Jul 27, 2009

Langdon Hall's foodie extravaganza

In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Langdon Hall hosted a special weekend of eating, drinking, and general merriment. Featuring special guests: Chef Jamie Kennedy, TV Host Antony John, Chef Michael Bonacini, Cheese Boutique's Afrim Pristine and Langdon Hall Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue.

The food, according to this blog's delegate-in-attendance, was fantastic: kobe beef, elk, suckling pig, cheese and wine pairings... all enjoyed at Langdon's picturesque setting. Indulgence of the best kind!

Afrim embelishes some delicious burrata

A grande feast in the great outdoors

Jamie Kennedy serves up some yummy piggy

Jonathan Gushue and Afrim Pristine

Jul 23, 2009

Carnivorous Maximus: the Kansas Sirloin

CheeseB, for those who are not yet aware, has a great selection of very nice farm-direct beef cuts and other meats. But it was not until I tried their signature cut, the "Kansas City", that I came to wonder why they are not called "Meat Boutique" instead. This Kansas cut is a New York striploin, bone on the outside, beautifully marbled and tender. A premium beef direct from the farm, then dry-aged in-house for at least 40 days. It's a work of art.

As soon as you unwrap it from the package, a slightly pungent, still fresh aroma hits the nose. This is a hint of the flavour that permeates the meat and makes it completely distinct from anything you've ever tried. You don't want to hide this taste with too many ingredients, just compliment it with subtle seasonings.

And of course it deserves a proper grilling:

8 minutes on one side and 7 on the other. It's going to be very rare in the middle with such a thick cut-- perfection itself. Let it sit, either tented under foil or out in the open, for a few minutes before cutting it.
Then slice against the grain parallel with the bone-- look at how juicy that is:

This was pure magic-- a good 1.5 lbs thick slab of absolute heaven. You really don't even need teeth to eat this steak. It's truly beyond adequate description.

I served it alongside BBQ-roasted potatoes, a medley of mushrooms with butter, red wine and shallots, and a spinach and chevre puree. Beverage of choice was an Australian Cabernet! There was the nice taste from the coals, subtle hints of rosemary, the creamy (gently garlicky) zing of the spinach, and the boozy, buttery chew of the mushrooms.

Now, more than ever, I wish words and pictures could transmit to you, dear reader, the loveliness of this sirloin and this meal. If only it were possible to reach through the screen and have a taste.

All I can suggest is to come to CB and try it for yourself!


The Sirloin:
Rub into the steak some course salt, crumbled dried rosemary, fresh ground pepper and olive oil. Sit at room temperature for a couple of hours. This is a good chance to let the wine breathe, prepare the side-dishes, and get the BBQ prepared.
Throw it on the grill and listen to the sizzle--about 8 minutes on one side 7 on the other. My belief is that it would be a crime to serve this cut anything but bloody rare, but, to each their own. Flip only once and press-test for doneness. The firmer it feels, the more it's been cooked through.

Medley of mushrooms with butter and wine
Mushrooms, chef's mix
red wine
pepper and salt

Soften shallots in butter over medium heat, then add mushrooms and stir over higher heat until liquid evaporates. Expose some of the pan and add a little more butter and grind in some pepper. Let that cook gently over lower heat, and add the wine. Reduce slightly.

Spinach with Chevre
1 bunch Spinach
1/3 cup chevre
butter to taste
1-2 cloves garlic
chopped Italian Parsley
1-2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
teaspoon sugar

Gently cook the spinach and drain excess liquid. Pulse in blender with the chevre, lemon, and garlic.
Place over a low heat in small saucepan to thicken a little, and adjust seasonings to taste. Add parsley.

Jul 21, 2009

It's just not a party without Cheese

Tourism Toronto had a shin-dig at the Drake Hotel on Saturday:

The Ice Table

A full house

Cheese-maestro Afrim Pristine in action

Cheese was (of course) provided by none other than CheeseB.

And coming up this weekend: Langdon Hall's 20th Anniversary celebration!

On Saturday evening: "Delight in a multi-course dinner featuring beguiling wine pairings and a Late Night Cheese & Ice Wine Tasting with Toronto’s Cheese Boutique’s Afrim Pristine."

Delegates for this blog will be in attendance, so stay tuned for more.

Jul 16, 2009

The Real Summer-licious: Caprese Salad

Tomatoes, Basil, and a round ball of Buffalo Mozzarella

Insalata Caprese!

This is it: Summer Perfection on a plate. Fragrant basil. Sweet, ripe tomatoes. Creamy buffalo mozzarella. The purity of ingredients creates a fusion of flavour, the textures are remarkably complimentary-- a light yet satisfying meal in hot weather.

The Buffalo mozzarella, I need a string of adjectives to describe: it's delicious, fresh, juicy and springy, creamy and... good.

Though this is not strictly necessary, a little olive oil, balsamic, pepper and a pinch of salt flakes can be used as an accent. Less is more here.

I picked up some of CheeseB's House Balsamic vinegar, which the label explains is from Modena and "aged in resinous woods" and imparting "multi-layered flavours". It's good stuff-- and the bottle is pretty. Just a few drops on top does the trick.

CheeseB's Balsamic vinegar

Caprese Salad

This is something I could eat every day-- perhaps I should invest in my own Water Buffalo.

List of Ingredients:
Campania Felix Mozzarella di Bufala (ask for it at the Cheese counter of course-- there's creamy burrata too!)
Tomatoes: the ripe and real kind
CheeseB's "House" Balsamic Vinegar
A good Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Jul 15, 2009

Afrim Pristine and CheeseB in today's Globe and Mail

All about the art of the Affineur:

"There is also the deep satisfaction of “bringing the cheese to another level,” says Afrim Pristine of Toronto's Cheese Boutique. “We age cheese to have products that you can't get anywhere else,” he says. “I can't buy a 10-year-old cheddar – I have to age it myself.”

Read it here: Makin' Cheddar Better

Jul 14, 2009

Preventing Shopping Bag Injury.

In the chair: Mike, who appreciates shopping at Cheese B more than ever.

Cheese isn't the lightest food you can purchase is it? Just kidding :-)

An unexpected treat for visitors to CheeseB over the weekend: professional massage sampling!

10 minute sessions for anyone who donated $1 for a charity bookmark. Courtesy of therapist Dylan McEwen of Swansea Massage Clinic.

Massage at Cheese B? New frontiers in your shopping experience.

Jul 10, 2009

Egg Pasta Chronicles: Part III

I'm crying. There's aroma. I'm salivating.

All within 20 min.

The last few weeks have been so pasta centric that I, the big cheese, wanted to try it out for myself after studying all of Oreagano's suggestions. "Gourmet" implies a lot of effort, but here I set out to prove differently. I talked to Agim at CheeseB and he sent me on my way to do something hearty yet delicate and with little effort.

Egg pasta from Filotea is boiled in a wonderful 90 seconds. Repeat: 90 seconds... that, to me, sounds musical.

The breakdown:
Crying...cutting of a Sweet Spanish Onion.

I used truffle oil (truffle season is just around the corner again) to sauté the onion. Once golden...mix in the Panchetta (essentially, thick cuts of bacon) and then finally, pomodora....cook on low heat and until thickened--a little help with some parmesan cheese to speed up the thick! At that point, I dropped in the Pappardelle into the boiling water and voila!

It was an epiphany.

I vow to continue this exploration al forte.

Filotea Pappardelle
Solania Pomodoro
Truffle Oil
Sweet Spanish Onion
topped with Parmagiano Reggiano

Jul 4, 2009

Wedlock and cheese

Back in 2007 we blogged about a novel twist on the wedding cake--which a couple of months later CheeseB had its own wedding to really show off --- a wedding cake of layered cheese.

The Saturday Toronto Star updates that story 2 years later where a novel idea has grown into a viable request. Check it out!

Cheese layered wedding cake

Jul 2, 2009

Egg Pasta Chronicles: Part II

Part I of these chronicles discussed a bit of background on Filotea dried egg-pastas. For this post, I get to taste for myself the Spaghetti alla chitarra, made from 30% egg and quality semolina wheat.

As a co-star for the pasta, Afrim recommended the Pecorino Toscano from Il Forteto Dairy --- in fact he was there himself, in person, just recently on a trip through Tuscany.

Here is the cheese:

The lovely Pecorino Toscano

To prepare this, add the pasta to plenty of boiling salted water and don't go anywhere, it is finished very quickly. After draining the water I added a good dollop of nice olive oil and plenty of the grated cheese. A few crumbled salt flakes and a dash of ground pepper, and it's ready to devour.

Such a unique pasta! Light and fluffy yet firm, yolky and hearty. Harmonizing with this is the elemental flavour of olive oil and the palate-satisfying complexity of the cheese. It was served with a summer salad that included ripe roma tomatoes, dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Completely delicious, to the very last twirl of the fork.

Egg-cellent Filotea pasta

Filotea Spaghetti alla chitarra
Pecorino Toscano
Olive Oil
A salad heavy on the ripe tomatoes!