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The Scene...April 2018

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By Fresh Bites

If April had to have an official theme, the clear winner in Canada would be wine.  That, and “green eco-friendly living”.  From Ottawa to Vancouver, Toronto to Calgary, Canada is getting ready to sip, savour, and swirl for fun and at fundraisers!

In Toronto, it is shaping up to be a busy month of wine festivals, trade tastings, fundraisers, and eco-friendly celebrations – all in the name of good food and drink. 

It all starts with some cheesy fun with A Taste of Quebec.   Guests to their Distillery District boutique will experience the subtlety and delicacy that distinguish raw milk cheeses from pasteurized cheeses, at their Raw Milk Cheese Tasting on April 6th.  Not your thing?  Then perhaps you want to try their Pure Sin event on April 21st.  This workshop will share the practices and the ethics behind organic (biologique) milk production and how it is contributing to enhancing the subtleties of flavours in pasteurized and unpasteurized cheeses. 

What goes with cheese?  Wine of course, and this month is packed with events for the “wine-o” crowd.  On April 6th, The Australian Wine Society has pulled out all the stops for a unique evening of Elderton Wines from the Barossa Valley.  Elderton Wines is a small, family owned and operated winery, situated in the heart of the Barossa Valley and this event will feature some great samplings of their craft.  On April 15th, Darryl Brooker, Senior Winemaker, Hillebrand Estates Winery will speak at a special event at the Canadian Club in Oakville. Under Darryl’s leadership, Hillebrand and their flagship Trius brand have been consistent award winners and he will share his experience (being an Aussie) of working in Niagara wine country.  Later in the month the wine fairs roll into town with the California Wine Fair on April 19th, the Austrian Wine Fair on April 28th, and the New Zealand Wine Fair on April 29th.

On the dinner series front, Pastry Chef Frederic Monti of PreGel America will lead a presentation on frozen desserts and modern pastries at Tastes of Tomorrow on April 7th.  On April 13th, the Chef's Call Dinner Series with Chef Dale Nichols will showcase the capabilities of this chef from Digby, Nova Scotia at the Chef’s House while Lucy Waverman & Wine Doctor Edward Finstein will host a unique food and wine tasting on April 14th as part of the Keep Toronto Reading festival.  If you want to support young chefs, then you may want to try out the Humber College Spring Dinner on April 16th.  Guests will see the students in action and they will see first-hand what Humber College is doing to enhance and improve the food-service industry – as well enjoy great wines from South Africa and Portugal.  Finally, the Rising Star Dinner Series returns on April 22nd.  This month's chef is Ryan Gustafson from EPIC at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

April is also a very “green” month with several enviro-focused events.  The first is the Ontario Nature’s Green Tea Event on April 8th featuring acclaimed Canadian writers and naturalists, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson.  Those of you who attended Ontario Nature’s first Green Tea last year know that this is a wonderful occasion where you meet with new and old friends and celebrate nature.   On April 10th, you can celebrate Earth day & join iYellow for their Annual Green Wine Tour in and around Niagara.  A week later, you can check out Green Evolution, an opportunity to taste wines from eight leaders in the fields of organic, biodynamic and sustainable practices on April 20th.  At both events, you can meet the winemakers, hear their stories, and discover the great organic wines on the market today.

Rounding out the month are a series of fundraisers including A Night Divine, an auction, tasting and celebration of very fine wine in support of the Alzheimer Society of York Region on April 8th.  Ending the month on April 28th is A Taste for Life, an event that will bring together some great restaurants to support Fife House and those suffering with HIV/Aids.

In Ottawa, the wine fairs are coming and so are some great food and drink workshops for those looking to experience new things.  First off, The Urban Element is hosting the first of what they hope will be an ongoing series – a Bring Your Own Wine dinner!  The April 7th inaugural dinner will feature Chef Michael Moffat of Ottawa’s Beckta & Play restaurants.  If you are more into coffee, you can learn how to taste a variety of premium specialty coffees from around the world, using professional ‘cupping’ methods and tools.  The Travel to the Coffee Lands with Bridgehead event is being held on April 18th.

The wine fairs are making their tours in Ottawa as well this month with the California Wine Fair on April 20th and the New Zealand Wine Fair touching down on April 27.  If you are looking for something a little more intimate, then you may want to try the Green Evolution dinner (yes, like the one in Toronto) being held on April 21st at the ARC Hotel.  This dinner and wine event is sure to be hit for those interested in organic and responsible vino.

For more dinner action, Slow Food Ottawa will be holding their 3rd Annual Dinner at DiVino Wine Studio on April 22nd.  This year they will be featuring the wine, cuisine and landscapes of Puglia and it will be hosted by Italian Sommelier, Antonio Mauriello.  He will return on April 27th for another event at DiVino Wine Studio, the Wine and Cuisine of Marche – featuring five wines, good times, and of course…food!

In Calgary, April is a busy month with a new food festival as well as several wine tastings, trade shows, and dinners landing in Cowtown.  First, Bin 905 is getting into the April Fool’s Day spirit on April 1st with Grappa for the Fools, a tasting death match in between the most acclaimed Grappa producers: Poli and Nonino.   On April 13th, they return for another “smackdown” of sorts with their Chateauneuf Showdown featuring a tasting of some of the best wines this AOC has to offer.

CSN Wine & Spirits will also be busy this month with their A Night with Masi event on April 6th featuring one of the Veneto's reference points for great wine - Masi.  Meanwhile Metrovino and The Cookbook Company will be proving on April 8th that Riesling Does Not Suck!  While this event will celebrate and praise Rieslings, they are not in a committed relationship.  They will be returning on April 17th with their I Love Languedoc tasting event…at least they don’t hide their multiple affairs with different regions and varietals.

On the festival front, the Salut Food & Wine Calgary will run April 7th to 17th and will hopefully be a successful event in the city.  The lineup includes a Chef Elimination Battle to kick things off with four of Calgary’s top chefs battling it out, Iron Chef style, hosted in an open stadium kitchen at Olives Restaurant.  The next day on April 8th, the Fetzer Great Beginnings Appetizer Challenge will take Calgary chefs and have them prepare appetizers with ingredients they feel will pair well with Fetzer Pinot Grigio.  Of course, if you want to stick with the old faithful, you may prefer to try the Caribbean Vine and Dine being held by the folks over at, you guessed it, Vine and Dine.  This dinner on April 13th will feature a selection of wines paired with Caribbean cuisine from husband and wife team Sonja and Rey John.

The city where the party will really be happening for wine lovers this month is Vancouver.  The city will have to expand their airport for the bottles of wines and trades people coming in out of town this month alone!

It all starts with the California Wine Fair when it rolls into town on April 7th.  This will be followed by the Naramata Bench Wineries Spring Release on April 12th where guests will have the opportunity to try the release of the Second Annual Naramata Red Blend, an exclusive blending of red wines from four Naramata Bench Wineries in BC’s interior.  Wines from Argentina will get two tastings this month, the first being the Discover the Wines of Argentina tasting on April 9th and the second being a special Finca Flichman Celebrates 100 Years tasting on April 15th. Both events will be held at the 39th & Cambie BC Liquor Store Signature Tasting Room. 

The big event is of course the Playhouse International Wine Festival being held between April 19th and 25th.  This is the grand daddy of wine trade events in Canada and visitors can expect a week of wine from around the globe and countless events, tastings, trade shows, dinners, and receptions throughout Vancouver.  For our in-depth guide to Playhouse 2018, CLICK HERE.

Outside of wine, if at all possible in Vancouver, some interesting dining programs and tastings are scheduled for April.  Federico's Supper Club welcomes guests to attend an exclusive four-course food preparation demonstration conducted by award winning Chef Romy Prasad followed by a four-course dinner on April 7thThink Pink on April 12th will feature Daenna Van Mulligen AKA "The Wine Diva" and Allison Spurrell of les amis du FROMAGE offering a guided tasting of carefully selected pairings of cheese and Rosé.  This event coincides with another, the Rosé Revival: Think Pink! event, a fundraiser by Liberty Wine Merchants for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Chapter.  Finally, April 26th kicks off Dine Out Vancouver.  Several Metro Vancouver restaurants are participating in this much anticipated event and offering three-course meals at $18, $28, or $38. Our insider tip: reserve at The Observatory fine dining restaurant atop Grouse Mountain ($38). The food is excellent and your tab includes the gondola ride up the mountain, a $39.95 value.

Enjoy Your April!

REMEMBER:  You can always get the latest events in your area by visiting our EVENTS section at Gremolata.com and selecting your town or city.


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