Archive for November, 2014

Farmed fish

November 17th, 2014

Fish and shrimp grown in hatcheries

Fascinating front page story in the weekend Wall Street Journal November 15-16, 2014 on “More Fish Make the Leap From Farm to Table“. The article details the “broader revolution in aquaculture that is radically changing the world’s food supply” indicating that with “a decade long global consumption boom depleting natural fish populations of all kinds, demand is increasingly being met by farm-grown seafood.”  They throw out alarming stats indicating the global output of farmed fish grew from 13.4% (1990) to 25.7% (2000) to 42.2% (2012); farmed shrimp now at 56%; farmed oyster production growing, and Atlantic salmon farming 99% of world-wide production. However, the main research focus of this feature is the amazing success story with Pacific Bluefin tuna by the Kinki University Nursery Center in Japan. This endangered coveted “sushi” fish has sold at auctions as high as $3ooo per pound. Now “Toyota footed the bill for larger facilities where baby fish hatched at the university’s labs could be raised in large number for about four months. At that point, the juvenile fish are stable enough to be sold to commercial tuna ranches, where they are fattened in round pens around 100 feet in diameter and 30 feet deep for three to four years before being sold for slaughter.” At that stage as adults they can be “3 feet long and weighing 65 pounds or more. Some fish may eventually reach 10 feet long and weigh up to 900 pounds.” Expecting 40000 juvenile fish next year. “Demand is certainly rising for the farmed tuna from gourmet stores and sushi restaurants in Japan.” Note: “Bluefin tuna require 15 pounds of feed fish to produce 1 pound of meat”. Weigh in with your thoughts about the controversial subject of eating farmed fish vs. wild-caught.


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Men are from Cabernet Sauvignon, Women are from Pinot Grigio? 7 gender differences in how we drink wine

November 14th, 2014

men and women drink wine differently
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By Joseph Temple

In the world of wine, there’s no shortage when it comes to gender stereotypes.  Many guys of course prefer beer, but men who drink wine want a bold red to pair with that juicy grilled steak.  Women on the other hand enjoy lighter white wines while they’re relaxing in the bathtub after working all day and finally putting the kids to bed.

But is there any truth to these assertions or are they just clichés?  Using various market research, we present ten provable gender differences in terms of wine consumption.


Women purchase more wine than men

1. Women buy more wine than men

According to a study conducted by the market research firm Canadean, women were responsible for 59% of all wine purchases in the United States for 2013. And when seeking out a bottle, females are more likely to be motivated by value than the opposite sex. According to senior analyst Catherine O’Connor: “Being more regular drinkers of wine than men, women look to find affordable offerings that allow them to enjoy the drink frequently without feeling guilt over their spending.”

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Men spend on average more money than women on wine

2.  Men spend more money on wine than women

Although they represent only 41% of the market, when it comes to price, men are more likely to open up their wallets.  Based on studies published in the 2012 Journal of Wine Research, Dr. Liz Thach of Sonoma State University shows that men on average spend $4.04 more per bottle.

 

Men prefer buying wines with a high score

3.  Men are more likely to purchase wine based on its rating

Ever had a guest bring over some wine for dinner and talk at length about the score that bottle received from Robert Parker or the Wine Spectator?  Well the odds are that person was male.  That’s because Dr. Thach also concluded in her study that “men are attracted by wines that score highly … they like to show off and to boast. Most women are not likely to do that.”  O’Connor also reaches a similar conclusion: “while women are looking to wine to accompany conversations as they unwind with friends, for men, wine is the conversation.”

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Men purchase more wine on the internet

4.  Men are more likely to buy wine online

In America with the laws varying state-by-state and outstanding issues involving storage and authenticity (see: should I buy wine on eBay), internet purchases represent fewer than 2% of all wine sales.  But amongst that small market of online consumers, the majority is male according to the Wine Spectator.  More specifically, married men over the age of 40 with children and a high household income seeking out higher priced vintages.

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5.  Men and women both prefer reds

Contrary to the popular myth that women prefer whites, current research shows that males and females are both fans of reds – Cab Sauv and Merlot to be exact.  Using a sample of 300 Californians, the top five wine varietals for the two sexes are:

Men

Women

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

2. Merlot

2. Merlot

3. Pinot Noir

3. White Zinfandel

4. Chardonnay

4. Chardonnay

5. Zinfandel (Red)

5. Pinot Noir

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6. Women are more likely to be hypersensitive tasters

While both men and women gravitate towards reds, the former is still more likely to choose red over white.  The reason according to Dr. Thach is: “more women than men are hyper-sensitive tasters.  These very sensitive tasters have a tendency to dislike highly tannic or highly acidic wines.  They gravitate towards whites, rosés and sweeter wine.”

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Both men and women agree on the reasons for drinking wine

7. Women and men agree on their reasons for drinking wine

What motivates both sexes to uncork a bottle?  The #1 reason is because it enhances their food.  #2 is they like to taste and #3 is it helps them relax after a hard day.

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Ask Sid: What’s the best serving utensil for caviar?

November 12th, 2014

how to serve caviar?

Question: Nice blog update on caviar Sid but what is your advice on the best utensil to use for serving and eating?

Answer: Good point. Lots of special fancy spoons and forks out there to choose from made of tortoise, mother-of-pearl, horn, porcelain, ceramic, bone, glass, wood – everything except silver or other metals. Issues of tarnish, oxidation, and the interference with the purity of caviar persist if you use an active metallic substance. Even little plastic spoons could be a cheap useful item to consider. Gerry Stein’s preference in his book Caviar! Caviar! Caviar! is a lot of fun: “a wooden tongue depressor, of the type used by physicians when they tell you to open wide and say Ahhhhhh!”.


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Caviar

November 10th, 2014

Caviar

Treated recently to lots of those salt cured fish eggs – a delicacy called caviar. Historically it was caught wild with the roe being taken from sturgeons by the Persians, the Russians, the Iranians and later the Americans. Overfishing brought scarcity and as an endangered species a substantial increase in prices. Remember the bigger eggs “ocean taste” Beluga, the nutty Osetra with the yellow gold oil, and the smaller stronger tasting Sevruga. Today most of the caviar is domestic from sustainable farm raised sturgeon. The American west coast has emerged with the new centre being those Sacramento Valley aquaculture farms (including Sterling & Tsar Nicoulai) and development by Seattle Caviar, and Northern Divine in BC Canada (www.northerndivine.com). Tried the latter one again this weekend and impressed as their best showing ever with more malosol lightly salted individual eggs explosive crunch. The leader Petrossian used to be 100% wild using imports but now is 100% sustainable producing white sturgeon caviar in the USA. Eggs are graded for size, colour, uniformity, freshness, shininess, and fragrance. Still quality control can be an issue. I have opened tins that had different batches of varying colour and size. I sometimes long for the good old days spent with long time IWFS member Gerald M. Stein who became president in 1969 of Iron Gate Products quality caviar importers and who produced in 1981 that wonderful book Caviar! Caviar! Caviar!. Gerry became President of the New York Branch of IWFS in 1979 and his car sported the NY licence plate “CAVIAR-1”. I am grateful to him for teaching me so much about caviar including several tasting seminars he brilliantly conducted at The Culinary Institute of America College in Hyde Park, NY.  Enjoy his comment “Don’t just serve caviar; Present it!”. Now there are many other specific fish caviars out there including popular salmon caviar, whitefish caviar, flying fish caviar, trout caviar etc. Caveat Emptor still applies.


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Vins du Québec: A look at French Canada’s emerging wine industry

November 7th, 2014

Quebec wine

By Joseph Temple

Ever wonder why no commercial wineries existed in Québec until 1980?  After all, the French are known for wine.

The most obvious answer is the terrain where temperatures are known to drop down to -13º Fahrenheit (-25º Celsius) on a regular basis.   Frigid winters combined with humid summers that shorten the growing season on both ends make this province one of the least desirable places to harvest a vineyard.  And yet over the past 30+ years, an entire generation of winemakers has met this daunting challenge head on – defying the naysayers by slowly improving the quality of their vintages through what can only be described as a labor of love.

Welcome to La Belle Province, now home to nearly 100 wineries that generate approximately $28 million dollars in annual sales.  Although vineyards are scattered throughout Québec, the majority of activity takes place south of Montréal near the U.S. border.  Located on opposite sides of a large glacial plain are Estrie (Eastern Townships) and Montérégie, two regions that have become ground zero in the battle against Mother Nature.

“You’ve got to be a bit crazy to do this,” said one vintner to Canada’s Financial Post newspaper earlier this year.  That’s because vitis vinifera varieties that are popular with consumers don’t stand a chance against Jack Frost.  In order to make it past the frigid Québécois winter, winemakers must plant hybrid grapes such as Seyval Blanc or the frost-resistant Sainte-Croix.  But even these varieties require special care, which is resulting in numerous innovations by these modern-day pioneers.

Quebec wine regions

One effective yet labor intensive way of fighting the chill is a technique known as “hilling.”  Following the harvest, vines are cut down and earth is placed over the stump, giving them an added coat of protection against the brutal winter.  Additionally, other unorthodox methods have included installing geothermal systems to heat the soil, sheltering vines with greenhouses or planting your harvest on a sheltered slope.  Being such a relatively new and weather intensive endeavor, the rule book hasn’t been thrown out because there simply is no rule book.

What does the future hold for this province?  Perhaps with the right amount of research and development, Québec could parallel the breakthroughs happening in the similar subzero state of Minnesota.  Working with U of M, vintners have developed a number of grape varieties that are able to withstand the harsh conditions synonymous with the North Star State.  And with the same degree of government support that Ontario winemakers received in the late 1980s, Québec could easily create a niche market for adventurous Millennials eager to explore a diverse selection of wines.

Sources:

Aspler, Tony & Leslie, Barbara. Canadian Wine for Dummies. Mississauga: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., 2000.
Van Praet, Nicolas. (2014, August 15). Small and crafty, Quebec’s band of merry winemakers awaits breakout moment. Financial Post. Retrieved from http://business.financialpost.com


Since 1963, the International Wine & Food Society has had a presence in the province of Québec with a branch located in the city of Montréal.


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