Top 5 Vineyards in Niagara’s Wine Country

Spoiled for choice, it’s difficult to choose just five wineries, however, these were a 10-out-of-10 with team Dabble.

1- Fans of contemporary architecture will fall in love with Stratus Vineyards. The sleek interiors are wrapped in glass, providing visitors with stunning views of the vineyards and grapes. The wine is artfully displayed, the labelling is clean and sophisticated and the experience is superb.

stratus

Photography by Simon Burn

2- Another contemporary setting awaits the thirsty traveller at Jackson-Triggs Winery. “It’s likely you’ll want to anchor your Niagara visit with an event at Jackson-Triggs,” says Dabble E-I-C Kimberley Seldon. The Summer Concert series is a must. Purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Dabble does Niagara3

Photography by Simon Burn

3- Glass in hand, gather near the outdoor pizza oven and wait for the basil drenched Margherita to emerge and you too will love a visit to the Good Earth Food and Wine Co.

Dabble does Niagara65

Photography by Simon Burn

4- Before you book your visit, make sure Jason Parsons is in the kitchen. His mad culinary gifts, paired perfectly with the offerings at Peller Estates Winery are sheer genius.

Peller Estates2

Photography by Simon Burn

5- Though diminutive in scale Lailey Vineyard delivers substantially when it comes to wine tasting.

 

Where to Eat in Havana

Here are 5 great places to dine when you’re in Havana:

1- Paladar Doña Eutimia: A great little gem in Old Havana. Be sure to start off with a mojito frappe, it’s their specialty.

2- Rio Mar Restaurant: Amazing setting and superb seafood.  The restaurant is located in the  neighbourhood of Mirama and there are wonderful views of the river and the Malecón seawall.

Rio Mar

3- Ivan & Justo: Not only will you enjoy the freshness of the food but you’ll love the décor. Try the ceviche de pescado or the tacos de la casa, our two faves.

Ivan and Justo

4- 304 O’Reilly: This restaurant isn’t hard to find as the name is the address in Old Havana. Owner José Carlos learned how to cook from his grandmother and has a passion for food and art which is evident when you step inside. Have a Caesar, it’s made from scratch.

304 O'reilly

5- El Litoral: Enjoy a healthy buffet or their à la carte menu. Not hungry? Have a cappuccino outside and enjoy a view of the water.

El Litoral

 

Dabble Chef: Focaccia

Dabble Chef - Bread-2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 325ml water (slightly above room temperature)
  • 1½ tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup bread flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⅓ cup potatoes, mashed and cooled

Herb Mixture:

  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
  • 6 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
  • ⅓ cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, add water, yeast and sugar and set aside. Let the mixture rise 1-2″.
    Tip: Keep mixture in a warm area of the kitchen to speed up the process.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and potatoes. Add in the yeast mixture.
  3. Stir mixture with hands or using a mixer with a dough hook attachment until combined. Remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead for 8-10 minutes with hands or in mixer on low for 2 minutes and then at medium for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Place in a well-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap until the dough doubles in size.
  5. Once the dough has risen, preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix rosemary, thyme, garlic and oil and set aside.
  6. Remove dough from bowl and punch it until it is deflated. Portion the dough into balls that are approximately the size of a fist. Once portioned, roll into long strips. Using 3 strips, pinch one end of each log together and braid strips. Pinch the ends together and then combine the two ends of the dough to create a circle. Repeat with all strips.
  7. Spray or oil a medium sized muffin tin. Place each ball into the muffin tin. With a pastry brush, generously brush herb mixture onto balls. Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove plastic and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each bun and a little more oil once they are removed from the oven.

Tip: To enhance flavour, cook herbs in olive oil. In a small sauté pan, heat up olive oil, rosemary and thyme on low-medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as you can smell the essence. Let cool and then brush on dough.

 

Dabble Chef: fish tacos

Dabble Chef - Tilapia

INGREDIENTS:

AVOCADO MIX:

  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 8 sprigs of cilantro, picked, washed and chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper

CABBAGE MIX:

  • Julienne:
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 2 cups green or purple cabbage
  • 1 red onion, peeled

TILAPIA:

  • 4 filets of tilapia
  • Olive oil
  • 12 x 6” corn tortillas
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine avocados, 1 juiced lime and ⅓ of the cilantro. Mash the avocado leaving some chunks. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place in fridge.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the carrots, cabbage, onion, the remaining cilantro and one juiced lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Place tilapia on a plate and season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet or non-stick pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear tilapia on both sides for about 4-5 minutes per side.
  4. Tortillas: Place corn tortillas on a plate and cover with a napkin. Heat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to warm through. For soft, flavourful tacos, heat tortillas by warming them in a pan with hot olive oil.
  5. Select a tortilla and spread the avocado mixture down the centre. Add the slaw mixture and then crumble the tilapia over top. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy. Add salsa if you prefer.

Dabble Savvy: Tilapia is a delicate white fish so use a spatula instead of tongs to turn.

A Taste of Chocolate Pie

Torta Havannet - South America

Torta Havannet – Dulce de Leche Chocolate Pie

South America

Pastry, dulce de leche and chocolate? What’s not to love about this rich and gooey South American pie? Make it a day ahead and chill overnight in the refrigerator for best results.

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick (4oz) butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups (18 fl oz) dulce de leche (Manjar brand)
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup (2 fl oz) heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS:
In a food processor, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add lightly beaten egg and pulse until mixture forms a ball. Gently form dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease a 10″ pie or cake tin. Roll dough out to 12″ circle and press into prepared tin. Place a circle of parchment paper and a cup of dried beans or rice on top of pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove beans/rice and parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. When pie shell is cool, fill with dulce de leche. Warm cream in a small, heavy bottomed pan until almost boiling. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Pour chocolate mixture over dulce de leche and spread evenly.

Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened, preferably overnight, then unmold and cut into thin slices with a sharp knife.

Serves 8

Dabble Chef: tilapia

Dabble Chef - Tilapia-1

Tilapia Marinade

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tilapia
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 limes
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 12-15 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 tbsp olive oil

PREPARATION:

  • Cut citrus in half widthwise and squeeze juice into a small bowl. Pour juice into a strainer to collect seeds.
  • Dabble Savvy: Roll lemons and limes with the palm of your hand against the countertop. It makes them easier to squeeze.
  • Chop the garlic finely. Wash the cilantro, clip the leaves and chop finely.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the oil, garlic, paprika, cilantro and citrus juice. Whisk thoroughly. Place tilapia in a small bowl and pour marinade over the fish. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 3-6 hours before cooking.
  2. Preheat grill to high or pre-heat oven to 375˚.
  3. Grilling Instructions: Place tilapia on the grill. Make sure the fish has no excess oil or it may create a flame that will give it a burnt flavour. Grill the tilapia for 6-7 minutes flipping half way through. Remove from grill, slice evenly and serve immediately.
  4. Oven instructions: Place fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicon. Place in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until fully cooked.

Entertain Me: Annette Joseph hosts Cinco de Mayo

Entertain Me - Annette Joseph

Who doesn’t love the tempting flavours of Mexico? With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, it’s a perfect time to set an outdoor buffet and start the fiesta.

Dabble Savvy: Make the décor as texturally interesting as the food with lacy paper banners, rugged wood furniture and smooth burnished metals.

 

Guacamole

Entertain Me - Cinco de Mayo5

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup chopped tomato
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓ red onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 5 drops cholula hot sauce, or your favourite brand

DIRECTIONS:
Scoop the avocado into a bowl, and smash with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Serves 6-8

 

Grilled Pineapple

Entertain Me - Cinco de Mayo1

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large pineapples, peeled, cored, and sliced into ¾” rings
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 fresh red chilies, thinly sliced, or ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat a grill to medium heat. In a large bowl, toss the pineapple slices with the oil and sea salt. Place the pineapple rings directly on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn gently and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Arrange the grilled pineapple on a serving platter.

Preheat the oven to 325° F and toast the coconut in a small pan for 3 minutes, or until it is golden brown. In a plastic squeeze bottle, combine the sour cream and lime juice and shake to mix well. Drizzle the sour cream–lime sauce over the grilled pineapple rings, and sprinkle them with the toasted coconut and chilies.

Serves 6-8

 

DIY to DYE for

Entertain Me - Cinco de Mayo4

MATERIALS:

  • 1 fiber-reactive dye kit
  • 2 rubber gloves
  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • 2 (1-gallon) buckets
  • Iron & Ironing board
  • 3 to 4 yards of fabric

DIRECTIONS:

Wash then dry the fabric to be dyed with the soap provided by the dye manufacturer (in dye kit). In a medium mixing bowl, prepare the liquid concentrate: Mix together 1 cup water, 2 to 4 tbsp urea, and 2 tbsp dye. In a bucket, prepare a soda solution by stirring 9 tbsp soda ash into 1 gallon warm water. Wear rubber gloves to handle the liquid concentrate during the dying process.

Place the fabric in a separate empty bucket and pour the liquid concentrate on top, pressing the fabric with your gloved hands so the liquid completely covers the fabric. Press out any air bubbles, and let the fabric sit for 15 minutes in the concentrate.

Add the soda solution, and press the fabric again to completely cover with the liquid. Leave the fabric to soak in the dye mixture for 1 hour. Then, wearing rubber gloves, remove and wring out fabric under running water. Rinse the fabric until the water runs clear. Wash the dyed fabric in hot water in your washer, then dry in the dryer. Press with a hot iron.

 

There’s an App for That Salmon Chip

Salmon Chip App

Photography by Simon Burn

Dabble’s libations expert Jameson Fink could never be accused of having a chip on his shoulder. On his appetizer menu, sure. But never his shoulder.

Everyday Champagne

The only thing I like as much as Champagne and popcorn is Champagne and potato chips. Crisp, salty snacks and bubbles forever. Homemade or store-bought, a single thick potato chip with a dollop of cream cheese, a few buttery flakes of subtly smoked salmon and a sprig of fresh dill just begs for bubbles.

Jameson’s Pick: Vilmart Grand Cellier NV

Beyond Bubbles

What? Bubbles leave you flat? Well then, let’s stick with France and reach for a Sancerre. These seafood-loving Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley have an acidity that pairs perfectly with tangy cream cheese and fresh dill.

Jameson’s Pick: Gerard Boulay Sancerre Chavignol 2009

Salty Capers

Salt lovers may want to toss on a few briny capers, in which case I recommend heading straight over to Riesling territory. I’m thinking of the criminally underrated dry Australian Rieslings from the Claire Valley.

Jameson’s Pick: “The Merle” Reserve Riesling 2010

Dabble Chef: seared tuna

Photography by Simon Burn

Photography by Simon Burn

Spicy Mayo

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp Sambal sauce (chili sauce)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise

DIRECTIONS:
Mix ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Set in fridge until serving.

Sesame Crusted Tuna

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pieces sushi grade tuna
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, julienne
  • 1 cup red peppers, julienne
  • 1 cup green peppers, julienne
  • 1 cup celery, julienne
  • 1 cup carrots, julienne
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 baby bok choy, washed and julienne
  • 1 cup of black or white sesame seeds
  • ½ cup cilantro, washed and chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season tuna with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour the sesame seeds on a plate and roll the tuna edges in the seeds, making sure to cover all sides. If seeds are not sticking, cover the tuna with a tablespoon of olive oil before rolling.
  3. Ina large sauté pan, heat the olive oil until it reaches its smoking point and then add tuna.
  4. Sear the tuna for approximately 2 minutes on each side and remove from pan. Set the tuna on a plate with a paper towel.
  5. Return the pan to the heat. Add onions, peppers, celery and carrots, then sauté for 5 minutes.
  6. Add garlic, orange zest and juice, ginger and sesame oil, continually stirring. Remove the pan from the heat and add bok choy.
  7. Slice tuna on a bias (4-5 pieces per serving). Plate the vegetables and fan tuna pieces on top. Pour the remaining liquid from the vegetables over the tuna and add a generous dollop of spicy mayo. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Tip: Wash the bok choy thoroughly to remove any grit.

A Day with: Aaron McCargo Jr.

A Day with Aaron McCargo Jr4

New Jersey raised Chef, Aaron McCargo Jr. is the season four winner of The Next Food Network Star. Now, with a show of his own, the Big Daddy’s House star can also boast his own brand of herbs and spices as well as a cookbook, Simply Done, Well Done.

Here are three of Aaron’s flavourful recipes. Trust us, you’ll want seconds.

Breakfast: Gruyère Cheese Omelet

A Day with Aaron McCargo Jr

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, whole or julienned
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Ina medium bowl, vigorously beat eggs with the salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes for 4 to 5 minutes, until frothy.
  3. In another medium bowl, stir together the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon and basil.
  4. Ina 12″ ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook gently, tilting the pan so the uncooked egg slides under the cooked parts. In 2 to 3 minutes, the eggs will begin to set. Sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over eggs and remove pan from heat.
  5. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese melts. Slide the omelet onto a serving platter, folding it over onto itself as you do. Let the omelet sit for 1-2 minutes, and then cut and serve.

Serves 3

Lunch: Spicy Cheeseburger Soup

A Day with Aaron McCargo Jr3

  • 1 cup potato, peeled and diced (1 medium all-purpose potato)
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup jalapeno chili pepper, diced
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp Italian herb blend*
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ quarts beef broth
  • ¼ cup beef bouillon powder
  • 1 ½ lb white American cheese, thickly sliced
  • ¼ cup scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
  1. In a large saucepan, put the potatoes and enough water to cover them by about 2″.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain and return to the pain. Cover and keep warm.
  4. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat slightly with a wooden spoon, until the beef begins to brown, 6 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring, for another minute or two. Add the jalapenos and then the flour, herb blend, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until well mixed and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the broth and bouillon powder, lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until heated through, taking care not to break the meat up too much.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat, add the slices of cheese, one at a time, and stir gently until the cheese melts into the soup and the soup becomes creamy. Add the scallions and potatoes and cook just until heated through. Serve hot.

Serves 12

Dinner: Stuffed Grilled Boneless Pork Chops

A Day with Aaron McCargo Jr2

  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • ¼ cup scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup spicy chile oil
  • 9 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 6 slices hickory smoked bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 6 oz smoked Gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 6x 8-ounce boneless pork loin chops
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the marmalade, scallions, soy sauce and chile oil. Set half the marmalade sauce aside for cooking and the other half for serving.
  2. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill and oil the grates.
  3. In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring an inch of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Steam the spinach in a steaming basket and set in the saucepan until wilted, about 2 ½ minutes. Lift the spinach from the steaming basket and transfer to a large bowl. Add the bacon, cheese and chipotle chilies. Mix well.
  4. With a small, sharp knife, slit the side of each chop to create a pocket that goes nearly (but not all the way) through the chop. Wiggle the knife in the incision to open the pocket.
  5. Using a spoon or your fingers, stuff each chop with the spinach filling. Secure the opening with toothpicks and then season the chops with salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the chops with canola oil.
  6. Grill the chops for 6 to 8 minutes with the grill covered, turning the chops 3 times during grilling. Remove the lid and brush the tops of the chops with the marmalade sauce for cooking. Continue grilling, turning once and brushing the other side with the marmalade sauce for cooking, until both sides of each chop are nicely browned and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes longer.
  7. Remove the chops from the grill and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving with the reserved sauce.

Serves 6

 

From Scratch: Eggs Florentine

From Scratch - Eggs3

“Eggs Florentine are a breakfast classic,” says resident chef Corey Burgan.

 

INGREDIENTS:

10 eggs

1 tomato, diced

1/2 onion, diced

1 bunch basil

1 bunch chives

salt and pepper

1 baguette (1/4″ slices)

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp white vinegar

1 lb spinach

2 tbsp butter

 

PREPARATION:

Butter slices of bread on both sides and place on a non-stick baking sheet.

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to high broil.

Combine diced tomato, onion and balsamic vinegar in bowl; season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge.

In large skillet, bring 1½” of water and the white vinegar to a boil. Break eggs one at a time into the boiling water. Use a slotted spoon and stir gently in a circular motion.

While eggs are cooking place the baguette slices under the broiler. Remove when toasted.

Cook eggs 2 to 4 minutes or until desired firmness. Remove with slotted spoon, allow water to drain, and place eggs in a bowl.

In a large frying pan sauté the spinach in butter until wilted. Remove from heat.

In a small glass, add tomato mix as the base, then add a layer of spinach. Top with poached egg and drizzle with Hollandaise sauce.

Garnish with basil leaf and chive sprout; serve with slice of toast.

From Scratch - Eggs1

 

Hollandaise Sauce

 

INGREDIENTS:

10 egg yolks

2 cups butter

2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegrette

4-5 dashes Tabasco

4-5 dashes Lea and Perrins

salt and pepper

 

DIRECTIONS:

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.

In a bowl, combine egg yolks, apple cider vinegrette, Tabasco and Lea and Perrins. Whisk approximately 2 minutes, until combined.

Slowly stir in the melted butter adding half a cup at a time. Whisk to preferred thickness, then set off to the side.

To serve, pour or spoon over eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

From Scratch - Eggs2

Sindulgence: Bikini Muffins

bikini muffins

Thankfully these muffins aren’t made from bikinis, but they’re skinny enough to make sure you won’t bust out of yours. Any time you can squeeze a vegetable or fruit into a treat, you are staying ahead of the curve (get it?) with more nutrients and fibre. Feel free to substitute grated carrots for the zucchini, as both contain precious vitamin A that nourishes the skin and plumps the lips.

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Preheat Temperature: 350F

INGREDIENTS:
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 cup grape seed oil
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup almond butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose organic flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat organic flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
5 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (divided)

DIRECTIONS:
In bowl, beat eggs with hand whisk or electric beaters until light. Gradually add sugar, oil and butter, followed by almond butter and vanilla.

In separate bowl, use a fork to mix together all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add only 3 cups of zucchini (reserve remaining 2 cups).

Add to sugar mixture and beat until smooth.

Spread remaining 2 cups zucchini onto a baking sheet to dry in oven for 10 minutes before baking muffins. Set aside to cool.

Spoon into non-stick muffin cups until three-quarters full. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes for mini muffins, 15 to 20 for full size muffins.

Carefully pile dried, grated zucchini onto muffins and allow to cool before removing from muffin pan.

Serves 24