Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Accoutrements

DSC_5165

This is the extent to which men should accessorize their suits. Lapel pin, crown. Paul Smith silk handkerchief. That's it. If you use a lapel pin, don't use a tie bar or a collar bar. If you use a tie bar, don't use a pin. Simple concept. And don't match your handkerchief to your tie. Spare us all the eyesore and please, please don't match.

But you see how the way you tuck the handkerchief completely changes the character of your look. I stick to linen mostly, square. Sharp, clean, very dignified. But with silk handkerchiefs, having the points out just seems.......more interesting. More character. I don't use silk very often but when I do...watch out ladies. Watch out.

Photo, courtesy of ROKChoi. Many thanks.

DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy, consolidated

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

Speaking of Bordeaux Meets Burgundy, here are all the links about the tasting. Enjoy, mes amis.

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy Tasting
Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Bourgogne Blanc
Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Côte de Nuits
Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Côte de Beaune
Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Bordeaux Blanc
Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - 2005 Bordeaux
Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - 2006 Bordeaux
Coming home from a tasting
The Doctor
Meeting the President
Bordeaux Meets Burgundy, polished

DF

2006 Montagne-Saint-Émilion

DSC_3346a

2006 Château Faizeau Sélection Vielles Vignes, AC Montagne-Saint-Émilion

Faizeau is a big time wine. I'm building a vertical of it - the first vintage I tasted was a 2002, and it was love at first sight. Last bottle I drank was a 2003, my goodness, drunk two years ago. I have a few bottles of the 2006 sitting around, and with some inspiration courtesy of Bordeaux Meets Burgundy, I wanted to drink it.

100% merlot, from old vines in a somewhat obscure region of right bank Bordeaux. Dark colour, but clear red glimmers. Drank it over 2 days, with no need to decant - sediment has yet to form. Nose booms of well-framed oak, berries. What's beautiful is the savoury, meaty character that develops after 5 hours. Good stuff. Some minerality as well. And who says merlot isn't a serious wine? Palate shows a lot of elegance, with fine tannins, good balance. Oak is quite subtle, but still needs some time to integrate. Finish is a bit clunky, but this is still very, very young.

This wine demonstrates the distince relationship between the various elements of fruit, tannin, acid, alcohol, and oak. While beautifully balanced, the elements are still a bit combative - no doubt the young siblings who need to grow up a bit more to learn to appreciate one another. I have no doubt that in 15 years, this wine will be beautiful. Not a grand wine of Bordeaux, mind you - but a beautiful one, nonetheless.

DF

2004 Douro

DSC_3391a

2004 Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port, Douro

Rolling out the red carpet for yet another sublime Late Bottled Vintage Port. I opened this to drink with my lamb. You must trust me on this, meat and LBV are supposed to be together. You want to talk about meant to be........? This is it.

Dark, saturated purple, very vivid. Lovely bouquet, just dark berries, slight jamminess, very fresh. Good structure, grippy tannins, long finish - all that I love about LBV. This is my little secret indulgence. The Portuguese are hairy marauders, but damn they have some great wines.

DF

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Working it

I had a monster workout today. Worked out to the point of almost puking. And the whole time I was cranking that shit out, I was running this in my mind. You've got to have that anger, that aggression - otherwise you just end up like that ditz who sleepwalks on the elliptical, trying to get guys to notice how tight her tights ride up her ass.

But no, the French are wonderful. Just not this asshole.

DF

Almost there

DSC_3336

Went out for a walk this weekend - spring's almost here. Still dreary out, grass still withered. But spring is coming.

DF

Vines Magazine

vwhite_contents

Just started reading this wine magazine, from Canada (!). Vines magazine, which I received a few free issues of - I think I'm going to get a subscription. Really enjoy the editorials - sometimes people are so focused on wine criticism that they forget...wine writing entails some actual writing.

Search out this issue - includes a feature on Derek Barnett, of Lailey. Good stuff. Well earned, Derek - you deserve a little recognition for not compromising and producing true Niagara wine.

DF

Fizz, pop, bang

NV Bonville

It's been far too long since my last bottle of Champagne. Far too long.

DF

Need it, want it

Blind tasting

I'm inspired by Lloyd Flatt's auction. I don't want to die with an intact cellar - and my writing always seems better after a few glasses. I don't think I could love another human being as much as I love to drink. That's how I'd like to be remembered...as a man of discerning palate and taste, a true lover of wine.

DF

2008 Mosel

DSC_3369a

2008 Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Riesling, QbA Mosel

An entry level riesling from a very reputable Mosel producer. Can't go wrong. Simple, balanced wine, delicious with food, very pure fruit. Would like to pay less, but what do you do.

DF

Monday, March 29, 2010

Colour over fire

DSC_3384a

I love drinking wine over candles. Really shows you the saturation, and throws off a beautiful hue. Look at how beautiful this is, ruby and glowing. And drinking in the dark makes it really, really easy to over-indulge. Delicious.

DF

Dark on the stairs

DSC_3388

I had candles going up the stairs. Ambience. A bit cultish, but very cozy.

DF

Cheese platter, in the dark

Dark

And then we enjoyed some cheese and a late bottled vintage port, in the dark.

DF

Earth Hour, 2010

DSC_3376

It was Earth Hour this weekend. I hope everyone celebrated it. Yes, I think of it as a celebration. People are sniping about how the electricity usage didn't go down, that it's a sham. How cynical. You can't just shut off the lights, and enjoy the darkness? Being able to see your dinner companion's face is overrated. At times, I'd very much prefer to listen to her voice instead, which is what we did - we experienced the food and the wine, and the conversation in a completely different manner. And it worked - the wine certainly tasted phenomenal.

Maybe I'll start making this a regular feature for my dinners.

DF

Seared lamb

Lamb

I had lamb last Friday. Seared hard, with whole crushed garlic, rosemary. These need to be seasoned heavily, then cooked to pink inside. With a glass of young claret - delicious.

DF

Stumbling around downtown Toronto

Eaton Centre

As I drunkenly stumbled through Eaton Centre, looking to see if Arby's was still open, the soft glow coming off the geese fascinated me. So I drunkenly took a shot. Because no one's ever taken this shot before, right?

DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy, polished

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

I really like the hotel that this event was held at. Polished silver, gold-buttoned coats, white gloves...too bad the guests were all drunk. At least I didn't spill any wine, like last time.

DF

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meeting the President

Greg Dunlop

I was introduced to this gentleman, Mr. Greg Dunlop - the European Wines Category Manager for the LCBO. We had a great conversation about a lot of things, among them LCBO's Vintages Online website.

I need to start taking better photos. Look at my face. Ugh.

DF

The Doctor

Dr. Bourassa

This is what you wear to a tasting that decrees a business attire dress code. Paul Stuart wool jacket, 3 button, single vent. Franco cotton shirt, spread collar. Hugo Boss silk tie, with burgundy accents. Can't see them, but Aquascutum, grey checked pants. Regal brown shoes. No linen this time - I needed the pocket to put my sunglasses in. Of course, a tie bar, because you don't want your tie to dip into the spit bucket.

I have come to the conclusion that tasting and judging young claret is an utterly futile exercise, leaving the taster with nothing but a mess of tannin-stained teeth. But these tastings are so fun. I met this gentleman. The Doctor really knows how to work a room. You know one of those cats that seem to know everyone? He introduced me to some of his buddies, including the next gentleman...

DF

Coming home from a tasting

King St.

Well, usually at these big wine tastings, they put out paper cups for you to use as spittoons. None were offered at this tasting. I pounded the wine like there was no tomorrow. I can't claim that my palate wasn't affected. But I was really, really happy, and mingling like I've never mingled before. At about 2 ounces per pour, I must have drunk at least about 2/3 of a bottle three hours into the tasting. It was great. Walking along King Street after, I was mesmerized by the lights.

I was so drunk.

DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - 2006 Bordeaux

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

Moving onto 2006 Bordeaux. What's been exclaimed as a more classic vintage for Bordeaux, 2006 came out very expensive, and I hope that it's all worth it. The tasting was great - the superstar was of course, 2006 Margaux, at $800. Needed a ticket for it as well. A very feminine wine, so elegant, and money being no object, this is the First Growth that I'd put in my cellar. What excited me more, as it makes a lot more sense, is the Branaire-Ducru. My first time tasting this wine, and it was amazing, in terms of classic claret that is eminently ageable. Wonderful, and I need to put this wine in my cellar.

2006 Château Margaux, AC Margaux 1er Cru: a star, rustic nose, briary tight structure, very feminine in contrast to Mouton, exceptionally elegant, a very fine wine
2006 Château Chasse-Spleen, AC Moulis: good creamy berries on the nose, tight structure, finishes a bit coarse, needs a lot of time
2006 Les Forts de Latour, AC Pauillac, 2nd Wine of Ch. Latour: good fruit, big structure, big tannins, should be delicious in 5-10 years, very expensive at $145 though
2006 Château Branaire-Ducru, AC Saint-Julien 4ème cru: a star of the Left Bank wines - very fresh berries, high acidity, very fine tannins, very long - I need to look into buying this wine
2006 Château Gruaud-Larose, Ac Saint-Julien 2ème cru: rustic nose, sweet palate, rustic finish, almost a bit dirty
2006 Château Canon, AC Saint-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé: fruit is just extraordinarily fresh, soft structure, very approachable - is this what it takes to be a 1er Grand Cru Classé? If so, I have no interest in putting any of this in my cellar

DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - 2005 Bordeaux

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

Drinking 2005 Bordeaux is always a pleasure. At just over 4 years of age, this should be interesting to see how everything's going. The star, of course, was 2005 Mouton-Rothschild. Yeah, tasting $1000 wine is always epic. We even needed tickets to get a taste. It's a very surprising wine - certainly not the overblown, oak monster you think it'd be, after all that Parker's written about it. It's sublime, very balanced, very elegant, very concentrated. Oaky at the moment, but clearly a special wine. The rest of the 2005's were showing favourably. Finely structure, and a vintage that I'm looking forward to drink over the next 20 years.

2005 Château Mouton-Rothschild, AC Pauillac 1er Cru: oaky nose, concentrated, big structure but very, very fine tannins, incredible balance, elegant and very polished
2005 Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, AC Pauillac 2ème Cru: perfumed nose, creamy fruit, finish is a bit coarse, very dry
2005 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion, AC Pessac-Léognan: good nose, fresh fruits, dark berries, very fine structure
2005 Château Montrose, AC Saint-Estèphe 2ème Cru: perfumed nose, juicy berries, hard structure, very big, dry finish, needs time but should be very good
2005 Château Brane-Cantenac, AC Margaux 2ème Cru: a bit vegetal on the nose, good stuffing, dark berries, sweet fruit, structure remains tight
2005 Château L'Arrosée, AC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru: perfumed fruit, good balance, gorgeous aromas, big structure

DF

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Bordeaux Blanc

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

Looking forward to these wines. In the past few months, I've been mad for white Bordeaux. They didn't pour that many at this tasting, but the ones they did show were outstanding. The lone Sauternes I tasted was extraodinary, a 50 year wine. Smith Haut Lafitte was delicious, as it always is. The surprise was the Talbot - a white wine coming out of St-Julien. I will be buying heavily into dry white Bordeaux, wines of great balance, aromatics, and aging capacity.

2006 Caillou Blanc du Talbot, AC Saint-Julien: booming sauvignon nose, very fresh, some green on the palate, high acidity, very fresh fruit
2005 Château Carbonnieux Blanc, AC Pessac-Léognan: tropical fruit on the nose, very fruit forward, fresh, oak on the palate, lots of fruit, finishes with lots of creamy oak, delicious
2006 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, AC Pessac-Léognan: good combination of fruit and oak, very high acidity
2005 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, AC Sauternes 1er Cru: so much apricot on the nose, very sweet, dried fruit on finish, very concentrated and viscous, incredible length, a big, important wine

DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Côte de Beaune

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

Moving onto the wines of the Côte de Beaune. These were clearly my favourite red Burgundies of the night. I just fell in love with Volnay. Rustic, austere wines, silky femininity and so, so seductive. My goodness. If I had the money, these were the trophies I'd bring home. The 2005's were stunning, but the 2006's showed well - both vintages need lots of time in the bottle to unwind. The bouquets were just extraordinary. Shows why Burgundy is one of the world's finest wines.

2006 Domaine Blain-Gagnard Volnay Champans 1er Cru: good perfume, great fruit, very tight structure, lovely personality
2006 Domaine Joseph Voillot Volnay Les Frémiets 1er Cru: rustic nose and mouth, bigger tannins, losing some focus on the palate
2006 Fernand & Laurent Pillot Pommard Les Charmots 1er Cru: my favourite Volnay, and possibly of the all the red Burgundies; very rustic nose, earthy bouquet, lovely fruit, sweet in the mouth, loads of fresh berries, tight tannins; just a fantastically complete wine
2006 Thierry & Pascal Matrot La Pièce Sous Le Bois Blagny 1er Cru: fruit forward nose, good structure, soft, more feminine, furry tannins
2006 Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Corton Le Corton Grand Cru: very fine, elegant and linear palate, needs time to round out the bitter finish
2005 Domaine Parent Corton Les Renardes Grand Cru: rustic nose, dark fruits, very stiff structure, very dry, needs a lot of time
2006 Maison Champy Corton Grand Cru: some alcohol burning on the nose, bright fruit on the palate, juicy

DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Côte de Nuits

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

Moving onto the red Burgundies of the Côte de Nuits. 100% pinot noir of course - I was pumped to taste the 2005's. Big, big blockbuster vintage. The question was, as it always is, about balance. Would the fruit, the alcohol, the acidity, the oak all be in balance? Yes, in most cases. There's a lovely fine texture and structure to all these wines - some a bit oakier than others, but all showing fabulous pinot noir character, and that tell-tale rusticity that I just adore in Burgundy. Wonderful all around. The Grand Cru wines, especially of the Clos de Vougeot clearly show their pedigree, and their $169 price tag. They need a good 20 years, but wow, these wines are spectacular.

2005 Domaine de la Vougeraie Nuits-St-Georges Les Damodes 1er Cru: juicy fruit, tar on bouquet, fresh berries, very fine structure, low in weight but good intensity
2006 Domaine de la Vougeraie Nuits-St-Georges Les Damodes 1er Cru: earthy red berries on nose, fine structure, lean
2006 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges Clos Des Porrets Saint-Georges 1er Cru: earty nose, fine structure, fresh berries, grippy tannins cling nicely, candied fruit on finish
2006 Domaine Pierre Amiot & Fils Morey-Saint-Denis Les Ruchots 1er Cru: rustic nose, darker fruit, lean fine structure, finish is a bit coarse
2005 Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot Les Cras 1er Cru: great fruit, spicy, good structure, solid wine
2006 Domaine Taupenot-Merme Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru: rustic all around, good structure, finishes coarse
2005 Domaine de la Vougeraie Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru: round, rustic nose, velvet palate, very refined, a star

DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy - Bourgogne Blanc

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy

The white Burgundies being poured were interesting to taste, for me. My experience with Bourgogne blanc lies mostly with Chablis, and this presented an excellent opportunity to learn more about the more acclaimed regions for chardonnay. Overall, the wines were a bit oakier than I would have liked to have seen. Certainly, the 2005's and some of the 2006's are meant for aging. Balanced, well-integrated alcohols, with ripe fruit. Would have liked to have seen less oak, but with age, these wines are going to be delicious. The Grand Cru wines clearly need at least 7-10 years to allow the oak to settle down. But would I pay $150+ for them? Would you?

2006 Domaine Colin-Deleger Chassagne-Montrachet en Remilly 1er Cru: oaky, creamy nose, very powerful acids, bitter finish
2005 Domaine Marc Morey & Fils Chassagne-Montrachet en Virondot 1er Cru: pungent, rustic nose, straw, lean palate
2006 Maison Louis Latour Meursault Poruzots 1er Cru: reticent nose, creamy palate, lacks intensity, nondescript fruit, even finishes a bit candied
2006 Domaine Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru: lean, hollow fruit, very bitter
2006 Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru: oaky nose, fresh fruit, palate shows high levels of oak


DF

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy Tasting

Le Meridien King Edward

I attended an LCBO tasting last week, Bordeaux Meets Burgundy, held at the Le Méridien King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto. It showcased 2005/2006 Bordeaux and Burgundy, and included a silent auction for various lots from both wine regions. I was excited - of the wines being poured, I was only going for the Burgundy. The plan was to focus on those first, while the palate and mind were still fresh. Any Bordeaux I had the chance to taste would have been a bonus - I was getting all my money's worth on Burgundy.

It was a great event. Met some interesting people, the wines showed well. Tasting notes to follow.

DF

2007 Twenty Mile Bench

2007 Le Clos Jordanne

2007 Le Clos Jordanne Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay, VQA Twenty Mile Bench

Feeling like drinking a trophy wine. What the hell. What some (including myself) regard as the finest wines in Niagara, Le Clos Jordanne follows Burgundian traditions in a New World context. I adore their pinot noirs, and having some experience with their vineyards and production facilities, I eagerly opened a bottle of their single-vineyard chardonnay, from one of the most blockbuster vintages in Niagara history.

I double decanted for about 3 hours. In the glass, a pale colour. Lots of creamy oak on the nose, some bright citrus fruit beginning to peak out. Some minerality as well. No doubt, this is a 2007 wine - a vintage of great heat and aridity. Texture in the mouth still needs to fill out a bit, ends with booming oak - just a shattering amount of creamy, sweet oak. That's a problem for me. I'm of course drinking and judging this wine far too early. We'll see in 5 years or so. Hopefully, the wood integrates, the fruit blossoms, and the texture fills out.

No doubt a big wine. But an important one? Time will reveal all.

DF

Friday, March 26, 2010

Going out!

I don't care, I'm going out tonight. Yeah, never been too hot about going south of Eglinton, but I need to get out of the house. Plan on getting drunk tonight...there, I said it. And I fully plan on finishing a glass or three of this wonderful 2006 Faizeau in my hand right now.

Should be wonderful going downtown, when it's -10 celcius outside, and the subway closes at 1:30, no?

DF

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A true shucker

Kushi/Effingham oysters

You know, I'm getting quite good at this. A dozen, shucked in 3 minutes, no knife wounds, no sprained wrists, no gnashing of the teeth.

DF

Kushi oysters

Kushi oyster

Kushi oysters, from British Columbia. The finest oyster experience I've had. Incredibly delicate flavour, very creamy, with an unbelievable sweetness on the finish. Very, very fine indeed, just delicious.

DF

Effingham oysters

Effingham oyster

Effingham oysters, from British Columbia. Briny marine flavours, good weight and texture. Juicy.

DF

I would rather die

The Wall Street Journal blog, The Wealth Report, reports on news of the sale of Lloyd Flatt's cellar. Mr. Flatt was an international aerospace consultant, known better as a collector of fine wines, and for always wearing an eye patch over his right eye. That's right. An eye patch. That's a true g right there.

About the stars of the auction, the author writes:

A jeroboam of Chateau Lafite 1959 went for $30,250. Six magnums of La Tache also sold for $30,250, way above the presale high estimate of $18,000. A bottle of Chambertin 1865 sold for a staggering $10,890–more than seven times as much as the presale high estimate of $1,500. The blockbuster of the night was a Methuselah of Romanee Conti 1976 that sold for $42,350, or more than two times the high estimate.

How sad. To die with bottles of 19th century Burgundy, and some of the finest Romanée-Conti still sitting in the cellar. What's the point? I mean, not that I could ever dream of ever owning these wines, but what I do have, I fully intend on drinking every damn bottle. Every, single, drop.

DF

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Haul

I should look into doing something like this. An article in Slate Magazine, titled Thrill of the Haul. The author describes a recent trend on Youtube, of young girls posting videos of clothing they've bought, called haul videos.

I don't see the appeal of either posting or watching this stuff, much as I don't see the point of wine writers enthusing about 'The top 10 wines under $10!' - but that's just me. Think this'll work for me? If I just posted video showing off every bottle of wine I picked up from each release?

You know what the secret to these Youtubers like Blair is? Attractiveness, no? She's pretty, and that's really the only thing that matters in video. No one wants to see an ugly girl, much like no one wants to see a Chinese guy have anything to do with wine.

DF

Porgy

Porgies

Greek porgy, also known as sea bream, is an interesting little fish. Don't try cleaning this at home - I learned the hard way. Its scales are impossible to remove without the proper tool - like dragon scales. It doesn't happen often, but you could very well tear the skin. This fish has a firm texture, with delicate flavours. So, cook it simply. Layered in coarse sea salt, lemon slices, and drizzled with olive oil. In the oven for 40 minutes, low heat. That's it.

Since it's quite small, one fish equals about one portion.

DF

Sea urchin, Part VIII

Sea urchin

The second method was in oven. Baked for about 4 minutes. They come out with a subtle smokiness, but again, just too rich, too creamy. Yeah, shouldn't have messed around with a good thing. Eat them raw, on sushi, or as part of a sashimi platter. Should have followed my own rule - keep things as simple as possible.

DF

Sea urchin, Part VII

Sea urchin

I wanted to cook the sea urchins lightly, two ways. First was steaming. A quick 5 minutes, then out. Everything stays a bit runny. Not too crazy about the flavour. A bit too creamy, too rich, too oily even. Just sticks to the palate. The runny eggs certainly didn't help.

DF

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sea urchin, Part VI

Sea urchin

Cook the eggs in low heat. Almost close to how you'd cook scrambled eggs, but you have to keep turning with a spatula, over extremely low heat. Don't let it begin to set. While it's still runny, but just before it begins to take shape, spoon it into the empty shell. Top it with the uni, with a few drizzles of its own juices.

DF

Sea urchin, Part V

Eggs beaten

So on to the actual cooking. I wanted to do it with eggs. Three eggs, beaten well, slightly seasoned. I beat them for a good 10 minutes - you really want a fine, creamy texture. Very, very little seasoning.

DF

Sea urchin, Part IV

Sea urchin

Another look. The shells are striped and purple.

DF

Sea urchin, Part III

Sea urchin

Scooped out, and washed. I wanted to keep the sea urchin shells, to use as bowls. The entrails are a bit stubborn, so you have to scrape them out with a spoon. Rinsed in cold water, and dried. Look how beautiful the uni looks.

DF

Sea urchin, Part II

Sea urchin

So this is how sea urchins are opened. You cut around the mouth, removing the hard, almost rock like outer shell. Extraordinary - the shell underneath the spikes is purple, looking very much like those huge quartz crystals you see sold in cheap art shops. The gonads, the only edible portion, is orange, and look remarkably like roe. Bathed in a briny, dark juice. Wonderful. Since these are most commonly eaten raw, I spooned some in my mouth. Uni has an amazingly savoury, slightly briny flavour, very delicate indeed. Soft texture, almost creamy. Delicious, but lacking the intensity of the varieties I ate in Japan.

DF

Sea urchin, Part I

Sea urchin

Sea urchins, bought on Saturday, which I alluded to here. Alas, they didn't turn out as transcendant as I had expected. But, learned a lot about how to handle them, which is most important to me.

Sea urchins. I loved eating them when I was in Tokyo, referred to by the Japanese as uni. Actually, I should clarify - the edible orange/yellow gonads inside are called uni. Bought fresh and live, with red seaweed still stuck to the spikes. Extraordinary. The anatomy of these gems is very interesting - like flat peaches, they have a little dent in the bottom where the mouth is. See the pit in the middle? That's where you see a little opening, with 5 jagged looking teeth.

Spikes are not impossible to handle with bare hands, but I used my towel just in case. Sensitive skin, you see.

DF

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just the heads

DSC_3281a

Some people just have no taste. Or rather, simply have palates akin to the stupid neighbourhood dog that likes sniffing crotches. Went to the fish shop this weekend. They had a bag of salmon heads lying on the counter, three of them. My senile father insisted on picking them up - I don't really care, normally, but his problem is that he insists on making you eat them as well, even though I clearly, clearly tell him everytime that I'd rather eat dog food. So, we went through the same routine - I said just to make things clear now, I won't be touching those. You know how kids throw tantrums until they get what they want? Well, middle-aged men do too. And you can't slap middle-aged men (in public at least), especially your father, because that's just........anyways.

How bad must the fish be that the store doesn't even charge money for them? I mean, this was going straight to the dump - I guess they'd feel too guilty about asking you to pay for, literally, garbage. We got home, and of course, of course, two of the three heads were beginning to rot, with the third following closely behind. Mush. Since we were sticking to the script, my father insisted that I eat this shit along with him.

I told him where he could stick his fish heads, and we haven't talked since.

DF

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Girlfriend Experience

ip-tge

I watched The Girlfriend Experience this weekend, a 2009 film directed by Steven Soderbergh. It gained notoriety for featuring Sasha Grey in the lead role, as a high-end escort in New York City. Ms. Grey's other career is described quite eloquently here, in Los Angeles Magazine: The teenager & the porn star.

This was a film I was looking forward to. Didn't know what to expect - an inside look at the world of call girls? One took down Eliot Spitzer, after all. Ironic isn't it, how the rules in this industry work...I mean, they'll make out with your dick, but not with you. Unless they offer the titular girlfriend experience, of course. Anyways, I come away from this film with a lot of questions. A lot of confusion. Maybe that's the point, but I think a lot of it is the result of a clumsy screenplay, clumsy cinematography, clumsy editing, and at times, clumsy acting. There is just no focus, no story, no point.

This was shot in 16 days, using a RedOne camera. It's not about how inexpensive, how budget the film was - the tools were more than adequate. At times, it was the composition of the shots that detracted from the actual scene. To his credit, Soderbergh makes Ms. Grey appear much older and glamorous than she really is - many shots of her gorgeous long dark hair. As befitting an escort, she's dressed well - why is it that she still doesn't convey authenticity to the role? After all, escorts have to be what the clients want, right? Then how come Ms. Grey can't carry her wardrobe with any level of sophistication? Even the beautiful lingerie looks awkward on her, as if she was just handed a silk thong and told to floss. Ms. Grey looks bored at times and indifferent in others, only momentarily rousing herself out of boredom to deliver a few tear-streaked lines - sadly, not enough to make her character any more likeable or relatable.

Imagery (and acting) aside, the screenplay or the editing don't do the film any favours. Randomly cut scenes, with no narrative, no flow - I'm caught scratching my head as to why some were included. Each scene is non-chronological, which is fine - the problem is, they are incapable of telling a story either alone, or pieced together. What is the message the screenwriter's trying to send? Is the story about the struggle of an escort to survive and find success in the business? Is it about the seedy side of escorting (the escort reviewer who tries to sleep with her for a positive review)? Or is it about the parallels between being a call girl and a personal trainer, trying to get the most money out of your clients? How about the difficulties of maintaining a normal relationship in this line of work? And why does she recap each client encounter (what she was wearing, where they ate, what they talked about, how they spent the night)?

There is no story. Period. Our high-end escort is not a hooker with a heart of gold (à la Pretty Woman). Even though the film devotes at least 20 minutes to scenes of the guys flying to Las Vegas for the weekend, we don't know if there is a break up. And what about the client she agrees to spend the weekend with? No resolution there. The reporter who interviews her? Nope. So what are we left with? At least Sasha Grey looks pretty. I googled for other movie reviews. This is what one commenter says about Ms. Grey:

Grey is a new breed of porn performer that are sometimes referred to as "uberwhores". Think of the most extreme and degrading sexual act that you can imagine and she has outdone it. And yes, it does include that.

I won't protest, I won't lie...I googled her. No, not for her professional work. She's done interviews for Rolling Stone, and the obligatory pre-release promotional tours. The commenter above was spot on. Ms. Grey specializes in the kind of sexual acts that beg the question - what kind of people are these films marketed to? You'd have to be a real deviant to enjoy watching these films, and not just feel sick. I dare you to read the article I linked above and not feel a bit nauseous. And she's so young. Ms. Grey's work goes far beyond any logic, any sense of entertainment. No, her work is extraordinarily violent, degrading, and dangerous. And for her to somehow characterize what she's doing as feminist...the height of naivety, no? A girl who freely performs inconceivably disgusting sexual acts with complete strangers, somehow considers herself in full control? I'm being completely judgemental, but when the sex you have is so rough that you begin suffering from 'anal warts', maybe it's time to rethink your posture. On film, and otherwise.

DF

2008 Alsace

DSC_3215a

2008 Robert Klingenfus Riesling, AC Alsace

It's been a while since I've drank a wine of Alsace. I'm correcting that situation right now. You know, I keep telling everyone to keep an open mind about wine, and sometimes I have to remind myself to do so as well. I love German rieslings so much that I neglect all others. Have to avoid that kind of tunnel vision.

Pale colour, but showing great intensity - bouquet of citrus, touch of minerality. Still very young. Very young. Vibrant palate, high strung acidity, all balanced with just a hint of residual sugar. Very drinkable, quite delicious in fact. Alcohol in perfect balance, and I feel that the extract will begin to assert itself more with some bottle age.

DF

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In development

Today's a fine day to develop some new dishes. My prize today? Fresh, live sea urchins.

Thinking of how to handle these gems. Opening a fabulous Niagara chardonnay tonight as well. I need a soundtrack as I work in the kitchen. Kanye f. Jeezy, Amazing. Yeah, that's proper.

Photos, notes, tasting impressions......up soon. Here we go again.

DF

2008 Roussette de Savoie

DSC_3209a

2008 Domaine de L'Idylle L'Altesse, AC Roussette de Savoie

Right, so I'm reminded this is a wine blog, first and foremost. A completely new wine region to me - I've never experienced a wine of Savoie. Roussette is the name of the grape, also known as altesse.

A bit disappointed. Certainly drinkable, but a bit sharp, a bit uninspired. Lean wine is fine and all, until it makes you pucker.

DF

Ox Tail, Part IV

DSC_3192a

And in the bowl. Perfect. Rich, flavoursome, almost gamey meat. The tomatoes give the balance. So delicious, just extraordinary flavour, texture, and soul.

DF

Ox Tail, Part III

DSC_3191a

Again, to extract and concentrate flavour, the tomatoes, garlic, and onion have to be quickly sautéed in oil first. Then, into the broth to simmer away for 3 hours or so. Patience is always a virtue with soups. Good soups, that is.

DF

Ox Tail, Part II

DSC_3189a

You marry ox tail with tomato. There is no other way. Thick slices of fresh tomato, ready to go into the pan with minced garlic and onion.

DF

Ox Tail, Part I

DSC_3188a

Cold weather means hearty, rich soups. Doesn't get more soul-warming than ox tail soup. Cook in the pressure cooker to break down the meat a bit - the benefits of this kind of cooking is that it's quicker, and maintains the perfect balance of tenderness and texture. Once cooked, this is what it looks like...keep the soup, let it simmer...

DF

Friday, March 19, 2010

Out and about

I'm really tired.

Sorry for the lack of quality this week. Heading out soon to a buddy's place - big dinner tonight. Will rest up and be back strong next week.

Right. And tasting notes from the Bordeaux Meets Burgundy event up soon.

DF

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Male bloggers...........dogs?

A piece in today's Globe and Mail: Why are blogger's male? I don't even care about the fact that she's arguing how stupid men are. I don't care that she wrongly asserts that most bloggers are males because we love dicking around online. What's unforgivable is her idea that bloggers (male or otherwise) have nothing to say.

So misguided. This woman is getting paid to write, right? Clearly, she's never read a (properly written) blog before in her life. You know, using tired stereotypes and clichés as a basis for your weak argument is fine and all - just not what a writer for a nationally distributed, highly reputable newspaper should be presenting. What's next...all male bloggers are balding, paunchy men in their late 30's, living in mom's basement?

Real blogs have credibility, and are based on subject matter - not just a medium where:

Opinionizing in public is a form of mental jousting, where the aim is to out-reason, out-argue or out-yell your opponent.

No, we write about specific topics, backed by well-researched arguments. We have a story to tell, and a distinct viewpoint. And we do it all without being paid.

I have a lot of female friends who blog. Each is unique, and is subject matter oriented. So to paint all bloggers with such a vicious broadstroke is not only ignorant, it's laughable. The hack continues that:

Perhaps you've noticed that most of the comments on these websites are not terribly sophisticated. They contain a large insult quotient, even when they come from people with advanced degrees. They remind me of nothing so much as a bunch of 12-year-olds holding peeing contests in the snow.

I encourage this hack writer to research fully on the variety of blogs out there. Sure, many are filth. But as a member of a community that's slowly driving out traditional media and publications like the Globe, I have reason to take offense at the nonsense being slung at us by paid columnists.



Bitch.

DF

Après-tasting

Came back from the Bordeaux Meets Burgundy tasting. Met a lot of great people. I think wine makes me more outgoing, more social. It was a lot of fun - tasting great wines and talking to like-minded wine lovers is why I go to these things. Exhausted, because I sure as hell didn't spit a drop tonight. Not a single, precious drop.

Tasting notes will be up shortly. As soon as I sober up a bit.

DF

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bordeaux Meets Burgundy Tasting

Burg/Bord

Going to this tasting tomorrow, really excited. Bordeaux Meets Burgundy, an Extraordinary Rendezvous. Showing Bordeaux 2005/2006 as well as Burgundy 2005/2006. I'm going straight for the Burgundy first. Then the dry white Bordeaux. And if it was meant to be, a taste of 2005 Mouton-Rothschild. Really, really excited. Not able to go to Niagara before April, but at least I'll be drinking at this event. No spitting is foreseen - I will be taking the subway.

Staggering drunk on the TTC, in a suit and tie? All kinds of awesome.

DF

Gloom and doom

DSC_3173a

I needed some time alone, so I caught up on my favourite tv shows and drank, in the dark.

DF

NV Jerez

DSC_3149a

NV Emilio Lustau East India Solera Sherry, Jerez

We don't see a lot of sherry in Toronto. Unfortunately, because sherry is a wonderful wine with food. This example is a sweet wine, which I opened to drink with the venison my friend brought over.

In a 37.5 cL bottle. Very dark colour, like molasses. Aroma like it too, but showing caramel and spice. Like an old, nonvintage tawny port, without the fruit. Round and pillowy in the mouth, with good sweetness. Harmonic. Alcohol very well integrated. Good length. With the meat, I thought it paired well. The spiciness of the wine contrasted well with the subtle perfume of the rosemary, and it helped bring more richness to the very lean meat.

My friend was a bit skeptical about drinking a sweet wine with dinner. Stayed skeptical afterwards.

DF