Archive for June, 2015

Ocean Wise Program Sustainable Seafood Vancouver Aquarium 10 Year Anniversary Dinner

June 29th, 2015

What is Sustainable Seafood?

I enjoyed this month the Ocean Wise 10 Year anniversary celebration with a special dinner @westrestaurant. Many chefs are supporting this program and especially from the very beginning @robert_clark_64 & now @thefishcounter. Chef Clark was a star for Restauranteur Harry Kambolis who also was a key instigator of #sustainable #seafood with his Raincity Grill (1992-2014), C Restaurant (1997-2014) and Nu (2005-2011) now all closed but a big continuing influence on Vancouver’s present seafood cuisine choices. West restaurant’s innovative chef Quang Dang worked with Robert Clark for many years so this venue with the 2 chefs back together once again was a natural.

Their message is “Overfishing is the biggest threat our ocean’s face today. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s (@vanaqua) assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 600 Ocean Wise partners across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.”

Not that long ago our menus prominently featured swordfish,Patagonian toothfish called sea bass and many other endangered species. Now we are finally on a better track using only sustainable seafood for these dishes all prepared with outstanding culinary skills and so delicious. My congrats!

-Smoked white sturgeon horseradish mousseline
-Korean style halibut dumplings
-Grilled octopus with slow roasted peppers and balsamic
-Citrus cured salmon, buttermilk blini, potato creme fraiche
-Fresh shucked Sawmill Bay oysters, broccoli, ponzu
-BC geoduck marinated in yuzu, basil, red pepper crisp
-Side stripe shrimp ceviche, aji amarillo, baby greens extra virgin olive oil
-Albacore tuna tataki, nori scone, salmon roe, cucumber salad
-Dungeness crab tortellini, English peas, mint, watercress sauce
-Chive crusted Cape Scott halibut, crushed fava beans and fingerling potatoes,
Northern Divine caviar vinaigrette
-Wild BC sablefish a la plancha, pickled mushrooms, braised daikon, dashi broth


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Is the future in drought for California’s wine industry?

June 26th, 2015

Is California's wine future in drought?

By Joseph Temple

Growing more than 200 different crops that include everything from almonds to plums, there is no denying that California is the nation’s breadbasket.  So when America’s leading agricultural producer experiences a massive drought that is now entering its fourth year, it’s not surprising that a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed that eighty-four percent believe these conditions will lead to significant increases in the price of food.  While opinions vary as to how much of a spike consumers are going to feel at the cash register, the dire situation has highlighted the need for new and sustainable irrigation methods by farmers, both big and small.

Then there’s the wine industry.

Unlike avocados and strawberries that require considerable amounts of water to flourish, grapes have proven to be much more drought-resistant as vines are forced to dig deeper into the soil in search of water.  And with less irrigation, smaller grapes with thicker skins and a heavier concentration of flavors are popping up across the state. Ironically, as other crops turn brown while billions in profits dry up, many vineyards in Napa and Sonoma are experiencing double-digit growth due to the drought.

“This year’s vintage could be one for the ages,” said one California vintner in 2014.  According to the Wine Advocate, Cabernet Sauvignon produced in the Golden State scored an average rating of 78 in 2011—one year before the drought.  By 2013, that number had shot up to 96!

Of course, not all growers are benefiting from these conditions.   Smaller grapes are starting to plague the producers of inexpensive wines in California’s Central Valley.  “While people typically think of cheap wine producers as being big firms,” reports CNBC, “many of the largest producers actually buy their grapes from small, independent farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.” With profits largely based on bulk quantity pricing, those selling a bottle for $7 and less are being hit hard, seeing shipments drop between 2-3% last year.  Factor in the competition from other low-priced alcoholic beverages and quite possibly, the worst is still yet to come.

The $64,000 question that still remains is when will the effects of this drought begin to wreak havoc on higher-priced wines?  Will the short term gain that Northern California is currently feeling eventually morph into long-term pain?  According to the experts, the answer is yes.  “Grapevines may be able to withstand droughts for a certain period of time, but they cannot carry on forever,” said one observer.  “And they may reach their limit soon. Even though the plants can reach up to 100 feet below the ground to get water, the lack of precipitation could cause salt levels to rise and damage the vines.”

Sources:

Balakrishnan, Anita. (2015, Apr 1). California drought and wine: Cheaper products hit hardest. CNBC.com. Retrieved from http://cnbc.com.
Carlton, Jim. (2014, Oct 17). California Drought Produces Tastier Wine Grapes. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://wsj.com.
Koba, Mark. (2014, Apr 19). Your food, your wallet and the California drought. CNBC.com. Retrieved from http://cnbc.com.


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Ask Sid: Black Cod vs Sablefish

June 24th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Black Cod vs Sablefish

Question: What is the difference between black cod and sablefish?

Answer: Not much. Here on the west coast of North America in the old days a popular item was the salty orange coloured smoked black cod from Alaska. A new product was encouraged as a non-smoked black cod that really took off and was marketed with the unique name of sablefish.  I was just at a dinner at West restaurant in Vancouver this week celebrating the 10th anniversary of the successful Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise conservation program. Lots of sustainable seafood served including spot prawns, side stripe shrimp, Albacore Tuna, Dungeness Crab, Halibut and Wild BC Sablefish (served a la Plancha with pickled mushrooms, braised Daikon & Dashi Broth).


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Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin

June 22nd, 2015

Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin
By No machine-readable author provided. Arnaud 25 assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I am a long time big fan of Rousseau red Burgundies. The late Bob Charpie head of Cabot Corp. was a past president of The International Food & Society. Bob & family had a large wine cellar at their home in Boston and often stated “We don’t collect wine, we drink it up”. On several visits there he generously opened some mature Rousseau Chambertin including that phenomenal 1964. This year I have tried several bottles of different appellations from Rousseau that I have cellared of their 1991s and 2002s – both vintages are still youthful but all wines sampled very impressive indeed! This month I was at a dinner featuring 9 different top 1999 red Burgundies and the dominating most complex beauty was clearly Chambertin Armand Rousseau. Another still young treasure from this Domaine I cherish.

I visited this Domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin for an update on April 22, 2015. The 2014 crop was up 30% more in volume than 2013 & 2012. A few details on their appellations:

Gevrey-Chambertin Village: 1 ha. 68a uses 7 different parcels from South to East – Supple Elegant & Fruit Driven expression of Gevrey terroir.

Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos Du Chateau”: 1 ha. 36a part of Domaine since 2012 Finesse Freshness & Floral Aromas + Raspberries & Red Currants palate.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux-Saint-Jacques”: 0ha. 76a South-East exposure on well drained soil on Cool Mineral Climat – Elegant & Soft.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Cazetiers”: 0ha. 60a Along North wall of Clos St Jacques produces full black fruits masculine wines.

Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru: 1ha. 47a is 2/3 Mazoyeres (brown & white soils on calcareous gravels) & 1/3 Charmes (rich red iron soil on rocks) – Supple Elegance & Finesse.

Mazy-Chambertin Grand Cru: 0ha. 53a Most northerly in deep brown soil – Powerful Great Tannic Structure that remains Smooth Velvety.

Clos De La Roche Grand Cru: 1ha. 48a Only plot in Morey-St. Denis extremely calcareous soil 30 cm deep with big stony blocks – Mineral Powerful & Monolithic with Long Finish.

Ruchottes-Chambertin “Clos Des Ruchottes”: Grand Cru Monopole: 1ha. 06a Compact Rocks Very Little Soil stays Cool & Windy – Aromatic Complex Lot of Elegance, Finesse & Smoothness.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint Jacques: 2ha. 21a Clay at bottom going to white marly up the slope – Fresh Very Harmonious & Tannins Well Integrated. Powerful Intense Lot of Delicacy.

Chambertin Clos De Beze Grand Cru: 1ha. 42a Two northern plots of deep rich soil – Complex & Tannic Aromatic Small Black Fruits & Oriental Spices Delicacy Needs Lots of Time to Fully Develop (20-35 years).

Chambertin Grand Cru: 2ha. 55a Four East Exposure Parcels with Freshness – Strong & Firm Aromas of Liquorice Well Structured Dense Powerful Firm Tannins Huge Length Needs Lots of Time to Fully Develop (20-35 years).

Interesting to note that Domaine Rousseau divide their recent vintages into 3 general groupings:

1. Able to Consume Younger While Fruity: 1984, 1986, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2008

2. Average to Long Aging Ability: 1985, 1987, 1989, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011

3. Greatest Quality For Longest Aging: 1983, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2012


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10 interesting facts about Cava

June 19th, 2015

Cava sparkling wine facts
By cyclonebill from Copenhagen, Denmark (CavaUploaded by FAEP) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Joseph Temple

Ever since the financial meltdown in 2008, many sparkling wine drinkers have searched high and low for a substitute to costly Champagne.   And in 2013, Italian Prosecco—where the secondary fermentation process takes place in steel tanks, reducing the price per bottle significantly—outsold its French competitor for the first time ever.

However, if you’re looking for another alternative that won’t put a major dent in your wallet, you might want to try Cava, one of Spain’s most popular exports.  Although seen by many as the poor man’s sparkling wine, being largely relegated to college parties where quality takes a back seat to affordability, the stereotype is slowly being dismantled as numerous Spanish winemakers seek to improve the negative perception of this drink.  Much like Prosecco, if you’re willing to spend a little extra, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

But what exactly is Cava?  What grapes are used to make it? What methods and industry regulations govern the production of this wine?  Have no fear—below are ten quick facts that will get you up to speed on this bubbly libation.  Cheers!


Although Cava is produced in several regions across Spain, approximately 95% of it comes from the region of Catalonia.
By SantiagoFrancoRamos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Cava is made in several regions across Spain, but approximately 95 % of it comes from the Penedès region of Catalonia.
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A number of different grapes are allowed to make Cava. However, the three most traditional are xarello, macabeo and parellada.
By batega (originally posted to Flickr as Young wine) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2.  A number of different grapes are allowed to make Cava.  However, the three most traditional are xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada.
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Many vintners also use chardonnay and pinot noir to produce Cava -- two grapes that are also used to make Champagne.
3. Many vintners also use chardonnay and pinot noir to make Cava — two grapes that are also used for Champagne.
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Cava has earthy aromas
By Justus Hayes [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Cava that is made from local grapes tends to have earthy aromas.
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Freixenet is the world's largest producer of sparkling wines
By MARIA ROSA FERRE ✿ (Flickr: Caves Freixenet, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

5. Freixenet, makers of the world-famous Cordon Negro in its signature black bottle, is also the world’s largest producer of sparkling wines.
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Cava used to be called Spanish Champagne
By cyclonebill from Copenhagen, Denmark (CavaUploaded by FAEP) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

6. Up until 1970, Cava was called “Spanish Champagne.”  But due to E.U. regulations, no area outside of Champagne, France can use that term — requiring Spain to change the name to Cava.
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What does the word Cava mean?
By Alberto-g-rovi (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

7. The word Cava is Catalan for “cellar.”
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Cava's secondary fermentation process is the same as Champagne
By Herrero Uceda (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

8. Despite most Cava being relatively inexpensive, it is made through the traditional method where the secondary fermentation process takes place in the bottle instead of in tanks, which is usually the case for lower-priced sparkling wines.
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blankHow do you know if cava is dry or sweet?

9. After removing the yeasts from each bottle, a sweetened reserve wine is added to Cava.  The amount added will determine whether it is dry (brut) or sweet (Demi-sec or Semi-seco).
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Rosé Cava
By Agne27 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Rosé Cava is usually the result of adding cabernet sauvignon, garnacha or monastrell grapes to the blend.
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Sources:

Amatuzzi, Dan. A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass. New York: Race Point Publishing, 2013.
Asimov, Eric. (2010, May 10). Cava, the Prosecco of Spain, Gets Its Due – at Last. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com.
Asimov, Eric. (2014, Aug 8). Cava Is Overlooked Everywhere but Catalonia. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com.
Asimov, Eric and Fabricant, Florence. Wine With Food: Pairing Notes and Recipes from the New York Times. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2014.
Harding, Julia. The Oxford Companion to Wine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Hornsey, Ian Spencer. The Chemistry and Biology of Winemaking. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2007.
MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing Company, 2000.
Nowak, Barbara and Wichman, Beverly. The Everything Wine Book: From Chardonnay to Zinfandel, All You Need to Make the Perfect Choice. Avon: Adams Media, 2005.
Welch, Nicky. The Pocket Guide to Wine: Featuring the Wine Tubemap. Edinburgh: Birlinn Limited, 2014.


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