Monday, November 30, 2009

Yellow Tail Chardonnay 2008

$13. I tasted this chardonnay right after the Meursault... To be fair, Yellow Tail does a good job producing a large quantity of cheap but decent wine. Typical of most Australian wine, it has intense but simple aroma of wet leaves, crispiness, and fruit bomb. On the palate, the wine has very high acidity, higher alcohol, noticeably sweeter than Meursault, candy, pineapple, peach. No finish.

Good wine for getting drunk.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Domaine Vincent Girardin Meursault 2006

Maybe I am super spoiled, but this is one of the few Chardonnay I have ever enjoined drinking. $170. Meursault is an AOC within Côte de Beaune. Compared to other Chardonnay, Mersault has more body, bone dry, more alcohol, more richness with mineral, toast, and peach flavour. On the nose, it has a complex aroma of fresh, hazelnut, peach, citrus, vanilla note. On the palate, the wine is clean, intense, complex, with a hint of mineral and a spicy finish. I wished I wasn't at a wine tasting; I would have drank the entire glass and asked for more.

This wine pair well with herb roasted chicken and steamed seabass or halibut. Something weighty but not too intense in flavour.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chardonnay Part 2: White Burgundy

Chardonnay is grown mostly in Champagne, Burgundy, and Languedoc-Roussillon. Burgundy, despite the obvious association to the color red, can be both red or white wine. White Burgundy is made from 100% Chardonnay, and they are all dry. There are 4 main areas in Burgundy:
  • Chablis: produces 100% white wine
  • Mâconnais: 85% white wine
  • Côte Châlonnaise: 40% white
  • Côte D'Or: is divided into Côte de Nuits (5%) and Côte de Beaune (30%)
  • Beaujolais: produces 99% redwine
The best wines are produced in Chablis, Mersault and Puligny-Montrachet in Côte de Beaune, and Pouilly-Fuissé, an estate south of Mâconnais. Chablis produces wines with the most acid. At Chablis and Mâconnais, grapes are fermented and aged in stainless-steel tanks. Côte de Beaune age theirs in oak barrels, giving it complexity, depth, body, flavour, and longevity.

Wine from other parts of Burgundy I did not mention above is labelled as Bourgogne AC. These are not the best wines, but the quality is consistent and the wines are pleasant.

The quality of the wine is indicated on the label:
  • Village Wine: ($) Simply bears the name of the village where it is produced. Not bad.
  • Premier Cru: ($$) From a specific vineyard within one of the villages. Usually it would list the village first and vineyard second on the label. If it doesn't have the specific vineyard on the label, then it is a blend of different cru vineyard in that village, and thus has lower quality.
  • Grand Cru: ($$$$) From a specific vineyard that posses the best soil and slope in the area and meets all other requirements. On the label, the village names are not even on the label. Only the Grand Cru vinyard name are used.

Chateauv Smith Havt Lafitte 2006


This is a Grand Cru Classe Grave de Bordeaux outside Passac-Leognon, Bordeaux, France. $99 and worth every penny. On the nose, intense and complex layers of vanilla, toast, oaky, coffee, chocolate, cedar, pepper. On the palate, full bodied, black cherry, currant, mineral, highly concentrated, and very intense. Long finish. The only thing I would change about it is that it should be aged more.

I would pair it with a well-marbled steak or roast, or my lamb chop.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Georges du Boeuf Beaujolais 2007

Here is a good example of a value wine. $15.00. In the glass, it has pretty little bubbles coming out of the wine. On the nose, it was sharp, crisp, red cherry. On the palate, light bodied, simple, crisp acidity, little tart, and very little tannin. It's not very complex and is very easy to drink.

The first pairing that came to my mind is salmon sashimi or sushi, and baked lemon pepper chicken.

Beaujolais

Beaujolais is a small area within Côte D'Or, which is only 30 miles long. Yet, it's the main area where Burgundy and Beaujolis are produced. But Burgundy and Beaujolis are completely different wine. Burgundy is made from 100% Pinor Noir grape variety, while Beaujolis is made from Gamay.

This red wine is light or medium bodied, usually unoaked with medium or high acidity, low tannin levels, and pronounced red fruit aromas (raspberry, cherry), and occasionally with a hint of cinnamon or pepper). They are best consumed while young when they are fruity, but a couple can be better with aging such as Morgon AC and Moulin-a-Ven AC. Beaujolais are generally cheaper, and I drank a lot of it when I first started wine tasting, but I still confuse it with unoaked Pinot Noirs. Burgundies are oaked and have a small hint of that toast, vanilla note. Pinot Noirs would also have some vegetal and animal nuance (wet leaves, mushroom, meaty aroma), but I can't really tell. Well, looks like I need more "practice!" Ah life is so hard.

Premium List:
Beajolais AC: Within the Beaujolais Village AC, there are ten villages, know as the Beaujolais Crus, which produces the best Beajolais:
  • Morgon AC
  • Moulin-à-Vent AC
  • Fleurie AC
  • Chénas AC
  • Chirouble AC
  • Brouilly AC
  • Côte de Brouilly AC
  • Juliénas
  • Régnié
  • Saint-Amour
My personal favourite producers are (and in this order): Drouhin, Bouchard, Jodot, Mommessin, Duboeuf.

Beaujolas Nouveau AC: a even lighter and fruiter Beaujolais released in the November following the harvest. These wines are meant to be consumed within 6 months.
Beaujolais Village AC: superior quality wines that come from the granite hills to the north of the region.

I spent this summer pairing Beaujolais, and the food choice depends on the appellation and vintage. For the younger Beajolais and Beaujolais Village, I go with white mean, veal, pâtés, cottage cheese or light cream cheese. For wines that have intense flavour, a stronger cheese such as blue cheese (e.g Roquefort). The crus Beajolais are quite flexible. Traditionally, it can be served with coq au vin or meat cooked in sauce. I once paired Morgon crus with roast lamb with orange olive rub which turned out nicely, surprisingly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jackson-Triggs Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Okanagan

Dennis picked this bottle because he wants a local white wine and he likes the frosty glass bottle and gold label. $19.00 Personally, I am not a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc, because they can be quite pungent and herbaceous (good aroma and flavour to others). This wine is medium body, 12.5% alcohol, and crisp (a signature for most Okanagan whites). It has intense citrus, mineral, herbal, gooseberry, and grapefruit aroma. The finish reminds me of grapefruit or lemon zest (and slightly unpleasant). Dennis had a different opinion. He finds the wine refreshing and the finish tasty.
I suppose I would like it more if I pair it with some food... potted crab, pesto sauce, or brie

Japan: Tokyo Part 2


Still in Tokyo. After a week, we learned that price doesn't reflex the quality of the food. We ate at a few restaurants around $30-50 range and they were all really disappointing. What they had in common is the beautifully designed decor which gives the restaurants an elegant (and somewhat intimidating) ambiance. I suppose we were paying for that instead of food. Back to cheap and yummy food.
While browsing electronics at Akihabara, we came a cross a tiny restaurant with 2 tables for two and three bar seats, in a back alley. Surrounded by high raises, this little restaurant is owned and operated by three obasan, elderly women, and the manu was written on a chalkboard. They were very friendly, but we couldn't communicate with them at all. Fortunately, an older gentleman customer spoke excellent English and helped us out. I had miso soup, fried premium pork with panko, spaghetti in tomato sauce, rice, pickled radish, and pickled cucumber, and Dennis had fried fish. The miso soup was better than anything we ever had in Canada. It was flavorful but not overly salty. The meal cost us about $25. The old man told us funny stories and about his work. We had a great time.

Btw, this was red tuna. The photo was taken in the famous fish port in Tokyo. They had fish auction 5 am in the morning. The place was packed with merchants, chefs, and tourists. It was quite amazing, and I would definitely recommend everyone to check it out.

Food Index

Vancouver Restaurant Reviews:
Traveling:

Maple Seared Scallops with Saute Spinach Salad


Phil asked to come over for dinner. I also have some left over Mission Hill Chardonnay from Joe and Tracy. Since Phil is an old customer, I can be more daring and experiment to create new recipe. I took a huge gamble with the salad, but Phil and Dennis both liked it. The best thing about this meal is that it is delicious, organic, and relatively low on calories.

Ingredients for 2:
Scallops:
  • 2 Medium size Scallops (about 150g)
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
Salad:
  • 2 Small Tomato (sliced)
  • ½ Yellow Pepper (sliced)
  • 3 Leaves of Lettuce (sliced)
  • 8 Kalamata Olives
  • ½ tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper


Instruction:
Scallops

1. Marinate in maple syrup, salt, and pepper for 10 minutes.
2. Heat a non-stick pan to very hot on high heat and coat the pan with oil
3. Sear the scallops on both sides until they are browned (1 minute)
4. (Optional) Add butter tot he pan and allow it to cook into the scallops.
Salad
1. Slice lettuce, yellow pepper, onion, tomato very thinly. I used a Japanese mandolin to slice it.
2. Heat a pan at medium heat and coat it with oil.
3. Add crushed garlic and baby spinach to the pan and saute until the spinach was softened.
4. Quickly remove from heat and toss with the rest of the salad and olives
5. Add salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar for dressing.

The dish pairs well with that Mission Hill Chardonnay 2006, which is medium bodied, crisp, fresh lemon, apple, citrus, and honey. The finish is not unpl
easant.

Zinfandel


Before my wine course, I thought Zinfandel can only make those sickly sweet rose wines. Actually, Zinfandel is a type of black grape grown mostly in California. It's capable of making all types of wines and can be made into amazing dry red wines that is full bodied, high alcohol with black fruit, dried fruit, sweet spice note. Another cool fact is that a few vineyard have grape vines over 100 years old, and these "trees" produce only a few grapes that are very intense in flavour. Ever since I learn about this, I have been looking to acquire a few bottles for collection. I believe Napa and Sonoma County produces the best Zinfandel.


Gallo Family Vineyards White Zinfandel, California, USA 2008 $7.00
This is what people usually associate Zinfandel with. I drank this at the blind tasting for my class, but I usually would never drink any foreign wine under $10. Wines, like any other food, when it is too cheap, you have to wonder what else is in the wine. This wine is jammy, low acidity, medium sweet, light bodied, and kind of tastes like kool'aid. This is an "acceptable" wine to drink, but not "good" or "spectacular" (what you would expect for $7.00). I drank Zins when I first started drinking wine, and it's a pretty good wine to start with for children as well. Better quality white Zinfandels is more refreshing, balanced, and intense. I would pair this wine with light sweet desserts but not cheese cakes.


Caymus Vineyards Zinfandel Napa Valley, California, USA 2006, $46.00
This is the first red Zinfadel I have ever tried and what a wonderful surprise! It is full bodied, 15.5% alcohol, intense complex aroma of plum, flower, and raisin, dry, mild tannin. It also has a nice spice to it, which is the signature of red Zinfandel. Overall, it is a balanced and outstanding wine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alsace vs Germany

(I split Riesling Part 1 to insert a premium list. This is the second part of that same post.)
Riesling 2002, Pierre Sparr Altenboug Alsace France $32
Alsace Riesling is considered as the benchmark Riesling to which riesling from the rest of the world is compared. This particular sample is pretty stereotypical. Ripe stone fruit (pear, melon), citrus (lemon), pretty dry, medium+ acid, medium body. Rarely do I drink any whites this old, and you can really taste the differences. Recommend medium bodied food such as halibut with lemon zest.

Riesling 1995, Zilliken Saarburger Raush, Germany $50
Aged Riesling is, well, not my favorite, because it sometimes smells like petrol, like this one. That smell is supposed to be "good" though. This is a medium sweet (Auslese) Riesling from Germany. Stone fruit (honey, peach, pineapple), medium- body, medium- acidity, medium- alcohol, medium+ length. James said that the produce harvested late and artificially stop the fermentation to make it so sweet. if I have kids, I probably start them on younger versions of this wine. This wine would be great with spicy food, Tai food, salami, cold cuts, fresh fruit, cheese cake, soft cheeses. I had this for Joe and Tracy's dinner and it did pair well with fresh fruits.

Chablis vs. Russian River

These two Chardonnays are pretty classic and represents their regions well. They are great for comparison, since both of them are 2007 and cost $29.00

Joseph Drouhin Chablis 2007, Chablis, France $29.00
Chablis is my favorite chardonnay. It's youthfulness can be noticed in its clean fresh aroma and taste. It's intense green apple, lemon and minerals represents Chablis's terroir and climate very well. Dry, medium+ acid, and medium- body.

It would pair well with oysters and scallops

Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay 2007, Russian River Range, Sonoma, California USA $29.00
Placed side by side, this chardonnay has a deep gold color than Chablis, hinting that grapes from this wine probably got more sun. Indeed, it is higher in alcohol, fuller body, not as dry, not as acidic. The aroma is intense and has ripe stone fruit and citrus notes.

I definitely prefer the crispness and freshness of Chablis over the California chardonnay, but they are both very pleasant and are about the same quality.

Panko & Lime Crusted Albacore Tuna


This is my favorite dish that I learned from Dirty Apron. Oh I can't wait for summer when this fish can be more available! The fish is breaded with flour, egg, lime, panko, lime zest, salt, pepper and lightly seared on al sides. It's easy to prepare and very delicious.
The salad underneath the fish is a Warm "Nicoise Style" Salad. The dressing is easy and low in calories. It's simply grainy mustard, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. I know it sounds kinda weird, but it's very delicious. I usually use kalamata olive instead of nicoise, which makes the salad a little soggy, but it's a personal preference. The salad is slightly more labour intensive.

Ingredients (serves 2):

Tuna
  • 2 Albacore Tuna (4½oz each)
  • 1 Egg (or egg replacer)
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • 1 Lime (juiced and zested)
  • ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
Salad Dressing
  • 15g Grainy Mustard
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (minced)
  • 2 Sprigs Italian Parsley (chopped)
  • ¼ Lemon (Jusiced)
  • Olive Oil
Salad
  • 50g Fine Green Beans (blenched)
  • 120g Fingerline Potatoes (blenched, peeled, halved)
  • 1 shallot
  • 8 Red Grape Tomato (halved)
  • 10g Toasted Pine nuts
  • 6 Chive Spears (sliced)
  • Olive Oil
Instruction:
Tuna:

1. Whisk the egg and lime juice together in a bowl.
2. Mix pank and lime zest with salt and pepper in another bowl
3. Put flour in a third bowl.
4. Season the tuna with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour, dip into the egg mixture, 5. and then finely coat with panko
6. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
7. Sear each side of the tuna until the panko turns golden brown on all sides. Rare tuna sea only needs a minute on each side.
8. Place tuna onto a paper towel and pat away excess oil

Warm "Nicoise Style" Salad:
Dressing

1. In a bowl, mix the mustard with garlic and parsely.
2. Add olive oil slowly and then add lemon juice
3. Season with salt and pepper

Salad

1. In a saute pan, saute the potatoes in oil for 2 minutes
2. Add shallots and green beans and saute another minute
3. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper
4. Transfer the salad into a mixing bowl and add the dressing, chives, olives, and toasted pine nuts. Toss!

I would pair it with a medium bodied white wine, possibly the Alsace Riesling I mentioned before. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Bogan 2005 Barossa Valley

Friday night, Dennis and I decided to cuddle on the sofa and watch some CSI Vegas. We also decided to share something cheap from my wine cellar, so I opened the only shiraz I have left in the cellar assuming it would be cheap. (I should really organize my cellar better). The wine was 16% alcohol, 2.5% more than the average. When I uncorked the bottle, a explosion of intense fruit bomb aroma can be smelled 3 foot away. It smelled like dark cherry, plum, toast, vanilla, fresh mint, and smoke. Realizing the intensity and complexity in the aroma, I knew I made a mistake and this bottle can't possibly have less than 3 digit price tag. So I looked at the label more closely, I then realized in the fine print that this is a premium wine made from grapes grown specifically at Kaesler in Barossa Valley. The vines were planted in 1899 and 1965, the wine was then aged in American and French oak for 15 month, without any finning or filtration.

On the palate, it was bone dry, refreshing, and very full-bodied (incredible weight on the tongue), but there was surprising little tannin. It developed a fresh minty note, blueberry jam flavour. Incredibly smooth to drink and the finish was complex and last no less than 10 minutes.

Usually shiraz is hard to drink on its own, but we finished this bottle wanting more. I googled up the wine and it was about $114 CND before BC liquor tax.

Chardonnay Part 1

I usually prefer Riesling over chardonnay, but there are a handful chardonnays I like. Compared to Riesling, chardonnay is not as aromatic, and how it would tastes depends more on the terroir and the winemaker's techniques. If the soil has a lot of minerals, it have a hint of mineral, and if it was aged in oak, it will taste like oak (toast, vanilla, and coconut). Sometimes you can even taste the yeast which was used to make the wine. Unlike Riesling, Chardonnay is grown just about anywhere in the world, so the wines vary drastically one bottle to bottle. I think getting a good bottle of chardonnay is more important and challenging than other white wines, because there is a huge discrepancy between the good and the bad.

As a general rule for what to expect from chardonnay:
Cool Climate: crisp acid, green apple, citrus, pear
Moderate Climate: medium acid, stone fruit (peach and melon)
Hot: Medium acid, tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, lichee)

Here is the premium list:

Chablis: white burgundy from France. Due to the cool climate, Chablis has green fruit (apple, pear) with citrus aroma (occasionally it might smell like cucumber), highly acidic, bone dry. Since it was grown on limestone, it can also tastes smoky, flinty, minerally. Chablis is the benchmark chardonnay to which everything else is compared to. Premier Cru is the best, but Grand Cru is pretty good too.
Cote de Beaune: Southern part from Cote d'Or. Mearsault and Puligny-Montrachet the best of the region. These wines are fermented in small oak barrels and aged with yeast, so you get a this full bodied wine with a complex succession of flavouring: toast, bread, vanilla, citrus, white stone, tropical fruit, spice. Some people argue that this is the best Chardonnay in the world.
Pouilly-Furisse: This vineyards are grown on a steep slope facing south (for max. sun exposure) in Mâcoonis. They are full bodied with tropical (pineapple, melon) and oak.
New Zealand: Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Marlborough produces Burgundian style chardonnay. I think these wines have better value than the French wines.
Carneros and Sonoma County in California produces pretty interesting chardonnay. It has intense flavour and very complex.
Casablanca Valley in Chile produces chardonnay with tropical fruit and oak notes.
Mendoza in Argentina produces intense fruit bomb chardonnay

Australia produces a some good chardonnays, but finding it is more challenging. Hunter's Valley, Pathaway, Adelaid Hill, Margaret River produces diverse styles of chardonnays at a reasonable price. Walker's Bay in South African also has a few good chardonnays (if you can find it in Vancouver).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Japan: Tokyo Part 1

I don't claim to know much about Japanese food and cooking, so whatever I say here is based on my limited experience from this month long trip. Our culinary goals were:
1. Eat local foods,
2. Eat the best and/or the best valued,
3. Don't eat at the same place twice.


Because we couldn't speak or read Japanese (I can only read Kanji), this dialogue often occurred:
Dennis: "I wonder what this [items on a manu, label on packages, mysterious dishes] is"
Me: "There is only one way to find out!" and then put whatever it was in my mouth.

With a lot of guesswork, luck, and teamwork, we had an amazing time. The food and the alcohol were phenomenal, leading to several mind blowing, orgasmic experiences.

Let's start in Tokyo. The goal in Tokyo was to eat cheap and our first dinner was at a busy (very small) ramen house in Ikebukuro. We had to use a vending machine (I wished I had a picture of it) to buy our order before entering the restaurant. The waitress took our receipts before seating us. Everything, except the actual bowls of noodle, was self-serve. (See picture above). I thought the fresh peeled garlic and the garlic press was quite interesting. The vertical tissue paper box was a clever use of space. The food didn't really need anymore flavor though; it was better than any ramen we ever had. Dinner for 2 (2 large bowls of ramen and beef gyoza ): $15 CND (no tax, no tip). Try that in New York!

The food was absolutely fantastic, unique, and rather addictive. This particular place added homemade pickled turnip in their ramen dishes. The noodle was thick and doughy and the broth was very rich and flavorful (with an unexpecting kick at the end). The gyoza was quite greasy but still very flavourful. Throughout our trip, we had a tendency to gravitate towards similar hole-in-the-wall establishments.

Convenience stores were also crucial to saving money in Japan. They have many different type of hot and cold ready-to-eat items ranging from pasta dishes to sushi bento boxes, including hot water for instant noodles. Why can't American convenient store be this cool? Dennis and I ate onigri, rice ball with different sauce or stuff inside, for breakfast or between meals. They are about $1.20 each (no tax). Dennis needs at least 2 for his daily fix and become cranky when he started fiending. He kept a tally, and the final count was 74 onigri, averaging 2.5 per day. The one in the picture has pickled mustard leaves inside.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tojo's

Dennis and I went to Tojo with Andy and Michelle. There are two types of Japanese restaurants in Vancouver. The majority are the ones that focus mainly on rolls, sushi, teriyaki, and discount bento boxes. These are very popular amongst non-Japanese Vancouverites, but you will seldom see many actual Japanese frequenting them. In fact, the owners and staffs of these restaurants are usually Chinese or Korean. Japanese don't actually eat that much sushi and rolls in Japan, and teriyaki is a Western invention. People are most likely not getting an actual authentic Japanese meal and experience going to these restaurants. Then, there are ones that focuses on robata (cooked food). These are often small restaurants with more rustic designs (Zakkushi is a wooden box in a wall seating no more than 22 people.) and they are often owned and run by actual Japanese. These restaurants are often packed to the brim, with a line outside, with Japanese customers.

Then, there is Tojo, owned and staffed by skilled, experienced Japanese chefs and waiters, but they cater mainly to Westerners. They serves mainly rolls, sushi, and teriyaki... with a even more Western flare. It's one of the most famous Japanese restaurant in Vancouver, but Japanese patrons are a rare sight.

Food: 3.5/5
Andy and Michelle agreed that they have better rolls for cheaper. Dennis liked his vegetable rolls, but the rest wasn't very memorable. I was expecting the dishes to represents the Tojo's famous culinary prowess, creativity, and commitment to quality and esthetic, but everything fell short. I too had more delicious, more creative, and cheaper sushi before. Yoshi, another sushi house with similar price tag and style, has significantly superior quality dishes. Tojo's Omakase, set meals that change everyday, and it was another let down. Having worked in a restaurant before, I believe the Omekase dishes are made with excessed product and left over scraps from the kitchen. While it does offer you little bit of everything from the manu, the entire experience felt cheap. The dessert, green tea creme brulee, was delicious though.

Service: 3.5/5
It was nice to see the same staffs for years after years. One of the waiters even remembered us. They were down to earth, friendly, personable, energetic, and humorous. While I like them, I wasn't impressed with their service. I believe they were understaffed and there were mistakes with our orders, and it took a long time to get the attention of the waiters to correct it. I do believe the waiters did their best, but they needed to hire more staffs.

Ambience: 3/5
If a restaurant is going to demand reservation, cloth napkin, and all the fancy gimmicks (and the price tag) of a high class restaurant, it is a mortal sin to have wobbly tables.

Overall Experience: 3.5/5
They serve shochu and a respectable wine list, for which they get a bonus mark. I also like their bizzard happy birthday song.

Total: 13.5/20

I would gladly go back, if someone else is paying.

Tojo's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pork Wellington



Personally I love pork, and I especially love Berkshire (Karabuta) pork. You can eat this as sashimi in Japan, and you can prepare it rare or medium rare. Yes, pork can be served raw, if you treat the pigs well when they were alive. The puff pastry I used here is organic and found in frozen sections at Whole Foods. I learned this dish from Dirty Apron and I have since been wrapping various meats using puff pastry. This dish is a little more labour intensive, and I only prepare this dish a few times.

Ingredients:
Wellington

  • 2 Pork Tenderloin (3 oz each center cut)
  • 1 Small square sheet puff pastry (6x6 inch)
  • 1 tsp Grainy Mustard
  • 2 Springs Thyme (finely chopped)
  • 1 Egg (egg wash)
  • Olive oil, flour, salt, pepper
Sauce
  • 80ml White Wine
  • 80ml Chicken Stock
  • 80ml Heavy Cream (or cashew cream)
  • 2 tsp Grainy Mustard
  • ½ tbsp Chives (sliced)
  • ½ shallot (finely diced)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (finely chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper


Instruction:
Wellington

1. Preheat Oven 450˚F
2. Season pork on all side with sale and pepper
3. Heat a pan in high heat and sear the pork on all side in olive oil
4. Remove the pork, but keep the pan for the sauce
5. In a small bowl, add mustard, thyme, pork and cover the pork on all side with the mustard.
6. Brush the pasty with egg wash
7. Place pork at the bottom center of the sheet and wrap the pastry over the tenderloin to cover, tucking ends under.
8. Bake for 10 minutes or until the pork is at 140˚F and pastry is brown.

Sauce
1. Using the pan from the pork, saute the shallot and garlic (add more oil if necessary).
2. Add white wine and chicken stock, and reduce to ¼ of the liquid.
3. Reduce heat and add cream and mustard. Cook until thickened.
4. Add chives before serving.

The pork is marinated overnight and cooked to medium rare. Almost forgot that you got to trim all visible fat off the pork (otherwise the fat would make the pastry soggy). I think it would pair well with a light to medium bodied red with low tannin.

Christine on Foodista

Grilled Lamb Chops with Olive Tapenade Herb Crust


Another lovely dish I learned at Dirty Apron. Dennis and I are trying to eat less meat, lamb chop is great for portion control. Lamb chop has become a stable in our diet. Very greek! The lamb is easy to make and only takes 15 minutes.  The olive tapenade is widely available in large grocery stores.  If you don't have it or don't want to buy it, you can replace it with high quality mustard sauce.

Herb panko rub is a home made rub made from leftover not-so-fresh herbs in my fridge and panko crumbs. I used oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and just blend everything together with 2 cups of panko crumbs.  This mixture can stay in your freezer for 6 months.

Ingredient: (Serves 2)
2 Lamb chops
2 tbsp Kalamata Olive Tapenade
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp herb panko rub

Instruction:  Preheat the oven to 400 degree
1. Dry the lamb with paper towel.
2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper
3. Heat a pan or grill to high heat and sear all sides of the chop. About 1 minute on each side.
4. Remove from heat and spread olive tapenade on the top.
5. Put it in a baking pan and bake it for 8-12 minutes or when the lamb's internal temperatuion is at least 130.
6. Sprinkle herb panko rub.

Riesling Part 1

I remember the mind blowing rieslings I had in Lucern and Lugano Switzerland on hot summer days on restaurants patio beside the lakes. As soon as I got back to Vancouver, I began to stockpile rieslings in order to find THE Riesling and failed miserably. This wine course help me pin-point what exactly about Riesling I like so much: crisp and refreshing (high acid), not super dry, subtly fruity, creamy, easy to drink. Not all riesling are like that. Riesling offers very diverse wines, and it is expressive of the terroir (where it is grown) and good rieslings can be aged for hundreds of years, which is very different from other whites. Generally, it has strong aroma (smells actually like grapes, or flowers), never smells like herbs or grass like other whites. It is rarely high in alcohol and body, not oaked, not as creamy.

Riesling, as a grape, is quite delicate and can be made into various different styles of wine from light white wine to super sweet icewine. Unlike Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling has an amazing potential for aging up to a couple hundred years.

Premium Riesling
Germany's QBA: fruity, refreshing, always a bit on the sweet side, light-bodied, and low in alchol. In fact, they rank their wine based on sweetness and write that on the label. The aroma and flavor characteristics varies depending on the ranking. German Rieslings rivals Alsace Riesling for the best, but German wine has better value, and you can get really good ones for pretty cheap.
Alsace: this Riesling is drier, medium body with green citrus and stone fruit note. If it is harvested late, it can be full bodied with intense flavor. The wine often has amazing complexity reflecting the soil type in Alsace. When the wine is aged, it develops smokey, honey, petrol like aroma.
Austria: If you can find it in Vancouver, its drier than German's with more body and alcohol.

Clare and Eden Valley in Australia has super dry, super acidic Riesling that smells like lime and burnt toast. It's a little sour for me, but it is also considered premium Riesling. New Zealand can also produce some good Rieslings, although their other whites can probably better. It's also dry, but the acidity is more balanced and crisp

9 Year Anniversary



November 10th was Dennis and my 9th year anniversary, almost a decade, wow. We decided to not do anything too extravagant, so I just cooked us a slightly nicer meal and put some effort in plating

Greek Salad with no feta (Dennis can't eat cheese): Kalamata Olives, Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomato, fresh herb, olive oil, fleur de sel, 2 year old balsamic vinegar.
Crispy Seared Duck Breast: Marinated overnight in orange zest, cinnamon, cadamon pods, maple syrup, black pepper, olive oil. Pan fried, done. Easy! Learned it from Dirty Apron.
Double Pan-Fried Baked Potato: Seasoned with lemon juice, salt, pepper, pan-fried once, baked, and then pan fry again in duck fat with rosemary and thyme. Yumm calories...

Dinner with Joe and Tracy


Let's start with last night's dinner. Joe and Tracy came over for dinner for the first time. I decided to stay on the safe side and stick with (glorified) steak and potato. That's joe's salad in the picture. I couldn't find my easy-to-plate balsamic sauce bottle and ended up plating using a rosemary balsamic reduction made in Whistler (Thanks Jamie!).

Appetizer:
For Joe: cucumber, red and yellow bell pepper, kalamata olives, red onion, baby spinach (heated in a pan), fleur de sel, fresh herbs
For everyone else: tons of tomato, yellow bell petter, kalamata olives, lettuce, red onions, fleur de sel, fresh herbs

Main course:
Prime Rib Roast: Rare to medium rare. I marinated it overnight in its black peppercorn, olive oil, fleur de sel, garlic rub. It roasted beautifully, and, sadly, probably my best roast so far. Then, the gravy is made with the left over juice and oil from the roast with shallots, red wine, chicken broth (wrong broth). I started to make more mistakes as I drank more wine.
Roasted Potato with rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, fleur de sel, olive oil

Dessert was just assorted fruits with fresh mint leaves.

Wines:
Pinot Gris 2007 WillaKenzie Estate, Willamette Valley Oregon. $39.99USD
I bought this from Tasting Room near Pike Place, Seattle. It was crisp, refreshing, dry, fruity (green apple, light citrus), and medium+ body. It was super easy to drink and would be great to have again in the summer. We finished this bottle before the dinner. 13.8%
Riesling 2006 Donnhoff, Nahe, Germany
I bought it simply because I had never seen such simple labeling for a German bottle. It is Qualitatswein, but this is pretty much all the information on the bottle. Contrasted with the Pinot Gris, it was significantly more sweet, stone fruit, balanced acid, light bodied, and super delicious. We had half a bottle with appetizer and second half with dessert. 10%
Bordeaux 2005 Chateau Plantes des Vignes, France $50CND
This was perfect with the roast. The tannin was soft and ripe and didn't fight with the peppercorn crust. Although I wasn't sober by this point, I could still notice the intense red fruit note, acidity, lightness. The alcohol is 12%, lower than my usual reds.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Yalumba, South Australia
After dinner we played a games. We started drinking the cheaper stuff. This wine baffled me though. It had your typical strong black fruit aroma. It has 13.5% alcohol, but everyone agreed it tasted diluted and boring. I don't recommend.
Chardonnay 2006 Mission Hill Okanagan Valey, BC
Joe and Tracy brought this over as a gift. It was opened after the Aussie cab, and I can't seem to remember how it tasted.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wine Classes


Wine.. my second highest expenditure (first is food and dinning). I have also been taking wine courses to improve my knowledge on wine (might as well know more about what I am destroying my liver with). I have passed the beginner level and currently enrolled in the intermediate. I will also be logging each remarkable wine I drink (that I can remember). This should help me retain the information better.

Dirty Apron Cooking School

From Christine's Food and Wine Review


I discovered Dirty Apronin August and have been a dedicated student ever since. Dennis believes my cooking skill has "insurmountably" (or so he claims) improved every since I started attending their classes. In most of my classes, Dave teaches and Takasi (probably spelling his name wrong). The recipes are user friendly and flexible, and I have incorporate a lot of the cooking knowledge, tips, and tricks into my daily cooking.

I'd definitely recommend anyone who is interested in adding a little more variety into their diet or planning to impress their romantic interests, in-laws, friends at the dinner table. It's a great place to make friends too. I have been attending the classes alone. Some people brings bunch of their friends to the class and even have birthday parties. That always look super fun. Too bad most of my friends are more into eating than cooking.

Dennis wants to do the chocolate course though and sushi courses if he ever makes one.

Blogging Nightmare

I spent the morning trying to delete my old blogs and ended up deleting my entire google account by accident. There is no way to retrieve my old account now, and my old blogs are now a permanent and unchanging fixture of the internet. Doh!