By Mike Lowe
Thus far, springtime in Niagara has meant no shortage of interesting events designed to lure the foodie and cork-dork in us all.
The Niagara Food & Wine Expo kicked things off in April followed by Wine and Herb weekends in May, hosted by Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and then there was the wildly popular Food Truck Eats at Peller Estates. May wrapped up with a varietal-specific celebration, International Chardonnay Day, held on May 23.
Inniskillin’s Chardonnay Day featured some great Chards from Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs and Le Clos Jordanne. The wines were paired up with some scrumptious food provided by Inniskillin Chef David Penny and Jackson-Triggs Chef Tim MacKiddie, as well as local favourites Tide & Vine Oyster Company and Mario Pingue (Niagara Food Specialties).
Tide & Vine oysters
Pingue Porchetta on Ciabatta
In addition to the fantastic food , a highlight of the day was the appearance of Food Network Chef Lynn Crawford. Crawford was on hand to prepare Cheesecake in a Jar with Chardonnay & Vanilla-poached Strawberries.
Cheesecake in a Jar
Before the show I had the chance to chat with Chef Lynn, as she is affectionately known. What is apparent from the moment you meet this amiable chef is her down-to-earth, good-natured love of life and passion for great food.
Beef burgers with caramelized onions, bacon and smoked cheddar sauce
This was not Crawford’s first visit to the area and she recalls her early years visiting St. Catharines. “My grandfather was a shipbuilder and he lived in St. Catharines,” she shares. Crawford has also been guest chef at other events in recent years and admits that she has a fondness for the Niagara wine region. “Niagara is one of the most spectacular areas in Ontario,” says Crawford.
Chef Lynn with Le Clos Jordanne winemaker Sébastien Jacquey
During her cooking demo she made sure much of the crowd gathered participated in what quickly became a riotous, fun-filled show.
The event was also the kick-off to Inniskillin’s seasonal offering of weekend menus to enjoy on the piazza. Weekend menus will feature their Market Grill and Smokehouse treats. For future Inniskillin event listings click here.
If you were unfortunate enough to miss any of these great events don’t despair. There is another lineup of fantastic gatherings throughout the month of June. Here are just a few.
• The first Oysterfest Niagara will be held at Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers on Sunday, June 9. This much anticipated event will feature an oyster shucking contest and a cocktail competition. Food will be provided by local faves Tide & Vine Oyster Company, El Gastronomo Vagabundo, Avellas Wood-Fired Pizza and Hometown Ice Cream. There will be plenty of liquid refreshment from Angels Gate Winery, Silversmith Brewing Company and, of course, spirits by Dillon’s.
Entertainment by The Roxwells and LMT Connection will make this event one of those parties you won’t want to miss. I encourage you to get your tickets now and I’ll see you there!
• The Niagara New Vintage Festival is set for two weekends in June. Beginning June 15th the festival will include an great calendar of events culminating in the popular Tailgate Party. Please click here for the complete lineup.
• On Friday, June 21 Tide & Vine Oyster Company and El Gastronomo Vagabundo square off in what’s being billed as a Surf & Turf War. The event will be held at Hinterbrook Winery and promises some interesting twists on the classic meat and seafood combination. Click here for more information.