The Other Brothers

When I first decided to do a restaurant review I thought it would be rather difficult to find a fine dining restaurant in or around Guelph.  I was pleasantly surprised to fine a variety of high end restaurants right in the down town area.  I decided on The Other Brothers and was accompanied by my friend Matthew; who is just as in to wining and dining as I am. The restaurant is located on Yarmouth St. and was suggested by a couple of friends.  From the outside it does not look much like a restaurant, but the atmosphere inside was lovely!

We agreed that the tables were nicely situated in that we were sort of secluded and did not have to watch other people eat. There was also live music! A classical guitar player serenaded us through dinner.

The restaurant has a 3 course option for $36, which I thought was very reasonable.  They also have a surprise 6 course meal for $50. It is only available on Saturday’s but it is definitely something I would like to try.

To drink I had a red Farnese Sangiovese.  It was quite nice.  The was a smoother red wine with just the right amount of tannins! Not very expensive either; a bottle of it at the LCBO is only $12.  If your looking for a wine that would not easily offend people I would definitely recommend it.

For the entree I had the braised Ontario beef.  It. Was. Delicious.  I don’t eat meat very often at school, and if you are someone like me who appreciates a good steak I would highly advise trying this. The beef was super tender and very flavourful.  The sauce was quite BBQ-ey, and could have maybe been toned down slightly, but other than that; awesome.  The potatoes it came with were just average potatoes, nothing too much to discuss.  One thing missing on the plate was another vegetable. There were two very small pieces of carrots on the plate that I found only at the very end.  Perhaps this is the nutrition student in me, but I could have used some asparagus or even just some more carrots.  Overall, though, an excellent dish.

For dessert: White Chocolate and Raspberry Crème Brûlée.  Mmmmmm. I did wish it had been a little warmer when it was served but other than that; it tasted as good as it sounds.

The prices were very reasonable as well.  With appetizers ranging from about $8-10, entree’s $22-24, and dessert $7-9, it’s similar to menu prices you would see at a Casey’s.  The difference being that many times those appetizers and desserts are shared because the portion sizes are so large.  These portion sizes were definitely just enough for one person.  I also left feeling pleasantly satiated, as opposed to having to be rolled out the door.

I would definitely recommend this restaurant for anyone looking to change up their restaurant choices!

Bringing Fine Dining Home

Sometimes it’s nice to make a fancy meal for friends or family to come over and enjoy.   Food and Drink magazine from the LCBO is a fantastic resource to find fancy and delicious recipe ideas!

I recently went to and picked up the Holiday addition of Food and Drink and it has some lovely recipe ideas!

For Starters, choose a sparkling wine in order to put everyone in a good mood ;o) Pair it with Tomato & Bocconcini-Stuffed Mushrooms!

For the entree try Fusilli with Gorgonzola, Walnuts and Sage!  Pair it with a Ripasso or a Merlot to go with all the strong flavours.

For dessert try Raspberry Custard.  Suggested pairing is with a Southbrook Framboise or Bailey Caramel Irish Cream.

The recipes for each are listed below.  Consider that the appetizers and desserts can be made ahead of time and just placed in the oven.  The pasta can be semi-prepared, allowing you to spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen!

Tomato & Bocconcini-Stuffed Mushrooms

1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered

1 cup mini bocconcini, halved

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp minced capers

1 tsp dried oregano

2 anchovy fillets, minced or 1 tsp anchovy paste

1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

1 lb portobello mushroom caps

pinch each of salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:

1. Combine tomatoes, bocconcini, parsley, capers, oregano, and anchovies in bowl.

Add bread crumbs and stir to coat.

2. Preheat oven to 425 F

3. Remove stems from mushrooms and using a small spoon, scrape out gills and discard.

Place caps on parchment paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spoon tomato and cheese mixture into caps; drizzle with oil

4. Roast mushrooms in oven for about 20 minutes or until softened and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

*note: you can make the fill up to three days in advance!

Fusilli with Gorgonzola, Walnuts and Sage

Deep Fried Sage Leaves

 3 cups vegetable oil

12 medium sage leaves washed and dried

Pasta

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 pound gorgonzola cubed

2 tbsp finely shredded fresh sage leaves

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

12 oz fusilli pasta (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup coursly chopped walnuts, toasted

Kosher salt to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

Method:

1. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large sauce pan to give a depth of one inch.  Heat over medium high heat until a candy thermometer registers 365F

2. Fry sage leave for 6-8 seconds or until crisp

3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on a paper towel lined plate

4. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 6-8 minutes or until softened and fragrant but not browned, reducing the heat if garlic starts to brown.  Add wine and increase heat to medium high.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until liquid has reduced slightly lowering the heat if tis spit.

5. Reduce heat to medium-low and add gorgonzola and sage to skillet.  Cook, stirring often, until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth. Stir in nutmeg and pepper. Keep warm over low heat but do not allow to boil.

6. Meanwhile, cook fusilli in a large pot of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes for until el dente. Drain well and return pasta to pot.

7. Add gorgonzola sauce and walnuts to pasta and toss gently.  Season with more pepper, and salt to taste if necessary.

8. Divide pasta among 4 warm pasta bowls and garnish with deep fried sage leaves.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

 Raspberry Custard

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 vanilla pod, slit open with the point of a knife

8 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup raspberry jam

2 tbsp icing sugar

Topping:

1 cup raspberries

2 tbs framboise or raspberry wine

1 tbsp sugar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 300 F.

2. Heat cream with vanilla bean just to boiling point. Let steep 10 minutes; discard vanilla bean.  Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Poor in cream and whisk together.  Place a scant 1 tbsp dollop of jam at the bottom of 6 half cup ramekins and ladle the cream mix over top until full.

3. Place ramekins in an oven proof baking dish. Add hot water half way up the sides. Bake until just set, about 1 hr period.

4. Chill for about 2 hours or until cold. If using topping, combine raspberries, framboise, and sugar gently. Pile on top of each custard. Alternatively, simple garnish with a few fresh raspberries.  Finish with icing sugar.

 

Enjoy!

Wine and Dine

So, if you haven’t realized already, I have quite a fondness for wine. This post is going to be dedicated to this marvelous juice.

Set the Mood

Often celebrations or fine dining events will begin with a Champagne toast! Champagne is a sparkling wine made only in Champagne, France. The “bubbly” is caused by natural fermentation from yeast.  The combination of carbonation and alcohol causes one

to become inebriated more quickly than alcohol alone. Carbon dioxide gas puts pressure on the stomach and also on the sphincter which empties into the duodenum. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine, which is where almost all alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream.  Quicker transit time, faster absorption, and people at the party are starting to feel pretty good.  So, Champagne is really used to loosen people up to enjoy the rest of the evening!

Red vs. White

The purpose of having wine with a meal is for more than just the adverse effects of alcohol.  Wine actually has the ability to bring out the flavours in the meal.

White wines are higher in acidity giving them a refreshing, sour taste. Now, usually, acidic is not considered a good term when speaking about ingesting liquids, but in the case of wine, it is okay.  This acidic flavour stimulates saliva production in the mouth.  The saliva “bathes” the tongue, refreshing it for the next bite and making each bite seem  just like the first.

Red wines contain tannins. These provide the tingly feeling on your gums when you drink red wine. These tannins cut through the slipperiness of the meat making the meat more enjoyable and the flavours more expressed.

It is stereotypical to purchase or receive a bottle of wine and then want to ‘age’ it and save it for a later date.  Funny enough, very few wines that we buy today will benefit from the aging process (only about 3%).  Of these rare wines, whites should be ages less than two years and red aged less than 4. How do you know whether or not to age the wine? It will often say on the back of the bottle.  They are quite expensive; and higher quality wines start with lots of tannins with convert to beautiful aromas over the aging period.

Liquid Dessert:

I couldn’t talk about wines without a tribute to dessert wines.  These wines are super sweet and are often sipped after dinner with or instead of dessert.  Ice wine, is a classic dessert wine in which grapes are harvested when they are frozen (consistent temperature of -8oC).  At this point the water in the grape is frozen, but the sugars are not.  When squeezed, only one drop from each grape is used.  This precious drop is highly concentrated with sugar making the delicious sweet wine we enjoy!  The single drop also makes ice wine very expensive because it takes many more grapes to make one small bottle.

Botrytis infected wine:

Infected does not sound like an appealing word to sip on either.  However, this you have got to try!

Botrytis Cinerea is a mold that can affect grape vines.  If the mold attacks early in the season, then it harms the vine.  Sometimes it can wipe out entire vineyards, so many growers spray pesticides to avoid it.

If it happens to late in the season and it is a wet, damp season, like other molds it will thrive and can kill the plant.

If, however, it attacks late in the season and the weather is dry the grapes will shrivel up that raisins and the juice that comes out of the grapes is like honey. The wine is a golden colour and tastes decadent.

Botrytis Infected Grapes

Botrytis Infected Wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said earlier, most wine makers try to prevent this from occurring.  Sometimes, if the he/she was planning on getting rid of some vines anyway, they may leave the plants unprotected on the chance that they will be able to produce some Botrytis infected wine that year.

Australia produces Botrytis infected wine consistently because they have opportune weather!

 

I hope you enjoyed a brief introduction to wine!

Fine Dining: Defined

Looking at a menu and trying to get an idea of the course is tough when you have to translate every other word.  Many of the unfamiliar terms you will find are French, because french cooking is the basis for most Chefs today.  Here are some handy french words to have in your back pocket in order to decipher what your about to order.

Aïoli (ay-oh-lee): a garlic mayonnaise

Aillada: spicy garlic and oil sauce

Aillade: garlic and walnut sauce

Á la mode: a term to describe a dessert served with a scoop of ice cream.

Au four:  baked

A la poêle: pan sauteed

Á l’etouffée: stewed

Á la broche: cooked on a skewer

Apéritif: pre-dinner drink, cocktail

Aiguillettes:  long, thin slices (of meat)

Bavaroise: cold dessert, rich custard with cream and gelatin

Bisque:  seafood soup

Billy Bi (or By): cream of mussel soup (who’da thought!)

Le coq au vin:  chicken in red wine sauce

Crudités: raw vegetables

Digestif: an after dinner drink

Dégustation: a tasting menu (small servings of multiple dishes: good way to have a variety and often you get to taste some pretty unique dishes!)

Entrée – appetizer/starter (not to be confused with the English term: entree, which means main course)

Mariniére: served with a white sauce

Le plat du jour: daily special

Le plat principal: main course

Terrine: similar to paté, a forcemeat loaf served at room temperature. Forcemeat is meat that has been ground or finely chapped.

Farci:  stuffed

Foie Gras: liver of an animal, often duck or goose, usually served as a pate

Steak Tartare: made with raw, mashed beef ( :S watch out for that one!)

I suppose you could always ask the server if you didn’t understand a term, but why do that when you could show off your knowledge to your friends or date!

Health Benefits of Fine Dining

I have a theory that fine dining may actually be a healthy way to eat out.  Considering that you eat slower and have smaller portions, the meal contains a variety of food groups, the meal is often paired with wine, and you unwind with friends which releases dopamine, it seems to be a healthy night out.  I could not find an article that describes health benefits of fine dining itself, however, I could find articles to support my points individually.

Eating slower, smaller portions:  When I go out to a Casey’s or an Eastside Mario’s, I often leave the restaurant wanting to roll to my car.  I am stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable and the meal was usually not fantastic by any means.  Whenever I leave a finely dined dinner I feel comfortable full.  This is ironic considering these meals tend to be at least three courses.

The trick is in the portion sizes.

It is no secret that portion sizes these days are far too large.  A study by the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention showed that people will eat more of their meal if the portion size is bigger (7).  Eating too much can cause people to consume excess calories which can lead to weight gain.

There is also often a pause between courses, allowing some digestion to begin and as well as the feeling of satiety to kick in as you’re full as opposed to when you’re past full.

Variety: It is reiterated over and over again in the media as well as all my nutrition classes: eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is very important in maintaining a healthy diet and obtaining all the essential nutrients.  Fine dining courses have a variety of different coloured vegetables and often different or rarer vegetable choices.

Wine. Need I say more?  There has been so much research done on the antioxidant properties of wine.  The polyphenols found in the skins of the grapes can help to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol).  They also “inhibit endothelial adhesion…” (De Caterina, et al, 2003)(8), which leads to heart health and decreased atherosclerosis (the hardening of artery walls).  A study in Denmark also suggested that wine drinking was “a general indication of high social, cognitive, and personality development.” (9). (yay for vino enthusiasts! 😀 )

Being With Friends: Serotonin and dopamine are the ‘happy’ neurotransmitters released when you experience a feeling of joy; for example, when you have dinner with friends.  Increased serotonin can also lead to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (10).

The Mediterranean diet is said to be the healthiest diet in the world, indicating some of the lowest rates of heart disease.  Food choices aside, the style of eating in the Mediterranean is similar to that of fine dining.  A meal is enjoyed over a long period of time and is filled with an abundance of food groups and a glass of wine. Friends of mine who used to live in Italy described the Italian lunch ‘hour’ as the city shutting down from about 1-4pm.  People go home, have a lovely meal, and then head back and work until 7.

Now How Am I Supposed to Eat!?

Pass the bread, please:

It is common practice for us to slice a piece of bread with a knife and then load up the butter on the knife and smear it on the bread.

In fine dining things are a bit different.

First: Bread is to be broken with your hands.

When the butter is passed around, take as much butter as you want, and put it on your bread plate, not directly on your bread.  Break the bread in small pieces as you wish to eat it, not all at once.  When you break a piece off you butter only that piece using the butter on your plate.

A common misconception with fine dining is that there is no such thing as finger food and that one must cut everything into smaller pieces.  As with bread, there are actually exceptions.  Here are some examples of foods that are supposed to be eaten with fingers (4):

Asparagus spears: Provided they are not covered in sauce. They can be stringy and difficult to cut, can roll of your plate.

Shrimp with tails: pick up by the tail, eat, and leave tail on same plate it came on so it will be taken away.

Olives: can be picked up with fingers.  If the pit needs to be removed it is fine to remove if from your mouth with fingers as well (just try to be discrete ;o) )

For all of these finger foods keep in mind it is still important to be ‘dainty’.  Pick up using three fingers only: thumb, index, and middle.

Here are some foods that should definitely be eaten with utensils (5):

French Fries: though rarely served in fine dining environments, sound be cut with utensils

Salad: large pieces of lettuce can be a problem in salads.  Proper etiquette suggests cutting the leaves before trying to eat them.

Chicken: when chicken is on the bone, take the meat off using utensils.  Never pick up the bone trying to get all the meat off.

Soups:

The technique eating soup is a little different from everyday eating as well.

This video does a good job of explaining  all the techniques (6).

Basic Dining Etiquette- The Soup Course

If tilting is necessary, tilt away from you.  Try not to scrape the bowl in trying to get every last drop.  It is fine to leave a small amount of soup in the bottom of the bowl.

Remember: fine dining is a slow process. Pace yourself and enjoy each bite!

The Set Up

“So many utensils! Which side plate is mine?” Have no fear, I am going to clear up some of these confusions.

Utensils:

The most important rule: Eat from the outside – in. A properly set table, like the one below, will have:

Appetizer/salad forks furthest on the left  (B)

Soup spoon furthest on the right (J)

After that work your way in, you will have your 2nd course and or main course utensils (C,D, H, I) as you move in.  (often C and D are the same size as well)

The dessert cutlery is located above your plate (M and N).

Side Plates: 

Consider the acronym BMW (1)

Bread, Main, Water in order from left to right.  Your bread plate is located to your left (K), as shown in the picture.  Your water and wine will be on the right (O,P,Q).

Napkins: 

This summer I was at a CAFP conference and attended an information session with Joanne Blake and Terry Pithers, a couple who provide professional style advice.  They suggested you fold the napkin into a triangle, with the pointy end closest to your knees.  This way if your fingers get dirty you can discretely wipe them inside the folded napkin, leaving the top of the napkin free of stains, foods or sauces. (2)

Usually people place the napkin entirely unfolded on their lap. If you wipe some sauce on the napkin and then go to place your hands on your lap after finishing the meal, the sauce is still there and now you’ve got it on your hands and shirt too!

Try this handy tip next time you eat out anywhere!

Once you are finished at the table you may leave the napkin slightly folded to the left of your plate.

FUN FACT:

If you ever dine with the Queen you must place your fork prongs down when you are finished! (3)

Bon Appetit!

Hello Everyone and Welcome to my blog! For the next five weeks I will be providing you with some basic tips on fine dining.  This blog is a project for my Nutrition Education class.  The assignment is to educate people on food, in any respect.  I chose to be a little original and educate people on fine dining etiquette. My inspiration comes from a couple of places.  First and foremost, I love food, and food being presented like art: even better! Secondly: During my time at the University of Guelph I have been a part of the Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP).  It is a networking organization where we attend meetings and network with professionals from all over the food service industry.  These meetings tend to be fancy dinners, and once a year it is quite the fine event.  This is where I got my first exposure to fine dining.  I also have grown quite fond of wine over the past year and enjoy the art of picking out the perfect wine to complement a perfect meal.

I hope you enjoy my blog and learn a little something with each post!

-Tayler