Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wine Tasting Class #6 and #7

Class number 6 was our mid-term exam. There was both a written portion and a tasting portion. Assuming I wouldn't do to well on the tasting portion (yes, confidence issues, I'm working on that), I studied my butt off for the written part, in the hopes that I could make up for the loss of points in the tasting. Well, I got the results back on the tasting and I'm thrilled to say I made 93%! I couldn't believe it. In fact, the entire class did phenomenal.

Which brings us now to class 7, where Paul decided to step it up a notch, given how well we had done. Probably one of the craziest tastings we've ever done, with grapes I've never even heard of – FUN!

Before I go into the tasting portion of the class, I thought I'd touch on one of the chats we had. One of the students said her husband doesn't drink wine, but she'd really like it if he did. How can you convert someone to be a wine lover? Paul had some fantastic ideas:

- Start them off with a sweeter wine, like a Riesling
- For red go lighter, like a Beaujolais and put it in the fridge ahead of time
- Biggest thing, pair it with the right food

Pairing the wine with the person's favourite dish is a very good start.

Another area you could venture down is with apple cider (good intro to white wine), or flavoured beers, infused with strawberry or cherry. On one of Paul's talks on the radio, he had the guys try some flavoured beer, which they did not like. Then he got them to drink it with some hot wings, and they LOVED it. Pairing drinks with the right food is magical, and creates some pretty awesome memories of the meal. It just seems to complete the entire experience.

Wine Tasting
1. Serra de Estrela Al Barinho 2008 CSPC 167999 $17.95
This wine would be compared to a mix of Reisling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Sight: Medium yellow
Aromas: Lime, mineral, green apple, grass, pear
Weight: Light to medium
Acid: Light to medium
Taste: Citrus, mineral, pear, apple
Finish: Short to medium
Suggested Food Pairing: Refreshing, clean style wine, great with seafood, antipasto (if you're primarily a white wine drinker).
Thoughts: Great summer wine for sipping. Would buy for sure.

2. Muscat Alsace (Allimante Laugner) 2008 CSPC 930362 $17.95
Sight: Pale yellow
Aromas: Tangerine, apricot, lavender, ginger, floral, honey, honeydew melon, candied pear
Weight: Light to medium
Acid: Light to medium
Taste: Citrus, honey, pear, grapefruit, a bit vegetal
Finish: Short to medium
Suggested Food Pairing:
Spicy food and creamier cheeses
Thoughts: Very different but really nice. It's kind of like a mix between Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Would be a great substitute if you find Gewurztraminers too overpowering.

3. Vouvray Demi Sec (Domaine Sylvain) 2006 CSPC 171462 $15.95
Vouvray: appelation in Loire Valley, France. 100% Chenin Blanc.
Sight: Pale to medium yellow
Aromas: Wet wool, wet dog, flint, sulfur, musty, mineral, citrus
Weight: Light to medium
Acid: Light to medium with some residual sugar
Taste: Tastes way different than what it smells like. Peach, melon, crème brulée, citrus, honey, slight spice, asian spice undertone
Finish: Short to medium
Thoughts: Also a really nice wine, smooth. Different but good. The difference in the smell vs the taste is pretty crazy. Kind of like eating a stinky cheese - it's just awesome.

4. St Chinian Grange de Combe 2007 CSPC 155804 $16.95
Blend of Syrah (spice, smoke), Mourvèdre (plum, dark chocolate), Grenache (earthy, blackberry spices)
Sight: Dark red with a brick hue
Aromas: Dark cherry, spice, truffles, raspberry, dark chocolate, smoke, cedar, pepper, herbs
Weight: Medium
Tannin: Medium
Taste: Raspberry, spice, plum, dark chocolate, sour cherry, black pepper, ripe strawberries, smoke, espresso, dark coffee bean
Finish: Medium
Suggested Food Pairing: Rack of lamb marinated in port overnight and then rubbed in pepper.
Thoughts: Really nice wine – I loved it! Has only been fermented in stainless steel, which is really surprising.

5. Zenato Ripassa 2007 CSPC 479766 $24.95
Blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara
Sight: Dark red with brick and purple hue
Aromas: Menthol, chocolate cherries, leather, black licorice, tobacco, dark cherry, dried raisin
Weight: Medium to full
Tannin: Medium
Taste: Raisin, black cherry, plum jam, pomegranate, dried fruit, chokecherry jam, bit of smokiness, leather, black licorice
Finish: Medium
Suggested Food Pairing: Older cheese, steak, game meats, stew – slow cooked with meat, lasagna and other traditional Italian dishes
Thoughts: Delicious, would definitely buy this wine.

6. Custodian Grenache d'Arenburg 2007 CSPC 713040 $19.95
Sight: Medium red with brick hue
Aromas: Red fruit, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, spicy, vanilla, earthy, plum
Weight: Medium to full
Tannin: Light to medium, but a lot of acidity though
Taste: Red fruit, vanilla, overabundance of red, jamy fruit, eucalyptus
Finish: Medium to long
Suggested Food Pairing: Rabbit, veal, pasta with rosetta sauce
Thoughts: Good, however I probably wouldn't buy this one. I'd go for the other two reds first. It's a bit too acidic for my liking. Australian wines are known for high acidity.

While tasting the reds, my teacher touched on a subject near and dear to my heart, Amarone! They take the Valpolicella grapes and either hang them or lay them flat on mats to dry for 6 months, turning them raisin-like. Then they are pressed (resulting in a much stronger juice).

A Ripasso is made putting the skins from the grapes used in the Amarone, into already fermented Valpolicella, that's where the second fermentation starts. And if that's not enough, they then use the skins, seeds and stems to make grappa. Crazy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bison and Blue Cheese Burgers with Fennel and Snap Pea Salad

We had a very special guest over for dinner the other night. This blog has brought me lots of interesting new contacts and experiences. But one of the best things it has brought me is Marysol's friendship. She's super fun, and what more can I ask for than to hang out with someone who enjoys the finer things in life, just as I do. And speaking of finer things, she brought over a very special bottle of sparkling rosé that she received as a gift, to share with me!

From Prince Edward County, this 2007 Hinterland Rosé was the perfect summer drink. We got to enjoy it out on the patio before getting forced in by the rain. It was made in limited quantities so I totally felt special, having been chosen to share it with her.

For dinner, my husband made one of my favourite dishes, juicy blue cheese stuffed bison burgers. I would have to say that bison is my favourite red meat. I've really grown to love it over the past year. With that he served a fresh fennel and sugar snap pea salad drizzled in lemon juice, olive oil and sprinkled with green onion and scapes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Duck Confit and a Bunch of Other Stuff

Is this what happens to you when you're cleaning out your fridge? I personally didn't think it was possible. But somehow, my husband sees random ingredients and then magically processes them into magnificent dishes that you'd swear were purposely planned. I think this was the best of it's kind.

First the duck confit. This was just sitting in the freezer. I had originally bought it to use for appetizers, but never got around to it. The bed of arugula and lettuce came straight from our garden. Mushrooms were sitting in the fridge, waiting for a home. As were the Jerusalem sunchokes – man these were good! What a unique flavour. Kind of cinnamon-tangy-like. One of my new favourite things. And paired with the moist, fatty duck and mushrooms in one bite was like heaven. You'd swear the three were brought to this earth to be served together. And then there's the scapes. I picked these up last weekend at the new little farmer's market by my house. The folks at the Whalesbone supply shop have opened up their parking lot to some local farmers on Sundays. Very exciting! It's tiny right now, I managed to leave with some fresh garlic, scapes, strawberries, honey and homemade granola. But they do plan to expand a little.

My husband fried the mushrooms and scapes, also the sunchokes, which he then slipped into the oven with the duck. What also brought it all together was the duck fat and balsamic that was drizzled over everything. Yummmm!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beef Jerky

The secret to the perfect beef jerky is found in a bag of Butchers and Packers Beef Jerky Seasoning and Cure. Sadly however, they are far, far away, in Edmonton, Alberta. But if you ever do find yourself in the area, a stop in is definitely a must. I say that, although I've never been. But a very good friend of my husband's, Jon Montague, his dad makes sure that when he goes, he gets enough to share with us, woohoo!!

Here's what my husband does.
Buy flank steak, slice it thinly with the grain – that's how you make it long, stringy and chewy. Then you mix the spice and the sodium nitrate together – the sodium nitrate is what cures the meat, it prevents you from getting food poisoning basically. Add it to the meat and mix it well. Cure it in the fridge, covered for 24 hours or more. When you take it out, it's very hard and “cooked”. Then dry it in the oven.

We have a drying feature on our oven, it gets to 140 degrees with the fan on and you can leave the door ajar just a bit to let the moisture out.

I bring only a small amount to work with me. The pepperiness of the spice, and of course saltiness, put my taste buds into overdrive. I'm not sure if it's the meat itself or my overactive saliva glands that cause the meat to be so juicy. Then I just close my eyes and I feel like I'm sitting in my backyard having a bbq. My husband brought a huge bag of it on a golf trip and it was gone in 30 seconds. Best jerky they've ever had.

I'm not sure if they deliver, but I'm positive it's worth looking into.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happiness is a Fish Croquette

I have to say, there's nothing quite like a crispy croquette filled with mouthwatering deliciousness – like these round bits of heaven we had tonight.

Fish cakes?? I asked my husband as he was preparing the filling. “Nope.” I sighed with disappointment. Until he turned to me and said “croquettes”. Woohoo! One of my favourite things in the whole world. Sad thing is, some people make the outer batter a little too dense. My husband on the other hand, makes them just right. A light and golden crispy edge that serves as an unobtrusive cocoon for the delectable fish filling.

The idea for these originated from the leftover rice we had in the fridge. Mix that with some cooked cod, béchamel sauce, onion, garlic shoots and thyme. Cool the mixture for a bit before forming into balls and coating in bread crumbs. Lightly fry and serve with barbecued fennel drizzled in balsamic. Sooooo yummy.

And continuing on with the Ontario wines, I think Château des Charmes is my new favourite. I had tried the Riesling at a restaurant and really enjoyed it. I ended up buying a bottle, as well as this half litre of Chardonnay. What better way to try new wines than with the smaller bottles. Less commitment and so fun!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pre-prepped meals... not so bad after all

Ok, so if I wasn't married to my husband, this is what I would eat every night. But sometimes, time just isn't on your side. And to avoid a huge restaurant bill, or disgusting fried-food binge, the grocery store can offer some other alternatives. Like tonight for example. My husband could have easily made this on his own, but I didn't think something this good could come from a package.

President's Choice chili-lime-marinated pork steaks. Simply throw it on the barbecue, sprinkle with chili powder, and garnish with fresh cilantro from the garden. Serve alongside some zucchini in olive oil, lemon, rock salt and sprinkled with jalapeno cubes. Simply put, delicious! These steaks had just the right amount of spice, and of course, my husband cooked them to perfection, tender and juicy.

We also had the perfect wine. Bergeron Estate Winery's Gewurztraminer from Prince Edward County. This sweet, intense wine is perfect for this spicy dish. But you can only get it directly from the winery. It's not available at the LCBO. Ever since I read Holly's post on Ontario wine, I've been seriously making an effort.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wine Tasting Class #5

Last week’s wine tasting class focused mostly on our mid-term preparation. We went through some of the things we learned that would fall under the written portion of the exam, such as describing the wine tasting room, and what sort of things to avoid before going into a tasting:
- Don’t go in on a full stomach (or after eating anything with strong flavours)
- Tasting are done best first thing in the morning
- If you are tasting in the morning, brush your teeth with water only, and never use mouthwash
- Stay healthy, a cold can pretty much ruin any senses you have
- Make sure you’re well rested
- Your mood should be calm, not sad or excited
- No hairspray or perfume

In one of our classes, we also started working with an aroma wheel (do a search in google images and there are tons that come up). Dr Ann C. Noble invented the aroma wheel to standardize a vocabulary when it came to identifying aromas in the wine. It also helps a person be more specific when determining aromas.

We also talked about the Terroir. Which was originally a French term in wine used to mark the characteristics that geography puts on particular varieties. The terroir is the soil, climate, farming techniques – all the conditions under which the vine is grown. Everything the vines are subject to in the field. Type of growing conditions such as temperature – is it a cool climate or hot? Proximity to water or hillside? Flat or land? Vegetation, mountain ranges, trees? Days of sunlight? Average rainfall? Vines need certain conditions to produce optimal fruit.

We also need to know the description of malolactic fermentation, where malic acid (harsher and tastes of green apples) is converted to softer lactic acid, like in a Cab Sauvignon or Chardonnay. The process gives wine a richer, more buttery taste. The amount of malolactic fermentation is done to the discretion of the winemaker. It’s a bacteria that is added during the initial stages of the fermentation.

Tannins come from seeds, stems and skins and new oak barrels. Maceration is the act of letting the juice sit on the skins longer to get more tannins. You’re not able to do this with all grapes, only certain ones, like Shiraz and Nebbiolo. Gamay on the other hand, doesn’t have the make up to be able to produce a wine with high tannins.

Maceration is the winemaking process where the phenolic materials of the grape— tannins, coloring agents (anthocyanins) and flavor compounds— are leached from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the must.

American oak imparts more flavour characteristics to wine than French oak.

American oak
Vanilla (#1 flavour)
Spiciness (clove)

French oak
Coffee (espresso)
Smoky coffee

What happens to a young Chardonnay with age in a barrel?
As the wine ages (10 years +), the rim gets wider (and more watery). In white wines, the center colour gets deeper.

What happens to a young Shiraz with age?
As the wine ages (10 years +), the purple hue in the rim gets wider. But contrary to whites, the colour gets more translucent, almost a brick colour.
Aldehydes strip out the colour.
There will be sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

Why do we decant wines?
- Let the wine breathe
- Helps to soften the tannins
- Allows the sediment to settle
- Helps put emphasis on the bouquet – especially in a young wine
- Some wines will not open up if not properly decanted (1-1.5 hours)
- Don’t decant an wine that is past it’s prime or it will loose the aromas and taste

This was then followed by a blind wine tasting. This time without class participation. At the end of the 6 wines, our teacher went through all his tasting notes so we could compare. Surprisingly, I got the majority of the aromas and flavours right. I did miss some, but I did way better than I thought I’d do. One thing that totally had me floored was the rose scent I picked up in the Alsatian Gewurztraminer. How on earth I picked that out is beyond me. But it was great. What a confidence boost! I didn’t do so well however, on the body of the wines, or the length of the finishes.

Before I get into the details of the tasting, I’ll just skip to the end of the class, where one of the students, who is also a winemaker for Bergeron Estate Winery in Prince Edward County, chatted to us about what it was like to start up a winery and the bumps and hurdles that go along with it. Definitely one to check out, we got to try their Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. I held back from buying a bottle of each kind but did leave with one – the Gewurz. Bergeron also makes Gamays and Vidals.

The Tasting
I don’t have the name, nor the CSPC and price details of these wines. Only the region and grape. I also wanted to add something to these and give my own rating, based on whether or not I would buy this one outside the tasting. But I was concentrating way too hard on all the other aspects. In my mind, they were all good in their own special way. I can't really say any of the wines we've tried during any of the classes I wouldn't enjoy. Except maybe the one that was corked!

I’ve also added a code below to describe how I did during the tasting. A (+) sign means I got it right, a (-) means it wasn’t mentioned, an (x) means I got it wrong. And then I’ll also list what I was missing.

Wine #1 – New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Colour: Pale yellow – borderline watery +
Aromas: Grapefruit +, citrus +, lime +, apple -
Missing: Vegetal, earthiness, diesel
Weight: Light to medium +
Acidity: Medium +
Actual response was medium to high with emphasis on the medium
Taste: Grapefruit -, lime +, apricot -
Missing: citrus, lemon, mineral, peach
Finish: Short x
Actual response was short to medium

Wine #2 – California Sonoma Chardonnay
Colour: Pale yellow x
Actual was pale to medium yellow
Aromas: Ripe banana +, honey -, oak -, toffee +
Missing: Vanilla, toast, clove, smoky, melon, baked apple
Weight: Medium +
Acidity: Light x
Actual was light to medium
Taste: oak -, honey -, peach -, banana +
Missing: Toffee, clove
Finish: Short to medium x
Actual: Medium to long

Wine #3 – Alsatian Gewurztraminer
Colour: Medium yellow +
Aroma: Floral +, rose +, lemon +, honey +, melon -
Weight: Medium to heavy x
Actual: Medium with some residual sugar
Acidity: Light to medium x
Actual: Light
Taste: Buttery -, honey +, melon +, peach +
Missing: Mango, flowery
Finish: Medium to long +

Wine #4 – Sebastiani Pinot Noir
Colour: Medium red with purple and brick hues +
Aroma: Chocolate (missing brownies) +, caramel -, strawberry jam -, cherry +, vanilla -
Missing: Prune, sweet tobacco, raspberry, smoky
Weight: Medium to full bodied x
Actual: Light to medium bodied
Tannin: Light to medium +
Taste: Cherry +, smoky +, chocolate +, cloves -, cinnamon -
Missing: Prune, sweet tobacco, raspberry
Finish: Medium to long x
Actual: Light to medium

Wine # 5 – Clarence Hill Australian Shiraz
Colour: Dark red with brick hue +
Aroma: Tar -, anise +, cassis -, cherry -, prune -
Missing: Ripe red berries
Weight: Light x
Actual: Medium
Tannin: Medium to high +
Actual: Medium
Taste: Ripe cherry +, raspberry -, smoky -, tobacco -, pepper +
Finish: Medium +

Wine #6 – Cabernet Sauvignon Mission Hill
Colour: Dark red with purple hue +
Aroma: Caramel -, molasses -, cherry -, blackberry -
Actual: Cassis, leather, black licorice
Weight: Medium x
Actual: Medium to full bodied
Tannin: Medium to high +
Taste: Clove +, ripe cherry +, anise +
Missing: Oak, vanilla, spice
Finish: Long x
Actual: Medium

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Halibut and Fiddleheads

Ah, the perfect summer meal. It was still warm enough out last night to enjoy this dinner on our deck. Things would not have been the same tonight. I love that my husband can take two very simple ingredients and turn them into culinary works of art. The garnish does so much for food, it's crazy.

This delicate piece of fish had the perfect garnish, adding both flavour and visual stimulation with fresh dill and salty dulse flakes. But that's not the only thing that made it so special. First off, squeeze some lemon juice over the top of the fish and let it sit for a while, until it gets white on top, like making ceviche. Then rub in some salt and cipâte du lac St-Jean. After, smear a layer of mayo over the top and bbq the fish, mayo side down, and don't touch it until it's almost ready to eat. Then flip and cook for a couple minutes on the other side.

Sprinkle with dulse flakes and dill and serve with fiddleheads tossed in olive oil, lemon, salt and more dill. Delicious!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Best. Day. Ever.

Yesterday was my birthday and I must say that my husband knows me really, really well. I could say 10 years will do that to a relationship, but really it takes so much more than just time to get to know someone, and my husband has put the effort in, and then some. I'm going to do my best to stick to only the food parts of my day, since this is a food blog!

Lunch, well, my favourite lunchtime spot is Benny's Bistro. Chef Scott Adams is a master in his kitchen and is fantastic at bringing out all the wonderful aspects of the ingredients he is cooking with. My husband took 3 hours out of his day to bring me here. I work quite a distance away, so that combined with him having to come and get me first (not to mention delivering me flowers at work!), get through construction in more than one place, and then the lunch, man. It was craziness, but it was worth it!

I must admit it was a bit difficult to get through the afternoon at work after that. But as soon as 5pm came around I was back on my bike heading home for more yumminess.

After a walk in the park with our beautiful 14-year-old dog, our next stop was the Whalesbone for oysters. Yay! We got the Shuker's Special and a half litre of their signature wine. Sharing oysters with my husband while sipping wine is definitely one of the finer things in life. It is magical.

Before we left for the Whalesbone, we decanted the last bottle of wine from our California trip. By the time we got home this wine was at it's prime. Exuding all the marvelous characteristics it had to offer. A beautiful dark red wine with a purple hue filled the glass. Aromas of dark ripe cherries, bitter chocolate, wet tobacco leaf and a bit of smokiness. This medium to full bodied wine was much smoother on the palate than expected, with low tannins and flavours of black fruit, dark bitter chocolate and wet tobacco. (My husband compared some of the flavours to the Colts cigars he used to smoke in high school – in a good way!) It's long finish just extended the deliciousness. I have to say, this is probably my favourite wine in the whole world. If you're ever in the Napa Valley, you must stop in at the Robledo family winery.

Aromas of Asian cuisine filled the air of the house. Korean was the theme. My husband never ceases to amaze me with his culinary talents and last night was no different. After marinating some local wild boar spare ribs all day in soy sauce, garlic, grated pear, grated onion, sugar and hot sauce, these meaty bites were ready for the bbq. My husband boiled the rest of the marinade which resulted in a thick, spicy-sweet and heavenly sauce that we then added to the ribs and smothered over rice. The chewiness of the lean boar meat on the bone transitioned into more tender meat the further away you got. The bits with no bone at all, and that were embraced in fat, melted oh so magically in our mouths, no chewing required. Having this combination of textures on my plate was like no other. Literally the best of both worlds.

The salads so carefully planned as accompaniments complemented the meat perfectly, adding freshness, tang and spiciness to the meal. Seaweed and cabbage salad, piquant kimchi, wilted sesame spinach salad and bright green and fresh shallot salad. Every bite offering a new flavour, and heightening the overall meat experience beautifully.

For dessert, my friend Teresa showed up with a lovely ice cream cake. After blowing out my “not too many” candles, we melted into our chairs faster than the ice cream, enjoying every creamy bite. Thanks T! So sweet!

And Ryan, I can't thank you enough for my day. You truly are the most amazing man alive. I loved every second of every bite and everything else in between. Thank you so much!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wine Tasting Class #4

Last Monday's class started off with a surprise visit from a gentleman from Wayne Gretzky's No 99 Estate Winery. I have to admit, I've never been a fan of celebrity wines. I guess I just always felt that people would buy the wine just because of the name and that the wine itself would just be mediocre. I've even been at the LCBO, picked up the bottle (which has a very nice and simple label), only to put it back as soon as I saw his name. Don't get me wrong, I love hockey and I don't dislike Mr Gretzky. But I've just never associated him with wine, and therefore, could never picture it being good.

On Monday night I learned that Wayne does not intend to go out there and make a wine that's going to win awards (although some have). He simply wants to make a good, affordable, Ontario wine that's easy to drink as you sit back, relax and enjoy your evening. He's not an expert, but is learning as he goes. And the more he learns, the better his wines get – his winemakers know what they're doing and make sure the wine reflects Wayne's expectations.

We tried a light bodied Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot and a great medium to heavy bodied Cab Merlot. We also tried Creekside's Laura Red which is a blend of 5 varieties. All were really good. Ok, I will not pass by these with my nose up again.

The rest of our class was labeled Extreme Wine Tasting. The goal was to make us really see the difference between extremes, which should help us in picking stuff out later on. I wasn't convinced after the first round. I could feel and taste the differences, but it wasn't as revolutionary as I thought it would be. I did leave feeling much smarter than I did going in though.

Round 1
No oak vs oak; light bodied vs med-heavy; pale yellow vs medium-dark yellow

Santa Margheritta Pinot Grigio CSPC 106450 $16.95 09
Sight: Pale yellow, borderline watery
Aromas: Citrus, green apple, tart fruit, light cantaloupe, pear, melon
Weight: Light to medium bodied
Acid: Light to medium acidity
Taste: Citrus, pear, minerality
Finish: Short


Coppola Diamond Chardonnay CSPC 708305 $22.95 08

Sight: Light to medium yellow
Aromas: Tropical fruit, butter (malolactic fermentation), toasty, vanilla, caramel, baked apple, over ripe banana
Weight: Medium bodied (oiliness)
Acid: Light to medium (never high with malolactic fermentation)
Taste: Banana, butter, toffee, apple, tropical fruit, coconut (American oak), smokiness, charred, burnt, baked apple, stone fruit, clove, vanilla
Finish: Medium

Round 2
Light acidity vs medium to high acidity; slightly sweet vs bone dry

Riesling Munsterer Kappellenburg CSPC 721928 $18.95 08 (I went out and bought 2 bottles after our tasting. I didn't think I liked sweeter whites but this wine was delish!)
Sight: Pale yellow
Aromas: Apricot, citrus, honey, melon, diesel, burnt match, green apple, floral
Weight: Light to medium bodied.
Also had a light effervescent sensation on the tongue which can mean it was planted on stone or slate.
Acid: Low with some residual sugar
Taste: Honey, apricot, melon (honeydew), minerals, floral, peach
Finish: Medium


Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc CSPC 963124 $17.95 08
Sight: Pale yellow
Aromas: Asparagus, mineral, citrus, peach, honey, passion fruit, white grapefruit, gooseberry
Weight: Light to medium bodied
Acid: Medium to high acidity
Taste: Grapefruit, honey, tropical fruit, mango, papaya, citrus, lime, mineral
Finish: Short to medium (excellent after serving garlic to cleanse palate.

Round 3
Light red vs dark; light tannins vs medium to high; light bodied vs medium to heavy
Combe aux Jacques Beaujolais CSPC 365924 $15.95 08
Sight: Light to medium red with purple and very faint brick hues
Aromas: Bubble gum, caramel, strawberry jam, red shoestring licorice, candied banana puffs, dried bananas, candy floss, ripe plum, young sweet red fruit
Weight: Light bodied
Tannins: Light tannins, lots of acidity
Taste: Sour cherry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry
Finish: Short


CH Pipeau St Emillion CSPC 564179 $29.00 06
Sight: Dark red with brick hue
Aromas: Tobacco, leather, tar, plum, really dark red fruit, coffee/espresso bean, smoky, bacon, smoked meat
Weight: Medium bodied
Tannins: Medium to high
Taste: Cherry, red fruit, plum, baker's chocolate, burnt coffee, leather, black licorice, dark chocolate, cigar, tobacco, charred wood, smoky, cured meat
Finish: Medium

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pure Torture

Having a food blog has got a lot of little perks. Friends go all out when they have you over for dinner, getting invitations to food events, meeting other like-minded foodies, the joys of going back and reminiscing over past meals.

But sometimes, believe it or not, it can be difficult and even torturous. Like today for example. I received an email from a friend of mine who is in New York city as we speak, eating a fantastic meal. I think he may have forgotten that it's Rachelle EATS food, I love when I'm eating. Not looking at food, not drooling over what someone else had. What brings me pleasure is eating it.
That said, I thought I'd share my torture of the day with you too. He's at Jean Georges. A restaurant at the Trump Hotel across from Central Park.

First I received this. The menu alone had me drooling.

Followed by the tuna tartare.

His wife's main.

And then his.

Oh, please, don't forget the wine!

Hazelnut torte with red wine sorbet and strawberries.

Chocolate molten cake with vanilla bean ice cream.

Yeah, thanks Jean-Marc. Thanks a lot.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Talay Thai

I wasn't sure what to expect when I walked into Talay Thai. The last time I was in this restaurant was 10 years ago and it was called Gina's. Greasy breakfast, BLTs, and if you couldn't smoke, it hadn't been long since the law was passed. I'm not sure what was there between Gina's and Talay, but I do know that the transformation between the two is incredible. Beautiful, warm and welcoming was the feeling I got within seconds. We were lucky enough to get the table right up against the window looking out onto Bank street. Colourful orchids lined the windowsill, distracting the eye from the view of the gas station across the street. And nothing beats natural light, especially when you're shooting food with your iPhone (I didn't have my usual camera with me).

We started off with Por Pia Sod – curried tofu, mushroom, lettuce, lemongrass and basil wrapped in warm rice paper and served with a heavenly, spicy peanut sauce. I wanted to lick out the dish it was so good. I will definitely be back for this app!

Next my husband and I shared two dishes, a classic Pad Thai with al dente fried rice noodles, meaty shrimp, egg, bean sprouts and peanuts, and the Talay Ob Woonsen – steamed shrimp and squid with vermicelli noodles, chunks of fresh ginger, scallions, coriander and black pepper. Although good, I can't say the Pad Thai was the best I've ever had (without anything to compare it to I would have given 3 stars), but the other two dishes were truly delicious.

Service was warmhearted and prices reasonable. Apps range from $4.95 to $7.50 and mains from $10.95 to $14.95.

Talay Thai on Urbanspoon