Amuse my Bouche
What you are about to read are thoughts and observations from me, a super passionate food and drink loving lady who gets really excited when I get the opportunity to partner with others who are creating the things I love and who are exceptionally good at it! ...And heck, guess what? It turns out that there are a lot of people out there who love what I love, hence the reason the Buzz came to be. I matched my passion of people and enjoyment of food, drink and experiences with the amazing creators in this up-and-coming region of Norfolk County. Where the fork is that you ask? Well check out my last blog post and catch up!
Here is a little snapshot of a recent specialized tour I created with a little help from a few of my friends in Norfolk County.
In going with the spirit of Buzz Tour's vision of - finding ways to slow down and enjoy life and the experiences within it - the mere idea of curating a tour to celebrate our senses with food and drink was a natural fit.
The inspiration behind this particular tour came from meeting the dynamic Chef Tracy and Master taster Jenni from #forkmeetscork. When I met this lively duo I just knew that together we could offer something really spectacular! I got really excited about the way they were reconnecting people with the pure bliss that can come from eating fresh and delicious food, and how the dining experience is elevated when we really hone in on using our senses to dive a little deeper.
It turns out that many of us make decisions about food based on how it looks, which can limit us from exploring foods further, letting our minds make the decision before we've even considered what enjoyment might be possible. That is, of course, until we come in contact with the likes of Tracy and Jenni.
Together, Chef Tracy and Master taster Jenni operate as sort of underground, pop-up food and drink event specialists, and call themselves #forkmeetscork. (Tracy is the fork to Jenni's cork, or maybe it's the other way around...) They design dining experiences that elevate the senses and guide guests through interactive fine-dining experiences at surprise pop-up locations throughout the region of Norfolk. So can you see why i was super excited at the opportunity to partner up with them for an amazing day of adventure? Um, ya!
Needless to say that when I caught wind about what they were doing, I jumped on the opportunity to work with them and incorporate them into my very first Sporadic Adventure.
Not only would this foodie tour adventure, Amuse my Bouche, offer guests an opportunity to learn about a few of Norfolk's small batch wineries and the relevance of the agriculture in the area, but would also engage their adventurous side and dip their toes into the world of food exploration.
To begin our day we visited a winery in the making, Hounds of Erie. A small winery in Long Point owned by a young couple who have a vision to grow their winery into a destination of the future. (and let me tell you it's gonna be spectacular)
Mat and Melissa Vaughan are working hard at their family legacy, and have already curated some of the finest ciders available in the province. Fresh and crisp with no additives or sugar, Hounds of Erie is already collecting awards for these fine fermented apple bevvies, and everyone I take there is just over the moon about it!
We then moved onto another fabulous small batch winery in Norfolk, Blueberry Hill Estates. Home of the tallest high bush blueberries and delish wine and cider! In the summer months you can not only enjoy their tasting room, but a fresh market where you can purchase many homemade preserves and baked goods, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables from the county. It's a delicious stop no matter the time of year.
For our Amuse my Bouche experience, we not only did a wine tasting with Amanda, the lovely (and hilarious) lady who manages the day-to-day at the hill, but we mixed in my favourite cheese nerd Jenny from the Dover Cheese Shop (p.s. it's okay to call her that, it's how she refers to herself!)
Together we learned how to best approach a wine tasting using our senses. First to use our sight to be sure there is no cork or debris in the wine, then to sniff and tune into the notes we sense on the nose. The next step is to swirl and open the bouquet of the wine allowing it to breathe and open up, followed by another sniff to pick up the enhanced notes once the wine has awakened. The last and most anticipated step is to take a sip and pick up the notes on your palette.
Might sound a little shi shi foo foo, and maybe you're a just drink it kind of wine lover, and that's ok too! The shi shi isn't necessary for you to have a glass of wine, but should you be looking to further enjoy it and enhance your experience, these are the steps to tapping into your senses that really allow you to better experience what you're drinking and provide an opportunity for you to appreciate it even more!
Now take that wine nerd talk and pair it with the cheese! Mmmmhmmm, who doesn't love cheese?
Jenny walked us through the basic guidelines of how to pair cheese and wine together for the best experience. Don't worry, we won't judge anyone for simply grabbing a brick of cheese and hunkering down on it with a glass of wine, no way! BUT, I will say that's just the beginning - kind of like a gateway to even more wine & cheese enjoyment!
Jenny gave us the low down on creating the best cheese & wine pairing by selecting ones that are similar in description. Bold cheeses go well with full bodied wines, soft and mild flavoured cheese go best with light to medium bodied wines.
For the visual-learners, here is a handy dandy quick reference chart to give you an idea. I find this type of chart super helpful, and once you get the swing of it, you'll be able to pass your wisdom off to others!
For our experience, Jenny paired the following wines from Blueberry Hill Estate Winery with these great Ontario cheeses from her shop in Port Dover:
Blueberry wine - Alexus de Portneuf Meteorite Brie
Front Road White - Gunn's Hill 5 Brothers Gouda Swiss Blend
Front Road Red - Great Lakes Caramelized Onion Goat
Now if you're anything like me you can simply go see Jenny at her shop and say "here's the wine I have, what will go great with it?" and she will partner it up for you in the best way possible. (I know, it's totally cheating, but until you get the hang of the cheese pairing it's totally acceptable - and most people need the pairing advice, so don't be too hard on yourself. I'm still learning too!)
Once we filled up on cheese and our palettes were dancing, we headed on over to Inasphere Winery, another Norfolk small batch winery and farm to learn about the importance of farming and agriculture in this region, and the diverse crops that grow here.
Shantal and Ryan Bosgoed own and run this third generation family farm overlooking Lake Erie in the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve. Not only is the view incredible, but this hardworking pair grow a number of crops each year that include tomatoes, sweet corn, cabbage and squash. We took a few minutes to enjoy sipping on some wine and taking in the incredible view.
After all that learning and sipping, we had worked up quite the appetite, which led us to the much anticipated finale of our day.
Not only was dinner on the agenda, but it was at a surprise pop-up location in the small and adorable little town of Vittoria. When we arrived we were greeted at the door with freshly squeezed margaritas and big smiling faces!
We were then invited inside to a lovely set table, and incredible food aromas inside this adorable single room/multi use historical hall.
Once we sat down, we were asked to pass the plate of face masks so we could begin the first segment of our food experience without one of the most judgemental of our senses - sight!
Now before we got to the blindfolded part of our evening, Jenni provided a little introduction to detecting different notes on our nose. She lined empty wine glasses with a type of synthetic odour and it was our job to identify as many notes as possible and try to train our nose to pick up on clues that we couldn't see.
I think that must have been training for eliminating our sight all together and sitting in absolute darkness, which let's be serious, felt a little unnerving at first. Once we got used to the dark and trusting the instructions from Jenni and Tracy, it wasn't as much about the lack of light/sight, but the anticipation of what we were about to put into our mouths that was a little concerning.
With a little bit of trust, and guidance from our hosts, we took turns reviewing the flavours and textures of what we were tasting, and tried to pinpoint what it was that we were experiencing.
To give you an idea, one of the blind taste tests was a spoonful of poached potato with butter, which seems simple enough, but without seeing what you were eating, it took a few minutes to drill down what we could smell, taste, and feel in our mouths. It was interesting to really slow down and dissect it a little bit and really pay attention to all the components. Something I thought would be a little scary, but was actually pretty insightful.
Finally it was time to fully enjoy an incredible three course meal, paired beautifully with just the right beverage to enhance the food, or was it to enhance the drink? The good news is that it works both ways. Great food and drink create a wonderful partnership, and can take your meal from good to incredible.
Jenni and Tracy talked a lot about balancing different components, like incorporating different textures, flavours, heat, sweet, savoury, soft and crunchy, fats and acidity - and when the right elements are pulled together, not only do our taste buds respond, but all of our senses are engaged elevating the experience to an entirely different level.
Building of the dish in layers:
Smear of labneh, boston leaf lettuce, crisp tortilla topped with guacamole salt & lime brine pork belly, topped with Pico de gallo and garnished with green onion, sprouts & crispy pork belly.
PAIRED WITH: Malivoire Ladybug Rose
Theory behind the combination: Acid loves acid, therefore the acid in the dish and acid in the wine soften each other.
Vegetable chickpea curry, traditional toasted indian spices with a nice amount of heat served atop basmati rice, side of green beans sauteed in chile and mustard seed, cumin scented roasted carrots drizzled with tahini, chopped dates & crisp onion and homemade Indian pickle on yogurt and vegetable pakoras with coriander chutney and a mango chutney
PAIRED with Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Gewurztraminer
Theory behind the combination:
Spicy dish loves sweeter wine, the sweetness softens the heat of the dish and lets the sweetness of the curry shine
Poached apple stuffed with walnut butter, wrapped and baked in puff pastry and finished with drizzle of maple syrup and served with 6 yr old local cheddar
PAIRED with; whisky apply chai tea whisky
Theory behind the combination:
Dessert is sweeter than the drink
and all COMFORT food - apple pie (ish), cheddar cheese and whisky
Oh my goodness, I'm drooling just writing about this incredible meal! All in all what an amazing experience!
It may not be possible to put this much thought into every meal at home each day of the week, but experiencing food this way sure is a nice distraction from the business of life and rushing from one thing to the next. Sitting and enjoying a well prepared meal is not only therapeutic, but so incredibly enjoyable for all our senses and its even better when enjoyed with awesome people!
I've been testing my new knowledge since being a part of this day of experiences. It's hit and miss sometimes, but when learning anything new we are bound to have trials and tribulations.
Here's to lifelong learning and enjoyment of all things nature created for us to thrive on and enjoy! #catchthebuzz of life!
A big thanks to everyone who made this day of adventure so great. Stay tuned to learn more about this region and why I'm so jazzed to take people here on day trips from the Waterloo Region.