Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Shy Bubbly

I first tasted this unique beer at the Belgian dinner I attended. Only a small shot glass was offered as it was with the amuse so it was the one beer I had that night that I felt I never really tasted. Of course, the leftovers from that dinner lined our local liquor store shelves shortly after and I picked up a few bottles.

Gueuze's brewing is especially unique to the area it is brewed, near Brussels, due to the fact no yeast is added. The ancient recipe relies on a spontaneously fermented lambic of malt, wheat and hop from the yeast in the air. It is then fermented in Oak barrels and bottled with a combination of young lambic and old, the young then starts a secondary fermentation in the bottle similar to champagne which is why it is sometimes referred to as a champagne styled beer.

Whoaa...perhaps a bit too much info. I don't know how else to describe this beer but as elusive. I have now tried three bottles (not just now) and still can't come up with an adequate description. Gueuze is very gentle and mild and doesn't have a bamm! kind of taste more a whispery kind of flavor you're going to just have to try for yourself.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Crowd Pleaser

Last night I hosted a family dinner in celebration of my daughter's birthday. I was looking for a inexpensive red for the family who appreciates quantity more than quality, I say that in the most loving way, of course. Also lets face it, it's almost Christmas and I have three birthdays to contend with so we're not dripping with extra cash for the wine upgrades.

Luckily I found the 2006 Beringer Zinfandel which was inexpensive, pleasant and not overly sweet. I found it to be a easy drinking, full bodied red. I am familiar with Beringer wines from previous restaurants I've worked in but they were always pricey and I did not realized they produced the blue collar variety too. In fact after checking out their website found they have products ranging from $7 (2006 Chenin Blanc) to $290 (2002 private reserve Cab Sav). Quite the range but after a hundred and thirty years, give or take, of operation I guess they have discovered diversity along the way.

The Beringer website described this wine as "crowd pleasing" and it definately held true for our crowd. For 13.95 a bottle, I suspect it will be pleasing a few more crowds in our house for a while.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Six Pack of My Dreams

I was awoken this morning by the beeping and hydrolic sounds of the recycling truck in our little cul de sac thinking, no doubt, that our recycling was still sitting on the deck. My husband has many talents but remembering recycling and garbage day is not one of them. He is, however, an incredibly talented and particularly sexy Chef. I don't often have the opportunity to dine at the Bistro in which he works but I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a special Belgian Dinner he created last Thursday. It was a gluttonous six course dinner inspired by his home and our recent travels, each course paired with a Belgian beer.

One of my favorite courses was the appetizer of a trio of Belgian endive paired with my favorite bubbly Duvel. Another stand out was the Beef Carbonades a la Flamande (carmelized slow braised beef stew) paired beautifully with the rich, carmelly, dark Chimay Blue Cap. The Amuse was a butter poached oyster served with the unusual champagne style Mort Subite Gueze. The fish course was sole a l'ostendaise(sole poached with mussels and shrimp with a most exquisite lobster sauce) paired with Witterkerke Wit beer. Of course the evening finished with some Kriek flavored chocolate truffles paired with the Mort Subite Kriek, the lovely, light cherry flavored beer which has won over many a non beer drinker.

Of all the wonderful food and beers offered, my husband was particularly excited to share his Chicken Waterzooi paired with Karmeliet. Karmeliet is brewed in his little home town of Buggenhout. The recipe for Karmeliet was created in 1679 in the Carmelite Monastery. It's unique blend of three grains and in bottle refermentation creates a truly memorable beer. Professional opinion eludes to the distinctive vanilla and citrus flavors, mine, is each tastes illicits a small grumbling, satisfied moan. MMMMM...goooood.

It was a amazingly memorable dinner not in the least because it opened up the wonderful world of Belgian beers (and food) to a few more people. A few more people to harass the local liquor store into stocking the products we love.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why hello there

It's been awhile since i've posted here. In the time that has passed many strange and wonderful things have happened, perhaps most important is the fact that Christle and i now work together. We have spent many evenings after a busy service ruminating over lovely local wines and Belgian beer. Christle has taught me many things about wines and beverages in general. My palate has been refined and i can give a few good lines about most of the wines on our menu.

Our house wines are made up of a mix of local and non-local, more accessible wines. I have developed an intense passion for local wines, my favourite winery being Alderlea. Personally, i think Roger makes the best, most consistent local wines. The pinot gris and pinot noir are both big sellers in the restaurant and pair well with a variety of foods.

The stand out wine for me and many local wine lovers is the Clarinet. Clarinet is made from 100% Marechal Foch grapes and is intense and dark and luscious. We have three bottles left in the restaurant and i plan on saving them for customers who will truly appreciate what has come to be one of the most sought after local reds.


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Tour de France

My brood and I recently returned from visiting family in France and Belgium. As we don't get over to often, our trips tend to be fraught with good food, beer and wine and this trip was no exception. I did intend on taking viligant notes or at least looking at the bottles occasionally and managed to do so on a few occasions.

Champagne was not one of those occasions. We tasted much champagne, especially with leisurely. luxurious lunches in the South of France. Honestly, I can not recall a single label, however, I think the overall promotion of Champagne drinking is important. In Canada it tends to be saved for special celebrations, new years, weddings and whatnot but why not on a regular evening reading your book by the fire. My husband and I briefly toyed with the idea of having some of those lunches at home but it just seemed to alcoholicy for our prudent Canadian life.

One of my favorite new beer discoveries was the Hoegaarden Rose. Hoegaarden, as seen in a previous post, is one of my favorite Belgian beers so how could you go wrong making this refreshing, light white beer with a touch of raspberry? You can't. It was a wonderful, light, low alcohol beer perfect for hot afternoons when your Champagne buzz is starting to wear off.

Then of course, there is the leisurly dinner to contend with. The 2000 Chateau Coutet, St Emilion Grand Cru, was one of my favorites. It was wonderfully full bodied and rich. We were drinking the 2000 vitage because my husband's father has a wonderful wine cellar in which wine is actually kept and not drunken immediately upon purchases. My husband and I both offered to sleep down there, Dad laughed but I did notice an extra lock on the door next time I went by.

All that remains of our wonderful trip are some great pictures and one lone bottle upon our wine rack of the Chateau Coutet. The only reason it is still there is we are loathe to finish what will surely be a wonderful revisit to a wonderful, far to infrequent, holiday.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Mouse in the House

In our area we have two beer and wine stores, one I've mentioned before that has quite a variety, always bringing in new interesting products, quite lovely really. The other, which is closer, tends to feature lucky lager and wine in the box form. I don't go there very often but with a recent hockey game and a desperately thirsty husband I stopped in. I took a quick tour around the wine racks, predictable and boring, but I spotted this lone bottle back with the dusty port bottles bordering on the tequila section, Church Mouse Syrah.
Church Mouse is an off shoot of Church & State wines in the Okanagan. I searched their site to see what they had to say about this wine but it wasn't listed which makes me think this bottle was left from a unusually whimsical purchase on the part of the beer and wine store and it has been patiently sitting in the back waiting for someone to notice it.
I did, and I like it. It was smooth, rich and perfect when I got home from work last night and needed a nightcap. I think I need to investigate the Syrah more as it's not a varietal I'm very familiar with, I'll look forward to a little more investigation tonight.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Tale of Three Merlots

Cedar Creek Merlot, Hester Creek Merlot and Columbia Crest Merlot are three that have been on my mind of late. It seems every second diner who graces our restaurant is asking for my opinion on a Merlot so here goes...

The Cedar Creek Merlot (sorry no picture, they are apparently very annal about their logos) now this has been on our house wine list for several years and to be honest I never much cared for it, until this year. I find the 2004 to be smooth, rich and easy to recommend as it has a wide appeal, not to mention the low price point. It is always nice to see a wine evolve.

The Hester Creek Merlot, we brought it to try out. We have a feature sheet in which we get to play around with new products. We like to bring in a case or two of new products to try out (tough part of my job) for our ever evolving wine list. This is one we brought in recently to mixed reviews. I find it a little sharp and lip puckery for me however the other main server likes it. I've had the same sort of mixed customer reviews as well, interesting seems to be a favored remark. So I guess you'll just have to try this one yourself and see what you think.

The Columbia Crest is our House favorite and I personally think it's the best value on our menu. Wonderfully smooth and rich with a surprising fullness that I wouldn't normally expect from a Merlot. I love it, we love it and everyone I've recommended it to, loved it. Triple love here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wild About The Goose

You have, have, have to try this wonderfully aromatic wine. I'm not usually a huge white wine drinker, except in summer, of course, but this is an exception. It doesn't seem to always be available so if you see a bottle, grab it, you won't be disappointed. A glass can conjure up wistful summer days with its intense rose petal aroma even on the most dreary, rainy West Coast day.

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