Saturday, November 29, 2008

Maturity

I drank an absolutely delicious, well-matured sparkling wine last night, from Vouvray. So round, so rich...so honest.

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to be drinking, the night before a blood test. Oh well.

Made up a spreadsheet, charting my wine spending. Not looking good, when you add up all the numbers. Not good at all.

Maturity in all things, wine and finances, is a virtue. Sparkling wine is lovely in its youthful effervescence, its racy acidity, and its lively mousse. But with some age, it puts on some weight, and presence. It's this quality that makes fine sparkling wine worth aging. Oh how I wish I had more bottles of this Vouvray!

That's why I put so much Champagne away. I absolutely love Champagne, but especially when it settles down a little. Bubbles are the most amazing phenomenon in wine, but they're experienced the best in the mouth, not by the eyes. That's why a fine mousse is so prized - you don't necessarily have to see the bubbles, but the way they tickle your palate is the sexiest sensation in wine drinking.

Mature Champagne deepens in colour, becoming more and more golden. The mousse settles down, perceptible only in the mouth. The texture and aromas takes on an amazing roundness in the mouth. One of the most sensational wine experiences.

If you really want to get an expert opinion on the virtues of Champagne, visit this blog. I greatly admire this writer, not only in her taste but her writing as well.

I've made up a spreadsheet, documenting my wine purchases going back 3 years. I've noticed something interesting - the average price per bottle has remained quite constant. It's just the totals that've jumped. And something really disturbing has happened. My wine buys from May to October have been very low - the lowest it's been since late 2006. But November? I've bought more wine in that month than the last 4 months combined. Disturbing, and something I need to keep under control.

My Bordeaux En Primeur has been a different story. I paid less for my 2007's than my 2006 order, even though there's more bottles in the 2007 order. Interesting. And average prices for my 2007 wines are the lowest in 3 years.

It's a process. Maturity in managing my finances is going to take a while. But like my Champagnes, it'll happen eventually.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hope and more Champagne

Almost there, almost there.......................almost out of this f*cking 3 year long ditch.




Some good news finally. Great news in fact. And on top of that? An order, sent in for bottles of 1997 Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, Grand Cru Ambonnay and Grand Cru Choilly. Excellent, because you can never drink too much Champagne.

Champagne's the ultimate in refinement, in sophistication, but most importantly, in celebration. And we desperately need to celebrate, after the year we've had. So tomorrow night, I'm popping some corks, and we're going to celebrate the fact that we've survived so far, and for better days ahead.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why, LCBO?


Why do you keep tormenting me? As if two releases a month wasn't enough, you now release twice for VintagesOnline as well? I now have to go through a release every week, featuring different wines, which prices ever-escalating. Why? Add on Classics offers, Futures, and special offers, and the only way I'll keep my finances intact is if I never go online again. I'll end up homeless, but then again, what kind of bum will have a cellar like mine?

I figured out something. Today, of course, is a release day for VintagesOnline. If you try to order something on the day of a release, the website won't work. The prices are never right, and it crashes on you the moment you click on payment.

Wait..........didn't I promise to somewhat control my wine spending? After all that business with the 2005 Bordeaux? What can I say - I go weak at the knees for wine, just like I do for that gorgeous, thin, genteel, brunette Mediterranean girl who worked at Waterloo's ML cafe, who always smiled at me and called me sir. Sweetheart, you're the best memory I have of food at Waterloo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

100 M/C

Just came back from CSI office on Wellington. Tired, after my 100 M/C question CSC Exam 1.

A lot of middle-aged people taking the exam, which made me feel better. I don't care what kind of job experience you have, once you enter a classroom, it's all different. You really need to know how to do these exams, and it has nothing to do with knowledge of the subject.

Anyways, it was one of those, I'm not quite sure how I did, type of exams. Let's see how this one goes.

Good night

......and that's it. I'm spent. No more, no more.

My buddy Alan would be laughing his ass off at me if he knew I was throwing in the towel. How he managed to do all this stuff in a month is amazing.

Too tired to think. And I don't want to be thinking about this stuff anymore because it's going to keep me awake. Let's get to it. Show me your worst!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The night (and morning) before

Oh man.......here we go again!

Studying/cramming the night before a big exam. Where and when have I done this before? Seems familiar.

Let's see how much I can focus. I honestly just want to jump straight into bed. Shit, it's almost midnight.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thats IT!

That's it, f*ck it. I'm done studying for this stupid CSC exam. I've done hundreds of practice exam questions, come close enough to 60%, f*ck it.

I'm too graduated, too tired, too sick of studying. Shit, I've been studying for 16 out of 22 years. That's long enough. The CSC can bring it, I'm either too arrogant or too stupid to care.

Potensac


I have a bit of a back story to tell about this wine. Way back in second year, for Christmas - I decided to buy myself some nice wines. Shocking, right?

I loaded up on some Champagnes, some Northern Rh
ones and of course, Left Bank Bordeaux. One of the wines I picked up was this - 1999 CH. Potensac, AC Medoc. Being one of the more dependable and consistent Bordeaux wines, I felt that this was the safe choice for someone who still wasn't (and isn't) intimate with the region yet.

I still have the bottle. I will be opening it in the next month or so. Looking forward to seeing how this bottle will do. $39 is not cheap, but then again
, good things in life never are.

Left Bank pickup



Some great wines, which I believe will age well. Of course, I would have wanted the Grand Vin, CH. Ducru-Beaucaillou. But, that wine goes for, I believe, upwards of $250 a bottle so...................
Second wines are new to me, I have no idea how this bottle will do, but am more than willing to trust it, based on the reputation of the estate. And as for the Gaudin - 2005 Pauillacs should be epic.

Right bank pickup


Had second thoughts about this wine - they were only recently elevated to Grand Cru, and of course, the classification is on hold. But - there's no harm in having a few bottles of the 2005.

Back and forth

Running back and from the LCBO's at Bayview Village and Fairview, for this week's release. Big wines, blockbuster Bordeaux - I've been salivating for these wines the minute I picked up the catalogue.

Shopping list:
2005 Croix de Beaucaillou, AC St-Julien, 2nd wine of CH. Ducru-Beaucaillou
2005 CH. Gaudin, AC Pauillac
2005 CH. Cote de Baleau, AC St-Emilion Grand Cru
2005 Les Hauts de Pontet Canet, AC Pauillac, 2nd wine of CH. Pontet Canet

Fantastic opportunities to still pick up great 2005 Bordeaux at relatively good prices.

I went to Bayview Village first. Nothing on the shelves - all the labels were there, but the shelves were empty. The only thing there was the CH. Gaudin, so picked up a few bottles. Mistakenly thinking that it was all sold out (on the Friday before the release!) I went to Fairview. Nothing there too - but did manage to pick up CH. Cote de Baleau. My prize bottles were the two 2nd wines. Ended up calling Bayview Village, where the lady told me that they had 60 bottles of the Beaucaillou. Hurried back to Bayview Village, where they had just put them out on the shelves.

The crazy things I do for wine. But......I don't mind to suffer. Back and forth, back and forth. As long as I get my wines. As it turns out - I was absolutely the first person in North York to buy bottles of all these wines. How's that for persistence and diligence.

The only wine I'm missing now is the Les Hauts de Pontet. Turns out, none of the LCBO's have received it. Guess it's still in transit somewhere. I'm coming for you!!!!!

Frustrated

Just watched the Raptors get blown out again by the Celtics. Who's as disgusted with this team as I am? There was so much optimism at the start of the season about how this team was one of the stronger ones in the East, but they've been exposed as nothing more than a bunch of soft pushovers, with poor defense and poorer fighting spirit.

Colangelo took a gamble, and it's an obvious failure. This team is shallower than a f*cking 6 year old's wading pool. I just get so pissed seeing opponent after opponent abusing the Raptors in the paint. At what point do players start thinking - this is starting to get ridiculous and the next man who drives into the paint is ending up on his ass.......

50 wins this year? I'll be surprised if this team is sub-500. We're glorious in our mediocrity.

Feast


From where I'm sitting, this looks pretty good. I decanted the wines, sat them right in front of me and said, 'Let us eat.' I'm good like that.

Dammit man...

I hate it when people write on my fogged up car windows. When there's condensation, all it takes is some a/c to make it disappear. It's not an invitation to f*cking write out some lame message or to start f*cking drawing. People don't understand that once you draw on window condensation, it stays there - I'll always see this outline whenever the f*cking window fogs up. Which is often, now that it's winter. Now I'll have to get the Windex bottle to clean this shit up.

When you sit in someone's car, you respect the car. Because if you don't respect my car, then you won't earn my respect. Keep your f*cking fingers to your damn self and leave my car alone. F*CK, is that concept so hard to understand!?

There. Just had to get that shit off my chest. I feel better now. I apologize for cursing. But if it happens again I swear I'm going to lose my f*cking mind. Write on my foggy windows again and I'll toss you out at 80 km/h.

Dinner accomplished

Just finished cleaning up, and I am exhausted...

Dinner went well. Got all the food out nicely, all prepared to plan - no surprises. Nothing burnt, over-seasoned, undercooked. Seafood came out perfectly.

Wine was great. Drank some Bordeaux and Cahors. Elegant wines with great freshness and restraint.

Wow I'm tired. Maybe because I was responsible for indulging in at least one bottle tonight. Or maybe because I was running back and forth, switching between cooking and entertaining, and making sure everyone was eating and drinking. But I love it - after all, what can be the greatest pleasure than having friends over for dinner?

Guess who's going to be sleeping in tomorrow...........................

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hard at work

Busy preparing for tonight's epic dinner. A bit tired, but it'll be worth it. Lots of washing, cutting, chopping...won't be long until they arrive.

Prepared a few bottles of Cotes de Castillon. Hopefully it'll be enough.

Hearty




All that running around last night was exhausting. I didn't get back from the doctor's office until 7pm. I was delighted to see a plate of spaghetti on marinara sauce when I stepped into the kitchen. Opened a bottle of fantastic Ribera del Duero. Bright fruit character, well-integrated oak, crushy texture. Absolutely delicious velvety, chocolate finish. A meal to warm the heart.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Busy-bee

Busy, busy, busy today!

Went back and forth, Bayview Village and Fairview Mall LCBO's. Really, I went back and forth so many times, and all for this blockbuster release. Lots of good wines on release, so it was very important for me to get my hands on a few. Tired, and still missing a wine I want, but very, very happy. The things I do for wine........

Drank a Ribera del Duero in my new wine glasses. Absolutely delicious, surprisingly restrained in fact.

Tired today, so going to bed soon. Lots to do tomorrow, in preparation for our dinner. It's going to be epic!!

Probably won't have time to write tomorrow, but will definitely try! Lots of good things going on, just enough to offset the rest of the shit that's been happening. Raptors lost a heartbreaker today to New Jersey - who felt gutted after watching them win on a VC reverse dunk? I know I did. Guess I'm finishing this bottle tonight.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Riedel Vinum






Here it is. Washed and sparkling, safe in my crystalware cabinet. As I opened the box and began slowly undressing those stunning red covers, I was shivering in excitement. Now, what bottle of wine will I pour to break them in? Nothing less than a deliciously voluptuous, sensual Ribera del Duero will do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some updates first

Next few days are going to be big.

I've made my decision, it's final. On this release, I am going to gorge on all the fine Bordeaux on offer. I'm going to splurge and spend like I never have, all in the name of the coming holidays and in the name of good wine. Hey, I promise I'll cut back my spending after this release. Promise.

Il Divo: The Promise has just been released. I don't know what the confusion is: my mother was in HMV and she couldn't figure out the difference between the $15.99 set and $19.99. How hard can it be? Now I have to go.

Saturday, we're having our dear family friends over to celebrate. It's been more than a year since we've hosted a dinner, so it's long overdue. Came up with a fantastic menu - we're talking 15-20 dishes of flavour and delight. I've also prepared the wine I'll be serving. It's going to be an epic dinner, and I'll try to document as much as I can. Of course, everyone knows that when we host, I always end up trashed because I've mastered the very Chinese art of forcing guests to eat and drink as much as humanly possible. Because dinner is typically 4-6 hours long, that also means eating and drinking as much as humanly possible yourself. I end up nice and buzzed halfway through. But all in good fun. No one really gets drunk.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blogging mediocrity with hilarity

You must read this piece: http://cavett.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/the-wild-wordsmith-of-wasilla/?em

Please, if you but have the tiniest amount of respect for me as a writer, please read this piece. It made me giggle at first, but the more I examine, the more profound it is. Exceeding in its wit and insight. Brilliant!

Riedel, Riedel, Riedel!!

Omg, I got them! A sparkling set of Riedel Vinum glasses. They aren't exactly the Sommelier line, but they'll do.

Early bedtime tonight. I'll post some images up tomorrow. There's an explanation to why I wanted this set of glasses so bad. And most importantly, we'll see how they perform.

Riedel

Very, very tired today. Very tired.

Heading out tonight, to hopefully be able to pick up those Riedel glasses. Set of 6 and a decanter. Not so much use for yet another decanter but then again.......you can never have too many pieces of Riedel crystalware.

Wish me luck, I will do anything to get those glasses!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Suntory, gone


Finished the last of my Suntory whisky last night. Great introduction to Japanese whiskies - the sweetness, the richness, yet that clean quality in the mouth - what a special spirit.

I hate Finch

Second time today that I've set off my car alarm. I don't know what's going on - it hasn't happened once in the 3 years that I was in Waterloo. Scared the shit out of me, as it echoes so loudly in an underground garage.

Drive home was stressful. Funny isn't it...I don't think twice about driving 120 km back and forth from Waterloo but I get stressed out thinking about a 5 km drive down Finch. Maybe just because it's Finch. Hate that road.

Coming up with a wishlist for this release. Lots of good things - a LOT of good things.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hobbyist


Anyone who has a hobby they're really intense and impassioned about will understand this. They'll understand the sometimes irrational attention we lavish on our hobbies, investing time, finances, and emotional capital.

I love wine. Have I made that clear enough? It's this pervasive, consuming passion to not only read and learn about it, but to taste and experience all that the wine world has to offer. I know I'm a bore - get me started on wine, and I can go on and on about such fascinating topics as soil composition, fermentation techniques, and the merits of different types of wine glasses. I can sit and stare at my wines (above photo) for hours - no lie.

What is it about wine? I don't think
I can answer that, to be truthful. I've had fleeting fascinations with a wide variety of things - Chinese art and calligraphy, guitar, illustrating, interior design, clothing........but these things have come and gone. Of course, I still maintain an interest, but nothing more than dabbling. Wine has become a constant, a dominating subject matter that I want to cultivate. I want to be known not as the "wine guy" but someone able to spread wine's joy and pleasure.

Is that good justification for my
wine spending?

King of seafood

Talked a bit about the raw ingredients we were having for the King of Seafoods dinner. Here they are.


Absolutely delicious foods, on an otherwise gloomy night. Didn't go too well with the wine we were having, but that's ok. Comfort food.

Chinon


Finally drank my first Chinon in many months. I've missed you, Loire! Been thinking so much about that last great bottle of Chinon I had, when Iwas still in UWP.

Dark colour, great saturation. Dark berries, smoky oak. A little uninspired, quite a generic nose, which is so disappointing. Tight in the mouth, big tannins, but integrated oak. Again, this reminds me of the Languedoc, not the Loire. Unfortunate. Trying to make a blockbuster styled wine is a sadly misguided route, that'll fizzle out once this trend ends. Shit, and I had such high hopes for this wine.

Tradeoff

In economics, there's always tradeoffs. Do I buy a Lacoste peacoat for $450, or do I buy some great wines from this release? There shouldn't be a debate about this right?

The coat was nice, it was grey, and it was my dear Lacoste. But then, I've changed my clothing buying habit dramatically the last 3 years. Substitution, my friends. Transfer all that spending over to wine. After all - you'll never outgrow the wines you love.

This release is a blockbuster. And these 2005 Bordeaux couldn't have come at a better time. A lot of second wines from great estates, and some great regions. Looking forward to stocking up on this vintage, so I'll have a steady supply to enjoy in the years to come. I'll live frugally now - trading off consumption now for greater utility in the future. But then again, I've talked about this before. Just buying wine and building up my cellar gives me utility now.

So, coat or wine? No argument, no debate. Is there?

That Wusthof chef's knife though, is a different story. You always need a great chef's knife.

Economic downturn?

I was at Yorkdale Mall yesterday. Going through to see if I can find a peacoat. Does not seem to me that people are forgoing their Christmas shopping anytime soon. Economic crisis? What economic crisis? Yorkdale was packed and people were spending.

That's why recessions are sometimes blown out of proportion. People aren't affected as much as economists say. We have a credit crisis, but the only spending that's affected is spending on big items - houses, cars, furniture.....are standards of living going to plummet because you can't buy a new car?

If anything, it's a great market for people looking to buy their new houses. Real estate is plummeting, and it's a buyer's market. For first time buyers that is - what good will lower house prices do you if the house you're trying to sell is dropping as well?

On a household level, people just aren't that affected by macro issues. Unless I see barren malls and empty restaurants, I won't believe any of this crisis nonsense. The economy will right itself. Unless of course, the government overreacts as usual, and starts to implement more centralised regulation. You see, the Communist system of market control does work!

Of course, I'm not saying this crisis is soft. I've seen my investments go to shit. So this is a serious situation. But I'm a believer in the free market system. What's wrong is the greed that's pervaded the North American financial environment. Dammit.......if we were in China, these people would be guilty of capital crimes. Execute a couple to set an example. See who still wants to f*ck around.

Economists are like historians. They come up with all these impressive theories explaining what happened after the fact. They're useless when shit is actually happening. Give them 10, 20 years and they'll be able to provide a great analysis, but as far as advising people what to do in the moment? Absolutely useless. Yes, I do have a degree in Economics - the more you learn, the more pretentious the discipline seems.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tired now

I'm tired. Lots of things going on, but I'll get through it. Not that being busy is a bad thing.

Will have to do lots of work this weekend. Keep studying for that CSC. But at least now, I'm working towards something. Things can only go up.

No rest for the hard-working. It's taken a lot, but finally, I'm working hard to get what I want.

Gouged


I'm a victim of LCBO's price gouging. Well...maybe not entirely the LCBO's fault, but I'm still a victim of this strategic pricing that's invaded wine. Wines that, let me remind you, aren't all that well-known.

2004 Chateau
de L'Estang, AC Cotes de Castillon. When I bought this wine last June or July, it was $17.85. Last week when I bought it, it had risen to $21. 95. Do you mean to tell me that this 23% price increase correlates with an increase in quality and therefore demand for this wine and vintage? Of course not! Drag any Bordeaux drinker, and ask them how familiar they are with the Cotes de Castillon. How many even know that it's a Right Bank appellation? And let's be honest, the majority of people don't like this vintage. I mean, the serious drinkers are going for the 2000, 2003, 2005.......not 2004. So how come this increase?

Strategic pricing. Monopolization. And the simple fact that LCBO can get away with it. I'm outraged
, but what the f*ck can I do?

Dinner tmr

Went out to the grocery store today, got some great seafood for dinner tomorrow. Snails.

Snails are a great Southern Chinese delicacy. But they have to be fresh. Sautee them with some green onion, oyster sauce, black bean sauce.....and you've got yourself an absolutely delicious dish.

Another dish I'm looking
forward to - sea cucumber braised in chicken stock, left to simmer for an hour or so, and sprinkled with shrimp roe. An amazingly delicate, subtle flavour with an absolutely incredible texture.

What wine are we having? A Chinon, of course. I could care less if it goes together - I've been aching for a Loire wine, and tomorrow's the night!

Here are both ingredients, in preparation. The snails are being prepared in a traditional, Shanghainese way - you place them in cold water, with a touch of vegetable oil, to purify. The sea cucumber's been soaking fore more than a week. They start off dry and hard, the size of small pickles. Once fully soaked, they get to about 3 times the size, and quite soft. Cleaning is tough, but you pressure cook them, and they come out tender.




Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ok.....

Ok - maybe I over-reacted a little. Just a little.

Just sent in my order through Vintages Online. I should receive my wines in 2-4 weeks. Did I just really call you guys dumb f*cking retards? Oops.

Been trying to sleep so early everyday, to rearrange my sleeping schedule. My body has to start getting used to waking up at 7am again. That's why I now have the bedtime of an 8 year old. No tv, no laptop, just dinner, walk, shower, then sleep. Not that I'm, you know, complaining or anything. At least now I can buy all the wine I'd been holding off on.

2005 Domaine La Bastide Blanche Cuvee Estagnol, AC Bandol.

It's been far, far too long since I've seen a Bandol. Can't wait.

WTF, LCBO??!!

So excited today, because the first new release of Vintages Online is up. Then I tried using the site, and I quickly realized that yes, this is the LCBO we're talking about - a lazy bunch of out-dated, tech retards that still havn't figured out how to properly service their best customers. F*cking hell.


This is what I saw when I tried to place my order. You have one entire f*cking month, and you still can't get your shit together? What is this, the f*cking first time you've had to deal with a proper website? You can't maybe copy what Amazon's been doing for years, and figure out how to allow online shopping? You f*cking retards. Fire the whole lot of them, the entire IT department, and bring in some people with actual IT know-how. First you can't get your wine list right, you can't even get a simple website right. So what can you get right? Get off your lazy asses and fix the damn site!!!!!

I'm irate, can you tell? Don't ever come between me and a wine purchase.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter


Winter tires, ON. Ready to take on a Canadian winter! Here.......we go again!!

Over and above

Normally, I'm satisfied with LCBO Vintages sales staff. They've always been polite to me, and made me feel like a valued customer. Well - customer service analysis is kind of what I do.

But this one guy really went above and beyond what anyone else has done. Remember those Bordeaux futures receipts I have yet to receive? Well, I called in again and we talked for a bit. Turns out one hasn't even been printed and one seems to be lost in the mail. So that lady that told me she'd send out a double order for my receipts? Kind of talking out of your ass, no?

Anywyas, this gentleman said he'll send out an order for another print, and he'll email me something. Turns out he emailed me a copy of my order, something that the sales staff see on their systems. He had to print it out, black out the credit card info, scan it into a .pdf file, and then email it to me as an attachment. That, boys and girls, is what you call customer service.

Now, I don't even give a shit whether they mail the receipts to me or not. I have evidence, on paper, that my order is in their system. That's all I really wanted to know, anyways.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Biggest release purchase.....ever

A fine collection of claret, both red and wine, young and mature. Also, throw in a colheita port from my birth year, and a Ribera del Deuro, just for the hell of it. My single largest purchase from a release yet. But I had a few things to celebrate, and this release was just fantastic. Also had to expend the most energy to find these bottles, but it will all be worth it when corks are pulled.




















Injured for wine


Almost rear-ended this guy, almost got side-swiped by another guy........today was not a smooth day.

The story is this - I wanted a bottle of Sauternes so bad I was willing to place myself and my Civic in harms way. This release featured a 2005 Sauternes that I really wanted. Bayview didn't have it, and the people at Fairview Mall told me some jackass already bought all 24 bottles of it.

But....checked today, and Fairview's inventory still shows 24. So, decided to try my luck, and went there again. Almost got into 2 serious accidents on the 404, scared the shit out of me, and I am never taking the 404 again during rush hour. Made it to Fairview a little shaken, but unscathed. I feel bad for the driver in front of the guy I almost hit. The guy blared his horn at me as I sped past him. The guy in front didn't know what hit him.

Anyways, went to Fairview, couldn't find the damn wines. They check their inventory, indeed it says 24 bottles. So, they go back and forth, until 20 min later, they tell me that some jacksass placed all 24 bottles on hold, but didn't come and get them. Guess what? Some jackass out there now has a case and 9 bottles of Sauternes. That's what you get for being tardy.

Got my wine, came away without a scratch - all in all, a fine day! 2005 Ch. Suau, AC Sauternes, Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe.

There she goes

I just did something that may or may not change my life. I mean, potential to completely change my life. Feels good. Felt better than university. I need a drink.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Black wine of Cahors


I love Cahors, especially in a moment like this. A dark, brooding wine for dark, brooding times. But darkness always passes into the dawn. Things have changed for the better, and our wines will reflect that.

A brand new week

You know, it's funny. It's been 6 months since I've graduated, mostly sat at home waiting. Lots and lots of uneventful days, which I've been bemoaning about. And then all of a sudden...lots of things happening at once. It's been a rush of activity, which is very, very exciting because finally, my problem has been solved.

Through this entire process, there's been lots of people that have stuck by me and helped me immensely whether it was networking, referrals, or just giving advice. I'm thankful to all those people. I don't want to mention her name, but a family friend has been fantastic in introducing me to people she thought could help me. Also, a big thanks to my dear friend Stephen. Not only from helping me out with my resume and cover letters, but also introducing me to new and exciting opportunities.

A flip side through all of this is the people I thought I could count on. I was wrong - in times of need, it becomes clear who your true friends are. There are instances where I felt betrayed and used...I won't forget it. I don't forget violations of trust, and I'm hard to forgive, especially when I needed support the most. My eyes have opened and my mind is clear.

Thank you once again for everyone's support. It's been a tough year for me and my family. But then again, nothing's been accomplished yet. Let's get to it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The meal

Let's finish this up. First course was wild white shrimp, quickly poached in water and served with a sauce of rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced ginger, and coriander. Juicy and plump, really sweet and so much flavour.



Rabbit legs and loins in a balsamic vinegar reduction. Carrots and celery, onion and garlic, sear the rabbit, let it simmer with the sauce and serve together. I swear I placed it really nicely - just forgot to take a photo until halfway through, so that's why it looks like this. Tasted better than it looked.



Rabbit soup, with mixed vegetables. This was done more in a Shanghainese style. We like our clear broths. Mostly bones, but simmer it for long enough and the flavour is just amazing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

St. Lawrence dinner

We had my father's birthday dinner at home this year. In the morning, went to St. Lawrence Market to pick out some fresh Ontario grown food. As everyone knows, I'm fanatic about provenance of food and wine. It blows my mind that anyone would be stupid enough to favour food shipped in from South America or Australia instead of buying Ontario. It doesn't matter if it says "organic" on the front folks...if shipping takes more than a day, then you're doing more harm than good.

Picked up some wild white shrimp, asparagus, peameal bacon, brie, and of course, fresh rabbit.

Now, I'm not a monster, I had no part in this animal's death. This is how I bought it. I was just responsible for cutting it up and cooking it. I love rabbit - I had a fantastic pan-seared rabbit dish when I was in France that I still dream about. Rabbit has that spicy, gamey flavour and it's so tender. Look at this - it's kind of scary seeing it like this. But keep thinking about it as food, and just get to work. I separated all 4 legs, the loins, chopped the bones up, and stripped the fat. Also, I severed the kidney, liver, and heart. I had in mind 2 dishes. Nothing wasted at all, and that's the most important thing. Respect what the animal gives to you, and make sure there's no waste.





Amarone


My father's birthday on Nov. 5. Opened a bottle of mature Amarone, which I've been looking forward to, for quite some time.

1998 Bolla "Le Origini" DOC Amarone della Valpolicella Classico. A gift actually. A dear friend of ours was having her wedding and I was asked to speak at the morning church service. I guess they didn't want an all white service. Because, you know, sometimes a Chinese guy is the best public speaker in a group of 100 white people. Anyways...the father-in-law was a big wine guy. I heard rumours that he has 1000+ bottles in his collection. Great guy. He gave us this bottle at the rehearsal dinner, as a thank you for my participation. And I've held onto this bottle ever since!



Cork looks great for a 10 year wine. I've kept it under sometimes questionable storage conditions, so this is a great relief. The wine was browning a bit at the rim, but still held good saturation. Fine sediment.


Lots of ripe fruits on the nose, but also dried plums and dark fruits. Complex nose - I find it pointless to try to identify each aroma. Lean on the palate, but great minerality. Sour cherries, good fruit character. Lovely, long and minerally finish. Great acidity, finely grained tannins, but this is still quite stiff. Starting to mature, but still has some strength.

The perfect steak

Steak. Pan-seared, basted with butter, stuck in oven. Simple, but then again, the simple dishes are always the most delicious.

Look at this - perfectly rare, tender
and so juicy. Look how evenly it's cooked! You only get that when you use the oven, and let it rest for long enough. Beautiful.



An empty plate means the food was absolutely delicious.

Vinum Regnum, Rex Vinorum


Wine of kings, King of wines.

Tokaji, of Hungary. I don't have any experience with this wine, so I was very excited to open this bottle. What's fascinating about these wines is of course, the history, but also the fact that there is a classification system which lists the amount of residual sugar. I bought a 4 Puttonyos wine - this on a scale from 3 to 6. 4 is sort of a nice in between in terms of richness.




2001 Tokaj Kereskedohaz Tokaji Aszu 4 Puttonyos. As you can see from above, it has a beautiful amber colour, great saturation. Lovely aromas of dried fruits, dried red dates, mineral. Lean on the mouth though - this has about the same amount of sugar as Sauternes, but tastes nowhere as sweet. Acidity is bracing - that's what's covering up the sugar. Refreshing, perfect with fruit. A delicious wine, but still lacking. I'll stick to my Sauternes.

Notebook first

Writing out tasting notes in my notebook first. Finalizing my list for tomorrow's release. Printing out that damn Vintages receipt. Battery running out. Will write later today, I promise.

Check this site out: http://www.thewinedoctor.com/


One of my favourite wine sites. Incredible source of information, lots of respect for this guy. Enjoyed the Bordeaux reports immensely.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some catching up to do

Had a relatively good day today. Drank some wine, had some great food, and received some great news.

I have a lot of stuff I should be writing about in the next few days. Not tonight. Good wine makes me relaxed, and I kind of want to go to sleep right now. Deep, relaxing sleep.

Drank a Tokaji, and an amazing Amarone.
The perfect steak.
Butchered and cooked a rabbit two ways.
Some amazing wild white shrimp.
An LCBO Vintages sales staff member who went above and beyond.
Some wines I'm picking up at this release.

So get ready for it, lots to do in the upcoming weeks!

President Barack Obama

Wow. This has really been the most exciting election I've ever seen, and I'm glad to have witnessed history being made.

America showed everyone that it holds its founding values to be true. That everyone has equal opportunity to achieve anything. America proved that it is as progressive as it claims to be.

I have nothing but the highest respect for what Obama's accomplished - but now comes reality. He's won the election, but in a sense, he hasn't done anything yet. Let's judge his presidency beyond the fact that he's the first black President and whether he's able to bring the change that he's promised over the last 21 months.

Americans sent a clear message tonight - people are fed up with Republican bullshit, and there needs to be a new direction for the country. Bush's policies and misguided, ignorant ideology has led the country down a dead end that'll take several terms to correct. The Democrats now own the Presidency, the House, and the Senate. I'm excited for the future. After all, things can only go up from here.

Economics is a priority but international diplomacy is crucial. Obama has to learn from Bill Clinton and understand that with all the shit that America's stuck in now, the answer isn't more firepower. You can continue bombing the bloody hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but that won't accomplish anything. You have to use those two areas as leverage, to force other Middle Eastern countries to manage the situation. Let the area govern itself, while at the same time holding itself accountable to the international community. That means keeping the f*cking terrorists out and supporting the peace. The place is a f*cking desert already. More bombing just makes the grains of sand finer. Obama needs to return to diplomacy, while using military strength as leverage. Realpolitick, folks. True bargaining strength is in the appearance of overwhelming power - NOT the actual use of it.

It's not just about being a black President. It's about a completely new direction to take the country in. There's so much that needs to be fixing. So far, Obama's only proven that his policies appeal to voters - the test now is to see how much of what he's spoken about is feasible, and how much of it is he actually willing to implement.

I've witnessed history tonight. The White House isn't so white anymore. That's a great thing. Democracy at its finest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President ______

So excited. Election results tonight. Started off a Republican, but they proved themselves to be incompetent, out of touch, and internally divided. Not a recipe for a strong administration.

Democrats, to be honest, aren't going to be much better. But at least it'll be start to get America, and therefore the rest of the world, back in the right direction. I think the polls will be right this time for once. But let me say...if Americans prove themselves to be as dumb as advertised, and vote the Republicans back into office, then we're f*cked.

I might think about emigrating back to Shanghai. I'll ask the Communists to take me back.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Drunk


A curious delicacy that the Shanghainese love is drunk crabs. Live, fresh crabs, dunked in a pot of Shaoxing wine, and eaten, essentially, raw. The trick is to make sure the wine is well-seasoned with salt, and that the crabs are live when you put them in. As they drink in the wine, the delicate, sweet flavour of the meat is enhanced by the complexities of the wine.

To make sure you don't kill yourself, you never eat it until it's marinated for 7 days. As you can see above, the soft, orange matter still has texture, and is given a delicious flavour. The meat squirts right out of the shell. So delicious, in fact, that you quickly get over your initial squeamishness. This stuff is deadly though - don't forget that it's alcoholic. That's why you never eat more than 2 per sitting.

A tale of two gamays

I love simple wines, wines that speak of the countryside and the honest people who make them. Cru Beaujolais is one of these wines. A misunderstood region, that's always stood in the shadow of Bourgogne and the sadistic evils of Beaujolais Nouveau, but a region that produces fantastically earthy, structured wines.

This Saturday, I had a friend over to talk and to drink some wines. Gamay. First was a 2006 Malivoire Gamay. Earthy, with a touch of oak. Bright cherry fruit, with that characteristic Niagara rusticness. Lean in the mouth, a dusty texture, with a bitter finish that drops off. Beautiful nose, but disappoints in the mouth. What can you do - Niagara still has some work to do, but a wonderful wine.


Next wine was a Cru Beaujolais. 2006 Collin-Bourisset "Les Terres Bleues", AC Cote de Brouilly. I expected this one to be the powerhouse - well structured, ripe fruit, earthy tones. Completely surprised me because unfortunately, this wine didn't live up to expectations. Candied, juicy raspberry and red fruits, lush in the mouth, good freshness, but no character. Reminds me more of a Nouveau, which is a terrible thing to be associated with. Long finish though.


Surprising. This confirms that Niagara can produce great wines, but still has some way to go. I question the oak use in the Malivoire. The Collin-Bourisset is a victim of over-maceration, in search of deeper colour. Now, if I had a Moulin-a-Vent, or a Morgon, it'd be a different story.

As soon as I finish lunch...

Get ready for it, get ready for it, get ready for it.............

Here we go again!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Lineup

Here are my picks from this release:




I'm most excited about tasting the Tokay. I have no experience with Hungarian wines and I hope that it's as epic as its reputation would suggest. Looking forward to the Chinon as well. It's been far too long since I've had a bottle.