Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Treadwell Farm-to-Table Cuisine

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2011 2027 Cellars Fox Croft Vineyard Riesling | VQA Twenty Mile Bench

So for Canada's Day long weekend, I woke up the Sunday thinking I was going to take it easy - work out a bit, drink some wine, go out with some friends. Relax and laze.

That was not to be.

I got a call from my mother that she wanted to go out for dinner. In Niagara. A friend of mine was actually out there for the day, but still . . . there's a saying about keeping a rainy day fund for unexpected expenses right? Well, what happens when you log into your chequing account and immediately start laughing at your balance (and not in a maniacal I'm fucking rich!!!! kinda way)? So sad. I was reminded recently, indirectly of course, that I was way, way, wayyyy down the totem pole in terms of, well, the number of zeroes in the bank. Ha ha, it's funny, but I make enough to buy wine, steak, and shellfish and really, that's all I ever wanted. Who cares about getting my own place, it's all about the drink. I have no money, but hey, at least I'm not boring, o snap!

So we drove out for St. Catharines at 5 pm, making it in good time for our reservation at Treadwell. What a beautiful location, with a bright, airy patio right by a man-made lake. The weather was perfect, warm but breezy, and the sun began setting just as we took our seats. This was my first time eating here, and after tasting through a few things, I'm a believer. The farm to table movement is always a great thing for local restaurants to be embracing, but few do it well. There's a huge difference between simply being idealistic and only putting locally grown meats and produce on the menu, and actually elevating it all into something special. The thing I took most from this meal was this spirit of freshness, of being in the season. Treadwell's food manages to remain true to the very high quality ingredients, and is vibrant, fresh, and beautifully executed. Flip the menu to see all the farms that Treadwell sources their ingredients from.

Only a few photos, because it's a bit uncouth snapping pics before you touch the food. We started with the charcuterie, with a bit of salad. The tempura-style zucchini blossoms were an absolute triumph. Not in the true tempura style - the batter is a bit too heavy, but the dish was a revelation. So fresh, the blossoms staying firm and textural. I've never had it with the tiny zucchinis still attached, but they were so tender, so perfectly seasoned. A beauty of a dish. The Lake Huron whitefish was nicely done, some delicious butter poached lobster incorporated in the sauce. The Lake Erie pickerel, great flavour and texture, married with a ham broth with lots of sweetness and savoury aroma. Of all the dishes, maybe a little less impressed with the duck breast. Slightly tough - the gaminess of the meat comes through, but the foie gras jus is a bit overwhelming for the duck. But damn, the wild mushrooms were a dream come true, sautéed quickly, retaining all the lovely earthy flavours and texture. And of course, the vegetables in the dishes (carrots, turnips, chives, potatoes) were incredibly fresh and delicious. For dessert, a winner of a crème brûlée and raspberry sorbet; balance and finesse.

The wine list here is very well done, very comprehensive (in Niagara wines), and very well-priced. We drank a bottle of 2027 Cellars riesling, a fairly new virtual winery which produces wine out of Featherstone Estate Winery, no slouch themselves. The Fox Croft vineyard is a warmer site in the lower part of the Vineland Double Bench, located in Twenty Mile Bench. The winery was begun in 2007, but the name comes from the owner's (Kevin Panagapka) vineyard registry number. Bottled under screwcap, it's fresh and lively (of course, it's a baby wine), with lots of bright citrus and minerality that we love out of the Escarpment. Maybe a bit leaner, less extracted than other Niagara rieslings (such as Charles Baker or Thirty Bench), but this is a style that will age in a good way for the medium term.

What a great dinner. We left for the Falls to see the fireworks in the best mood. It's food that energizes you instead of makes you want to pass out, that underlines why Niagara is such a special, special place. We will definitely be back, hungry for more.

DF

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