Tag Archives: Mexican Food

The House of Sotol

Enrique Elias of Vinomex, speaking of Sotol, their innovative distilled spirit.

Made from the Daisyliron Wheeleri, an Agave relative, Sotol is a traditional spirit in the Chihuaha region of Mexico. The Vinomex version is the first of it’s kind, a premium quality spirit based on the old recipes and brought to life by a master oenologist who was previously with Moet & Chandon and Remy Martin.

Lisa Shamai’s Corny Cornbread

Yummy Cornbread
Yummy Cornbread

I first had this cornbread at Mr Rick and the Biscuits, CD release party for Cocktails & Cornbread in 2005 (here’s the title song, somewhat earlier at the Distillery Jazz Festival, where I met Lisa Shamai, local caterer extraordinaire, and the creator of this delicious, spicy, cornbread recipe.

A warm and gracious woman, Lisa has been cooking in Toronto for decades, at one time running a jazz club on weekends at her catering facility, Lisa Shamai Cuisinerie. Sadly, it was a brief candle, and the club blew out before I got to see it. Happily, the catering company is still with us.

I’ve always loved Johnnycake, aka cornbread and enjoyed this one a great deal at the show, going back to sneak extra helpings of the spicy, cheesy bread. Lisa was gracious enough to share it with me for this soup and bread edition of Eatin’s Canada and we thank her for it. I suggest you try it with the 3Bean Chili recipe from January…and lots of butter. Yummy.

The Mexican Vanilla Plantation – Magic Beans

vainilla-portada-origenesAt the 2013 CRFA Show, I met Eleazar Hernandez of Origenes, the Canadian importer of vanilla from The Mexican Vanilla Plantation.

At the end of the show, he handed me an envelope with some vanilla beans in it, almost apologetic, concerned that they would not be good enough, as the package had been opened and closed throughout the event.

To the contrary, they were so wonderful that I had to have an interview to learn what made them so exceptional.

I used the pods throughout the year and then, as it was drawing to a close, tossed one of the beans into a pint of rum to make some Vanilla Extract. The last time I had tried to make extract, it had taken 3 months and 6 pods bought from various stores to obtain an acceptable vanilla flavour…

This time, the year old bean from a pouch that Eleazar had worried might not be good enough after only a weekend, created a beautifully aromatic extract in just 3 days.

¡They may come from a lovely orchid, rather than a legume vine, but these are truly magic beans!

In this interview, Eleazar explains what makes the beans from the Mexican Vanilla Plantation so special, their variety and the painstakingly careful method of curing the beans, and a bit of the history and legend of Vanilla.

Thinking I’ll go and savour the fragrance of the extract for just a moment right now, and plan how I’ll use the last remaining beans.

Eatin’s Canada – January

Welcome to the very first Eatin’s Canada monthly magazine! We’re still developing and fine-tuning the content. Expect to see a bit more  over the next few days. Chilies Each edition will feature new recipes for meals, and for putting by, reviews of restaurants and food products, and interviews, as well as links to thought-provoking talks and essays about food.   For this first edition, we’re featuring Mexican food because nothing warms a Canadian winter like rich and spicy cuisine!

MoleThis month’s Putting Food By section features both an excellent Chocolate Mole sauce, and an exceptionally delicious Three Bean Chili that is rich and satisfying enough that many a meat eater has insisted that there was meat in it. Each recipe is given in quantities that are suitable either for a large party, or to freeze (which is what I do with them most of the time)

SouthwesternBreakfastTortillaBowl02FlipThe Recipes section has the preparation of Chicken Mole using the sauce, a salsa recipe, a Mexican Rice Pilaf, and a Coconut Cream Pie recipe that uses no flour!

Our contributor Glen Synoground also presents his excellent Southwestern Breakfast Tortilla Bowls, pictured here .

SocialCoffee03Reviews This month’s feature feature review is by Wayne Kwok, on Farmer’s Collective Organic Espresso, roasted by Social Coffee & Tea Company, plus mini-reviews for many other wonderful products, from Soup (Ontario Naturals) to nuts (Orasta).

We pretty much only have time to review the good food that we find.To review something properly, one has to taste it repeatedly in order to examine and relate all the important food notes…there’s no real desire to do that with food that isn’t wonderful, so we don’t.

If, over time, we find it impossible to maintain an absolute policy of niceness, we will create ‘The Dorothy Parker Room‘ (“If you can’t say anything nice, come on over and sit next to me.”), hosted by her sister-in-spirit Jezebel Parker. For now, however, the Good Food Fan Club Policy is in effect. The Reviews/Directory section is the archive of all reviewed products, services, events and books.  The only way to be represented in our directory is to be reviewed and to be thought highly of.

Rose Of Sharon BeeThis month’s Food for Thought features an excellent TED Talk by chef Dan Barber about his quest for a truly sustainable fish. It’s a fascinating exploration of farming methodologies and how treating even predators with respect can yield great results.

EnriqueWalkingOur Interview The House of Sotol is with Enrique Elisa of Vinomex, makers of Sotol and was recorded at the 2012 Canadian Restaurant Food Association (CRFA) Show. Over time, we’ll introduce more features, and we look forward to hosting our first events. For now though, we’re excited to have the first edition of Eatin’s Canada published, and welcome you to enjoy the journey with us.

Chocolate Mole Sauce

I've loved mole sauce since the first time I tried it, and the best I've ever tasted was in a cantina in Blaine, Washington, just across the border from Canada. My mom had taken me there for lunch and while it was a simple restaurant, the food was stellar. I have tried for years to reproduce that sauce and with this combination, believe that I have hit the jackpot. For my own most recent batch, I rendered the pork fat off of the rind of some double-smoked bacon, gaining particularly delicious results. This recipe is designed to make a lot because it's enough trouble to go to that I want lots on hand when I make it and delicious enough that I will use it up in a year's time....and it makes a great gift.


Roasted by Social Coffee & Tea Company on January 6, 2014
Sampled 10 days after roast – Review by Wayne Kwok

Living in Toronto, we’re a bit divided on coffee. From my observations, most Torontonians prefer roasty and bittersweet European coffees. The third wave specialty coffee movement (popular on the west coast of North America, Australia, and Scandinavia) sees coffee as an artisanal product. Beans are roasted lighter to allow the drinker to appreciate the subtleties of flavour and the distinctiveness of a varietal in a particular growing region.

As a roaster, Social Coffee & Tea sits on the progressive end of the spectrum. Farmer’s Collective Organic Espresso is obviously intended to be brewed in an espresso machine, but it also makes a decent drip-filter coffee. This seems to be Social’s attempt to appeal to those who like their coffee a bit more traditional. “Nice” seems to instantly come to my customers’ minds when they drink it. I agree. It’s like that reliable friend who would rather be described as pleasant than exciting. Even someone who believes espresso should be a party in your mouth will occasionally appreciate something smooth, mellow, and sweet.

Not everyone likes big, bright, fruity espressos. This one sits on the fence. It’s definitely not a wild west coast espresso, nor is it a dark and roasty European. Nothing about it smacks you in the face. There’s a subtle brightness in the beginning followed by strong nutty notes, ending with hints of bakers chocolate. It has a very mellow and balanced taste and mouthfeel—so balanced that Social says you could trust it to run a nation.

Using the same beans, I also made myself an Americano and a drip-filter style brew using an Aeropress (a full-immersion brew method like a french press, but the liquor is pressured through a paper filter). As an Americano, the cup I had was a bit brighter, sweeter, and fruitier with much more of a roasty, candied nut taste. The Aeropress brew was a bit flatter all around.

In a latte, the milk really brings out the aroma of hazelnut. If you like nutty aromas, you won’t be disappointed.

If you’re someone who just likes a pleasant cup and isn’t looking for green apple and tea rose flavours in their espresso, this is a great everyday blend.