Showing posts with label Wine pairing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine pairing. Show all posts

CLOSED: AMA (Toronto)


At AMA, the operations seem laid back … there’s not a corporate bone in the establish. Sebastian Gallucci, owner of AMA, recalls how he found their sous chef from Kijiji then proceeded to be 20 minutes late for their interview and even ate a bowl of pasta during the entire ordeal. Having gone through the interview process many times, I could just imagine how unsettling it would be to try to answer behavioural questions while watching someone twirl spaghetti.


He also jumped at the opportunity to team up with u-Feast to showcase AMA’s Argentinian cuisine. The $95 + taxes per person meal hooked my friends and I, after all, how can you turn down a 5-course meal with wine pairings? And not just any old pairing, thanks to the Wines of Argentina distributor, we could sample TWELVE, that a few per course! To ensure the post stays to a reasonable length, I’ll just highlight two wines I found particularly notable:

After hearing the 2017 Crios Torrontés ($14.95 at the LCBO) was made by a vintner known as the Queen of Torrontes, Susana Balbo, I knew I had to try the creations from the first wine maker from Argentina. The crisp white wine is made with Torrontés, a grape only found in Argentina, at a winery that’s located at a high altitude. It has a distinctive floral taste as soon as it hits the palette, which will need to be carefully paired with food but works well for sipping.

It’s no surprise that we sampled a host of red wines – a favourite region for me as wines are generally full bodied and reasonably priced. The 2014 Colomé Estate Malbec ($24.95 at the LCBO) is grown in Cafayate, a city 3111m above sea level! A gorgeous deep red hue, the Malbec is rich on the tongue but finishes so smoothly.


In terms of the meal, AMA’s empanadas are held together by some of such thin pastry despite being stuffed with lightly spiced ground beef hit with parmigano for extra flavour. They’re good, the dish’s heaviness dialed down by the chimichurri.


There were some great unexpected additions used in the red snapper ceviche: celery that provided a great crunch that’s different from the typical chip and sweet grapes for balancing out the tart guacamole. Of course, there’s also the customary onion, herbs, and lime, which give the ceviche its signature flavour along with big chunks of the fish. It was all served on top of a tostada for even more crunch, ideal for breaking off into pieces to dip into any stray guacamole.


Sebastian, being from an Italian Argentinian household, even showcased a ricotta gnocchi in the meal. They were the large and pillowy variety, to the point each were almost the size of ping pong balls, and perfect for those who like softer smooth gnocchi. While my preference is for smaller ones that have a bit of bite or a crispy crust, the sugo sauce was delicious - the tomatoes bright creating in a hearty sauce. I only wish there was crusty bread available to clean the plate.


Our main would make any carnivore swoon – a platter filled with two cuts of beef (a juicy ribeye and a leaner skirt steak), chicken, and chorizo. I didn’t try the chicken, but the other items were done perfectly, laced with an aromatic grilled aroma synonymous with Argentinian cuisine. My favourites were the steak, even the leaner skirt steak was so tender, the meat so flavourful. The only faux pas was the abundant globs of chimichurri spooned everywhere – the shear sourness was so overwhelming I had to scrape it off, it’s a condiment best served on the side.


Needless to say, it wasn’t all meat. A vinegary leaf salad and a yummy chunky mashed potato were also served, the starch great for soaking up some of the alcohol.


After having four red pairings with the main, I was in a happy hazy place by the time the assorted Argentinian inspired desserts came around. Truth be told, I remember little about them, only fleeting tastes of chocolate, buttery crust, and of course, dulce de leche.


What once started as a food truck (Che Baby) has morphed into AMA. They describe the vision for their restaurant so beautifully, “AMA - which means Loves in Spanish and Love in Italian - represents the idea that an experience should be more than the sum of its parts. The name AMA is inspired by our love for food, music, and our passion to creating lasting memories for those we love.” After the equivalent of 1.5 bottles of wine, I can feel that love… AMA baby AMA.

Want to check out UFeast for yourself? Sign up with my referral link to get $10 off your first experience.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 930 Queen Street West


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Ama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You can Taste the Season in NOTL this November with this #contest!


As Mother Nature gives it bounty, you can enjoy what the land has to offer with wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake with their annual Taste the Season event. Twenty wineries across the region are serving up holiday appropriate bites with a taste of their VQA wines.

Having attended a similar event in the spring, Sip and Sizzle, it was a great time - hiring a touring company to bring my husband and around as I ate and drank the day away. Here are some of the highlights of what we sampled, you can get the complete re-cap here.

Since Peller Estates was one of the first stops, we were spoiled by the full-sized wild boar sausage – you’re not leaving hungry. The gaminess of the wild boar was mellowed with grainy maple Dijon mustard and the salty crispy shallots were an excellent addition. With an equally generous pour of the 2015 Private Reserve Gamay Noir ($19.95), which pairs nicely with the meatiness of the dish, we could have stayed at the winery longer if they had tables to lounge in.


Château des Charmes had the most optimal pairing, in my opinion. Their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($14.95) was not quite as tart and mellow in a refreshing way. The creaminess of the citrus aioli on the cold sweet grilled shrimp and the strong herbs in the shoot and sprout salad went nicely with the light wine.


I even discovered something new while making return visits given the Sip and Sizzle tastings were often held in areas separated from the traditional tasting rooms. The best location goes to Ravine Vineyards: guests head downstairs to cellar’s private dining area where curing meats hang in a climate controlled room and barrels filled with aging wine line the walls.


You can experience a similar tasty day every weekend in November (Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays). Pick up the touring passport for $45 (plus taxes and fees) or a designated driver’s version for $25 (plus taxes and fees) that includes non-alcoholic drinks and you’re entitled to a taste of food and drink at each of the 20 participating wineries, valid all month long.



The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake want to give a Gastro World reader a chance to experience it themselves. The winner will receive two passes (valued at $90 plus taxes and fees) to use anytime during the event. Please note, transportation and accommodations are not included. Simply enter below.

Entries will be accepted until October 28, 2017 at 12:00 AM. Sometime the following day, I will contact winners through email with further details. Accordingly, please make sure you enter a valid email address in Rafflecopter contest site. Cheers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How To Find Them
 Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

Pukka's Taste of Goa Dinner (Toronto)


As my love for Indian food deepens, I want to learn more about cuisines specific to India's different regions. After all, in such a large country with varying climates, the dishes that develop should draw upon ingredients from the area. Just like there’s no single definition for Italian, French, or Chinese food, Indian food can also vary greatly from region to region.

Hence, when Parv informed me about a Goan feast by Pukka through UFeast ($70), I was intrigued. After all, so much of what we generally eat is from Northern India (think butter chicken) that it’d be an excellent opportunity to taste something different.

Entering Pukka, there were at least 40 people in attendance, also excited to tuck into the special menu Harsh Chawla and Derek Valleau designed exclusively for the gathering. While Pukka’s normal menu is inspired by the North, for this event, they looked to the coastal area in the West creating a menu that’s spicier than their traditional offering but still following their principles of using ethically sourced meats and building flavourful dishes.

Accompanying the feast were wines from Rioja, a north central region in Spain. Famous for their Tempranillo, this was a chance to taste some of their other varietals. Before the meal, we sipped on a 2016 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rosado, a rosé for those who don’t like the sweeter wine; I found it much dryer, but still giving off a fruity essence.

With the appetizers we continued with the lighter wines with a 2016 white and rosé from Baron de Ley, the refreshing white went especially well with fried appetizers like the vada. The lentil fritters were plain on their own but were the perfect vessel for enjoying the accompanying sauces: herby coconut chutney and a hot sambar, a fragrant lentil vegetable stew that we couldn’t get enough of – as the commercial says… I put that s**t on everything.



The beef croquette had a great thin crunchy exterior and was filed with minced beef, onion, and other spices. The spicy tomato chutney really had some heat with it; thankfully, the coconut chutney from the vada helped to cool my tongue when I went a bit gung-ho with the spicy sauce.



In Canada, we’re well versed with a samosa. so when the chamuças arrived the pastry pyramid looked familiar, especially with the tamarind sauce. But once you got inside the filling was more orange - my best guess is it was a spiced yam with carrot slivers given there was sweetness to it.  



Pukka’s aloo chana chaat is the best chaat I’ve had! While it incorporates different sauces, their version shows restraint so the condiments aren’t the entire experience (my general dissatisfaction of most chaats I’ve had). Plus there are tons of contrasting textures: soft diced potatoes, meaty chickpeas, juicy pomegranate seeds, and crispy vegetable strings. Each forkful was delicious and if it weren’t for worrying that I’d be too full for the mains, seconds would definitely be in order.



As the dinner progressed into the mains, three red wines arrived allowing us to mix-and-match with the dishes: a 2014 Beronia Tempranillo Rioja, 2012 CVNE Cune Crianza, and 2012 Beronia Reserva. The Tempranillo didn’t disappointment with tons of berry flavour amongst faint tannin. The Beronia Reserva was what I enjoyed the most, a more robust wine that held its own against the spicier foods. 

In general, we learnt that fruity wines help to cut through the spices, much like fruit chutney. It was ideal that they’re all found at the LCBO and at under $20 a bottle, picking one up for future meals won’t break the bank.  

The mains started out innocent enough with the chicken cafreal, which reminds me of tandoori except with more herbs ending with a coriander finish. It’s not overly exciting and a bit bland compared to the appetizers, but was nonetheless tender and a nice “break” before getting into the really hot dishes.



And the heat started coming, first in the pork vinha d'alhos, where the spiciness was tempered with garlic and vinegar so it’s still bearable. The pork belly was outstanding, braised until it turned into a soft pool that melted onto the tongue, helping to protect against the spices. On the other hand, there was no respite with the prawn balchao – from start to finish the tomato sauce had a fiery kick! From what I could muster, the prawn was cooked nicely; the sauce was just too much for me.  



Hence, it was smart to end the mains with a coconut pumpkin curry, its creamy sauce helped to numb the pain from the prior dish. Surprisingly, it was a delicious – here I thought pumpkin would be too sweet and bland. Yet, with mustard seeds and enough salt, the dish stayed savoury and went so nicely with the steamed basmati rice.



After all the spicy mains, the cooling ice cold bebinca was a great choice for dessert. The cake wasn’t too sweet but even a small slice left me sedated thanks to the creamy coconut milk, ghee, and egg custard layer between the cakes.



At $70 a person (inclusive of taxes and gratuities), I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of food and wine we were served at the Pukka’s Goan feast. Not only did I get a chance to catch-up with friends but we met some interesting guests as well – after a few glasses of wine people definitely started letting loose!

Sounds like fun? You can check out UFeast using my referral link and get $10 your first meal.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 778 St Clair Avenue West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Pukka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hurry before Niagara's Sip and Sizzle month is over (Niagara-on-the-Lake)


On weekends in May, Niagara-on-the-Lake is getting tastier as they host their annual Sip & Sizzle event. Twenty four wineries across the region offer a signature grilled dish with wine pairing. Purchase their wine pass ($54.24) or designated driver’s version that includes a non-alcoholic drink ($31.64) and you’re entitled to a taste of food and drink at each of the participating wineries.

With no one wanting to be a designated driver (why miss out on the fun?), my husband and I solicited the services of a local Niagara transportation company to drive us around for a day. We ended up at ten wineries and certainly got our fill of food and drinks.

Since Peller Estates was one of the first stops, we were spoiled by the full-sized wild boar sausage – you’re not leaving hungry. The gaminess of the wild boar was mellowed with grainy maple Dijon mustard and the salty crispy shallots were an excellent addition. With an equally generous pour of the 2015 Private Reserve Gamay Noir ($19.95), which pairs nicely with the meatiness of the dish, we could have stayed at the winery longer if they had tables to lounge in.


Two Sisters also featured a sizeable cod potato fritter with their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($34). Both the crisp citrusy wine and salty warm fritter were good on their own, but together the wine’s acidity was a tad sharp and caused an almost bitter fishiness to occur. To be fair, the wine did go better with the grilled zucchini, tomato and basil salad – so I’d suggest having the wine and salad first, leaving the cod fritter by itself to end.


On the other hand, Château des Charmes had the most optimal pairing, in my opinion. Their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($14.95) was not quite as tart and mellow in a refreshing way. The creaminess of the citrus aioli on the cold sweet grilled shrimp and the strong herbs in the shoot and sprout salad went nicely with the light wine.


The participating wineries are a diverse mix: from the massive well known Jackson-Triggs to the new Small Talk there’s vineyards to discover whether you’re a beginner to the region or visited in the past.

For larger groups, Jackson-Triggs is definitely a good choice as the brightly lit tasting room holds long communal tables where guests can sit and talk. Also, having three people at the station helped ensure you received a glass of their 2016 Grand Reserve Riesling ($18.95) and takeout container of the beef tataki with soba noodles in no time. It’s hard to describe, but I found their wine sweet without feeling sugary and matched the teriyaki soy used on the cold lightly seared beef. The soba was also a good choice and would have been even better if the noodle weren’t overcooked – luckily there were plenty of vegetables to keep it crunchy.  


Despite having been on a handful of professionally and self-led tours, there were still wineries I visited for the first time including Two Sisters, Rancourt, and Small Talk.

Although I don’t agree that the 2013 Small Talk “Goodnight” Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot ($14.95) would be a good Netflix and pizza drink – the tomato sauce would likely be too acidic for the oaky wine – the winery did nail their pairing. The charcuterie cup was small but mighty in terms of flavours – the crunchy cracker filled with sweet grape jelly, a gherkin, salami and cheese. Yum, I could have polished through at least four of these.


For children, Small Talk’s winery must look like storybook wonderland with the Dr. Seuss like tasting room, pink archway, and bright tram parked by the vineyard. For adults, the wine and cider makes all visits magical.


Rancourt’s friendliness is what won me over – that and their warm braised BBQ chicken wing really hit the spot. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought to pair saucy chicken wings with wine, but their 2013 Signature Cabernet Merlot Blend Noble Rouge ($14.80) really holds up against the stronger sauce – oh and make sure to take a whiff of it before sipping as it has such a lovely essence.


Pondview’s 2016 Carnet Franc Rosé ($16.95) also had an awesome aroma … the wine exudes a strawberry essence. Their Asian slaw dog, although nowhere near the size of Peller’s sausage, was still a sizeable bite, with half a chicken dog topped with a crunchy hoisin lime slaw. Don’t pick off the large pieces of cilantro, it goes really well with everything – who would have thought to use cilantro on hot dogs?


I even discovered something new while making return visits given the Sip and Sizzle tastings were often held in areas separated from the traditional tasting rooms. The best location goes to Ravine Vineyards: guests head downstairs to cellar’s private dining area where curing meats hang in a climate controlled room and barrels filled with aging wine line the walls.


Ravine’s 2015 Cabernet Rosé ($22) leans more towards the red front, but is light enough to still go well with the nutty grain salad. The nugget of harissa grilled chicken thigh could be spicier, but the hot chicken and cold salad was a nice combination. I overhead it’s a special menu item you can’t even get at their restaurant.


Similarly, a return visit led me to the upstairs tasting room of Pillitteri Estates, which overlooks their vineywards. Their 2015 Debbie Travis Pinot Grigio ($15.95) was a tad sweet for my taste, but was appropriately paired with a caramelized grilled peach and burrata crostini. The piece of candied prosciutto was an excellent addition adding a slight saltiness to the bite.


Of all the wineries, Stratus is the one I wish my home could resemble. Their sleek architectural design makes me want to turn into a minimalist and they even had a cool special addition bottle on display – sadly this wasn’t the wine being featured at the event.


Nonetheless, the 2013 Kabang Red ($24.75) was really good, enough for us to get two bottles, and has a surprising twist. Despite being sweet and fruity to the nose, it tastes rich and oaky without being overpowering. Just watch out, the nut and spice mixture on top of their grilled caponata and salsa verde crostini is messy. I made the mistake of trying to bite through the bread … Kabang, the nuts flew everywhere.


Don’t worry, with so many to choose from, you have the entire month to visit. So, break it up into a weekend or even a handful each week … although wouldn’t it be fun to try to fit in 24 tastings all in one day?

Disclaimer: The Sip and Sizzle passes were provided on a complimentary basis.Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.
 
How To Find Them
 Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog