Good Advice

The three essentials: Cutting boards, pomegranate and Spanish wine.

Credit: BCBusiness


Hot Fruit
The trendy pomegranate features as a key ingredient in a variety of festive cocktails this season, from martinis to manhattans. Earls’ Black Pom martini ($7.50), introduced last year, has quickly become a staple on the chain’s drink list, while Goldfish Pacific Kitchen’s sommelier, Nessa van Bergen, recently added High “C” ($3.75) – a non-alcoholic refreshment made with pomegranate and aloe vera juices – to her restaurant’s menu. Earls, earls​.ca; Goldfish Pacific Kitchen,

Wine Pick
Imagine yourself in a fabulous restaurant at a table filled with close friends. When the wine list arrives, they pass it to you – everyone knows you’re the oenophile. But when you open the heavy leather cover, you feel your confidence ebbing: there are dozens of wines – some dauntingly expensive – and none looks the least familiar. What do you do?

This happened to me a couple of years ago in Bordeaux at a beautiful restaurant attached to the Chateau Lynch-Bages winery. The wine list was huge, with high-end bottles running to 6,000 or 7,000 euros. But if there was something spectacular in our price range, I didn’t recognize it. So I called the sommelier and explained that, while I enjoyed an excellent bottle of wine, my friends were cheap. Could he help us out?

The sommelier smiled knowingly and then asked if he might suggest something from outside Bordeaux. When I said, of course, he produced the finest wine I have ever consumed. At 45 euros, it was the best value on his list.

This month’s pick is one such wine. The 2004 Bodegas Lan Rioja Limited Edition is a Spanish treasure from a low-yield vineyard specializing in the robust Tempranillo grape. This medium- to full-bodied red rewards decanting and goes fabulously with lamb and beef. While it’s rich, it’s also well balanced and will complement pork or a flavourful fish such as salmon. Wine Spectator gave it a well-deserved 96 points.

So remember: don’t guess. Unless you’re in the kind of restaurant where every waiter is well trained, ask for the sommelier or wine buyer. When you honour their knowledge, they will do everything they can to give you and your guests a wine fit for the occasion. $74.99, specialty listing at BC Liquor Stores,

Cool Board
An essential for any kitchen this winter is Epicurean Cutting Surfaces’ latest line, Recycled Cardboard Surfaces. Made from recycled cardboard, these sleek, lightweight composites are as eco-friendly as they are functional. They’re also knife-friendly, heat resistant and maintenance free – no need for oiling or bleaching. Best of all, the durable boards are designed to be cleaned in the
dishwasher. $23 to $37, Cookworks,