Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nothing Sooths a Midnight Craving Like Nutella

Fig.1. Eat the top and drink the bottom.

I love getting surprises, especially when it has to do with food, well, in this case a drink.
Many a cold coffee has been consumed this summer, (and not one from Tim Hortons I’m proud to say.)  Vietnamese coffee is my all-time favorite, with a proper cold espresso a close second, but, as I sat thirsty, hot and sluggish one day last week at La Cornetteria craving something cold and laced with caffeine, a friend asked whether I had ever sampled La Cornetteria’s edible espresso. 
“Never heard of it” I said sleepy, “bring me two of them”
What I got was a very refreshing, cold, deep flavored coffee, topped with a coffee flavored whipped cream concoction that was what can only be described as yummy. Served with a straw and a spoon, it’s coffee that you both eat and drink.

Fig.2. An example of what to expect at La Cornetteria this Saturday at midnight during Italin week.
photo by: ©Adriano Ciampoli 2011

Let’s not forget that this week is Italian week.  After having ranted a couple of years ago about the lack of effort and will on the part of many of the stores and eateries on St Laurent, I figure it’s time to stop complaining, and time to start encouraging.  La Cornetteria is having a Midnight Nutella Cornetti event this Saturday night from midnight (that’s 12am) to 3am.  Nothing warms the heart like Nutella, so before falling asleep in front of the television, come and take a walk on St Laurent and have that midnight snack.  Alex from La Cornetteria assures me the cornetti will be warm and oozing with Nutella.  Nutella can either be eaten, or rubbed all over you face, both are good and socially accepted means of behavior in Italy.

La Cornetteria, 6528 St.Laurent

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's Yellow, Oily and Grown in Quebec?

Fig.1. Rows upon rows of yellow. They're taller than they look.

For the last two years a friend of mine has been urging me to come and visit his hometown of Upton, situated in the Eastern Townships. Of the many points of interest his small town of Upton has to offer, the one that caught my attention the most was Upton’s sunflower farm.

Fig.1. It's not the flower itself that faces the sun, it's the pedals. Sunflowers need lots of busy bees to polinate.

Imagine acres upon acres of sunflowers. Yellow pedals sprawled out as far as the eye can see, all swaying in unison to the summer breeze as they face fixated to the East, as if every morning’s sunrise is the only thing that matters to them.

Champy farms (which is certified organic) is owned and operated by Christian Champigny. Champigny was inspired to plant sunflowers, and press sunflower oil, after a trip to Spain in 1999. The sunflower seeds are pressed on the farm, and hit store shelves no less than two weeks after they are pressed. It takes 4 kilograms of sunflower seeds to make 1 liter of oil. Last year, Champy farms pressed 10000 liters of sunflower oil.

Fig.3. The oil press. The dried sunflower seeds can keep for months, so the oil is pressed as it's needed.

There are tours being offered during the next two weekends at the farm. Champigny will gladly give you a tour of the sunflower fields and show you exactly how the sunflower seeds are pressed, and how the oil is extracted.

Fig.4. The oil during the various staged of sitting. Time is all that's needed for the oil to clarify.

While, as a food lover, the idea of fresh, mono-unsaturated oil being cultivated and produced right in our backyards passionately sparks my curiosity, what affected me the most from my visit to Champy Farms was how it felt to stand amidst all of those tall, proud sunflowers. I felt how important it is to share our human existence with other forms of life; and, if you listen hard enough, I swear you could hear the sunflowers singing to the winds.

Fig.5. Owner, Christian Champigny bottles the oil in a machine that removes air and seals the bottle at the same time.

Champy Farms. 205, rue Principale, Upton (Eastern Townships) J0H 2E0 450-549-4510

For a complete list of where you can purchase Champy sunflower oil here in Montreal, and for more information on their farm, visit their web site.

Fig.6. As the pedals fall, the seeds grow and begin to take over the flowers. The weight of the seeds will eventually cause the flowers to hunch over.