1 yellow onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 cup fresh strawberries (trimmed, quartered)
1/2 cup pinot noir
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 TBSP soy sauce
2 TSP worchestershire sauce
2 TSP garlic powder
1 TSP tobasco
1 TSP cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
What happens when you have a bottle of red wine and some freshly purchased strawberries on your counter? A barbecue sauce experiment, of course! I love trying out different variations on a traditional barbecue sauce (like this Root Beer one). More so in the spring/summer, when a sunny day is practically begging you to be outside grilling something! The best part about cooking with wine is that you never need a whole bottle, so you can enjoy a glass while you’re cooking with it! Or, that’s what I do anyway…
Start off by cooking down the onion and garlic in some olive oil on medium-high heat until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped strawberries to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, pour in the pinot noir and let the mixture cook until reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes.
Once the mixture has reduced, stir in all remaining ingredients. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Store in a container in refrigerator until ready to use. Will keep for up to one week.
Great on salmon or chicken! Serving with a chilled, creamy potato salad is highly recommended!
Yields 2 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
Totally cook time…45 min
It’s hard to turn down a dinner, complete with wine pairings, on one of the nicest patios in Calgary. Actually…it’s pretty much impossible. It was a beautiful evening in early August when I attended a special supper at Vin Room in Mission. In this city, we don’t usually get a substancial amount of beautiful evenings, so you need to enjoy them while you can. Did I mention that September is only weeks away…sigh…
Just in case you’ve never been, Vin Room specializes in, well, wine (hopefully that’s obvious?), and great food to compliment whatever it is you decide to sip on throughout the evening. On this particular night, restaurant owner Phoebe Fung had her executive chef, Claire Cameron, lay-out a multi-course menu for our table which read as something of a whimsical fairy tale for my taste buds. Well, shall we begin?
Our first course for the evening was actually three different dishes, ‘sub-courses’ if you will? The first in the trio was a candied salmon salad. The salmon sat on a bed of arugula, fennel and roasted corn. It was topped with a red wine and seed vinaigrette. For the past while, I’ve been in love with fennel, so this was a hit with me. Can’t go wrong with candied salmon either, right?
The second ‘sub-course’ (I think I just invented that word, and I love it.) was a simple tabouli (pictured above) with toasted quinoa replacing the traditional bulgur wheat. I love the fact that tabouli always has that great fresh taste to it, this serving was no exception. The real king of the first course for me, though, was hands down the grilled calamari.
Just take it in for a moment. Gorgeous scoring, gorgeous char from the grill, accompanied by double smoked bacon, peas, mint, and sweet potato. That is one summery seafood offering if you ask me. I wanted to eat this entire place myself, but then that little voice inside my head said something to ‘No. Dan, you have to share with your friends at the table.’ Ugh, fine…The calamari was cooked perfectly. I always hates when it gets to that rubber-y stage. No one is a happy camper then!
Moving along, the table’s second course was split into two dishes. The first, a serving of israeli couscous (pictured) with rock prawns and merguez sausage. Halibut cheeks followed, topped with salsa verde, on a bed of sauteed radishes. The couscous was a rich, filling dish, and I think all of us at the table fought over the meaty chunks of prawn and sausage. Back that fork up Anh!
Although it was cooked well, I’m not the biggest fan of halibut, so the dish was, unfortunately, not a highlight for me. I do, however, really love sauteed radishes (have you ever tried them? You should!), and the salsa verde had a nice intensity as well.
Once we had devoured the second course, the third began to arrive. Breaking back down to sub-courses within the course, the table was decorated with plates of food as colourful as they were different. Pura Vida Beef Flank Steak, Seared Chorizo, Lamb Kabobs, and Grilled Scallions, Zucchini and Endive dishes all graced us with their presences’. At this point, it only seems appropriate to continue to visually stimulate you. So, I’ll do just that…
The steak was served with some garlic green beans, and an almond picada, which I could only describe as being oddly delicious. Kind of on the sweeter side of things, but it went well with the steak.
On this plate there was Chorizo and confit baby potatoes with fresh tomatoes and herbs. The chorizo had great flavour. The only down-side for myself was that it was cut into long, thin strips, making it a bit difficult to eat. I prefer sausage that I can really sink my fork into.
The lamb kabobs was a surprise addition to this course. Phoebe said they were not to be missed, and that was very true. The ground lamb meat was seasoned perfectly, complimented by the mild curry sauce underneath. I had more than my share of this one.
The grilled vegetables embodied a great summer barbeque kind of a feel. I’ve only recently started grilling endives and scallions, and they have become a staple in my summer diet. The romesto sauce was bright and tangy. I may of dipped a lamb kabob in it. Just saying…
Did we have room for dessert? Well, sure we did!
(Clockwise from top left) Lemon chiffon cake, dark chocolate and espresso terrine, pistachio meringue, green tea and white chocolate cheesecake. By this point in the meal, everyone at the table was happily full, so I was happy that the dessert round was just a set of small bites!
The green tea and white chocolate cheesecake deserves a special little mention. The cake was made with matcha powder, which has kind of an earthy taste to it. Matcha is kind of a ‘love it or hate it’ sort of thing, but I love it. I drink matcha lattes all the time, so this was right up my alley!
Thus, ends the fabulous summer dinner I experienced at Vin Room. I would like to thank Phoebe for the amazing food, wine and great conversation. I’m headed back to her establishment in a couple weeks with the Monday Night Supper Club. I’m sure my friends will love dining here just as much as I did!
Merlot Pizza Sauce:
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 medium-sized tomatoes
1 cup merlot
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TSP dried basil
1 TSP sugar
salt & pepper
2 chorizo sausages (cooked, sliced)
6 red swiss chard leaves (blanched, chopped)
1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup pitted green olives (sliced)
1 cup goat’s cheese
Now you can have your wine and eat it too! My favourite part about cooking with wine is that you can drink what you don’t use. Needless to say, I cook with wine quite often, but I digress…I had never thought of putting swiss chard on a pizza until I had the Swiss Chard Pie at Una Pizza. This is, more or less, an ode to them. Thank you for inspiring me with that utterly delicious pizza pie! This one is not quite at their pizza level, but delicious nonetheless! Shall we?
Just to briefly address to the pizza dough situation. Feel free to use a plain old run-of-the-mill frozen pizza shell, but making your own pizza dough at home is super easy! Most pizza dough-appropriate yeast’s will have the recipe right on the jar. C’mon, enjoy a sense of do-it-yourself satisfaction!
To make the sauce you’re going to start by chopping the onion and garlic. Place into a medium-sized pan with some olive oil. Turn to medium-high heat and cook until softened. While you’re waiting, chop the tomatoes. When you add the tomatoes, sprinkle some salt on top of the mixture. It helps release their juices. Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add-in the remaining ingredients. Give a good stir and once everything starts to bubble, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by 1/2. Remove from heat, pour sauce into a blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Now for the pizza dressings…This recipe is set to cover 2 12″ diameter pizzas, with some sauce leftover (for crust dipping of course). Start with a nice slathering of your merlot sauce, followed by the chorizo sausage, swiss chard, red onion slices and green olives. Finish the pizza by crumbling the goat cheese on top. Place into your preheated oven and let bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust turns golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool briefly before slicing. Top with some sliced green olives and a drizzle of olive oil.
Served best with the remainder of that bottle of merlot you used in the sauce.
Total cook time…40 min
I don’t often venture into the territory of recommending wines, but I feel as though this particular little ‘devil’ deserves some recognition. The Velvet Devil (merlot) is a product of Charles Smith Wines, a company which was was named ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in 2009 by Food & Wine’s American Wine Awards.
First recommended by a sommelier friend of mine, The Velvet Devil has become a regular visitor to my house-hold, and, dare I say, my favourite wine. It’s appropriately fruity, earthy, and at a very reasonable $20-$25 price tag (depends where you pick it up in Calgary), I think it’s definitely worth inviting to one of your dinner parties.
If red wine isn’t really your thing you can try out their Kung Fu Girl (reisling) or the Eve (chardonnay). They also do not disappoint.
You can check out their entire wine selection here.
And, of course, Twitter: @KVintners
‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, a beautiful day for a neighbour.‘ It’s a beautiful day indeed Mr. Rogers, especially when your neighbour is serving some of the best pizza in town. Una Pizza & Wine opened up on 17th Ave, Calgary (one of the city’s trendiest districts) in January of this year. Jayme Macfayden, Kelly Black & Stephen Smee are the proud parents of Una, the only sit-down pizzeria in downtown Calgary: “We wanted to offer something that wasn’t available in the neighbourhood…We also wanted to create that warm feeling that everyone is welcome here,” Jayme told me. Judging by the number of regulars that stop by daily, they’re doing a fantastic job.
First off, I was served their daily pintxos (a skewered appetizer, pintxos meaning ‘to stab’) consisting of Gorgonzola cheese, caramelized onions, apple essence, & crusted with walnuts. Bite-sized & delicious! Next up, sautéed prawns, w/lemon, garlic & grape tomatoes, lit to flame with sambuca! Companion to the crustaceans were fingerling patatas bravas served with two dips (smoked paprika ketchup & garlic aioli). If french fries had a court system, these would be king. Finally the pizza! I’ve been hearing about these fantastic slices for awhile now (friends have been raving). Roasted mushrooms, scarmoza, grana padana cheese, arugula & truffle oil join forces to create one of the most delicious pizzas I have ever encountered.
Stephen, the executive chef…this post is featured on the Food Network Canada website, read the rest of it here!
‘If you don’t like pizza then what are you…an alien?’
Go to their website to find out: www.unapizzeria.com
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home, Week 13
- The Canadian Food Experience Project: Seabuckthorn Berry and Shallot Vinaigrette
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home, Week 12
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home, Week 11 (and a contest!)
- Sweet And Spicy Udon Noodles
- Appetizers & Co.
- Ask Dan
- Calgary & Area
- Monday Night Supper Club
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Something Sweet
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home
- United States