Living in Niagara this winter has been just plain cold. Temperatures like -40 with the windchill leave us dreaming of the tropics. The past few weeks of January though we had a distraction to this freezing weather. Icewine in all its glory helps us embrace the cold and even though we need to bundle up it seems oh so worth it as we go visit our friends at Niagara wineries for the Icewine Festival. Beavertails and hot chocolate with ice wine at Pillitteri Estates Winery was fantastic. Way to embrace all things Canadian! A short drive into town was a stop at the ice bar in old town Niagara on the Lake.
We managed to spend all three weekends enjoying the Icewine Festival and it was outstanding! It took a good deal of commitment but we did it! As food tour operators we think it is important to get to know what Niagara has to offer and meet the people that make it so special. We stopped in to say hi to Jason and Nicole, Chefs and Owners of The Yellow Pear. They now spend some time at Southbrook Vineyards serving up some very fine Niagara cuisine! Their wine passport pairing of Southbrook’s cab franc icewine and Yellow Pear’s artisan cheese and ham sammie was gourmet comfort food on a cold winters day. Jason and Nicole really take pride in what they do and their enthusiasm shows as they love to talk about it. Southbrook Vineyards is a biodynamic, organic vineyard located on Niagara Stone Road in Niagara on the Lake. The Yellow Pear food truck which features farm to truck cuisine is Ontario’s only solar powered food truck. Such a perfect pairing!
During the Icewine festival Australia Day just happened to coincide with one of the weekends. It was this Canucks lucky chance to find out what the Aussies call a burger with the “lot”. Topped with pineapple, beetroot, cheddar, grilled onion, bacon, and a fried egg, this burger involved some very tricky eating. Good thing I brought my Aussie hubby so he could polish it off after he ate his kangaroo.
In the kitchen at Oast House Brewers were Adam and Tamara from El Gastronomo Vagabundo. I love Adam’s Aussie pride which meant wearing short shorts in the kitchen in January….I think we missed the speedo. If you haven’t already tasted this pair’s food then this is a must do on your 2014 foodie resolutions list. I am a self identified chicken curry addict and may need to consider some sort of rehab in the near future. It is the perfect combo of spices with just enough warmth to actually taste it and not overwhelm. El Gastro is in the kitchen at Oast on Saturdays in February. Great food and pretty darn good beer even though I am a wino.
We also made it to Winterfest in the Square, located in downtown St Catharines this cool evening….well it was actually pretty warm inside….was very nice. It was a chance to have a glass of wine and say hi to some sociable industry friends and listen to a little music. So many events going on all at once I honestly am finding it pretty lonely now that all the parties are gone. Thank goodness Days of Wine and Chocolate has started and will give people something else to do!