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Contributors

JILL THAM

Convinced she would have made a better teen in the 80s instead of the 90s, Jill’s passion for writing came after seeing the movie Stand by Me. When Jill is not moonlighting as a freelance writer, she is an Elementary teacher juggling her three children. Along with being a regular contributor to Today Magazine, Jill’s articles have been featured in Canadian Running, Pedal, Allergic Living and @OECTA. jilltham.wordpress.com @JillBT

ANDREW HIND

SHERMAN ZAVITZ

Andrew is a freelance writer specializing in travel, history and lifestyle. He has a passion for new adventure and experiences, and also for exploring little known stories. Andrew is never without a book or three in hand and some obscure historical fact at the tip of his tongue. You should follow him @discoveriesAM

A retired teacher, Sherman Zavitz has had a fascination with the history of Niagara Falls for many years. Past president of The Lundy’s Lane Historical Society and has served on the boards of The Canadian Canal Society, The Friends of Fort George and the Niagara Falls Museums. He has been recognized for his historical expertise by being appointed official historian for both the City of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and The Niagara Parks Commission.

GABRIELLE TIEMAN

ANDREA K AISER

Gabrielle is a writer with REV Publishing and holds a passion for covering travel and event pieces. She is always up for an adventure and loves meeting new people but also maintains close relationships with her Keurig and bicycle. Her favourite time of year is scarf season and she has easily watched the movie Armageddon 200 times. You should follow her @gabrielletieman

Andrea Kaiser grew up in Niagara, and is no stranger to the Ontario wine industry. You could say she was born into a life of food and wine and now shares this passion for Niagara Flavours through her writing, teaching and work. Well, we will call it work for lack of a better word.

EVAN SAVIOLIDIS Evan Saviolidis is a Wine Tasting Challenge Grand Champion, Journalist for Canada’s largest wine magazine: Quench, Instructor for The Canadian Association of Professional Sommelier, and teaches wine appreciation courses in Niagara at WineSavvy. For complete information, please visit evanwinesavvy.com.

LYNN OGRYZLO Lynn is a food, wine and travel writer, author of three international award-winning cookbooks and regular contributor to REV Publications. Lynn specializes in culinary tourism covering regional cuisine destinations, slow food, culinary holidays, wine, spirits and “la dolca vita”. She can be reached for questions or comments at lynnogryzlo.com.

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elcome to our beautiful region of the world, and welcome to the winter edition of Today Magazine: Niagara. My favourite thing to do when I visit a new city, is to hit the ground running. Explore everything! Down alleyways, around corners, up stairs…if it looks intriguing, I’m investigating it. And even though I live in Niagara, I’m still finding new places to explore. There’s always something new opening up, or somewhere old that I’ve only just heard of. If your idea of fun is the same as mine, check out some unique Niagara experiences on pages (page 18) and (page 37). Another of my favourite things to do when I’m travelling is to learn about the history of a place. I’m not talking boring fact and figures, but real anecdotes about the people who have lived, loved and died in a place. Check out the story (page 45), for the true story of some daring rescues that happened in Niagara Falls, it’s sure to give you a whole new perception of the thundering waters. Winter is a pretty beautiful time of the year here, and sure, it’s cold, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing all that Niagara has to offer. Enjoy your vacation, and have a great winter season!

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ONTENT

PUBLISHER Rev Publishing Inc. PRESIDENT & CEO Daniel A. Pasco GENERAL MANAGER Candace LeBlanc ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER Alexandra Mills BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER David Mace EDITOR Megan Pasche CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tina Lanzillotta GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Tabitha MacDonald, Rachel Bertrand, Christina Picton, Jenn Blais IT/WEB DEVELOPER Justin Soungie MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR Kaila Henderson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lynn Ogryzlo, Evan Saviolidis, Gabrielle Tieman Andrea Kaiser, Andrew Hind, Sherman Zavitz, Jill Tham TO ADVERTISE PLEASE CALL 905.356.7283 or 1.877.888.2825 WEBSITE todaymagazine.ca

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FOOD & DRINK 11 15

BAKING WITH THE MESSY BAKER Lynn Ogryzlo spends an afternoon in the kitchen with Charmian Christie.

THE YIN & THE YANG

Like bread is to butter, milk is to cookies and chips are to dip, in the world of food pairings there are those that, well, are simply just right.

18

A BOUQUET OF EXPERIENCES

23

EVAN’S WINE RATINGS

These Niagara wineries offer a plethora of experiences and insight into Niagara’s favourite beverage. If you are looking for the perfect wine to pair with dinner or a great gift for somebody, wine tasting grand champion Evan Saviolidis has broken down what wines work with what and why.

ABOUT TOWN 28

WINTER BLOOMS AT NIAGARA FLORAL SHOWHOUSE

For over 60 years visitors have come to this lush oasis, a spot of serenity just a short walk from Niagara Falls.

33 37

42

FROM PRODUCT TO EXPERIENCE

Exploring Niagara’s rich retail landscape.

ADVENTURE NIAGARA

Whatever your travel style, whether you want to spend time outdoors, challenge yourself with new adventures or just plain have fun, Niagara has got something for you.

REACH FOR THE SKY

Two high-adrenaline attractions are being added to Niagara’s diverse portfolio of ecoadventure tours this Spring 2016.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE 45

TRAGEDY AND TRIUMPH

50

NIAGARA FALLS FACTS

Tales of life and death on the Niagara. Fun and historic facts about Niagara.

HERE. SEE. DO 52 56

EVENT CALENDAR SAMPLE, SIP AND SAVOUR

During winter time, there is another ice marvel to celebrate during Niagara’s winter —Icewine, a national treasure.

Special Section 58 DESTINATION PROFILE

Things to see and do in Western New York.


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FOOD & DRINK

THE

MESSY

BAKER …is not so messy after all WRITTEN BY LYNN OGRYZLO | PHOTOS BY JON OGRYZLO

Mason jars filled with baking supplies line the shelves. She pulls one filled with white powder laced with long slivers of black and shakes vigorously, spins off the top and dives in with as much glee as a banker fanning through a stack of thousand dollar bills. “It’s my vanilla sugar, it just tastes better,” says Charmian Christie, author of my favourite baking book, The Messy Baker. Charmian lives in a beautiful, 100-year old farmhouse in Guelph. Her kitchen is filled with yellow-pine cupboards, flooded with soft light from the multi-paned windows and infused with a sense of peace from giant trees shading the

kitchen from glaring sunlight. It’s a kitchen that would inspire anyone to bake and here I am, invited to spend a day baking with the Messy Baker in her century-old, inspiring kitchen. If I were to write a cookbook about baking, I’d like to think I could write one as good as this. The recipes are simple enough to keep you relaxed in the kitchen with flavour combinations so creative they make your mouth water, seductive photographs that stir you into action and it’s crammed with so much of Charmian’s personality that it makes you feel like she’s with you baking in your kitchen. >>

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 11


Charmian pours some vanilla sugar over a twisted knot of dough; it’s her homemade pastry. She begins to roll it out. The chilled dough layered with cold, hard butter flattens easily beneath her rolling pin. It’s easy to see who’s in command. “I thought I’d make Palmiers,” she says as she feels the top of the sheet of pastry every so often, gauging the thickness like a medium studying her crystal ball. Like any other skill, “you have to practice to get good at it.” She’s making Vanilla-Scented Palmiers from her cookbook, the little ears of flaky, sweet pastry. She continues to sprinkle handfuls of vanilla sugar over the dough and roll. She shakes her foot as some of it falls to the floor. She laughs, talking about some of her baking disasters then shrugs her shoulders and says, “life is not perfect, baking is not perfect but they’re both pretty good.” When the pastry is ready, she pours more sugar over the top, running her hands over, ever so lightly to make sure it’s coated evenly. She flips the dough over and does it again until the raw dough is covered in coarse vanilla-scented sugar. Like any good baker, she’s anxious for the flavours that will materialize when the pastry and sugar bake together and she can’t wait, “I love the caramel flavour from all the baked sugar.” She trims the edges to carve a perfect rectangle shape on her large pastry board. “It’s my lucky pastry board, it was my aunt Hilda’s and now it’s mine.” She folds the pastry into a long log shape, wraps it in plastic wrap and spins around to put it in the refrigerator. It needs to chill again. The little trimmed bits go into a sandwich bag, “these are the bakers treats,” she says with glee. The Messy Baker cookbook is filled with both sweet and savoury baking, it’s for people who cook and would like to bake if only someone made it easy enough or fearless enough. “I tried to remove as many barriers to baking as possible.” Inside the book are recipes for Chili Cheese Twists and Blueberry-Lime Muffins, Smoky Mushroom Crepes and Boozy Chocolate Torte. “It’s important to make food yourself, (that way) you control what’s in it.”

She begins to clear away all the sugar and wipes down the board. Out of the refrigerator comes another knot of dough that she flattens with ease. She’s now making a leek and mushroom tart. “You can buy the puff pastry dough if you want, just make sure it’s an ‘all butter’ puff pastry. It cooks up with the best flavour,” she advises. Back to the board, Charmian is rolling the dough into another rectangular shape. She trims it to perfection, maneuvers the soft dough onto her rolling pin and maneuvers it to the centre of a parchment paper lined baking sheet. She scores the edge, about an inch all the way around. “This edge will puff up creating sides to the tart.” She pops it into the refrigerator to chill and she turns her attention to the stove. In a large skillet she melts a huge knob of butter and microplanes a garlic clove. The garlic pulp dissolves into the frothing butter and fills the air with the seductive aromas of butter and garlic. Now we’re getting hungry. As it bubbles away, in go the leeks and mushrooms and they cook until they’re both soft and firm. She seasons them with thyme, stirs one last time and tosses them into a large strainer that hovers inside an even larger bowl. She’s draining the mushrooms and leeks, “so they don’t turn the dough soggy.” “If you want to switch the vegetables up for others that you like better, go ahead,” Charmian talks while she wipes down the counters, “the toppings are up to your imagination, it’s the dough that you don’t want to mess with.” Charmian doesn’t remember when she first fell in love with baking, she thinks perhaps she was born


LIFE IS NOT PERFECT, BAKING IS NOT PERFECT BUT THEY’RE BOTH pretty good.”

with a wooden spoon in her mouth except for Charmian, the spoon was covered with cookie dough; “chocolate chip,” she declares. Some of her earliest memories were of her mom making cookies and giving her the wooden spoon to lick clean. Sadly her mom was such a good baker that the bowl was almost completely cleaned out by the time Charmian had finished the spoon and set her sights on the bowl. When she was old enough, Charmian would come home from school and bake up a batch of cookies almost every day. “I love chewy cookies, the kind that have a chewy bite. I think that’s why I love cookie dough so much,” she says, “food is memories and my fondest are of my mom and I in the kitchen baking.” The tart shell comes out of the refrigerator. She begins to top the dough with heaping spoonfuls of the mushroom and leek mixture, careful not to place any over the score line. “Think of it as colouring inside the lines,” she laughs, the edges will become the puffy sides to the tart. Lastly she grates a thick coating of Gruyere cheese over the tart before popping it back into the oven. Now comes the best part of baking: the eating. We dig into the tart and the warm cheese strings as a piece is pulled away. I sink my teeth into it and the rich savoury flavours of the earthy cheese, meaty mushrooms, sweet leeks and crisp buttery dough fill my olfactory senses with divine satisfaction. I sip on my warm mint tea and set my sights on the vanilla-scented palmiers. They’re little, the perfect size for a sweet treat. The caramelized sugar has cooled and it crunches beneath my teeth as the fine, layered pastry crumbles into buttery shards. As I chew I get that big caramelly, sweet taste that creams across my tongue and works so seductively well with the buttery, flaky dough. This is simple food, good food, food to live by. As I bask in the aromas and daylight that is Charmian’s kitchen, it appears pretty neat and tidy, certainly very clean for the amount of activity that just went on. For the messy baker I imagined a face covered in streaks of flour, open jars and canisters of baking ingredients littering every counter and smears of food from the various stages of cooking across every counter, stovetop and cupboard door. But rather than being a messy baker, Charmian is really giving everyone who has ever hesitated to bake, permission to ‘get messy in the kitchen’. TM

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 13


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yin yang

the

the

BY ANDREA KAISER

“In contrasting flavours we might pair sweet and salty or spicy and sweet. Case in point, one of the most incredible cheese pairings with a sweet and luxurious Icewine is a salty blue cheese. The yin and the yang meet to create perfect balance and harmony.” Like bread is to butter, milk is to cook cookies and chips are to dip, in the world of food pairings there are those that, well, are simply just right. But why is it that peanut butter is best with jelly and beer with pizza? I can’t imagine my chicken wings with anything but blue cheese and hello salt, where’s the pepper? But it’s not always easy to define why even the most unusual of food matches work, but when you know it, you know it, no questions asked. The same is true for food and wine pairings. Wine and cheese for example is almost always a given. The acidity and tannin in the wine combines perfectly with the lactic acids of the cheese. It’s like putting cream in your coffee or milk in your tea. Together all is right in the world, a harmony of opposites. >>

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 15


a

nd while there are no hard and fast rules for finding the yin to your yang in matching the right food to the right wine there are a few guidelines that can assist in finding your culinary Nirvana. One theory, is to match ‘like with like’. For example if you are cooking a light meat such as fish or poultry look for a light white wine such as Riesling or Pinot Grigio. Prepare it in a butter sauce and instead pair with a buttery oak aged Chardonnay that’s richer in flavour. And who can’t imagine a seared steak paired with a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon? But it’s also true that opposites attract. Two extremes can create a balance. In contrasting flavours we might pair sweet and salty or spicy and sweet. Case in point, one of the most incredible cheese pairings with a sweet and luxurious Icewine is a salty blue cheese. The yin and the yang meet to create perfect balance and harmony. And go ahead, try a sweeter Gewürztraminer next time you order in spicy Thai or Indian. You won’t be disappointed. Looking for some inspiration and a bit of adventure? Look no further than Niagara-on-the-Lake, where wineries serve up classic and sometimes unusual food pairings throughout the winter months.

In November ‘Taste the Season’ is a great motivator to start thinking about holiday entertaining. What could be more festive than sparkling wine with spiced pumpkin pie or a ripe Syrah paired with a pork terrine topped with blueberry and black pepper compote? Or maybe think outside the box and plan a meal to start with a fresh and lively Riesling matched with an authentic Thai chicken and coconut soup. January is naturally when Niagara-on-the-Lake celebrates all things Icewine and the wineries will not disappoint with sweet treats to match with nature’s naturally decadent dessert wine. The ever popular Icewine marshmallow S’mores showcase how ‘like’ flavours work well together in creating harmony in balance. However, if sweet and savoury pairings are more your style, think bacon and blue cheese. And finally in February, wineries take on one of the most challenging of food items to pair with wine by way of ‘The Days of Wine and Chocolate’. Chocolate has been touted as notoriously difficult to match due to its slightly bitter, slightly acidic nature, and its own tannins which can overpower most wines. But if we use our two guiding principles the result can be remarkably delicious. Why not try a Merlot matched with a flourless chocolate brownie or perhaps if the wine is sweeter it might pair well with a spicy chocolate chicken tortilla soup? The possibilities are endless, we only need to use our imagination. My last piece of advice, drink what you like. I drink Sparkling wine with well, everything. And there is no accounting for taste - we are all different. To make your own classic matches, start off on the traditional paths and then deviate a little, or a lot, you might find a yin to match your yang where you least expect it. TM


SHATTER THEIR EXPECTATIONS. bellaandjosh.com

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There is nothing quite like a day spent out in the vineyard. Whether it is an afternoon enjoying vintages at the tasting bar or a sunny day biking through the grapes, wineries offer a plethora of experiences and insight into Niagara’s favourite beverage. But if you have overdone the traditional how-it-is-made wine tours and are looking to experience a fresh side to the popular Niagara Region attractions, look no further than the unique experiences offered by these national winery treasures.

D I SCOV ER N I AG A R A’ S OF

U N I Q U E W I N E R Y EXPERIENCES BY GABRIELLE TIEMAN

PELLER ESTATES 10 BELOW ICEWINE LOUNGE The coolest winery tour available in Niagara, Peller Estates new 10Below Icewine Lounge has created an enhanced tour experience next to none for groups tasting Peller’s famed ice wines. As the lounge name dictates, Peller did not simply chill the room to a brisk -10 C; the 300 squarefoot lounge set to the ideal harvesting temperature for the majority of Canadian Icewines contains over 30,000 pounds of ice. The ice has been used to create many of the room’s structural components and visual design including social media hashtags, stories about ice wine and how it was all made. Guests are supplied with gloves and parkas before being treated to samplings of three of Peller’s Icewines – Vidal Blanc, Riesling and Cabernet Franc – in the ice chilled room. Though as with all ice, the room is bound to melt, Peller’s team says they will use this one year life span to give the lounge a fresh new look annually. The lounge is quickly becoming the most popular component of Peller’s Complete Greatest Winery Tour package, allowing international guests visiting during Niagara’s warmer months to experience the winter harvest season. The Greatest Winery Tour leaves every 30 minutes between 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and costs $15 dollars. The room can accommodate up to 20 people but tours are currently limited to 15 people at a time. peller.com. >>


TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 19


SOUTHBROOK WINERY’S BIODYNAMIC VINEYARD Green enthusiasts and wine lovers alike will find their home at the contemporary Southbrook Winery. The winery has set out to prove that green initiatives can work in an Ontario vineyard; harnessing both organic and biodynamic viticulture to build great wines that are a true reflection of Niagara soil, water and ecosystems. Today, Southbrook’s 150 acre property is considered 100 per cent organic. From the sheep that graze amongst the grapes to the grapes themselves, the winery has proven that the principles of organic agriculture – using natural inputs, less water, less energy and no chemicals or genetic modification – can produce an incredible biodiversity of agriculture and improve the overall health of their natural property. But it’s not only Southbrook’s acreage that is green; their winery and hospitality pavilion became the first winery building to receive the Gold level of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the Canada Green Building Council. Their floor-to-ceiling double-glazed windows provide natural light and control temperature transfer, indoor water usage is controlled with automatic and low-flow fixtures and native wetland plants have been added to help break down pollution from storm water draining off the parking lots – and these are only a few to be named. Southbrook offers a number of tours that help groups truly appreciate the lengths they have undergone to minimalize their carbon footprint. Their “What’s the Buzz” tour has guests walk the property and learn about organic and biodynamic Viticulture and Viniculture; Earthly Infused Food Pairings have guests enjoy a wine and tapas style food pairing and see first-hand how different Biodynamic ingredients find their way onto the plate. southbrook.com

JACKSON-TRIGGS BARREL CELLAR & MODERN ARCHITECTURE At the world renowned Jackson-Triggs winery, great wines and food are not the only delights served to guests. Known for being one of Canada’s most architecturally stunning wineries, Jackson-Triggs unique perspective on modern day architecture is the perfect juxtaposition against the natural beauty of Niagara’s vineyard based landscape. Jackson-Triggs’ Essential Tour and Tasting experience is the answer for individuals looking to consume every aspect of the vineyard and winery in a single day. Guests are given an all-encompassing tour of the vineyards, state-of-the-art production facility, impressive outdoor amphitheatre and traditional underground Barrel Cellar. Discover the story of their wines and the inspiration behind their architectural concepts and design – all while being educated on their wine making process and creative methods. The Barrel Cellar, a particularly impressive portion of the tour, is one of the more traditional aspects of Jackson-Triggs. The private underground wine cellar is the perfect backdrop for wine tastings, food pairing events and is available for private rental ideal for dinner parties and intimate gatherings. jacksontriggswinery.com


THE GOOD EARTH FOOD AND WINE COMPANY’S COOKING SCHOOL One of Niagara’s original farm to table influenced kitchens, The Good Earth Food and Wine Company uses only the freshest ingredients in everything they make; utilizing primarily homegrown ingredients. Helping feed Niagara since 1998, Good Earth Food and Wine Company has made it their mission to insure Niagara embraces their local bounty once they have left the company’s dining room and returned to their own kitchen; Offering interactive demonstrative cooking classes for both locals and tourists looking to sharpen up their knife skills and add to their recipe books. Chefs focus on an ever evolving array of culinary genres, recipes and menu styles – from traditional Korean bibimbap to gourmet meals made from every day garden bounty. No two classes are the same and all offer an interesting new take on homegrown food for chefs returning for more than one class. Classes are held either in the indoors or outside in the al fresco kitchen surrounded by orchards and cooks are able to take their finished product home with them post class to enjoy and brag over. Culinary classes evolve with the seasons and award-winning guest chefs are known for paying a visit to the Good Earth kitchen. Classes have included three course cooking demos on Korean Seoul Food Weekend – a celebration of Korean food and Niagara bounty – with acclaimed chef and author Sang Kim; Bite Size Brilliance classes arrive just in time for the holiday season, focused on the perfect finger food for your next cocktail party. Each culinary class varies in size, price and length so make sure to visit their website when choosing a class to attend. goodearthfoodandwine.com.

CAVE SPRING’S OLDEST FUNCTIONING WINE CELLARS Dating back to 1871, Cave Spring’s historic winery casts an old school perspective on today’s modern wine industry – boasting the oldest functioning wine cellars in all of Ontario and representing some of Niagara's oldest viniferous plantings — including Chardonnay and Riesling. Though the winery was founded in 1986 by the Pennachetti family and winemaker Angelo Pavan in the historic former Jordan Winery, the cellars date back much further into wine making history. Nestled on the terrace of the Niagara Escarpment along the Beamsville Bench, Cave Spring’s has become renowned for not only their wines, but for their appreciation of the Niagara Region and the history ingrained in their property – their bottles labeled with 'Estate Bottled’ designation contain 100 percent fruit grown at Cave Spring Vineyard. Cave Spring offers a number of tours and tastings for groups looking to experience the winery at length. Designed to be both fun and informative, the tours focus on a number of topics, from food pairings to cool climate wine making. Daily drop in tours are available during the summer months as well as by appointment cellar tour and tasting packages that are ideal for groups. cavespring.ca TM

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EVAN’S BY EVAN SAVIOLIDIS

W

ine Tasting Grand Champion, Evan Saviolidis has over 30 years of experience in the food and wine industry, and here he rates some of the best wines in the Niagara area. If you are looking for the perfect wine to pair with dinner or a great gift for somebody, read on for a breakdown of what wines work with what and why. >>

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92

HENRY OF PELHAM SPECK FAMILY RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2013 WHITE SHORT HILLS BENCH | $29.95 Made from yields of two tonnes per acre and fermented in French oak, this beauty is elegant and concentrated. It reveals a multi-dimensional personality of toast, honey, apple, sweet peach, pineapple, banana, hazelnut, mineral and caper berry. Lobster or crab served with warm butter was made for this wine. (ES)

91

WHITE

COYOTE’S RUN RARE VINTAGE CHARDONNAY 2014 FOUR MILE CREEK | $24.95

If you are a lover of great Chardonnay, this is one that should not be missed. Medium to full-bodied, it is ripe with peach, cream, baked apple, pineapple, spice and lilac on the nose. On the palate, cream, vanilla, banana and minerals add dimension. Long finish, fresh acid and superb length make for a brilliant pairing with lobster or poultry. (ES)

91

WHITE

HIDDEN BENCH CHARDONNAY FELSECK VINEYARD 2012 BEAMSVILLE BENCH | $38

A pale gold colour leads into aromas of peach, orange rind, vanilla cream, banana, red apple, oregano and spice. Concentrated, ripe and elegant, the palete shows more spice and cream, with sound acidity framing everything quite nicely. (ES)

91

WHITE

CHARLES BAKER RIESLING IVAN VINEYARD 2014 TWENTY MILE BENCH | $27

Charles Baker continues to produce some of Niagara’s most profound Rieslings. This vintage is leaner but still possesses great persistency. Pale straw with a green tinge, the bergamot, white peach, lime zest, honey and lilac on the nose meet up with apple, pear and huge minerality on the palate. Long finish with zesty acid and slightly off-dry. I dream about Choucroute garnie with this beauty! (ES)

90

SOUTHBROOK ESTATE GROWN SMALL LOT WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2012 WHITE FOUR MILE CREEK | $34.95 Only seven barrels of this impressive Chardonnay were produced. A medium golden colour leads into a layered bouquet of coconut, butter cookies, honey, anise, golden apple, Bosc pear and white flower. On the palate, it is all about minerality, citrus, spice, toast and green apple melding with high acidity and a long aftertaste. Pair with grilled salmon topped with a herb cream sauce. (ES)

95–100 . . . . . . OUTSTANDING 90–94 . . . . . . . EXCELLENT 85–89 . . . . . . . VERY GOOD 80–84 . . . . . . . GOOD 75–79 . . . . . . . DRINKABLE 74 & UNDER . . BELOW AVERAGE

90

WHITE

COYOTE’S RUN RARE VINTAGE LATE HARVEST PINOT GRIS FOUR MILE CREEK | $24.95

Made in the style of an Alsatian Vendanges Tardives, this Pinot Gris is medium sweet with 50 g/l of residual sugar. That said, the concentration and lowish acidity combine with the sweetness to give the impression of something that is sweeter. Full bodied, there is enormous peach, honey, cream spice, red apple and cream. Drink with a foie gras appetizer or munster (or other wash rind cheeses) after a meal. (ES)


90

WHITE

FLAT ROCK CELLARS RIESLING 2014 TWENTY MILE BENCH | $17.15

Gold Medal winner in the Semi-Dry Riesling category at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards. An explosive bouquet of peach, honey, mandarin, bergamot, lime and mineral beguiles. The crisp acidity is held in check by some residual sugar, but for all intents and purposes, it comes across as a dry wine. All I kept thinking about when drinking this wine was a huge plate of sushi and sashimi. (ES)

Established 1982

Family Estate

90

THIRTY BENCH WINERY SMALL LOT RIESLING TRIANGLE VINEYARD 2013 WHITE BEAMSVILLE BENCH | $30 From a vineyard planted in 1981, comes this redolent Riesling full of bergamot, kaffir lime, white peach, petrol and smokey minerals. The tension between acid and slight residual sugar is beautiful. The long finale will ensure a decade or more of life ahead. Red snapper in a red curry/peanut sauce or chicken satay will be magical with this wine. (ES)

90

WHITE

BIG HEAD WINES CHENIN BLANC 2013 NIAGARA | $22

For me, this is the best Chenin Blanc being made in Ontario. Naturally fermented, the lovely balance between the acidity and sweetness supports the lemon, lime, honey, peach, apple juice, pineapple, honey and minerals. Excellent length. Try with an ashed goat cheese. (ES)

89

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PALATINE HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC NEUFELD VINEYARD 2014 NIAGARA LAKESHORE | $18

Partially barrel fermented, this Sauvignon Blanc gushes gooseberry, passion fruit, tomato vine, fruit salad, herbs and vanilla on the nose. On the palate, peach, citrus and honey chime in. Long finish with vibrant acidity and a touch of sweetness makes for a superb pairing with crab cakes or pasta primavera topped with feta cheese. (ES)

89

WHITE

WESTCOTT VINEYARDS ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 VINEMOUNT RIDGE | $26

Toast, peach, honey, anise, baked apple, pineapple and smoke weave together on the nose in this mid-weight white. The palate reveals a creamy texture with a spine of minerality and great length. Cream based dishes are perfectly suited for this wine. (ES)

88

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PALATINE HILLS RIESLING 2014 NIAGARA LAKESHORE | $13

If you are a Riesling lover, you should run to pick up this steal of a deal. Peach, lime, honey, bergamot, grapefruit and white flowers inundate the senses. Off-dry with tangy acidity and great length. (ES)

87

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COLIO LILY SPARKLING WINE NV ONTARIO | $16.95

A new classy label has been created for this stalwart Ontario bubbly. Winner of a silver medal at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards. Made from 100% Riesling and off-dry, it features baked apple, peach, citrus and minerals. Perfect with spicy appetizers or coconut shrimp. (ES) >>

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94 RED

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR GRAN Q 2010 NIAGARA | $150

The name of this wine is a tip of the hat to the famed Amarone producer Guiseppe Quintarelli, whose wines were the reference point for Len Crispino, when he decided to start the Foreign Affair a decade ago. The grapes for this 17%+ alcohol monster were dried for three months before being pressed. It possesses the texture of syrup, and a sexy profile of plum, dried olives, maraschino cherries, anise, mint, milk chocolate and vanilla. Yes, the price is out of reach for most of us mere mortals, but this is a singular wine, which will continue to evolve for the next 15 to 20 years - and I have never said that about Ontario red before! Serious meditation wine here! (ES)

90 RED

93 RED

STRATUS RED 2012 NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE | $44

Quite possibly the best Stratus Red to date! A saturated ruby colour leads into a complex mix of blackberry, cassis, raspberry, cocoa, coconut, vanilla, violets, mint and pepper/anise. It is concentrated and long lasting with sweet fruit on the mid-palate before the firm, dry tannins make an appearance. Hold for four years and then drink until 2025, preferably with a NY strip. A blend of all three Bordeaux varietals plus a smidge of Tannat. (ES)

91 RED

TRIUS SHOWCASE EAST BLOCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012, FOUR MILE CREEK | $45

In all my years of evaluating wine professionally, I have never seen an Ontario Cabernet Sauvignon with such a saturated/black colour. Then again, 2012 was an exceptional vintage for reds. This gold medal winner at this year’s Ontario Wine Award is full bodied with a personality of crème de cassis, raspberry, herbs, mint, dried earth, spice and dried cocoa. The remarkable length and ripe tannins will ensure a decade of positive evolution. (ES)

91 RED

THIRTY BENCH SMALL LOT BENCHMARK RED 2012 BEAMSVILLE BENCH | $60

This 14% plus alcohol Meritage is smooth and concentrated with loads of plum, vanilla, raspberry, dark cherry, mint, chocolate, vanilla. The palate is rich with a long finish and a tannic backbone. Hold for a year and then drink until 2023. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. (ES)

91 RED

THE FOREIGN AFFAIR DREAM 2012 NIAGARA | $29.95

This appassimento-style blend of 33% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot is truly impressive. Clocking in at 14.7% alcohol, it sings with chocolate, blackberry, kirsch, violets, dark cherry, prunes and a hint of rubber. Full-bodied, with some residual sugar, the wine is already approachable, but will handle another 5 to 6 years in the cellar. (ES)

91 RED

MARYNISSEN ESTATES CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 NIAGARA | $55/375ML

This Icewine busts out a perfume of strawberry, raspberry, guava, cassis, vanilla and herbs. On the tongue, it is pure essence of berry with a succulent aftertaste. Chocolate fondue all the way. (ES)

KACABA VINEYARDS MERLOT RESERVE 2010 NIAGARA ESCARPMENT | $44.95

Gold Medal winner in the Merlot category at the Ontario Wine Awards - and it is easy to see why! Medium to full body, a perfume of coffee, violets, blackberries, plum, spice, chocolate, roasted nuts and roasted herbs meets up with raspberry and smoked qualities on the palate. Great length and ready to drink now. (ES)

90 RED

VINELAND ESTATES WINERY CABERNET FRANC RESERVE 2012 NIAGARA | $40

Full bodied with lots of smokey tobacco, cassis, vanilla, violets, raspberry, herbs, cocoa and spice. Excellent length and lots of ripe tannins will ensure eight years of positive evolution. Pair with a NY strip topped with an herb demi-glace. (ES)

89 RED

MARYNISSEN ESTATES PLATINUM SERIES SYRAH 2013 FOUR MILE CREEK | $35

An impressive Syrah which was harvested at a paltry one ton per acre. Smoke, plum, dark cherry, raspberry, cassis, black pepper, vanilla and oregano on the nose meet up with purple flowers and graphite on the taste buds. Soft texture with a vibrant personality and long finale. (ES)

89 RED

MALIVOIRE WINE GAMAY 2014 NIAGARA | $17.95

Wowser- delicious Gamay alert! Juicy, yet concentrated, the raspberry cream, strawberry, dried herbs, and white pepper are just magic in the glass. With all of its upfront flash, it is ready to drink with pasta or pizza. (ES)

88 RED

REDSTONE WINERY MERLOT REDSTONE VINEYARD 2011 LINCOLN LAKESHORE | $39.95

Plum, smoke, chocolate chip cookie dough, raspberry, vanilla, dried earth and carnations are all present in the soft and alluring Merlot. Mid-weight, with great length and suave tannins make for immediate accessibility. (ES)

88 RED

CAVE SPRING CABERNET FRANC 2013 NIAGARA ESCARPMENT | $19.95

From a cool vintage, this wine achieved an impressive natural alcohol of 14.5%. A combination of cassis, raspberry, fresh herbs/mint, smoke, vanilla and anise are featured. On the attack, the initial perception is that of sweet/ripe fruit, before turning elegant, and finishing with finegrained tannins. Drink over the next three to four years. (ES) TM


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about TOWN

Blooms WINTER AT NIAGARA FLORAL SHOWHOUSE BY ANDREW HIND

In the summer, the Niagara Floral Showhouse is surrounded by extensive rose gardens, a stunning water feature embellished by water lilies, and a fragrance garden where plants are identified in Braille for people who are visually impaired. It’s a stunning display of floral brilliance. But just because summer gives way to winter, frost chills the air and a blanket of snow covers the ground doesn’t mean the Floral Showhouse is any less vibrant. The colours just move inside for a series of spectacular floral shows that fill the gap until the blissful warmth of summer returns. For over 60 years visitors have come to this lush oasis, a spot of serenity just a short walk from Niagara Falls. Collections of orchids, succulents and other tropical plant species are on display throughout the year, while tropical birds flitter to-and-fro amongst the greenery, chirping merrily as you admire the exotic cultivars.>>

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“There’s always something new in bloom to keep things fresh and interesting,” explains Joan Cornelius, Manager of the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse. “We have a series of eight showcases over the year timed to change with the seasons, but our winter and spring events are some of our most popular. They represent a dose of cheer while the rest of Niagara Parks’ extensive gardens are covered in snow.” The first of the winter and spring events is the chrysanthemum showcase, running from October through November. “It’s one of our strongest shows but it comes at a time of year that’s quieter in Niagara Falls so it’s perhaps not as well-known as the others, which is a shame because it’s spectacular,” says Cornelius. The mums on display aren’t the hardy mums one sees in garden centres in the autumn. Instead, they are delightfully bright perennial mums, providing one last welcome dose of summer before the skies turn grey for the winter. There are brilliant pinks, lavenders and whites in one display, and in the other—an homage to autumn— yellows, bronze and shades of oranges. The showy mums are a combination of cascading varieties in baskets (trimmed to grow down instead of their natural direction, up towards the light), bush varieties standing as much as three feet tall, and stately exhibition mums, single stems topped by a lone bloom measuring as much as 8” in diameter. With the exception of the Christmas tree itself, perhaps no plant is more representative of the yuletide season than the poinsettia. A native of Mexico that can grow as much as three meters tall in the wild, it became attached to the holiday through the legend of an impoverished young girl walking to church on Christmas Eve, ashamed she had nothing but weeds to give baby Jesus. Moved by the child’s piety, Jesus miraculously transformed the weeds into beautiful blooms, known forever after as Flores de Noche Buena, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’. The legend and the flower were brought back to the United States in the 19th century by Joel Poinsett, American ambassador to Mexico. Soon, the poinsettia became as much a part of the North America holiday season as it has traditionally been in Mexico.

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW IN BLOOM TO KEEP THINGS FRESH & INTERESTING

It should come as no surprise, then, that the poinsettia forms the backbone of the Niagara Floral Showhouse’s Christmas showcase. There are as many as 1,000 poinsettias emblazoning the greenhouses in festive colours—the traditional reds and whites of course, but also purples and pinks and other, more exotic shades. In addition to unusual colours, there are also unusual varieties on display, such as double-red and curly bloomed, as well as spectacular exhibition poinsettias with a single bloom atop a long stem. Mixed among the poinsettias are other holiday flowers like cyclamen, narcissus, paperwhites, and Christmas cactus. “The highlight of the display is a massive Christmas tree made up of 150 poinsettias. It’s towering and full of Christmas cheer,” says Cornelius. “We’re also excited to be adding something new this year. We acquired the collection of Cullen Gardens Miniature Village and we will be adding some of these buildings, lit-up and in little scenes, to the displays for Christmas.” The Christmas Showcase is my favourite. You’ll undoubtedly find yourself cheerily humming a Bing Crosby song before long, and will leave with those familiar warm embers—the kind that only come around once a year—in your stomach. Take time out from wrapping and decorating to experience this holiday tradition.


Spring comes early at Niagara Floral Showhouse, thanks to garden party that is the Spring Show. The stars of the show are forced mixed bulbs that have come to represent spring—tulips and daffodils—as well as forced spring-blooming shrubs, such as rhododendrons bursting with big-pedaled flowers. “It’s a kaleidoscope of colours, essentially a mixed garden look that builds anticipation for the coming spring. It’s also ever-changing because bulbs are short-lived and require replacement all the time. From week to week the show is changed and re-imagined a bit,” explains Cornelius, explaining that the show runs through April with a brief interruption for the Easter Show. Just as poinsettias have come to symbolize Christmas and form the foundation of the Christmas Show, so too has Lilium longiflorum become synonymous with Easter and serves as the core of Niagara Floral Showhouse’s Easter Showcase. Better known as the Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum has long been associated with the spring holiday. According to legend, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, some of these beautiful flowers were suddenly found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went to pray the night before his crucifixion. It’s said that these flowers took seed where drops of Jesus’ sweat fell to the ground as he prayed, and suddenly sprouted when Jesus was resurrected. As a result, the flower adorns churches at Easter. Easter lilies also add serene beauty to the Niagara Greenhouses from Palm Sunday for three weeks through to Easter weekend. “It’s a beautiful display, with Easter lilies forming a giant cross in honour of the holiday,” explains Cornelius. “This used to be our most popular event, but times have changed and in the 30-years that I’ve been here I’ve see attendance drop a bit. People are busy this time of year and in general less religious, but it’s a shame because this really is a special tradition.” Rounding out the spring season is the May Hydrangea showcase. As one would expect, the display is dominated by dozens of rhododendrons bursting in whites, pinks and blues and the heady aroma of this shrub in full-bloom. Somewhat unconventional are the hydrangeas in massive hanging baskets measuring 5-feet across, on which the tropical birds roost and sing merrily. Adding vertical interest are masses of forced delphiniums and foxglove. “This is my favourite show. It just screams spring—soon, the gardens of Niagara Parks will be in full bloom—and is so unique,” she enthuses. Another spring attraction at Niagara Floral Showhouse is the pending bloom of Titan Arum, a giant among plants. A native of the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra, Titan Arum is the largest flower in the world: the corm (essentially a tuber from which it grows) can weigh as much as 100kg (225 pounds), and the behemoth flower produced can reach up to 3 metres (10 feet) in height. The flower has to be large to produce enough scent to attract nighttime pollinators. Those expecting the pleasing aroma of a rose or lilac will be disappointed, however; Titan Arum smells like rotting flesh to attract pollinating flies and carrion beetles. Unlike most flowers that bloom annually, Titan Arum can take years upon years to bloom, and then only for a single day or so. Niagara Floral Showhouse has several of these showstoppers, and can boast of hosting the first and second blooms when two bloomed in April 2012. Two others are expected to bloom sometime in the spring of 2016 (progress and expected bloom dates will be updated on the Floral Showhouse blog). “It’s probably the most exciting botanical event in the world,” says Cornelius simply, “there’s nothing else like it.” Even as the weather outside is grey and dreary, wind chilling you to the bone and frost hanging off of every breath, Niagara Floral Showhouse remains bursting with vibrancy. Like an oasis of colour in a desert of snow and cold, it’s a welcome reprieve from the long winter months and through its ever-changing showcases offers a window into spectacular botanical worlds. The greenhouse casts an enchanting spell, compelling you to visit each month to see what’s blooming. TM

JUST THE FACTS: NIAGARA FLORAL SHOWHOUSE ADMISSION: $5.00 plus tax (13+years) $3.75 plus tax (children) Seasons passes are available so you can enjoy the changing displays all year long HOURS: 9:30 to 5 most days (last ticket sold 30 minutes before closing) LOCATION: 7145 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls PHONE: 905-353-1721 WEB: niagaraparks.com/niagara-falls-attractions/floral-showhouse.html TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 31


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PRODUCT EXPERIENCE EXPLORING NIAGARA’S to

RICH RETAIL LANDSCAPE BY GABRIELLE TIEMAN

Niagara houses a diverse collection of shopping districts unlike any typical home town mall. Each offering a unique shopping experience, these one-of-a-kind plazas, shopping centres and heritage streets can simultaneously cater to the frugal shoppers in your group and the ones looking to splurge while away from home. Bring a little bit of Niagara back with you when you leave! OUTLET COLLECTION AT NIAGARA 300 Taylor Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake

Unique Characteristics: Canada’s Largest Open Air Fashion Outlet Canada’s largest open air fashion and lifestyle outlet centre the Outlet Collection at Niagara is a destination within a destination. Offering fashions as breathtaking as the Niagara sites, this unique shopping hot spot is one of the most exciting shopping destinations in the region. “We offer a completely different experience than a traditional mall,” said Carly Rupcic, Tourism Manager at Outlet Collection at Niagara. “The beautiful environment really has set us apart. We have put a large focus on making this a really beautiful atmosphere to not only shop in but visit and spend a day; because when people visit Niagara they don’t want to be cooped up inside. >>

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“We have gorgeous gardens and beautiful spaces where people can come and enjoy a real community like setting which is a lot different from an average mall,” said Rupcic. “We have live music on weekends, special events and celebrations and giveaways. We want our customers to be surprised and delighted while they are here.” Encouraging travelers to shop local, the Outlet Collection has created a shopping haven that hosts a variety of stores unique to the Region that are anything but ordinary. Offering new outlets alongside mall favourites like Lululemon, Bass Pro Shop, Davids Tea, White House Black Market and Chicos to name a few. New in Spring 2016, the Outlet Collection will welcome one of the first Sacs Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores in Canada to their block. The Outlet also plays homage to the Niagara wine region they reside in, hosting unique wine retailer Wine Country Vintners and two wine barrel walls created by barrels donated by local wineries.

Heritage District Niagara-on-the-Lake Queen Street & Surrounding Nooks of Niagara-on-the-Lake Unique Characteristics: Heritage Buildings, Hidden Treasures & One-on-One Passionate Service Discover hidden treasures and unexpected delights within the winding shop filled streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake. From everyday musthaves to those once-in-a-lifetime special finds, the walkable heritage district of Niagara-on-the-Lake is sure to offer a shopping experience unlike any other. A central part of the fabric of the Niagara community, Landmark Shops of Niagara-on-the-Lake – a small group of shop owners committed to bettering the community as a unit – have come together to help reinforce the importance of working together in the region. Not only do the Landmark Shops of Niagara-on-the-Lake sell unique Niagara centric products, but offer shoppers a personal and educating shopping experience.

“The majority of the shops are individually owned and operated by people with great passion for what they do,” said Janice Thomson, Executive Director at Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce & VCB. “They make shopping a really different experience than you would get from anywhere else.” “That’s what sets us apart; people are passionate about what they are doing and care about giving good service,” said Thomson. Shops you must not miss include culinary connoisseurs Cheese Secrets, the timeless Beau Chapeau Hat Shop, Niagara-on-the-Lake Jewellers and Precious Metal Studio and more. All are individually owned and operated by active members of the community who are committed to honing their crafts, understanding their products and contributing individual service and a true interest in their customers. “The owners of these stores are from the community and have ties to the area,” said Thomson. “The people working at the stores and running the businesses have a great knowledge of the region and the attractions offered. They have seen the Shaw shows, they have been to the wineries, and they are happy to lend advice to visitors.”

Canada One Brand Name Outlets 7500 Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls Unique Characteristics: 100% wheelchair accessible & Canadian Brands and Products A unique fresh air shopping experience, Canada One Outlets features over 50 of the finest retailers in the Niagara Region – including a number of Canadian exclusive brands and products. This exclusive variety of stores includes shoe and bag retailer Stance – distributor of Canadian brand Herschel Supply Company, a bag and accessories retailer –as well as timeless designer brand outlets including Roots, Coach and Nine West to name a few. Also new to the outdoor pavilion is Wicker Emporium – a wooden furniture and home décor store. Promoting an easily accessible shopping experience for all, Canada One Outlets has separated itself from competitors by creating an

That’s what sets us apart; people are passionate about what they are doing and care about giving good service.


entirely wheel-chair and elderly accessible outdoor shopping centre for all to enjoy. “It is really a mall that is easy to shop,” said Marjorie Ruddy, Marketing Manager at Canada One Brand Name Outlets. “It is outside, it’s not that large; you can park right in front of every store and just run right in. All curbs are rounded. It’s not like you’re parking in front of a mall entrance and then have to navigate. It is very accessible to everyone.” Along with its easy to navigate design, Ruddy says designers focused on creating an airy, outdoor space for allowing shoppers to enjoy the fresh air while partaking in their favourite pastime. “With the wonderful weather that Niagara enjoys, you never want to be stuck inside a stuffy mall,” said Ruddy. “We have something that traditional malls just don’t have: you can enjoy the fresh air as you shop.”

The Galleria Shops at Fallsview Casino 6380 Fallsview Boulevard, Niagara Falls Unique Characteristics: Chic boutiques & glass walkways connected to nearby hotels Staying downtown and feeling the urge for some immediate retail therapy? The inviting and vibrant corridors of The Galleria Shops & Dining offer dozens of exclusive boutiques right next door to the world class Fallsview Casino. Filled with the latest styles, accessories, fine arts, unique Niagara gifts and collectibles, the Galleria is the perfect escape for shoppers uninterested in the casino but hoping to stay nearby while their colleagues enjoy the slots. The eclectic assortment of boutiques and specialty shops found within the Galleria’s halls include Canadian designer focused retailer Tango Boutique, specialty jeweler Vivah, innovative skin care retailer Face Shop and international jewelry designer and Pandora carrier Presents. In between can be found Niagara exclusive gift shops and retailers the Pepper Palace, featuring over 1650 hot sauces, condiments, dry seasonings and gifts, Christmas in Niagara, a year-long Christmas themed boutique and the Great Estates of Niagara Wine Store. The Galleria also offers all the services you need including hair stylists and a Currency Exchange Centre for your convenience. Connected by indoor tunnel and walkway to a number of nearby hotels – including the Four Points by Sheraton and Hilton Hotel and Suites – there is no need to battle the elements while getting your shopping fix.

Niagara Duty Free Shops 5726 Falls Ave Niagara Falls Unique Characteristics: The lowest prices of any Duty Free in Canada The Rainbow Bridge border is no longer solely a passing through point on your journey’s map. Travelers are now adding the unique Duty Free to their schedule of must visit shopping outlets while in Niagara Falls. The newly renovated store located on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls not only offers breathtaking views of both the Canadian and American Falls while you shop, but also guarantees the lowest Duty Free prices in Canada; saving shoppers up to 50 per cent on brand name products, alcohol, designer labels imported gifts, attraction tickets and souvenirs. Apart from the huge savings on brand name alcohol, beer and wine, shoppers can even indulge in products exclusive to the Duty Free including: limited edition vintages from Belvedere Vodka, Macallan Whiskey and Highland Park. Make sure to check the Duty Free website for cross border shopping information and regulations. TM TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 35


SAVE MONEY.

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ADVENTURE

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NIAGARA EXPLORE. THINK. PL AY. Whatever your travel style, be it wanting to spend time outdoors, challenging yourself with new adventures or plain having fun (or a mixture of all these), Niagara has got something for you. From our plentiful nature trails to the crazy Clifton Hill, you won’t ever run out of things to do during your vacation here. >>

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THE ACTIVE TRAVELLER CROSS COUNTRY SKIING/SNOWSHOEING Niagara is full of amazing places to get outside and explore, especially on foot (or, well, at least with something strapped to your foot) We are lucky to have conservation areas filled with walkways and wildlife, scenic skiing trails, and tons of paths that snake and meander through some of the best scenery this province has to offer. Your best bet is probably to bring your own equipment if possible, but if not, check out Ski Pro Shop in St .Catharines (skiproshop.com) for information on rentals. There are daily, weekend, monthly and seasonal rentals available.

WHERE TO GO: BRUCE TRAIL

SHORT HILLS PROVINCIAL PARK GOOD FOR: Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing Short Hills is a huge 735-acre natural environment park, which covers parts of St. Catharines, Pelham and Thorold. It’s a great place for winter activities, and trails are marked according to which activity is permitted on the trail. This is an area where it is extremely important to stay on the marked path, as it’s very easy to get lost in Short Hills (I speak from experience; I have had to be rescued not once, but twice from Short Hills. I didn’t even knowingly leave the marked path, so fellow directionally challenged people beware) Parking is available off Pelham, Roland and Wiley Roads.

GOOD FOR: Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing

BALL’S FALLS

This is Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, and the Niagara portion of it stretches from Queenston to Beamsville. Planned hikes are available on pre determined days, or you can hike solo whenever you want. Badges are given if you register and then complete the entire Niagara section of the trail. If you are extremely ambitious, you can sign up to hike the entire trail from end to end. To put it in perspective, if you hiked for eight hours a day, it would take approximately 30 days to finish the entire trail. There is no set time limit for doing an end-to-end hike, you could take thirty days or thirty years, and either way, you still get the coveted badge at the end. Maps are available online from the Bruce Trail Conservancy.

This beautiful area set in Twenty Valley got its name from the family that originally lived there. In addition to being able to see the original home, restored church, an operating flour mill, a lime kiln, a black smith shop and carriage shed, there is also a recently opened Centre for Conservation, which has many interactive exhibits and programs. Several trails run through the area, and maps are available online, which will lead you to the various points of interest, as well as the upper and lower falls.

GOOD FOR: Snowshoeing


NIAGARA RIVER PARKWAY TRAIL GOOD FOR: Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing This is a beautiful 56-kilometre bike path that links Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie. It’s fairly straight and it runs parallel to the Niagara River, and passes some beautiful sights along the way, including numerous points of interest for tourists, such as the Floral Clock, Fort George and the Butterfly Conservatory.

FRIENDSHIP TRAIL GOOD FOR: Snowshoeing This path runs sixteen kilometres across Fort Erie, and winds through farmland, villages, watersheds and residential areas. Parking is available on Ridge Road, Crescent Road, and Lakeshore Road.

WATERFRONT TRAIL GOOD FOR: Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing The Waterfront Trail stretches from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Quebec, following the shores of Lake Ontario. The Niagara portion begins in Niagara-on-the-Lake and goes through St. Catharines, Lincoln and Grimsby. The trail varies between off road paths and streets in residential neighbourhoods. It is a multi use trail and is good for various winter activities. Trail maps are available online from the Waterfront Trail official website.

GREATER NIAGARA CIRCLE ROUTE GOOD FOR: Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing This multi-use, paved trail makes its way through Niagara, linking Lakes Erie and Ontario, as well as the Welland Canal with the Niagara River. It passes through historic Port Colborne, where in addition to historic sites, you will pass various shops, attractions and restaurants. >>

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THE STRATEGIST ESCAPE ROOMS The popularity of escape rooms in Niagara only continues to grow, and luckily for us here in Niagara (and those visiting), we are home to some pretty great escape ones. These games are real life interactive puzzles that you and your team work to solve so you can escape the room in under an hour. Each room usually has a story or a theme involved as you work your way through the game in stages.

ESCAPE ROOM NIAGARA FALLS This place has a fairly constant rotation of different games. They are located in Downtown Niagara Falls. Some of their past games have included:” The Attic”, “Backstage”, “The Bunker”, and “The Castle”. There are not any scary elements in this game and they are suitable for children as well, ages 8 and up. Visit their website escaperoom.ca

ADVENTURE ROOMS This place is also located in Downtown Niagara Falls. It is the same basic premise: solve puzzles, escape the room, but with a different story. Their current game is called “The Missing Finger”. This group has a 20% escape rate and is suitable for ages 8 to 77. It doesn’t contain any horror elements, and like the other games, it is designed to make you think, and challenge you. Check out their website at adventurerooms.ca


THE HOUR This is the only escape room in St. Catharines and is located in downtown St. Catharines. They have four different games going on, all with very different themes and stories. Currently, the games are: Emma’s Disappearance, Jailbreak, Mutiny At the Hour and The Lost Ones. More info at the hourstcatharines.com

FUN SEEKER NIAGARA FALLS FUN ZONE Their Galaxy Guest Laser Tag arena is a 2000 square foot space with a space battle theme. It allows for a great way to have fun with friends or family when you are on vacation. More info at niagarafallsfunzone.com

CLIFTON HILL If it’s fun you are looking for, then look no further than Niagara Fall’s “Street of Fun”, Clifton Hill! The carnival like atmosphere appeals to the kid in all of us, and it is full of arcades, rides, fun houses, haunted houses, mini golf, gift shops, restaurants, bars and more. If it’s late night entertainment and dancing you seek, you’ll find somewhere on Clifton Hill to party all night. A Clifton Hill Fun Pass is available for purchase on cliftonhill.com and you can receive a discount by purchasing the tickets online in advance.

LASER TAG

rmnoa357 / Shutterstock.com

If you want to feel like a kid again (or if you have kids you need to entertain), why not sign up for a exciting game of laser tag? It’s not just about running around the room, shooting people with lasers, it’s about defending your base and coming up with a strategy to win. You can form alliances, you can play with a team, but the main objective: be the last man or team standing.

ZAP ZONE NIAGARA This place is located in downtown Niagara Falls, and is played in a 2500 square foot arena. It’s dark, smoke swirls, lights flash, and music plays. It’s some of the most fun you’ll have on your vacation. Visit their website at zapzoneniagara.com. TM


REACH FOR THE

WILDPLAY NIAGARA FALLS BY GABRIELLE TIEMAN Two high-adrenaline attractions are being added to Niagara’s diverse portfolio of eco-adventure tours this Spring. The world class Zip Line experience and Aerial Adventure Courses will captivate both the young and young at heart when visiting Niagara’s entertainment district. Brought to life by WildPlay Niagara Falls in partnership with the Niagara Parks Commission, both aerial attractions promise a hybrid adventure and educational experience for groups wishing to explore and learn about the Niagara Parks in a hands-on fashion. Both human-powered eco-attractions will feature guided historical tours and an education on the surrounding eco-systems along with a new and thrilling visual perspective of Niagara Falls.


Light on intensity but overflowing with excitement, Wildplay’s Mist Rider Zip Line to the Falls is fun for guests of all ages who wish to glide through never before seen perspectives and breathtaking views of the Canadian and American Falls, the Niagara Whirlpool, Gorge and Niagara Parkway all in one fell swoop. This sky-high attraction guarantees an experience that will have visitors appreciating the power of Niagara’s waters unlike ever before. The four side-by-side high-speed zip lines will descend from the base of Clifton Hill at the Niagara Parks Commission’s Grand View Marketplace into the Niagara Gorge below at the decommissioned Ontario Power Generating Plant – looking up to the Horseshoe Falls above. Zip liners will be able to travel down one at a time or race their family and friends to the bottom. “[The Zip Line] is another way to experience and appreciate Niagara Falls,” said Lindsay DiCosimo, Marketing Manager for WildPlay Niagara. “The zip line is right front and centre to Niagara Falls; you can’t get this view from anywhere else in Niagara. It is completely new and a fully guided adventure. If you want to get up close and personal, there is no other way in the city for you to do this.” Individuals who don’t wish to participate in the zip line can enjoy the sights and watch their friends and family take-off from the viewing area at the top by the launch platform. The first of its kind in Niagara, Wildplay’s Whirlpool Aerial Adventure Course is scheduled to open on the north side of the Whirlpool at Thompson Point along the picturesque Niagara Parkway. This recreational activity is said to improve physical skills and strengthen mental courage; all while providing awe-inspiring vistas of the Niagara Gorge. “It is going to feature a little bit of everything; wobbly bridges, mini zip lines, rope swings, cargo nets,” said DiCosimo. “The obstacles that are hanging from the trees will increase in difficulty as you go through the course. So everyone starts off at the same level and as you go through things get a little more challenging. You’re facing your fears and overcoming your self-perceived inhibitions as you build your confidence as you get through the course.” Open to all ages, the fully guided nature-based course is self-paced and will feature three separate courses that will range in level of intensity, difficulty and height. The Family, Classic and Extreme courses will take approximately two hours to complete and take participants upwards to 60 feet into the air. The Family Course, targeted towards children ages 5-12 years-old, will be lower to the ground and feature smaller scale course obstacles; creating a perfect attraction for birthday parties, after school groups and field trips. “It is easily manageable for the younger demographic,” said DiCosimo. “For parents that maybe don’t want to do the full course themselves, this kid’s course is specifically designed for them.” But the aerial course is not only attracting young audiences. DiCosimo says this unique attraction is ideal for families, couples and all groups in-between because it strengthens and builds trust while encouraging team work and mutual support – all while getting everyone outside and working up a sweat in the fresh air. “You’re in a group setting, you are doing challenges that you might not think you can overcome but with group encouragement and by working together you can figure out the best way to approach the different challenges,” said DiCosimo. “…by getting outside and completing a course like this people can shine in a different light,” said DiCosimo. “You can play off of different people’s strengths and bond as a group.” Guides are also in place every step of the way to lend support and encouragement to anyone who is struggling and wishes to bypass an

obstacle. They will also provide historical anecdotes as you enjoy the attractions, with a focus on the surrounding landmarks including: the formation of the Niagara Falls, the previously active power generators, wildlife and plant life in the area and the early explorers who settled in and helped develop the region. The grounds surrounding the aerial course will continue to remain open to the public and feature picnic tables and lots of greenery to enjoy even when you do not feel like participating in the course. “The aerial course will help get people to explore the parkway a little bit more and get out of that downtown core area,” said DiCosimo. “It will keep them in the area a little longer than a quick trip into Niagara Falls will.” Aerial course prices will range between 40-50 dollars per course with additional add-ons of 10 dollars available for extended courses. Waivers are required by all participants and are available electronically online or by email and fax. The zip line will run approximately 60 dollars per person. Prices for both attractions are still under consideration, but DiCosimo said both will be kept family friendly and reasonably priced while remaining comparable to similar adventure courses in the area. Group packages are in the works and will be available for those who wish to visit with a large group or bundle both Wildplay’s Mist Rider Zip Line and Whirlpool Aerial Adventure Course together. Discounts will also be available through Niagara Parks’ Adventure Passes. Tickets will be available to purchase in advance online and on location depending on availability. TM

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 43


SAVE-A-BUCK. A CITY GUIDE IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND.

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Life and Death on the Niagara BY SHERMAN ZAVITZ It was August 6th, 1918. The news sped through Niagara Falls like a flash fire. Two men, the story went, were marooned on a scow that was grounded on some rocks in the Niagara River, not far from the brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Both skeptics and believers raced to the scene. The story, which was all too true, had begun around three o’clock that afternoon while crews from the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company were deepening the Niagara

Falls Power Company’s intake canal on the American side of the river, about 1.6 kilometres (a mile) above the Falls. Large scows, towed by tugs, were being used to take the excavated material out into the river where it was dumped. Suddenly one of the tugs struck a sandbar with such force that the tow line snapped, allowing the scow the tug had been pulling to quickly drift into mid- stream and head toward the Horseshoe Falls.

On board the scow were Gustav Lofberg, 51, and 53-year-old James Harris. Lofberg was a bachelor while Harris was married and the father of five. Despite the almost paralyzing fear that must have gripped the two men, they had the presence of mind to open the bottom dumping doors, flooding the scow’s compartments. This slowed its progress until it grounded on some rocks opposite the Toronto Powerhouse, a hydro-electric generating plant on the Canadian side. >>

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 45

lifestyle & CULTURE

TRAGEDY TRIUMPH:


One of Niagara’s most spectacular wintertime creations, the ice bridge is much like a huge, thick suspended glacier stretching across the Niagara River Gorge directly below the Falls.

While for the time being at least, Lof berg and Harris were not about to go over the Falls, they were marooned in the heart of the torturous and deadly Upper Rapids about 255 metres (850 feet) from the Canadian shore and approximately 792 metres (half a mile) from the brink of the cataract. Word of the stranded men quickly spread throughout the area and great crowds soon gathered along both banks of the Niagara River. Several employees from the Toronto Powerhouse had witnessed the accident and called the Niagara Falls, Fire Department. Chief Al Newman and his men rushed to the scene, bringing with them a small lifesaving gun. It was carried to the roof of the generating plant and discharged. As the Niagara Falls Review noted, “The rope whirled toward the watching men on the scow. It spun out an estimated 300 feet and fell into the river.” A second attempt brought the same result. The rope was just too short to reach the scow. The U.S. Coast Guard at Youngstown, New York, was contacted and arrived shortly after with their larger lifeline cannon. This was more successful. When the line was shot from the roof of the powerhouse, it easily reached the scow, prompting a mighty cheer from the large number of spectators. Harris and Lof berg immediately tied this light rope to a crude windless they had labourously constructed. The Coast Guard team, under the command of Captain A. Nelson, then tied a heavier rope to the lifeline as well as a block and tackle holding a double guy line. While dozens of men on the powerhouse roof held the lines taut, the stranded men began to turn their windlass. It was a difficult and slow job. “In the early evening,” the Review reported, “after hours of torturing progress with the windlass, Lof berg and Harris reached their hands into the water to grasp the heavy rope.” As darkness fell, powerful search lights were set up on the shore and on the powerhouse roof, eerily illuminating the scene. About 9:30, a breeches buoy (a canvas sling suspended from a pulley) was put in place on the heavy rope. Working the guy lines, the crew on the powerhouse roof began to slowly move the breeches buoy out to Lof berg and Harris. It looked as though the two men would soon be safely back on land. But it was not to be. Partway out, the breeches buoy suddenly stopped, sending a groan of despair rippling through the crowd. It was soon determined that the line had fouled. For two hours attempts were made to correct the problem by pulling back and forth on the guy lines, all to no avail. While it would not advance, fortunately the breeches buoy could be brought back to the powerhouse. It was now around midnight and Captain Nelson decided to temporarily suspend the rescue

operation to allow him time to come up with a solution to the breeches buoy problem. This information was conveyed to the stranded men by means of a large sign illuminated by one of the lights. Lofberg and Harris rested fitfully, wondering if at any moment the violent water racing past their scow would dislodge it and send them to their doom. Back on shore, William “Red” Hill Sr. introduced himself to Nelson and told him that he would be willing to go out to try and correct the problem on the lines. Hill, from Niagara Falls, Ontario, was Niagara’s most knowledgeable riverman and a recognized hero who had recently returned home after having been wounded and gassed in France while serving in the First World War. Hill was told the line was presumed safe, although it had not been tested under a weight. He replied that he was willing to take the risk. Shortly after three o’clock in the morning, Hill went out in the breeches buoy. With the beam from the searchlight following him, he reached the trouble spot and untangled the lines. Problems continued, however, and at 5:30 Hill had to make a second trip out on the lines. Finally all difficulties were overcome and the breeches buoy reached the marooned men. Harris was first off the scow, reaching the powerhouse roof at 8:50 a.m. after being slowly pulled to safety across the turbulent water. Lofberg arrived about an hour later. With each arrival a great cheer went up from the crowd. A doctor examined both men but, although weak from hunger and fatigue, they were remarkably fit considering their 19-hour ordeal. Harris later told reporters that he was going to tie himself to a tree well inland so, as he put it, “I’ll know I’m safe.” The following morning, after a solid night’s sleep, the two men were back at work. A salvage operation to recover the scow was not considered feasible and so, although some deterioration has taken place, the scow still clings to its rocky perch. Dramatic events at Niagara Falls were nothing new. In fact, it is very likely that some of those who witnessed Harris’s and Lofberg’s deliverance from death recalled another rescue attempt just six years earlier in which William “Red” Hill Sr. had also played a major role. Sunday, February 4, 1912, was a clear, windy and very cold day in Niagara Falls. Nevertheless, hundreds of people both residents and tourists were on hand that morning to view the gorgeous winter scenery around the Falls and to take a walk on the ice bridge. One of Niagara’s most spectacular wintertime creations, the ice bridge is much like a huge, thick suspended glacier stretching across the Niagara River Gorge directly below the Falls. Beginning in the 1880s, the ice bridge became a popular playground. Local businessmen even set up concession shanties out on the ice where


one could buy drinks (including whisky), hot dogs, souvenirs, and get a tintype picture taken. Among the visitors to Niagara Falls on that fateful Sunday were Eldridge and Clara Stanton of Toronto. The 36-year-old Eldridge acted as secretary-treasurer for his brother’s printing firm. After leaving their Niagara Falls, New York, hotel around mid-morning, Eldridge and Clara, 28, took an elevator into the gorge and began exploring the hills and valleys of the ice bridge, which was estimated to be around 300 meters (1,000 feet) long and 18 meters (6o feet) thick. As noon approached, the crowd began to thin as people headed indoors to get warm and have some lunch. Only the Stantons and a handful of other visitors were left on the ice. Included in this small group were Ignatius Roth and Burrell Hecock. Natives of Cleveland, both were 17 years old and had been lifelong friends. Also still on the ice was William “Red” Hill. Suddenly, a few minutes before noon, a loud ominous crack like the lash of a huge whip was heard. Seconds later the ice bridge began to break up and move downstream. Hill yelled a warning and ran for the Canadian shore. Most of the others also reacted quickly and made it safely to either the Canadian or American side. However, the Stantons, Roth and Hecock, standing on a huge moving ice floe in mid-river, hesitated, not sure which way to go. The two youths then made a dash for the Canadian shore. The Stantons went in the opposite direction, only to find their escape cut off by a wide channel. Hill, at great peril to his own safety, rushed back onto the moving ice and yelled at the couple to head for the Canadian side. With the riverman helping them, the Stantons made it to within 15 meters (50 feet) of the riverbank when they suddenly encountered another slush-filled channel. Paralyzed with fear, Clara and Eldridge would not go on even though Hill told them the gap could be crossed. Instead, they turned back, with Hecock and Roth following. With extreme danger at his very feet, Hill had no choice but to leave them and scramble ashore. By now, the large floe carrying the marooned quartet was passing under the Upper Steel Arch Bridge, which was located close to where the Rainbow Bridge currently stands. Officials at the bridge phoned the police and fire departments which raced to the scene. Roth and Hecock ran on ahead of the Stantons who were now exhausted from the exertion and tension. Clara soon collapsed, telling

her husband that she couldn’t go on. Not able to get her up, Eldridge shouted to the two youths for help. Hecock responded, leaving Roth and going back to help get Clara on her feet. Roth kept moving and managed to get a little closer to the Canadian shore. “Red” Hill, who was running along the riverbank, felt there was a chance Roth could be saved and began to shout instructions to him. The young man jumped over openings when and where he was told and struggled over the hummocks of ice. When he was close enough, Hill threw him a rope and pulled him ashore slightly over 1.6 kilometers (a mile) below the Horseshoe Falls. Roth had cheated death. Meanwhile, the ice floe carrying the three remaining helpless victims was racing down the river and would soon be in the grip of the Whirlpool Rapids, one of the most violent stretches of white water in the world. Their last chance at rescue would be the ropes that had been lowered by the police and firemen from the Cantilever Bridge and the adjacent Whirlpool Rapids Bridge. Just before reaching the bridges, the large floe broke into two sections, leaving the Stantons on one piece and Hecock on the other. It was Hecock who reached one of the ropes first. He grabbed it and grimly hung on. As the men on the bridge began to haul him up, the young man tried to help himself by climbing hand-over-hand. Frozen fingers and exhaustion conspired against him. As he began to lose his grip, he tried to get his legs around the rope. When this failed he made a desperate but futile attempt to hang on with his teeth. With the rope now spinning like a top from the wind, Hecock’s head fell back, he let go and plunged into the river. He was seen for a few seconds and then vanished forever. Moments later the Stanton’s floe reached the Cantilever Bridge. Eldridge seized a rope and tried to tie it around Clara’s waist. The ice was moving too fast, however, and he had to let go of the rope before he had time to tie a knot. The same thing happened with the rope hanging from the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge. There was no hope now. An eyewitness reporter described the final moments of the drama: “He raised the woman to her feet, kissed her and clasped her in his arms. The woman then sank to her knees. The man knelt beside her; his arms clasped close about her. So they went to their death. The ice held intact until it struck the great wave. There it was shattered; there the gallant man and the woman at his side disappeared from view.” Their bodies were never found. TM

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NIAGARA FALLS FACTS A HISTORY OF STUNTING AT THE FALLS

On July 5, 1887 the Queen Victoria Park Commission took over jurisdiction of the land along the Niagara River gorge and the decision was made to address the many tragedies that had occurred at the Falls due to stunts and daredevil acts. The Commissioners decided to prohibit rope and wire walkers from anchoring their ropes and wires on the gorge wall. As recently as 1976, the Commission studied the question of tightrope walks across the Niagara Gorge, meeting with representatives of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to jointly review this issue. Their recommendations noted that the original purpose for establishing the Niagara Parks was to remove the growing carnival atmosphere adjacent to the Falls. After consideration of items such as allocation of resources, environmental impact and public safety, both Commissions denied permission for these events. In November 1996, The Niagara Parks Commission denied a request for a proposed skywalk by Jay Cochrane. Commission Chairman Gary Burroughs announced, “The net effect of this type of event is to encourage less qualified individuals to perform stunts or feats that put not only themselves at risk, but also those who may be involved in their rescue.� The Niagara Parks Commission prohibits stunting on all of its properties under the authority granted under Regulations of the Niagara Parks Act. Stunting now carries a maximum fine of $10,000. Following is a chronology from the mid-1800s to 1951, of attempts to go over the Falls in a barrel or some other device, to go through the Class 6 rapids of the Great Gorge, or to walk across on a tightrope. Some of these stunters were successful, others died in their attempt.

photo) into a special harness in a barrel. A small boat towed the barrel out into the main stream of the Niagara River and the barrel was cast loose. The rapids first slammed it one way, then the other, then came the drop and a bone-wrenching jar so violent that Mrs. Taylor was sure she hit rocks. Seventeen minutes after the plunge, the barrel had been tossed close enough to the Canadian shore to be hooked and dragged onto the rocks. Mrs. Taylor was dazed but triumphant and being the first person to conquer the mighty Falls of Niagara, she found the fame she sought so desperately. But fortune was a bit more elusive. Twenty years after her brush with death at Niagara, she died destitute.

BOBBY LEACH (Survived) Bobby Leach, an Englishman, successfully made a trip in an all-steel barrel on July 25, 1911, and then spent 23 weeks in hospital recuperating from numerous fractures and other injuries. Fifteen years later on a lecture tour in New Zealand, he slipped on an orange peel, broke his leg and died of complications from the injury.

ANNIE TAYLOR (Survived) Mrs. Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old schoolteacher, decided that a trip over Niagara Falls was her way to fame and fortune. On October 24, 1901, assistants strapped her (along with her cat, as seen in this

CHARLES STEPHENS (Died) The next barrel stunter to try the Falls was also an Englishman, Charles Stephens. When his heavy oak barrel hit water after the drop over the Falls on July 11, 1920, Stephens went out the bottom. He was killed and only one arm was recovered. >>


JEAN LUSSIER (Survived) Jean Lussier, a native of Quebec, designed a six-foot rubber ball composed of 32 inner tubes and a double-wall steel frame. One of the biggest crowds on record saw the stunt on July 4, 1928. The ball took some hard knocks in the rapids but the skip over the Falls was perfect. About one hour after entering his ball, Lussier stepped ashore none the worse for wear. For many years he displayed his ball at Niagara Falls and sold small pieces of the inner tubes for souvenirs at 50 cents a piece.

GEORGE STATHAKIS (Died) On July 4th, 1931, George Stathakis, a Greek chef from Buffalo, went over the Falls in a 2,000-pound contraption of wood and steel. He survived the plunge over the Falls only to die after becoming trapped behind the curtain of water for 22 hours. He had enough oxygen for only three hours.

RED HILL JR. (Died) In the summer of 1951, Red Hill Jr. planned to go over the Falls in a flimsy contrivance he called the “Thing” which consisted of 13 inner tubes held together with fish net and canvas straps. On August 6, the “Thing” headed into the rapids with Hill in it. It was tossed into the air, upended, thrown from side to side and bounced off rocks. It was starting to disintegrate even before it reached the Falls. When the drop came, the “Thing” disappeared into churning water at the base of the Falls. Seconds later what was left floated into view. The following day, Hill’s battered body was taken from the river.

When he reached it and steadied himself, it broke. Once more the pair swayed alarmingly as Blondin again ran for the next guy. When they reached it Blondin gasped for Colcord to get down. Six times in all Colcord had to dismount while Blondin had to charge the crowd on the brink to prevent the press of people forcing them back in the precipice. He died in England at the age of 73.

WILLIAM LEONARD HUNT A resident of Port Hope, Ontario, known as Signor Farini, William Hunt duplicated almost all Blondin’s stunts, but never managed to steal the limelight from Blondin. The Niagara Falls Gazette reported Farini’s September 5, 1860 washing machine stunt, “He strapped an Empire Washing Machine to his back and walked slowly to the desired place in the centre of the rope”. He secured his balancing pole and machine on the cable. He then drew water from the river nearly 200 feet below, in primitive style, with a pail and cord. Several ladies, desiring to patronize him in his character as a washerwoman, had given him their handkerchiefs to wash. Before long his washing was done, the handkerchiefs wrung out and hung up to dry on the uprights and crossbars of the machine. With the washing flapping in the wind, he adjusted his load and returned.

HARRY LESLIE After the 1859 and 1860 performances of Blondin and Farini, there was a lull until June 15, 1865 when Harry Leslie, billed as “The American Blondin”, crossed the Whirlpool Rapids gorge on a rope.

ANDREW JENKINS On August 24, 1869 Andrew Jenkins crossed the Whirlpool Rapids on a rope, riding a velocipede.

MARIA SPELTERINA A 23-year-old Italian woman, Maria Spelterina was the only woman to cross the Niagara gorge on a tightrope. In 1867, she walked backwards, put a paper bag over her head, and wore peach baskets on her feet to inject some drama into her crossings.

STEPHEN PEER JEAN FRANCOIS GRAVELET (THE GREAT BLONDIN) Professionally known as “The Great Blondin”, Gravelet was the first of many tightrope walkers to appear at Niagara Falls. He was a professional artist and showman trained in the great tradition of the European circus. At age 31 he came to America and made the announcement that he would cross the gorge of the Niagara River on a tightrope. On June 30, 1859 the rope was in position and at five o’clock in the afternoon Blondin started the trip that was to make history. Watchers saw him lower a rope from the tightrope to the Maid of the Mist, pull up a bottle and sit down while he refreshed himself. He began his ascent toward the Canadian shore, paused, steadied the balancing pole and suddenly executed a back somersault. Never content merely to repeat his last performance, Blondin crossed his rope on a bicycle, walked blindfolded, pushed a wheelbarrow, cooked an omelet in the centre and made the trip with his hands and feet manacled. Yet even these stunts failed to satisfy Blondin’s urge to test himself. He announced that on August 19 he would cross the gorge carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back. It was to be the supreme test of Blondin’s skill and stamina. According to Colcord, the trip was a nightmare. In the unguyed centre section, the pair swayed violently. Blondin was fighting for his life. He broke into a desperate run to reach the first guy rope.

Stephen Peer of Niagara Falls, Ontario made several crossings, but a few days after his walk on June 25, 1887, his body was found on the rocks below. It was assumed that he had fallen while attempting a night crossing wearing his street shoes. TM

RFarrarons / Shutterstock.com TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 51


here . SEE . do

EVENT

HIGHLIGHTS FRIDAY NIGHT FLICKS AT OLD FORT ERIE Running Fridays until December 18th (350 Lakeshore Rd, Fort Erie) Dec 11: 7pm– The Polar Express A young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. During his adventure he learns about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas. Dec 18: 7pm– Elf After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity. JIMMY STAHL SWINGING BIG BAND CHRISTMAS December 19, 2pm at Seneca Queen Theatre (4624 Queen Street, Niagara Falls) The Jimmy Stahl Big Band & Michael Vahevel perform a Swinging Big Band Christmas Sinatra Style! AT THE MOVIES DINNER MUSICAL December 28–January 2 at Oh Canada Eh (8585 Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls) This show features over 60 of the greatest songs from some of the best iconic movie moments and soundtracks of all time! You’ll be transported back through the decades with music from your favourite comedies, dramas, horror flicks and animated favourites! Movies like Casablanca, Singin’ In The Rain, James Bond, Saturday Night Fever, Ghostbusters, Flashdance, Risky Business, The Way We Were, Magic Mike and many, many MORE! No need to visit the concession stand for this show! Each performance starts with our famous five-course, familystyle meal which is served by our multi-talented performers! Enjoy soup, salad, chicken, beef and our world famous fried Atlantic haddock, maple chocolate cake and more. Visit ohcanadaeh.com for information about tickets. >>

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 53


GREG FREWIN NEW YEARS EVE GALA December 31 at Greg Frewin Theatre (5781 Ellen Avenue, Niagara Falls) Enjoy New Years Eve Vegas style! Join Greg Frewin this year as he presents a spectacular evening of magic. You will be spellbound and amazed! You will ring in the New Year with dancing to the classics of the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s with a live band. Expect all the trimmings of a festive and exciting Las Vegas style New Year’s Eve. The evening starts with a cocktail reception at 6:30 pm. Indulge in the delicious premium buffet dinner starting at 7:30pm and the Las Vegas style entertainment will commence at 9:00pm. Also includes: – New Years party favours – Midnight Champagne toast and hors d’oeuvres – Dinner & Show: 7:30p–2am – Show Only: 9pm–2am JERSEY NIGHTS January 7–10 at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort (6380 Fallsview Boulevard, Niagara Falls) Jersey Nights is a world renowed tribute show to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Relive the memory at Fallsview Casino Resort Avalon Ballroom. Jan 7–14 (excluding Jan 11) Jan 7, 12, 13 & 14: Showtime 3:00pm & 8:30pm Jan 8 & 9: Showtime 3:00pm & 9:00pm Jan 10: Showtime 3:00pm & 7:00pm Ticket information at fallsviewcasinoresort.com/ BEER ON ICE February 5 at Niagara Brewing Company (4915 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls) Niagara’s world-famous Icewine tradition is expanding beyond its viticultural roots with delectable Icewine and chocolate beers created

exclusively by Brewmaster Gord Slater of Niagara Brewing Company. The luscious Icewine beer puts a twist on the process of fermenting frozen grapes, while the smooth chocolate beer utilizes the delightful flavours of Hershey’s chocolate. This special evening will feature remarkable culinary creations and prove the most innovative way to experience the tropical flavours of Icewine and rich taste of chocolate is in the form of a refreshing beer on ice. Mix and mingle with Brewmaster Gord Slater. Icewine and chocolate infused delights with beer pairing from Niagara Brewing Company. More information at fallsavenueresort.com/ TWENTY VALLEY WINTER WINEFEST January 15–17 at Cave Spring Cellars at Jordan Village (3836 Main Street) This annual Winter Winefest brings together Niagara’s top winemakers and wineries to celebrate Icewine. Great food, premium wines, sparkling and Icewine served outdoors on the streets of Jordan Village. Event Times: January 15: 6–10pm January 16: 11–10pm January 17: 12–5pm Visit twentyvalley.ca for more information AN ICEWINE DINNER WITH JAMIE KENNEDY January 15 at Windows by Jamie Kennedy (5875 Falls Ave) Precious and sweet, Icewine is weaved is like a gold thread throughout the menu which showcases the best ingredients Niagara has to offer. An exceptional blend of culinary delights and decadent Icewine leads to a find dining experience designed to excite the palate! Ticket information at fallsavenueresort.com For additional and updated events, go to visitniagaracanada.com or niagarafallstourism.com TM


Coco's 2010 Niagara Today.indd 1

6/8/10 3:23:37 PM


BY JILL THAM

EMBRACE

WINTER WITH THE NIAGARA ON THE LAKE

ICEWINE FESTIVAL


PARTICIPATING WINERIES

T

he Niagara on the Lake Chamber of Commerce was the first to bring the “White Effect” (formerly called “Dinner in White”), “Fabulicious,” and most notably, the “Icewine Festival” to the community. Given the magnitude of these events, it’s no wonder other organizations and cities inspire to reproduce them; spreading Niagara-on-the-Lake’s trends like wildfire and crowing Niagara-on-the-Lake pioneers of spectacular events in the Niagara Region for over twenty years. Icewine is not only popular in the Niagara Region, around the world it is considered a delicacy. Niagara-on-the-Lake is blessed to produce some of the best icewines the Region of Niagara has to offer. “The Icewine Festival has stayed true over the years. We continue to stick to Icewine exclusively for the festival. You won’t be disappointed,” states Janice Thomson, Executive Director for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce. The 2016 Icewine Festival events brings together new events and old favourites in one remarkable month of unforgettable experiences. “Every single day of January we will have a celebration of Icewine in Niagara-On-The-Lake,” states Thomson. “What is unique this year with the festival being every day in January is that we have taken the confusion out of it, so you don’t have to think.” If you want to wear a parka or a pashmina, the festival offers different events with different price points at different locations to please all types of individuals. One lucky winner will go home with a diamond valued at $5000.00 at the “Sparkle and Ice” dinner. “I came up with the idea of attaching a cubic zirconia to each wine glass and the gemologist would test each cube to see which one was real,” says Thomson. The concept has evolved over the last three years and now each bag contains a cubic zirconia along with a number. At the end of the evening, which is filled with live entertainment and savoury dishes, the winning number is drawn. “The first year the winner was from New York and last year it was a gentleman from Ottawa,” says Thomson. “Sparkle and Ice is an intimate, romantic, and exciting event.” “Shop, Sip, Sample and Savour,” will feature chef ’s from the Signature Kitchens pairing their favourite icewine with a mouth-watering dish they have created. This event also provides an opportunity to visit the local shops in and around Queen Street, the heritage district. “There is a great deal of history and detail in everything you look at,” states Thomson. The heart of the Heritage District will host one of the most anticipated events of the festival, the “White on Ice” dinner. Facebook and Instagram will be flooded with selfies of this not to miss event complete with ice sculptures. “For the adventurous or the romantic individual they will be rewarded with an environment that is very different. Whether you want to dance in the street or take your coat off in the heated tent, you will enjoy this spectacular take it to the street event,” says Thomson. The “Flash and Panache Cocktail Competition” will be a time for individuals of all ages to try new creations and the “Icebreakers Comedy Festival” will also draw a vibrant crowd. With shows already sold out it is guaranteed to be a laugh with Niagara’s local comedians. A visit to the Festival is more than just a chance to taste succulent Icewine and visit with old friends or meet new ones, it’s an opportunity to learn about the Icewine making process from the vine to the glass. “Icewine is an indulgence but it is also made with so much care. Visitors learn from our very personable representatives who love to talk about their craft,” states Thomson. Our goal is to inspire people to go to the wineries, sample their Icewines, and embrace winter,” says Thomson. “There’s so much to do and so many things to experience. We are constantly experimenting with new ideas, but we have the original authentic interpretation of the roots of the Icewine festival. We own the winter.” For more information visit their new website at: niagaraonthelake.com/icewine TM

13th Street Winery Between the Lines Family Estate Winery Chateau des Charmes Colaneri Estate Winery Creekside Estate Winery Diamond Estates – The Winery Featherstone Estate Winery Fielding Estate Winery Flat Rock Cellars Greenlane Estate Winery Hernder Estate Wines Inniskillin Wines Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery Kacaba Vineyards Winery Konzelmann Estate Winery Legends Estate Winery Magnotta Winery Malivoire Wine Megalomaniac – John Howard Cellars of Distinction Mike Weir Wine Peller Estates Winery Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Pillitteri Estates Winery Pondview Estate Winery Rancourt Winery Ravine Vineyard Red Stone Winery Reif Estate Winery Ridgepoint Wines Riverview Cellars Estate Winery Rockway Vineyards Stoney Ridge Estate Winery Strewn Winery Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Tawse Winery The Good Earth Food & Wine Co. Trius Winery Vieni Estates Vineland Estates Winery

SIGNATURE KITCHENS OF NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE Bistro Six-One Cannery Restaurant at Pillar & Post The Epicurean Escabèche Restaurant at Prince of Wales Ginger Restaurant Hob Nob Restaurant & Wine Bar LIV at White Oaks Peller Estates Winery Restaurant Ravine Vineyard Winery Estates Restaurant Oban Inn Riverbend Inn Tiara Restaurant at Queen’s Landing Trius Winery at Hillebrand Zees Grill at Shaw Club Hotel & Spa TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 57


There is no shortage of things to do, experience and see during your visit to Western New York; whatever kind of activity you seek, indoor or outdoor, action packed or calm and relaxed, there is certainly something for you. From the excitement of the Seneca casino properties to exploring the shops and restaurants of Ellicottville to the adventures awaiting you in the Allegany Mountains, Western New York really does have it all.


special section

HOT toddy SEASON SERVE IT WARM AND STRONG LYNN OGRYZLO It’s a sure sign of winter. When the last leaf falls from the tree, we naturally turn our sights inside to simmering soup, steaming stews and warm mugs of hot chocolate. We’re nesting, we’re warming our souls, bracing for the spine-chilling winter that lay ahead. It was a trip to a Christmas Market where everyone was sipping on hot toddy’s and mulled wine that got me to thinking – as it gets cold outside, don’t just dust off the crock pot, turn up the heat on your favourite liquor bottles! >>

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 59


IT’S IT IT’ ’S S HOT TODDY SEASON AND JUST LIKE FRANK YOU TOO CAN REINVENT THE QUINTESSENTIAL WARM DRINK INTO DOZENS OF DIFFERENT FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS

Master bartender, Frank Ryan of The Western Door steak house always says warm drinks in the winter tend to sooth our psyche. It’s all about survival. Working in a world of anything goes cocktails, he knows there are times when tradition, comfort and warmth suits our sipping needs and moods best. The most famous warm cocktail of all is the hot toddy. It’s a mixture of sugar, lemon and whiskey warmed with boiling water. It was the best-known cure for anything that ailed you during the days of prohibition. Today we still make hot toddies but now they serve as a base for creativity. I’ve been known some to add cloves and others use brown sugar and bourbon for a caramel flavour. Frank flexes his creative muscles in a warm drink he calls Ma’s Apple Pie. It’s brandy, amaretto and instead of boiling water, he uses warm apple cider. He pours this into a glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar and garnishes it with a dried apple ring. Yes, he recommends it at The Western Door steakhouse when the snow is flying outside because, “it keeps you warm, especially at the thought of going out in a storm.” It’s hot toddy season and just like Frank, you too can reinvent the quintessential warm drink into dozens of different flavour combinations. All you have to do is replace the hot water with one of your favourite beverages like Earl Grey tea. Or how about hibiscus tea and tequila? Both are perfect for tea lovers. Use a spicy apple cider with lots of cinnamon and star anise for an Apple Cider Hot Toddy. Got a can of fruity raspberry lemonade concentrate left from the summer? Ok, then warm it up, add a teaspoon of honey that will turn extra yummy with delicious honey whisky. The reincarnations of hot toddies are limited only by your imagination. For example, only good things can happen when you mix pumpkin

butter and rum together. Add a bit of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice and you’ve got a Pumpkin Butter Hot Toddy. This one should definitely be topped with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon! Another hot toddy combines two of my favourite things, candy canes and Kahlua. Pull a candy cane from the Christmas tree, crush it and simmer up a Pink Peppermint Hot Toddy with Kahlua and vodka. Use milk for a creamier version and add a dash of peppermint syrup for a boost of festive flavour. If you need to make hot toddies in bulk, thank goodness you dusted off the crockpot because instead of making dinner, it will keep your drinks warm for hours and fill your room with delicious aromas. Let your guests dip a ladle into the pot and help themselves throughout the evening. In a crockpot you have the added advantage of infusing flavours slowly, like ginger that will infuse a lemony hot toddy with spiciness. It’s the perfect antidote to chilly winter weather and some claim that ginger is nature’s antibiotic – a perfect drink to keep winter colds at bay. Start it in the afternoon, serve it in the evening, a Cranberry, Sage and Black Peppercorn Hot Toddy is herbally, citrusy and the color of a glistening, ruby red jewel. It’s an aromatic mixture of cranberries, whole black peppercorns and sage leaves simmering in the crockpot with honey, a bottle of white wine and a cup of Benedictine – yum! There are a few things you should keep in mind when using your slow cooker to make hot drinks. First, turn it to high to bring the liquids to a maximum temperature. Then turn it to low and let the flavours simmer away. Add the alcohol only at the end, a few minutes before serving. You’ll love your crockpot hot toddies because they fill the air with the aroma of savoury spices. Remember that there is only one way to serve a hot toddy and that’s warm and strong.


Hot toddy Classic YOU’LL NEED ¼ cup whiskey 1 tablespoon honey (or more to your liking) 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice ½ cup boiling water garnish with lemon slice, cinnamon stick and/or star anise DIRECTIONS Combine all ingredients in a warmed mug and stir to combine. Garnish and enjoy.

Hot toddy Classic CROCK POT

YOU’LL NEED 6 cups apple cider or apple juice ¼ cup sugar 1 – 9 inch stick cinnamon 8 whole cloves 4 star anise 1 large orange, sliced 1 lemon, sliced ½ cup bourbon DIRECTIONS Add apple cider, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and star anise into a crock-pot, cover and cook on low-heat setting for about 2 hours or on high for one hour. Add orange and lemon slices. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Turn cooker to low-heat setting, add the bourbon and serve. TM

TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 61


Mansion on Delaware Avenue

Royal Treatment Girlfriends get the

Y

in BUFFALO

ou know it’s going to be a great girlfriend getaway when your weekend

starts with an eager-to-please butler jogging out to your car to unload your bags even before you’ve popped the trunk. “James” (yes, that’s really his name) is one of a half dozen butlers on staff at the elegant 28-room Mansion on Delaware in downtown Buffalo that dates back to 1869. The butlers are happy to drive you around town, pour you a complimentary drink in the drawing room at cocktail hour — even run you a hot bath in your whirlpool tub. Their white glove treatment sets the stage for a couple of days of being spoiled rotten in Buffalo.

BY ANNE BOKMA

StAr trEAtMENt At GrOOM SErvicE The pampering continues when we head to Groom Service Beauty & Dry Bar, an upscale beauty bar on the ground floor of the elegantly restored Hotel Lafayette. Here, positive feminine energy abounds, and not just because this grand neoclassical hotel was designed in the early 1900s by Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first American woman who worked as a professional architect. Katie Ambrose, a New York makeup artist to the stars who recently moved back to Buffalo to open the salon, gives her clients the kind of luxurious beauty experiences usually Groom Service Beauty & Dry Bar


reserved for celebrities. My girlfriend Donna and I spend a couple of glorious hours with Katie that begins with a mini meditation session involving crystals and “angelic spray” to help balance our chakras and continues with a facial, “intuitive make-up lesson” and hair styling. A final application of feathery false eyelashes has us coquettishly batting our eyes over our lunch menus when we pop in next door to the Pan-American Grill & Brewery to fortify ourselves for an afternoon of shopping with scallop cakes and sugar beet salad.

EMPOriuMS ON ELMwOOD It’s no secret that Canadians love to power shop Buffalo’s outlet stores, but we opt to bypass the mega malls for some good old fashioned street shopping. We spend a few hours strolling the mile-long Elmwood Avenue, checking out the eclectic range of dozens of retail offerings. We peruse furnishings made by local craftspeople at rÓ, float in the aroma of hundreds of exotic seasonings at the elaborately stocked Penzeys Spices, ooh and ahh over the unique gift selections (dragonfly salad tongs anyone?) at the charming Everything Elmwood, browse best-

sellers at talking Leaves, the city’s oldest bookstore, and try on flowing summer dresses in a range of boutiques, from Anna Grace to Blush and Second chic, an upcycle consignment shop where I pick up a vintage halter dress for a bargain basement $22. When we stop to fuel up on caffeine, even the SPot coffee shop is

Second Chic

a delight with its powder blue Victorian settee and tempting display of red velvet donuts, a local specialty that proves irresistible.

Out ON tHE tOwN Our extended shopping trip means there’s little time for dinner so once again the butlers at the Mansion accommodate us by preparing plates of pizza and fresh fruit before driving us to the opening night of the raucous musical, The Book of Mormon, at Shea’s Performing Arts center. The restored theatre, which features a full season of blockbuster Broadway musicals, boosts eight-foot tall crystal chandeliers and intricately painted ceilings in the lobby, recalling its glory days as an elaborate movie house dating from 1926.

Mansion on Delaware by KC Kratt. Groom Service and Second Chic by Katie Ambrose. Shea’s by Jim Bush. Buffalo Proper by Lisa Lubin.

After the show, we aren’t quite ready to call it a night. Fortunately, another theatregoer recommends a stop at Buffalo Proper, a restaurant and bar that tips its hat to the prohibition era when wealthy Buffalonians found a way to sneak a drink in defiance of the 18th amendment. Here, master barman and cocktail curator Jon Karel regales us with further theatrical Shea’s Performing Arts Center antics, displaying his frenetic energy while concocting fancifully named drinks such as Bare Knuckle Boxer, Snake Charmer and Killer Bee’s. It’s the perfect end to a perfect day. Tomorrow, we have a couple more stops to finish our Buffalo getaway – including an afternoon outing to canalside, a beautiful new waterfront area with free events from pilates classes to classical concerts, and what will prove to be a very memorable five-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings at Martin cooks, the city’s first example of chef’s counter dining where guests look on while the chef prepares his signature dishes in an open kitchen. But right now, as the clock hits midnight, we’re ready to head back to our fluffy beds at the Mansion. We ring our butler who arrives in minutes. As I climb into the backseat I utter words I’ve been looking forward to saying all day: “Home, James.” Buffalo Proper


toPERF


ROASTED By Lynn Ogryzlo

ECTION BUFFALO’S NICK PITELLO TALKS HIS FAVOURITE WINTER DISH

It’s one of the most comforting aromas known to mankind, one of the most succulent feelings to nosh between your teeth and one of the most soothing meals you can have on a cold winters day. Mothers knew this well, that’s where the tradition of Sunday roasts came from. But the traditional Sunday roast began a little differently than our roasts today. Today we’re more inclined to buy a premium prime rib or a tenderloin for a Sunday roast. But it wasn’t always like that. “We were poor, we had to buy the cheaper cuts and roast them low and slow,” laughs restaurateur, Nick Pitello. Nick owns Osteria 166 in downtown Buffalo, Villaggio in Ellicottville and his newest venture, Mercato also in downtown Buffalo. All are known for their creative and modern approach to cooking but ask Nick the best way to cook a roast and in one, long, drawn-out word he says, "slowly." Nick remembers the scrumptious, fork tender roasts his mother would pull from the oven. The kitchen would be filled with the savoury aromas of meat and spices and he can still taste the lip-smacking juiciness of the sweet meat as it literally melted between his teeth. Now when he smells the roasting pork laced with fennel or veal shanks simmering in tomatoes and oregano it takes him right back to his childhood. Roasting is cooking with love. So why is the low and slow method so magical? Roasts are about 75 percent moisture with the water bound up in the cells. As the heat increases, the proteins shrink and the moisture is forced out either into the pan or evaporates completely. Too much heat and it has the effect of squeezing a sponge resulting in a dense, dry roast. However, understanding this process, we can use this knowledge to manage the heat and evaporation during cooking to produce a tender, juicy roast. This is what low and slow is all about. >>

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These kinds of roasts are not traditional from an American sense but from an Italian sense, they’re EVERYTHING. If you’re not a convert yet, try Nick’s famous Porchetta. A traditional Italian roast made from the shoulder of the pig and tied with the fat-rich belly. It’s butterflied, lathered with a pesto-like concoction, bound together and roasted for 8 to 12 hours or more. In Nick’s case he uses a mixture of herbs and spices, most notable, ground fennel. “Most don’t even notice the fennel, they just love it,” says Nick. He goes through almost one thousand roasted Porchetta every season. That’s a lot of roasts considering they’re only made in the coldest months of the year. “We go through so much Porchetta we thought of a food truck,” he laughs as he finishes his thoughts in silence. At Osteria 166, each Porchetta is tied tightly and roasted at low temperatures throughout the night, then they’re removed from the ovens in the early morning. The restaurant is filled with the savoury, warm flavors of love from the ovens. Nick describes it as, “waking from a dream so good you could eat it!” At the restaurants they serve Porchetta traditional style, sliced thin and piled over a fresh bun. Theoretically, it’s like an Italian pulled pork, but without the barbecue part. They’re served with the restaurant’s house made potato chips. It’s a quintessential, casual winter dish. It’s easy to make a Porchetta at home if you have your butcher trim, butterfly and tie your roast. When you get it home, untie it and fill it with your favourite mixture of savoury spices and tie it back up. Traditional Italian Porchetta will have a final layer of pigskin wrapped around it, so the slow roasting is also self basting. The great part about this style is it produces loads of crackling,

pigskin. “No, we don’t do the crackling (at the restaurant),” laments Nick. “There just wouldn’t be enough for everyone and we don’t want to start a war now do we?” Nick stresses that picking a cut of meat suitable for the low and slow method isn’t difficult if you’re familiar with the bone structure of pigs. You’ll know that the least tender cuts of meat lie where there is the most movement and therefore the connective tissue will be tougher and demand very slow cooking with moisture. That’s why Nick insists the shoulder is laced with the fat forward belly so it creates plenty of succulent, moistness during baking. Roasting Porchetta the low and slow method doesn’t use liquid, but ask him about his popular Osso Bucco? Well, that’s another story. The Osso Bucco at Osteria 166 is braised low and slow – and braising is a cooking method that uses liquid. When cooking with liquid, the liquid should never boil, but only simmer lightly for best results. Unlike traditional veal shanks in the classic Italian dish, Nick uses pork shanks. “We love pig around here,” says Nick. The 3-finger thick shanks are slowly braised in a thick tomato and herb sauce that bubbles lightly over the stove. He pulls one from the pot and lays it on the plate. He digs into the pork shank with a spoon and it literally falls apart under the pressure, while the juices run in every direction. He offers me a taste. The rich flavours comfort me while the velvety, soft meat succumbs to the pressure of my teeth into sublime deliciousness – yum. Nick takes the tip of his knife and digs some marrow out of the centre of the bone. He spreads it across a piece of bread he just

tore from a loaf. “It’s one of the benefits of Osso Bucco,” he smiles and savours the little moment. Osso Bucco is the most popular dish in his restaurants, served with a rich, creamy risotto, “it’s the quintessential cold weather dish.” Maybe that’s why they go through almost 200 Osso Bucco dishes in a week! When you do it right, low and slow roasting or low and slow braising melts the collagen, turning it into a rich liquid – gelatin. This gives meat a lot of flavour and a wonderful silky texture. It also retains the nutrients, vitamins and flavour making it not only delicious but good for you too. “These kinds of roasts are not traditional from an American sense but from an Italian sense, they’re everything,” says Nick. So what temperature is low anyway? In the restaurant, the special ovens can be set at the same temperature as the desired internal doneness: 125 to 130 degrees Farenheight for rare, 130 to 135 for medium-rare, 140 for medium. Most home ovens cannot be set that low. Most can be set at 170 or 200 degrees Farenheight. However, a perfect roast can most certainly be produced at that temperature. “Just put it in and forget about it,” says Nick, “anyone who works at roasting ruins the roast. Leave it alone and the roast will do the rest.” We all like our meat tender and juicy and roasting slowly with an inexpensive cut of meat is where all the good stuff happens. A roast is the consummate comfort food for supper. Thinking of his mother Nick says, “what could be a better way of making people feel that someone in the kitchen has been thinking and caring about you?” TM


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Niagara - Winter/Spring 2016  

Niagara - Winter/Spring 2016