Pictured here is a mixed case I received from my friend Eric Savics, owner of Tantalus Winery in Kelowna B.C.
I used to play a lot of cassettes. I had a tape deck at home and I had one in my car. I even had a Walkman. I bought a lot of music in those days from Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street near Dundas. The cassettes got a lot of play. Sometimes the machine would eat them. What followed was a painstaking extraction of yards of tape from within the machine. What was particularly painful was if the mangled cassette happened to be a mixed tape that a friend had given me. Mixed tapes had a special appeal. The tracks selected always reflected the curator's passion in music, adapted to what they thought I might like. Sometimes mixed tapes were compiled by deejays who were of course immersed in music culture and would often introduce me to new sounds and genres of music.
I thought of this time in my life recently when I received a mixed case of wine for my birthday. Like music, the world of wine is so fascinating. I am most drawn to the kind of wineries that are usually family owned and run. They could be a local winery. Most of the time my work revolves around celebrating local so exploring the diverse landscape of wine being produced in Ontario is infinitely interesting and delicious. The same criteria applies for me when I look further afield, through an international lens at regions and small family run wineries that somehow express their passion through the wines they produce. I love wines that tell a story. A story of history, of the provenance of the grapes that went into the wine. It's a lot like the mixed tape. The story behind its genesis is equally as interesting as the music or the wine itself.
Alongside the LCBO, thankfully, there are many wine agents in the province of Ontario. I began to discover and support the work of agents in the province while I was at Palmerston restaurant back in the mid to late 80's. I continue to support wine agencies. The collection, or portfolio of wines an agent accumulates over time often begins with a passion for a particular region or the specific winegrower or estate that catches their attention. They provide a wonderful service to citizens of Ontario by traversing the globe, fostering relationships with wine growers and makers and ultimately convincing them to part with a small allotment of a rare gem to bring back to the Ontario market. The agents I have come to know over the years are invariably passionate and hardworking people who love gastronomy. They seek out like minded people in the wineries they strive to represent for us. They contribute greatly to the ever growing mosaic of excellence in wine we have available to us in this province. During the pandemic agents were now able to sell mixed cases of wine to the public. Previously wines could only be sold by the case of a single wine. This meant that folks could now benefit from a curated selection of wine from within an agent's portfolio. You can imagine my delight at receiving my mixed case for my special birthday. I will savour each bottle and pore over the label design and description of the wine on the label. I can even research the provenance of the wine on the agent's website. Wonderful!
This week in the larder I will be offering the following items:
-Organic Chicken liver pâté
-Liter of J.K. Beef Bone Broth
-Liter of Butternut Squash Soup
-Pan ready, Marinated Hanger Steaks
-Crab Apple Jelly