Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hinterland Love

Last fall was my first time in Prince Edward County. I spent three days jumping from winery to winery, restaurant to restaurant. I was in heaven tasting all the different wines in the area. And as a result, my husband and I left with many cases of wine.

Over the winter months, we consumed a lot of that wine. So when a friend announced a 40th birthday weekend in the county, I was ecstatic! Not only would we have a great weekend away with friends, but also an opportunity to refill our cellar (my cellar being a tiny space on the wall in the basement) with the wines we fell in love with.

With summer coming, the go-to winery for me was Hinterland. Marysol introduced me to their rosé last summer (that's when I first fell in love). This orangy-pink delight is made with 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. It's the perfect way to start an evening with your closest friends. They sold out of the 2007 but I picked up some of the 2008. Even though it still needed another month in the bottle, the few sips I had got me salivating for more.

I also picked up a bunch of the Whitecap. Last fall I had bought 2 bottles and regretted it. I should have gotten way more. I am a huge Prosecco fan and this is their version. Love it. It's great with finger foods before a meal and fantastic on it's own.

One I hadn't tried before was the Ancestral. It's made from Gamay Noir grapes, is slightly sweet and has a lovely raspberry/strawberry taste. A great summer afternoon in the sun wine.

I'm surprised more Ottawa restaurants don't carry Hinterland. Their Toronto list is quite extensive. Brookstreet Hotel is the only one here. Although I can see the Whitecap going beautifully with oysters from the Whalesbone. The rosé with seared tuna (drool). Ok, I think I have to go pour myself a drink...

1258 Closson Road, RR#1
Hillier, Ontario

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tennessy Willems

With all the hype around this new restaurant, it didn't take much convincing from our friends Mark and Stacey to get us to join them for dinner at Tennessy Willems. I've never been a huge pizza person, but give me a paper thin crust from a wood burning oven and some interesting toppings and I'm in.

It was much smaller inside than I imagined, and the lights a bit brighter. Tables and walls lacking in character, but once your food is in front of you, your surroundings vanish. Between the four of us we shared 2 apps – the mackerel plate and the house salad.

The mackerel plate was done up using the Whalesbone's delicious smoked mackerel, apple beet slaw, lemon crème fraîche and some homemade bread. We savoured every bite, this plate being one of my favourite of the evening.

The house salad was mixture of peppery arugula, yummy wood oven roasted wild mushrooms and shavings of Grana Padano parm in a mild maple and sherry vinaigrette.

They have a few mains on the menu that are not pizza, but when in Rome... We shared 3. My husband says he judges a pizza place on their Margherita, and this one passed the test with it's savoury fire roasted tomato sauce, fiore di latte mozzarella and fresh basil.

The second pizza we decided to go with was the duck confit with caramelized onion, white truffle oil, melt-in-your-mouth Riopelle cheese and rich duck confit. A great pie to share, but I don't think I could do a whole one to myself.

Our third pizza was a toss up between the wild boar and the chorizo. I beat Mark at rock-paper-scissors, bringing my choice of wild boar to the table. I think this one could have used some form of sauce on the base because it was quite dry. But the mouthwatering boar sausage made up for it – I just wished there was more of it it was so good! Other delectable ingredients on this one included caramelized apple, heavenly sage that went so beautifully with everything, roasted garlic and sharp cheddar.

Service good, apps ranging from $10 to $12 and mains $15 to $18.

1082 Wellington Street Ottawa

Tennesse Williams on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trio Lounge


Had to check this place out after reading so many great reviews.

This cozy little restaurant has got relaxing Friday evening written all over it. With it's wall lined with comfy seats and dim lighting, if you're lucky enough to get a spot, you won't want to leave. And their menu makes it easy to just sit back and slowly eat and drink your night away.

At first glance the menu looks small, and you would expect it to be easy to choose from the list of delectable small plates. Not so. There are many dishes to opt for, which leaves you with that feeling of wishing you had a stomach large enough to try everything. Which of course, reduces the time between then and your next return.

As I sipped away at my Cab-Tempranillo, engaging in conversation, one by one our plates came out.

First, a rich mushroom tapenade with truffle and sprinkles of micro-greens served on baguette toast. The conversation ended at this point as my friend Amy and I savoured each bite.

Next, mouthwatering lamb mint balls with a Moroccan yogurt and a handfull of fresh micro-greens. After dousing my first few bites in this lovely, light sauce, I had to pull back in order to save some for the last few meaty bits.

And finally, a generous cheese board with creamy Soeur Angèle, made from both goat and cow's milk, Mont Jacob, so flavourful and yummy, and my new favourite sheep cheese, Manchego – absolutely divine. The charming platter was dotted with bright red dried cranberries and flower petals. And the savoury red pepper sauce and homemade pesto completed each bite of cheese on the perfectly crisp baguette toasts.

I've already planned what I'm going to order during my next visit – the baked cheese sandwich with house ketchup (which came highly recommended by a friend) and braised Malaysian pork belly steak. Yum!

Prices very reasonable, between $4 and $14 and good service. Music selection is also fantastic. They don't take reservations so make sure to show up early.

307 Richmond Rd Ottawa

Trio Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Braised Beef Short Ribs

My friend Sue hooked us up with a local farmer who was taking orders for some of her yummy beef. We jumped on the opportunity. (They don't have a web site but send me a note if you'd like contact info.) We ordered the meat back in December and picked everything up late January.

Ahhh, a freezer full of delicious meat. I can't think of anything more wonderful. Well, except maybe the results of having this meat. Which is this dish right here – straight from comfort-food-heaven. Goodbye cold, wet days, hello soul-warming goodness.

After hours in the slow-cooker, the meat had already fallen off the bone. Every tender morsel melted in my mouth before my teeth even had time to sink into it. Nothing can compare to good beef. And once you go there once, you're in for life.

Sides for this dish are equally amazing. Unlike most slow-cooker meals where you throw everything into the pot and leave it, this one requires a lot of time for the accompanying veg. My husband was in the kitchen much longer than usual. I will say this though, every second was so worth it. Carrots and mushrooms cooked to perfection along with heavenly pearl onions and thick crisp bacon, all doused in a mouthwatering jus. The base for all of this was a whipped blanket of celery root – A-MA-ZING.

With a rich red wine by your side, this would be the perfect Saturday night dinner for your closest friends. Get the full recipe here on epicurious.