Tag Archives: BBQ

Sam Adams Backyard BBQ: a symphony of beer and cheese

27 Jul

Everyone knows that wine and cheese go together like Velveeta and rednecks. Beer and cheese, however, is less of a common pairing in these parts. This makes the Backyard Barbecue co-hosted by Samuel Adams and the Cheese Boutique at the Workshop on Roncesvalles a bold move. The good news is that it worked, and masterfully so. The bad news is that it’s not a regular occurrence.

 

The lush, inviting back patio at Workshop

The lush, inviting back patio at Workshop

Afrim Pristine, of Cheese Boutique fame, used the lush, treed setting of the Workshop’s back patio to showcase an innovative cheese and charcuterie board that actually incorporated the Sam Adams Boston Lager into the cheese. Afrim sourced a cheese from Quebec and then gave it a luxuriant bath in a vat of Boston Lager for thirty days. The result was gloriously nutty, hard yet creamy, and understandably well-paired with a pint of cold Sam Adams. Just in case there wasn’t enough beer involved, the cheese was served with a Boston Lager reduction. I welcome this sort of dedication to the art of cheese-making, because Toronto truly does not have a cheese of its own. While the beer used was from Boston, Afrim’s innovation is a solid step in the right direction.

 

Afrim's cheese and charcuterie board

Afrim’s cheese and charcuterie board

 

The other items on the board were thoughtfully paired with the Sam Adams beers on offer. The robiola from Piemonte, while not marinated in beer, was nonetheless a fantastic pairing with the Sam Adams Summer Ale. The beer’s citrus notes cut through the creaminess of the cheese like a good Chablis would have. The Sainte Maure was clean-tasting, with the grassy notes that are the hallmark of this type of cheese. Again, it went very well with the light Summer Ale. The Bleu d’Auvergne was very well ripened and full of bold flavour, and it screamed for a powerful red wine rather than a beer.  That said, the cheeses were generally very well paired with both the Sam Adams beers.  Aside from the outstanding Boston Lager-marinated cheese, the best pairing in my opinion was the Summer Ale with the Italian robiola.

 

Lamb burger with Sam Adams

Lamb burger with Sam Adams

Workshop’s contribution was equally solid. The lamb burger was lovingly grilled over charcoal by Mat, and the minty goat yoghurt spread was the perfect complement to the pleasantly gamey meat. The accompanying corn and cherry tomato salad was fresh, spicy and a good demonstration of how local, in-season produce can elevate salad to a delightful art form.

 

Mat grilling up some juicy lamb burgers over charcoal

Mat grilling up some juicy lamb burgers over charcoal

The entire evening was well executed.  The Sam Adams beers were thoughtfully paired with cheese, charcuterie and BBQ in ways that heightened each component of the meal.  As well, Afrim and Mat gave fantastic service to the diners, and took the time to explain each course in such detail that their passion for food and drink was immediately apparent.

 

3.61 out of 5 brown thumbs up, and a nod to Afrim and Mat for the excellent service.

 

NB. All photos were taken by Mauricio Jose Calero.

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Ontario Gas BBQ Challenge with Charmian Christie (The Messy Baker)

21 Jul

Charmian Christie (The Messy Baker, 2014)

There’s no better way to celebrate the summer than to throw a couple of steaks on the grill and relax on the patio with friends! Five Toronto Food bloggers from the GTA have been selected to participate in a recipe challenge. They will be flexing their skills using Ontario Gas BBQ (OBG) tools and creating delicious original recipes from July 1 – 31, 2014. The victor of the #OGBChallenge will be chosen by popular vote.

We had the chance to speak to one of the contestants: food writer, recipe developer, and soon-to-be cookbook author, Charmian Christie (The Messy Baker: More than 75 Recipes from a Real Kitchen, 2014) who graciously shared with us her thoughts on BBQ.

Clementine (YYZGourmand): Why do you love to BBQ?

Charmian Christie (CC): The practical part of me loves that no matter how hot the BBQ gets, it doesn’t heat up my kitchen. We have a small stone house with no air conditioning, so once it heats up, it stays hot. I dread turning the oven on in the summer and the grill provides the perfect solution. The cook in me loves the flavours provided by the smoke and charring.

YYZ: What is your favourite item to BBQ?

CC: It’s hard to pick a favourite since the BBQ makes almost everything taste better — even broccoli. That said, rotisserie chicken is likely the winner . Although it’s not complicated, it draws raves every time I make it. No one ever tires of it. And that alone is worth a bonus point or ten. Check out Charmian’s recipe for Spicy Grilled Broccolini here and Herbed Rotisserie Chicken here.

(Source: The Messy Baker, 2014)

YYZ: You’re a baker by trade – what delicious baked goods have you created on a blistering hot BBQ? What would you like to bake on a BBQ?

CC: I’ve done pizzas and really loved the charred crust the hot grill creates. It’s perfect for flatbreads and anything baked quickly on high heat. Beyond that, I don’t really bake much on the grill since most of my recipes require a precise heat. However, it’s great for grilling fruit to top oven-baked goods like scones, or smoking sugar to use in desserts. My husband’s still talking about the smoked sugar ice cream.

Smoked Sugar Ice Cream (Source: The Messy Baker, 2014)

Smoked Sugar Ice Cream (Source: The Messy Baker, 2014)

YYZ: Your Italian turkey meatballs sound flavourful and light – what is your secret to keeping them moist off the grill?

CC: Don’t overcook them! Between the Thermopop meat thermometer and the grilling basket it’s easy to achieve moist, properly cooked meatballs. Also, turning them every few minutes helps. It’s hard to do damage if they’re flipped frequently.

Charmian’s delectable Italian Turkey Meatballs (Source: The Messy Baker, 2014)

YYZ: What’s your drink of choice on the patio when BBQ with friends?

CC: Depending on what we’re eating, it’s a bottle of chilled pinot grigio or icy cold dry apple cider — both from Ontario if possible.

A baker who knows her way around the grill! I’m smitten. We wish Charmian the best of luck against some formidable competitors. You, dear reader, can help Charmian (and win prizes yourself) all month long by visiting #OGBChallenge and voting like mad!.

 

*This post was brought to you by Branding & Buzzing and the Ontario Gas BBQ Challenge!

Bastid’s BBQ 2014: Beers, Brisket and Beats

9 Jul Bastid BBQ Apron

HEY before you ignore this blog post for a dusty Kit Kat you just found tucked between the pages of last year’s enlarged font Readers Digest crammed behind the couch, just know this: the Bastid BBQ is worth you going out RIGHT NOW (you can take the Kit Kat with you) to buy a 2015 calendar JUST so you can save-the-date for the next one.  I’m sorry Toronto, but if you weren’t at the Queen & Peter parking lot last Saturday for the 4th annual party, you really missed out.

Skratch Bastid (aka Paul Murphy), is hands down a crazy skilled DJ and, true to his East Coast roots, a really nice guy.  He seems so approachable and full of joie de vivre; the entire event felt like an intimate back yard party with me and my closest ginormous crowd of friends. ALSO there was BBQ BRISKET.  Ya, nice talented guy and tasty beef: my eyes were basically hearts the entire night.

Partly sponsored by Steam Whistle Brewery, refreshing pilsner was on hand as we cooled down from dancing under the sun.  And by dancing, I do mean awkwardly elbowing strangers and bopping slightly off-beat.  I was totally adorable.

Cheers to beers!

Cheers to beers!

When Skratch hosts a party, every detail is looked after, including event staff wardrobe.  How great are these aprons?  They were also on sale for purchase!

Bastid BBQ Apron

Bastid BBQ Apron

So how was the food, Alice?  Well, I’ll be honest.  I was picturing more grills and typical BBQ fare such as burgers, sausages, ribs, and sauce-drenched chicken thighs.  I was slightly disappointed when I saw that the one true BBQ offering, Stoke Stack BBQ, was actually from a food truck (where’s the outside grill so I can soak up the delicious delicious smoke smells?).  The other option was Toronto sweethearts and faves La Carnita.  Although they did have a grill, and their tacos are amazing, it still wasn’t really what I pictured for a BBQ.

I opted to check out Stoke Stack BBQ since they were new to me.  Everything on their menu sounded amazing but I’ll let you guess what I picked.

Stoke Stack BBQ menu

Stoke Stack BBQ menu

Damn straight I got the Franklin, a brisket sandwich!  And because I have a serious addiction to heat, I sweet talked my way into a side of pickled jalapenos.

Stoke Stake BBQ's brisket sandwich

Stoke Stake BBQ’s brisket sandwich

The brisket was stupid tender and I’m a fan whenever bourbon or espresso is used in BBQ sauces (it cuts the sweetness and tang nicely, and it brings out the richness of beef).   And it didn’t overpower because it wasn’t over-sauced so you can actually taste the brisket.  The bun was pillowy soft and the cool crunchy slaw provided the needed contrast. Oh and this camera angle didn’t do it justice, but my $10 sandwich easily weighed, like,10 lbs.   It was a LOT of meat.  This sandwich was SO good that if Skratch Bastid himself came up to meet me, I probably would’ve said, “Hold on, Paul.  Let me finish this sandwich first.”  Excellent work, Stoke Stack BBQ,  I will be a repeated patron.

It was a day of cold Steam Whistle beer, fantastic brisket sandwiches, excellent beats and a generally great vibe from the crowd.  Then Skratch Bastid himself did two sets and I may be biased, but I’d say they were my favourites of the night.

SkratchBastid

Bastid BBQ was a great party.   Hopefully next year more actual ‘BBQ’, but everything else – don’t change.

Folks in Calgary and Vancouver, you still have a chance!  Get your tickets NOW!

Triple A Bar: Texas Style BBQ in Old Town Toronto

27 Aug

I love where I live (in the middle of Old Town Toronto) and I don’t mind my shoebox of an apartment because I’m rarely at home.  Once in a while, however, I have a pang of regret for not having a backyard.  My dream would be to have a garden to grow my own hops, space for a Big Green Egg and room to host spectacular dinner parties where I force my guests to try my beef ribs and drink my home brewed IPA.

The second best thing to watching people puzzle over my presumably perfect fictional BBQ sauce is to find a neighbourhood joint to frequent where other people make BBQ for me.   And at long last, that has happened.

Triple A Bar

Triple A Bar

Triple A Bar is a Texan styled BBQ bar/restaurant just north of St. James Park.  The scuffed wood, distressed steel and hanging Edison bulbs bring about a southern road side saloon ambiance.  Their menu is simple: a handwritten note lists items such as smoked beef brisket ($15), dry rub ribs ($15) and pulled pork sandwich ($10).   Sides include spicy or regular coleslaw ($4), beans ($4) and fries or onion rings ($6).

My dining companion and I settled on trying their brisket and the pulled pork sandwich.  We accompanied that with fries and spicy coleslaw.

The brisket: tender slow-cooked smoky quality beef with good fatty to lean ratio (enough for flavour, not enough for a heart attack).  Served with two slices of Wonderbread.

Pulled pork sandwich: shredded moist pork atop Wonderbread bun. Served “dry” (aka not swimming in a pool of sugary BBQ sauce) which is how I prefer it, and that meat stood well on its own.

Bottle of homemade BBQ Sauce ON THE SIDE: This was awesome because 1) I like controlling how much BBQ sauce (in particular) is on my food and 2) it was homemade and good.  Simple maple sweetness and sufficient tang – it truly accompanied the meat instead of stealing the show.

I also have to give a huge thanks for the variety of habanero and scotch bonnet hot sauces that were offered.  None of this  “tabasco IS a hot sauce” scam at this BBQ joint!

Fries: Are these double-fried?!  So good.  Crispy exterior, slightly seasoned.  We asked the server to bring a second basket (don’t judge!).

Spicy coleslaw: Finely shredded peppery purple cabbage was used in this slaw.  I loved it – refreshing crunch and NOT swimming in mayonnaise (gross), or oil.  It looked like it was squeezed with a cheesecloth?

The meal, along with cold pints of beer, hit the spot for a BBQ craving and I can’t wait to go back to try their dry rub ribs and onion rings.  I highly recommend this place for other apartment dwellers in the Old Town Toronto area who can’t fit a smoker in their den.

Post Script – I heard a rumour that there’s a $3 tequila special each night and that they make a mean bourbon sour.  Will have to return to back up these claims.

Triple A Bar on Urbanspoon