Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Baja Citrus Tofu

One day when I was out shopping, I came upon this little package of seasoning mix.

It seemed geared to fish, but I thought - 'Hell, I can use it for tofu!' Club House has all kinds of powdered gravy mixes, marinades, add-ins for meatloaf, chili, etc. and I think pretty much all of them are vegetarian friendly.

I mixed up the marinade according to the directions and let the tofu slices hang out in it for a while so they could soak up some of the flavour. I then cooked the tofu on my George Foreman grill.

They cooked up nice, don't you think? I had these with a Spanish flavoured rice & Dreena's Lemon-Broiled Green Beans.

The marinade was subtle, but nice. It wasn't very liquidy - more like a moist rub. I liked this well enough to buy it again. It's quick for weeknight meals.

To drink before our meal, and what was left in the bottle with our meal, was this interesting German Riesling.

This came out in the March 14 Vintages release. Priced at $16.95, I thought it was an excellent price for what I was buying.

Look at the year on the label. 1987! I was 23 when this wine was made. Now I'm....considerably older. I've had a 10 year old riesling before, but this one is 22! This is also proof that certain white wines can age quite well. This one was interesting. It had the classic petrol, elastic band sort of nose that rieslings take on as they age. It was drier in style, but with still just a hint of sweet. We enjoyed it very much.

As exciting as the wine was, it just wasn't a match for what I did yesterday. I gots me 2 tickets for U2's upcoming world tour stop in Toronto!! There are two shows at the Rogers Centre and they both sold out in no time. I was poised at my keyboard, logged into my Ticketmaster account and ready to start clicking when the tickets went on sale at 10am. It took some doing, but I managed to get 2 for the Sept. 17 show. Our wedding anniversary is on Sept. 20, so this will be a great kick-off to our Anniversary Weekend. Woot!Woot! It's been years since I saw U2 live. The last time was during their Joshua Tree tour which was in 1987 - the same year the wine above was made! Well, how's that for a funny coincidence. If I have a good a time at this upcoming concert as I did at the last one.....it'll be an anniversary to remember.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Toronto Wine & Cheese Show

On Sunday, Jim & I went to the Toronto Wine & Cheese Show. Oooo-eeee did we have some good stuff. our first stop was the LCBO fine wine area. This is where they showcase a lot of the high-end stuff. We tasted quite a few and there were some surprises.

This one was no surprise. I love me some Champage and this one was really nice. (LCBO #933060 - priced at $159) The French know how to do sparkling right. There are a lot of great sprakling wines out there and many are reasonably priced, and terrific for everyday celebrations, but when you have a really good Champagne, the others pale in comparisson. This particular vintage is 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. The final bottling process (disgorgement) was in March 2008, so it was in the cellars for quite some time. Yum!

The Chateau Pavie Macquin we tried was the 1995 vintage. It was quite full-bodied and very fruity. The tannins have mellowed almost completely and the wine has taken on a nice silky feel. This one is priced in Ontario at $149.00 (LCBO #37663), and is ready to drink now. This one kind of surprised me. As far as price and quality go, this one is a bit of a steal.

Dominus from the Napa Valley in California is owned by renowned French winemaker, Christian Moueix, who is best known for his own line of wines and his association with Chateau Petrus. The 2005 vintage (LCBO# 105890, price $127.95) is a big, bold red that is sure to impress. It is still young and quite tight with gripping tannins. It needs some serious aging - perhaps 6-10 years. When it's softened and starts to show it's stuff, it's going to be amazing.

Who doesn't love a nice Brunello? This 10 years old bottle is superb - smooth & silky with a wonderful finish. (LCBO# 105049) Priced at $84, it would be perfect for a celebratory meal of classic Italian fare. Delicious! I do love Italian wine.

Back to Napa Valley for this baby. In the past I've always been partial to Sonoma wines, but this Napa Valley red really impressed me. This is one of my favorites from the whole day. Rich fruit & a bit of spice.....This wine really had it goin' on. (LCBO# 733329, price $109.00) The vintage we tasted was 2004, so it does need some more cellaring time. I can only imagine how spectacular this will be in a few years. A winner for sure!

This was my other favorite of the day. The bottle available for tasting was from the blockbuster 2005 vintage. (LCBO# 567693, price $309.00) This one had the classic Bordeaux aromas, was full-bodied with loads of fruit and a velvety mouthfeel. What a gorgeous wine! This will age wonderfully and is good to sit and do it's thing for another 5-10 years. This one gets Best In Show.

Have you ever had a wine from Hungary? Ever heard of Tokaji? It's a region in Hungary that produces some of the most delicious dessert wines in the world. Grapes are infected with what is called Botrytis or Noble Rot. As gross as it may sound, it can be a very good thing. Careful control is needed in the vineyard and the end result is a sweet nectar of a wine that rich, complex and unlike anything else you have ever tasted.

The one we tried was 2002 Királyudvar Tokaji Aszú Lapis 6 Puttonyos. (LCBO# 82875, price $149.00) The wine was a wonderful golden colour and an absolute delight.

Then there were a couple of disappointments. One was this:

Chateau Haut-Brion is one of the 5 chateaus awarded Premiers (or 1er) Crus in the Classification of 1855. In good years, this wine can command very large prices. Unfortunately, 2004 wasn't a terrific year in France. Some chateaus have turned out very nice wines and as they have had a chance to age a bit, 2004 is turning out to be not as bad as originally thought. There have been a lot of pleasant surprises. Sadly, this one wasn't all that it could be. (LCBO#669762, price $329.00). The wines from these Premier Crus are meant to be aged for a number of years to reach their peak, so maybe in a few years this one will turn out to be one of those surprises. Don't get me wrong, the wine is still good, but I have had better.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the day was Opus One.

This wine started as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe De Rothschild (of Mouton Rothschild, other another premiere cru). It is a classic Bordeaux blend and commands a large price (LCBO#583203, price $359.95). I was anticipating something spectacular, but, meh, nothing super special. The vintage we tried was 2005, which was a excellent year in California wine country. I was hoping for another Leoville Barton or Duckhorn, but this one failed to deliver. The flavour was OK, not really complex like I'd expect from something of this caliber and it had a very short finish which was quite disappointing. A case of you don't get what you pay for. But the name alone will keep these bottles selling.

We also got to try some interesting tidbits of food but nothing that really knocked my socks off. I did have a horrible mango salad. It looked good, but tasted gross. I ended up pitching it in the garbage can. This upcoming weekend is Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest. Here's hoping for some more good stuff (and better food.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Irish Stew & George Clooney

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Yea, I'm a little late with this post, but what else is new. I had a completely insane work week, but still managed to squeeze in a little at home St. Patrick's celebration. First off, I bought myself a new Claddagh ring.

My old one snapped right in half about 2 months ago and after looking around, I found this one that I really liked.

St. Patrick's Day calls for some sort of Irish fare. I've been dying for a good pot of stew, so Irish stew it was. I used Robin Robertson's recipe in The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook as a guideline and although very tasty, it just wasn't all it could be.

I had to do something to up the flavour.

How about some Guinness?

In the stew? Hey, why not?

WOW! What a great idea! The broth took on such a rich flavour.

Have a sip? Don't mind if I do thanks. Cooking is mighty thirsty work.

So my recommendation for adding some oomph to your stew - a good ol' Irish stout. It's not a secret ingredient by any means. One of my customers, Brian (not Adams) is and Irishman and he says his mum always put it in her stew. He was making a big mess of colcannon but I skipped that because I had loads of spuds in my stew. Wanna see the finished product?

Voila! Look at the nice dark gravy. It was chock full of carrots, kale, mushrooms (which I picked out and gave to Jim) white beans and I added some veggie burger chunks to give it extra heartiness. I bought some nice potato-scallion bread to sop up the broth and we chowed down in fine style.

Jim had the camera and was taking pictures and this is what I find when I downloaded -

What the...? No matter how old they get, they are still little boys sometimes, aren't they?

I've said before that I have a sort of love-hate thing going on for PETA. Despite all the good they do, sometimes, they're just a little off the deep end. And, they are at it again. Did you hear the latest wacky idea? CloFu - George Clooney tofu.

Now, we'll all agree that he is one fine specimen, but would I want to eat tofu with his sweat taste in it? I'll just stick with my stew for now thank you.
(I can't believe they actually wrote him a letter about this. Cuckoo!!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bryan Adams - LIVE!!

On Tuesday, Bryan finally came to see me. Geez, he took his sweet ass time getting here let me tell you. Seriously though, it has been quite a few years since I indulged in one of his concerts and after leaving Copps Coliseum at the end of the show, I was wondering why. He always puts on a great performance and I always have a wicked time. Jim was a good husband and came with me. He expected to be the only man in a sea of middle-aged women, but he was surprised to see all ages of men & women there. Teenagers even! We had amazing seats on the floor, row 11. Woot! I'm posting a video I took of BA singing one of my favorites. Please ignore the shakiness at the beginning - I'm by no means a professional. (This Blogger video upload isn't very good quality. There are larger and better quality videos on my Facebook page. Not on my friend list? Send me a request. I'd be happy to add you!)

Thank you Bryan! You're da bomb baby!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Where's Carrie?

Hellooooo! I'm still here. I can't believe how long it's been since I posted. I thought things were ready to quiet down, but that proved not to be the case. But in a good way. It's really taken me a long time to get around to typing this up.

As I mentioned in the last post, Jim & I went to see We Will Rock You.

It was pretty good. The first Act was great, but the story line got kinda cheesy in the second act. The singing was phenomenal and the music was Queen-ly awesome. We both really enjoyed it. We then went for dinner at this terrific Italian place we found in downtown Toronto. I was enjoying my "date" so much, that I completely forgot about taking pictures of my food. I even brought my camera just for that. I'm such a spazz.

Three days later, we were back to TO for a basketball game. Raptors vs. Lakers. Jim had these tickets given to him. I have never been to an NBA game and even though I'm not a basketball fan, I was looking forward to it. Baseball and football bore me to tears. They play a little bit, then stop, play a little bit, then stop. It doesn't keep my attention. Hockey & soccer are almost constantly moving and since basketball is like that, I can kind of get into it. I have also never been to the ACC for anything other than a hockey game and Whoa! did it look different.

No boards, no glass, no netting, no ice. And everything was just messed up. They had a lady sing the national anthems, but they didn't start the game right away. They kept warming up and then this little show to get us pumped up.

With the mascot (in the middle) who is really kinda cool.

Finally, they started the game. Chris Bosh (#4 there in white) is Toronto's big player.

And for LA, of course, Kobe Bryant. The fans seemed to be split half for TO, half for LA. And not nearly as rowdy and vocal as the hockey crowd. In fine Toronto fashion, they were ahead and made everyone hopeful they could pull off a win, finally! Then, lost in the end. Professional sports teams in this city are really doing horribly bad this year. Even the mighty Toronto Rock are in last place. UGH!

This sign was on the wall in the ladies washroom. What a great thing to see. If a huge facility like the Air Canada Centre can do this, what's stopping everyone else? (Click the pic to make it larger)

We went for some wine tasting this past weekend. 2007 is the best year Niagara has seen yet for wine. The whites have been released and some of the reds are trickling out slowly. Treat yourself if you can. If you haven't been over to Dynise's blog lately, you should. She has a link to Barnivore, a site that lists vegan wine, beer & spirits. I was pleasantly amazed at how many Ontario wineries are listed as vegan. Not only delicious, animal friendly too!

A couple of years ago, Dalton McGuinty was up for re-election and since he royally screwed the residents of Ontario at the beginning of his first term, he did an awful lot of sucking up to get re-elected. One of the things he decided to do was to give us a statutory holiday in February. It's a long stretch from New Year's to Easter and there were no holidays at all. Plus, it's the end of winter and sometimes it seems like it just won't end, so everyone needs a perk. I didn't vote for the man, but I'll take his holiday thankyouverymuch. The third Monday in February is now known as Family Day in the province of Ontario. So, the third Sunday night in February is known at LCBO store 566 as Pub Crawl!

Jim & I had a great time, and managed to stay sober for the most part. Some of the others weren't as "judicious".

Janesse was doing OK, Matt, not so much. In the end he was fine. Got some food, was responsible and had a ride home and was feeling good the next day. A great night was had by all of us and we're tentitively arranging and Easter crawl in combination with my birthday. WOOO!

Got strange people in your kitchen, snooping through your refrigerator looking for something to eat? Once you get your mitts on "The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes" there will be no shortage of tasty dishes for you to whip up for unsuspecting guests. (Thanks to Matt & JJ for this totally unstaged photo)

Pear and Pepper Chutney - delicious! Which was then used in this

Elegant Lunch Sandwich - This was so rich and yummy. Sure to impress.

Couscous Mosaic - this was one of my very favorites from the upcoming book This is on the "must make" list for everyone!
Seitan Steaks with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce - sounds delicious, right? Oh, and it is and so freakin' easy, you won't believe it. I really slathered the sauce on this; next time I'll show more restraint because it was a bit much. Serve this to your guests and they'll stay out of your refrigerator.
Winter still has a hold on us, so soup is on the menu more than usual.
Island Gumbo - is chock full of veggies and just a touch of heat. Yummy!

Potato-Leek Soup - a non-creamy version. (Thank you! I do not like cream soups) Jim loved this. He said it was better than the potato-leek his Scottish gran used to make. That is quite a statement!

Finishing up, a great little dessert - Pumpkin-Spice Baby Bundts. I didn't have miniature bundt pans so I used jumbo muffin tins. It worked fine, just not as visually appealing.

The Academy Awards were over a week ago. Did you watch? We stayed up for some of it and got to see the best acceptance speech. Here's Kunio Kato accepting his Oscar for Best Animated Short

“So heavy. Thank you very much. Thank you, my supporters,” Kato said. “Thank you, all my staff. Thank you, my producer. Thank you, Academy. Thank you, animation. Thank you my company, Robot. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Thank you very much.”

**He's quoted as saying "producer", but I think he says pencil. He is an animator after all.