Sunday, 17 April 2016

Hot enough for you?

"There's something about the food you grew up with, no matter how far away you go from it, it always tracks you down." 
Before Pailin Chongchitnant decided to start her own Thai Cooking show on YouTube, she thought that it was a place for funny cat videos. But, a suggestion by her brother Eddie quickly dissolved that idea. And so, Hot Thai Kitchen was born. From her small San Francisco apartment, Pailin taught Thai cooking to thousands of YouTube viewers, becoming the culinary educator she had always longed to be. 

She refers to the cookbook as a sort of  memoir, as most of the recipes have played a memorable role in her life. She also shares personal stories in it as well. 

Here at SukasaStyle, we are all about wine pairings, so we are curious about this:

What wine would Pailin ChongChitnant pair with Thai food? 
For all you wine snobs out there, the answer may surprise you. When asked that question, she semi-facetiously replies, "Beer". Drinking wine, she says is not a part of the Thai food culture. And for good reason. She mentions that just the simple fact that Thai food compromises multiple dishes in a family-style meal is an obvious reason. Which dish are you pairing with the wine? 

However, if you do insist, sweeter wines like Gewürztraminer, Reisling, or Viognier, are better pairings. Sweetness helps contrast spiciness, making these wines a more preferable choice for Thai food. 

Part encyclopedia, part cookbook, Hot Thai Kitchen gives you more than you asked for in a culinary tome. Almost half the book is an instructional foray into the ins and outs of Thai cooking, from preparation to spices. The second half of the cookbook is sectioned into various types of cuisine, including Curries, Soups, Stir-fries and dipping sauces. Just in time for BBQ season, one of my fave recipes is definitely Nam Jim Jeaw, a dipping sauce for BBQ meats. You can also use this recipe to spice up a boring dinner. 

And, no evening would be complete without a sweet dish. From Layered Coconut Pudding Cups to Mango & Sticky Rice, Pailin ChongChitnant has a few delicious treats guaranteed to sweeten the deal at your dinner table. 

You can also check out her YouTube Channel

And, if you want to check out her recipe for Green Curry. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

1 + 1 = 3 : Porto Kopke Fine Ruby Port is worth it

We spend plenty of time in our lives adding up numbers. We always want things to make sense, so when something isn't a good value, we prefer to walk away. When they do add up, we are happy, but on the rare occasion where we find real value, when 1 + 1 = 3 so to speak (to co-opt an oft heard phrase) we jump at the chance because it is a real find. On today's Sukasa Style recommendation we think we've hit the mark on the latter. A very good value find in terms of a decent port and the right book to accompany it on those cold nights that haven't ended this winter.

What we suggest this week is the Kopke Fine Ruby Port (LCBO # 35766 | $15.50 per 750ml bottle). Ports, like every other form of beverage, come in various combinations, permutations, and importantly, price points. For rich red port, the name of the game has always come down to a choice between ruby ports, reserve ports, and late bottled vintage ports. If you are looking for a lovely expression to drink after dinner and not show off to friends that latest hundred plus dollar bottle of vintage port, this is a fine place to start. The Kopke brand, originally established in 1638 by Christiano Kopke and his son, Nicolau Kopke, now exists under the Sogevinus group of fine wines, and the parent company has concentrated its marketing efforts on the “Porto Colheita” category of ports.

Sukasa Tasting Notes
A rich ruby red in appearance with a raisin, plum, and spice nose, we sensed a deep fruit, jammy, clove taste on the palate that ended with a rich warm finish. It should be noted that while one of our reviewers had a preference for stronger tasting ports on the initial taste, the upside to the Kope Fine Ruby Port was the absence of an unwelcome and overpowering aftertaste. Paired with a sampling of Castello Danish blue cheese, Oka Cheese, and After Eight mint chocolate thins, the port paired particularly with the blue cheese and was an affable partner for the mint. It was too strong for the Oka cheese where a traditional French Pinot Noir, non-oaked Chardonnay or blonde lager, pale ale or pilsner would have been more appropriate. 

★★★★ ( Sukasa Stars 4.3 stars out of 5 )

$$  (Price - $10-20)
QPR (Quality Price Ratio): Very Good - Excellent (Recommended)

Books & Wine Pairing: One plus one equals love. Making someone out of nothing is a sweet accomplishment. Dave Trott's One Plus One Equals Three is a book that pays homage to the creative idea and the possibilities. Just like Porto Kopke Fine Ruby Port is not something you have all in one sitting, so too Dave Trott's book is something that you will enjoy in many sittings, sipping its contents over time. Read the full review of One Plus One Equals Three

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Friday, 8 April 2016

Aburi Kaiseki ( 懐石あぶり ) at Miku Toronto

Aburi Sushi was inspired by the innovative idea of flame-searing sushi with signature sauces. In Japanese Aburi tradition, a light sear direct from the flame enhances the natural flavor of the fish. Seigo Nakamura, owner of the Tora Corporation in Japan, and the visionary behind Aburi Restaurants Canada, had introduced the Aburi style cuisine and the Ningenmi philosophy to the West Coast, under the banner of Miku Vancouver, Minami, and Gyoza Bar. The Miku Toronto location opened in 2015 at the north west corner of Queens Quay and Bay street, a stone's throw away from the Toronto's waterfront. (For more information on Aburi Restaurants, visit their website.)
Great Brands go that extra mile to add a personal touch.
Great job @MikuToronto. 

SukasaStyle has covered the Kaiseki concept in the past. As the Miku Toronto website states, Aburi Kaiseki is "a unique Kaiseki experience produced by our chefs, exploring fusion flavours and Aburi cuisine beyond Miku’s signature items." 
Finalization of an Aburi Kaiseki booking requires the filling in of the Aburi Kaiseki Form. For our group of 4, the following 6 course Kaiseki menu was served:

Item 1

Item 2

Item 3

Item 4 

Item 5 - Signature Aburi Sushi

Item 6 - Dessert

Price of 4 Aburi Kaiseki: $520 ($130/person)

We paired the courses with Taiheizan Kimoto Junmai sake ($80/bottle). A full-bodied, smooth, traditional sake that was rich, with a floral nose, creamy mid-palate, and clean finish that was appropriate for the varied courses on offer.

★★★★★ ( Sukasa Stars 5 stars out of 5 )
$$$$ (Price - Expensive)
QPR (Quality Price Ratio): Average - Good 
👍👍👍 (Service - Very Good)

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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Spark Joy with a rich Italian Indulgence

Picture where you would like to go! You are a lover of wine but also prefer the road less traveled. Perhaps you will go to the southern shores of Lake Garda, to the ancient Roveglia farmstead, considered the only remaining example of 15th century Lombardy architecture in the area. The land hides a terroir whose history goes back 200 million years. Old vines, in unison with clayey soil yield Lugana, better known as Trebbiano varietal. That is our expression of choice this Wine Wednesday:  Tenuta Roveglia Vigne di Catullo Lugana Riserva 2012 (LCBO VINTAGES#: 437004 | $23.75 per 750 ml bottle). 

The product sheet (which can be downloaded here) describes its characteristics:

It has an intense straw colour with golden reflections, both robust and velvety. The grapes have been selected with care from vines that are over 55 years old. It has a particularly rich bouquet where colder, mineral notes harmonize with ones of ripe fruit. Because of its rich aroma with notes of toasty oak and an almond fi nish, it lends itself as the perfect accompaniment to fish, pasta dishes, grilled meat and cheese. 

Sukasa Tasting Notes: Light gold in appearance, the initial nose betrayed a hint of grass and upon further reflection there was a candied but not saccharin element to the bouquet. The taste was a revelation with subtle honey and melon notes. The finish was smooth and silky --almost 'oily'-- and an appropriate for this medium bodied flavourful and aromatic entry.

The recommendation is to pair this with chicken, game, and fish. We suggest serving at 10°C and this is a white that will not suffer from being chilled further.

Rating: ★★★★☆  (4.5/5) SukasaStars
Quality Price Ratio: Very Good

Books & Wine PairingPicture how you would like to live your life! Happy and clutter-free? Pair the Vigne di Catullo with Spark JoyIt hints of the possibilities of a finer life that is within your control. Read the full review of Spark Joy - an Illustrated master class on the art of organizing, tidying up, and decluttering the KonMari way from the New York Times best-selling author Marie Kondo.  

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