Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ottawa Wine and Food Show '08


I paid a visit to the newly re-vamped Ottawa Wine and Food Show this weekend, and it was like a zoo in there! There were tons of people, and the line up to the wine and food booths were long. One of the additions to the show this year was an organized series of kitchen demos that featured both local and international chefs. That was really the main part of the show that I was looking forward to.

Duck confit seemed to be the it-thing on Saturday. I attended two kitchen demos and both featured duck confit. The first kitchen demo was with California's chef Constantinos "Taki" Laliotitis from Jackson Family Wines in Sonoma county. He taught us how to make a duck confit pasta topped with a fig sauce.

The second demo was with Ottawa's own Luxe Bistro executive chef, Duane Keats. A very genuine speaker, Duane gave great instructions on how to make braised short ribs, and duck confit.

The food from the demos were DELISH, and on top of that, I learned a few great tips on cooking.

The show itself was not bad. There were plenty of wine labels and local restaurants that were ready and eager to serve. However, be prepared to fight your way to the booths, whether it be food, wine, or cocktails. I was rubbing elbows with people I really didn't care to rub elbows with, and the traffic was very slow moving. If that is something that would bother you, a tip for next year would be to arrive early to avoid the evening crowd.

The kitchen demos were a great addition this year. It was a real treat for foodies like me. Here are some tips that I learned:

- Good wine and food pairing enhances the taste of both the food and the wine
- Duck fat compared to other fats is a lot clearer and doesn't burn very easily
- If stored correctly, duck fat can be re-used for up to 7 months
- For braised short ribs, make sure to sear the ribs well to produce a more tender and better tasting meat
- Great thing about braising is that you cannot overcook the meat
- A good test to see whether or not you are done braising: slip a large knife in and out of the meat. If there is no resistance, it is done.