Welcome to a (virtual) vernissage!

These verrines are a regular addition to artist Roy Brash’s Christmas table. The author says they’re easy to make but not easy to assemble without smudging the glasses (eyebrow tweezers were involved).   Photo: Marisa Romano

By Marisa Romano

One vacated storefront at Lansdowne is lighting up again to shine a spotlight on the joyful creations of our local artists. The new occupants are painters and photographers who have showcased their work in our Glebe gardens over the past years (glebearttour.ca).

After the virtual exhibit that replaced this year’s Art in Our Gardens and Studio Tour, nine artists came to “live” in the space once occupied by Structube. The empty storeroom roared back to life when the artists arrived with their artworks. Amid the hustle and bustle and happy chuckles muffled by distance and facemasks, they eagerly hung paintings and photographs.

At any other time, the November 20th opening would have been a far-reaching event celebrated by a fitting vernissage that allowed attendees to meet all the artists. Instead, the event unfolded quietly. In keeping with pandemic restrictions, the lead-in had no fanfare, no spirits and no food.

But we could not let go of the food and drink part, so here is what you would have found on the food table had there been a grand opening. Some of the artists have shared their favourite amuse-bouche, and Devon Bowers-Krishnan, the award-winning sommelier of Atelier restaurant – a local artist of another kind – suggests the perfect wine pairing for a full appreciation of the dishes.

Linda Bordage

Linda Bordage enjoys working with oils for their range of colour mixture but also explores other media. She has presented her work in exhibits and galleries in Ottawa and its surroundings. Some of her originals are available at Art Lending Ottawa.

She proposes the classic fresh figs wrapped in strips of lean prosciutto, but with a twist. Bordage serves figs alongside pears and wraps the Italian dry-cured charcuterie around the quartered fruits. She presents the skewered morsels on a platter with cherry tomatoes and a variety of olives. “It looks good and tastes great,” she assures me.

Bowers-Krishnan suggests a “fresh, tart sparkling wine to contrast the salty, fatty nature of the meat” – Flat Rock Riddled Sparkling 2017 from Niagara. For red wine lovers, his pick is Il Molino Di Grace Chianti Classico 2015 with red berry aroma, complex tones and good acidity that stand up to the dish.

Roy Brash

An artist appreciated in Ontario, Quebec and the U.S., Roy Brash uses acrylic paint and vivid colours to tell stories and depict emotions. You will probably recognise his water scenes, one of his favourite subjects. He offers a take from a Ricardo recipe: Avocado and Shrimp Verrines. In a shooter glass, layer 1tbsp guacamole, 1 tsp of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, three Nordic shrimps tossed in lemon juice, a drib of salsa and some chopped cucumber. Prepare ahead of time and keep in the fridge. Sprinkle chopped chives before serving. These verrines are a regular addition to Brash’s Christmas table. “They are a hit and show so well!” he says.

Bowers-Krishnan proposes a pairing that “contrasts the rich and creamy nature of the avocado without overpowering the delicate nature of the shrimp.” Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc 2018 from his favourite New Zealand producer or a crisp light red, Malivoire Gamay Noir from Niagara.

Andrew Cardozo

Andrew Cardozo is a painter who uses canvas to capture the beauty of nature. In his acrylic paintings, you find iconic and abstract landscapes. His work is hanging in various locations in Canada, the U.S. and beyond. He brings to the table a classic charcuterie board with a mixture of savoury and sweet tastes. His favourite morsels are dried sausage and Mimolette, the French cheese with its signature yellow colour and distinctive nutty, intense taste. “Additions can be hot mustard, confit of figues (fig jelly) or even a spot of raspberry jam. The effect is a mmmm as you put it in your mouth.”

“For wines, think versatility to go with the broad selection of different items on the board,” says Bowers-Krishnan. He suggests Hidden Bench Terror Cache 2017 Niagara, Bordeaux blend, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. For white, try Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece; it has tart high acid with a salty taste and a round, rich body.

“Although we are concerned about COVID, we need some joy in our lives, and the pop-up art gallery could help to lift our spirits,” says Martha Bowers, one of the organizers. “We will be careful and try to keep everyone safe.”

If you are looking for a bit of joy in this gloomy time of pandemic, drop by the former Structube store at Lansdowne to check out our local art while imagining the best of food and wine. The gallery runs on weekends from November 20 to December 31 (Friday 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Marisa Romano is a foodie and scientist with a sense of adventure who appreciates art, food and bringing people together.

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