Chef Coulson Armstrong talks Food + Aveleda with Angela Aiello

Canoe's Coulson Armstrong

Our wine expert Angela sat down with Canoe‘s Coulson Armstrong and talked about food, wine the Toronto scene and the balancing act of being a chef.

Canoe's coulson armstrong

What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine like Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal?

I love picnics, so on days off I’ll bike to Toronto island and set up a little charcoal pit. The Aveleda Vinho Verde has a perfect amount of sugar to make it easy drinking on a summer day.

Who most inspires you and your cooking?

I feel my inspiration comes from all around, market trips on the weekend. Spending days off at the farm and cooking for the farmers. Its a very grounding experience to cook for someone that puts so much effort into the product we cook with every day.

What is the most challenging thing about being a chef?

Balance between being creative, healthy, and family time. There’s a thin line to balancing all the important stuff outside the kitchen. Lot’s of sacrifices have to be made to others that support you and your career. Giving back to those people and yourself is super important.

What do you love most about the Toronto culinary scene?

The community of support, Toronto is becoming a globally recognized city for culinary. We can only get there with everyone supporting restaurants and then the restaurants giving back to the community as well.

Canoe's coulson armstrong

When you were thinking about a dish to pair with Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal what kind of ideas came to mind?

First thing I thought was seafood, such a classic paring. The Vinho verde reminded me of a great Canadian riesling. Both wines would pair perfectly with the spicy charred octopus.

What did you think about this wine/these wines? Any recommendations you would like to share with us?

I thought both were very easy drinking, amazing for a Sunday afternoon on a patio, the Vinho Verde was my favorite.

Can you explain your dish and why it pairs with Aveleda?

My dish is charred BC octopus with crispy polenta. The wine goes great with seafood.

Charred BC octopus and Crispy Polenta
Serves 6
2-pound whole octopus
2 liters of white wine
50 g peppercorns
1 lemon
1 head of garlic
4 liters of water
30g kosher salt
In a large pot, place the octopus along with the wine, peppercorns, 1 lemon cut in half, cork, and garlic. Cover with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the octopus until it is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (Anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.)
Let cool, and then slice into 2-inch pieces. Brush with olive oil and char on bbq on high heat until nice and charred.

Crispy Polenta:
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound quick-cooking polenta (2 2/3 cups)
4 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add salt and slowly add polenta, in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue whisking until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheeses and butter. Let cool, cut into squares and pan fry in a pan until golden brown .

Serve with charred summer vegetables like asparagus, fennel or zucchini.