Recipes You Need to Know - Mortimer's Dilemma Cocktail

Kim Spence is the National Beverage Director for Moxie’s Grill & Bar. I met Kim at the James Beard Foundation dinner tasting preview and knew I needed to share his cocktail recipe with you.

Kim is a Sommelier, an accredited beer judge and studied at the Swedish Vodka Academy. He has worked all over the world, learning about the production of wine, scotch, beer, vodka and whiskey...and it shows in this thoughtful and eclectic cocktail created especially for this year’s James Beard Foundation dinner in New York.

Inspired by a Prohibition-era cocktail, ingredients in this cocktail will transport you into the speakeasies of the time. When sipping, imagine you are listening to jazz, sitting next to James Cagney and Jean Harlow;)

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Kim Spence.

Kim Spence.

Megan Munro is a lifestyle, food, beauty & travel writer.  Her passion for travel has taken her to 36 countries and she now calls Toronto home.  Follow Megan at @immfab  

6ix Questions - Joiy Wine's Chris Archer

When New Zealand's JOIY wine became available in Canada last summer, it was nearly impossible to track down this instant crowd favourite. It sold out immediately due to it’s amazing taste, creative packaging and innovative spirit.

JOIY is a modern spin on prosecco. It is a New Zealand Sparkling Riesling that you can sip on it’s own, or mix into cocktails. It is available now in perfectly Instagrammable cans for your summer patio nights and picnics.

I was able to connect with Chris Archer, Winemaker of JOIY and ask him 6ix questions from how he was drawn to winemaking to what foods he thinks pairs best with his wine.

1. What drew you to winemaking, I see you have been involved in the craft for 25 years?
I had a choice between cattle farming in the Hunter Valley in Australia for my family, but looking around after high school, at that time, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. But, I needed a job in between high school and the military. I had the opportunity to join the coal mines, work on the cattle farm, or be part of the wine industry in the Hunter Valley. So the decision was obvious. 
At that time though, wine was not popular, back in the late 80s, it was a beer market. But I was offered a job, and if they were happy with me, they’d put me through a degree. So I pretty much signed my life up for the next seven years. I realized I wasn’t interested in shining shoes and wearing a uniform, so the air force never got a lock in. That combined with a parental influence, my parents were always big into wine, drove me in this direction.
2. In Ontario we have a wine award specifically for the best label. I love having wine on the table at dinner that is both beautiful and a conversation starter. I think JOIY is both. What was the inspiration behind your label?
It would break most winemaker’s hearts to realize most wine purchasing decisions come from a label and not their craft. But it’s so true, and I never realized that until I started our own business. I was able to see all these different brands, wines and labels and, incredibly after 20-odd years in the industry, discovered the importance of getting all the factors right: the label, the taste, the technique. The very creation of JOIY was based on our realization on how many things you needed to get right. 
Getting to the story behind JOIY’s label, you know I went into this knowing all the $20 and under wines were all production-driven. Their back labels were all usually just words and these more affordable wines lacked soul, they lack heart. So JOIY is about attacking that market with a wine brand that doesn’t follow the traditional path, but has an absolute soul, creativity and interest involved in it, without using the standard marketing rules.
With the packaging, when we went live from the beginning we knew we wanted to be small format and ‘save’ Riesling. We wanted to make it more intellectual, and selective, and not high volume. So, we wanted to make a label representing how I saw Riesling tasting: it’s classical, it’s fun, it’s edgy, it’s adaptable, it’s aromatic, it comes from Germanic origins. And referring to our label, this is where we pulled in the Germanic visual elements. 
3. What do you want your branding to communicate about your wine?
We drink to escape, we drink to travel. If a winemaker has done their job right, if you drink a Burgundy, you go to Burgundy. 
JOIY is about escapism. That is why we truly drink wine. It’s to wash away the shitty days we’ve had. It’s to treat yourself. And this is the kind of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feel we wanted to bring to  our brand and box.
We wanted our brand to appeal to women, because there is no brand that appeals to women through sophistication. We didn’t want our brand to be ‘girly’. For me, the image of a powerful woman is the most appealing thing in the world - and for me, that is who we want to attract to drink our wine. And we want them to be involved in the creativity. We want to capture that feeling of our drinkers in the wine and in our brand.

4. What is your favourite food to pair with JOIY?
JOIY can handle quite a lot of flavours. Anything that works with citrus will work with long as it’s not in direct competition. I don’t like vinaigrettes with JOIY, but anything with a slight spice. It’s so usable. I love characters like fennel and licorice with JOIY. There are some dark notes within Riesling that pair nicely with those characteristics.
5. Can you think of any specifically Canadian food that you think would pair well with JOIY?
You know, I love poutine. All the variations of poutine I like. Especially the spicy ones, or ones with duck confit...that is my favourite food of Canada and it would go very well with JOIY. It’s the ultimate comfort food for me. 
6. When I think of wine, I think of it as a culmination of personal history. Is there any aspect to your process that reflects on your personal history?
JOIY is the culmination of my history in the wine industry. I’ve pretty much used tricks I’ve learned from Champagne, the Hunter Valley, New Zealand, white Bordeaux, and Spanish sherries. As a winemaker, there have been so many wines that have influenced me. I’ve spent my entire life drinking world wine, and I really love fusions. JOIY is an absolute fusion.  
I see wine in structure, I don’t worry about the flavours and aromatics, you can influence them to a degree, but at the end of the day, they are what you have and, as a winemaker, my role is to shape them. It's more three dimensional to me. There is a signature to my wine.
I hate clunky wines, so JOIY is a balance of your skeletal structure and a density and weight that really empowers the wine. We are the only ones who are as dedicated to Riesling. The whole JOIY brand and this whole endeavour is about saving it. The true strength of Riesling is it’s ageability and it’s texture as it ages. 
So pretty much every decision from the grape, through from harvest, right through the making of the wine is a representation of my knowledge and history.
Megan and Chris were able to be connected via phone, so the below interview captures the essence of their conversation. Edits were made to maintain readability. 

Chew Street's 6ix Questions series explores food and culture with food and wine industry changemakers from around the world.  

Megan Munro is a lifestyle, food, beauty & travel writer.  Her passion for travel has taken her to 36 countries and she now calls Toronto home.  Follow Megan at @immfab  

Sunday Morning Maple Apple Scones - Recipes from a Farmer

Anita DeJong is a force of nature. I met her and her husband Brian on my last getaway to Grey County at her family farm, DeJong Acres. After visiting their animals and tapping some maple syrup, we sat down to some coffee and Anita served us some scones she made for her family. I'm telling you, these were the absolute best scones I had ever tasted. Anita's scones aren't for sale at the farm store, they're a family recipe she makes for her. After a few bites, I asked her to share her secret recipe so I could share it with you. Read on for the recipe, my Q&A with Anita about community and the business of farming, and my picks for the must have items from her farm store this season.

DeJong Acres.

DeJong Acres.

I sat down to chat with Anit about farming as a lifestyle and profession, 

When did you start farming?
Brian and I started Farming in 2000 and moved to our current farm in 2011

What made you want to make a living as a farmer?
Its all Brian has ever wanted to do since he was a young lad with farmer neighbours. He loves working with the animals and the equipment. I enjoy the animals, biology was a favourite subject but I also appreciate the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. 

What is the biggest change you've encountered during your years farming?
Costs of land and capital items continue to climb. Making good use of resources increases in importance. Also consumers to seem to be increasingly appreciative of the opportunity to support producers and have responded well to our efforts to direct market and value add!

Is farming a business for you, or a lifestyle choice? Some combination of the both?
It has to be a business as this is what we do. There is nothing else to live off of or pay the bills. But it is our life. There is no 9-5 then rushing off to enjoy life somewhere outside of work. Our motto is to build a life you don’t need a vacation from. we love what we do and we do what we love.

What roles do the members of your family play in farming? 
Our strategy is for everyone to contribute in the way that they find inspiring and fulfilling. For Brian that’s the barn and field work. For me it's marketing, procurring and working on the value added through the Grill Wagon and Farm Store kitchen. Rayleen, who's 15 loves working with the animals especially the dogs and pigs, she also likes showing kids that visit around the farm. Nicole, who's 13, is a business girl. She’s great with math and very task oriented and is Mom’s right hand gal at events, markets and in the kitchen.

How has farming in Grey County changed over the years?
Farming is becoming a finer science. Producers need to find away to create profit either by focusing on production or by finding ways to value add. It was a crash in the lamb market that led us to investigate ways to minimize the risk that comes from producing a commodity. That led us to open our own farm store, attend farmers’ markets and add to our diversification. We are really glad we did and haven’t looked back!
How do you see your role in the community?
We think its important for the community to have access to premium farm fresh unprocessed meats at a reasonable price. We also are very service oriented and work hard to accommodate special requests. We enjoy knowing our customers and understanding what they are looking for. Food security is a priority to us and are pleased to be able to contribute meat to our local food bank annually.

When heading up to Grey County, stop in at DeJong Acres to visit the farm and farm store.  They've got some delicious farm fresh food this season.  Make sure you come home with a rack of lamb, berkshire pork bacon and sausage, maple butter tarts made with their own syrup and a fresh rotisserie chicken (available long weekends all summer!)

Cocktail Makeover - Coconut Vodka Soda

Life is all about balance. We like wine and spirits but know they can sabotage even the most flexible diet. Our cocktail makeover series will share healthy cocktail recipes inspired by classic drinks, remixed with ingredients that are good for your body. Next time you open your home bar, treat yourself and your guests to some guilt-free libations.

Vodka and soda is the drink of choice for many who are counting calories. We find this cocktail a flavourless drag and think every cocktail should be designed to evoke a sense of celebration while tempting your tastebuds. Inspired to satisfy the desires of the calorie conscious amongst us, we wanted to redesign this dull standard by adding some zesty flavour and excitement.

Using two new products to the Ontario market, we’ve created a ‘Vodka Soda’ alternative that will have you thinking you’re sitting on a deck chair in a five-star tropical paradise.

Pouring one ounce of the world’s first pure milk vodka (made entirely from the milk of English grass-grazed cows), over a glass filled with ice is the first step...did you want us to take a step back and tell you more about this vodka? It is intriguing and when we were first introduced to it, we had a lot of questions, too!

The idea for Black Cow Vodka came straight from the mind of a Dorset County dairy farmer. Rather than wasting the whey he separated from the curds when making his cheddar cheese (which is phenomenal, and currently only available in Canada at the St Lawrence market), he fermented it into a beer. He then distilled the beer, triple filtered it, and turned it into the smoothest vodka you will ever encounter.

Now, with an ounce of this smooth and well-rounded vodka in your glass, top up with the brand new Sparkling Pineapple Coconut Water from Canada’s own, Thirsty Buddha.  Thirsty Buddha released three flavoured sparkling coconut waters (pineapple, watermelon and coconut), they’ve taken their classic low sodium, low sugar, preservative-free coconut waters and added a perfect amount of pop and fizz.  

We know alcohol - a diuretic - dehydrates your body, but using coconut water instead of soda water will help reverse those effects.  Full of electrolytes and potassium the sparkling coconut water will help counteract dehydration with every sip. It will also have you thinking you have been whisked away to a tropical paradise due to the pineapple coconut water.


Megan is a lifestyle, food, beauty & travel writer.  Her passion for travel has taken her to 36 countries and she now calls Toronto home.  Follow Megan at @immfab  

The Feel Good Foodie Guide to Grey County

The long weekend is drawing near and what better a reason to explore the Ontario. As we celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, rather than travelling abroad, stay and surround yourself with what Canada has to offer…. like stunning Grey County, Ontario.

This region hugs the South West shores of Georgian Bay, starting with Collingwood and working it’s way North to Owen Sound and back down South to Minto. Also known as the Georgian Bay Triangle, this region is bursting with sips, sights and bites.

Just under two hours drive from downtown Toronto, Grey County makes the perfect Foodie Getaway.

So round up your local-loving friends and get ready for a deliciously scenic time. From maple syrup, to a cheese lover’s paradise to top knotch cider, read on for our list of Foodie-certified spots.

We suggest starting as far North as Grey County stretches, right at the mouth of Owen Sound. Here you will most likely need to top up with gas, and what better place to do so than the incredibly charming ‘Gas Barn & Dutch Store’.

This Dutch-owned gas station is packed with treats, straight from Holland - don’t miss out on stocking up on speculaas and stroopwaffels.

Once you’ve topped up on Dutch treats, keep heading North to DeJong Acres . This sweet family-run farm is a full agri-experience and maple syrup farm! 

You can see all of their animals, from lambs to pigs and explore their syrup farm. Plus, Anita DeJong hands-down makes the best scones I have ever eaten in my life...pick some up at their store on your way out.

Owen Sound is fast becoming a hub for locally-sourced, innovative bites. Casero Kitchen Table and their beachside Casero Taco Bus  is leading the way with their FeastON designation as they create an innovative and authentic Mexican menu using ingredients produced in and around Owen Sound. 

Their taco menu immediately had me at ‘hello’. So many amazing options from lamb tacos, using DeJong Acres Lamb, to seasonal fish tacos, using white fish from Wiarton. Their house-smoked beet taco is a stand-out that I highly recommend trying.

Grey Country has two wineries, four cideries and six micro-breweries. The Thornbury Village Craft Cidery has opened a tasting room offering the ability to sip on ciders not available anywhere else, like their perfectly subtle and soft honey cider. Dubbed the Cider House, this beautiful new loft space offers outdoor seating and lots of indoor seats to settle in and taste away.

Wine more your style? Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery in Annan, Ontario will first take your breath away with their phenomenal view over Georgian Bay and then tempt your tastebuds with their outstanding selection of wine. 

Their L’Acadie Blanc was my favourite. A highly aromatic white that is crisp and vibrant, what is interesting about this grape was developed at the Vineland Research Station and is unique to this area.

Remember the TV show, ‘Cheers’...where everybody knew your name? Thornbury has a similar place...except swap out the beer for cheese! The Cheese Gallery  is possibly the friendliest, coziest place I have been to that serves up the finest selection of local and international cheeses. Cozy up at the ‘bar’ and order a cheese tasting board. You will never want to leave.

While in Thornbury, stop in for live music, deliciously local food and a fantastic wine list at the Bruce Wine Bar. Opening in 2011, this restaurant uses 12 local farmers and produce from Chef Shaun Edmonstone's own garden to create the unique dishes on their seasonal menu. 

With a passion for sustainability and fresh, local ingredients, Chef Shaun Edmonstone’s eclectic and friendly restaurant is both FeastON and OceanWise designated.

And finally, a restaurant you simply can not miss on your Grey County adventure - The Flying Chestnut Kitchen in quaint Eugenia. Chef Shaun Adler is possibly the busiest Chef in the business with the Pow Wow Cafe in Toronto and many others. His take on local cuisine had me wanting to go back again the next day. Innovative without being too far out there, this restaurant creates memorable dishes that are just plain delicious.

Image via: Flying Chestnut Kitchen

Image via: Flying Chestnut Kitchen

Don't leave Grey County without picking up their local cookbook - "Come to Our Table".  You can create some of the region’s tastiest recipes with this beautiful book.  All the recipes are easy to follow and were contributed by  Grey County chefs, restauranteurs, farmers, B&B owners and food professionals.  You can eat well knowing that 10% of book sales fund Grey County breakfast clubs, school gardens, and other food programs for children.  

We hope this Foodie Getaway Guide to Grey County has been a deliciously local thought starter and would love to hear about your favourite must-eats from this area!

Megan is a lifestyle, food, beauty & travel writer.  Her passion for travel has taken her to 36 countries and she now calls Toronto home.  Follow Megan at @immfab