Everybody’s Mad Men crazy this week, and so are we, even when it comes to wine. It probably wasn’t intentional but this past Tuesday’s class at the iYellow Wine School had striking parallels to two of Mad Men’s leading ladies. With a focus on full-figured reds and graceful whites, it’s hard not to offer up comparisons to the characters of Joan and Betty.
Led by sommelier Taylor Thompson, enthusiastic wine students filled the lovely back patio at cafe Taste to try a variety of Ontario wines that were either graceful or full-figured.
The cool and graceful whites included a Trius Brut from Hillebrand Estates Winery, a chardonnay from Flatrock Cellars and a barrel fermented chardonnay from Henry of Pelham. Thompson explained the different processes used for the two chardonnays, explaining how the barrel fermentation created an oaky flavour with notes of honey and a creaminess in the second wine compared to the minerality and buttery flavour of the first.
Reds can be graceful too, though, and a pair of Pinot Noirs from Cave Spring Cellars and Lailey Vineyard Winery were the next to be sampled. The Cave Spring pinot noir was bright and full of strawberry notes, very light in colour whereas the Lailey pinot was darker, with a nose of over-ripe fruit, and an earthy acidity. But on Mad Men, graceful Betty is known for her cold demeanour and to my palate, pinot noir tends to leave me a bit cold as well.
1330 Queen Street West
Deserved or not, Parkdale has a reputation for being a bit dirty and gritty, less known as a fine wine kind of place than Fine Old Canadian Sherry. Wine guy Jeremy Day has set out to change that and for the past year or so has been running a warm and welcoming little wine bar that has not just made Parkdale a destination for good wine, but has embraced the community in the process.
I spoke with Day via email, and while I don’t normally like running straight up Q&A articles, his answers were so well thought-out and eloquent that it seemed only fair to run his replies in full.
People don’t really think of Parkdale as being a foodie paradise. And yes, if you’re looking for high-end health food items, organic meat or artisanal bread or cheese, you’d be mostly out of luck. But as one of the most multi-cultural neighbours in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, we’ve got a lot of variety working in our favour.
Most folks tend to think of the ‘Dale as a low-end neighbourhood full of nothing but greasy spoons and burger joints. For sure, we’ve got two of the best. The Gate (1206 King Street West) sits at the corner of King and Dufferin and offers up filling breakfast, burgers and some damn fine fish and chips. Peggy, the waitress who’s been working the tables here since the late 60s when she came to Toronto to be a go-go dancer, tells regulars to help themselves to coffee. Further west along Queen, The Skyline (1402 Queen Street West) is about as retro as you can get in terms of diners, with that famous neon sign out front, and fast and efficient service inside from the flurry of activity that is Doris, once voted “best waitress in Toronto”. Other places that serve up a mean burger or all-day breakfast includes Harry’s Burgers (160 Springhurst Avenue) and Stavros (1530 Queen Street West).