An evening of superbly crafted wines alongside some of the most fascinating dishes I have tasted in quite some time.

A very special evening of superbly-crafted and fantastically textured wines alongside some of the most fascinating dishes I have tasted in quite some time.

When you think about it, pairing the wines of Azienda Agricola Foradori with the cuisine of Actinolite‘s Chef/Owner Justin Cournoyer is a no-brainer, a gustatory slam-dunk if you will . The elegantly textured, mineral-focused whites and reds from the soils of the Dolomites feel as if they were made to sit alongside Cournoyer ‘s intriguingly eccentric and wholly unique take on Canadian cuisine.

The honesty and earnestness of both Winemaker and Chef is, to be quite honest, at first a little disarming. The 27 years young Emilio Foradori’s eyes sparkle with the self-same passion that lights up the enthusiastic gastro-notation of the 37 year old Cournoyer. Without sounding too gushing with praise, I believe that their genuine good-nature and inherent enthusiasm translate directly to the wineglass and the plate respectively.

To describe the many-layered complexities of the wines of Foradori is no easy task. There is an almost magical freshness and vitality within each mouthful that truly defies description. Regular GFR contributor Christopher Sealy goes some way towards capturing the essence of their mystique in a heartfelt piece on his own website. Like myself, he’s obviously rather fond of the wines.

Mark Cuff, Justin Cournoyer , and Alec Coyer at Actinolite

Mark Cuff (The Living Vine), Chef Justin Cournoyer (Actinolite), and Alec Coyer (Bar Isabel) ready themselves for the night’s proceedings.

During some jovial post-dinner cross examination Cournoyer freely admits that much of his inspiration is drawn from that old pal of GFR, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken fame, his cookbook proving to be the tipping point in Actinolite’s culinary evolution. It’s important to note here that the restaurant’s admirable program of foraging, procurement, and preserving are far from being a simple following of fashions, as zeitgeisty as such practices may sound to the casual observer. No, Cournoyer is more than happy to explain his veritable Road To Damascus moment, and how he sees his small restaurant fitting into the bigger picture with regards to the myriad factors that make up some kind of fiscally viable sustainability.

The resultant menu is composed of some brave, exquisitely-detailed, and often challenging dishes. On this, my first visit, I discover that it’s little wonder Actinolite has garnered such heady critical praise over the past two years. Whilst Cournoyer’s kitchen confidence is expressed with every plate that leaves the kitchen, such valiant gastronomic endeavours may not always be to every diner’s taste as this Chef’s expansive flavour palette can often dip into roads less travelled. Prospective diners need to arrive with both an open mind and palate, and this is, in my mind, a very good thing indeed.

Great food and wine essentially have to come from the heart, and rarely has this been so true as in this one-night partnership in a modest little 30-seater restaurant at the highest end of the Ossington strip. I’m just so glad I was there to be part of it.

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Foradori are represented in Ontario by The Living Vine. The Living Vine are a Good Food Fighter.

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Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’ll be back to Actinolite very soon. Most impressed.