Tag Archives: drinks

Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours Will Be Your Go-To Cocktail

Although the holiday season might feel a little less celebratory this year, there’s no reason we still can’t raise a glass of Ina Garten’s refreshing and tangy whiskey sour concoction. This five-ingredient indulgence from the Barefoot Contessa is ready in 10 minutes – just don’t forget to top it all off with a Maraschino cherry!

Related: Ina Garten’s Classic Cocktail Recipes, From Margaritas to Mojitos

Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 cocktails

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
2/3 cup sugar syrup (see below)
Maraschino cherries

See More: Dinner Etiquette Tips That Would Make Ina Garten Proud

Directions:

1. Combine the whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice and syrup. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and fill two-thirds full with the cocktail mixture. Shake for 30 seconds and pour into glasses. Add a maraschino cherry and serve ice cold.

2. Sugar syrup: Put 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Chill thoroughly before using.

Watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

Meet the Youngest Self-Funded Winery Owner in Ontario’s History

There are a few reasons multiple reviews refer to TerraCello as a “hidden jewel” in the heart of Prince Edward County wine region. TerraCello is a non-commercialized, artisan, farm winery. The vibe is in a laid-back bucolic setting. Outside is a rustic patio, fire pit and outdoor wood oven and kitchen. Inside boasts a wood fireplace, lounge, tasting rooms, barrel room and a second clay pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello Winery, employs traditional, old-fashioned Italian methods to make certified natural wine and authentic Neapolitan pizza. He is also the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario’s history. Tony is the personification of hospitality: charming, warm, generous, and radiating passion and appreciation for his trade.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

The winery is a
tribute to Tony’s late father

“People know me for my wine and my pizza, but the real story is about a son paying tribute to his dad who passed away at a young age,” Tony explained. In 2004, Anthony paid a visit to his father’s home town of Anzano Di Puglia, Italy, which the locals referred to as Il Paradiso – The Paradise. The land was in bad shape. War and famine had pushed his uncle and grandfather out of Italy, and they were forced to abandon it. Overgrown bush and dirt mounds stood where plentiful fruit trees should have been. “It was an epiphany,” Tony said. When he returned to Canada, he would create the paradise his family was meant to have.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

At the time living in Toronto, Tony and his girlfriend (now wife) Danielle moved to Prince Edward County. “My wife got dragged along for this long, bumpy, crazy ride. She was a city girl. She wanted to stay and be a teacher in Toronto. But I had this gnawing void.” After years of working on the winery, Tony’s health began to deteriorate because of the long hours of work he was putting in. He and Danielle were deep in debt and struggling to get by.

Danielle had never had the chance to meet Tony’s dad, but one night she had a dream about him. She said he was dressed up in a suit, looking handsome and immaculate. (Tony later explained that his father always dressed up, despite having no money or status to merit it). Danielle also said that in the dream that Tony’s father was driving an orange convertible. (Tony explained that his father’s first car in Canada in 1969 was an orange convertible Camaro). Danielle said Tony’s father gave her a hug and, with an arm around her, told her: “Please don’t worry about Anthony – he knows what he’s doing.”

Related: The Most Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Wine

With the $30 they had, Danielle went to Home Hardware and picked up a flag. She put it up at the road. Fifteen minutes later, two women walked in and bought the first bottle of wine they ever sold. “When they bought that wine, I swear to god it felt like they gave me fifty thousand dollars cash. It was like I had won the lottery,” Tony said. This first purchase washed away all the self-doubt that had been building up over the last five years of work. “I never looked back,” he said. “After that first bottle of wine, I said ‘we’re going to kill it. I’m not just going to do good pizza and wine; I’m going to become one of the best in Prince Edward County.’”

Outside TerraCello winery

They searched for a new property in the County. Where TerraCello now rests, there sits a giant well that separates the patio space from the vineyard. “When the owner showed me the well, I was sold,” Tony said. “The guys [who were here] were old, old school and I could relate because my dad was so old-fashioned.”

For five years, they worked 18 hours a day to restore and build the property into the gorgeous Italian farmhouse-style winery it is today. “Little by little, we built a reputation – one pizza at a time, one bottle of wine at a time. One customer at a time,” Tony said. On July 23, 2013, at 27 years old, Tony became the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario.

Outside TerraCello winery

Strict traditional methods

Tony executes a purist method. He is one of the few agriturismos in the County — the Italian tradition of farm to table. Tony fondly describes himself as “fanatical.” He is not only the owner, founder and financier, he is also the head winemaker and he makes all of the pizza dough, every single day, by hand.

The clay oven that they make most of their pizzas in is from Naples, Italy. Tony explained that making pizzas at scale in front a thousand-degree clay oven is very physically demanding, and not many can handle it. Apparently, it takes ten thousand hours to achieve the status of pizzaiolo. That’s a lot of flaming hot pizza.

Pizza oven inside TerraCello winery

COVID-19 has forced Tony to pull back on some expenses — such as, his membership to an official Canadian pizza organization — so that he could continue to spend on top quality ingredients. True to form, Tony gets all of his ingredients from Italy. The flour he uses costs about $50 per bag, and is approved by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (The Pizza Association of Naples). The tomatoes he uses are also Italy-approved. Everything, down to the handmade olive oil can from Naples, comes from age-old traditions. “If you ever have a pizza, even a margherita, and it’s got no oil, it’s not classified as a pizza. Period,” Tony warned. Italians are serious about their pizza. And after tasting it prepared in this way, so am I.

Pizza inside TerraCello winery

Natural winemaker

To classify as a natural wine, the grapes must be grown without pesticides, the wine must be stabilized naturally, it cannot be filtered and it cannot have any chemical additives. Most wines are processed by heavy filtering – “which is how 94% of the world’s wine is made,” Tony says. “I don’t believe in that.”
Woman holding glass of wine outside of TerraCello winery

Most of the time, natural wines are quite cloudy. By Canadian standards, we are legally allowed to put certain products in the wine to remove the cloudiness, but it goes against natural winemaking. The cloudiness is due to crystals in the wine that need to be precipitated out. In a modern setting, you’d use a tank with a chilling system. But as we know, Tony is a naturalist, so he does it the old-fashioned way. He opens the door in the wintertime and he allows the room to dip to -2 degrees for a week.

Related: The Most Expensive Wine and Spirits Ever Sold

The Boca Nera is his signature wine. An unfiltered, three-year in French oak aged, Barolo-style wine. Often called “The King of Wines,” Barolos are produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the nebbiolo grape and is often described as one of Italy’s greatest wines. Tony’s Boca Nera has notes of caramel, toffee and French vanilla. If you could bottle the feeling of abbiocco, this would be it.

Bottle of wine at TerraCello winery

“Wine is like paint by numbers these days,” Tony said. Society wants uniformity and homogenization because they want the wine to taste the same every year. According to an expose on Bloomberg, there are such a thing as wine “fixers.” These are white glove chemists, often employed by billionaires and large corporations, who fix wines that have gone awry to ensure they taste consistent across batches. “I don’t want to over-control the product. I want it to taste different,” Tony said.

All you need is the right environment

Tony doesn’t have Wi-Fi at the winery, and he is unapologetic about it. He wants people to talk to the person next to them. “And they’re liberated,” he says. “After two hours of sitting outside they say, ‘we just had the best time of our life.’ And I didn’t do nothing. I just took them away from the distractions.”

Bottle of wine and charcuterie plate outside of TerraCello winery

“I didn’t want it to be a commercial, cookie-cutter winery where you go in and you do the formal tasting, and it’s all a premeditated spiel,” said Tony, “I wanted to take TerraCello back to the way my dad and us grew up — very old school, very warm, less transactional.”

Photos courtesy of Sabrina Stavenjord @sabrinastavenjord

How to Make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail

With the holiday season in full swing, thoughts are turning to what to serve at festive parties. What better cocktail than a classic Manhattan – easy to make (and customize according to how sweet or dry your guests like it)?

perfect-manhattan-cocktail-recipe

It’s said the Manhattan was created in New York in the late 1800s. According to some, Sir Winston Churchill’s mother was throwing a party at The Manhattan Club in honour of Samuel J. Tilden (a presidential candidate at the time) and a guest was making a cocktail from rye whisky and sweet vermouth which was so popular the club made it theirs (many say this story, although entertaining, can’t possibly be true as Churchill’s mother would have been in Europe and pregnant at the time). Others believe the cocktail was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black who worked at a bar on Broadway. No matter who invented it, it’s become a classic all over the world and you’ve probably got all the ingredients in your liquor cabinet already.

cocktail-manhattan-in-glass

The Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:
2 oz rye whisky or bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth (You can use ½ oz sweet and ½ oz dry vermouth)
A dash of bitters (Angostura)
Cocktail or Maraschino cherry for garnish
Ice

Directions:
1. Place the ice in a mixing glass, add the bitters.
2. Pour over the whisky and vermouth then slowly stir the drink until chilled.
3. Place the cherry in the bottom of a chilled serving glass, add more ice then slowly pour the cocktail over the ice.

Looking for more drink ideas? Try these Sensational Canadian Cocktails.

iced-coffee-pour-feature

How to Make Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee All Summer Long

Cool down in a flash with this simple iced coffee recipe that is crisp, refreshing, and delicious. Instead of waiting hours for cold brew, or chilling hot brewed coffee, this easy method requires brewing a coffee concentrate directly over ice. The result is an instantly chilled coffee that is ready to serve in less than 10 minutes.  The best part is that you don’t need fancy equipment—almost any manual drip or pour-over style brewing device with a filter will do. This easy method can also work with some automatic drip machines.

flash-iced-coffee-pouring

Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2.5 cups

Equipment:
A coffee brewer like a Chemex or a similar brewer that you use to make filter/drip coffee at home.
Kettle
Kitchen scale
Timer
Spoon

flash-iced-coffee-setup

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups (14 oz) hot water,  just finished boiling
2 cups (300 g) ice
1/2 cup (50 g) coffee grounds, medium

Directions:
1. Add ice to the carafe.
2. Place the coffee filter in the brew basket and add coffee grounds.
3. Position coffee brewer on top of a kitchen scale and set value to zero.
4. Start the timer and pour first 1/2 cup (4 oz) of hot water over coffee grounds in about 30 seconds. Gently stir the grounds with a spoon, making sure all of the coffee is fully soaked.

pour-over-flash-iced-coffee
5. After 1 minute, pour an additional 1/2 cup hot water (4 oz) over wet coffee grounds.
6. After 2 minutes, pour the remaining hot water over the coffee grounds for a total of 1 ¾ cups (14 oz).
7. Brew will finish dripping through coffee grounds after about 4:30-5 minutes.
8. Serve freshly brewed cold coffee over ice and enjoy!

final-iced-coffee-pour

Looking for more coffee knowledge? Learn how to brew the best cup of coffee ever.

10 Perfect Red and White Drinks for Canada Day

If you plan on throwing the ultimate Canada Day bash, you might be stumped as to what to serve when it comes to drinks. With the exception of domestic beer, it can be difficult to think of “Canadian” drink recipes — besides the Caesar of course. Spice up your drink menu by incorporating these red and white cocktails your guests are sure to love.

strawberry-sour

1. Strawberry Sour

Start your Canada Day bash right with this gorgeous red and white cocktail from Chef David Hawksworth. Nothing says summer like strawberries!

cranberry-kir-royale

2. Cranberry Kir Royale

Tyler Florence combines frozen cranberries, orange juice and Champagne for the ultimate summer drink. Bring

shuggieJPG

3. Shuggie

Why is this drink called a Shuggie? Your guess is as good as ours, but we’re certain you and your guests will love this rum-based cocktail infused with rhubarb, ginger, lime and Thai basil flavours.

citrus-berry-spritz

4. Citrus Berry Spritz

This sweet fizzy drink from Giada De Laurentiis is filled with berry ice cubes and a hint of mint for freshness.

WATERMELON-­STRAWBERRY SANGRIA, Bobby Flay, Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’sBasics/Bobby’s Basics: Simply Skewers, Food Network, Watermelon, Strawberries, RoseWine, Vodka, Orange Juice, Orange Liqueur, Orange, Lime

5. Watermelon Strawberry Sangria

Bobby Flay’s sweet, citrus-infused summer drink is ideal for a party or get-together with friends.

lava-flow-mocktail

6. Lava Flow Mocktail

What’s more Canadian than the combination of red and white? These sweet dessert-worthy drinks start with a base of raspberry purée, then a milky topping, a generous amount of whipped cream and finished with sugared frozen raspberries on top. Don’t forget to rim the glasses with red-coloured sugar!

rum-punch

7. Rum Punch

Try this refreshing booze-infused punch filled with tropical flavours and Jamaican white rum from Bobby Flay.

Cranberry-Mojito

8. Cranberry Mojito

To keep with the red and white theme, don’t forget to serve this fizzy bevvy with floating cranberries and fresh, muddled mint leaves.

watermelon-martinis

9. Watermelon Martinis

Sure to quench your summertime thirst, Bobby’s fruity martini is loaded with tons of fresh watermelon and melon liquor for the utmost melon flavour.

Classic Canadian Caesar
10. Classic Canadian Caesar

The ultimate Canadian drink — thanks to our nation’s love of Clamato juice. This classic drink is a must-have for any Canada Day celebration. This version adds fresh sage and lime for a fresh new twist.

Looking for more recipes for your party? Try these Great Canadian Desserts.

Sumac Ridge Signature Cellar

A Wine-Lover’s Guide to the Okanagan Valley

Once known for fruit orchards and lakes, the Okanagan is now a destination for wine lovers everywhere. The hills and valleys are striped with grape vines of all varieties and area wineries and restaurants continue to push the envelope in their abundant offerings. Here are 10 spots that can’t be missed on your first, or next trip to this beautiful region. To plan your trip or see a complete list of B.C. wineries visit winebc.com.

Sumac Ridge Signature Cellar Grazing and Harvest Dinner, Summerland

This educational and delicious evening starts in the sparkling wine cave where guests learn about the traditional French method for transforming wine into bubbles before watching a Sabre Ceremony pop open Stellar’s Jay Brut. Private Reserve wines will be poured during the dinner that follows.

Nk’Mip Cellars, Osoyoos

Explore connections of place and people at Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America. Winding through the process of grape to glass, the legacy tour speaks to the Osoyoos Indian Band and their work to translate desert terroir to bottle.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna

If the idea that wine from this organic and biodynamic winery is better because it’s aged in the sacred geometry of a pyramid isn’t enough of a draw, then tasting some of the award-winning Cipes Brut should be.

Nichol Vineyard, Naramata

Among the first wineries to settle on the Naramata Bench, Nichol has remained small compared to others in the Okanagan. In this case, size does matter. Most of the work here is done by hand, including during harvest when workers pluck bunches of grapes by hand from the vine.

Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna

Matching historic vineyards with modern facilities, Tantalus brings together the traditions of wine with a progressive approach focused on sustainability. The new LEED-certified winery features enviable views from the tasting room, where you can sample their premium, single-vineyard wines.

wine-bottle-sabre

SunRock Vineyard Tour, Osoyoos

Named for its perch on a mountain slope, this is the ideal spot for a lunch and sampling of wines. Sip on SunRock and Jackson-Triggs Okanagan wines at this organized vineyard tour and barbecue lunch made with local, seasonal ingredients.

Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek Estate Winery, Oliver

A small slice of Italy tucked into the landscape south of Oliver, Terrafina’s menu takes classic dishes — pasta carbonara, meatballs, risotto — and twists them into something unique. (That carbonara features crisp pork belly and a rhubarb gastrique, for example.) Considering the winery’s Italian heritage, it’s the perfect marriage between the old country and the Okanagan.

The Vibrant Vine, Kelowna

A cacophony of colour, no tasting room compares to The Vibrant Vine. Sample some of the famed Woops blends with its signature upside-down labels or stop by Friday evenings and weekend afternoons to sip Vibrant Vine wine while listening to local musicians on the lawn.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, West Kelowna

Set atop the west side of Kelowna like a crown, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is hard to miss. The architecture — complete with bell tower and amphitheatre — is as bold and evocative as the wines Mission Hill produces.

The New Year, New You Easy Green Smoothie You Need

It’s a new year and chances are you are A) still nursing one heck of a hangover or B) making a resolution of some sort to eat healthier. Smoothies are a great way to pack in lots of veggies when you don’t have the time or appetite to munch on a salad and unlike a juice, you get all the healthy fibre from the skin and pulp, making you feel fuller longer. In this smoothie, the sweetness of the apple juice helps temper the bitterness and grainy texture of kale, while the frozen blueberries keeps the smoothie cold and adds a tinge of tartness. Ginger has long been used as a home remedy to help with an upset stomach, but more importantly, its spice adds a nice kick to every sip.

Related: Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie That’ll Save You When Sick Season Hits

Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your taste and experiment with other greens and fruits you have on hand. Smoothies are also a great way to use up greens that are starting to wilt and would otherwise look sad in a salad. If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar, replace the apple juice with almond or coconut milk and add an additional teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. A scoop of unflavoured protein powder would also make this a nice breakfast option on the go.

Green Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 ½ cups kale, stems removed and chopped finely
½ cup baby spinach leaves, chopped finely
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 tsp maple syrup

ATT61427

Directions:

1. Peel ginger by scraping the skin off with the edge of a spoon.

KaleSmoothie_peelingGinger

2. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until everything is well mixed and liquefied. Drink immediately.

Published January 5, 2015, Updated January 1, 2018

The Boozy History of the Caesar Cocktail

Spiking a vodka and tomato juice with clam essence is cocktail bliss for Caesar-swilling Canucks, but the combination in this oh-so-Canadian cocktail wasn’t always so obvious. In fact, according to Alberta researchers, it took months for Calgary bartender and Caesar inventor Walter Chell to hit the perfect proportions.

A mixologist at the Calgary Inn before mixologist was a title, Walter was tasked with creating a cocktail to celebrate the 1969 opening of the inn’s new restaurant, Marco’s Italian. Inspired by his favourite Italian dish, spaghetti vongole, Chell set out to create a cocktail that would capture the pasta’s hearty clam and tomato flavours.

Three Caesar cocktails on wood countertop

Eventually he came up with the recipe Canadians have come to love: vodka mixed with clam-infused tomato juice, lime, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, with a delicious celery salt rim. If we’re being honest (and after a few Caesars, who can lie?), the thought of a clam-based cocktail is a little strange — even for those of us who know how good it is. But surprisingly, Walter Chell wasn’t the first to come up with the concept. As Michael Platt notes in an article for the Calgary Sun, a 1900 copy of Modern American Drinks contains a recipe for a clam juice cocktail, as does a 1951 Betty Crocker cookbook. “So then what did Calgary’s beloved father of the Caesar really do?” asks Platt. “That’s like asking what Henry Ford did for the motor car or The Beatles did for music.”

Simply put, Chell perfected the recipe, taking it from clammy outlier to a red hot hit. Soon after, Mott’s beverage company released what is arguably the world’s best-known clam-infused tomato juice, Clamato.

Related: Sensational Canadian Cocktails

Chell invented the Caesar, but widespread distribution of Clamato brought it to homes and bars across the country. According to an Ipsos-Reid poll commissioned by the company in 2009, the Caesar or Bloody Caesar, is the most popular cocktail in Canada; Mott’s estimates that more than 350 million are consumed each year.

But beyond the occasional American article praising the “Canadian Bloody Mary,” Chell’s blend of sweet, salty, sour, spicy and bitter notes hasn’t gotten much love beyond our borders. Never mind — here, it’s not only a source of pride, but it’s a symbol of Canada’s changing demography and Canadians’ expanding palates.

Modern variations reflect international influences, substituting or enhancing British Worcestershire sauce with horseradish, wasabi, kimchi, chipotle, sriracha, teriyaki, tandoori, jerk spice, Dijon mustard or any number of flavours. A staple at Canada Day celebrations and weekend brunches and a drink as red as our flag, the Caesar is a cocktail that can rightly claim that it came, it quenched, and it conquered Canada.

Craving a Caesar? Learn how to make these tasty cocktail garnishes.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

natural wines

What is Natural Wine and Where to Find It in Canada

Natural wine is the drink du jour. The trendy, funky new kid is popping up in small and exclusive quantities in wine stores and on restaurant menus throughout the country. This exciting frontier in viniculture, with its old-school, hands-off approach, produces some of the most beautiful bottles out there – if you can score some. But, like the term “natural” itself, natural wine is not a regulated phrase, so you best do some research before purchasing to ensure they’re getting what they asked for. If you’re looking to try this trend, bring this cheat sheet along so you know what you’re tasting.

What is Natural Wine?

Natural wine is a different kind of grape-growing approach, one where the winemaker keeps pesticides and chemicals out of the equation, letting the grapes breathe and come into their own before harvest. Seasonal whether patterns play a big factor in the wine’s flavour.

If the weather is hotter, the grapes will have more sugar, producing more alcohol upon fermentation. If the season is cooler, the grapes will be dry (less sweet), producing less alcohol upon fermentation, and possibly fermenting slower. Unlike some mainstream wines that are built on repetition and familiar taste, natural wines go with the flow, making a dynamic and exciting range of flavours each year. Most natural wine should be sulfur-free, a big risk for oxidation, so it’s to be enjoyed fresh, not aged. Some wineries which incorporate natural processes and wild fermentation, opt to add sulphites to preserve it for shipping and storage.

Related: Crowd-Pleasing Canadian Wines for Under $15

How is It Made?

Natural wineries make a point to differentiate themselves from large-scale productions, which often ferment the grapes in temperature-controlled rooms. Natural wines are made by taking what comes to them. This can include spontaneous fermentation, where wild yeasts existing in the air ferment the wine. Using wild yeast is an unpredictable method, making this process a true challenge. With each type of yeast, comes a different flavour. Yeasts can affect the mouth feel and aroma of wine, making natural wine making a gamble. But when it turns out right, it’s outstanding.

What Does Natural Wine Taste Like?

Because of their spontaneous nature, tastes can range from tropical to floral, skunky to sour or ultra-funky. Some bottles are clear, some are cloudy; it depends on whether the wine is filtered or not.
Red, white, orange, rosé and sparkling wine – all of which begin with their own specific flavour – are transformed into something different based on terroir (the growing region and land), climate, grape varietal and when they are picked. The best thing you can do is sample your way to a favourite.

Where Can You Find Natural Wine in Canada?

Specialty retailers, wine bars and mail-order services are your best bet for getting a taste of natural wine. Restaurants with sommelier-run wine programs are another great place to try. For instance, The Black Hoof in Toronto has a knowledgeable staff of enthusiastic, on-trend wine aficionados who can help you find a natural wine to enjoy by the glass or bottle. In Montreal, Hôtel Herman’s lengthy, yet focused, wine list carries natural wines from around the world. Burdock and Co. in Vancouver offers a selection of natural wines served by a knowledgeable staff who can answer your toughest natural wine questions.

Related: Must-Try Local BC Wines

It’s not just found at restaurants. Pearl Morissette, a winery in Niagara’s famous winemaking region headed by a former Burgundian winemaker, is creating alluring natural wines with mystique, charm and sophistication, taking this from bohemian hipster trend to world-class treat. Their wines are available at their vineyard, online and in restaurants.

And, no matter where you are in Canada, you can order through Nicholas Pearce Wines, which carries one of my favourite natural wines, the Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc (South Africa). Grab a friend, order a case and split it – you won’t be disappointed.
Ask questions, request and seek out natural wine in your area. It’s worth the effort, not only for the thrill of the hunt, but the true difference in taste.

Photos courtesy of Allison Day

cold-brew-feature-image

How to Make The Best Cold Brew Coffee

On sweltering summer days, cold brew is a refreshing alternative to your hot morning coffee. The cool, satisfying summer drink is easier to make than you think.

In simplest terms, cold brew is made by soaking coffee grounds in water at room temperature or cooler for a long period of time. The resulting beverage is less acidic on the palate than your typical cup, but it also packs a punch. Because it requires more grounds than hot coffee, cold brew has the added benefit of more caffeine.

cold-brew-coffee

There are lots of cold brewing gadgets out there, but this recipe will show you an easy way to improvise at home with equipment you likely already have. After 18 hours, you’ll end up with a potent cold brew concentrate that can be diluted and enjoyed with ice, sparkling water or your milk of choice.

So, grab your favourite freshly roasted coffee beans, and give this simple cold brew method a try.

Cold-brew-dilute

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 18 hours, 30 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
100 g or roughly 1 cup coarsely ground coffee
800 mL or 3 1/2 cups filtered water
1L Mason jar
Fine mesh bag  or nut milk bag
Paper coffee filter
Strainer or funnel

Directions:

Cold brew

1. Place nut milk bag inside a mason jar and fill with ground coffee. Add filtered water. Give your soaked grounds a stir. Cover the mason jar with a cloth and place it in the fridge to brew for 18 hours.

Cold brew step 2
2. After 18 hours, take your brew out of the fridge and carefully remove the mesh bag filled with coffee grounds. Tip: Used coffee grounds make great compost.

cold-brew-filter
3. Pour your cloudy brew through a pre-soaked paper filter (pre-soaking removes paper-y taste). If you don’t have pour-over coffee equipment, a strainer or funnel lined with a paper filter will do.

cold-brew-milk
4. You now have a crystal clear cold brew concentrate. Dilute with ice and water or add milk and sweetener to taste. Store your cold brew coffee in the refrigerator to enjoy for up to a week.

Irish Coffee

The Boozy History of Irish Coffee

What do flying boats and Irish coffee have in common? Everything, and more.

I should know: my family tree has a direct bloodline to Joe Sheridan, the legendary chef who invented this classic Irish cocktail. Nutty and caramely, it’s a rich, hot blend of dark coffee, fiery whiskey, brown sugar and a swirl of thick whipped cream. An Emerald Isle favourite for over 70 years, this quintessential Irish beverage has unorthodox beginnings.

Tracing the roots of Irish coffee requires venturing to Foynes, a tiny town on Ireland’s west coast that was once the epicentre for the aviation world. During World War II, Pan Am’s famed flying boats (a.k.a. clippers) transported a range of people, from celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy, to refugees (children fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe). It’s here that commercial air travel was born — as well as Irish coffee.

Irish Coffee

One wintery night in 1943, a clipper departed from Foynes to North America, but the flight didn’t get far. After battling bad weather conditions for several hours, the captain decided to return to Ireland. As the weary passengers offloaded into the airport’s restaurant, Chef Joe Sheridan decided to prepare a special treat to spread some cheer. He brewed dark, bitter coffee, and to each cup added a shot of Irish whiskey, a little brown sugar and whipped cream on top. As the perked-up passengers slurped up the steamy drink, one asked, “Is it Brazilian coffee?”

“No,” Sheridan said. “That was Irish coffee!”

With those four words, a classic Irish drink was born. However, it took almost a decade before the toasty tipple traveled worldwide. In 1951, Stanton Delaplane, a travel journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, took his first sip and was instantly hooked. Back home, Delaplane raved about the newfangled Irish coffee drink to Jack Koeppler, owner of the Buena Vista Café. The duo tried to re-create Sheridan’s recipe, stirring and sipping all night, but the taste was off and the cream collapsed on the surface.

Enjoy Sheridan's original recipe for Irish coffee at the Foynes Maritime Museum

Enjoy Sheridan’s original recipe for Irish coffee at the Foynes Maritime Museum.

After a slew of taste tests and a “research” trip to Ireland, the two men finally cracked the code: the tricky cream only floated when aged and frothed to a precise thickness. Regardless, they decided to poach another key ingredient: Chef Sheridan himself. In 1953, Joe Sheridan immigrated to the United States and started working at the Buena Vista Café.

Chef Sheridan’s original recipe is still served at the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco and the Foynes Maritime Museum, where there’s a small exhibit dedicated to the drink. Of course, virtually all bars and restaurants in Ireland have this boozy beverage on their menu, though flavours may vary.

However, there’s no need to travel across the pond for a mouthful of this hot cocktail. Just gather all the ingredients in your kitchen and follow these instructions. If you’re really looking to impress guests, pair the drink with a plate of Irish Coffee Pie or Anna Olson’s Irish Creamy Fudge.

valerie's irish coffee

Once you’ve mastered the recipe, get playful and try this decadent recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Irish Coffee, made with espresso and topped with Lemon-Vanilla Whipped Cream. Or, delight guests with Irish coffee with a Canadian twist, spiked with Canadian whisky, a drizzle of maple syrup, and maple-laced whipped cream.

For a fancy after-dinner nightcap, make a batch of Nancy Fuller’s Dressed Up Irish Coffee, sprinkled with shaved dark chocolate, it’s almost a dessert in a glass. The options are endless.

This St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be celebrating my bloodline to booze legend, Chef Joe Sheridan, by raising a glass of Irish coffee. From my family, to coffee and whiskey lovers everywhere, I say: you’re welcome and Sláinte!

3 Fun and Festive Cranberry Cocktails

It wouldn’t be the holidays without bright, tart cranberries, and the same goes for cocktails. Celebrate the season in style with these three fruity drinks fit for any holiday party.

From a fizzy champagne cocktail featuring a homemade spiced cranberry orange simple syrup, to vanilla vodka-spiked cranberry mule, to the cinnamon infused cran-apple white wine sangria, we’ve got a drink to suit everyone’s taste this season.

festive-cranberry-cocktails

Holiday Fizz

Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

For the Spiced Cranberry Orange Simple Syrup
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp orange zest
1 whole star anise
1 whole cinnamon stick

For the Drinks
12 fresh cranberries
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 bottle Canadian sparkling wine or champagne, chilled
1 recipe Spiced Cranberry Orange Simple Syrup, from above, chilled

Directions:

Spiced Cranberry Orange Simple Syrup
1. In a medium saucepan, bring all simple syrup ingredients to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until sugar has dissolved and cranberries have started to pop, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, strain into a glass jar; discard solids. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until chilled. Store simple syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Assembly
1. Skewer 2 cranberries on each rosemary sprig. Set aside.
2. In each of 6 cocktail or wine glasses, add a few slices of orange, 1 Tbsp prepared simple syrup and 1/2 cup sparkling wine or champagne. Serve chilled.

Vanilla-Cran Mule

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 cups ice
1/2 cup vanilla vodka
1/2 cup ginger ale
1 Tbsp cranberry juice
12 fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to defrost if using frozen)
1 lime cut into thin rounds, to garnish
Evergreen twigs, to garnish

Directions:
1. In a cocktail shaker or pitcher, per mule, gently stir 1/4 cup vodka, 1/2 cup ginger ale and 1 Tbsp cranberry juice.
2. Add 1/2 cup ice, 3 cranberries and a couple lime slices to each glass (use traditional copper mule mugs or regular cocktail glasses).
3. Pour prepared cocktail into each ice-filled glass. Garnish with evergreen twigs. Serve.

Cran-Apple Sangria

Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to defrost if using frozen)
1 gala apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brandy
1 bottle white wine

Directions:
1. In a large pitcher or punch bowl, stir together cranberries, apple slices, apple cider, cinnamon, brandy and white wine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
2. Pour or ladle sangria into glasses, being sure to include the wine-soaked apples and cranberries. Serve chilled.

Alternative Ways to Make Coffee Shop Drinks at Home

Making your favourite coffee shop drinks at home is a great way to satisfy those in-between cafe trips. And if you’re searching for dairy milk alternatives in coffee shops due to allergies, intolerances or just to explore a range of new flavours, you may have a hard time finding exactly what you want. Here, we break down the best lactose-free milks and the popular café beverages they pair best with.

almond-milk

Lactose-Free Milks

Nut Milk: Popularly made with almonds, but trendy new varieties such as hazelnut and macadamia are equally available. Homemade nut milk is simple, but won’t be as stable when heating for beverage recipes. Look for nut milk fresh or in shelf-stable tetra packs in your local grocery store. Many cafés and even some larger chain coffee shops are now beginning to carry nut milks as a second dairy-free option along with soy milk.

Soy Milk: One of the first lactose-free, dairy-free milks to sweep the café seen, soy milk is thick, creamy and sweet. Choose unsweetened, plain varieties (or you’re getting a ton of added sugar) when purchasing for homemade coffee shop drinks. Soy milk has the most protein of all non-dairy milks, but many people avoid it due to its high amounts of phytoestrogens, which can disrupt hormone balance in both women and men.

Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is popular with larger coffee shop chains as a soy alternative because it’s not actually a nut, but a fruit. Creamy, sweet and floral, coconut milk (usually the thin beverage is used as opposed to thick canned types) compliments everything from espresso to chocolate, and heats well without curdling.

Rice Milk: Offering little in the way of nutrition, rice milk is usually purchased by those who are seeking something slightly creamy, but are allergic to nut, soy, dairy and coconut milks. Very thin, it’s not the best non-dairy milk to use for coffee shop beverages, but will still give a “milky” appearance. Other grain milks appearing on the market include oat milk and quinoa milk, which have more nutrients and a touch more creaminess (though they are more expensive).

Lactose-Free Milk: This milk is an animal product (dairy) that has had the lactose taken out of it. If you have lactose intolerance but still love the taste of dairy milk, choose this for your coffee when out and at home. Some baristas say that this milk tastes a touch sweeter than regular dairy variety. If you’re concerned about sugar, go for whole milk varieties because when it comes to dairy, the higher the milk fat percentage, the lower the sugar/carbohydrate content.

888_coffee-shop-drinks-at-home

Coffee Shop Drinks and Lactose-Free Milk Pairings

The flavours of alternative milks go wonderfully with coffee, lending sweet, nutty notes to your drinks. Here are some ideas to get your started in the flavour department.

Drink: Latte
Best With: almond milk, coconut milk beverage, soy milk or lactose-free milk.
Try this recipe for Allison Day’s Classic Pumpkin Spice Latte

Drink: Americano (Hot or Iced)
Best With: thick canned coconut milk.

Drink: Frappuccino
Best With: thick canned coconut milk.
Try this recipe for a Light Frappuccino

Drink: Macchiato
Best With: thick canned coconut milk or soy milk.

Drink: Chai Latte
Best With: coconut milk beverage, almond milk, rice milk, lactose-free milk.
Try this recipe for Bal Arneson’s Chai Latte

Drink: Cortado
Best With: soy milk, macadamia nut milk, lactose-free milk.

Drink: Cold Brew Coffee
Best With: thick canned coconut milk, soy milk.
Try this recipe for Ashley Tomlinson’s Cold Brew Coffee

Drink: Flat White
Best with: almond milk, hazelnut milk or soy milk.

Drink: Hot Chocolate
Best With: hazelnut milk (for a “nutella” flavour), almond milk, macadamia nut milk, soy milk, or thick canned coconut milk (for extra-rich hot chocolate).
Try this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate

Drink: Cappuccino
Best With: almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, macadamia nut milk.

How to Make Blushing Cherry-Berry Sangria

Gorgeous red fruit gives this bubbly sangria a mild blush, delivering a pop of flavour and colour to any budget-friendly bottle of sparkling wine.

Chock-full of strawberries, raspberries and cherries, and hit with muddled fresh mint, this fun and fruity cocktail is sure to become your go-to summertime sipper.

blushing-bubbly-sangria-recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Standing Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 lemon, zest
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
3 cups ice cubes
1 bottle (750 ml) dry sparkling wine, chilled
1 1/2 cups each frozen sliced strawberries and raspberries
1 cup frozen pitted sweet cherries

blushing-bubbly-sangria-recipe2

Directions:
1. In large pitcher, combine mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and water. Stir, bruising mint slightly, with wooden spoon.
2. Let stand for 15 minutes.
3. Top with ice and sparkling wine; stir to combine. Stir in raspberries, strawberries and cherries.
4. Pour into chilled glasses to serve.

Looking for more cocktail recipes? Check out: 30 Cocktails to Keep You Cool This Summer.

How to Make the Perfect Caesar Every Time

FN_RReardin_1Aug

For Canadians, caesars are like hockey games, Tim Hortons, or even, dare I say, denim-on-denim. It defines us, unites us, and just makes us who we are. It’s the signature drink on most patios, a staple on every menu and the one bevvie we always seem to be in the mood for.

They can however, be a tad difficult to make. Opt for tomato juice instead of Clamato, or too much Worcestershire and not enough hot sauce, and it’s all too easy for your caesar to become an undrinkable disaster.

I’m speaking from experience here.

And so, since it’s pretty much our obligation as citizens of this home and native land to master the art of creating the perfect caesar, I’ve put together a little how-to guide to help you (read: me) get it right every time.

So, what do you do? Start by mixing the ingredients. But before you start pouring, please note that the order of ingredients does matter.

Start with a rimmed glass, fill it with ice, add the Worcestershire, followed by Clamato juice, hot sauce, vodka, and then season with salt and pepper. An easy way to remember the order of ingredients is to start with the cheaper ones and work your way up.

When it comes to the garnish, here’s your time to be creative. Go the conventional route with a long piece of celery, or grab a skewer and make a combo with pickles and olives. But if you’re really looking to earn some extra hostess points, add a piece of bacon, or better yet, a juicy slider burger. Because you know, why not?

No matter what garnish you decide to use, I love finishing off the cocktail with a fun straw, like this red and white stripe version from Party City ($5).

And there you have it: an easy, fail-proof recipe for Canada’s number one cocktail.

How to Pack a Cooler Like a Pro

People who claim that travelling is more about the journey than the destination have one thing in common: they’re not hangry. Enjoy your travels with fewer stops using these tips for packing the perfect road trip cooler — the one that helps you stave off snack attacks so you can enjoy a delicious trip.

Watermelon Lemonade

Tip: Freeze water bottles and juice boxes for drinks that double as ice packs.

Once the frozen drinks thaw a little, you’ll have refreshing treats worth their weight in cooling energy. For maximum savings and nutrition, pack reusable water bottles with your favourite smoothie recipe and freeze it the night before your trip.

Whether you pack store-bought drinks or make your own lemonade, juice or smoothies, be sure to leave a few unfrozen — ideally grouped to one side of the cooler — so your car crew can hydrate whenever they need.

Frozen treats can work as snacks, too. Toss your favourite frozen fruits into a container full of yogurt for a quick and refreshing dairy treat that will keep all day in the cooler.

Get the recipe for Watermelon Lemonade.

cooler

Tip: Pack frozen drinks and heavy freezer packs on the bottom, and toss a few light frozen gel packs on the top.

Pack your cooler like this: heavy stuff on the bottom, sturdily packaged items like jars and plastic containers in the middle, and anything that shouldn’t be squished or bruised (bread, sandwiches, fruits and veggies) on top. Toss a few light gel packs on top of it all, and maintain the cooler’s temperature by opening it as little as possible.

Foods that bruise easily fare best at the top, but more importantly, you’ll have the healthiest option at first reach whenever you search the cooler for a quick snack.

888_stacked-salad-nicoise

 Tip: Jarred salads are perfectly portable and make delicious travel meals.

You’ll likely want to pull over to enjoy your salads safely, but layered mason jar salads rival the flavours at any roadside fast food chain or gas station diner. Whatever you put in your jars, pack the dressing first, then add in order of weight, with the heaviest ingredients at the bottom: pasta or grains first, then proteins, then chopped veggies and lettuces or sprouts. Shake to mix when you’re ready to eat.

Get the recipe for Stacked Salad Niçoise.

anna-olson-granola-bars

Tip: Keep your cooler within reach during the drive.

As long as you’ve got a passenger capable of reaching in to dole out treats, you can fend off hanger without having to stop. If you’ve got little ones in the back with the cooler, and don’t trust them to keep it closed, consider putting them in charge of a secondary bag filled with non-perishables treats like granola bars, crackers, energy balls and sturdier, whole fruits like bananas and apples.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Granola Bars.

Tip: Don’t forget utensils and napkins. 

Hand sanitizer, wet wipes or a wet washcloth packed in a plastic baggie will ensure clean hands before and after meals. Keep these items in or near the cooler and store utensils in a separate bag. If you’re including a knife or scissors in your kit, wrap them in a tea towel and secure with elastic bands to prevent unwanted pokings.

Looking for car snack ideas? Try one of our 18 Best Foods to Pack for a Road Trip.

6 Cool Canadian Urban Wineries

Spending a weekend in wine country stirs romantic images of long drives, lush vineyards, and bed and breakfasts. Although we’ll never grow tired of swirling wine in the rural regions that grow the grapes, it couldn’t hurt to have them closer to home.

Enter: the urban winery. More and more vintners are setting up shop in the city, bringing the wine production process downtown. By outsourcing and importing grapes from the finest vineyards across the globe, wine producers are able to set up the fermenting, crushing and aging process at facilities far from the fields. These urban wineries are popping up all over the United States, and the trend is starting to spread in Canada.

From virtual vineyard tours and workshops, to delicious tastings and food pairings, wine aficionados can visit these wineries and have an authentic winery experience, without leaving the city. Check out these six wineries in Canadian cities that are making a splash in the wonderful world of wine.

Macedo Winery (Toronto, ON)
With grapes taken off vines from Italy, Portugal, Argentina and Canada, Macedo Winery produces their Evolution Wines. This family-run winery in the heart of Toronto is dedicated to sharing their vast knowledge in helping you find the perfect wine.

Courtesy of Noble Grape

Courtesy of Noble Grape

Noble Grape (Dartmouth, NS)
With seven locations across Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick, Noble Grape is an “in-store winery” that allows customers to create their very own blend. Customers choose their ingredients and add the yeast to start the fermentation process, and Noble Grape takes it from there. In four to eight weeks, you can be sipping on your very own personalized wine.

Courtesy of Pacific Breeze Winery

Courtesy of Pacific Breeze Winery

Pacific Breeze Winery (New Westminster, BC)
From grape to bottle, hand-crafted and small lot wines are produced at this “Garagiste” (Garage Winery). The first of its kind in Canada, Pacific Breeze Winery has won over 50 international awards. Try one of their wines made with carefully selected grapes from British Columbia, Washington and California, without having to endure the long commute to wine country.

Sandhill Wines (Kelowna, BC)
Located in downtown Kelowna, Sandhill Wines offers virtual vineyard tours, a wine lounge and a Small Lots barrel cellar. Visitors can sit in on educational seminars, followed by a toast at the Tasting Bar. Head winemaker Howard Soon has won multiple awards for his wines, all of which are made with the best grapes from the Okanagan.

Courtesy of Vancouver Urban Winery

Courtesy of Vancouver Urban Winery

Vancouver Urban Winery (Vancouver, BC)
Vancouver Urban Winery is a unique culinary and wine experience. In addition to producing their own wines under their namesake, they also have a wine-on-tap program where visitors can try 36 different varieties, most of which are from British Columbia. The rustic-chic winery also hosts a variety of wine education programs such as their Sunday School, where flights of wine are served blind.

Versay (Montréal, QC)
Founded four years ago by Jean-François Bieler, Versay is the only urban winery in Québec. They believe that good wine doesn’t need to involve a bottle or cork, selling wine in kegs and serves it on tap. This eco-conscious winery is all about minimizing their carbon footprint. Each keg eliminates the need for 26 glass bottles, not to mention the possibility of breakage when shipping. Who wouldn’t want wine on tap?

Marvellous Mother’s Day Menu

If ever there was a day to treat the most important woman in your life, it’s Mother’s Day. If you’re lucky enough to celebrate with Mom, treat her to an indulgent meal she’ll remember all year long. Say ‘thank you’ for all her love and hard work with a heavenly menu that starts with bubbly cocktails, and ends with ooey-gooey chocolate lava cakes. After all, she deserves it.

Champagne Cocktail

Champagne Cocktails

If ever there was a person deserving of a champagne toast, it’s Mom. Pop the bubbly and start the meal with a batch of these light and refreshing cocktails.

Blini with Smoked Salmon

Blini with Smoked Salmon

Similar to crêpes, these light and thin little pancakes make the perfect base for a one-bite appetizer. They take a few extra minutes to make from scratch, but one bite of the smoked salmon and crème fraiche, and Mom will appreciate your extra effort.

Strawberry Arugula Salad

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Mom will adore this sweet, light salad that’s quick to prepare and packs tons of perfectly balanced flavour. Fresh, luscious strawberries give sweet contrast to the crunchy walnuts, sharp goat cheese and bitter arugula. Top with a simple olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette to really bring out the strawberries’ flavour. 

Mothership Sunday Roast Lamb

Mothership Sunday Roast Lamb

Jamie Oliver’s lamb is unlike any other. The bone-in shoulder is smothered with a fragrant marinade of fresh garlic, rosemary and olive oil, then surrounded by onions and cooked low and slow. The result is tender, sweet lamb that falls off the bone that’s served with fresh spring potatoes and delectable gravy.

Butter Tart Cheesecake

The Best Butter Tart Cheesecake

If you’re looking to score major points with Mom, the ultimate butter tart cheesecake will surely spoil her. The sweet and salty dessert is covered in maple caramel sauce, and sprinkled with lots of toasted pecans. Feel free to add raisins if your Mom likes her butter tarts nut-free.

Luscious Lava Cake

Luscious Lava Cakes

It wouldn’t be Mother’s Day without chocolate, and these decadent cakes pack a double dose of chocolatey goodness. The molten chocolate insides are made of truffles, and the entire dessert is served with a luscious blueberry compote. Be sure to make extra so Mom has one or two to take home and enjoy later.

Looking for more delicious ways to honour Mom? Try our 50 Best Brunch Recipes for Mother’s Day.

How to Throw a Carnival-Themed Party with HGTV Star Tiffany Pratt

Carnivals are all about eating delicious treats, having fun and enjoying marvellous spectacles. With all that emphasis on good times and that cheerful bright palette, they make the perfect family-friendly theme for a summer party.

We talked to Home To Win star and stylist extraordinaire Tiffany Pratt to get her tips on how to create a dazzling carnival-themed party.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Mix it up.

Tiffany’s signature style is colourful and whimsical. The aesthetic is not only perfect for a carnival theme, but is also easy to make your own. By mixing items you already own with new pieces, and avoiding the stress of being perfectly matchy-matchy, setting a stunning table is simple. “My personal philosophy is to use as much as you’ve got,” says Tiffany. She suggests repurposing leftover streamers from past parties, and mixing paper plates with regular cutlery. “The idea is to pull everything out that you’ve got; with a carnival you can use anything, because anything goes!” Once you’ve assembled the décor and serving ware you already own, you can start seeking extras: paper bags for loot bags or canvas to paint your own big top. “But the main event is to scour the house, use what you’ve got and have fun mixing patterns and colours,” says Tiffany.

Serve sweet and colourful treats.

“I think popcorn is the first thing that comes to my mind for this kind of party,” says Tiffany, “especially dazzled up popcorn.” She suggests decorating paper bags and filling them with colourful or caramel popcorn. She’s also a big fan of handheld edibles, like finger sandwiches and sliders. Candy is a must for a carnival party; for a refreshing beverage, Tiffany suggests serving root beer floats. For grownups who’d like a little more carnival spirit in their drink, sangria and other colourful punches keep the libations on-theme. Tiffany suggests umbrellas or swizzle sticks for added festivity.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Style a “smorgasbord of fun.”

“To create a table that looks like something you want to photograph, levels are really important,” says Tiffany. Think cake plates, stacks of cool dishes, and anything else that can be used to create height. “Not only are the plates, and the food, and the cups and the cutlery all centred in a really cool, artistic way, but you have them all away around the table to actually eat,” she says. “If it looks like a smorgasbord of fun in the centre, it invites people to grab and eat and play.” Style your table with levels; by mixing up colours and patterns, food and drinks, cutlery and plates, you invite entertainment factor, says Tiffany.  “People aren’t afraid to take apart the table and enjoy things, whereas if it looks so perfect, they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want to touch it, it looks so good!’”

Don’t stress.

Remember: good style is equal parts functional and fashionable, says Tiffany. Invoking fun and creating curiosity is just as important as remembering to put out forks. At the end of the day, it’s about the people. Yes, a beautiful setting can encourage a festive mood, but don’t stress about it.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gesture; putting out containers for guests to bring home leftovers, and including adults in the loot bags are small gestures with huge impact.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Flowers, flowers, flowers.

Don’t have streamers or festive décor you can repurpose for your carnival party? No matter what the theme, “lots of flowers make things look so beautiful and festive,” says Tiffany.

Follow Tiffany Pratt on Instagram @thetiffanypratt and watch Home to Win Sundays at 10pm on HGTV. Better yet, sign up to see if you have what it takes to win your very own HGTV dream home!

Fizzy, Fermented Kombucha 101

Perspective is everything when it comes to kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea and ancient drink that is trendy (again).

Is it a cure-all, a probiotic health elixir that combats digestive issues? Is it an expensive and over-hyped panacea? Is it – a drink that’s fermented by adding a slimy symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast to sweetened tea – just a little bit weird?

SCOBY

The SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is responsible for fermenting the kombucha. Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

You’ll have to decide for yourself, but one thing is for sure: kombucha is delicious, and despite the high cost of buying it in health food stores, it’s cheap and easy to make at home.

Kombucha is created by adding a culture, called a SCOBY, to caffeinated, unflavoured, sweetened tea. As the SCOBY eats the sugar, the tea becomes tart and fizzy — the longer it’s left to ferment, the tarter and fizzier it becomes, eventually turning into vinegar. Once the initial fermentation is complete — in anywhere from five to 14 days — the kombucha can be enjoyed as is, or flavoured with fruit and herbs, and fermented a second time for a naturally fizzy, flavoured drink.

flavoured kombucha

Kombucha can be flavoured with fruits and herbs. Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.
From The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

All you need are clean glass jars, sugar, plain green, white or black tea, and a SCOBY, and you can easily be making this bubbly, trendy brew at home. The easiest way to grow a SCOBY is to order one online or get one from a friend. Each new batch of kombucha will produce a new SCOBY, so one is all you need to get started. SCOBYs can sometimes be grown from a bottle of store-bought kombucha, although this method is less consistent.

Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

If you’ve never tried kombucha before, it’s a good idea to sample a few varieties first. Kombucha is infinitely customizable, and knowing how you like yours is the starting point for delicious flavour experiments.

Kombucha can be brewed in large continuous batches for an everlasting supply (continuous method) or in smaller batches (batch method). Although the supply list and method can seem a bit daunting for first-time fermenters, it’s actually quite simple once you get into the swing of things.

Ready to try brewing your own kombucha? We’ve got you covered:
How to Batch Brew Kombucha
How to Brew Continuous Kombucha