When we all went out to the QCNA (Quebec Community Newspapers Association) awards in Magog last week, most of the staff decided to go golfing as the place we were staying was famous for it. I on the other hand heard there were not one but two wineries in the area. Well the first one was a disappointment. The second one we looked at was Les Chants de Vignes. It had such an unpretentious look for the superb quality of its wines.

Before I continue let me say I am not promoting drinking but rather I am promoting a taste experience. There are as always a spit bucket so no one gets drunk. You merely swish the wine around in your mouth and if you don’t want to swallow you spit it out. Your glass is cleaned and you are given a drink of water in between wines to freshen your mouth for the next taste sensation.

In any case putting down a couple of dollars to taste a selection of wines means the amount will be minuscule at best.

But on to the tasting. Our first selection was a white wine by the name of Le Canon Blanc 2000. It had a poignant sweetness to it. My driver and companion for the day said she could taste the grape. I agreed and said I found a few traits in the grape similar to a winter wine grape. A more concentrated tastiness. I detected a faint but pleasant mustiness in the bouquet along with flowers. I felt spring had truly arrived.

Next on the list was my favorite type of wine, a red called Le Canon Rouge. This wine deservedly won third in the 1999 All Canadian Wine Championships out of 271 wines. It had a beautiful bouquet. The taste was very smooth and again you could taste the grapes. I found the black sable grapes combined with the Magog terrain gave the wine a slight but not overriding tannin taste. The aftertaste was totally pleasant. This wine was comparable to a Petzir.

If we had the white and the red it was time for a blush by the moniker of Le Regal. This was a dry wine with a definite earthy taste with a touch of tannin in it. Overall there was a stronger taste to this wine that labeled it a definite blush or rose wine. The bouquet had a faint earth and flowers smell to it that was delightful.

Then there was the Lo De Gamme. It would be wrong to call this a true winter wine as the grapes are picked in November instead of December but it is nevertheless a desert or sipping wine. It was smooth and tart. This contributed to a beautiful fruity taste that tantalized the tongue. I think this wine would compliment a strong cheese very nicely.

What tasting would be finished if there wasn’t an aperitif wine? Le Kyrie was combined with raspberry syrup. The bouquet promised the sweetness we would soon be enjoying. It was a pleasing taste with a mild bite that would definitely go well with most deserts. I would like to combine this with some fruit juices to use as the liquid for an adult homemade fruit salad. I think it would be a knockout.

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours as Canadian wines have come a long way in the past ten years. In the past I wouldn’t have even thought of stopping at a Canadian winery but the times

have changed greatly and Les Chants de Vignes have certainly proved that. Anyone wishing to visit or buy wine can go to www.leschantsdevignes.com on the web or phone 1 -819-847-8467. It’s worth the time.

Now for some cooking to go with that wine.

Duck and Wild Rice Salad

Now I know a bunch of you out there have ducks or will be getting some. We all have our various ways of cooking them but here’s something for those of you who would like to try something a little different. I found that wild rice and duck seem to go together really well. With the completed meal I would recommend the Canon Rouge or a nice red wine with this meal.

For dressing

finely grated skin of 1 orange 2/3 cup fresh orange juice 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot 1 teaspoon mild honey

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For salad

2 cups wild rice ( 10 oz)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cups water

3 cups chicken broth

10 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally

2 (14-oz) boneless magret duck breast halves with skin 6 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally

1 cup moist dried apricots (preferably California; 5 oz), cut into 1 /4-inch strips 1 1/2 cups pecans (4 1/2 oz), chopped and toasted 1 teaspoon salt

To make the dressing:

1. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a large bowl and let stand at room temperature while making salad.

Cook rice:

Rinse rice well in a large sieve under cold water, then drain.

Heat butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Stir in water and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

(Grains will split open but not all liquid will be absorbed.) Drain well in a colander and cool to warm before adding to dressing.

(Spread rice out in a shallow baking pan to cool faster.)

Cook sugar snaps and duck while rice is cooking:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook peas in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water to stop cooking, then drain well.

Pat duck dry and season with salt and pepper. Score skin in a crosshatch pattern and place duck, skin sides up, in a lightly oiled shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan.

Roast in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 120°F (for medium-rare), about 25 minutes.

Leave oven on.

Transfer duck to a cutting board and when just cool enough to handle, remove skin. Thinly slice skin (scored side down), keeping duck breast warm, loosely covered with foil.

Bake skin in baking pan in middle of oven until very crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Cut duck breast halves in half horizontally (butterfly-style), then cut across the grain into thin slices.

Add duck and any juices to dressing along with rice, sugar snaps, scallions, apricots, pecans, and salt and toss gently to combine.

Just before serving, scatter crisp duck skin on top.

Broiled open-faced Crab Sandwiches

I recommend the Le Canon Blanc, the white wine, for this one.

1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped 1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 hard-boiled large egg, chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

2 English muffins, halved, buttered lightly, and toasted 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

1. In a large skillet cook the bell peppers, onion, and garlic in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring until the vegetables are softened.

2. Stir in crab meat, lemon juice, egg, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, and the cayenne and divide the crab-meat mixture among the muffin halves, mounding it slightly.

3. Sprinkle sandwiches with Parmesan and broil them under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tops are golden.

Whipped Almond Cream & Strawberries

Either of the Lo De Gamme or Le Kyrie wines would complement this offering and make it a taste experience fit for the gods.

2 pints fresh strawberries

1 package vanilla instant pudding mix

2 cups heavy cream 1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Wash strawberries (do not hull) and pat them dry; then chill.

2. Combine the pudding mix and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl; beat at low speed with an electric mixer until blended.

3. Beat at high speed until soft peaks form (about eight minutes). Serve with plenty of fresh strawberries. You may mix the strawberries in or use as a dip for the strawberries.

Tips to make vour life easier

More problems than Dishpan hands?

What to do when your hands get….

Greasy? Very hot water will generally dissolve and remove most food grease. Next time, for greasing cooking pans, wear wax paper or a plastic bag as a glove.

Smelly? If you have a lingering onion smell on your hands, trying rinsing them with cold water, rubbing them with salt, and then rewashing them. You can also rubbing your hands with half of a potato. For a fish odor, do as you would for the onion, then rub your hands with lemon rind.

Stained? Rubbing with a raw potato and then washing may remove many fruit and some vegetable stains.

A Strange but Useful Tip

Apparently WD40 will relieve that throbbing ache of arthritis. Just spray on affected joint and rub in for a few seconds.

Just for Dad

My dad has taught us boys in the family one thing and that’s a love of raw veggies. Any veggies including onion. Well, here’s something a little different just for you. Bake a Vidalia Onion. You just peel off the dry skin, then cut off the top and bottom to make it sit flat. Place a pat of butter on top, and microwave for 7 minutes on high, or wrap securely in foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until tender.