February 24, 2011

proof whisky, live from the Kodak Theatre, Vol. 21

Today we asked ourselves – “what could be better than whisky straight-up?” Our answer – "whisky mixed with champagne, of course". 
The Oscars are happening this weekend. Have you planned your party yet? 
We are pulling out all of the ‘stoppers’ with this week’s celebratory cocktail, The Leading Lady
To learn more about our brand visit www.proofbrands.comBecome 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.

The Leading Lady
1 oz proof whisky
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz orange juice
Veuve Clicquot Champagne*

Add 1 oz. proof whisky, 
1/2 oz. simple syrup, ½ oz. lemon juice, 
and 1 oz. orange juice to champagne glass. 
Top with Veuve Clicquot. 
*We went with Veuve Clicquot even 
though the official champagne of the Oscars 
is Moet et Chandon.

On top of her exceptional taste, Veuve Clicquot has one of the most interesting stories. You can learn more about this elegant brand in Tilar J. Mazzeo’s book - The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It Author Tilar J. Mazzeo toasts the élan of Champagne's Grand Dame with The Widow Clicquot, a fascinating story of the cunning bravery and good fortune that helped build the Veuve Clicquot brand. Widowed at age twenty-seven by the death of her husband François Clicquot, Barbe-Nicole assumed control of her family’s wine business amid the chaos of The Napoleonic Wars. That she became a prominent female leader in a male-dominated industry was one thing; building an empire amid savage political unrest was quite another. With passionate research and true admiration for her subject, Mazzeo pays homage to the beloved Widow from Reims and the remarkable weight her name still carries today. - Dave Callanan

.....but we are supposed to be talking about Oscars today....so back to our party planning...

To find the ultimate glam in décor visit the Veuve Clicquot section at Teatro Verde in Toronto (www.teatroverde.com
This is where we found our great VC glasses – perfect for the golden theme.

We also managed to complete our look with Oscar statuettes and scene clappers, which we found at several party stores around the city.

For the Golden Globe Awards, we matched cocktails to each of the 10 nominees. Since a great deal of the contenders are the same for the Academies, you may want to use some of the movie-inspired recipes from Volume 15 (www.proofbrands.net/2011/01/proof-whisky-and-nominees-are-vol-15.html).
 Our focus this time will be on Oscar venue and party food


Inspired by the elegance of a European opera house, with state-of-the-art technical capabilities, Kodak Theatre has been host to many of the world's top performers. Kodak Theatre also hosted high profile events such as The Daytime Emmy Awards, The ESPY Awards, The BET Awards, the American Idol finals, Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and as of 2002, became the permanent home of the Oscars. If you are planning to fly to LA for this grand event, keep in mind that guided tours of Kodak Theatre are available Monday to Sunday from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. Tours last approximately 30 minutes. (www.kodaktheatre.com)

If you want to host an authentic Oscar party, you must take the lead from Wolfgang Puck. He’s been preparing food for the Governor’s Ball (located in the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles www.hollywoodandhighland.com) for many years.

From Grammys to Oscars Master Chef Still Serves It Up by CY Interview
Master chef Wolfgang Puck has been preparing fine cuisine for years. Annually, at the Governor’s Ball for the Academy Awards Dinner, he gets to raise his already high profile – aided by a 1000 person crew. He will be handling big dinner events for the Grammys, as well as the Oscars this year. After all these years, what still gets him excited?

Even though we will not be attending the real event, we can still bring a little California sunshine to our own wintry Academy tribute. Here are a couple of great classic-California dishes to serve.

Wolfgang’s Signature Crab Louie
8 ounces jumbo lump crab
3 tablespoons Thousand Island or Russian dressing
2 tablespoons chives
1 vine-ripened tomato, diced and well drained
1/4 red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
16 endive leaves
1 whole avocado, diced
Pick through the crab meat thoroughly and remove any shells. Place the crab in a small bowl, and fold in the dressing and chives. Combine the tomato, onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, and parsley in a small bowl to make a nice relish. With the endive leaves, create a flower pattern on individual plates. Place a small mound of the Crab Louie mixture in the center. Layer the diced avocado on top of the crab. Layer the tomato mixture on top of the avocado. Serve

Or how about a Wolfgang Puck Caviar Plate
Osetra caviar
3 eggs, hard boiled
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 small red onion, very finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1/4 cup crème fraiche
1/4 cup melted butter
Toast points or blini (mini crepes)
Place the caviar tin in a small bowl of ice to keep it cold. Shell the eggs, cut them in half, and separate the whites and yolks, chopping them separately. Place ice bowl of caviar on a platter and surround it with small bowls of chopped egg yolks and whites, lemon wedges, red onion, chives, crème fraiche, melted butter, blini, and toast points.

For this recipe and many more classic WP recipes visit his website. (http://www.wolfgangpuck.com) If cooking is not your thing, you can enjoy Wolfgang Puck's recipes at the only WP restaurant in Toronto. Located at Terminal 1 at Pearson International Airport, it's one of the few places at the terminal that serves hot meals before entering the security check point. Both his signature thin-crusted pizza and rosemary chicken are available at the terminal.

We picked up our caviar at St. Lawrence MarketCaviar Direct, on the lower level, has a great selection. (www.stlawrencemarket.com)

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Cloudy periods and a high of -2 degrees
Sunday: Mixed precipitation and a high of 2 degrees

February 17, 2011

proof whisky, après-ski, après-skate, après-just-about-anything, Vol. 20

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about ‘embracing’ our Canadian winters, and then we went on to talk about comforting indoor activities. 
Today, however, we are manning up to the elements. Please put on your parka, oil up your saucer sled and enjoy this week’s thirst-quenching winter recipe - indoors or out. Our Thursty Thursday is the Whisky Avalanche. To learn more about our brand visit www.proofbrands.com
to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

Whisky Avalanche 
(single serve)
1 ½ oz proof whisky
½ oz cinnamon simple syrup*
dash of orange bitters
2 oz grapefruit juice
2 oz ginger ale
Fill a glass with ice. Add 1 ½ oz. proof whisky, 2 oz. grapefruit juice, ½ oz. cinnamon simple syrup*, a dash of orange bitters (optional, but well worth it) and top with 2 oz ginger ale. Garnish with a piece of grapefruit.

Whisky Avalanche 
(punch bowl)
9 oz proof whisky
3 oz cinnamon simple syrup*
4-6 dashes of orange bitters
12 oz grapefruit juice
12 oz ginger ale
Fill a punch with ice. Add 9 oz. proof whisky, 12 oz. grapefruit juice, 3 oz. cinnamon simple syrup*, 4-6 dashes of orange bitters (optional, but well worth it) and top with 12 oz ginger ale. Garnish with a slices of grapefruit.

*Simple syrup recipe – Combine equal parts of sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a jar or bottle, add cinnamon stick and let cool. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Next week is reading week for most Ontario Universities and Colleges. If you have decided to switch out the ‘fly & flop’ beach holiday 
for a more local week on the slopes, you may want to visit this website for Ontario ski resort information (http://www.skiontario.ca)

Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario is offering many great deals for students. We visited the village and it is awesome! (www.bluemountain.caNestled at the foot of the slopes, Blue Mountain Village has more than 25 shops, restaurants and bars. 
With an outdoor fire-pit, entertainment and nightlife, it’s a great place to spend your week with friends.

For luxury accommodations, book your stay at the Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain. (http://deals.westin.com/Westin-Trillium-House-Blue-Mountain-Resort-1498/so.htm?PS=PS_aa_NorthBosChi_Google_the_westin_trillium_house_blue_mountain_Exact_120810_NAD_FM Situated in the village, the Westin has boutique-designed rooms, and has an Oliver & Bononcini Restaurant right off the main lobby. (http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Blue-Mountain.aspx)

In addition to skiing, the area offers skating, toboganning and other great activities. (www.sceniccaves.com/) (www.highlandsnordic.on.ca)

The Town of Collingwood offers a combination of old time charm and history with the best recreation in Southern Ontario, including its huge Elvis Festival (www.collingwoodelvisfestival.com), Collingwood has much to offer. (www.town.collingwood.on.ca)

This is downtown, Collingwood. (Town hall and shops)

Skating in Toronto:
If you’re more rink rat than snow bunny, visit one of toronto’s great outdoor rinks. They are all accessible by TTC and most offer skate rentals. (http://www.toronto.ca/parks/skating/outdoor-rinks.htm) Some of the best city rinks include: Barbara Ann Scott Skating Rink, behind the College Park outdoor courtyard at Yonge and College Streets, Trinity-Bellwoods Skating Rink, at Gorevale Avenue, Withrow Park and Riverdale Park.

Skate in the heart of the city at Nathan Phillip Square. One of the most beautiful rinks is the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre (http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/skating/)

Just North of the City you can find the Mel Lastman Square Rink (North York Centre subway stop, 5100 Yonge Street 416-395-7584). 
For a more intimate and natural experience, drop into the Evergreen Brick Works, They now offer skating 4 days a week. (http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/skating/)

Last week’s tasting at the Summerhill LCBO was a huge success. (bottom left: Paul from August Ninth www.augustninth.ca)

Drop in to see us Friday night at the King and Spadina LCBO (4-8pm) and in Oakville on Saturday afternoon from 1pm to 5pm (www.proofbrands.com)

Weather Forecast
Saturday: Mainly sunny and a high of 0 degrees
Sunday: Scattered flurries and once again 0 degrees

February 10, 2011

proof whisky, chocolate be mine, Vol. 19

"Chocolate is heavenly, mellow, sensual, deep, dark, sumptuous, gratifying, potent, dense, creamy, seductive, suggestive, rich, excessive, silky, smooth, luxurious, celestial. Chocolate is downfall, happiness, pleasure, love, ecstasy, fantasy 
... chocolate makes us wicked, guilty, sinful, healthy, chic, happy." Madame Chocolate
Be sure to share this week’s decadent Thursty Thursday recipe with a loved one. 
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.

Cupid’s Cocoa
1 oz good quality dark chocolate, chopped*
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 c. boiling water
1 3/4 c. Atomic Rooster** Coffee
1 ½ c. light cream
4 oz proof whisky

On stovetop melt chocolate and sugar on low heat. Slowly beat in water with a wire whisk. Heat on medium for 3 minutes (stirring constantly). Mix in coffee (http://roostercoffeehouse.com/) and cream until blended. Remove pan from heat and add proof whisky. Divide among 4 heated mugs. Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. 

* We used Soma’s dark Peruvian chocolate.
** Atomic Rooster:  Java Blawan Region, Ethiopian Sidamo - smooth chocolate throughout with hints of berry and spices with a buttery body – sounds like romance to me – scored 95 points from coffee review.


We visited a few of Toronto’s best chocolate shops to see what they were offering for this sweet celebration.

Known for its hand-made chocolate, creamy gelato and Mayan Hot Chocolate, Soma is truly ‘a place to eat, drink and worship chocolate’
http://www.somachocolate.com/ (55 Mill St., Bldg. 48 416-815-7662)

Each month a delicious new truffle is invented in the Soma lab. This month’s offerings are: Aleppo chili pepper truffle (A fruity chili pepper from Northern Syrian paired with Dominican Republic chocolate) and Prosecco Truffle (Sparkling wine made with late harvest white grapes with Dominican Republic chocolate)

For visitors touring the chocolate site, a thick glass wall is the only thing separating you from the artists at work.

This sign describes the chocolate process. “You are looking at our ‘new’ Melangeur. It was manufactured in Barcelona approximately 80 years ago. It has been refurbished to be used in our micro-batch chocolatemaking process. After roasting and cracking the cacao beans, the nibs will be placed in the melangeur where the 2 granite stones will crush the nibs of the cacao bean into a rich brown paste called chocolate liquor.”

For V-Day, Soma’s ‘gifts to the gods’ include limited edition Ruby Red Bars (A dreamy limited edition dark bar with wild cherries, cranberries, barberries, cocoa nibs, dusted with sumac spice), Lace Hearts and Crazy Love baskets.


Xococava www.xococava.ca/  (1560 Yonge Street - Yonge & St Clair)
Cava chef and co-owner Chris McDonald has opened this wonderful chocolate shop in Delisle Court, next to his much-praised restaurant.

For V-Day Xococava is featuring Punch-drunk love cookies, Mexican wedding cookies and many beautifully branded boxed treats. 
WE LOVE their quirky names and creative flavours.


Leonidas Chocolates  http://leonidas-chocolates.ca (484 Danforth Ave 462-0008)
Mary, owner of the Danforth and Leslieville locations allowed us to sample some of their finest dark chocolates. I can see why they are touted as best Belgian chocolate in the world. Leonidas has one of the most extensive chocolate collections with 80 varieties to choose from. Makes sense that Leonidas has 1, 400 stores around the globe. 

Make sure to pick up some of these Classic little sweets for your sweetie.
Milk chocolate hearts filled with vanillacream, white chocolate hearts filled with praline and pistachiocream, and dark chocolate hearts filled with raspberry cream.

LPK Culinary Groove  www.lpksculinarygroove.com
Pick up some beautiful hand-made organic or vegan chocolates for your eco-conscious special somebody.

Chocosol http://chocosol.posterous.com/ (The Cacao Loft - 6 St. Joseph Street)
"ChocoSol is a learning community/social enterprise that uses artisanal chocolate as a symbolic product that incarnates the values that we make part of our art of living and dying with dignity." 

Visit them at the Brickworks market on Saturdays. (http://ebw.evergreen.ca/)

More great Toronto chocolate shops: 
Ambiance Chocolate  www.ambiancechocolat.ca (753-A Queen Street East 416-406-2462)

Stubbe Chocolates http://www.stubbechocolates.com/ 
(653 Dupont St. (at Christie) 416-923-0956)

Odile Chocolat  www.odilechocolat.com 
(829 Dundas St. W. (at Euclid Ave.) 416-538-1016)

Daniel Le Chocolat Belge  http://www.danielchocolates.ca/  
(4242 Dundas St. W. (at Royal York) 416-234-0611)

The Chocolate Addict  185 Baldwin St. (at Kensington Ave.) 416-979-5809

Our friends at August Ninth have done it again – this time with chocolate! Check out their delicious proof whisky chocolate crumble parfait. (photo: Leanne Minichillo)

proof whisky Chocolate Crumble Parfait
created by August Ninth (www.augustninth.ca)
1 cup sliced almonds

6 oz coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
1 3/4 cups whipping cream

1/3 cup crème fraîche

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup proof whisky

The Crumble:
Gently oil a skillet and place over medium heat. Add oats and almonds to pan and toast until golden brown, stirring frequently for about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir chocolate mixture into hot oat and almond mixture (this will partially melt chocolate) Cover and chill in refrigerator until the chocolate firms. The proof whisky Cream:
Beat whipping cream, crème fraîche, and sugar with an electric mixer until cream mixture stiffens and forms soft peaks. Fold in proof whisky. Building the Parfaits:
Using your hands, gently crumble chilled chocolate mixture. In about six parfait glasses (or vessel of your choice), layer crumble then cream mixture (about 1/2 cup of each); repeat layering. Overflow each parfait with cream mixture then top with a sprinkling of crumble. Added touch: Garnish with fresh berries, a mint leaf or sprig of lemon thyme. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Visit us tonight at Cooper Street LCBO and this Saturday morning at the Summerhill LCBO 
for a delicious sampling of August Ninth’s chocolatey dessert & this week’s Thursty Thursday Cocoa. (www.proofbrands.com)

Weather Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -2
Sunday: Mixed precipitation & high of 3