October 1, 2015

Taste Local, Love Local

Autumn is here!
It is the season of harvest. The time of gathering earth's bounty from juicy fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts. New ingredients to our hearty meals and a Thanksgiving feast with an intoxicating aroma of roasted turkey make the season extra special. Grapes are brought to their peak ripeness and winemakers are busy picking, processing and fermenting them to produce the best wines. I am fortunate to live in an area close to some of the best wineries in the country. Even though I am not a drinker at all, I grew up with a grandfather who made his own wine all his life, so I can appreciate a glass of the elegant "drink of the Gods" letting the glorious fruit flavour enhance the taste of every bite of food in my mouth. Even more so when the wine is local, from our own community, made with passion and integrity. Canadian wineries have had a hard time being taken seriously in the wine market especially competing with century-old producers in Europe, but there is no denying that the Canadian soil and climate are perfect for crafting quality wine. Only Ontario has three main wine regions: the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County and nearly 100 wineries. Therefore, I was intrigued by the invitation from Wine Country Ontario and LCBO to celebrate the fall harvest at their media event "Taste Local, Love Local". We were treated to delicious Ontario wines paired with an early unique Thanksgiving menu prepared by celebrity chef and locavore Lynn Crawford: Rich Chardonnay with Ontario cheeses, Sparkling Trius Brut with Salt-Baked Pear Salad, Dry Riesling with Pork Rib Roast & Ham Hock, Apple & Sauerkraut Bread Pudding and Ice wine with Pumpkin Cheesecake & Cranberry-Orange Topping.
While meeting local winemakers, chefs and food artisans, we were reminded that in a world of mass-production, the local artisanal goods take on extra value.

Here is the recipe of chef Lynn's 

Salt-Baked Pear Salad with Aged Cheddar 
serves 8


10–12 cups (2.5–3 L) kosher salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) whole pink or black peppercorns
8 whole star anise
4 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
4 firm, ripe Bosc pears, washed and dried
8–10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 small Belgian endive, trimmed, cored and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
2 bunches red watercress, washed and dried, thick stems removed
¾ cup (175 mL) crumbled aged Canadian cheddar
½ cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
Brown Derby Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).  In a very large bowl, stir together 10 cups (2.5 L) salt, peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven large enough to hold pears upright in a single layer and deep enough that they don’t sit above the pot’s rim, stand pears on blossom ends. Carefully spoon salt mixture over and around pears so they’re completely covered except for the stems, adding remainder of salt if necessary.
Bake, uncovered, until pears are tender when pierced with a wooden skewer, about 30 minutes.
Let pears cool completely in salt mixture, then carefully remove them from the pot, brushing off any salt that sticks to the skins. Discard salt mixture.
Just before serving, cut each pear lengthwise into 8 wedges, discarding cores and stems. In a large bowl, gently toss pear wedges, radishes, celery, endive, watercress, cheese and cranberries.
Add enough vinaigrette to coat ingredients and toss gently. Divide salad among 8 individual plates. Sprinkle with almonds.

Chef Lynn's signature 

Brown Derby Vinaigrette
about 2 cups


Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) liquid honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp (1 mL) kosher salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
1⅓ cups (325 mL) canola oil


In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and salt until salt dissolves. Whisk in mustard.
Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until fully incorporated and vinaigrette turns creamy. Pour into a covered container and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Whisk well before using.

If you are passionate about  great wine, on your next trip to Toronto do not forget to include a visit to Wine Country Ontario or try some of the best wines at the LCBO. 
For all the wine and buy-local lovers, "Taste Local, Love Local", the 2015 Ontario wine promotion is taking place at 655 LCBO stores across the provence until October 10. 150 restaurants also across Ontario are pairing wines by the glass with special local recipes. More information can be found on LCBO's website. 



  1. Love stepping into your
    glamorous Toronto world.....
    And I love your sentiments,

    xo Suzanne

  2. Dear, dear Sylvia. YOU JUST KNOW HOW TO TAKE PICTURES! There is such emotion in your captures and the light is always in your favor. Bravo my friend; you have captured October. Stunning!

  3. Thank you for including the recipes!

  4. What an incredible event---one day soon for us, perhaps further down south. Thanks so much for including the recipes.... I've done just a few things with pears and the ideas are endless.

    Thanks fir a great post, Sylvia!


    Oh...love your photos of course! :)

    Jane x


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