Monday, October 25, 2010

Quick Taste: Big House Red

Wow, it's been a while since I shared a Quick Taste with you! This one stood out to me on the shelf, so I thought I'd give it a try. Sometimes I'm a sucker for wine labels.

Wine: Big House Red, 2008 California Red Wine, Big House Wine Co., 13.5% alcohol.

Description on Bottle: "Yo, the '08 Homes is a muscular but by no means inelegant, eclectic blend viz Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Sangiovese, Tannat, Aglianico, Nero d'Avola, Sagrantino and Barbera. It more than singing for its supper." (all "typos" were as written on the bottle.)

My opinion of the description: Ok....I have never heard of a blend of so many grapes in one wine. Is this normal???

Look: Dark cherry, ruby red, medium viscosity

Nose: caramel, vanilla, spice, cinnamon, plum, currants

Palate: bold, high alcohol, low tannins, in your face, succulent, intense, deep and strong tasting

Food Match: rich cheese, decadent dishes

Overall: This is a ridiculously strong, intense wine. If you love big, bold reds, it's for you. I would recommend drinking it with a really rich dish. Not for the subtle of palate.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Environmental Food Pyramid

The folks over at Barilla Food and Nutrition Center have come up with a new double food pyramid! Now I'm sure we are all familiar with many versions of the food pyramid, either from the Canada Food Guide over the years, or a similar diagram in the USA or your home country, but this one explains food on a whole new level:

In a nutshell, this new pyramid illustrates that the same foods you should be eating in larger quantities, also have a lower environmental impact! Therefore, this equals good health for you, and good health for the environment! What a win-win situation. The criteria was split between water consumption, land use and carbon footprint when calculating the cost of certain foods on the environment. You can read much more detailed information here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Post: Dog Daze of Summer

I don't often have guest bloggers on After the Harvest, but sometimes it's nice to make an exception. Ryan English is a Toronto-based artist and journalist, coveter of food, music, wine and anything else that facilitates short-cut pleasure. Missing the summer? Ryan's got your back.

The dog days of summer, that old adage, denotes the rogue breath of summer that either curses or elates us, depending on your disposition.

If you were in Ontario this past summer you’d have witnessed temperatures that flirted with 50 degrees Celsius – those days were not rogue at all, in fact they were common.

Hot temperatures translate to good grapes with predictions of notable vintages coming from top-artisans across the province.

L to R: Andrew Hunter -- Buddha Dog, Catherine Langlois -- Sandbanks Winery, Chef Jamie Kennedy

On Saturday, August 28th Sandbanks Winery hosted a fete with Jamie Kennedy and Buddha Dog in its backyard to bid summer adieu on one of the hottest days of the season.

The winery is located on six acres of land just east of the township of Wellington in Prince Edward County. Owner Catherine Langlois compensated me with the heel of a bottle of their pinot noir for covering the event – it pays to write about food.

Kennedy served his seminal frites with apple cider mayonnaise, an alternative to the non-local lemon that’s traditionally punctuated this dish. He also served up a burger with his team that would send any hipster burger boutique in the city with one fell swoop to its proverbial grave.

Andrew Hunter of Buddha Dog dished out his signature hot dogs in a vintage bus parked sideways on the lawn replete with a chalkboard that boasted: I Heart the County.

I Heart the County, indeed.

Many thanks to Ryan and Robert for covering this fun local food event!
*All Photos by Robert Kennedy

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Food Art

Check out this awesome food art that is scattered throughout my neighbourhood! I have no idea who the mystery Artist is, but I love their work! Especially the corn...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Topic = WATER

Even though the day is almost done, today's post is my contribution to Blog Action Day! What's Blog Action Day, you ask? Well, the folks over at created this day in an effort to spark a global discussion and drive collective action.

Bloggers around the world (including The White House!) are uniting to speak about one issue that speaks to us all. Last year the issue was climate change, this year it's WATER!

How each person discusses the topic of water is completely up to him or her, and when thinking about my post, I went over many different angles from which I could attack this issue before writing. When I thought about how the topic of water could relate to After the Harvest, a food and drink blog that focuses largely on environmental sustainability (among other things), one thing came to mind: Bottled Water.

Technically falling under the umbrella of "food and drink", a bottle of water is a beverage that many people are still purchasing. It is my hope that more and more people cease this buying decision and remember their health, their wallet, and the environment the next time they're parched.

It is so much more convenient, green and healthy to carry around your own reusable bottle, such as a SIGG aluminium bottle or a glass bottle. I never leave home without mine.

If you don't believe me, then take Annie Leonard's word for it. After watching this video, it is my hope that you will never buy another plastic bottle of water again. This is one issue that I'm not afraid to "preach" about -- it's that important.

The fine folks at Atlas Films also made a documentary about bottled water, called Tapped.

Here's the trailer:

So not only is plastic bottled water unhealthy for the environment, it's unhealthy for us! Plastic leaches chemicals into plastic bottled water. You've heard of BPA, right? This leaching process is accelerated especially if you reuse the bottle or pour hot water into it.

So, friends, next time you're at the grocery store or out and about looking for a cold beverage, think twice before you buy a drink in a plastic bottle. Not just water, any drink for that matter, but for the purposes of Blog Action Day, let's focus on water. Snag yourself a handy stainless steel or glass reusable bottle and fill it up on your way out the door! Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

So here's to the day when there are no more single use plastics while we're eating, drinking and connecting!

Cheers everyone and have a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Natural Cold Remedies

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." ~ Hippocrates

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! (Well, to the Canadians, anyway!) This year for Thanksgiving my family is scattered around the province and the world and I'm sick as a dog, camped out on my couch with movies and the interweb :) Many of you may also be suffering from these symptoms right now, as I think it's common for our immune systems to be out of whack as the seasons change.

Never fear, readers! I am still thankful for many things and I'd like to share one of them with you! I am grateful for natural, food-related cold remedies! I don't claim to be a health expert of any kind, but these things work for me and I love learning more about natural remedies, so hopefully you will too.

First things first, if you have the time and ingredients, you can make this awesome chicken soup that my pal Jackson shared with me, but if you're not in the mood for cooking or you need something faster, here are some ideas.

Tea etc.

I've talked about tea before on After the Harvest and of course when I have my favourites on hand I go for those, but I've tried a couple of new ones recently that I thought I'd share:

Tetley Cleanse -- lemon balm and honey with elderflowers. Lemon balm is known as a calming herb that helps with colds and flu. Elderflowers have been known to help with breathing.

Numi Mate Lemon Green (Organic Rainforest Green) -- South American Yerba Mate Blend, Lemon Myrtle and Chun Mee Green Tea. Lemon Myrtle is known to help sinusitis. Yerba Mate is an energy booster and more than just a tea, it's a culture. You can read more about it here.

And two of my usual teas:

Stash Moroccan Mint Green Tea -- green tea, spearmint, lemongrass and peppermint. I usually go with Tealish, but I need to order more because I just ran out! Mint is great for digestion, but also helps with colds and sinus issues. Lemongrass can help with nausea.

Algonquin Sweetfern Tonic (Daily Immune Booster) -- sweetfern, red clover, raspberry leaves, roots of burdock, echinacea, yellow dock and dandelion. The Algonquin Tea Co. is a local tea company, and they provide all of the medicinal information on this tea right on their website.

And a few non-tea options:

Hot water and lemon -- Super cleansing and a great thing to sip when you first wake up.

Hot water, ginger, lemon and honey -- When you've had too much tea but you still want a tasty, hot beverage, I love this one!

Garlic and Ginger

Known for their medicinal properties, garlic and ginger are always great to work into your meals when you're suffering from a cold and flu. I made a kale and broccoli stirfry with chicken on brown rice, sauteed in soy sauce, ginger and garlic with a squeeze of lemon. Yum! Garlic has many healing properties, but it's mostly known as "nature's antibiotic." Ginger helps with digestion, detoxification and respiratory problems, among other things.

Broth, Soup and Pho:

Like I mentioned above, chicken soup is known to work well, but when you don't feel like making soup, you can always whip up a quick broth. I use vegetable stock and throw in whatever veggies and rice noodles I have on hand. Add garlic and fresh or dried herbs and you have a quick broth with veggies!

I'm lucky enough to have a Pho restaurant right in my neighbourhood, and it's also a wonderful remedy when you have a cold. You can choose vegetarian, chicken or the traditional beef pho, which is a Vietnamese soup served with bean sprouts, noodles, basil and lime. You also have the option to add hot sauce which can really clear the sinuses!

Herbs and Honey

Oregano Oil -- a natural bacteria fighter, oregano oil has a strong taste but it works. I place 3 drops in my orange juice in the morning and it's not so bad. Gets the job done.

Echinecea with garlic and ginger -- Ok, so by this point I'm sweating garlic and ginger out of my pores, but I thought a bit more couldn't hurt. Echinecea is known to work well if taken at the first sign of symptoms as it's a great immune booster.

Eucalyptus Oil -- I place a few drops in a large bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam. This is a trick I learned from my Mom years ago, but I don't remember what she put in the hot water; I know it wasn't eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is amazing for respiratory issues.

Honey -- liquid honey, creamed/spun honey, raw honey. Honey is known as an immune booster due to its antioxidants and antibacterial properties. I'm using creamed honey but any honey will do, although I've heard lately that raw honey and Manuka honey can both be extra healing because they're not pasteurized and still contain much of the natural vitamins and enzymes. However, like I said, I'm no expert!

Juice etc.

Pure juice -- I've been guzzling apple, orange and cranberry, but there's also pomegranate, blueberry and acai berry. Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, these juices are great but make sure you choose one that says 100% pure juice, not juice "blend" or "cocktail" as those will contain more sugar.

Emergen-C -- Literally 1000 mg of Vitamin C in one packet, this handy little cold-fighter has worked well for me in the past. Thanks to my former team members at Whole Foods for introducing me to this one!

And I've yet to try...

Juices from the ReFresh Cookbook -- I have yet to purchase a juicer, but I'm going to get right on that because I've noticed there are many great immune boosting, cold and flu-fighting juices in Ruth Tal's book. I love Fresh!

So, I hope you are all enjoying your Thanksgiving celebrations! Among so many things in my life that I am grateful for, I have to say I'm thankful to have access to these healthy, natural remedies to help me heal!

*All herbal information from
*Honey information from

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stella Osteria hosts Puglia, Italy

Stella Osteria was the chosen restaurant for a recent Puglian themed dinner featuring the wines of Tormaresca. Bloggers were seated all in a row, amidst culinary television personalities, writers and food and wine enthusiasts.

Thanks again to Antonio Mauriello of DiVino Wine Studio, we all had another chance to explore the wines of Puglia, Italy.

Francesco Domini

Our guide for the evening was Francesco Domini of Tormaresca. Over the chatty restaurant behind him, Francesco thoughtfully presented his wines to all of us, giving us more background information on Tormaresca and the region of Puglia. The courses prepared by the team at Stella paired quite nicely with the wines, and we got to enjoy some authentic olive oil also made by Tormaresca.

Good times were had, plates were cleaned and photos were snapped, all while enjoying the wines of Tormaresca. Thanks again to Antonio and Larissa of DiVino!

Have you tried a Puglian wine yet?