 40 Culinaire | December 2020

From a single source on an English Country Estate, for the last 31 years Hildon Water has graced the tables of some of the finest houses in England and Wales. New to Canada, you can now be queen in your home as Hildon was granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment to The Queen a few years ago. Available both still and sparkling, Hildon water is in glass bottles (no plastic waste!). 750 mL $2.95 from Italian Centre Shops in Calgary and Edmonton, Andy’s IGA, and at

FoodSaver Multi-Use Food Preservation System

Many are eating in a lot more these days, so we’ve been trialling The FoodSaver to discover the benefits for ourselves, and it’s been a great addition to our kitchen. It’s a combination of a heat sealer and handheld vacuum sealer, and has proven really useful for batch cooking, preventing waste, and for when we buy in bulk – and also for those restaurant meals that we’ve had wrapped! The food keeps up to five times longer in the freezer and it helps prevent freezer burn too. $199 at Canadian Tire.

Abeego Beeswax Food Wrap

Sorbos Straws

While we’re talking food preservation systems, have you tried Abeego food wrap, from Victoria, B.C.? We found them on-packed on several different wines in liquor stores this summer, including the Hahn Pinot Noir shown, and had to try them! If you lose the cork from your bottle, just pop on one of the small wraps – they’re good for food, and even keep your sparkling wine bubbly too, and you can wash and reuse again and again for at least a year! 6 small food wraps $18,

Canada has announced the plan to ban six single-use plastic items by the end of 2021: supermarket bags, stir sticks, sixpack rings, cutlery, food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics, and straws. You may have seen Sorbos by the checkout in your local liquor store and wondered what they are – biodegradable and edible, individually wrapped straws in seven flavours! They’re gluten-free, last 30-45 minutes in drinks, have only 27 calories and 6 g of beet root sugar each, 25 cents. Rviita Energy Teas

Ryiita Energy Teas were created in Calgary by a brother and sister team, along with a childhood friend, after a close friend suffered a heart attack attributed to too many energy drinks. Their alternative is a blend of natural caffeine from black tea and guarana seeds, fruit juices and organic honey, with no added colours or sweeteners. The soft packs are perfect for hiking and cycling and can be used to make ice packs too! Choose Strawberry, Blackberry, Peach or Elderberry, 355 mL around $5.

Sarjesa Teas

With a very different back-story, and one well worth reading on their website, Sarjesa is a Calgary-based, socially focused tea company with 20 percent of the profits from each box donated to impactful violence prevention programs for women in crisis. Sarjesa teas are blends of Canadian-grown herbs and imported fair-trade teas, in five varieties: Peppermint, Chamomile, Earl Grey, Green Tea, and Spiced Chai. 30 servings $9, available at select Sobeys stores and at

The French Laundry, Per Se

This weighty tome (over 2.5 Kg!), 400-page book, takes us into the life and work of one of the world’s most respected and awarded restaurateurs, Thomas Keller, and is filled with stories and iconic recipes from his two Michelin three-star restaurants, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and Per Se in New York City. We’re transported into his world with essays of “Patience and Persistence” and “Inspiration Versus Influence” and can’t wait to make the 70 beloved recipes! $85, Artisan Books. December 2020 | Culinaire 41




orn and raised in the province of huelva, in the far southwest of Spain, Diego Romero comes from a generations-old mining family. His grandfather’s whole world was mining. “He said, when you grow up, you will work in the mines, but you will be the engineer, which for him would be the pinnacle. And that always stuck with me, and is one of the reasons why I went into engineering and the mineral industry.” explains Romero. Hating the atmosphere and oppression in Spain after the Spanish Civil War, the family emigrated to Canada in 1964, finding employment in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Romero studied metallurgical engineering at university in Halifax, and there met his engineer wife, Joy, his “claim to fame”. They were married in 1978, a year before they graduated. Work for an iron ore mine took them to western Labrador for a few years before moving to Sparwood for work in the metallurgical coalmines of southeast B.C. Fifteen years later, in 1997, they moved to Calgary where the couple both consulted for Kilborn Engineering, and Romero went to U of A part-time to get his master’s degree in mineral engineering. From there, Joy moved to CNRL, where she’s currently a vice-president, and Romero stayed with the oil sands

42 Culinaire | December 2020

for a time before joining Teck Resources in their Vancouver office and later in Calgary, commuting back and forth to the Elk Valley for work on the expansion of a metallurgical coalmine. In 2018, as Romero was planning retirement, his son, Tomas, was working on opening a rum distillery, and it seemed an intriguing business to the engineer, who made the leap to be in at the start of Romero Distillery. “I had worked as a process engineer, and it’s just another process. You learn the details and you optimize your process and it’s very much a science,” he says. “Tomas and I did the demolition work here, because the configuration of the space was totally different from what it is right now. It was a flooring place, and we took out the walls, we took out the ceilings, and then we were the prime contractor in the execution of the work.” Construction started in August 2018 and they completed the work in May 2019. “It was a bit of a process going through the permit process with the city, but we managed that, I thought, quite well,” he adds. “We started production in June 2019, and we opened the tasting room in September of 2019. So now we’ve been in production about 16

months, and the front has been open for about 15 months.” And what is the “bottle” he’s saving for a special occasion? “Oh, it’s not a bottle,” laughs Romero. “It’s the first cask we filled on the 12th of July, 2019.” The cask is a Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon cask, which holds 53 US gallons - 200 litres, and it’s approximately 62 percent alcohol by volume. Ultimately it will be proofed down to 40 percent alcohol, which will make 350 - 370 bottles, as some of the contents evaporate through the wood often called the “angel’s share.” “That’s why it’s important to keep the maturation room humid to reduce the loss,” explains Romero. “Some call it the devil’s share.” Ten casks were made initially, and some have already been harvested, but Romero is saving four casks - three just to allow the spirit to mature. “The first one will be saved for whichever comes first – my 90th birthday or opened at my wake!” says Romero. “The requisite in Canada for a product to be called rum is that it must be aged in wood for a minimum of 12 months. Hopefully this is aged for a few years longer than that!”

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