Taste The Olive Olive Company

“Olive oil shots?” my friend stared at me when I suggested we head downtown for a food demo by Le Chien Noir sous chef, Eric Brennan at the new Kingston Olive Oil Company, located at 62 Brock Street.

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We ducked in and were greeted by owners Shaun and Julia Finucane. The shelves are lined with a wide variety of premium olive oils and vinegars from around the world. It’s a great concept store; fresh olive oil is like nectar from the gods. The fresher the better, and its so fresh that the crush date is labeled on the bottles. They import seasonally from the harvest in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The olive oil is from olives grown and pressed by small-scale artisans and farmers. You will find oils from Spain, Italy, Australia and America, as well as other regions.

I was introduced to the health benefits of cooking with olive oil years ago and have never looked back. It’s a well-documented fact that olive oil is one the most indispensible ingredients of a healthy diet. The anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants are essential properties. Perhaps the best benefit is that it’s rich in monounsaturated fatty acid, which is the healthiest type of fat.

Olive oil has an expiration date, which is why it’s best to know when the crush date is. Sadly, many of us do not know how to tell rancid oil from fresh. When you buy from the supermarket you do not know how long it’s been sitting or when it was first crushed. Best buy dates are usually two years, but when was it crushed? Smell the oil; it should have a fresh grass or spicy pepper smell. Taste it, does it have a soft subtle finish or a zippy peppery kick? It should be either. If its smells nutty or like crayons or worst tastes greasy, it’s rancid. Like a fine wine, once you open a bottle of olive oil it has a limited shelf life that’s why it’s best to buy a smaller bottle than a large container unless you are using it often. The oil is affected by air and humidity. Store in a dark cool place. I know people who store it the fridge; my thought is that it changes the consistency but others would argue that it doesn’t. But, no need to throw it out if it’s gone off, use it on squeaky doors or as candle oil.

Olive oil is a mainstay for a variety of recipes, from pesto’s, drizzling in your salad, pasta and more. I was keen to see what Chef Eric had planned for the demo.

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It was a rainy Saturday; the guests were excited to learn a new skill from one of Kingston’s rock star chefs. A large group was settled into the back of the store. The green grass smell of olive oil poignant in the air, I began to drool as Chef Eric seared the fresh perch infused in olive oil. He used the organic Picual oil (available in store) in the tarter sauce. It’s tropical fruity oil with a smooth beginning and a slightly bitter center with a lingering pepper finish. I tried a little of the oil on its own in one of the tasting shot glasses available. My friend and I sipped at it and enjoyed the finish. It tastes lovely on its own and even better when the Chef serves the fish hot from the pan, with chips and the tasty tarter sauce infused with oil.

The store is a welcome addition to Brock Street Common, steps from the Farmers’ Market. You will discover not only premium olive oils but aged balsamic vinegar and gourmet salts.

The prices range from $18 – $21 for oils and vinegars and $12 for gourmet salts. It’s a great place for loading up on stocking stuffers for the foodie in your life…(hint, hint to my family) although my husband already thinks I should own shares. I can’t get enough of all the different flavors.

Drop in on for the next cooking demonstration on November 30th with Aquaterra chef, Clark Day. It promises to be a lovely afternoon of tasting and swilling olive oil.

Check out their website, kingstonoliveoil.com, for great ideas and recipes using olive oil and vinegars. Sign up for their newsletter to keep informed or drop by the store, Kingston Olive Oil Company at 62 Brock Street, Kingston, Ontario.

If you have a restaurant suggestion or a great foodie location for me to check out please email me at Ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow me on Facebook or my blog LadyDinesAlot.com.

 

 

A New Dish In Town

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What could be better than a pub-crawl for adults? Dishcrawl a new foodie social activity has arrived in Kingston.

Beginning in restaurants and bistros in much larger cities such as San Francisco, San Diego and a few years ago in Ottawa and Toronto. Dishcrawl is now in over 125 North American cities with ambassadors in each.

The role of the ambassador is to as act a local foodie expert. They coordinate and engage local restaurants to get involved. Purchase a ticket to join in on the walking tour of select participating restaurants.  Guests are guided through a variety of locations tasting and sampling food from that business. The meal portions are substantial in most instances and all tastings are included in the price of the ticket. The average ticket price is $60-$75 (inclusive of tax and tip) drinks are excluded.

Meet new people who enjoy food or gather a few friends to join in on the experience.

Kingston Dishcrawl Ambassador, Christine McCullough is excited to bring this creative foodie crawl to our community.

Christine is a local event organizer. She studied culinary management and event planning and is thrilled to have found this role, which combines both her passions.

The events launched in September with twenty-seven keen crawlers dining on local fare with visits to Tir Nan Nog, St. Johns Public House, Chez Piggy and a finishing sweet stop at Sipps. A new event is held the third week of every month.

“We’ve had huge support from Downtown Kingston, Tourism Kingston and the local restaurants,” said Christine. “This city has so much to offer with approximately a hundred restaurants in a nine block radius. What more could you want?”

“I want to educate the community on good food and what is on offer here in our city. Dishcrawl is a great way to do just that.”

Dishcrawl concept is simple. Your host meets the group at a predetermined restaurant where everyone gets to know each other has a introduction from the chef and then moves on to the next location. Generally four locations are chosen, with variety and selections depending on the style of the restaurant.

“Customers love to meet the owner and chef who creates the food. You are more likely to go back and revisit. Which is exactly what happened after the first event. Many of the guests, even long time residents of Kingston, hadn’t been to half of the locations we visited. Some even returned a couple of times within the month after this event.”

“We couldn’t do it without the enthusiasm of the restaurants,” said Christine. “We are really excited to continue welcoming new restaurants onboard,” said Christine. “ By the end of the year I hope to connect with all the local restaurants in the area.”

“In October, we hosted our second Dishcrawl event themed the haunted crawl.”

“We had a great time. Our haunted dishcrawl kicked off at Windmills with an introduction from the chef and a chance for everyone to get to know each other, followed by a visit to Geneva Crepes, Olivea and then capped off with Spanish desserts at the new Tango Nuevo.

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“I want to have different themes for each Dishcrawl,” said Christine. “Featuring an evening to support military families, individuals with dietary restrictions, or even a Match.com night out.”

The next Dishcrawl event is a Gluten Free Kingston on November 19th at 7 pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.dishcrawl.com/kingston or email Christine at christineer@dishcrawl.com. The locations are kept a secret but it promises to be a healthy and educational night out. Follow them on Facebook at Dishcrawl Kingston or on twitter @dishcrawlkin for hints before the event.

If you have a restaurant suggestion or a local food biz you’d like me to check out email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook or my blog at Ladydinesalot.com.

Addicted To The Drink

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Hello, my name is Kate and I’m an addict. A coffee addict that is. Nothing beats a good cup of coffee. The bold roasting smell is pure joy. I would even argue that one doesn’t even have to be a coffee drinker to love the aroma of this intoxicating brew.

I am not much of drip coffee fan, although my friend, Lesli hooks herself up intravenously to draw in the dark rich drug. A night shift worker, no matter the hour you will find Lesli with a cup of hot black goodness.

Coffee in all its forms is my drug of choice. At home, I have a Kleurig machine to help me savor the freshness of brewing a perfect cup every time.

Whether Tassimo or Kleurig, the trend has flourished for these easy-to-use machines. I can now choose from hundreds of varieties. I like to shop at Coffee Trends for their individual servings called K-Cups. It’s a retail store conveniently located at 772 Blackburn Mews, corner of Gardiners Rd and Taylor Kidd Blvd. You can choose up to twenty-four mixed single-servings or boxed coffee matches for approximately $13.95.

Upon arrival pick up the easy to use round paddle with holes to fit each choice. This helpful tool makes it easy to carry your coffee K-cups as you shop. Allow yourself time to wander through the aisle, exploring and choosing which coffee you’d like to try. Arranged according to roast, dark-medium etc., make your choices and take them to the counter to package them to go. While browsing, you enjoy a free coffee, so you can sample before you buy.

On my first visit I selected (almost) one of each. I went home taste-tested and judged each against the other. Yes, I am that pathetic. So sue me; I am picky about my coffee. I couldn’t imagine anything being better than an espresso until I discovered their dark roast 100% Brazilian Gold coffee. It’s delicious with the well-known kick-in-the-butt affect of an espresso. I only need to drink one a day to keep me primed.

The coffee grounds removed from their pouches post-use are biodegradable. However, I must dispel the myth that once the plastic cup is free from waste and cleaned it can be placed in your general recycling. The City of Kingston advises that the cups themselves are made from mixed material and get caught in their conveyor belts. This is an issue experienced widely. Therefore the K-cups themselves are not recyclable. Don’t get me wrong, the environment is an important issue for me. You see, I’m an addict so will it make me stop drinking my beloved coffee? No. This means I will challenge them to develop a recyclable product.

Recent studies show coffee’s associated health benefits include fighting short-term memory loss and increased cognitive abilities. In fact, coffee shows it has more healthy antioxidants than green tea and cocoa. As much as we all love coffee, we should be cautious that too much of a good thing has its risks. It can be know to cause irritability, nervousness and anxiety. So like most things in life, drink in moderation.

We writers drink coffee to help keep common disorders such as writers block at bay. Therefore, you will find me writing at a local café or home perched in my window, fist holding tightly to this magnetic brew.

My name is Kate. I am an addict.

For more information or to suggest a restaurant or foodie biz I should check out, email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog Ladydinesalot.com or on Facebook.