Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cold, Day 4

Ok, so the sore throat is settling down a bit. This is getting a bit out of hand. I went down to sleep at about 9:15 pm last night, and for some unkown reason, woke up at 1:16 am. Thinking it was at least 6am, I sleepily turned over and flipped open my phone. The bright light didn't help. But I was feeling a bit fresher.

I took my temperature yesterday. 37.1°. That counts as a fever, yes? I swear if that was a rectal thermometer, I'm going to stab him in the eye with it.

Now, the sniffling is beginning. Sinuses starting to act up. Not good, mes amis. More Neocitran, more echinacea, more of this unknown day/night pill I'm taking, more steamed garlic, more sleep. Help!

2005 Baden

2005 Konigschaffhausen

2005 Königschaffhauser Steingruble Pinot Noir Trocken, QbA Baden

This is the second bottle of this wine I've drank this year. Amazed the first time, didn't disappoint the second. Bought for dinner at Ken's.

Light red cranberry in colour. Beautiful nose, excellent varietal characteristics. Earthy and dusty, with pure red fruits and bramble. High acidity in the mouth, quite austere and achingly dry on the finish. Absolutely delicious. Elegant and subtle, with a weightlessness and transparency.

We need to see more German pinot noir being imported.

Picking at grapes

Picking at grapes.

Over the 3 years that I've been exploring Niagara in depth, I've seen and learned many things. Meeting with producers and walking the vineyards has given me a much deeper and meaningful understanding of wine. In my quest to see the vineyards at each stage of development and season, I'm planning to do down this Friday, to experience the harvest.

There may be a problem.

We've been seeing rain everyday for nearly a week now. Cold temperatures as well. This can't be good. From what I've heard, everyone was looking to harvest beginning sometime around the end of this week - who knows what to do now...

I have no knowledge, no training, no experience in the actual production of wine, but I think I would have started picking last week. It started pouring heavily on Saturday, and I would have gone out to the fields then. We had about 3 weeks of beautiful sun and weather, and if the grapes can't achieve physical and phenolic ripeness after that, then they never will. What are you waiting for? A miracle of blue skies and bright sun?

I would have risked picking slightly underripe fruit over waterlogged berries. And that's what they are now. It's been raining, almost nonstop for nearly a week - dilution must be a problem.

We'll see on Friday. Going in with the hard questions, in search of the truth.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2007 Pfalz

2007 Lingenfelder

2007 Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling, Pfalz

This just ain't right. Look at what I'm drinking - a wine with a fucking animal on the label. But, it was for a generic dinner with non wine drinkers, so it's a bit understandable. But I can't forgive myself for this slight. Shameful.

Acceptable enough, I'll drink it, sure. But a cheap, candied riesling that doesn't support much scrutiny. Fruity, tarty, and simple.

That's all.

Letting it hang

I got a haircut this Sunday, September 27. Need to document, because I need to keep track of when I'm going in. No good to wake up one morning, stare in the mirror, and oh shit, I look like a fob imbecile.

I'm taking this seasonal thing seriously. Winter is coming, and I'm growing out my hair. For warmth. Woke up cold, at 5:41 am. An unintended consequence of an 8:30 pm bedtime. No matter. Dreams that occur after you drift back asleep are always more spicy fun.

Still have a sore throat and now, I'm starting to sniffle. Not good. Not good. Not good. FML if this worsens.

Dinner at Ken's

Pandemonium

Pandemonium

What can be more Chinese than having robust arguments over nonsense while gorging on massive amounts of food? Right. I enjoy these dinners. Except for the fact that everyone has to chip in with an opinion as to why I should limit my drinking. And the fact that everyone has an opinion on my love life.

And you wonder why I begin drinking the minute I step in the door.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cold update, Day 2

Still no signs of improvement today. Throat still scratchy. No sniffling yet, but it will come. Neocitran, bed at 8. Oh boy. Oh boy.

Out with the old...

I bought a new phone.

I know, I know, I said that I wasn't interested in keeping on top of this kind of thing. I still don't care. But necessity breeds desperation. Or something to that effect. My writing is shit. With my 3-year contract coming to a close, I needed a new plan. Add on to the fact that Rogers is now charging for incoming text messages as well, I really need to add text onto my family plan. Yeah, I'm in the dark ages. I don't text. Why is it that people use phones for everything except to make fucking simple phone calls? Huhh??? Answer that shit for me.

Anyways, I hated texting because my old phone had that stupid alphanumeric keypad, where you had to press '2' three times to get to 'C'. Yeah, that kind of thang. So no, I didn't text. That was pretty much the only requirement I had when they asked me what kind of phone I wanted. Just something with a full QWERTY keyboard.

I really wanted a simple, utilitarian Samsung Jack, but apparently, those are smartphones and Rogers makes you buy a data plan for smartphones. My bill would be over $100 a month, and that shit won't work for me. So, here it is. My old Samsung really showing the wear and tear of three full years of abuse. I'm not sure I'll be using this phone for so long. Yeah, iPhone when I start making more money.

Samsung

Samsung Propel

Still bitter...

...over the demise of the greatest show ever conceived, Kings.

As presented in Slate Magazine: The Death of Kings

I'm still not over it. How can NBC cancel the most amazing network tv show in history? Americans have no taste. Right. They'd rather waste away watching vapid, steaming piles of shit like The Bachelor, rather than risk being intellectually stimulated. All the while prepetuating the myth that North Americans have 'culture'.

I'm still not over it. The networks have no bollocks.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Changing colours

It really is autumn. When I leave the house in the morning for work, I feel a chill in the air. It even smells like fall. It's coming mes amis, it's coming.

Just like you can't eat the same things year round, you can't drink the same wines either. I think it's about time I bid farewell to all the lovely, minerally, razor-sharp German rieslings I've been guzzling for the past 4 months, and begin looking towards rustic, full-bodied, warming reds.

Another sign of the impending cold - my electric thermos is up and running in the kitchen. I can't survive without a steady and immediately accessible source of piping hot water. I drink green tea like my life depends on it. Sometimes, it seems like it does.

I'm Neocitran-ing the shit out of myself. Let's see if it works. I'm starting to feel a bit woozy...won't be long before I get knocked out. Good night, another work week starts anew, and I'll let y'all know how I'm feeling tomorrow.

Zut alors!

Oh no no no no no, shit shit shit, this can't be happening, no, this is my fucking nightmare coming true.............ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Woke up with a sore throat. Caught a cold from my dear mother. A week before the most important wine trip of the year. Fuck me senseless. I'm going full out with treatment. Eating this absolutely vile steamed garlic and rock sugar concoction. And adhering to an 8pm bedtime.

If I lose my faculty of smell, I'm going to lose my fucking mind.

Thefted

Just came back from Moxie's a bit unsatisfied. How can you charge $7.99 for a can of Guinness and get away with it? A can. Not from tap, not even a fucking pint of it. A can.

Now, if a leprechaun was pouring for me whilst doing an Irish Jig, that'd be a whole different matter. But $10, with tips, for a fucking can of Guinness doesn't cut it. This is why Europeans see us as donkeys, mes amis. This is why.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

1999 Rheingau

1999 Schloss Schönborn

1999 Schloss Schönborn Riesling Kabinett, QmP Rheingau

Truly living from bottle to bottle. Let's go.

Opens with a lovely golden colour, still youthful looking, but with a depth and luminosity. Beautiful, classic nose. I've had many vintages of Kabinett from this estate, and it doesn't disappoint. Lots of apple and pear, but with a flinty, gunpowder aroma and just a hint of oily muskiness. A lot of freshness. In the mouth, the most impressive thing is the balance. Just great equilibrium between the sweetness and high acidity that this producer prefers. Beautiful fruit. Crystalline. Finishes a bit on the acidic side, but very focused, very fresh, and incredibly refreshing. Did not have to ice this wine at all - regardless of temperature, this wine maintains an incredible intensity and focus.

Lovely wine. Drinking beautifully now, I would not hold it any longer, lest the acidity begin to overpower the sweet.

Shops

I'm listening to Pavarotti and Sinatra right now. Maestros, all around.

Well, that was a waste of time, no? I went out to the Shops at Don Mills. Just got back. A friend told me to check it out. I wanted to see if there was a decent kitchen tools store where I could find some things. There was nothing. Just vapid clothing stores, one after another. To be fair, half the place is still under construction, so there really isn't much to see. But really, do you need 5 or 6 shoe stores in a row?

The highlight was a little restaurant I found, built next to McNally Robinson. Sort of a high-class Chapters. It's called Prairie Ink. Local, seasonal, simple foods, which I love. We had coffee (some organic bean), bread, and scones. Everything's baked fresh. The coffee was wonderful, and the breads were absolutely delicious. I don't even like sweet breads so much, but the lemon and blueberry bread was wonderful. Soft, moist, with the perfect amount of buttery sweetness. The pumpkin scone was great - a bit crusty, great consistency. Lovely. And to top it all off, our server was the prettiest girl I've ever seen. Pretty girl. This place, the bee's knees.

So I guess it wasn't a waste of time. Still need a palate knife though.

Preparation

Dinner in a few weeks. The dinner. I shall call it..................................The Dinner of the Harvest.

For the past few weekends, I've been developing and experimenting with the different ingredients and techniques I want to present. It's a bit of work, but very rewarding. Learned a lot through trial and error, but more importantly, I feel more calm and confident about putting a dish together. No more frenetic running around. If you run through something enough in your head, the execution is much smoother.

I learned that I need to work alone in the kitchen. I can't have people milling around me, all trying to chip in about how they think I should be cooking. That's why cooking with your mother is a fucking nightmare. You can't tell her off, and she always ends up butting in and taking over. Cooking is not a spectator sport. Get out of my kitchen.

Of all the things I've been developing, it's mainly working on sauces and presentation. It's about timing everything so that what you're cooking, the sauce, and the garnish all comes together in perfect sequence. As for presentation, it's not so much making it flowery (because you know how much I hate flowery shit), but making it look clean and put together. Swirling the sauce in an artful way around the plate is a lot fucking harder than it looks.

I need to head out today to pick up some tools. I need a palate knife and a core remover, among other things. It looks positively chilly outside, no? Busy day today. Family dinner to go to, and then drinks afterwards. Anything to get me out of there.

Talon Ridge, debut times two

2007 Le Clos Jordanne

Last release was of Le Clos Jordanne Talon Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir. This week, it's the Chardonnay, of the same vineyard.

Great things. I've never had the opportunity to taste this producer's chardonnay, but if the quality is anything close to their pinot noir, then this will be a prize. Wonderful. I'm excited. We'll see you in 3-7.

This release was epic. Among the other highlights are some stars from California. Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Lots of Calera single vineyard pinot noir, from Mount Harlan. Reed, Ryan, and Mills Vineyards. Fantastic. Amazing. It's expensive, but the utility I'll derive in future consumption will more than offset what I'm paying now.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Serious

My friend JC shared an interesting story with me the other day at dinner, about a friend of a friend. This friend, Mr. Whale, is a big time Bordeaux and Burgundy collector. Big time. Apparently, when he goes to dinners, he brings two bodyguards with him, whose sole purposes are to 1) carry his wine and 2) carry his stemware. Serious.

JC was invited to a dinner with Mr. Whale in Hong Kong. Eight wines were presented, all from the 1940's and 1950's. First Growth Bordeaux, and a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. JC doesn't quite remember the exact wines, but there was a Latour, and a Mouton-Rothschild. As for the DRC, the exact vineyard eludes him. There were of course, Champagnes and other white Burgundies served, but the centrepiece of dinner was these eight legendary wines. Good taste in wine for the folks in Hong Kong starts and ends with the price tag. Is there any nice way to tell a millionaire that he has the palate of a fucking wet donkey?

Mr. Whale apparently fancies himself a playboy. The death of his wife probably contributed. Having a shitload of money helps too. He likes bringing models to his dinners. Showpieces all around. From what JC told me, these models should have taken wine etiquette classes before attending these things. Mr. Whale's kicked out more than a few pretty ladies for committing various wine tasting sins.

Shaking up the sediment in an old bottle of wine. Using perfume. Wearing too fragrant hand moisturizer.

I think Mr. Whale is my hero. Don't fuck around with wine. And you should never compromise and put up with shit when you're trying to conduct a serious wine event. There's no ass hot enough to have to tolerate that shit.

Now, all I need are two henchmen to carry my wine and stems. Anyone?

---

Blogger's note, September 26, 2009, 11:50am

Edited. Committed various typos and other egregious grammar errors. Blogging while buzzed.

2003 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

2003 Geltz-Zilliken

2003 Geltz-Zilliken Riesling Kabinett, QmP Saarburger Rausch, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

I've been effusive with my praise for this estate and for this wine. I adore the wines of the Mosel, and I especially adore the wines of Zilliken. Wines of exceptional clarity, purity, and character. Substance, mes amis, the highest ideal in wine. Discussed here, and here.

Light straw yellow in colour, with great luminosity. Beautiful, waxy robe. My goodness, what a nose. An incredible fresh, intense bouquet of honey, apples, wax, slate and a touch of sulphur. Still a young wine, but already showing such an incredible terroir signature. Incredible. Just fucking amazing.

On the palate, there's such ripeness and purity of fruit that you're momentarily stunned. I was speechless the moment the wine entered my mouth, and I remained in a state of stupor for a few minutes. Just an incredibly vibrant experience. Lots of honey, lots of fruit, lots of minerality. Just an awe-inspiring creaminess to the palate, with a round, silky texture. Beautiful. Perfect balance of sweetness and high acidity on the finish. This has great length as well. As close to perfection in riesling as I've experienced this year. Stunning wine, just absolutely, fucking stunning wine.

I'm so in love with these wines. The raciness, the tension...my goodness. Speechless, just dumb and speechless.

Quack

My duck flopped today. I was excited to cook duck tonight, and it didn't work out as I had hoped. Bought the duck whole and fresh, and butchered myself: breast and legs. Cook slowly, skin side down, to render out the fat. My mistake was overseasoning, and not getting the skin crispy enough. Experimenting with the beetroot turned out a bit better - at least I know what to do next time. Cubed and sauteed in the duck fat. I'll use a broth of some sort next time, to get it softer.

More experimentation required.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Big day

I just had one hell of a day. Big day for me. Personal training. Shoulders, biceps, and abs. Crazy. He wants to see how far he can push me, to where I'll just scream and give up. It's not going to happen.

The insane shit I do for wine. I just came back from a whirlwind tour of North York's LCBO locations. Rushed out after dinner to the Wilson/Dufferin location, to pick up some wines. Big Napa wines, as well as a very special Ontario wine. But just as I pulled into a parking space, I look down, and oh shit, I forgot both my wallet and my phone. So, back home and back out again. Shit. And this location didn't have a lot of the wines. LCBO shuts doors at 9pm, and at this point, it was 8:26pm. Off to Bayview Village! There in 9 minutes, where I proceed to fly through the store like a fucking addict looking for a fix. And I found everything! Wonderful Californian wines to put away. You know what's sad? I bought 18 wines today, and 16 of them are going straight into the cellar.

I lost my mind today, after I secured all my wines. I mistook someone else's car for my own. What the hell, I never make this mistake. I walk out with a case and for some reason, I stopped in front of the wrong black Accord. I was wondering why the fuck the car looked so dirty, until I pressed the trunk release on my remote, and the trunk on the car to the right flew open. Shit. How embarrassing.

But at least I got all my wine. Le Clos Jordanne, anyone?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Casa Victoria

SP_A0656

Went out to Casa Victoria last night for dinner, in Markham. Opened for less than a year, I believe, but I've been impressed every time I go. It's easy to find acceptable Chinese food in Toronto - it's far more difficult to find exceptional Chinese cuisine.

Dinner with my friends. Eating and drinking with JC is always a lot of fun. He's a serious wine collector/drinker, mostly into the great growths of Bordeaux. Lately, he's been buying into Napa, and he brought over a few bottles for dinner.

I really enjoy this restaurant. Great food. Tacky decor, but there's really no such thing as a well-designed Chinese restaurant. We started with a beautiful seafood soup. It's difficult to describe in English what it is, but it's almost like a thickened stew. Very savoury, with a perfect balance. Followed with a fried oyster on a mini-flatbread, with a sweet sauce. Maybe a bit too sweet, but good structure. Next course, a deep-fried pigeon. Extremely lean, but cooked well enough that it remained juicy. A beautiful crab was next, sauteed in dried herbs and chili peppers. Amazing texture. This was my favourite dish of the night. A diced meat and cashews dish came next, on a fried noodle basket. Well enough. Finished the meal with a noodle dish in a pork broth, and fried rice with shrimp and oysters. Lovely. Dessert was satisfying, a mix of a sweet bean soup, and coconut milk tarts. A full meal.

Of course, we enjoyed dinner with a 2006 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley. Good, ripe fruit, very New World, but with a surprisingly light elegance. Alcohol is well hidden for such a young wine, and tannins are quite integrated. Lacks a bit in complexity at the moment, and the oak is very clunky. Extremely spicy, with lots of cedar tones. JC gave me a bottle, so we'll see how this does in a few years.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2001 Rioja

2001 Bodegas Lan

2001 Bodegas Lan Gran Reserva, DOC Rioja

The weather's been getting a bit more autumnal in Toronto, and I was in the mood for a warmer red wine. Rioja always works nicely in the fall. I have many vintages of Bodegas Lan, and decided to pull out a gran reserva. These wines have a bit more age, both in cask and in bottle before they're released. And I didn't have any other red wines in the house.

This wine shows a dark red colour, with a full saturation to the rim. Gives a very oaky nose, with lots of cedar and spice. Some red fruits, but this is made in a modern style. Fleshly fruit, and even a bit confected. The oak is bothering me. On the palate, there is a silky texture, but the oak really roars on the finish. Spicy. Not impressed. I was hoping for a more traditional Rioja. We'll see how the other bottle does.

Steel and sharp

I'm turning into a domestic. Nothing makes me happier now than walking in a kitchen store, among all the pans, knives, and kitchen tools. Williams-Sonoma is fantastic, but you really can't justify charging $50 for a palate knife. Yeah, I was at Yorkdale yesterday. Really, they need something in between a Williams-Sonoma and a Crate and Barrel. Off to Bayview Village!

I bought a few dishtowels. I'm now wearing a blazing purple towel while I cook. Awesome.

Big week this week. How come it feels like things are getting so busy now that it's (officially) autumn? Damn. And I still need a core remover and a palate knife. Big release this week as well. Here we go again.

But Williams-Sonoma carries a beautiful line of Shun knives. Absolutely amazing chef's knife. I think I know what my next big kitchen purchase will be...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ohh..........

She winked at me today.

Validation

What have I been saying ever since I've gotten serious about Niagara wines? Huhh?? What have I been saying???!!! I've been yelling and screaming that if Niagara wants to become a world-class wine region, it will be on the back of dry table wines, NOT icewines.

And guess what? World-renowned publication Decanter Magazine agrees with me. In the latest issue (October 2009), which features the World Wine Awards, the Canadian wines were chaired by Tony Aspler. I respect Mr. Aspler tremendously. Vast experience, and true passion for Niagara. The piece writes, 'The panel was uniformly unimpressed by the quality of the late-harvest and Icewines. Too many were overly sweet and lacked acidity, a trait particularly evident in the Vidal range of late-harvest and Icewines'.

Word for word exactly what I've been saying for years. Icewine is too simple, and unbalanced. Even if it's just fruit in the wine, there has to be high acidity to balance everything out. Many Icewines do not have this balance. And vidal is ruining the industry. These vile hybrids are for, let's be honest, people who aren't serious about making profound wines. The only icewine that's remotely interesting is riesling. I've tasted older riesling icewines - the best ones have the balance, if not the complexity of a decent sweet wine.

I know everyone's passionate about icewine, there's a lot of money in it, and it's what Ontario's famous for. But, the vast majority of icewine being pumped is liquid shit. Honey and alcohol, packaged in a skinny and tall demi-bouteille, priced far above what it should be. There's no energy in icewine, no complexity, and definitely no character. Goopy, sweet, cloying, and as dumb and simple as the idiots who swear by it.

I love Niagara, but we can do better. Let's stop all the vidal nonsense, and try to coax some complexity out of the proper varietals (riesling, cabernet franc, etc.), instead of going for choking sweetness.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

After the heat

After cooking and sweating for hours in the search for culinary perfection, you need something simple to help unwind. I know there's no need for such intensity, but merely cooking 'good' food is not enough. It has to be perfect, regardless of your definition of what constitutes a perfect dish. The greatest ideal is to have my guests come away from a dinner feeling like they experienced something new and something sensual and something memorable.

But what do you eat yourself after all the slicing, searing, and swearing in the heat of the kitchen? A platter, a glass of wine, and some Lord of the Rings is perfect.

Late night food

Polish and shine

Car therapy. Washing my car is a guaranteed way to relax and calm down. And she looks beautiful. So polished, she looks like she'll slip effortlessly through the air.

When we go up to Niagara, I'm making sure she looks pristine. Definitely don't want to be tracking dirt into beautiful wine country.

Polish and shine

Polish and shine

Polish and shine

Drill tactics

I went to see my dentist yesterday. It was my fucking nightmare.

The smell, the sounds of a dental office are something out of a horrow flick. Damn. And the scare tactics that hygienists use to get you to floss more don't help either. She basically told me my front right tooth would fall right out if I didn't floss regularly. Right. And if I leave it under my pillow, I'll get a blowjob from the tooth fairy. Oops...............(!) I meant a nickel.

It's been a fairly relaxed weekend. The most relaxed I've felt in a long time. All the cooking helped. And no doubt, the most amazing bottle of Mosel riesling I drank last night, and which I still have a bit left over for today. Amazing.

See, it works when you make a conscious decision to clear your mind of all and everything that's bothering you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hatching a master plan...

Nice. Just finished a great dinner service. Cooked 5 courses for 7 people. They're still sitting downstairs yapping, so I guess everything's ok. I don't mind cooking for family friends, it'd just be nice if you can offer more than, 'It tastes nice', for a critique. Indulge me a little. Hurt my feelings by crapping on my dishes a bit, I love it. Since I won't get an honest opinion from anyone on the table, I'll offer my own. Everything was fucking delicious and cooked perfectly. Half the credit goes to the fresh produce and seafood I bought today, but I think I deserve a little credit for delivering honest dishes that showed the true taste of each ingredient. My only failure was putting the bread under my mussels. The broth completely soaked through, making the bread look like a fucking soggy sponge. A dog wouldn't eat that shit.

Chilled with some old friends last night. Good. You know, if these things are nice and intimate, it wouldn't be a bad idea if we cooked ourselves. Well, it wouldn't be a bad idea if I cooked.

Anyways. I'm working on a menu, a big one, that I hope to execute soon. I'm having a few people over who'll actually tell me what they think of the food, instead of blowing smoke up my ass. People with taste. Going up to Niagara as well. With the harvest coming up, I want to witness the action and excitement firsthand. Exciting things.

Oh, and did I mention the next LCBO release will be epic?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Decanting spirits

Remy Martin VSOP

Remy Martin VSOP

I was cooking the other day, and I needed some cognac to intensify a sauce. I was also being asked to demonstrate how I flambé without burning myself or anything else, so of course, I had to oblige.

Reaching for my bottle of Remy-Martin, I twisted the stopper a bit too hard. The cork broke right off, scattering bits everywhere. My corkscrew couldn't get a grip on the remaining piece stuck in the neck, and there were fragments of cork floating in the cognac. Time to decant.

It's the ultimate sign that you're a crusty old man if you have crystal decanters of cognac, whisky, or any other spirit on the table. That's the stereotypical old Englishman's curiosity, isn't it? Well now I'm joining in the fun. Here's my decanter of cognac. For cooking of course. I'd never drink this rubbish.

The decanter of cognac

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buying Napa

Last year I said that someday I would be able to splurge on $80-$100 California Cabernet. Well, here we are. What the fuck else am I going to spend my money on?

The wine I'm referring to is the wine of Mike Grgich, of Napa Valley. Grgich is a grand old man of Californian wine. He was the man responsible for Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay which won the Judgement of Paris tasting for white wines, in 1976. Arguably, he's the one who put Californian chardonnay on the map. Big figure.

On release is his Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Expensive, yes, but this is a great man. I definitely want to have a few of his bottles in the cellar, because there are just too few Californian properties who get it. No one understands that to be a great wine, you have to express the terroir. If the wine doesn't tell a story of where it's from and when it was made, then it cannot be a profound wine.

Dropping a few in the next few releases. But autumn's coming up, and it's time to spend money on wine. Damn it, I've saved up enough these past few months - why not go a little crazy?

Gaining value

It's Thursday, time for a trip to Bayview Village. I'm taking some time off from the gym. Both my wrists hurt so much, I can't bend them. They're both so sore that I can't hold a pan without wincing.

Been waiting for more than a week, but finally the 1995 Remoissenet Père et Fils Épenots, AC Pommard 1er Cru began arriving in stores. It's so rare to see an older Burgundy come out, never mind a Premier Cru of Pommard, so I was prepared to pay any amount of money. This bottle wasn't obscenely expensive, but.............well, it was just short of 3 digits, if you're interested in that sort of thing. I have a great dinner planned around this wine. I have a bottle of 1995 Château Latour à Pomerol as well, so it'd be really interesting to taste them side by side. Some duck to go along? Lobster? Wow, incredible, I can't wait.

I went to Ikea after, to see if I could find a set of reasonably priced steak knives. Failure. All the shit they sell is so cheap it's just not worth the effort. But, I did find a wonderful stainless steel mixing bowl, so it wasn't a total waste of time. But let's be honest. It's crazy, but I'm totally willing to buy the $80 set of 4 Wüsthof steak knives. You can't substitute for quality. Crazy, but I need high quality steak knives.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dish of the harvest

I was developing a dish this weekend. Wild mushroom fricassée with roasted shallots, butter potatoes, and a parsley coulis. Lovely. Cooked the dish 2 times before I presented it in front of other people.

I'm pleased with it. The chicken stock I used was absolutely amazing, full of savoury richness and flavour. That was the key. The flavours of mushroom combined perfectly with the cognac I used, while still retaining the true taste of mushroom. Shallots need some work - my mistake was trusting my father to buy them for me. Fucking pea sized shallots don't cook well. My fucking bollocks were bigger.

For the potato, I boiled them, sliced thickly, then seared on both sides in 100% butter. Beautiful. The parsley coulis took a bit of experimenting, but it came out well. I was scared of the overt herbaceousness that parsley can have, but the coulis came out subtle, and beautifully flavoured by the butter.

This is a dish for autumn. All the flavours of each component come together so well. There is incredible concentration of flavour, so each ingredient still tastes like itself. And that was key. I need to post the photos of this dish.

Hmm..maybe I should do this for the dinner. Having three pans going on at once wasn't so bad now, was it?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2008 Casablanca Valley

2008 Veramonte

2008 Veramonte Reserva Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile

It's time to branch out a bit, maybe taste a few South American wines. Here we go again. I've always had a fondness for Chilean pinot noir. I still remember the bottles of $10.10 Cono Sur Pinot Noir that I found absolutely delicious. Simple, fruit-forward, and very satisfying for the price.

Casablanca Valley is building a reputation as a great place for pinot noir, no? First off, yes, those are brandy snifters. I'm still in the process of searching out Burgundy glasses, and in the meantime, those bowls work perfectly.

This wine shows a nice, cherry juice colour. Very young. Quite an overt, bright, complex nose of brambles, red fruits, spice, but very noticeable alcohol. This follows on the palate - the alcohol sears down your throat. Come on now. This is a nice wine and all, but unbalanced by the fire.

This is a problem. Over-alcoholic, homogenous wines. I didn't know if I was drinking a Chilean wine, or an Oregonian, or a Californian, or a Kiwi...this is a problem.

The menu

So what have I been busy with lately? Quite busy in fact. When dinner is done, and my parents get out of my way, it's play time. Only my playing happens in the kitchen. Yes, when you want to become a good cook, you have to practice, just like in everything else. I've been developing some dishes, and perfecting my timing. Fun.

I'm not talented enough for theatrics, but I try to have some flair in my dishes. So timing is crucial. You can't be sitting with a perfectly cooked piece of meat, and have to wait another 3 minutes for the fucking greens to cook. No, that doesn't work. I think that's the hardest part. Cooking everything separately, combining at the last moment, and serving it all while its still piping hot. So that's what I've been working on.

Cooking humble ingredients that are fresh and in season is what I'm trying to achieve. Simple, rustic dishes that tastes pure and clean. No fireworks - I want my mussels to still taste like fucking mussels instead of some buttered, over-seasoned shit.

I'm putting together a little menu for my friends. A bit more elaborate than what I've ever attempted, but it should be fun. Let's go see what's in season, and hope that inspiration hits.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2005 Sauternes

2005 Doisy-Védrines

2005 Chateau Doisy-Védrines, AC Sauternes 2ème Grand Cru Classé

So, is this wine a Sauternes or a Barsac? My initial thought is that it's a Barsac - is the vineyard not planted there? But it says Sauternes on the label. Or is this for the benefit of the notoriously label-whoring North American market?

In any case, this is a grand wine. We'll refer to it as a Barsac, because that is what it should be. From the legendary vintage 2005, we are drinking it at least 25 years too early. Infanticide. But, you only live once. I was willing to overlook the hideously expensive price, for a taste of pure pleasure.


It's always special to taste a bottle of Barsac/Sauternes. These are truly magical wines. Imagine slaving away all year to ensure that your grapes are perfectly ripe, and then completely placing your fortune on a fickle, unreliable mold to take effect. Botrytis is like coordinating your love-making. When the timing's all right, it's the most perfect thing; if you don't come at the right time, someone ends up disappointed. 2005 was a perfect year. When you combine perfect ripeness with good levels of botrytis, you end up with a profound, 100-year Sauternes.

Look at the colour. Deep, luminous gold, even at such a young age. You can sense the viscosity as you pour. What a nose. Lots of honey, ripe peaches, apricots, and tropical fruits. Fresh, fruit-forward, but with an underlying minerality that shows you this is not a simple, vulgar, sweet wine. In the mouth, there is just incredible sweetness and richess. Very, very creamy in the mouth, with an unbelievable weight. Absolutely delicious. Lots of length, with good botrytis showing on the palate.

Wow, we drank this wine far too young. It's amazing, but there's not a lot of acidity in the wine. I'd prefer something a little leaner, but this is wonderful. Very luscious. I can't see you eating a sweet dessert with this. A cheese platter, definitely, but nothing sweet. Maybe fresh fruit?

Looking forward very much for the rest of my 2005 Sauternes to mature. And hopefully, the 2007 Sauternes, which I bought a lot of, show a bit more classicism and a bit more acidity. In any case, these are special wines for special occasions, to be drunk with special people.

I love sports

Watching the U.S. Open Men's Final. My hero Roger Federer squaring off against Del Potro. Epic. Down to the 5th set.

I've been following the recent Basketball Hall of Fame inductions. The Class of 2009 is impressive on so many levels - David Robinson, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan, all headlined by the GOAT, Michael Jordan. Man, I miss basketball so much. About a month and a half left until the season begins, and I can't wait.

---

It's over. Del Potro for the win. Federer just didn't look like himself. Double fault after double fault, errant forehands......Del Potro was clearly the better player today. Well done young man, well done.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2003 Rheingau

2003 Schloss Reinhartshausen

2003 Schloss Reinhartshausen Riesling Spätlese Trocken, QmP Rheingau

Another riesling on an otherwise uneventful day. Different style this time - high level of ripeness, but made dry. Should be interesting, as I've tasted the 1987 Kabinett from this producer, on two occasions.

As shown, it's a light straw yellow. Nose offers quite a bit of spiciness, some tropical fruits, apple. At this point, showing some petrol, but not a lot of terroir character. In the mouth, a silky texture, with a creaminess and buttery character. Lean on the finish, with high acidity. Slightly bitter lemon zest on the finish.

The more this wine breathed, the more it reminded me of chardonnay. Burgundy, in a way. There's purity of fruit, but also this butteriness on the palate, and a slightly bitter finish that speaks to me of Old World chardonnay, rather than a dry riesling. This is in stark contrast to Alsatian riesling, which in my opinion, shows a bit more fruit and a more linear feel on the palate. Interesting.

It should be noted that this producer now bottles under Stelvin closure. There's no doubt that these wines remain fresher, for longer, but there was some odour of reduction when I first poured. It'll be interesting to see how these wines age. I have a few cases of Niagara riesling put away, all under screwcap. Check back in 7-10.

C'est ridicule

Fuck.

I'm a bit fucking irate, and I'm ready to fucking lash out at someone.

I talk about finding substance in wine so much but why can't I fucking find it for myself? Stand up a bit fucking straighter, calm down a bit, and fucking just not care.

No amount of whisky is going to give me that. Fuck me senseless. At least the food came out nice. I tried to keep the temper under control, lest the guests hear me lose my shit. Fucking ridiculous. I start searing the beef, and then I get fucking body-checked to the side so he can lay down some newspaper. I'll fucking clean up the splatter after I finish cooking the dish!! Leave me alone - what's more important to you, the food, or the fucking stovetop? Fucking hell, we're in a fucking kitchen, not a fucking Singaporean hospital. And how come the words, 'Fuck off', mean nothing to you? When I tell you to leave, I mean get the fuck out of my kitchen, because you're in my fucking way and the food is going to come out like a fucking pig's dinner. Damn.

I need a lock on the kitchen door.

Drunk off pinot

What is it with profound pinot noir and instant intoxication? It happened last week with the amazing Le Clos Jordanne, and it happened this week again with a Chilean pinot. Unbelievable. I don't think I can handle the seductiveness of a good pinot noir. It's too much. Like a good woman, sometimes pinot noir can be too much to handle. Too much of a good thing.

Wow. One glass and I was gone. Like taking fucking LSD.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mind on a trip

Off the hook. Just remember to get back up. How come this shit only makes sense after you've been drinking heavily?

Hey young world, I'm the new Slick Rick, they say I move too quick but we can't let this moment pass...

The most beautiful lady in the world

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Sigh. The heart flutters. I fell in love with her in 1998, and have remained hopelessly smitten ever since. Beautiful Miss. That is the most well-proportioned hind end ever conceived by man.

See the clever bar I used to cover the plate number? Yes, it's one thing to have someone bitch and moan at me over something I've written, but it's quite another to get my ass sued for broadcasting someone's license.

The gentleman who owns this beauty (and I'm most certain it's a man) is a gentleman of distinguished taste. Well done sir.

Wings & Horns

Wings & Horns

Sheep intestines and pig guts. An inability, among other things, to climb stairs with a normal gait, but also to rip off your pants in a moment of passion with a girl you quite like.

The denim they use intrigues me. It's something about a piece of clothing that changes shape and texture around how you wear that's fascinating.

I'll let you know how things go. Don't expect it to become soft as cashmere, but at least soft enough so that my fucking balls aren't vise-gripped everytime I take a step.

Experimenting

Play time today, in the kitchen. Experimented and developed a few new dishes. A beautiful wild mushroom fricassée with roasted shallots, hand cut butter potatoes, and a pasley coulis. Lots of flavour and intensity. I think I did well.

I don't know if this will be one of the dishes I attempt when my friends come over - it's a bit too complex, and I don't have enough stove space to handle everything at once. Not that I'm incapable of doing this kind of dish, it's just....in the current confines of the kitchen I have, it's not feasible to cook larger portions.

I think I'm a bit of a tyrant when I cook. Lots of cursing, lots of, 'Get the fuck out of my way!!'. But as long as the food speaks for itself....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Perfection

Apron and whisky

I aim for perfection when I cook. I don't fucking play around. No fun and games, I'm not like mommy in the kitchen, I take this shit very seriously. If I could, I'd sleep in my apron. Culinary excellence is a noble pursuit, if there ever was one.

Apron and whisky

9/11, 8 years on

I think we should take a moment to reflect. 8 years. The repercussions are never going away. But I don't know if I feel safer.

Nightmare in the Mosel

Read this article published in Slate Magazine: http://www.slate.com/id/2227805/

And this, in Decanter: http://www.decanter.com/news/289194.html

How can you do this? It just blows my mind that the German bureaucracy doesn't care about its most amazing cultural jewel. Do you realize what's happening? This will be disastrous for the wines of the Mosel, wines that I absolutely adore.

This is a fucking nightmare.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Talon Ridge, debuted

2006 Le Clos Jordanne

Fantastic release, the first in a long while. The debut of Le Clos Jordanne, Talon Ridge vineyard pinot noir. I'm extremely happy to see this vineyard being bottled separately. I had heard whisperings of something like this happening, especially for the blockbuster 2007 Ontario vintage. Talon Ridge is so large that there must be distinct parcels, and this should be interesting.

If I remember correctly though, this wine is so dense, so concentrated, so inky, that it won't approach drinkability for at least 7-10 years. Talon Ridge is also known for being one of the more tannic vineyards in Le Clos Jordanne's portfolio, so its evolution will be very interesting to track.

Will I be so patient?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Annona Restaurant

I've always enjoyed going to Annona Restaurant, at the Park Hyatt in Toronto. Nice ambiance, seasonal cooking, all with just the correct amount of stiffness. In other words, fine dining for connoisseurs, thus avoiding the yuppie crowd that plagues other less enlightened establishments.

Dinner. Quiet dining room, unfussy decor, contemporary. We started with an arugula and bosc pear salad, and a roasted roma tomato with goat's milk cheese. Lovely flavours of late summer, fantastic balance. Continued with a pan-seared sea bass. Clean flavours, side of potato and roasted greens. The chef has the presence of mind to not treat you like an infant, and drizzle the sauce everywhere. Great. It's so hard to find a chef willing to contain their ego, but the simple fact that she allows you to decide whether you want to eat the fish with or without the sauce speaks volumes. Wonderful. Sea bass cooked perfectly.

Dessert, as often the case, was too sweet. But at least the coffee was freshly brewed. Wine for dinner was a bottle of 2006 Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir, VQA Twenty Mile Bench. Lovely.

Not a busy place, but the food certainly is well done. The legion of servers milling around, checking constantly to see if they can clear your plate becomes a bit aggravating. Nice, but gentlemen, take it easy. I can't relax if you're not relaxed.

Perhaps as a reflection of the economy, there's a prix fixe menu offered, focusing on summer fare. Market fish for that day was a pan-seared red snapper.

Great restaurant. The wine, in detail, at the link. What, you didn't expect me to not write about the greatest Niagara pinot noir I've ever tasted, right?

2006 Twenty Mile Bench

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2006 Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir, VQA Twenty Mile Bench

It's undeniable, my love is absolute - this is the finest wine of Niagara. The most heart-wrenching, emotional wine I've tasted in a long time.

Sometimes you see a restaurant list and you just fear the markup. It's not uncommon to see prices that are 250%-300% of what you would pay retail for. But then I saw this wine on the list, and well, I had to have a taste. I have a few bottles of this cuvée in the cellar, but I wanted to taste.

As is the case with most reds served, the wine came out too warm. I asked for an ice bucket, which the server brought out without hesitation - what a nice surprise. Big glasses. This wine needs a bit of chill, to bring everything into focus. Now, if I hadn't looked carefully, we would have been served the Village Reserve, instead of the single vineyard Claystone Terrace. I'm not accusing him of anything, but.......

Look at the colour. Absolutely, gorgeously pale red, with a mischievous glint. And the nose! Mon Dieu, what a nose! Intense, ripe, fresh rose petals just fluttering across lots of red fruits - cranberry, cherry, raspberry. Very earthy, with a hint of minerality beginning to show. My goodness. The perfume of Niagara.

On the palate, this is stunning. Incredibly silky texture, but with a weight and creaminess in the midpalate. Lots of red fruits, but the freshness of the rose petals really shine. Lots of length, on a lingering, whispering finish. Very, very complex, with all the mystery and tension of a profound pinot noir.

I'm speechless. Amazing. And too much of a good thing. I polished off most of the bottle, and I didn't feel its full effects until the next morning. Hungover for 3 days, but not from the alcohol - it was the essence of pinot noir. The perfume of this pinot noir, the seductiveness, and the aggressiveness - I'll never forget it.

2002 Rheingau

2002 Domdechant Werner'sches

2002 Domdechant Werner'sches Riesling Spätlese Hochheimer Kirchenstück, QmP Rheingau

First, just look at the colour of this wine. Really, I've ever seen anything like it. This is a wine approaching maturity, and the last bottle I have in the house.

My goodness, the colour is so beautiful. Bright, deep golden, with orange flecks. Fiery, crimson, orange flecks, flickering in the light. Beauty. Intense nose of citrus, rich honey, peaches, and just a hint of oiliness. The mouth really shows off the terroir of this wine. Incredibly rich and weighty, with lots of syrupy honey and peach, tropical fruits. The bright acidity on the finish cleanses everything, with a long, lingering finish. Incredible. Silky texture, but this is a big wine. Quite sweet as well. Balanced by the admirable acidity.

This has to be the vineyard at play. Wow. And at 8% alcohol, what a perfect way to enjoy a quiet Friday.

2002 Domdechant Werner'sches

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

NV Cava

NV Pere Ventura

NV Pere Ventura Cava Brut Nature, Penedés

Finally, here we are. The fourth, and final, bottle of the our epic seafood dinner. To finish things off, a sparkling wine. I love ending dinner with something that picks you up, and I often turn to these kinds of wines over something sweet and syrupy.

Like the others, a light yellow, pale colour. Fine mousse. Much rounder on the nose, with an eggy, custard aroma. Very interesting. Lots of citrus in the mouth, but the finish drops off, as first noted by a dinner companion with a sharp palate. Good balance, with no length.

Good quartet of wines. Spain really has the ability to produce very drinkable sparkling wines that deliver some of the characteristics I love in Champagne. Well done.

Recall what dinner I was referring to:

Gastronomic extravagance

Photographic extravagance

NV Cava

2007 Pouilly-Fumé

2008 Marlborough

The triumphant return

I'm back.

Excuse the fleeting madness. I blame it on the a---a-a-a---a-al-cohol.

Doing things differently. Taking 7 days off was fucking long enough. A bit more focused, figured some things out. Yeah, a lot of shit can go down in a week. Drank a lot of wine, developed some new dishes, and really have better sense.

Should be clear now. My friends understand...my true friends. I'm an incomplete, flawed, arrogrant, narcissistic fucker, but guess what, I'm not about to change anytime soon. I'm fucking old enough to not compromise.

Onto better things. A few activities to look forward to. Trip up to Niagara, close to the harvest. Yes. Another extravagant dinner planned. One man, 10 courses, everything fresh and in season.

I'm a bit irate, but yes, like Mike, I'm fucking back, and I'm going for a double nickel.

In recovery

Ok, maybe I misspoke. I'm not shutting down La Cave de Fang. What I need most now is some time away from this thing and recover a bit. Like a raging alcoholic.

I'll spend the time drinking some fabulous wines of course, and experimenting a bit in the kitchen. I want to cook an 8-10 course dinner for my friends, and I'm putting together ideas. Hopefully I'll be able to make a trip down to St. Lawrence to see what's available.

So until I'm inspired again, until I'm recharged, I'm going to take a break from LCF. Please check back, DF will return!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Clearing mind

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I need a bit of a respite. I need something to recharge. A trip up to Niagara wine country would do me a world of good. Recharge the spirit, recharge the mind. Whatever I'm feeling mentally/emotionally affects me physically, and it's troubling that I'm beginning to resort to hard liquor more and more.

Going out for a long, long run, clear the mind. It's nice outside...too bad it's already September. And so goes the long weekend. At least I don't have to worry about the first day of school anymore. It's not like I worried about it the last 3 years of university either, but at least I had a purpose. New term, back to Waterloo, out alone again. Good times.

But I won't complain. Shouldn't complain. 12 months ago, I was sitting at home, jobless. Is it too early to want the year to be over? 2009 hasn't exactly been sterling for me. When I started blogging, it was supposed to be something creative, something interesting. Not a place to vent my petty frustrations and agonize about every detail of life. That's what LCF has become, and I can't do it anymore.

I'm dissolving the blog. This isn't a defeat, but a choice. Much gratitude to all...........................good day.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Out of it

Oh f*ck me. I don't know if I've been hungover all day or just sick, but I've been nauseous, dizzy, and lethargic since getting out of bed. That 2 hour nap after lunch didn't help either. Maybe it's because I've only been sleeping 5-6 hours since Thursday. It's sad and a little pathetic, but I'm calling it a night.

Alone in my misery. Yeah, I've been staying away from the bottle.

There's a lot of more interesting things I should be writing about, which I'll get to soon. I know - self-pity and self-loathing is no fun for anyone. But I've been feeling more down recently, even though I'm not that kind of person. Things will get better. Yes? That's what I keep telling myself.

But f*ck me senseless, when is this bullshit going to end? Heading to bed, good night y'all. Hope everyone's happy and content with their life.

Approved

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For the nights when you just need to drink like a salty old man. LLBO Approved indeed.

Skewed

What's going on now, just what's going on? I slept at nearly 5am last night (this morning) and I was awake at 9. Tossing and turning, with a pounding headache, raging urge to puke over the side of my bed, and now, a violent hunger. I've been up since 11:15 - what's going on. Less than 7 hours of sleep on Sundays now?

May have overindulged a bit last night.

Should I go work out today? Really should be sticking to my schedule, regardless of long weekend, hangover, depression, or otherwise. I think I may have a problem. When a beautiful bottle of riesling is no longer enough, and I begin shooting half a bottle of whisky, something is wrong.

It's a beautiful day in Toronto today. I should go out and do something.

Off

I'm devastatingly tired but I can't seem to shut off my computer. It's almost dawn. Really, time for bed.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Right now, he's probably buyin her some fruity little drink...

Cause I've been shooting whisky all night, and I literally can't walk straight. Drink your sorrows away, David. Drink them away. But I'm okay. You needn't worry about me.

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Up at 11 today, kind of had to drag my ass out of bed. Mild hangover. Sweating a bit, palpitations - all the good stuff. But at least my car's looking fresh.

Friday, September 4, 2009

2008 Marlborough

2008 Babich

2008 Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

The third wine of the night. Our dinner theme was oysters, so why not another sauvignon blanc? This time, one from New Zealand, which is now known as one of the world's preeminent regions for sauvignon.

Light colour, clear rim. Again, that tell-tale vegetal nose, but this time with more fruit. This follows on the palate, where the ripe citrus really shows. Sweeter in texture, and much more crowd-pleasing. I still prefer the Pouilly-Fumé over this wine, but it was drinkable. Just occupies a different space entirely.

I used this wine to steam my mussels, so naturally, we ate it together. Worked well. The richness of the mussel stock married well with the crispness of the wine, and its fruit provided a nice pop of flavour. Good!

2007 Pouilly-Fumé

2007 Francis Blanchet

2007 Francis Blanchet Calcite, AC Pouilly-Fumé

This was the wine that I was really excited about. Our second wine of the evening. What else to pair a Loire white than oysters? Classic.

This is a darker wine, with gold hints, but still very young at the rim. Wow, what an intense nose. Lots of vegetal aromas - green pepper, onion, cloves. An oyster shell minerality as well. An absence of fruit, but very, very interesting. On the palate, a bit more citrus shows, but the green flavours continue. Lots of weight on the texture, which is wonderful. A touch of oak on the smokey, lengthy finish. Just when you think the oak is making the wine too flabby, a rush of acidity appears at the end, and cleanses your palate wonderfully. A delicious, delicious wine.

Now, there are a few moments in your life when the food you eat achieves perfect harmony with the wine in the glass. This was one of those eternal moments. Kumamoto oysters have this incredible creaminess and richness to them, and with this wine, there is perfection. The creamy textures of both mix, as do the brininess of the oyster and minerality of the wine. Both finish so refreshingly. A clear beginning, middle, and end to both. What an experience. One of the most memorable palate memories in my life.

What food, what wine!!

NV Cava

NV Poema

NV Poema Cava Brut, Penedès

In the mood for sparkling wine. This was the first wine of the night, and what better way to kick off a night of excess than bubbly?

Light straw colour, with an acceptable mousse. Nice, trickly bead. This is made metodo tradicional, indicating a second fermentation in the bottle. Nose that shows quite similarly to Champagne - bready and yeasty, but quite fruit forward. Citrus and ripe oranges. In the mouth, there is good texture, with lots of ripe tangerine. Creamy, but the acidity and bubbles make this so refreshing. Lingering finish.

Now, how it did with the food was the true test. Paired wonderfully with oysters - the fruit and bubbles really cleanse the palate. With the mussels, I thought the texture worked well. Which all goes to show how versatile well-made sparkling wines are. Joy in a bottle.

Illustrations and a beer

Went out last night to Queen St. West, to attend an illustrations exhibit. An old friend was showing a few pieces, and I wanted to go say hi. It was interesting. Impressive. I live in suburbia, so going downtown is totally foreign to me. Really vibrant art scene going on down there, judging from the conversations people were having around me. I've never seen so many hat-wearing hipsters in my life before.

Leaving the Gladstone, we went to Taro Grill, a restaurant we last went to a few years ago, when we did Nuit Blanche. It's a really small place, with a bar and an open kitchen. Really great food, and the beer served was amazing. Having already had dinner, I enjoyed a pint of Stratford Brewery Common. Delicious. It's a lager brewed like an English bitter. Whatever the case, it's amazing - deep amber, with a wonderful head. Very fragant, nutty and espresso notes, with a complex vegetal quality. Very hoppy in the mouth, but very refreshing and complex. Fantastic.

We need to go down to Queen St. more often.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Furball

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I love rabbit. Cute, furry, and absolutely delicious.

When I was in elementary school (my first one) in East York, our class had a rabbit named Cinnamon that we raised in the closed area outside our classroom. He was brown and fat, and the laziest thing I've ever seen. If you were good, you got to spend 15 minutes towards the end of class outside to play with him. Problem was, Cinnamon never got out of his little wood house. I remember we used to lift the house to get him out, even though we were explicitly told never to do so. Good times.

Many years later, on a trip to some of the smaller cities south of Shanghai, we were presented with a local dish. The heads of 3 local animals, one of which was rabbit. Rabbit head doesn't have much meat, just the skull and protruding front teeth. The brain matter was considered a delicacy. No one at the table wanted to touch it, so I ate all 3. The brain was surprisingly palatable. Creamy, with a texture almost like foie gras. But I only truly discovered the joys of eating rabbit in Nice. Pan-seared, seasoned very simply. The spiciness and gaminess of the meat really show, and it was just fantastically delicious. Arousingly flavoursome.

St. Lawrence Market occasionally has whole rabbit on sale. I learned how to butcher it - front legs, hind legs, loin, and internal organs. The bones are wonderful to make a rabbit stock. Delicious, and I can't wait to try again.

I'm reminded because the other night, I had a debate with my mother. We were talking about my dream of growing my own tomatoes and she was telling me that rabbits would eat everything. I wondered if we could trap it, and she countered with, 'There's no way you could possibly kill a living rabbit.'

I think she might be right. How can you hold a quivering, warm, furry rabbit and then proceed to crack it's neck? No, I'm not man enough. I'll buy mine, skinned and wrapped.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nonexistent...you know

The Globe and Mail has a quiz today, called, How active was your university dating life? Yeah, I didn't do it. Really don't need anything more aggravation, or anything to induce me to start drinking in the middle of the week.

A friend of mine has begun growing tomatoes in her backyard. I was over there this Sunday, and it's inspired me to think about growing my own food. Tomatoes in the supermarket don't smell like tomatoes anymore. There's nothing quite like the wild scent of a ripening tomato, all brambes and sharp, tangy, green aromas. Beautiful.

When the time is right, when I have a backyard big enough and situated properly to grow crops, I'm going to plant some tomato. Add in a trellising system, cover for winter - it'll be great. Tomatoes are quite like grapes, in fact. You have to trellis the vines, you have to prune, you have to drop fruit, and you have to limit irrigation to intensify flavour.

Another stop on my way to becoming a gentleman farmer. Now, just need a backyard with good soil and the adequate sun exposure......

1992 Rheingau

1992 Hans Lang

1992 Hans Lang Riesling Spätlese Hattenheimer Hassel, QmP Rheingau

My second bottle of this wine - really wanted to see if the bottle variation was significant. The second wine of the night, after the Champagne. As the meal progressed, flavours intensified, and I thought a mature riesling would have more presence on the table.

Luminous golden colour, but still holding onto a beautiful saturation. Intense nose of stewed apples, pears, crystalline minerals - all the hallmarks of a wonderfully mature riesling. In the mouth, there's just a hint of sweetness that rounds out the wine. Great texture, with a creaminess that delivers apple and pear flavours with great purity. Long finish.

Perfectly in balance, and more importantly, perfect with food.

Post No. 1001

Profile - Colour

I really have too much time on my hands. 100 in the last month? But this is quite a milestone. One thousand posts - good or bad or just downright shit-awful, I'm still going, whether anyone reads or not.

Wow, I've been drinking a lot of wine lately. Or rather, I think I'm drinking a lot at once (binging), which makes it seem like a lot. But I've been drinking many wines that I really love, and learning a lot as well. It helps that in the past 5-6 months, I've really only bought wines for consumption - very little of it has been put away.

August was an interesting month. We really haven't had much of a summer this year. Only a few days of intense heat, followed quickly by rain and blast of autumn weather. Chilly. Frosty. But this summer, I've made a concerted effort to drink more ales, and to learn more about beers in general. Also, I'm always looking to improve my culinary skills and palate. Always looking to see what new ingredients I can try, and perfecting the ones I know. All with a healthy amount of ego and snarl. Oh, and drank a few German rieslings along the way too.

So what's next? I think I'm going to slow down a bit. Autumn's coming, which is always wonderful. A lot of fruits and vegetables coming into season - I'm thinking shallots, potato, porcini mushroom, artichoke, fennel - all those wonderful things. Also, shellfish! Mussels, clams, oysters. As the weather gets colder, savoury meats are very appealing. Let's see if I can get my hands on some game this year. Venison and rabbit are at the top of my list. Maybe some beautiful lamb (rack and loin) or duck?

Hey, I'm not taking a vacation this year, so might as well splurge on food. Thanks for reading up to now......here's to the next 1000!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NV Champagne

NV Janisson & Fils

NV Janisson & Fils Brut Tradition, AC Champagne, Verzenay

How appropriate that I write about a Champagne on the eve of a momentous milestone for La Cave de Fang. My first bottle of Champagne this year as well. No particular occasion - I'm taking my own advice and drinking Champagne just because.

I've had this bottle for about 8 months. It's a shame that they don't print the disgorging dates. This non-vintage is a blend of 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay, and looking at their website, this estate owns parcels in some pretty impressive vineyards around Champagne. They really have vines in Le Mesnil sur Oger?

Pale yellow colour, with a good mousse. Steady, medium-sized bead. To be clear, I was using my larger stems. There's an intense, characteristic Champagne nose. Yeasty and bready, with a hint of minerality and citrus. Some pretty noticeable sulphur though, which is a bit disturbing. In the mouth, the fresh lemon follows. A bit sour on the finish, even. Yeasty in all its Champagne glory. Refreshing, with a lingering finish. Very, very satisfying.

I bought a stainless steel Champagne stopper a few months ago, but never had the chance to use it. This bottle gave me the opportunity. Finished about half the bottle for dinner, which by the way, matched perfectly. Champagne and richer seafoods together are just profound. The other half of the bottle I drank the next day, with a lovely strawberry shortcake. The high acid of the Champagne, and the creamy, well-tempered sweetness of the cake was a revelation. Absolutely delicious.

This Champagne was not profound. But, it served it's purpose. And with food........just amazing.

Photographic extravagance

Right. So after all that, I have to post some photos. Dinner extravagance, in photos.

Shucking oysters

Shucking Kumamoto oysters

Shucking

More shucking

Kumamoto oysters

Kumamoto oysters

Steaming the mussels

Moules à la marinière

Cedar plank salmon

Spiced cedar plank whole salmon

Malpeque oysters

Malpeque oysters

Muddling the perfect mojito

The perfect muddle for the perfect mojito