A Toast To The End Of Winter

By / Food / April 8th, 2015 / 2

Yes I love to ski, much to the annoyance of my friends when I exclaim how excited I am that it will snow on the weekend, but this year, it was hard for me to love winter as temperatures dipped below a comfortable ski zone. But while I am beginning to think fresh vegetables and the bright colours of spring, in one last nod to winter I must acknowledge that I am sad to say adieu to favoured winter flavours that warm me from the inside out. Yes those comfort foods.

A hot bowl of greens and beans soup at La Hacienda on the way home from the ski hill or Charlie Pillitteri’s rice noodle lasagna (delicious and gluten free) with his Mom’s homemade canned tomatoes from last year’s harvest, are just two of the many worth mentioning. I especially look forward every year to our Christmas lunch at the office when Carol LePage and vineyard manager Ron Bertrand, a French man through and through, have a ‘polite’ duel with their Tourtière, a wonderful meat pie that originated in Quebec served traditionally with, of all things, ketchup!

The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a Tourtière and while there is no one correct filling, in coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, while pork, beef, rabbit and game are often included inland. It’s not only a traditional part of a Quebec Christmas and New Year’s réveillon, the long dinners served the night before, but is also served throughout the year by French-Canadian families as well as many living in New England.

I must admit I was secretly pleased this year to find some of my favourite comfort foods at the Cuvée wine gala which for me somehow signifies spring is around the corner. I encountered this great wine and food pairing from Ross Midgley, new chef at Ravine Vineyards, affectionately known as ‘Rossco’. He was good enough to share his recipe for all of us to have one last toast to winter!

Rossco’s Tourtiére

2 lbs | Lean ground beef
1 lb | Ground pork
2 large onions | chopped
2 medium potatoes | peeled & medium dice
¾ cup | Water
¼ cup | Real maple syrup
2 tsp. | Allspice, ground
2 tsp. | Dried thyme
1 ½ cups | Oats
Pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
Salt & pepper

1. Combine pork and beef in a large, hot skillet and cook together with the diced onion.
2. Add diced potatoes, water, syrup, orange zest and dried spices to skillet. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid burning.
3. Add oats, salt and pepper and cook for another 10 minutes.
4. Allow mixture to cool. Line a 9-inch non-baked pastry crust with the filling and place a crust on top to seal the pie. Slice the top crust to allow the pie to vent.
5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
6. Allow Tourtiére to cool slightly before serving.
7. Slice & serve with 2012 Ravine Vineyard Merlot


Andrea Kaiser grew up in Niagara, and is no stranger to the Ontario wine industry. You could say she was born into a life of food and wine and now shares this passion for Niagara Flavours through her writing, teaching and work. Well, we will call it work for lack of a better word.

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