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24 Sep 2017


4'C Cloudy

By Gracie Carroll

4 Great Ontario Wines From The LCBO (And The Recipes To Pair Them With!) #LCBOTasteLocaL

By Gracie Carroll


Many people turn their nose up when it comes to local Ontario wines, but, the truth is, there are many great Ontario wines out there, you just need to know about then. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Niagara region, and it’s one of my favourite destinations to escape the city for a quick weekend getaway, and indulge in the all of the amazing food and wine that the talented makers in the area have to offer. There’s no doubt that it can be overwhelming to determine which wines you should buy, especially when confronted with a vast selection to choose from at the LCBO. Thankfully, their team puts in the effort to provide us with the information we need to navigate the VQA section of any store, especially through their fantastic free magazine, Food & Drink. Here I’m highlighting 4 great Ontario wines from the LCBO to try this fall, and 4 delicious recipes that you can pair with them. These wines and recipes are all from the Wild Thanksgiving recipe booklet that was free in-stores in the lead up to Canadian Thanksgiving, however, they’re all perfect to make and enjoy anytime throughout the fall and holiday season. Find out more about how you can taste local below!

fancy farm girl - great ontario wines - #LCBOTasteLocal

The Wine:

Sue-Ann Staff Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White VQA $14.95

There’s nothing frivolous about this Fancy Farm Girl. Sue-Ann Staff is a fifth-generation grape-grower and one of Ontario’s leading winemakers. This is bright and crisp and marvellously dry, with impressive grapefruit, white peach and green apple throughout. This approachable Ontario white comes from winemaker Sue-Ann Staff who’s racked up over 500 wine awards. Its zippy citrus notes match well with vegetable soup, chicken or seafood.

Available at LCBO stores and LCBO.com

Kale and Chestnut Soup Recipe #LCBOTasteLocal

The Recipe Pairing:

Kale, sweet chestnuts, and the last of the season’s fresh herbs make for a delicious and quick soup. Top with whatever wild mushrooms you can find at the market, but colourful chanterelle and lobster mushrooms look especially beautiful.

What You Need:

2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 onion, chopped
1 small McIntosh apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups (500 mL) peeled and chopped chestnuts
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped thyme
5 sage leaves
6 cups (1.5 L) homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
4 cups (1 L) chopped kale, centre-stem removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
8 oz (250 g) mixed wild mushrooms, sliced or torn
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

What To Do:

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to pot and cook until lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add apple, chestnuts, thyme, sage then chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in kale and cook an additional 4 minutes.

2. Using an immersion blender, purée, leaving visible ecks of kale. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm while preparing mushroom garnish. If making ahead, cool soup then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.

3. For garnish, melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low. When bubbly, add mushrooms and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until softened and golden. Stir in garlic. Cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat.

4. To serve, divide soup between warm bowls. Top each with mushroom garnish.

Serves 6



The Wine:

Chateau Des Charmes Pinot Noir Estate Grown & Bottled $16.95

Chateau De Charmes has  a long history in the Niagara area dating back to the early 60’s. Their Estate Bottled Pinot Noir is a medium ruby with aromas of red berries, earth, and vanilla; the dry palate is medium bodied with balanced acid and tannins and flavours of red cherry, cranberry, and earth on a medium length finish. Pinot Noir flows through the veins of winery founder Paul Bosc, fifth-generation winemaker from Burgundy. This red’s silk tannins harmonize with duck, lamb or mushroom dishes.

Available at LCBO stores and LCBO.com

perfect roast duck recipe - #LCBOTasteLocal

The Recipe Pairing:


A long slow-roasting method yields crispy skin and succulent meat. Let the duck sit uncovered in the refrigerator overnight before roasting as that will help to dry and crisp the skin. Unless a duck is very large it is easier to cut off the legs and thighs and then remove the breast for carving.

What You Need:


2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1?2 cup (125 mL) chopped onion
1 large apple, peeled, cored, chopped
3 cups (750 mL) torn bread
1?2 cup (125 mL) chopped prunes
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon
1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange zest
1/3 cup (80 mL) chicken stock or more if needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1 duck, 5 lbs (2.2 kg)
2 tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar


1?2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add apples and cook for 1 more minute until coated with oil. Stir in bread and cook until edges are golden, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add prunes, tarragon, orange zest then stock. Cook for 2 more minutes or until stock is absorbed and mixture is combined. If it seems too dry, add a little extra stock. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

2. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C).

3. With a fork, prick duck skin all over to help release the fat. Fill cavity with stuffing. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Combine soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and brush over duck. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Bake for 3 hours, pricking the skin again after an hour to help render fat. Baste with soy-balsamic mixture several times during roasting.

5. Increase temperature to 350°F (180°C). Bake for 30 more minutes until skin is crisp and juices run clear.

6. Place on carving board and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.

7. Discard fat from roasting pan, leaving all juices. Add orange juice and stock. Bring to boil, scraping all the bits from pan bottom. Boil about 2 minutes until sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a sauce boat and serve with duck.


The Wine:

River Road Cabernet VQA $14.95

Crafted for freshness, this un-oaked red is fragrant with aromas of cherry and raspberry. The palate is medium-bodied and dry with sweet mid-palate notes of white sugar and vanilla alongside of red berries and followed by light white pepper notes on the medium-length finish. From one of Niagara’s founding wine families comes this Cabernet brimming with black-cherry flavour and a dash of spice. Pair with lamb, beef or mushroom dishes.

Available at LCBO stores and LCBO.com

farro and mushroom stuffed kale recipe - #LCBOtastelocal

The Recipe Pairing:


Reminiscent of the diminutive grape-leaf rolls known as dolmas, these rich, aromatic kale rolls are worth every bit of work involved. The filling of toothsome farro and plenty of mushrooms is bound together with crème fraîche and luscious Gorgonzola. It’s a satisfying main, but terrific as a side dish too.

What You Need:

1 cup (250 mL) semi-pearled farro


1 1?2 cups (375 mL) beef stock
1 1?2 cups (375 mL) passata, or puréed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Sprig thyme
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
Pinch each salt and freshly ground pepper


1?2 oz (15 g) dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb (500 g) assorted fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped thyme
3 cups (750 mL) beef stock
1?2 cup (125 mL) crème fraîche
3 oz (90 g) crumbled Gorgonzola
Freshly ground pepper to taste
30 large lacinato, or dino kale leaves, each 5 to 6 inches (12 to 15 cm) across at widest point

What To Do:

1. While preparing other ingredients, soak farro in enough cool water to cover.

2. For sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Set aside.

3. For stuffing, pour boiling water over porcini in a small heatproof bowl. When rehydrated, about 20 minutes, drain through a fine-meshed sieve set over a bowl. Gently squeeze mushrooms to release excess liquid. Rinse mushrooms well under running water. Coarsely chop. Set both mushrooms and liquid aside.

4. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the
onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and sweat. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook 8 to 10 minutes longer until mushrooms are golden. Drain farro, and add it, along with the reserved porcini, to the pot. Cook, stirring, until the farro is dry, about
2 minutes longer. Add stock and reserved porcini soaking liquid and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 50 minutes until the farro is tender, stirring occasionally in the final 15 minutes (there should be some liquid remaining in the pot). Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche and Gorgonzola. Season with black pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.

5. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

6. Working with one leaf at a time, trim the kale leaves by removing most of the tough centre rib: beginning 4 inches (10 cm) from the top of the leaf (furthest from the stem) use a knife to make a cut right next to, and parallel to the rib all the way to the bottom of the leaf. Repeat on other side of rib; remove and discard rib. Blanch leaves in plenty of boiling water for 1 minute, working in bunches if necessary; drain.

7. Working with 1 leaf at a time, place a heaping tablespoon of the filing 2 inches (5 cm) from the widest end. Working from narrow trimmed end, fold and roll kale around filling to form a roughly 3-inch-long (8-cm) roll. Repeat with remaining kale leaves and lling; arrange in a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking dish. Pour sauce over, cover and bake for 40 minutes. Divide between plates and spoon a little sauce over each.

Serves 4


The Wine:

Seriously Cool Red VQA $15.95

New from Southbrook is this lively red that offers aromas of mulled cherry, candied strawberry and light spice. The palate is medium-bodied and dry with medium acidity and tannins; look for flavours of black cherry, raspberry, and candied apple followed by a lightly spiced medium length, finish. Look for three different mod labels on this sustainably farmed Ontario red blend with dark-red fruity notes. Serve with steak or tomato-based dishes.

Available at LCBO stores and LCBO.com

root vegetable gratin recipe - #LCBOTasteLocal

The Recipe Pairing:


The vegetables in this gratin are interchangeable. If you like, use Jerusalem artichokes or parsnips and Yukon Gold potatoes instead of purple potatoes. The one constant is the beets. Red ones stain the whole gratin pink but can be used if desired. Thin slices are the key to a great gratin. For ease of preparation it’s best to use a mandoline for this recipe.

What You Need:

1 lb (500 g) white turnips
1 lb (500 g) purple potatoes
1 lb (500 g) multi-coloured carrots (preferably fatter ones)
12 oz (375 g) yellow beets
1 bulb fennel, trimmed
1?4 cup (60 mL) butter, divided
2 cups (500 mL) chopped onion
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped garlic
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh thyme
2 cups (500 mL) crumbled goat cheese
1 cup (250 mL) 35% whipping cream
1?2 cup (125 mL) milk
1 cup (250 mL) grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup (250 mL) grated Pecorino or Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground pepper

What To Do:

1. Carefully slice all vegetables using the thinnest setting on a mandoline. For carrots, use a 45-degree angle to get longer pieces.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch lightest coloured vegetables first, starting with turnip. Blanch for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Repeat with remaining vegetables, cooking fennel for 1 minute, yellow beets for 4 minutes, carrots for 2 minutes and purple potatoes for 2 minutes.

3. Melt 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes until softened. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese. Reserve mixture.

4. Combine cream and milk in a pot over medium and just bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Combine cheddar and Pecorino in a small bowl.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

6. Butter 8 ramekins, each 1-cup (250-mL) or one 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-cm) gratin dish. Make layers of vegetables, adding about 1?2 cup (125 mL) of onion-goat cheese mixture to each layer and seasoning with salt and pepper. Fill to the top with vegetables, making the last layer beets.

7. Pour hot cream mixture over each ramekin or gratin dish and top with cheeses. Dot with remaining butter. Bake individual ramekins for 35 minutes and large gratin for 45 minutes, until vegetables are soft and mixture is bubbling.

Serves 8




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