Toronto Wine and Cheese Show
This annual extravaganza took place at the International Centre in Malton again. It was opened again by our illustrious Hazel McCallion, Mississauga’s Mayor – also known as Hurricane Hazel. Over 700 booths invited visitors and professionals alike.
As the title of the show misleadingly suggests, it is not only a wine exhibition with the traditional introduction to and tasting of the latest vintages by the visiting public. A lot of emphasis at this exhibition is put on food – especially gourmet food and condiments that include salad dressings, chutneys, spicy sauces, jellies and marmalades, truffles, fudges, chocolate coated strawberries from Whittamore’s, caviar, sushi, seafood – especially the clam chowder at Captain John’s booth - oysters, pâtés from caribous (Nunavik), Cajun Creole Hot Nuts, breads and baked goods of all types and much more, to delight the palate of the gourmets and gourmands among the visitors.
I talked to a number of visiting "Chefs" who mentioned that they visit the show mainly to get inspiration for themselves and to see what the competition has to offer. www.cook4me.com is their website. One of them was just trying some of the offerings from the Hawberry Farms from Providence Bay, on Manitoulin Island, and was very impressed with their varieties and another was interested in the non-stick cookware from Granite Cookware.
The demonstration kitchen was another delightful place to visit and see how the other half "lives (and cooks)" plus all the wonderful seminars that explained wines and beers and what they go with or how to use them in your kitchen to make any meal truly remarkable and outstanding.
One of the more prominent exhibits was the booth of the "Cheese Boutique" from Toronto. Larger than last year it offered a fantastic fondue to the cheese lovers among the visitors and the staff really took great efforts to educate the interested public about the many cheeses from around the world which are available at the store.
Of course there were wines – most of them available for tasting – from around the world, Napa Valley, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Hungaria, South Africa, Chile, Spain and more.
Our Ontario wines of course were feature attractions. Konzelmann Winery won bronze medals with the 2000 Pinot Blanc, 2000 Riesling Traminer, a 1998 Cabernet Merlot Reserve and a silver medal for the 2000 Riesling Grand Reserve (Best of Show!) and 2000 Vidal Icewine plus a gold medal for the 2000 Select LH Vidal.
Reif Estate Winery also won a silver medal for their 1999 Meritage and a 2000 Merlot plus "Best Value White" for the 2000 Vidal Special Select LH and a bronze medal for the 1999 Vidal Icewine. Pelee Island and Henry of Pelham had a number of new offerings and won a number of medals, as did many of the other exhibitors. It was gratifying to see the many medals won for Ontario wines and proudly worn by some of the winners at the various booths.
Interesting, delicious fruit wines could be tasted among others at the Bellamere Winery, Rush Creek and Whittamore booths.
If you preferred something stronger you would find it here. One new – to me – and outstanding product was a Red Vodka from Holland.
For beer lovers the show offered much variety: Creemore Springs – who won a silver medal for their Premium Lager; Brick Brewery - who won a gold medal for the Waterloo Dark; Magnotta – who won a silver medal for the India Pale Ale 101; Sleeman and others had also beers available for tasting.
But of course it is impossible to list everyone here. I haven’t even mentioned Groucho and Co. with their cigars and accessories. They were located in the area of the show where smokers expected to find the usual "Smoker’s Lounge". There were signs in the hallway that pointed to that area and if you followed them you found yourself outside the building at 4 degrees below zero and howling winds. There was a small tent set up with some heaters valiantly trying to blow lukewarm air into the tent but to no avail. Maybe this was a hint to stop smoking altogether.
Here is an afterthought: An old Russian proverb says "If you drink a glass of wine after your soup, you steal a Ruble from the doctor". However, they are only talking about one glass! And who’s got Rubles? Did they know something we don’t?
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