Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vote for me in the "Strut your STUTZ' competition!!

I don't normally enter contests - especially when it requires a photo of ME - but I've been coveting my boss' iPad for months, so here I am. The contest in question is the 'Strut your STUTZ' contest, by STUTZ Hard Apple Cider. Each participant could submit 3 photos and 3 videos for the chance to win an Apple iPad.....I really want that iPad...

The aim of the game is to get as many 'Likes' for my photos as possible. The photo that gets the most 'Likes' wins! So... if you have a moment - in your insanely busy day - visit 'Strut your STUTZ' Facebook Page to 'Like' my photos...pretty please. Thanks!! :)

"Take a strut on the wild side with STUTZ"

"I like my STUTZ with bite"

"Like biting into a cold, crisp...STUTZ!"

Special thanks to Heather Rushton at Twin Bridges Photo - a great photographer and friend.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cozy Dinns at the Inn...On The Lake

A couple weeks ago, I opened the door from the cool outdoors to find myself in a warm and inviting dining room. We had driven for just a little while - an adventure of sorts - to visit the Inn On The Lake in Enfeild. The Inn itself is lovely; clean, cozy and well kept, but the dining was what we were after, so we settled in at a table directly in front of the fireplace and awaited our first course. The Inn often offers special 'Chef Series' set menus, and this one was part of their Fall Wine Festival menu. Consisting of 3 courses with wine pairings, an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser, it was quite the treat to indulge in for a mere $75 ($55 without wine).

To start, our server brought the amuse bouche; a pile of supple smoked salmon atop a rich dollop of cream cheese. The condiments offered on the side provided two contrasting tastes; a sweet caramelized onion jam that paired beautifully with the lush cheese, and a dill oil, whose traditional pairing with salmon was quite appropriate.

Amuse Bouche
Smoked Salmon atop Cream Cheese
served on pumpernickel round accompanied by a sweet
jam and a drizzle of fresh dill oil
Rose - Jost

Our palates sufficiently 'amused' at this point, we were served the first course; a tender piece of lightly crusted halibut supported on a delightful bed of golden beats and fennel. As a big fan of both these vegetables I was already pleased, however, I'm always happy to see a chef deviating from the traditional potato base. I don't often use this descriptor, but in the halibut's case, it was perfectly cooked. The vegetables beneath were flavourful and tender, and provided just the right amount of tang to cut through the buttery Chardonnay cream sauce.

Porcini Mushroom and Halibut
porcini crusted halibut with braised fennel, golden beets
and thyme with chardonnay cream sauce
Habitant Blanc - Jost

Then came one of my favourite elements to a fine dining meal - the palate cleanser. I've had some lovely flavour combinations of sorbet, and lime is a favourite flavour of mine, but this particular sorbet has raised the bar for others after. The lime here was at once intense, yet subtle and the tequila gave it an extra bite that certainly assisted with the 'palate cleansing' effect.

Lime Margarita
with a drizzle of Tequila

With a fresh outlook on what was to come, the server placed two dishes of decadence in front of us - one was dessert, but more on that later...The entrée was a collection of indulgent ingredients that came together to create a lovely well balanced wash of flavours and textures. The sensations that this dish set off in my mouth were unreal, times, slightly indecent!

A beautiful piece of AAA Tenderloin (cooked rare) was tender and juicy; its flesh having that shiver-inducing type of chew. Crowning the meat was a piece of plump fois gras that had somewhat of a 'melt-in-your-mouth' consistency. These two components alone, would have been enough to make me sigh with contentment, but it went on...The meats were served on a pile of young veg, and on top were two contrasting sauces; a creamy blue cheese and red wine reduction.

Main Entree

AAA Beef Tenderloin & Foie Gras

pan roasted beef tenderloin with seared foie gras,
drizzled with blue cheese & red wine reduction
with cipollini onions, asparagus and fingerling potatoes

Baco Noir - Jost

The dessert plate was a study in chocolate; three incredible, and incredibly distinctive desserts were served, each more seductive than the last.


Chocolate Trilogy

Vitis - Gasperau Vineyards

I went from right to left, tasting first the warm, comforting chocolate chip and banana bread pudding. This was the definition of dessert comfort food - right up there with ginger bread and apple pie. With a dense crumb and hint of banana, this pudding was the perfect vehicle to showcase the classic flavour pairing.

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

Next came the chocolate and pistachio nut pate with mocha sauce. Talk about rich! Any dish that showcases pistachios is good in my books! The pate was thick in the mouth, with nuttiness being right in the foreground. The sauce's slightly bitter coffee edge cut right through the pate's cloying capabilities and added depth to the dish.

Chocolate and Pistachio Nut Pate

w/ Mocha Sauce

Once the austere shield of the creme brulee was cracked, it revealed a softer character within. The chocolate cream was - quite possibly - one of the most pleasurable tastes and textures to ever cross my palate; smooth, rich and creamy, it was all the things that fine chocolate should be, and induced the heart-warming, pulse-quickening effects as well.

Chocolate Crème Brulee

This particular menu was part of the Fall Chef series, but diners should not lose heart, the Inn On The Lake is also offering a Festive Season Table d'Hote, in which the Chocolate Trilogy is also a part. At $29.95 for two courses, and $39.95 for three, diners can enjoy a lucious meal in a setting that feels like home...or an Inn that feels like it!