Le Riopelle – Artist or Cheese?

Posted in Cheese,Food by Bruno Saturday March 31, 2012

The cheese, actually. But…

“Le Riopelle de l’Isle” is a triple cream cheese from Quebec. More specifically, from l’Isle-aux-Grues, which is part of an archipelago of islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence river east of Quebec somewhere between the l’Île d’Orléans and l’Île-aux-Coudre.
It is an artisinal cheese made by the dairy cooperative “La fromagerie de l’île-aux-Grues”.

The Riopelle de l’Isle is a “blooming rind” cheese with a thin downy white mould rind. The “melt-in-your-mouth” center is creamy and smooth, reminiscent of rustic triple cream cheeses, with a salty and slightly acidic taste. It delivers delicious flavour and seductive texture, tasting of fresh milk and cream, a hint of soft butter and faint notes of mushroom. This cheese is positively “Zen Gourmand Approved”.

This cheese does borrow its name from the famous Canadian abstract impressionist painter Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923 – 2002) who was also the island’s most famous resident.
Just months before his death, the artist agreed to lend his name to the cheese and to allow the use of one of his masterpieces on its label stipulating that one dollar from every wheel sold is donated to an education fund for the island’s youth.

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I love cheese…

Posted in Books,Cheese,Food by Bruno Thursday March 15, 2012

Anyone who knows me also knows I love cheese. Soft ones, hard ones, mouldy ones, stinky ones, blue veined ones… I love them all.
We don’t have any really great cheese shops where I live so it usually means a treck to Downtown Toronto where we have several excellent shops.
The one I frequent most, simply as a matter of convenience, not as an endorsement, is located in the St. Lawrence Market.
Extensive selection, reasonable prices and good service.
Now, I’m not a guru on cheese and will admit I often have to look up a cheese I’m not familiar with. This means I have to reach for the "World Encyclopedia of Cheese", prominently featured on of my bookshelfs.
This is a fantastic book and has a ton of information on pretty much any cheese ever made anywhere in the world. It’s beatifully illustrated and even has some decent recipes along with some essential chapters on general cheese making, cheese types and how they are made, wine and cheese pairing considerations and how to assemble the perfect cheeseboard.
This is definitely a "Zen Gourmand Approved" book any cheeselover should have on the bookshelf.

The World Encyclopedia of Cheese

The World Encyclopedia of Cheese An indispensible, fully ilustrated reference to cheeses of the world, combined with a fabulous collection of over 100 recipes.

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Champagne Orange Cranberry Biscotti

Posted in Recipes by Bruno Friday December 16, 2011

Champagne Orange Cranberry BiscottiMy entire production of Biscotti for the coming Chrismas season has sold out. You can still get your hands on some of them. All you have to do is follow this easy recipe and make them yourself ;-).
This recipe can be made into a traditional, hard biscotti or if served with a sparkling wine, as a soft biscotti.
Champagne is used as the main wet ingredient and with its fine aromas and effervescence produced a dough of subtle delicacy.

What you need:

4 cups (1L) all-purpouse flour
2 tsp (10ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2ml) salt
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup (250ml) of slivered almonds, lightly toasted (optional)
3 large eggs (4 if not using champagne)
1 1/3 cups (275ml) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil (1/2 if not using champagne)
1/2 cup (125ml)of champagne
2 tbsp (30ml) orange juice
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract (almond)
1 cup (250ml) dried cranberries


  • Preheat oven to 325F (160C)
  • Line large baking sheet with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and almonds (if using).
  • In a medium bowl beat eggs until fluffy and light in colour
    Beat in the sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla.
    Stir in champagne.
  • Add to flour mixture and stir until nearly absorbed
  • Add cranberries and stir until all is well combined
  • With moist hands, divide dough in half and form into two loafes about 15 in (38cm) long, about 4 in (10 cm) wide and about 3/4 in (2cm) high, keeping the loafs 2 in (5cm) apart.
    Keep moistening your hands as needed. Smooth the
    loafs into desired shape.
  • Bake the loafs for about 35 minutes or until cracks start to appear and the top of the loafes take on a golden colour.
  • Remove the loafes and slide the onto a cutting board.
  • Cut the loafes diagonally into 1/2 in (1.25cm) thick slices, keeping the knife clean with a damp cloth as it becomes sticky.

For soft biscotti:

  • Place the slices on their sides on a cookie sheet and toast lightly on both sides under the broiler.
  • Cool on the baking sheet placed on a rack.

For hard biscotti:

  • Stand the slices upright on a baking sheet 1/4 – 1/2 in (1cm) appart.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 300F (150C) and bake for an sdditional 30 to 35 minutes or until the biscotti are dry.
  • Cool on the baking sheet placed on a rack.


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Flavours of Italy – Calgary

Posted in General Content by Bruno Tuesday November 16, 2010

I’m attending the “Flavours of Italy” trade tasting in Calgary today.
My tasting theme will be “The Underdogs of Italy” since the event promises to showcase a number of wines made from the lesser known native or indigenous (autoctone) varietals.
It promises to be fun and since Calgary got hit with cold weather and snow, what better place to be :)
The event is held at the Hotel Arts and as coincidence would have it, this is where I’m staying.
Look for some tasting notes in my next post.

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The Flavours of Italy – Calgary

Posted in Uncategorized by Bruno Tuesday November 16, 2010

I’m attending the “Flavours of Italy” trade tasting in Calgary today.
My tasting theme will be “The Underdogs of Italy” since the event promises to showcase a number of wines made from the lesser known native or indigenous (autoctone) varietals.
It promises to be fun and since Calgary got hit with cold weather and snow, what better place to be :)
The event is held at the Hotel Arts and as coincidence would have it, this is where I’m staying.
Look for some tasting notes in my next post.

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Wine – The only question that matters

Posted in Uncategorized by Bruno Friday October 15, 2010

In an interview with the French publication “Le Figaro”, legendary 84 year old French chef Paul Bocuse (owner of luxury restaurant l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near Lyon) made a couple of interesting comments that I wholeheartedly agree with.

When asked

“Are there things which irritate you when in a restaurant?”

Bocuse answers

“Yes. When I order a chicken, I do not need to hear about the grandfather of the chicken from the Maître d’. The same goes for the sommeliers. The only worthwhile question is: «Is it good?», or «Did you enjoyed drinking it?». The rest, poof. I like identifiable plates. If it needs a lengthy explanation, it does not interest me.”

At the end of the day, you liked the wine or you didn’t. It’s really just that simple.

How do you feel about it?

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Bordeaux under $30 – 2008 Mouton Caudet Blanc

Posted in Tasting Notes,Wine by Bruno Monday October 4, 2010

Continuing on my post on “Bordeaux under $30″, here is the second one in a series of fine values I discovered.

2008 Mouton Caudet Blanc

2008 Mouton Caudet Blanc

This Bordeaux blend is 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadet.

Exhibiting bright pale lemon colour with glints of green and gold highlights. The nose is medium-plus in intensity
and has a rich variety of tropical florals and fruit, honey suckle and citrus. The palate is dry, smooth and expressive of ripe fruit, citrus and mango. It finishes with good length and refreshing tartness.

At $16.95 this is a lovely wine and ideal as an apperitive or sipper as well as with Seafood in a light cream sauce or poached white fish.

Alc. by Vol.: 11.5%

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wine Club Update and schedule

Posted in Announcements,Events,News,Wine Club by Bruno Thursday December 17, 2009

January 23, 2010 marks the beginning of a new year of monthly wine tastings for the Zen Gourmand’s Wine Club. The season promises to be exciting with a lineup of themes to appeal to every palate, budget and interest.

The coming season also brings a few changes to this informal wine club.

  • Regular monthly tastings, allowing you to plan and schedule well ahead of time.
  • Membership. It saves you money, brings privileges and you help support a local charity.
  • More variety. Not just wine tastings any more but also fortifieds and spirits once in a while as well as evenings of food pairings.
  • Special seminars letting you gain indepth knowledge into the world of wine.


  • Saturday, January 23: Cozy Winter Wine Tasting REGISTER HERE
  • Saturday, February 20: TBD
  • Saturday, March 20: TBD


  • $98/annum, a $200 value
  • $5 of every membership goes towards the support of Durham Region’s St. Vincent’s Kitchen. Oshawa.
  • Tastings and events at cost
  • Includes a $25 Gift Certificate at Julie Moore Spa, Whitby.
  • Includes a monthly Club News Letter
  • Includes a monthly personalized food and wine paring consultation.
  • Additional special privileges as they become available.

Non Members:

  • $15 + Cost of tasting/event


  • South Whitby. Specific venue depends on the event and the number of people attending. Announced two weeks prior to event





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Bordeaux under $30 – 2008 Premius Sauvignon Blanc

Posted in Tasting Notes,Wine by Bruno Tuesday November 3, 2009

Continuing on my post on “Bordeaux under $30″, here is the first one in a series of fine values I discovered.

2008 Premius Sauvignon Blanc

2008 Premius Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc, sourced from a “young” appellation known as Vin de Pays du

Comté Tolosan, has a brilliant pale yellow color with hints of green. This is an expressive and fruity wine offering citrus (lemon, grapefruit), honey, peach, orchard blossoms and faint touches of grassy notes. Dry with medium-plus acidity, there is a rich and refreshing mouthfeel with aromatic echoes of peach and citrus finishing with medium length and refreshing acidity.

At $12.95 this represents pretty good value.

Alc. by Vol.: 12%

Rating: 3.5/5

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Bordeaux under $30

Posted in Events,Wine by Bruno Friday October 30, 2009

That was the theme of the recent “Bordeaux Under One Roof” road show by the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) held in Toronto Oct. 28, 2009.

This trade event intended to provide a taste of the diversity and affordability of Bordeaux wines under $30.

I attended this tasting for that very reason, i.e. in order to learn more about the wines of Bordeaux in that price category. After all, not many of us are blessed with deep enough pockets to drink Latour, Lafite or Pétrus with any degree of regularity or even just on any rare special occasion.

So what did I learn?

Well, I learned that among the 40 some odd wines showcased, there were more similarities than there were differences, both in whites and in reds. Overall, these are wines that do show a certain typicity, be it Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blends from the generic Bordeaux appellation to those of the Graves and Médoc etc. or the Merlot dominated ones from Côtes de Bourg, St.Emilion and Pomerol and so on. Most of these wines were relatively young, with a preponderance of ’05 and ’06 vintages pretty even split, a few ’07 and fewer still of ’08 vintage reds while the very limited number of whites was all ’08 but one (’09). Not surprisingly, I also had no “epiphanies”, with other words, there were no truly outstanding examples of Bordeaux in the lot. Many of them displayed prominent herbaceous notes, the ’05s more fruit forward and certainly most still had tannins ranging from noticeable to unripe to just plain raunchy. There were however a few decent values of good quality and to my surprise, there were a couple of pretty whites that would actually make me go buy some of them. I will provide my tasting notes on some of these over the next couple of posts.

The bottom line on Bordeaux under $30:
Reds – the better ones are closer to the $30 mark, most need food, none are overly complex.
Whites – some surprisingly pleasant ones.

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