Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011

Profile - BW

We're heading out to a friend's place for dinner tonight. I'm hungry and ready to get black-out drunk. It's been a tough year, and looking to get tougher. But I need to grow up a bit, tighten up that sphincter, and get to work. Get to fucking work.

Best wishes to all for the new year. Much appreciation for all the support for LCF. Looking forward to a brighter 2012!


Friday, December 30, 2011

A year of wine, 2011

RC7_8057 (1) - Version 2

It's been a year of discovery. New regions, new wines . . . the need to tighten up budgets played a big factor in the wines I drank in 2011, especially towards the end, but budgeting also gives the opportunity to go outside the tried and true.

Looking back, it's been a year of Italian wines. Lots of great discoveries, especially in more obscure whites and reds. We started the year off with a trio of the most amazing vintage ports - a 1994 Delaforce, a 1985 Smith Woodhouse, and a 1983 Gould Campbell. Lots of memories from our 2 weeks in Paris, in late April, from the culture seemingly bursting from every inch of the city to our dinner at Philou, to the bottle of Marcel Lapierre Morgon we drank, a few months after his death.

Mature Champagne, also a highlight. Made all the more meaningful after our visit in May to Champagne, visiting a few houses. Finally walking (and tasting) Clos des Goisses . . . wandering the cellars of Dom Ruinart . . . experiencing at the crass commercialism of Moët & Chandon . . . spending 4 hours in the dining room of the ** Le Parc Les Crayères.

Aside from March's Burgundy tasting, there hasn't been much space in the wallet for any Chambolle-Musigny or Volnay . . . gut-wrenching. But we did manage to drink quite extensively through Le Clos Jordanne, both pinot noir and chardonnay.

My aunt visited us in August, bringing carefully wrapped packages of the most amazing cuts of A5 and A4 grade wagyu beef. To balance it out, she also brought fresh aji and sanma fish. And because she loves me so much, and because she walks through airport security like a boss, she also brought along a bottle of Daiginjo sake. Always regarded as a curiosity in my house, this bottle reminded why, as stupidly clichéd as it is, what grows together goes together. The last few months of the year saw me consumed with (positive) curiosity to learn and taste more of this infinitely delicate, complex, and intellectual drink.

The year ended quietly. I had 2 dozen or so wines prepared for the holidays, and we did succeed in drinking most of them. Humble wines all, save for a bottle of rosé Champagne, and all the 2006 Le Clos Jordanne single vineyard pinot noirs I wanted to drink with some (close) friends. Ended the year at a friends house, where I managed to toe the fine line between tipsy (but still fun), and passed-out drunk.

These are the wines that have taught me the most . . . I think of them as reference points for the palate. They're not the most well-known or heralded wines; certainly not the most expensive. But they've been instrumental in guiding my tastes, and continuing my education in wine. So here's to another year of wine, and may all of 2012's bottles be exciting and TCA-free!

2008 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir | VQA Niagara Peninsula: Starting the year with LCJ, simple but with character.

1994 Delaforce Vintage Port | DOC Douro: From that grand vintage, still youthful, and delicious with dinner.

1997 Brochet-Hervieux HBH Cuvée Spéciale 1er Cru Brut | Ecueil: A bit of a gamble - a grower Champagne that really doesn't show character until it hits maturity. Rewarded, as the wine is beginning to mature, showing depth and richness.

1985 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port | DOC Douro: Followed up the Brochet-Hervieux with this - so rich, so amazingly youthful for a wine a year older than me. Superb.

2005 Marziano Abbona La Pieve | DOCG Barolo: This producer is a star. Their most humble bottling, no less of that inimitable nebbiolo character.

2008 Marziano Abbona Papà Celso | DOCG Dogliani: I can't say enough about Abbona. Even the humble dolcetto in their hands turns into something profound.

1983 Gould Campbell Vintage Port | DOC Douro: So complex, so much character, so alive. A 50 year wine, as epic as they come.

2003 Azienda Agricola Svoltacarozze di Meoni Sebastiana Vino Rosso | IGT Toscana: A surprise for me, and a learning experience. A superTuscan, primarily cabernet sauvignon. yet somehow still tastes Tuscan. From a hot vintage too, alcohol perfectly integrated, fruit fading but still alive.

2009 Michele Chiarlo Le Marne | DOCG Gavi: Arneis, that beautiful, noble, kingly grape of the north. So rich, so dense, so exquisitely textured.

2010 Marcel Lapierre Morgon: One of the most emotional wine experiences I ever had. Sitting in the most amazing Parisian bistro, my first taste of this jewel of a wine. Intellectual and pure, going right through you.

1996 Pierre Moncuit Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut | Le Mesnil sur Oger: We were sitting in the exquisite dining room of Le Parc Les Crayères in Champagne. Had to take a deep breath after looking at price, but it was worth eating simply for the next 3 days. A grower from the finest village in Champagne, from the finest vintage in the last 20 years.

2000 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses | Mareuil sur Aÿ: My first taste of Clos des Goisses. As Nicoletta, our host, so eloquently put it, If you want to taste Clos des Goisses, you must walk Clos des Goisses.

2009 Pinot Noirs of Lailey Vineyard: This will be an excellent vintage for Niagara pinot noirs. Not super concentrated, but that's not what those wines are meant to be. Absolutely pure, showing what I think of as true pinot character.

2009 Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Reisling | VQA Vinemount Ridge: As a riesling fiend, I can't support this guy enough. The most amazing, perfectly extracted rieslings this side of the Mosel.

2007 R de Rieussec | AC Bordeaux Blanc Sec: Dry white Bordeaux, how I love thee. Let me count (the endless) ways.

2007 Château Ferran Blanc | AC Pessac-Léognan: Racy acidity, dry extract you have to taste to believe - I can't wait until these wines turn 10.

Hakutsuru Daiginjo Sake: Sake, a curiosity for this Shaoxing wine drinker, but daiginjo bottles prove that these are as complex and intellectual as any wine.

1999 Charles Ellner Séduction Brut | AC Champagne: What to drink with wagyu, the most amazing beef on earth? High acid, yes. No tannins. Richness, a must. The bubbles just bring it all together. What else, than a bottle of maturing Champagne?

2006 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir | VQA Niagara Peninsula: The wine now forever immortalized in my heart . . . and my kitchen wall. My first vintage of LCJ in the cellar.

2006 Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay | VQA Twenty Mile Bench: Beautifully alive, still youthful, mineral and all that. A great success.

1996 Château La Gorce | AC Médoc Cru Bourgeois: A previous bottle was terrible. This one was sublime, classic, and mature claret. Just be patient.

2003 Château Dasvin-Bel-Air | AC Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois: At a moment when my confidence in the wisdom of stockpiling so much Bordeaux was at an all-time low, this bottle shows up and proves, in a single taste, how delicious a well-made claret can be. And in the heat-wave vintage too!

Rihaku Wandering Poet Junmai Ginjo | Shimane Prefecture: So delicate, so fine, so intangible - at a loss for words, but I just know it was good.

2004 Terre del Barolo Monvigliero | DOCG Barolo: I want to replace all my classified growth Bordeaux with Barolo. All of it.

2008 Penfolds Thomas Hyland Riesling | Adelaide: Don't buy Australian red wines. Just don't. Save yourself some money, it's all jam and alcohol. The dry rieslings on the other hand . . .

1997 Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs | Ambonnay: For my father's birthday, a vintage blanc de noirs. Still youthful, wound up. Good that I have another bottle put away.

1999 Lornano | DOC Vin Santo del Chianti Classico: My first vinsanto. So complex, so balanced - a great find.

2007 S|K|N Chardonnay | Napa Valley: Yes to sub-$20 Napa chardonnay that's balanced and varietal and delicious!

2001 Señorío De P. Peciña Reserva | DOCa Rioja: A reminder that in traditional hands, nothing . . . NOTHING compares to 10 year old Rioja.

The sakes of Izumi Ontario Spring Water Sake Co.: A surprise, and totally unexpected. Out for a Christmas market day with the office, to stumble on an Ontario sake brewery that makes the most amazing rice wines. Not traditional sake to say the least, but as perfect a rice wine as I've ever tasted.

2006 Valiano Poggio Teo Castelnuovo Berardenga | DOCG Chianti Classico: A conversation and 3 Chianti's. Maybe I need to taste a few more, after months and months of avoiding them. Under $20, these are still true sangiovese wines.

Tamanohikari Omachi Junmai Daiginjo | Kyoto Prefecture: The finest, purest, most ethereal sake I've ever tasted.

2007 Podere l'aja | DOCG Chianti Classico: Yes to Chianti, if they all taste like this. Dusty, earthy, ripe cherries.

Le Clos Jordanne's 2006 single vineyard pinot noirs: What more can be said about these wines; the only thing that was greater than getting to taste them all together was being able to share it with good friends over a great meal to close out the year.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

white wine: minerality and focus


2008 Markus Molitor Riesling Spätlese | QmP Ürziger Würzgarten | Mosel


2009 Hess Select Chardonnay | Monterey

White wine is the best. You want to talk about transparency in wine . . . you want to talk about minerality; white wines can present that terroir expression faithfully, without all the fuss that plagues red wines (oak and low acid and all that).

I shouldn't be surprised, but these Mosel wines are absolutely singular in how they express where/when they were made. So much minerality in this wine it almost becomes a texture unto itself on the palate. Just breathtaking, how extracted and tangible the wine has captured its terroir. Markus Molitor likes more fruit in its wines, and they always seem to be made in a softer style (less aggressive acid), but this bottle is stunning.

With California chardonnay, is it fair to say that sometimes it's the $20-$25 wines that can actually be suitable to be drunk with food? I don't drink Californian wines because they're expensive for what they are (alcoholic marmalades), and of all the undrinkable elements of a wine, buttery/sickly sweet oak must be the worst of them all. This is a bit toned down, although not nearly as delicious as the S|K|N chardonnay we drank a few months ago. Deep gold, with that creamy oak, but balanced. Obvious, recognizable Cali chardonnay, but with decent acid and contained alcohol, not unpleasant.

A bit of a contrast, no? But then again, the human touch is also a part of terroir. There should be no contradiction - so long as the human touch is always working to express terroir first.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

shellfish and sparkling rosé






NV 13th Street Cuveé 13 Brut Rosé | VQA Niagara Peninsula


NV Moutard Père et Fils Brut Rosé de Cuvaison | AC Côte des Bar

A dream come true.

My friend had told me that the best fishmonger in Toronto also brings in canned Spanish tapas seafood. So I got some cans of sardines (whole), octopus, and squid. Flavour, texture, all unremarkable, but the quality of the ingredients is very high. Then, onto the real food. A dozen Kumamoto oysters from Washington State, shucked and with lemon (and only lemon!). Then, live abalone, steamed with ginger and green onion. Perfect in texture and flavour. Various clams and cockles (berberechos), both cooked in wine and in steamed eggs. Finishing with the most amazing, rich, luscious sea cucumber and bamboo shoot. Divine.

And with it all, a pair of pink sparkling wines, one from Niagara, the other a rosé Champagne from the region of Aube. Well chilled, we started with the 13th Street. Cork off with a satisfied sigh, they use the traditional Champagne grapes here, but also add a touch of syrah. Beautiful deep pink in colour, persistent foam. Ripe fruit, red berries and all that. Dosage a bit evident, fragrant. Round on the palate, finishes tight and quite structured. Very well made indeed.

I adore rosé Champagne. A bit more expensive (pinot noir is not cheap), this particular bottle from Moutard is a Rosé de Cuvaison, referring to the method in which colour from the pinot noir is extracted. The majority of rosé Champagnes are made by simply blending in a low (5-15%) of pinot wine in to the white wine, to give it its colour. This method, by cuvaison, means that the grapes are macerated with its skin, and removed once sufficient colour has been extracted. No opinion on which method is better - like all good things, it's simply different. And this wine was spectacular with our bounty of the sea. Rose petals, dried fruits on the bouquet, beautiful structure. Dry and very long. Indeed a fine wine, absolutely delicious and singular in expression.

As shellfish is for the ones who truly adore food, rosé Champagne is for the true wino.


the "other" pinot noirs


2008 Reichstat von Buhl Pinot Noir | QbA Pfalz (left)
2010 Errázuriz Wild Ferment Pinot Noir | Casablanca Valley (right)


2009 Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir | VQA Four Mile Creek

True winos have to be like the parents of a large brood - we don't have favourites. But I do have to confess that the first varietal I truly fell in love with was pinot noir. No need to explain why, no? Like that girl that everyone, including your best friends, told you to stay away from. And of course, one of the first wines to do that was from Niagara. Every wino has a wine that they go crazy about, and that no one else gives a second thought to. That, for me, is this little pocket of vineyards in southern Ontario.

Usually around this time of year, I like to have pinot noir readily available. These are beautiful wines with food, especially examples with high acid and a fine seam of minerality. For deeper pockets, that means Burgundy. For this wino, other regions will have to do . . . for now. The Pfalz and Chilean bottles were a disappointment. First one, with that rubbery aroma that reeks of the worst kind of German wine. The absolutely lightest looking red colour I think I've ever seen. And the Errázuriz, so named because it was fermented using indigenous yeasts; if screwcaps remove the problem of TCA but yet introduce issues of reduction, is the consumer any better off?

So leave it to Inniskillin, those giants of the Niagara wine industry to produce the most interesting wine of the night. I like the Montague Vineyard - especially the 2002, showing lots of structure, minerality. 2009 is going to be a fabulous vintage for Niagara pinot noirs. Not concentrated, but absolutely fine and delicate. This wine shows all that warm, stemmy quality this vineyard seems to be about, along with that clay/earthy heat. Wood and spice and all that, fresh and juicy. Not the best, but does show off some of the characteristics of Niagara pinots.

Are retailers as keen on letting you return bottles full of odours of reduction as a corked one?


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

note to writers

Drinking and writing is cool and great and sometimes yields your most brilliant work. It's however, inexcusable to make silly mistakes, as you can see here. I'd add to the list your/you're, their/they're . . . stupid shit like that, but it's always the little pebbles that trip you up.

Proofread before you publish, spare us all the grade-school level writing!


just how do we drink?

Everyone's talking about more North Americans drinking wine, which is a good thing. Not so good, however, is when we indulge a bit too recklessly. Wine, after all, is an alcohol. And alcohol makes you do stupid things. Confessing your love for a girl, acting a fool . . . that's all a fun story to tell later. Getting in a car after and potentially killing yourself/others; not so fun. So please, this holiday, take care of yourself and your friends after a night of fun.

And really, you don't need to be drunk to tell that hottie you want to bone.


Monday, December 26, 2011

sweet after the savoury

Good dinner tonight, sort of what you want for the holidays. As somewhat of an adult now, long dinners, lots of wine, and conversation are the focus now. My mother issued an order this afternoon. Or rather, she simply proclaimed that I want some pastries. As most sons understand, you get your shit together and make it happen - any attempt to try to clarify what that means is a risk I'm not willing to take. So, I put some clothes on, get in the car and get out to Maxim's. As close to perfection in sweets as I can imagine, in Toronto at least. I don't care much for dessert, an afterthought in a meal, but these were sublime. And make sure the LBV port you serve is sweeter, or it all goes to shit. Wise words from a wine consultant, take heed.

Most important, and something I wanted to say earlier. Drinking and boozing and all is fun, but please, please, please . . . don't drive afterwards. If there was ever a need for a fucking slap in the face to wake us all up, we got it. My bro, my old roommate, got in a some shit about that. So please, if you've got any sense in you - please don't drink and drive. Do yourself a favour, have fun safely this holiday season.


being indifferent about simple Bordeaux

2006 Chateau Lafon Listrac

2006 Château Lafon Cuvée Classic | AC Listrac Cru Bourgeois


2004 Château Canteloup | AC Médoc

Behind the great locomotive of great classified-growth Bordeaux follows the thousands and thousands of smaller properties which can at times produce exciting wines, but more often than not, yield solid if unspectacular bottles. These two wines, from Listrac and Médoc prove that cabernet/merlot can be utterly boring wines. Lean, simple, fresh fruit can be useful with a meal, but overtly bretty wines that never lose that skunkiness and are clear signs of questionable vinification and cellar practices? That is a problem.

Being boring isn't a sin. There's something to be said about simple, humble wines. So why am I still shaking my head? Because I think there's a real danger here, on low end wine production, to lose any and all nuance in where a wine comes from, when it was made, and really, what it is. You have to have that really ripe, sweet tasting fruit, all clean flavours and all to sell wine to North Americans. But are those mutually exclusive from terroir honest wines? And forget about wines that were just poorly made to begin with.

There has to be something worth tasting, for the other 95% of Bordeaux.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas day and the NBA is back!

DF bowtie

We've waited so long. Suffered so much. But the NBA is back!! Getting set for the Dallas/Miami game, just watched the Mavs raise their Championship banner. Here we go, woooo!!

Christmas Eve was fairly muted last night. Livetweeted throughout the church service. Indifferent as always. Dinner was great, managed to inhale a few glasses of wine, a few beers in the 90 minutes or so we were there. Lazy day today, but that's fine. Working on a pair of Chianti Classico's at the moment. Early afternoon drinking wooooo!!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas! Yet another one here again. We have a church function tonight, where I make my obligatory annual appearance. I'll be liveblogging from inside the cult. Oops . . .

Then, dinner at a family friend's. Keeping it simple. You want to talk commitment; I've blocked off all the vents in the basement to maintain a somewhat cellar-like environment for the wines in my closet. I'm sitting here now, freezing, but look, there's a dusting of snow on the ground.

Best wishes to all, health and happiness.


Friday, December 23, 2011

the family dinner

First day of the holidays and we've been hit with a bombshell from Shanghai. Bad news all around. So needless to say, no one was in a celebratory mood. In lieu of gifts this year, I cooked dinner for my parents. Shopping all morning for the most amazing seafood, having started prepping the sea cucumber a week earlier already. Canned Spanish octopus, squid, and sardines. Kumamoto oysters, live abalone, savoury clams, berberechos, steamed eggs and clams, sea cucumbers and bamboo shoot. Devoured with a pair of the most amazing nonvintage rosé Champagne and Niagara rosé sparkling wine.

We're following developments very closely. There might be a situation requiring me to return to Shanghai, but we'll see. For one night at least, we remembered how fulfilling a proper family dinner can be.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tamanohikari Omachi Junmai Daiginjo


Tamanohikari Omachi Junmai Daiginjo | Kyoto Prefecture

Sake is complex, it's intellectual, it's all that; it is a drink for lovers of subtlety. And few sakes are as subtle as these junmai daiginjo brews. The finest sakes - there is no alcohol added, and grains of rice are polished to at least 50%. This particular example was polished to 55% . . . only 45% of the original rice grain is left, yielding an exceptionally pure and refined wine.

Delicate, fragrant, and oh so elegant. Just the slightest off-white in colour, beautiful clarity and focus. Incredibly fresh and vibrant, but what's most exciting is the texture in the mouth. Instantly gaining in richness, like a rolling cloud on the palate. Blows my mind.

Hotpot is difficult to pair wines with, because you're dealing with so many different flavours, textures . . . the dipping sauce (spicy, salty, pungent) just ratchets up the confusion. But sometimes . . . sometimes you encounter a drink that somehow both clarifies it all, and is assertive without being overbearing. Junmai daiginjo for life.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Izumi Ontario Spring Water Sake Co.


Nama Nama | Crazy-Horse (Jaja-Uma)



Toronto's Distillery District is one of those places that really, only the locals care about. Nothing much there worth seeing; sadly, even less worth eating. The office spent a day there to check out the Christmas Market, and surprise . . . I found a place to do a tasting. Ontario sake, brewed by Japanese brewers - very eye-opening all around. A taste, and I'm instantly reminded of this home-brewed rice wine my relatives make back in Shanghai. I bought bottles of all 3 sakes we tasted.

Two of them, I took them out to dinner at a BYOB place. Amazing Cantonese food, check it out. The Nama-Nama and the Crazy-Horse, just extraordinary. That amazing rice flavour, that sweet/sour interplay that creates fireworks. You don't think of rice wine to have such impact on the palate, that amazing dry extract. Acid too. Amazing all around, with the alcohol beautifully integrated. The Genshu, what I expected to be the most textural, showed as most refined. Slightly sweet, just a gorgeous wine with our simple Shanghainese food. These are by no means traditional sakes, but show that beautiful rice character that the great Chinese brewers created. Finally a reason worth going out to the Distillery District for.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

veal rib chops

Veal rib steak

Veal rib steak

Veal rib steak

Veal rib steak

Veal rib steak

They say veal are baby cows that still consume only their mother's milk. A bit sad, but I love beef and I was hungry. It's a bit sick to think that baby cows are being killed for food, but they do have the most amazing flavour and texture. What does it say about me that cooking veal gives me a lot of pleasure?

I can't stop thinking about that hunk of seared veal I had in Paris, at Philou. I kind of lost it a bit when I saw these veal rib steaks, amazingly pink and lean. Seared hard, kept raw in the middle - perfect in texture and flavour.

I raise a glass to that baby cow that gave its life for a good meal.


Monday, December 19, 2011

homegrown green

homegrown bokchoy

homegrown celery

A family friend has the most amazing backyard garden. So what do they plant it with, in the middle of suburban Mississauga? The most amazing Chinese vegetables of course. This gets me so excited, seeing them go out back with shears and coming back with muddy armfuls of the freshest, greenest, and most flavoursome greens you'll ever eat.

The first was a bunch of bok choy. They grow well into the fall, with the Chinese especially prizing what is referred to as frost-touched. Once the temperature drops, crops are susceptible to frost in the morning. This slight freezing and thawing transforms the texture of the bok choy, making it crisp. Intensifies flavour too. And my goodness, they were amazing. We got some celery too - from Chinese stock, not the thick, watery, tasteless nonsense people here think of as celery. A bit tougher, but with that incredible green, herbaceous flavour.

It's all like planting cabernet sauvignon outside of Bordeaux right? Similar character, but different terroirs yield something . . . different, no? So are these vegetables still Chinese, or in some strange way, Canadian? Can you call a Niagara pinot noir a Burgundy? I guess I just answered my own question.

I want a garden where I can plant tomato, basil, mint, and magic.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

the Christmas wishlist


I don't think you should be expecting gifts after you start working (and presumably, earning money). But that's just me. For holidays, I prefer getting friends together for a good meal, with lots and lots of opened bottles on the table. Just hours and hours of eating, drinking, and talking shit about other people. And I think I know what I want for Christmas this year. A few weeks ago, Levi Dalton posted an interview he conducted with Patrick Cappiello, the Wine Director and Sommelier of GILT Restaurant in New York's Palace Hotel. He also posted the restaurant's wine list. All 86, thirst-inducing pages of it. Check out both.

Mr. Cappiello has assembled a very impressive cellar, going especially deep into Chablis. I actually spent a good 45 minutes going through the entire wine list. Just playing with myself, sort of the way you flip (and dream) through a Maserati catalogue. Lots of legendary, epic wines. Unless you're particularly fortunate enough to have wine-loving parents who've built a cellar (as my potential progeny will have), there are limited opportunities to taste older wines. Not talking about 40/50/60 year old bottles of some grand Bordeaux or Burgundy either . . . regularly being able to pull out 10 year old vintages of even humble wines would be a struggle. So, we are resigned to accept that the only way to taste mature, truly great wines are at restaurants who employ great wine stewards.

Expensive, without a doubt . . . but we also have to think about value-for-money. Would you rather pay $50-75 for a wine that can be found for sub-$25 retail prices, or $200 or so for a mature wine that will change your life and be remembered forever? I know what I want. And it's listed below (with prices in USD).

If you're going out to eat this holiday, please check out older vintages. It's thanks to people like Mr. Cappiello that we might still have a chance to drink something older than ourselves.

2002 Pierre Moncuit, "Brut Blanc de Blancs ", Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (160)
1985 Moët & Chandon, "Brut Dom Pérignon ", Epernay (725)
1990 Moët & Chandon, "Brut Dom Pérignon ", Epernay (595)
1988 Dom Ruinart, "Brut Blanc de Blancs ", Reims (425)
1996 Dom Ruinart, "Brut Blanc de Blancs ", Reims (380)
1996 Dom Ruinart, "Brut Rosé ", Reims (625)
N.V. Jacques Selosse, "Brut Initiale ", Avize (295)
N.V. Jacques Selosse, "Extra Brut V.O. ", Avize (600)
1990 Trimbach, "Cuvée Frédéric Émile", Ribeauvillé (275)
1983 Trimbach, "Clos Sainte Hune", Ribeauvillé (960)
2002 Didier Dagueneau, "Pur Sang" (380)
2007 Didier Dagueneau, "Silex" (250)
1990 Nicolas Joly, "Coulée de Serrant" (185)
1978 Haut Brion Blanc, Pessac-Leognan (750)
1996 Vincent Dauvissat, "Vaillons" (150)
1999 François Raveneau, "Forêt" (240)
1990 François Raveneau, "Butteaux" (460)
1990 François Raveneau, "Montée de Tonnerre" (440)
1990 Vincent Dauvissat, "Les Preuses" (325)
1990 Vincent Dauvissat, "Les Clos" (360)
1983 François Raveneau, "Valmur" (650)
1981 Comtes Lafon, "Clos de la Barre" (310)
2002 Roulot, "Les Vireuils" (135)
1988 Coche-Dury, "Perrières" (1,500)
1990 Comtes Lafon, "Charmes" (750)
1981 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "Montrachet" (3,500)
1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "Montrachet" (6,500)
1982 Domaine Leflaive, "Bâtard-Montrachet" (1,100)
1990 Ramonet, "Bâtard-Montrachet" (775)
1983 Egon Müller, "Scharzhofberger", Spätlese (360)
1993 Zilliken, "Saarburger Rausch", Auslese (130)
1990 Joh. Jos. Prüm, "Wehlener Sonnenuhr", Auslese (265)
1990 Joh. Jos. Prüm, "Graacher Himmelreich", Auslese (275)
2001 Dönnhoff, "Oberhäuser Brücke", Spätlese (205)
1996 Calera Pinot Noir, "Mills", Mt. Harlan (150)
1990 Calera Pinot Noir, "Jensen", Mt. Harlan (245)
1993 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (975)
1995 Colgin, "Herb Lamb", Napa Valley (940)
1996 Dominus, Napa Valley (315)
1990 Harlan, Napa Valley (1,000)
1990 Heitz, "Martha's", Napa Valley (450)
1995 Mayacamas, Napa Valley (295)
1979 Opus One, Napa Valley (850)
1992 Ridge, "Monte Bello", Santa Cruz Mountains (295)
1969 Camille Giroud, "Les Charmes" (300)
1966 Bernard Grivelet, "Les Amoureuses" (450)
1957 Prosper Maufoux, "Les Amoureuses" (460)
1991 Comte Georges de Vogüé, "Les Amoureuses" (440)
1983 George Roumier, "Les Amoureuses" (1,725)
1989 Joseph Drouhin, "Musigny" (520)
1986 George Roumier, "Bonnes Mares" (1,595)
1985 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "Romanée St Vivant" (6,800)
1986 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "Richebourg" (1,900)
1985 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "La Tâche" (8,500)
1986 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "La Tâche" (3,200)
1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "La Romanée Conti" (12,000)
1985 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "La Romanée Conti" (18,000)
1985 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "Échézeaux" (2,800)
1978 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "Grands Échézeaux" (4,500)
2002 Henri Gouges, "Clos des Porrets St. George" (190)
1962 Gaunoux, "Les Rugiens" (780)
1988 Michel Lafarge, "Clos des Chênes" (215)
1996 Comtes Lafon, "Clos des Chênes" (330)
2007 Marcel Lapierre, Morgon (50)
1947 Château Cheval Blanc, Premier Grand Cru Classé A (11,000)
1982 Château Cheval Blanc, Premiers Grand Cru Classé A (3,000)
1947 Pétrus (12,000)
1986 Château Latour, 1er Cru (1,850)
1986 Château Mouton-Rothschild, 1er Cru (1,275)
1961 Château Léoville Las Cases, 2ème Cru (960)
1986 Château Margaux, 1er Cru (1,900)
1983 Château La Lagune, 3ème Cru (320)
1986 Château Haut Brion, 1er Cru (1,300)
1985 E. Guigal, "La Landonne" (1,350)
1988 E. Guigal, "La Mouline" (1,025)
1979 Paul Jaboulet, "La Chapelle" (390)
1978 Beaucastel (725)
1996 Pibarnon, Bandol (170)
1978 Palladino, "Santo Bernardo Riserva ", Serralunga d'Alba (385)
1961 Giacomo Borgogno, "Riserva", Barolo (480)
1982 Giacomo Borgogno, "Riserva", Barolo (310)
1978 Marchesi di Barolo, "Grand Annata Riserva", Barolo (410)
1983 Vietti, "Rocche", Falletto (345)
1974 CVNE, Cune, "Reserva" (350)
1946 CVNE, Viña Real, "Gran Reserva" (950)
1970 López de Heredia, "Gran Reserva Tondonia " (495)
1976 López de Heredia, "Gran Reserva Bosconia " (395)
1979 Vega Sicilia, "Unico" (795)


John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant, Markham

John's Chinese BBQ RestaurantJohn's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John's Chinese BBQ RestaurantJohn's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John's Chinese BBQ RestaurantJohn's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant

I've been so spoiled lately - friends have been taking me out to restaurants for the past few weekends, a real treat as I never go out to restaurants. Something about being poor and knowing how to cook. Last Sunday night, a friend invited us out to John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant in Markham. I'm such a believer . . . Cantonese food is the greatest, isn't it. And lucky for us, we had a Hong Kong native to order for us, explaining it all as we ate.

My contribution to dinner? Two bottles of Izumi sake, which turned out amazing - more later. Highlights? All of them. The most amazing roast duck to start, going into something off-menu, one of those hush hush wink wink deals you have to talk to the owner about. Chicken, stuffed with prawns, fried, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Yeah, as epic as it sounds. Tender greens and more sake for a brief intermission, before going onto clams in black bean sauce and duck legs/mushroom/choy. Ending with crispy noodles, 潮州 style, that sweet/sour thing they like. And dessert was this extraordinary deep-fried taro, encased in sugar. And I don't even like taro! Crispy outside, perfectly tender inside, all love.

Many thanks to my dear friend for being our host. Yet another winner. But I shouldn't have been surprised . . . you never go wrong in a restaurant with its menus pasted on the walls. Cantonese food forever!!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

raw cured blue crab

cured crabcured crab

I don't get squeamish about food, but this is something I can only eat with the right frame of mind. Raw blue crab, cured in a salt bath. It's an ultra traditional dish originating in the coastal Chinese town of Ningbo, my great-grandfather's hometown. Once in season, crabs are cured live in heavy salt, firming up the meat and imparting flavour. Another effect is the ability to keep without spoiling for a few weeks. Locals eat it raw with rice porridge. The orange matter is particularly delicious, full of savoury marine flavour.

My parents have this church friend who comes from Ningbo. She prepared these for us, which seems a bit of a miracle because there has been a terrible shortage of blue crab this year. She puts them live in the freezer, which kills them, then marinates them in a salt bath for a few days. The texture of the meat is soft, squishy almost. The crabs were a great quality, as you can from the amount of orange matter they contained. Delicious, but you really do have to grow up eating this stuff to be able to appreciate it. Now, with any luck, next year's crab harvest will be a good one, so we can do it another way, with Shaoxing wine.