Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I swear I wasn't that drunk. So which one is it? Or do we split it down the middle and take it as 12.5% abv? And this is why North American liqour laws have to be completely torn up and rewritten because current labelling regulations don't make any sense. Labels are supposed to give the consumer information right? As in, clarify exactly what's in the bottle? Remember a certain Niagara winery having to white out words on their labels by hand because the rules say local wines can't have the name of another wine region on it?
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Talking about wine is great; shit, I fucking love talking wine. I'm just puzzled, not with the fact that everyone seems to have an opinion, but that everyone wants to give you advice, solicited or otherwise. And it's not just wine . . . you can't just talk about things anymore, everyone has to prove how knowledgable, how insightful they are by telling you what you should be drinking, what you should be reading, what you should be doing. Chafes me like nothing else.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sigh. The holidays are almost here again. I start preparing for holiday drinking in November, pulling some things out the cellar, deciding which bottles I want to serve with what. In hindsight, I had it good last year. Burgundy as I always do for Christmas and New Year, but a few bottles of 2005 Barolo and old vintage Ports as well. This year will hardly be as satisfying. Downgrading to say the least. Niagara/German/Chilean pinot noirs, some Chianti Classico, simple Spanish wines. Maybe the single bottle of Champagne and Sauternes. Sad. If I can't drink well, then I suppose I'll (cheaply) drink more then.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
It's simply really. All tea, with the exception of the grand Pu'er, needs to be consumed fresh. Critical as well, to be stored in a reductive environment. And not in silly single-serve packaging, because it's wasteful and pointless and doesn't make any sense in actually preserving the tea. This is the last of this year's TieGuanYin tea that was sent to us . . . that is, tea from the 2011 harvest. Packaged the proper way, in a brick. Preserving aroma, freshness, whilst minimizing waste.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
2008 Viña Chocalan Syrah Reserva | Maipo Valley | Chile
We just got some bad news from home, in Shanghai. A little out of it at the moment, still getting my mind straight. Things get instantly put into perspective, especially when health issues come up.
Friday, November 25, 2011
2009 Jackson Triggs Niagara Estates Gold Series White Meritage | VQA Niagara Peninsula
Thursday, November 24, 2011
2007 S|K|N Chardonnay | Napa Valley
Screw | Kappa | Napa. So charming. And Napa often sorely lacks in charm. Is the stereotype/reputation of Americans only making bombastic nukes that are simply utterly undrinkable fair, or is it uncomfortable for the yanks because it's true? Is the high alcohol, passively-aggressive sweetness of the wines simply a product of the Californian landscape or, more self-consciously (for you Americans), simply the red white and blue palate?
Americans have a lot to be proud of, but these turgid $100+ Napa franken-wine makers ought to be ashamed of themselves. It's a shame that so many Californian producers feel that the only way to be successful is to make the wine taste like nothing - not of the grape, not of the land, not of the vintage. But we're compelled to come back. Even ditzes have appeal, at times. Don't lie...shy and delicate is nice and all, but who doesn't turn their head for a second look at the voluptuous brunette with, as Yeezy says, an ass that would swallow up a . . . . .
This was not one of those.
We were hosting dinner, so I was a bit nervous with the wines I was serving. I don't believe in serving the same things over and over - too boring. So I pick out some interesting looking bottles and hope for the best. Dinner turned out great; so happy that the wines performed as well. Our first one of the night. Napa Chardonnay under screw cap, young. Sometimes going for the blockbusters will bite you in the ass, hard. The wieners who charge you $75 get too ambitious you see . . . all designer yeasts and new oak and calisthenics in the cellars. This was a refreshing (figuratively and literally) example of what Napa can do with this varietal if the paople making it humble themselves and take a step back. Wine that doesn't drink well with meals simply does not belong on the table, and it's as if an entire generation of New World producers lacks that basic fundamental understanding.
The wine was fresh, with great varietal character. Ripe fruit, with a creaminess, but the acidity and moderate alcohol made it a joy to drink. And you know it was a good wine when everyone around the table, even the neophyte drinkers, wanted a second (and third) glass. Great start to the meal.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
2001 Señorío De P. Peciña Reserva | DOCa Rioja
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
This is a fabulous Shanghainese dessert, properly known as 桂花酒酿汤圆. We make a sweet soup of glutinous rice balls, a fermented rice wine (making it slightly alcoholic), a certain yellow flower that I don't the English of, and a certain red herb I also don't know the English of. Like all great things, it has to be all done by hand. Glutinous rice flour, rolled out by hand. My mother does four at a time . . . I barely manage two, but get the job done. Of course, the key is to keep size and shape consistent. It seems tricky, but the flour reacts in an amazing way to the heat from your hand, and never sticks together after the balls have been rolled. Into the freezer, where it keeps until you're ready to cook them.
Monday, November 21, 2011
So how many cuvées does Couly-Dutheil actually make? A lot. I bought a bunch of their 2005's; won't that be fun to taste in a few years. This is a fabulous producer of cabernet franc - earthy wines that sing of the Loire and in the best years, show impressive density and concentration. Lots of potential indeed, and as terroir-specific as a wine can be.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
1999 Lornano | DOC Vin Santo del Chianti Classico
I like to be in control.
I actually enjoy a little chaos too, but not on the dinner table. Winos can be so tyrannical about these kinds of things. What to drink. When to drink. How to drink. As in I planned for this wine to drink with these dishes, so don't even think about drinking out of order. All for good reasons, and besides, as long as I'm paying for the wines, we do it my way. I don't know how proper Italians drink vinsanto, but I had a chunk of the most amazing firm cheese - Niagara Gold - that only a sweet wine seemed appropriate. After dinner, and my father started prattling on about his church study group, so I needed something to occupy his mouth with. A bite of creamy cheese, a sip of sweet . . . vinsanto after all does mean holy wine, no?
Odd, really, that an oxidized wine apparently made by drying out grapes on rooftop straw mats could be so spectacularly complex. With a good amount of bottle age too, this remains fresh, showing lots of minerality and what reminds me of a certain dried date that the Shanghainese adore. And that nuttiness from the oxidation; a divine wine indeed.
Bossy and all, but it's for your own good.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
We passed by Nicolas Feuillatte when we were in Reims this May, driving out to lunch at Le Grand Cerf. They're the largest cooperative in Champagne, and are also known as Centre Vinicole de la Champagne, comprising about 85 members. Despite that, they do produce 4 grand cru bottlings under their own name. I had bought a few bottles of the 1997's a few years ago when they were released - both blanc de blancs (Chouilly) and blanc de noirs (Ambonnay).
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I was invited to a very interesting tasting last week, hosted by Fermentations! at Globe Bistro. The company lets consumers brew and make their own beers and wine. Great. But here's what sets them apart - they buy whole grapes. Yes, unlike other wine kits, customers are able to make wine from freshly harvested grapes (from Niagara, California, and even Italy) without skipping that step and just starting with juice.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
After hosting dinner on Saturday, we were exhausted. So it was so wonderful for our friends to invite us out to dinner Sunday, at Royal Teahouse in Markham. We don't eat out often, and at least when it comes to Cantonese food, we still struggle with understanding how to order. We eat too differently, you see. So it's always good to eat out with Hong Kong natives, who can show us authentic Cantonese cuisine.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
When the bottle is empty, you know it was a good night.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
We had a big dinner last night with family friends. Finally, after many months, our turn to host. Shanghainese home cooking, so dishes were split into hot and cold dishes - one to start the meal, with the rest being cooked as we ate. I was in charge of the hot dishes, so I went out grocery shopping in the morning, shellfish and all that. Prep work started around 4 pm, and what perfect timing . . . a knife sharpening truck was making its rounds in our neighbourhood, ringing a tiny bell by the window.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
I have this horrible feeling that my life is going nowhere. Wheels are spinning a bit; lots of smoke, little action. We're in the shit right now, in a big way. I'm becoming more prone to lashing out. Maybe punching something (or someone) might not be a bad thing.
Just no energy, for real. All I want to do sometimes is sleep. Not healthy right? And the thing that's suffered the most is the drinking. Look at some of the wines I had on the table last year. All winners. 2005 Barolo, old vintage Ports, some Burgundy. And I was beginning to put together a stash of bottles for the holidays. Now I'm getting depressed. So before I get too ridiculously self-loathing, that's where things are at the moment. Oh yeah, and the NBA lockout is still raging on with no end in sight.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
So yes, I did figure out what these things are. Jerusalem artichokes. I heard that every kilogram you plant into the ground yields about 50 kilos. What a nightmare. No wonder this friend gave us a big bag of it. Covered in mud, she said to throw it out if we didn't want to eat it. She suggested pickling it.
That's gross. So I decided to clean it up and serve it with some greens in a salad. Some were already turning mushy. But when they're fresh, they have this amazing crispy, crunchy texture. Pure white in colour too. I shaved off the skin and ran some through a mandolin, julienne-ing the others. With a really strong vinaigrette, it's not unpleasant. Earthy and not unlike ginseng. Health benefits are a bit dubious, but at least I learned something new. Now, what do I do with the other half bagful.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Okunomatsu Ginjo Sake | Fukushima Prefecture
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Godo Shusei Yamadanishiki Kome Dake No Reishu Junmai | Hyogo Prefecture
I was so preoccupied with trying to understand the difference between the levels of rice polishing that I was forgetting a fundamental difference in sake type. Of course it matters whether it's Junmai or Ginjo. Of course the addition of alcohol makes a difference.
Monday, November 7, 2011
You stupid. You never dust your hands with flour. How you gonna roll them out now?
Sunday, November 6, 2011
A friend gave us a bag of these. Covered in dirt and mud, but that's how things are grown right? All great and fresh, except I have no clue what these are. Tubers, but what? Looks exactly like ginger root. Pure white flesh, incredibly crispy, not much in way of flavour. Sort of a very subtle earthiness, quite similar to ginseng in fact.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Today is my father's birthday. Since they're going out with their church friends for dinner, the 3 of us had a big meal last night. I wanted to get a geoduck, have it two ways, but the fishmonger wasn't cooperating. The geoducks they had clearly were half-dead, limp and completely flaccid. And with geoducks, there's no little blue pill to stiffen things up.