Beer

John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

Comfort food is such a personal thing. For Pat's Irish-American family, it's a serving of champ, the rich dish of mashed potatoes and spring onions with lots of butter and cream. For David, it's cornbread like his Kentucky grandmother used to make with bacon drippings and unbolted meal. In his new book, Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul (Kyle Books, $29.99), chef and cooking school proprietor John Whaite explores the taste of comfort around the world. He adds his own twist to traditional Mexican chilaquiles by adding eggplant and feta, uses sweet apricots to balance the heat of Scotch Bonnet peppers in West African Jollof rice, and tops a Scandinavian-style pizza with salmon fillets and pickled cucumber. But Whaite was raised in Lancashire in northwest...Read More
Pour a cool one on Montreal Craft Beer Tour

Pour a cool one on Montreal Craft Beer Tour

With Heineken as one of the sponsors of the Montreal Jazz Festival, there's no shortage of beer for sale at the outdoor food and drink stalls. But if you are a hops-head looking for something more than a quick thirst quencher, you might want to set aside time for a Montreal Brewpub Experience (montrealcraftbeertours.com). On a previous visit to Montreal, we joined one of the walking and tasting tours—along with a group of extremely cheerful guys on a bachelor party getaway. Stéphane Lussier (our guide shown at right) told us that Montreal jumped on the craft beer bandwagon about 30 years ago. He also pointed out that Montreal is one of the biggest brewing cities in North America. In addition to brewing giants Labatt, Molson,...Read More
Tastes of Scotland light up a winter visit

Tastes of Scotland light up a winter visit

We wonder if the Scottish diet was invented sometime at the end of the last Ice Age. On our recent late-winter visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh, we found that such Scottish specialties as cullen skink, neeps and tatties, Arbroath smokies, Scotch pie, and even the ubiquitous haggis have a special appeal when the temperature hovers around the freezing point and the weatherman won't commit to whether it will rain or snow. Nordic cuisine continues to have a moment on the international gourmet scene. We found that eating in Scotland was an excellent way to get in touch with the roots of high-latitude foodstuffs before the trendy restaurants of Copenhagen and Bergen started tinkering with them. There's a pure honesty to a cuisine based on short-season...Read More
NABC proves brewpub grub can be healthy, too

NABC proves brewpub grub can be healthy, too

With its working-class-hero graphics and its no-nonsense approach to craft brewing, the New Albanian Brewing Company (NABC) has been providing the suds of choice for thirsty folks in New Albany, Indiana, since 2002. In 2009, the original pizzeria brewery, now called NABC Pizzeria & Public House (3312 Plaza Drive, 812-944-2577) was augmented by the downtown NABC Café & Brewhouse (415 Bank St., 812-944-2577, newalbanian.com). In 2015, Stacie Bale took over as café operations manager. Serving both lunch and dinner, the café bustles, even outside the normal evening hours when brewpubs do their biggest business. Bale's approach to the grub has something to do with that. She aims to make brewpub fare as healthy as possible both for the customers and for the local agricultural community....Read More
As frost looms, fried green tomatoes beckon

As frost looms, fried green tomatoes beckon

Jeffersonville, Indiana, is a fascinating little town with a deep history and a lot of good eats. We will soon be featuring several spots there in upcoming posts about our visit to Louisville, Kentucky, and the towns across the Ohio River in Indiana. But right now we're looking at frost forecasts this week. So we're busy harvesting everything left in our garden. That includes a lot of tomatoes that haven't yet shown the first blush of ripening. Jeffersonville happens to be the home of Red Yeti Restaurant and Red Foot Brewing Company (256 Spring St., Jeffersonville; 812-288-5788, redyetijeff.com). We enjoyed a beer flight with a bountiful board of cheeses from five Indiana and Kentucky creameries and along with sausages and other charcuterie from Henpecked Farm...Read More
Spanning the decades of Niagara craft brewing

Spanning the decades of Niagara craft brewing

The craft brewing scene on the Niagara peninsula is, appropriately enough, fluid. Small breweries pop up in every town and their styles range from simple session ales to extreme brews. We stopped in to taste one of the newest and most experimental—Exchange in Niagara-on-the-Lake—as well as one of the pioneer craft brewers, now operating as Syndicate Restaurant and Brewery in a newly gentrifying neighborhood in Niagara Falls. Exchange Brewery Shiny black walls, shiny black bottles, and a marble bar immediately signal that Exchange Brewery (7 Queen St., Niagara-on-the-Lake; 905-468-9888; exchangebrewery.com) is not exactly a suds-soaked beer bar. The brewery and tasting room in the Old Town heritage district strike a sophisticated urban tone in striking contrast to Oast's aw-shucks country brewery image. The building was...Read More
Lift a glass to toast Niagara’s fine craft beer

Lift a glass to toast Niagara’s fine craft beer

As Niagara began to emerge as a major wine district, someone on the peninsula likely did a double take. “Wait a minute,” he might have said. “We're Canadians. We drink beer!” Let's face it, Labatt's and Molson are more than holding their own against Canadian Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But craft brewing has also swept across the Niagara peninsula with salubrious results. Although we, too, were focused on Niagara's remarkable wines, we squeezed in visits to three very different and very good breweries. Here's one. Look for the other two in the next post. Niagara Oast House Brewers Route 55 outside Niagara-on-the-Lake cuts through some serious farm country with several vineyards and an aromatic lavender farm lining the highway. But the big red barn of...Read More

Steak and Guinness Pie a pub standard

Pretty much wherever you go in Northern Ireland, chances are good that the pub has steak and Guinness pie on the menu. In recent years, many places have taken to plopping a piece of separately cooked puff pastry on top of the beef stew. This version is deliciously retrograde. It uses a classic butter pastry crust. The dish is traditional but every cook adds a personal touch. This version is adapted from several sources. Don't be surprised by the inclusion of sharp cheddar cheese. It makes a real difference in the flavor and the crust. STEAK AND GUINNESS PIE Serves 4 Ingredients For Stew 4 tablespoons butter, divided large red onion, chopped 6 cloves garlic, minced 3 carrots, peeled and chopped 3 ribs celery, chopped...Read More

Local color lights up Toronto neighborhoods

Toronto's playful side is literally written on its walls. The city is full of murals created with a high degree of artistry and a witty sense of humor. The one above with the car-turned-planter in the foreground embodies the spirit of the Kensington Market neighborhood. Just west of Chinatown, most of its shops and eateries are found along Augusta Avenue and adjacent Nassau Street, Baldwin Street, and Kensington Avenue. The eastern boundary stretches to Spadina Avenue in Chinatown, making a continuous colorful neighborhood of eateries and shops. Once the center of hippie culture in Canada, Kensington Market was where many young American men moved to avoid the military draft during the Vietnam war. The area retains its psychedelic patchouli vibe in the street art and...Read More

Oklahoma onion burger an institution

During the Dust Bowl years that made many Okies into migrants (see John Steinbeck), Oklahoma grill cooks began serving onion burgers. El Reno, about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City, claims to be the birthplace. According to legend, cook Ross Davis invented the onion burger at the Hamburger Inn on Rte. 66 in downtown El Reno. He piled half a shredded onion on top of a nickel meat patty and smashed them together with a spatula. Presto! The onions transformed the wafer-thin patty into a substantial meal. Three diners in El Reno—Sid’s Diner, Johnnies Grill, and Robert’s Grill—specialize in the dish. The town also holds a Burger Day Festival in May. The dust storms are gone, but a taste for onion burgers remains. In fact,...Read More