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Toronto Restaurants

Wine and Food Pairing

Sea Witch – What Wine to Pair with Fish and Chips

July 10, 2015
Fish and Chips at Sea Witch in Toronto
Sea Witch Fish and Chips Toronto

The fact that Sea Witch on St. Clair West isn’t licensed didn’t stop me from saying ‘absolutely’ when I was invited to a blogger dinner at the restaurant last month. It’s not a good fit with my healthy diet, but I love fish and chips and this was worth the splurge. And, like many similar restaurants, they offer take out. If I wanted to do a wine (or beer) pairing with my order, I’d just have to grab it to go. Sea Witch also plans to be licensed within the year, offering a small selection of wine and beer for those who want to enjoy their meal with a pairing.

Sea Witch Fish and Chips Toronto

Dinner started out with a sampling of their thick, hearty Witch’s Brew chowder. They vary the fish used in the chowder and this one came with pickerel and halibut, which I thought worked well. I love a warm, filling bowl of chowder and this more than fits the bill. While beer is likely the best overall fit for everything on the menu, I’d always rather have wine, so I’d have this dish with an unoaked Chardonnay.

Fish cakes

That was followed by a mini halibut fish cake with onion sauce, which was another hit with me (and seemed to be the overall favourite with the group). With great flavour and consistency, I thought this would be pretty darn good with Pinot Grigio.

Onion rings at Sea Witch Fish and Chips Toronto

The onion rings at Sea Witch are enormous and super decadent and deeply fried. They’re also addictively yummy, with a chewy consistency and lots of greasy goodness. I don’t know how anyone could eat a full order (pictured) and have room for anything else. Definitely an indulgence and best to share with a few friends.

I admit I was stumped with what to pair with the rings – I immediately thought beer, followed by a white wine with higher acidity. My food pairing books don’t cover onion rings, sadly, so I turned to the internet and found a suggestion for Alsace Pinot Blanc on a Mashable article by Laura Vitto. I’m game to try it! Have another suggestions? Leave it in the comments or share it on social.

Sea Witch also offers a coleslaw that is made fresh daily. I love coleslaw, but I confess I like mine just a little creamier than this. Still, it goes a long way to cut through some of the fried food and is quite tasty. It’s a good option for a refreshing side that will complement the heavier dishes.

Coleslaw at Sea Witch Fish and Chips Toronto


And, finally, the main course! This is the best of the best when it comes to decadent, old-school, fried goodness. The fries are hand chipped (they have someone on staff who pretty much chips all night long), the batter on the fish a lovely, crispy consistency and the halibut soft and tender. Hopefully they’ll have unoaked Chardonnay on their menu when they get their license because it doesn’t get better than that.

Sea Witch Fish and Chips Toronto

Sea Witch offers small, homemade desserts too – I found room to try the caramel square (chewy goodness) and it was a lovely end to the meal.

Funky and fun, Sea Witch has a great atmosphere and their simple, traditional menu is full of well-made fish dishes. Be prepared, though, that this is a definite cheat meal and the portions are much larger than pictured, so keep that in mind when ordering.

Some of the fish they serve is Ocean Wise, as they like to use sustainable fish whenever possible. They do have an old school bent when it comes to frying, though, as they fry exclusively in beef tallow. I didn’t know that going in (my fault for not doing my homework), as I don’t actually (knowingly) eat red meat. That would keep me from eating most of what’s on their menu again, but I will definitely be bringing Shawn back and living vicariously through what I expect will be a pretty great meal.

Do you like fish and chips? What do you pair with it?

*While my meal was complimentary, my opinions are my own.

Food & Wine

Wines of Portugal

November 13, 2013
Portuguese Wine Pairing
My experience with Portuguese wines has been limited at best. It’s not a wine region that we have covered extensively in my wine
classes thus far, and besides Port and Vinho Verde I really haven’t had much opportunity to taste wines from this county. Even The Wine Bible, by Karen MacNeil, which has become my go-to resource when I want to learn more about an area, focuses primarily on Port – covering the non-fortified wines in just a few pages.
That’s why I was thrilled to get an invite to a seminar on Portuguese wine by Sommelier Christopher Sealy at Midfield Wine Bar. The event, which started with a seminar and tasting and ended with a dinner and wine pairings, was a deep dive into the table wines of Portugal and an incredible learning opportunity.
Sealy started off with a seminar covering the history, geography and terroir of Portuguese wines.  The event, which was sponsored by Vini Portugal (Wines of Portugal), was an effort to increase awareness of Portuguese wines, especially among restaurants and agents. I felt, as I often do, incredibly out of my league in terms of overall wine knowledge, but also fantastically grateful to have been included. I know that it was a rare treat to learn so much about a region in the company of those with far more wine experience than my own.
The first tasting flight was done blind and Sealy asked us to pick out the wine we thought was not from Portugal. This resulted in a lively discussion amongst our team, who thought that the wine with the buttered popcorn on the nose and rich, oaky palate was the least likely to be Portuguese. Turns out, we were wrong – that wine was 100% Antao Vaz and was indeed Portuguese – as were all the wines in the flight. Sealy’s deception was a worthwhile one, as it really highlighted misconceptions we might have had about what a Portuguese wine tastes like.
Portuguese Wine Tasting
The next flight wasn’t blind, but it was still fascinating. I found all three flights to be a unique experience, as there were so few grapes I had ever tried before. I was also very impressed by the Portuguese Syrah that we tried. This is not a grape that I associated with Portugal
before this tasting, but it was a star player in two of my favourite reds of the evening.
Since I started my wine education, I’ve found that the opportunity to taste a large selection of a country or region’s wines has been
invaluable. It can be so hard to really understand the characteristics of an area’s wines without tasting a considerable amount of the wines from there. In this case, while we only tasted through twelve, they were so new to me that I was able to really grasp how they compared to other similar styles I’ve tried. I was impressed by the diversity and also the qualities of these wines – the great minerality and acidity in the whites and the rich, complexity of the reds. While not every wine was one I’d want to have again, there were some fabulous picks at each price point.
This event was also special because it ended with an opportunity to try some of the delicious selections from Midfield’s menu with Portuguese wines. It’s really nice to be able to judge how a wine will stand up with food and many tastings don’t offer a really substantive opportunity to do this. Sealy, who is a co-owner of Midfield, truly understands the importance of wine as an accompaniment to a meal.
I was thrilled to be included in this event. Even though I tend to be the quiet one at these tastings (a shocking fact to those who know me), I love any opportunity to listen to those who understand
wine discuss it. I learned so much from Sealy, from those on my team and from everyone in the room who was willing to share their opinions. A great event with a fantastically well-considered format.
Learn more about Midfield Wine Bar (which I highly recommend for wine lovers in the city) here:
Learn more about the Wines of Portugal here: in trying some of the wines we tasted? These ones should be available via the LCBO (or will be soon):
1. Mar da Palha- Quinta da Chocapahla – Syrah / Touriga VR Lisboa $18
2. Character Pintas – Wine and Soul – Douro DO $27
3. Chryeaia – Prats and Symington – Douro DO $75
4. Nostalgia – Quinta Touquinheira? – Vinho Verde DO $22
5. Dao Branco Reserva – Alvaro Castro – Dao DO $16