by Malcolm Jolley

The author hard at work. Photo: Ginger Hucknall

The food writer’s life is punctuated by some very pleasant episodes. More often than not, invitations to these episodes come from publicists and PR professionals, wishing to drum up some press for their restaurateur clients. We craven, ink-stained wretches are often more than happy to accept these invitations, as our schedules allow,  on the dual grounds that: a) there may be a story in it, and b) it sounds like fun. I remember asking seasoned Canadian food writer, who I like and for whom I have nothing but respect, whether he/she was going to write-up the event we were both attending. I didn’t see a story in it, and quietly said as much. The writer looked me in the eye and explained, “Malcolm, I don’t go to anything unless I’m going to cover it.” I wish I had that writer’s ability to judge the story-worthiness of each event,  or their ability to conjure an interesting piece from any event. Alas, I do sometimes attend an event (often much fun) without 1,000 words to write about. Or sometimes there’s another GFR correspondent there, so I ease up and let them take the notes. This quick piece is a way to acknowledge some of the fun stuff I’ve recently attended, and throw a few snapshots on the site.

Victoria Gin 5 à 7 at Cava

Laura Calder and Bob Blumer (a.k.a. 'The Surreal Gourmet') at Cava.

Vicotria Gin makes its eponymous spirit in its eponymous city on Vancouver Island in small batches using old fashioned techniques and equipment. It’s pretty darned good, or so I thought after a few tasting shots and a couple cocktails on a recent evening at Cava. There to enliven the Monday evening cocktail party was Chef Chris McDonald, who made us all tapas, and Food Network star Bob Blumer who has a stake in the distillery. Further glamour was provided by fellow FoodTV star Laura Calder. Cava has been running all sorts of fun cinq à sept promotions like this on Mondays or Tuesdays. This one very low key and fun, attracting a few of the restuarants regulars, and a few industry folks, like a crew from Didier down the street including GFR contributor and super-sommelier Zoltan Szabo.

Chef Chris McDonald assembling tapas.

Chef’s Lunch at Hillebrand

I’m not just a food writer, I’m also a part-time camera man. And I recently went out to Hillebrand Winery just outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake to shoot one of Arlene Stein’s videos on chefs. (Watch for it soon.) The winery restaurant is featuring ‘Harvest Table’ meals prepared specially by Chef Frank Dodd, and part of the experience is going into the kitchen and meeting the chef and his crew. Outside of our interview filming, Arlene and I got the full four course lunch experience, which was delicious and (at times) elegantly simple.

More hard work sampling Trius sparkling and charcuterie in Frank Dodd's kitchen at Hillebrand.

Elora Farmers’ Market

Okay, my invitation to attend the Elora Farmers Market was from our good friends the Chongs, who love on farm nearby and who were not looking for any coverage. My wife and I went purely for fun and to pick up a few things for dinner. It’s a beautiful market, set-up among a stand of trees next to the Grand River, before it flows into the gorge. I couldn’t resists taking a picture of the lovely ladies from Irvine Creek Organics, a cooperative, CSA-driven farm near Fergus. Their pickles were delicious (lemon wax beans, and spicy thyme carrots), so was the salad and scapes.

Irvine Creek Organics' table at the Elora Farmers' Market

The Best Drink Ever

The best drink I have ever had (that was not wine) in my life was a few weeks ago at Sidecar. I have photographic evidence below. Christine Sismondo and Bill Sweete invited some journalists for a sneak peek at the drinks menu at their just about to open private cocktail club The Toronto Temperance Society. Because I am not very smart, I had a deadline the same afternoon and had to drive over. That meant one drink, and our bartender, the incomparable Scott Mochrie, made me a negroni-like drink with gin, orange and Apero (a pink Campari-like bitter) that was heavenly. I sipped and savoured it for nealry an hour, like a well aged, great vintage wine. My liver is very scared of this man and club for grown-up drinking, since I joined.

The best drink ever known to be made in 5,000 years of written history is poured with care by libation architect and renown genius tender of the bar, Scott Mochrie of the Toronto Temperance Society.

Bodegas Castaño at Torito

We featured La Casona’s Monastrell as GFR’s Wine of the Week a few weeks ago, so by the time Bodegas Castaño’s export director Daniel Castaño Muñoz came to Toronto came to Toronto recently, Jamie and I turned up to meet him and taste his famiy’s super-value wines for fun as much as anything else. I’m glad we did since it meant meeting a true Spanish gentleman and enjoying the back terrace at Torito in Kensington Market. Proprietress Veronica Laudes kept us full of lovely little tapas morsels while we sipped rosé and Monastrell. Very civilized.

When Veronica Laudes brings you chorizo, you take it!

Peaches on my Porch

I took this photo a few hours ago, then promptly ate all three Niagara peaches. Life is good.

Malcolm Jolley is the editor of Good Food Revolution.