Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

La Dolce Vita With Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra.

La Dolce Vita With Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra

From the historic Italian city of Cremona where the most famous violin hails, begins the culinary journey of a man who would become one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra.

Massimo Capra’s passion for embracing life, for enjoying food, good drink, friends, family and the community is unparalleled. He simply draws you in to this world, his world, la dolce vita, or the sweet life!

And what an extensive world it is. Massimo came to Toronto in 1982 starting out at family owned Archers restaurant. By 1989 he became an acclaimed chef at Prego della Piazza where he remained until 1997. That year  he opened with Paolini, formerly of Splendido, Mistura Restaurant.

Skyrocketing from there!

Hit after hit Sopra Upper Lounge, Rainbow Room, Boccone and Soprano to name a few. Pleasing the palates of international travellers at Pearson airport and Hamad International Airport in Doha Qatar. This charismatic mustachioed chef is a force, with his latest venture Capra’s Kitchen recent opening in his hometown of Mississauga. Author and television host of many TV shows; Gourmet Escapes, Chef host on Restaurant Makeover, judge on hit show Chopped Canada and more. We salute Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra here!

Massimo grew up in a small town Cremona located in Lombardy northern Italy. We learn from Massimo, over a delicious glass of chilled Bersano 2015 Gavi di Gavi, that in Cremona most folks raised their own chickens. Like many folk Massimo lived on a dairy farm raised their own meat and lived off the land.

A story that was to be his first and his family’s first introduction to a fine cut of meat.

With only three butchers in his village butchering one animal each per week, it was only plentiful enough to serve the folks with better “means”. “For us the farmers, we went to buy the meat that was second grade, you know the kind of meat you had to boil for close to four hours to become tender”, Massimo explains.

After spending some time cooking and in cooking school, a new world of food opened up to him and ignited his passion.

Upon securing his first job, at the age of fifteen, he saved up enough money to buy four entrecote for himself and his family. “The butcher was skeptical at first”, said Massimo  but accepted Massimo’s pre-order only with prepayment. After a two week wait for delivery of this superior beef Massimo’s entrecôte was finally masterly cooked, served and applauded, from there Massimo never looked back!

Massimo and Daniel Capra photo shoot Power Boating Magazine

Chefs Massimo and Daniel Capra dishing up the pizza at ” Capra’s Kitchen”.

Capra’s Kitchen

Easily accessible, you can find Massimo today at “Capra’s Kitchen”, his latest restaurant venture located in Clarkson Village, in the heart of Mississauga. Opening to rave reviews, Capra’s Kitchen does not disappoint. The menu is creative, the dishes mouth watering and the presentation a feast for the eyes. Therefore, Massimo can be found either busy in the kitchen or on the floor chatting up the customers and posing for selfies.

What do they say? Behind every successful man is a woman. The point is Rosa, partner and wife is a big part of the magic here at Capra’s. Super talented, generous in spirit and warmth, everyone loves and respects Rosa! Clearly all the patrons enjoy a slice of Capra’s dolce vita.

The menu is focused on Massimo’s mouthwatering pastas, pizza and antipasto. We treated ourselves to a classic pizza, prepared by the hands of gifted Chef Daniel, son of Massimo! Yes, it is all in the family. The pizza Margherita was delish!

We are completely content, ready now to bid farewell. We will be back. Alas not so fast! Massimo motions and a glorious desert arrives, quintessentially Italian, a mouth watering Tiramisu. Not like we needed any kind of a lift,if you will, but tiramisu translates literally to “pick me up”, “cheer me up” or “lift me up”. We are already on cloud nine with such a fabulous evening of amazing food, great wine and in such an inviting and relaxed atmosphere. Thank you everyone at Capra’s Kitchen, you all made it a special time. We will be back!

Over the years with Massimo, we look back and remember a few choice times we have spent together!

Check out…The Wine Ladies TV at Sopra Lounge, Toronto with Celebrities Massimo Capra and Emilio Fina.

Bersano Gavi di Gavi 2015 $17.95

Bersano Gavi di Gavi 2015

Gavi di Gavi comes from the district of Gavi located in Piedmont in northwestern Italy. It is made from the indigenous white grape Cortese, which dates back to the 17th century. These wines are known for its wonderful acidity from the lime-scented soils in this area. As a result, the wines are generally fresh, crisp and mouth watering when done well.
We enjoyed this Gavi di Gavi from the producer Bersano founded in 1907, crisp and inviting, lots of citrus with hints of white flowers and touch of mineralality, delightful.

Allegrini, Palazzo Della Torre 2012 $24.95

Allegrini, Palazzo Della Torre 2012

From the most acclaimed winery in the Veneto region, Allegrini, going back nine generations and known the world over for this particular wine, we discover the Palazzo della Torre 2012. From the Valpolicella Classica region, the grapes are sourced from a single vineyard situated in the foothills of Fumane, it is named after the adjacent villa, Palazzo della Torre, an important part of the Italian renaissance. Unique to this wine is how it is crafted, a small percentage of the grapes are left to dry out for a few months and then added to the previously vinified fresh grapes. The wine is deep ruby red in color, is velvety, smooth and full bodied, rich with dried fruit aromas of raspberry and plum, great fruit with chewy tannins and a lingering finish.

Check out…Marilisa Allegrini, the first Italian woman wine producer to grace the cover of Wine Spectator

Penfolds bottles

Penfolds Grange…The crescendo of our “Ultimate Penfolds Experience”

Penfolds Grange…The crescendo of our “Ultimate Penfolds Experience”

Nestled in the foothills of Adelaide with views over looking the city, Magill Estate is one of the world’s few urban single vineyards only fifteen minutes drive from Adelaide, capital of South Australia. Here lie historic vineyards of the iconic wine Penfolds Grange. With sturdy and gnarly Shiraz vines that date back over sixty years. They thrive in rich chocolatey red-brown soils over limestone bearing exceptional fruit for both Grange and Magill Estate Shiraz.

Penfolds Grange 2008

Penfolds Grange, a remarkable wine with a remarkable story. This wine is sought after and relished by wine collectors and aficionados around the world, paralleled to the First Growths of Bordeaux and Grand Cru of Burgundy.  This is Australia’s most celebrated wine, officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. A vinous star that has been described by Robert Parker’s wine Advocate as “the leading candidate for the richest, most concentrated dry red wine on planet earth”.

It all began with British physician Doctor Christopher Ralston Penfolds and wife Mary.

Penfolds Family Tree

In 1844 the couple settled in Adelaide on a vast parcel of land and the inaugural Penfolds wine was created. Recently we had the opportunity to take a step back in time and tour the Magill Estate Cottage, the Penfolds’ home. And learned a little about the family and the history of these storied precious vineyards. We were honoured with a personalized tasting of several Penfolds wines.  A suburb afternoon, punctuated by the tasting of the great Grange.

Old age is much respected in this world, the world of wine.

“It all starts in the vineyards” they say. Our visit which began with our tour guide, the truly eloquent Danielle Flower guiding us throughout the grounds and introducing us to the estate’s old vine Shiraz. Old age is much respected in this world, the world of wine. These smaller concentrated fruit will deliver little in yield yet intense and concentrated flavours in the glass. Where one may drink history. The estate was once comprised of over 500 acres but over time has been diminished to just 12.  These grapes, we learn will contribute to the iconic Penfolds Grange.  Grange, Penfolds flagship wine, the most collectible wine on the continent is a multi-vineyard, multi district blend, yet it has a unique personality, flavour, structure, experience coveted by wine lovers the world over.

The good Doctor, perhaps ahead of his time…

The Penfolds, Christopher and Mary, immigrated to Australia at the ages of 33 and 24 and were supported by their family members on what was approximately 500 acres of land. Doctor Penfolds a believer in the medicinal properties of wine cultivated a portion of the land with plantings of French grape vine cuttings brought over from England. Initially fortified wines were the choice prescription but in time, responding to increased demand the winery expanded in output and selection of varietals planted until 1844 when the winery was officially established. Over the years, under the direction of Christopher up until his passing at age 59 and then under that of wife Mary Penfolds the winery continued to grow and prosper. By 1903 Penfolds was the largest winery in Adelaide.

It is Max Schubert, Chief Winemaker for Penfolds in the forties and fifties who must be greatly credited  to the development of the iconic wine, Grange, originally   called “Grange Hermitage”. It was he, after travelling to Europe and spending time in Bordeaux who created and ultimately became responsible for the development of this iconic wine.

To the tasting room!
And an extraordinary experience featuring a perfect blend of Penfolds offerings.

Penfolds produces a range of wines that come from a variety of regions, whether they are blends, or singular varietal. They also produce estate wines of single vineyard. All the wines however showcase the Australian heritage including the diversity and the great history.

Our tasting included a blend of all of the above.

One of our personal standouts on this day was the 2008
St Henri Shiraz.

Penfolds Danielle

A multi district blend including fruit from the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. St Henri Shiraz differentiates itself from high quality Australian reds by not relying on any new oak.
Maturing instead in large old 1460 litre vats the wine’s character develops with little impression of oak. We comment on the seductive nose of intense blueberry and blackberry layered with dark chocolate. With a deep rich flavour of more dark fruit and chocolatey notes, it is rich and opulent with a long lasting finish! Drinking window suggestion is 2016-2035. Available on occasion at the LCBO and/or featured at Winemaker’s dinner as recently as October 26th of this year.

We tasted  the 2011 Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra, exceptional! And to start the 2008 Yattarna Chardonnay, also multi regional.

The crescendo of our “Ultimate Penfolds Experience” was of course Grange.

Suffice to say an ethereal taste experience. Where wine is not simply a drink, it is history, it is place, it is magical, on this day it is Grange.
Of this wine says Chief Winemaker Gago, “Aromatically captivating/convincing— similar to the 1987 in its formtive years, stronger than the 1997!”
At the conclusion of our tasting, as we sipped on what little treasure remained in our glasses. Danielle shared with us Penfolds’ latest unique and extraordinary offering to its most devoted fans.

This most recent project allows one to purchase their own personal barrel of Penfolds wine for $198,000. Magill Estate will house your barrel under 24 hour/day security. Your wine will be available for you to check in on at any time from anywhere in the world. The custodian of this barrel is invited at any time to taste, assess the wine and determine when and how it should be bottled under the guidance of course of Chief Winemaker Peter Gago.

Gago who started at Penfolds in 1989, is himself a celebrity winemaker, in high demand internationally, only the fourth custodian of iconic Grange. Peter succumbed to his love of wine and as he puts it “the grip of the grape” … we guess was just too great!

Penfolds Grange , 2008

 For those of whom we have whet your appetite, the 2008 Grange is available here at the Tasting Room in the Olde Oakville location. Here we ponder the purchase of one of three remaining bottles priced at $499.00.

Finally, there are a number of Penfolds wines available at varying price points, something for everyone. Note to Heather, one of our favorite consultants, we’ll be back!

Georgia and Susanne
The Wine Ladies

We also had the opportunity to meet Peter Gago in 2008 at an exclusive media tasting in Toronto. Check it out here.

Canada's 150th Birthday Frisky Beaver winery, winemaker Peter Graham.

Canada’s 150th birthday is plenty reason to pop a cork…with wineries from coast to coast!

Casa Dea Estate Winery

PIE Magazine photo shoot with The Wine Ladies, Prince Edward County, Wine Country

Canada's 150th Birthday Frisky Beaver winery, winemaker Peter Graham.

Power Boating Canada Magazine, Toasting Canada’s 150th!

Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila

Jose Curervo Tequila delivers on the Mayan Riviera.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo

The Magic of Mexico… on the Mayan Riviera…

An invitation we couldn’t possibly turn down. A four-day quick get-a-way to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera and its beautiful beachfront city Playa del Carmen situated on the Yucatan Peninsula.  Playa, as the locals call it, with its beautiful beaches is a casual, yet sophisticated city. A  charming and exhilarating downtown offering up suburb Mexican fare and fine cuisine alike. Although a little less rambunctious than its neighbor to the north the city of Cancun, here too there is a bustling nightlife scene. As well as loads of great shopping a la NYC 5th Avenue. The center of town actually is on 5th Avenue, “Avenida 5” where all of the above and more can be enjoyed. 

If one is in search of a premium resort accommodation the Riviera Maya easily obliges on that front too! For our last minute quick trip we booked at the El Dorado Seaside Suites, by Karisma, about 25 minutes south of the centre of Playa del Carmen. This is an all inclusive adults-only spa resort, with one of the largest spas in Riviera Maya, where we settled in for some of the best R &R we have had in quite some time!

Here are a few of the highlights we experienced on this all too brief visit to the Riviera Maya.

As we arrived at our destination the El Dorado Seaside we were overtaken with the anticipation of a few days of enjoying the sea, the sun, some delicious fresh food, delectable cocktails and some fun. The resort turns out to be beautiful, covered with lush tropical gardens and  towering forests of palm trees and a private beach that spans over a mile with pockets cordoned off due to nesting turtles, a protected species. Our accommodations suit us just fine, tastefully decorated, in the new section, on the third floor overlooking one of five pools, equipped with a swim-up bar where we come to meet a diverse group of fun loving fellow vacationers.

Where to dine? Three nights and up to seven restaurants from which to choose our fave turns out to be the Klay Talay Oriental Cuisine, which we enjoy on our final evening.

Here we are seated in a private enclave where we have a full view of the action, while enjoying the ambiance and comfort of our private dining quarters.  The restaurant is very hip and sleek while still warm and inviting.

A splendidly plated, generous  “boat” of sashimi, sushi and assorted condiments is placed before us by our server who goes on to describe the various specialties we are about to enjoy.   Our glasses of perfectly chilled Chilean Sauvignon Blanc arrive promptly, and are carefully attended to, with a continuous flow. We are feeling very special to say the least. The mains are presented equally as artistic and are sublime in flavor. Truly a delightful experience from the pre-dinner tequila cocktail at the thatched roof bar adjacent to the restaurant, to the supurb dishes and service, we give Klay Talay a resounding two thumbs up!

When it comes to local spirit, and local spirits there is no shortage here! At one of our favorite bars, we’ve come to know our bartender Jesus quite well and quite quickly where he routinely shakes things up showcasing his talent at mixology.

 Here we enjoy a plethora of tasty cocktails with the starring act being of course the signature drink of Mexico tequila! Cuervo tequila is being poured, apparently the first producer of tequila in the world. We are chatting now with a “tequila aficionado” who has this to share on both Jose Cuervo and the story of tequila in general.

Agave plant being harvested.

Agave plant being harvested.

“Tequila my friend, can only be called tequila if it comes from one of five states in Mexico. The most important being in the west central region of Jalisco” we are told.  “And do not be fooled, it must also be made exclusively with the Blue Agave or Agave Azul plant.  No agave grown outside this region, including other countries can be used for any product labeled as ‘tequila’. We go on to learn that the blue agave plant, takes six to twelve years to mature. That each plant is harvested only once. The harvesting of the blue agave is arduous work, which is done by the caretakers called “jimadores”. They first must chop off the leaves, thick spiny leaves that can grow to eight feet tall, followed by the core the source for the sap that can weigh up to 200 pounds! 

We are on to the popularity now of tequila and the positioning it enjoys on top shelves in prestigious bars and restaurants around the world, not unlike Cognac and Scotch. Jose Cuervo is one such tequila, which we come to be quite well acquainted with and are happy here to share.

Jose Antonio Cuervo was the first producer of tequila in the world having been awarded the rights to cultivate a parcel of land from the King of Spain in 1758. Today Cuervo owns the largest holdings of agave in the world.

The Cuervo family has been making tequila for over 250 years now with recipes handed down generation through generation. They pride themselves on using the best agaves, and finest methods producing some of the world’s finest tequila, and are in fact the world’s best selling tequila.

Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila

Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila

We enjoy the Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila first, neat, and then both on the rocks and in this delectable cocktail! 

Especial Silver Tequila (In our market $33.95) 

It is clear in colour, has an aroma of citrus and touch of mineral. Dry and with a lime flavour with a smooth warm finish.

On another afternoon we enjoy a wine tasting, featured among other vinos, a couple that hail from Mexico! Yes, from the region of Baja California. The weather here is most suitable for wine grape growing including the noble varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah. L.A. Cetto is one we enjoy with a fine selection of cheeses, fresh and dried fruits.

But we did more than indulge in fine tequila, the occasional glass of wine and delicious dishes all day long. We partook in classes of yoga, in karaoke singing and rounds of Black Jack, and we took to the water in motor boats and kayaks.

The resort was top notch, with so much to embrace, the sea, the sun, the wonderful food and drink and the people. And Playa still beckons, the shops and the cafes and bars, it’s not goodbye, simply so long for now, we will be sure to return.

As read in Power Boating Magazine.

Power Boating, Magic of Mexico,,Tequila

Power Boating, Magic of Mexico,Tequila

Celebrate Dias de los Muertos with #1 Tequila Jose Cuervo.