Characters News

Cliff Lede Vineyards, Napa Valley

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Owner Cliff Lede, Vineyard Architect David Abreu and Winemaker Chris Tynan have come together to form an unrivalled team, making the most of this remarkable property.

Completed in 2005, the gravity-flow winery boasts a berry-by-berry sorting system and conical tanks commissioned using a design inspired by the tanks of Château Latour. One tank per vineyard block ensures each lot evolves at its own pace and acres of caves with single-layer barrel storage ensure access to each barrel at all times. No corner has been cut.

The winery produces Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The flagship, Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon, is crafted from the steep hillside portion of the estate. The land, the talent, the tools and the passion: Cliff Lede Vineyards, a notable addition to the Stags Leap District.

ESTATE VINEYARDS

STAGS LEAP DISTRICT

Our sixty acres of vineyards stretch from our valley floor Twin Peaks Ranch to the steep hillside terraces of the Poetry Vineyard.

The valley floor vineyard that encircles our winery is known as the Twin Peaks Ranch. More varied in soil type than our hillside property, we farm small bespoke blocks comprised of a selection of root stocks, clonal selections and varietals. This property forms the backbone of the Cliff Lede Cabernet program.

The steep, southwest-facing hillside portion of the property is known as the Poetry Vineyard. Reaching from the highest elevation of the Stags Leap Appellation down to the valley floor, this is a high exposure site. These blocks boast a gritty combination of shallow soils atop fractured shales with low-yielding old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon.

The History of Spanish Food

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History of Spanish Food

The succession of cultures that one-by-one set foot on the Iberian peninsula have each left a lasting mark on every facet of Spain’s culture: language, music, art, architecture and, of course, food. In fact, many people are surprised to learn just how much of a delicious melting pot Spain really is.

Geography of Spanish Food

The basis of the history of Spanish food of course has to do with its geographical situation. First of all, the country is located on the Iberian peninsula and is therefore almost entirely surrounded by the waters. Naturally, due to this fortunate location, seafood forms one of the pillars of Spain’s gastronomy and categorizes the country as having a Mediterranean diet. The rest of Spain is a diverse terrain made up of mountain ranges, lush pastures, fertile farmgrounds, extensive coastlines and more, which together provide quite the variety of fresh products. For example, Spain’s famous hams are cured high in the mountains, vineyards and olive groves sprawl across expanses of land, and fresh fruits and vegetables hail from throughout the country.

Cultures Throughout the History of Spanish Food

Endless cultures, as they passed through or settled in Spain, have influenced the history of Spanish food. The Phoenicians left their sauces, the Greeks introduced Spain to the wonders of olive oil, and Romans, Carthaginians, and Jews integrated elements of their own cooking into that of Spain. However it was the Moors who, during their centuries of reign, most impacted Spanish gastronomy. They introduced fruits and light seasonings into the Iberian diet, as well as combinations of fruits and nuts with meats and fish. Rice- a genuine staple of Spanish gastronomy- and therefore Spain’s vast array of rice dishes, come straight from the Moors, as does the use of saffron, cinnamon, and nutmeg. As you eat gazpacho on a hot summer day, thank this clearly gastronomically talented Moorish culture, as it too comes straight from them. Conclusion? Ironically enough, the foods we consider to be “typically Spanish” would either not exist or would be extremely different without the intervention of so many cultures into the history of Spanish food.

The Americas’ Impact on the History of Spanish Food

Along with its obvious historical impact, the discovery of the Americas with Christopher Columbus’ famous 1492 voyage resulted in the addition of more important elements to the history of Spanish food. As of 1520, foods from the new lands arrived in Spain and immediately began to integrate themselves into the Spanish diet. Amongst the many products that crossed the Atlantic and arrived on Spanish turf, tomatoes, vanilla, chocolate, various beans, and potatoes – which surprisingly arrived in Spain before arriving in Ireland- are all staples of today’s Spanish kitchen.

Beer Pairing Menu!

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We have two special ‘Casual Friday’s’ Beer Pairing events this summer. On Friday June 26th & August 7th we will have a special menu with some of our delicious beers matched up and paired perfectly with our featured dishes!

Friday’s are for relaxing, so sit back and enjoy a spectacular meal with your favourite beverage, an ice cold beer! Our patio is now open! See you soon.

Dining etiquette in Canada

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Table manners are relatively relaxed and informal in Canada, in Quebec it’s a bit more formal but for the rest of us Canadians…

Dining etiquette for utensils. Use Continental table manners. When cutting food, hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right hand. Apply pressure to the knife with your index finger at the point where the knife blade meets the handle. Spear and keep steady your food with the fork, tines facing downward. Apply pressure to the neck of the fork using your index finger. Proper dining etiquette dictates that you keep your elbows down. After cutting your food, your knife remains in your right hand. Continue holding the fork in your left hand with the tines facing downward, applying pressure to the neck of the fork with your index finger as you lift it to your mouth. When finished eating, leave cutlery facing upward in the middle of your plate.

Dining etiquette for using your hands. You are seldom expected to eat with your hands. If the type of food is easier to eat in that way, be guided by what your host does. Do not rest your elbows on the table.

Dining etiquette for napkins. Keep your napkin in your lap while eating.

Dining etiquette for seating. Wait to be shown to your seat.

Dining etiquette for beginning to eat. Do not begin eating until the hostess starts.

Meals are typically served in courses. Except at a formal dinner, it is common to have two courses, either an appetizer or salad and main dish or a main dish and a dessert. Occasionally meals are served buffet style for medium to large gatherings. It is appropriate to eat everything served to you at a meal, and your host will be pleased if you enjoy it. If you don’t like the taste of something, deal with it discreetly, and usually no one will comment about it.

Dining etiquette for discussing business. Business entertainment is common, but the focus usually remains on business. The person who invites is normally expected to pay

Experience dishes from Around The World starting June 19th at Characters

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On Friday June 19th we kick off our monthly “Around The World” event at Characters! Once a month we will feature a different country where you will be able to enjoy a dish from that particular culture. On Friday June 19th we start this monthly event with Switzerland where Chef Shonn had the opportunity to hone some of skills as a young adult.

We will also be pairing a beverage with the dish and we have some special surprises lined up. Please make your reservations ASAP for this event because the room is already filling up, bring your friends & family to experience a special evening of dining.

The Difference Between Tanqueray Gin and Tanqueray 10 Gin

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It’s been nearly 14 years since Tanqueray first launched Tanqueray No. Ten Gin. In that time, Tanqueray Ten has become just as recognizable as Tanqueray’s London Dry Gin. Tanqueray Ten is considered by many to be an ideal martini gin, and it’s a frequent ingredient in many key gin cocktails at craft cocktail bars around the world. While there’s no need to change anything inside the bottle, Tanqueray has decided to update the Tanqueray Ten packaging, ditching the tall thin ridged bottle for a shorter, squatter bottle which is more in line with the classic Tanqueray shaker-style bottle. The new bottle also has a dimple ridged base which looks a lot like a juicer, which is no surprise as Tanqueray 10 is defined by the use of fresh citrus.

At Drink Spirits we tend to cover many new releases, and unfortunately that means that some of the great classic spirits don’t have coverage. We felt the re-launch of Tanqueray Ten was a perfect opportunity to revisit both Tanqueray London Dry Gin and Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, discuss what makes them unique, and why you’d ask for one over the other.

Tanqueray London Dry Gin (47.3% ABV / 94.6 Proof) –  there are few gins whose flavor profile are as juniper focused as Tanqueray London Dry Gin. One of the core reasons for this juniper focus comes from the recipe of just four botanicals:  juniper, coriander, angelica root, and licorice. Four botanicals may not seem like a lot, but when handled right, juniper on its own has an ability to deliver flavors and character far beyond pine or Christmas tree. Juniper can impart floral, citrus, and even black pepper spice notes to the mix without the support of any of the other botanicals. Part of what makes Tanqueray so great is how it uses the juniper along with just the right level of a few other botanicals to make a gin that’s extraordinarily flavorful and complex.

Since Tanqueray is one of the iconic London Dry Gins, it’s no surprise that the first aroma from the glass is indeed juniper, but it’s not just pine. Also at the front of the nose are light lime and pine flowers. Even though the juniper is pronounced in Tanqueray, it’s not the only aroma coming from the glass. The juniper medley is supported by a layer of spice including black pepper, licorice, and angelica root mixed with the coriander. With every botanical in the mix represented in the nose, it’s clear that this gin was created out of a meticulous focus to make each and every ingredient count. Another wonderful element in the nose is a touch of sweet wheat grain which runs as a very subtle undercurrent in the nose.  The entry for Tanqueray London Dry Gin is bursting with flavor but absolutely not assaultive. Right out of the gate the juniper pine note from the nose is there on the palate along with light citrus,  black pepper, and coriander.

It’s in the midpalate where the more rooty elements in the gin emerge with angelica root and licorice, and we really get a sense of the level of alcohol.  It’s really the midpalate of Tanqueray London Dry Gin which makes it one of the best gins you can use in a gin and tonic. The structure that’s created between the spice and the spirit is unparalleled in the gin space, with flavor that is nothing short of perfection. Like the nose, the midpalate of Tanqueray has each and every botanical accounted for. Surprisingly, there’s also a sense of underlining sweetness in the midpalate. It’s subtle, but it’s there, and it emanates not only from the base grain spirit, but also from the licorice root.

The finish for Tanquery London Dry Gin is long, dry, and perfectly balanced. Lingering on the palate are the juniper, coriander, and black pepper spice notes as well as a subtle kiss from the sweet grain. Tanqueray London Dry Gin is one of the very few spirits we believe earns a perfect score. There’s simply nothing that could be done to make this a better gin – it’s as good as gin gets and is one of the great spirits of the world. 100 points

Tanqueray No. Ten Gin (47.3% ABV / 94.6 Proof) – in 2000, on the heels of releasing Tanqueray Malacca Gin,  Tanqueray released Tanqueray No. Ten Gin. Both of these releases were aimed at a new movement in gin, loosely referred to as New Western Style Gin, that shifted the focus slightly away from juniper to spotlight what other botanicals in gin can bring to the mix. Part of this movement came as a reaction to a new generation of drinkers who had grown up with a distaste for the strong juniper in gin, and another was as a response to the incubatory phase of the now explosive craft cocktail revolution.

Tanqueray No. Ten Gin gets its name from being made in Tanqueray’s number ten still, also affectionately referred to as “Tiny Ten”. This small still was used as an experimental/trial run still at the distillery before becoming the key still for Tanqueray 10. There is a misconception that Tanqueray 10 gets its name from the number of botanicals in the mix; in fact, the recipe for Tanqueray 10 has all four of the base botanicals from Tanqueray London Dry: juniper, coriander, angelica, and licorice. Tanqueray 10 adds an additional four elements to the mix, including fresh white grapefruit, fresh lime, fresh orange, and camomile flowers for a total of 8 botanicals. One of the things which makes  Tanqueray 10 unique is that it uses fresh whole citrus rather than dried citrus peels. Dried peels are used for the majority of gins on the market and very few actually use fresh fruit.

The nose of Tanqueray 10 reflects the abundance of fresh fruit, and while juniper is still a lead note, it’s joined by lime and grapefruit which act like co-stars in the equation. Under the citrus are some of the same botanicals as with Tanqueray London Dry Gin including coriander, black pepper, and angelica root. Ultimately it’s the lime that seems to be most persistent in the glass.  That lime is also the star of the entry which combines fresh lime and fresh grapefruit along with juniper and angelica root. The angelica root is as pronounced at the entry as the juniper, giving the entry a slightly nutty, rooty, spicy quality. This root spice combined with the piney juniper become the core of the midpalate, which has a much warmer spice quality to it than Tanqueray London Dry Gin.  It’s here where the influence of the camomile flowers is most apparent with a slightly bitter floral spice which combines with the coriander, licorice, and a black pepper note from the juniper. Tanqueray 10 Gin has the same subtle sweet note from the grain in the midpalate, which lends a sweet quality to the citrus as well as makes the angelica root come off more sweet and warm than earthy. The finish is long and spicy with juniper, black pepper, and lime lingering on the palate.

With strong citrus aromatics and a core of warm spice, Tanqueray 10 is suited to a very different range of cocktails than the traditional Tanqueray London Dry Gin. While Tanqueray London Dry Gin is our go-to gin for a gin and tonic or Negroni, Tanqueray 10 works much better in cocktails like the Aviation, the Southside, and the Gin Rickey. With its fresh citrus core, Tanqueray Ten is often our gin of choice in citrus-focused cocktails, and it’s considered by many to be one of the best gins for the martini.

Tanqueray London Dry Gin and  Tanqueray No. Ten Gin share many key elements of style, but they are unique spirits. Tanqueray London Dry Gin is all about how just a few botanicals can come together around juniper to make a complex and flavorful gin, while Tanqueray No. Ten Gin is about presenting a wider palate of flavors to build on for cocktails. The difference between Tanqueray London Dry Gin and  Tanqueray 10 is like the difference between a wrench and pliers – they both can perform similar tasks, but they are ultimately different tools. 97 Points.

In The Kitchen with Chef Shonn (Blog)

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I’m so excited about our new menu that comes out tomorrow (May 19th)! It’s been a long two month journey of preparation to perfect this new menu, but we couldn’t be happier about the results, all the hard work comes into fruition tomorrow and that’s what makes it all worth it.
I use our regulars as guinea pigs to try the new food we create & the feedback has been superb! Everyone loves this new menu which has a Korean influence; we’re cooking a lot of dishes with an open flame which I believe will become a trend within the next year.
I’ve picked up a lot of great ingredients from the Italian centre and some from planet organic, I really believe you’ll enjoy the way we’ve pickled some sides & used vinegar as a featured ingredient. I worked all of May long weekend to put the final touches on this new menu & also printed the menu’s, please come in and try some new dishes and let me know what you think on our Facebook page!
If you’re looking to try something completely different than what you’re used to, try our Octopus yakitori which is made on our new Japanese BBQ. I hope you had a great weekend with your family; I’m excited to see all of you in the restaurant in the next few weeks!
– Chef Shonn

How to cook the perfect steak

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Whether your preference is a butter-soft fillet steak, tasty sirloin or thrifty cut like bavette or skirt, care and attention should be paid when cooking your beef. With only a few minutes leeway between rare and well-done, timing is key. We’ve put together some tips to help you from start to finish.

Select your best frying pan

We recommend frying your steak, although you can grill it if you prefer. A heavy-duty, thick-based frying pan, ideally with a non-stick coating, will achieve good results, as will a heavy griddle pan or skillet. These types of pans get really hot – ideal for getting that slightly sweet, charred finish to the outside of your meat.

If the pan isn’t big enough for all your steaks, don’t be tempted to squeeze them in anyway. Cook them one or two at a time then leave them to rest as you cook the remainder of your batch.

Pick an oil

We like groundnut oil for cooking steaks – it has a mild flavour and can withstand very high temperatures without burning. Never use butter, unless you want to add a knob at the very end for a creamy finish.

The jury’s out when it comes to how you apply the oil. Some chefs like to oil the steak then add it to a hot dry pan, while others add a splash of oil directly to the pan. Once the oil starts separating, it’s hot enough to add the steak. Whichever method you use, the important thing is to get an even spread of oil.

Don’t be tempted to put your steak in early – if the oil is too cool, your meat could turn out greasy and under-browned.

Dressing your steak

Beef purists may prefer to take in the unadulterated rich flavour of a quality steak by adding nothing other than a few twists of salt and pepper. However, don’t season too early – salt will draw moisture from the meat. Gordon Ramsay suggests sprinkling black pepper and sea salt onto a plate, then pressing the meat into the seasoning moments before placing it into the pan.

You could try dry-spicing your steak with coriander seeds, or go really heavy on the cracked black pepper by adding half a teaspoon per steak.

Others like to enhance flavour and tenderise the meat with a marinadeBalsamic vinegar will reduce down to a sweet glaze, as will a coating of honey & mustard.

How do you like it?

  • Blue: Should still be a dark colour, almost purple, and just warm.  It will feel spongy with no resistance.
  • Rare: Dark red in colour with some juice flowing.  It will feel soft and spongy with slight resistance.
  • Medium-rare: A more pink colour with a little pink juice flowing.  It will be a bit soft and spongy and slightly springy.
  • Medium: Pale pink in the middle with hardly any juice flowing. It will feel firm and springy.
  • Well-done: Only a trace of pink colour but not dry.  It will feel spongy and soft and slightly springy.

Get cooking

It’s very important to consider the size and weight of your steak before calculating the cooking time. If you’re unsure, take advantage of the expert eye of your butcher who should be able to tell you how long you need to cook your meat.

We recommend the following cooking times for a 3.5cm thick fillet steak:

  • Blue: About 1½ mins each side
  • Rare: About 2¼ mins each side
  • Medium-rare: About 3¼ mins each side
  • Medium: About 4½ mins each side

We also recommend the following for a 2cm thick sirloin steak:

  • Blue: About 1 min each side
  • Rare: About 1½ mins per side
  • Medium rare: About 2 mins per side
  • Medium: About 2¼ mins per side

For a well-done steak, cook for about 4-5 minutes each side, depending on thickness.

Check your steak is cooked correctly

Use your fingers to prod the cooked steak – when rare it will feel soft, medium-rare will be lightly bouncy, and well-done will be much firmer.

Leave it to rest

A cooked steak should rest at room temperature for at least five minutes – it will stay warm for anything up to 10 minutes. Here, pure science comes into play – the fibres of the meat will reabsorb the free-running juices resulting in a moist and tender finish to your steak.

Serve up

 

 

Chef Shonn’s favourite Kitchen Knife

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Shun Knives, a popular cutlery manufacturer from Japan, has had strong and fast growth in the US market today, displaying an almost 40% growth rate per year. If you ask “Who Makes Shun Knives“, all of the shun knives are manufactured in Seki City almost for a century. This city is considered as the center of samurai sword-making. It is no surprise that Best Shun Knife models have extremely sharp blades.

ome of the significant features of shun knife lines are Pakkawood Handle, Damascus Patterning, Tsuchime Finish, Kasumi Way of Knife Making and Hammered Tsuchime Touch on The Knife. For those who do not know about Kasumi Method, it is the traditional Japanese way of producing knives. The high-carbon steel with an outer layer of another steel makes sun knives very easy to sharpen and has very sharp edges. Keep reading this Shun Knives Review to discover more useful information.

The Hammered Tsuchime Design give a feel of handcrafting to a blade, as well as a good look on the blade of the knife. Small pockets on the blades behave like hollow-ground cavities, preventing drag and lastly releasing food.

This is an important section in Shun Knife Review. The Damascus style that was boasted on many Shun Knife Review help to create a elegant-waved pattern on the knife. This special type of styling makes the blade’s slicing action smoother and gentler while protecting the hard-core. The common characteristic of Shun Knives Review are Construction and Steel. Shun Ken onion brand is well-known for its sharpness, durability and design.

Lastly, you should know while reading this Shun Knives Review that their products are made either from Pakkawood or Hardwood, that is moisture-resistant. There are various shun knife lines which are Shun Classic Knives, Shun Elite Knives Review, Shun Premier Knives, Shun Reserve Knives and The Shun Pro Knives.

Shun Classic Knives

These are the most common types of Shun Knives. In common, Long-lasting and very sharp. Shun Classic is by far the most famous cutlery line, outsmarting all other lines joined together. If you know somebody that has a Shun, odds are they own a Shun Classic Knife. It’s beautiful Damascus pattern on the blade looks very similar to a wood grain. The D shaped handles which means they have a left-handed or right-handed bias (You Can Might Buy Those In Either Ways).

The polished edges which gives the knife a good look. This line is priced reasonably and built of high-quality. This is the first line shun knife evaluation in our description on all types of cutlery lines. Comparing Shun Premier vs Classic, the opinion may differ for each based on factors such as Finish, Fit, Design, Price and so on. Most of the Shun Chef Knife Review fall under this Shun Line of Cutlery.

 

 

You should try this wine at your next meal!

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We have a fantastic wine list, and on top of that we have the best prices in the city! We have exquisite & rare wines, ask us how you can pair your wine to your meal at your next dining experience.

May we suggest to try this incredible wine from Argentina.

Domiciano 2011 Malbec

100% Malbec
Intense and vibrant violet color. Complex, rich nose with great concentration of floral aromas that intermingle with cherry, blackberry and cassis notes. A presence of black pepper and vanilla enhances its complexity. Lively yet mature on the palate, with juicy red fruit notes that are complimented by a slight smokiness. Its structured tannins have an unconventional texture that cause the wine to feel smooth and intense at the same time. A mineral finish followed by some tobacco notes lends it a silky persistence. Aged in French and American oak for 10 months.