Reading: [FROM PRINT] – Netflix & Swill

[FROM PRINT] – Netflix & Swill

WHAT TO DRINK WHILE GETTING YOUR FILL OF FOOD TV

For less than the cost of a sandwich in Toronto, a Netflix streaming plan grants you immediate access to a veritable smorgasbord of high-quality food television. But this feast for your eyes can inspire an unquenchable thirst. Rather than drinking whatever leftover beer is retired to the back of your fridge, pay homage to your favourite chef and pair your beverage with each episode. Couch potato Cicerone certification guaranteed.

SHOW: ‘THE MIND OF A CHEF’ SEASON 1 EPISODE 8, GLUTTONY (23 MINS)

The first season of ‘The Mind of a Chef’ is essentially the pages of the first year of Lucky Peach magazine brought to fully-flavoured life. And just like the magazine, it’s a full-on trip into the acerbic and wacky mind of one of the world’s most famous chefs, David Chang of Momofuku. ‘Gluttony’ is by far the most gut-busting episode of an awesome series.

We first join Chang’s mayhem at Buffalo Trace Distillery for a taste of cult brand bourbon Pappy Van Winkle with legendary Charleston chef Sean Brock. Then off to the kitchen where the duo serve up the classic ‘Hot Brown Sandwich’ three ways. The denouement? A trip to Montreal’s Joe Beef where Chang tries the restaurant’s decadent version of a ‘Double Down’. 2 Truly heart-stopping television. If you’re a fan of overindulgence you might want to watch this one twice, although your doctor might not recommend it. 

1 Open-faced sandwich, layered with turkey and bacon, smothered in Mornay sauce.

2 Two lobes of foie gras enveloping bacon, cheddar cheese, chicken-skin mayonnaise, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

DRINK: NICKEL BROOK OLD KENTUCKY BASTARD OR DIEU DU CIEL! BOURBON BARREL AGED PÉCHÉ MORTEL

Taking stout and aging it in bourbon barrels is the liquid equivalent of the dishes appearing in ‘Gluttony’- potent and best enjoyed in moderation. Crack open an Old Kentucky Bastard, Nickel Brook’s Bolshevik Imperial Stout kicked up a notch. Expect rich chocolate, coffee and dark fruit flavours of stout married together with the vanilla, oak and warming alcohol from bourbon barrels.

Or if you’re interested in the Pappy Van Winkle of stouts, try wrapping your fingers around a bottle of Dieu du Ciel! bourbon barrel aged Péché Mortel. Take a deep, dark espresso coffee stout, considered one of the best in the world, and age it in bourbon barrels for two years. Damn!

SHOW: ‘CHEF’S TABLE’ SEASON 1 EPISODE 4, NIKI NAKAYAMA (42 MINS)

‘Chef’s Table’ scraps the notion of food porn, infusing the series with the emotion necessary to create a stunning food love story. Not surprising when you realize it is produced for Netflix by the team behind one of the best food documentaries ever, ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Chef’s Table opens with Nakayama creating an intricate uni dish, and that’s just for starters.

A recurring theme in the episode is kuyashii, a Japanese word that describes the feeling when someone puts you down and you need to prove them wrong. Nakayama’s perseverance has landed the chef in the spotlight, with her traditional ‘Kaiseki’ 3 style restaurant, n/naka; it is one of the most coveted reservations in Los Angeles.

DRINK: IZUMI SAKE FROM THE ONTARIO SPRING WATER SAKE COMPANY

One of the world’s most misunderstood and underappreciated alcohol is Sake. Luckily Toronto’s Distillery district boasts one of Canada’s only Sake distilleries. Treat yourself to a tour of the facilities and dispel the many myths shrouding Sake. Then grab a seat on your couch and sip on your stash. To match the artistry of Nakayama’s dishes, try making a cocktail using Sake as the base.

3 Traditional multi-course Japanese dinners.

SHOW: ‘THE MIND OF A CHEF’ SEASON 3 EPISODE 4, LOUISVILLE (23 MINS)

Each season of ‘The Mind of a Chef’ follows the culinary escapades of chefs combining food influences and favourite dishes, along with a dash of personal history. In the third season we hang out with former Top Chef contestant and fan-favourite Edward Lee. Lee is a Brooklyn-born chef of Korean descent who now lives in Louisville and helms one of the city’s best restaurants, Magnolia. We watch Lee transform from a graffiti-influenced first-wave hipster chef slinging bulgogi BBQ in the nineties to a family man who embraces the rich tradition and pageantry of Louisville cookery. What makes it essential viewing? Lee is a laid-back character who is always on the hunt to find a way to make a dish better. You could arguably rename this the ‘Fried Chicken’ episode, as we watch Lee take on the most sacred of Southern dishes. 

DRINK: BLANTON’S ORIGINAL BOURBON

There is one thing and one thing only to drink while watching a Louisville episode; top-shelf Bourbon. Blanton’s Original Bourbon was the first ultra-premium Kentucky Whiskey and is still a mandatory bottle for any liquor connoisseur’s cabinet. It’s vanilla sweetness and caramel oakiness creates the perfect foundation for Louisville’s signature drink, the Mint Julep. The bottle itself is a work of art; its horse and jockey adorned stopper cap is always best in show.  If you want to forgo tradition to embrace Lee’s Korean roots, you can make a boozy Southern Iced Tea using Ginseng Tea and Green Plum Syrup, then just top with a couple of ounces of Blanton’s to taste.

SHOW: ‘COOKED’ SEASON 1 EPISODE 4, EARTH (52 MINS)

‘Cooked’ plays out like a big budget PBS educational show exploring how we transform nature into food using the four elements – fire, water, air, and earth. ‘Earth’ centres around fermentation, also known as the magical metabolic process that gifts us cheese, chocolate, beer, and kimchi.

Author Michael Pollan makes a great host and the segment with him learning to make cheese with the ‘Cheese Nun’, encapsulates everything that is excellent about this series. His final words on the subject of food are also a great inspiration to motivate you to spend more time in the kitchen, even if you are not a superstar chef.

DRINK: WEST COAST STYLE PALE ALE

Even though Pollan himself seems a bit of a teetotaler, he and his son home brew a beer in this episode that looks pretty tasty. Based in Berkeley it seems only logical to enjoy some suds from Northern California – ground zero for a style of beer characterized by the presence of hops. Two of the best examples available currently at the LCBO – Sierra Nevada’s classic Pale Ale or an icecold Lagunitas. If you’re looking to stay local a few bombers of Rainhard Brewing Lazy Bones IPA (aptly named for Netflix binging) will do the trick. It was the well-deserved Gold Medal winner at this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards. In a nice piece of synchronicity, brewer Jordan Rainhard started as a home brewer making beers in his garage much like Pollan does in this episode. 

SHOW: ‘CHEF’S TABLE’ SEASON 2 EPISODE 3, DOMINIQUE CRENN (46 MINS)

Originally from France, rising talent Dominique Crenn has cooked all over the world culminating in a tutelage under San Francisco luminary Jeremiah Tower (Chez Panisse). She remained in the City by the Bay, where she opened one of the city’s best restaurants, Atelier Crenn. There is just as much artistic soul in Crenn’s food as there is technique; an uncommon occurence to have both qualities appear equally on a plate. Take a quick scan through her Instagram account and you can see all of Crenn’s rare talent on display. She is also the first female chef to receive two Michelin stars in the US for Atelier Crenn. Crenn kicks everyone’s ass in the kitchen.

DRINK: TRIMBACH RIESLING

Crenn is French, stylish, and elegant so it goes without saying this episode is paired with Riesling from the French region of Alsace.

Trimbach’s wine was recently rated one of the top 50 wines in the world by Wine Spectator magazine. An elegant Riesling that bursts aromatically with sweet peaches and limestone minerality. Drink two bottles and you might be forever lost in Netflix land.