By Mike Lowe
What could be called the perfect partnership of food and wine has just taken place at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This Victoria Day weekend the winery kicked off patio season by teaming up with one of Niagara’s most esteemed chefs, Stephen Treadwell.
Given Southbrook’s certification as a true organic and bio-dynamic winery, their decision to choose Treadwell with his “Farm to Table” philosophy, the match creates a consummate marriage of wine and food.
Until Thanksgiving weekend the winery will be featuring a light menu consisting of pizzas, salads and desserts to pair with their wonderful wines served under the canopied patio amidst the vines. A blackboard will display a constantly changing menu of specialty pizzas showcasing fresh, local ingredients and herbs grown in wine barrels lining the perimeter of the patio.
Stephen Treadwell says “We’ll offer pizzas made with good ingredients and that represent great value.”
Guests can watch their pizza being assembled and then placed in the gas-fired, stone bed pizza oven (also located on the patio) where
they are flash-baked at 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The oven ensures a crisp crust with just the right amount of char to add a smoky character to the pizza.
Samples tasted on the weekend included a beautifully simple combination of with sweet roasted red peppers, earthy mushrooms, slightly salty salami and gooey, creamy mozzarella cheese ($14). A thin smear of sweet, zesty tomato sauce serves as the glue that ties the flavours together in glorious harmony.
Another combines tender slices of fingerling potatoes, just a hint of fresh pine-scented rosemary, soft, tangy goat cheese and paper-thin, translucent slices of lonza (cured pork loin), and peppery baby arugula. This pie ($16) was one of my favourites. My past experience with potato pizzas has been, well, less than exciting.
This one uses potato slices cooked to perfection that are thick enough to add substance and the saltiness of the lonza balances everything to a tee. This pie, without the addition of lonza does double duty as a vegetarian option.
The menu will also include a garden fresh salad of greens, supplied by Harvest 365, paired with Kozlik’s mustard seed vinaigrette and duck fat fried croutons for $8. One of the featured desserts ($8) will be a light version of English trifle using chiffon cake, lemon curd and crumbled meringue. The dessert offering will change to include fresh, seasonal Niagara fruits when available.
James Treadwell points out that although the food philosophy follows the farm-to-table mantra the bistro “is not Treadwell’s.” “We want it to be a place for locals to enjoy a pizza and a nice glass of wine” says Treadwell. Wines by the glass are available for just $6.
The bistro is open Thursday to Monday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
RATING (out of 5): 4 stars
581 Niagara Stone Road, RR4
905- 641- 2548
Mike’s Wine Pick of the Week:
Fumoso Blanco 2009 (VQA- Niagara Peninsula)
As the name implies, this classy sauv blanc is done in a “fume” style with seven months of oak aging. The result is a richly flavoured wine with plenty of ripe peach/pear aromas and flavours. Lush and round on the palate with bright acidity to balance the intense fruit.
Colaneri Estate Winery
348 Concession 6 Road