January 27, 2011

proof whisky, gerrard india bazaar, Vol. 17

Do you suddenly feel the impulse to escape to a warm and exotic place even though it’s logistically out of the question? At this time of year it’s normal to want to jump a plane with a one-way stub in your hand. Good news – there are many creative ways to satisfy these urges without ever leaving the tarmac. This is our focus today. Thursty Thursday, take me away! (much like Calgon) To learn more about our brand visit www.proofbrands.com. Become a friend on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Proof-Brands/181641835185326 and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

Warm up in the land of coconut trees and spices with this hot drink.

Chai toddy
1 teaspoon honey
2 oz proof whisky
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 chai tea bag (or 1 tsp loose tea*)
hot water
1 cinnamon stick
Add the honey and lemon juice to a tea cup and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until the honey becomes very runny. Pour boiling water into the mug and add the chai tea bag. Leave the bag to infuse for 2 minutes, before gently squeezing against the side of the mug with a teaspoon and removing. Add proof whisky and stir well. Serve piping hot with a cinnamon stick.

*Directions for steeping loose chai tea: Fill infuser with 1 tsp loose tea. Drop infuser into 6oz cup of boiling water and let steep 5-7 minutes - remove infuser & add all ingredients.

Chai tea: The foundation of chai tea is, of course, black tea. This tea has the full flavor that most people prefer. Black tea is tea that has been dried, rolled, and then allowed to oxidize.  After the tea has turned black, it is heated in an oven to stop the oxidation process.  Once it comes out of the oven, it will be ready to be stored. Chai tea originated in India and was introduced there by the British in the 19th century.  As India is the land of spices, it is not surprising that the Indians immediately began to experiment with ways to augment the flavor of the tea.  One of the most common spices added to chai tea is cinnamon. Besides cinnamon there is ginger, cardamom, vanilla, nutmeg and cloves added to most.

We visited the Tea Emporium for some loose tea. (www.theteaemporium.com
“Our adventure started in 2000 after living in Germany - we fell in love with specialty tea shops in Europe and kep scratching our heads at why you couldn't find a good cup of tea in Toronto. In a land that had embraced specialty coffee and placed value on quality - how was it possible that finding good tea meant playing detective and hunting it down? So...we decided to take the matter into our own hands - and grow a business. A business whose purpose was to introduce people to the wonders of tea - teach about the fascinating nuances of tea - and first and foremost - provide a quality product with quality service.” Tea Emporium

Matthew introduced us to a wonderful Kashmiri Chai (partial organic) Full-bodied black tea blended with exotic cardamom, cinnamon, cloves mint, nutmeg, tellicherry pepper and black tea.

This may sound a little cheesy to some, but every month we throw a theme-night dinner party for friends. Normally, as a rule, you should never experiment with new recipes for guests, but this can be a great way to play with flavours from different cultures while keeping your company entertained. Just make sure to invite close friends and not your boss and his wife. (oh and serve lots of drinks, making sure that everyone is cabbing it) You can take the theme as far as you like by playing themed music, decorating and um, wearing costumes? Okay, this might be taking it too far, but it’s fun. Just pretend you’re on a cruise ship.

For years, we have made several successful trips to The Gerrard India Bazaar in search of sarees, posters and ganesha figures for occasions such as these.

Gerrard India Bazaar is the largest marketing place of South Asian goods and services in North America. With over 100 shops and restaurants which represent regional diversities of South Asian culture, food, music and products, this slice of the Indian subcontinent offers a wide selection of services and products exhibited in an exotic display of sights, sounds, tastes and aromas. The array of merchandise available here helps South Asians maintain ancient cultural and religious traditions, and keep in touch with the contemporary lifestyle of the Subcontinent.” (www.gerrardindiabazaar.com)

While there, enjoy the buffet at Regency Restaurant (1423 Gerrard Street East, 416.778.7366 www.regencyrestaurant.ca) or at one of the many other establishments.

A wonderful addition to your cookbook collection is Phaidon’s ‘India Cookbook’ written by Pushpesh Pant. This book offers 1000 authentic recipes, which take you through the various regions of India. The recipes are clear, and the design and photos are exquisite. They have cleverly designed it to look like a sack of basmati rice, which makes it a great coffee-table book as well. (www.phaidon.ca/store/food-cook/india-9780714859026/)

You can leave your home AND learn more about the history of India by visiting the AGO:
Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts brings to Canada for the first time more than 200 spectacular works of art created for India’s great kings — including paintings, furniture, decorative arts and jewellery. These magnificent objects chronicle the many aspects of royal life and celebrate a legacy of cultural patronage by generations of maharajas, both in India and in Europe. (www.ago.net/maharaja-exhibition)

If you have no desire to leave the snow, there are many winter wonderful things happening around the city this weekend.

WinterCity Festival started yesterday and runs until February 8th. Check out the city's website for list of events. (http://www.toronto.ca/special_events/wintercity_blurb2.htm) Winterlicious: Take advantage of the incredible value and exclusive prix fixe menus offered at 150 of Toronto's top restaurants. (for list of restaurants http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/se/restaurants.nsf/Winterlicious?Openform) Interior Design Show: Starting today and running all weekend (www.interiordesignshow.com)

Finally –  Don’t forget to join us for a drink at the Richmond Hill LCBO. We will be sampling proof whisky cocktails from 4-8pm. (8783 Yonge Street. Visit our events page for more details www.proofbrands.com)

Weather Forecast:
Saturday: Scattered flurries and a high of - 4 degrees
Sunday: Scattered flurries and a high of - 5 degrees

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