Archive for July, 2013


July 17th, 2013

What wine competitions can you rely on?
By Guillaume Paumier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Spent last week ensconced at Government House in Victoria judging the 11th Lieutenant Governor Awards For Excellence in BC Wines.

This is a competition for wines from 100% grapes grown and processed within British Columbia to determine the best of those entering and celebrate “excellence” in our home grown product regardless of the grape variety or the blend. Every winery can enter up to 4 wines with no entry fee charged and no restriction on the vintage submitted to be judged by 7 wine judges all knowledgeable on BC wine – of which I am one.  We tasted 400+ wines and came up with only 12 winners – less than 3%! Pretty strict in our top selections.

Ontario has followed this with their own similar program for Awards based on Ontario wines now in the 3rd year. There are lots of other big wine competitions out there including the Los Angeles International Wine Competition going for 7 decades with nearly 100 judges. The International Wine Challenge in England and International Wine & Spirit Competition have been around for a while. Decanter World Wine Awards is still somewhat the new kid on the block but now in the 10th year has really expanded with an impressive line-up of world judges and over 14,000 entries. The Aussies have lots of these and are the pioneers of all these medals with the Sydney International Wine Competition still going strong for 13 judges processing 2000 entries (the final 400 being judged with food pairings) resulting in a Top 100.

Blind wine judging is always interesting and very educational for the judges. However, it is a very subjective process and I usually take in all these many competition results with a grain of salt. Are the Awards actually credible? I want to know how many wines were entered, what the wines were, who were the judges, and what was their experience with the wines they were tasting. Naturally the wineries that win are ecstatic and undoubtedly it should help them with their subsequent advertising campaigns. I guess I still have mixed feelings on their overall reliability to guarantee for me that the winners will satisfy my own personal nose and palate preferences.

Would be interested in your comments on what Wine Competitions you respect or feel you can rely on both internationally and locally to help you with your own wine purchasing decisions.


July 15th, 2013

Gluten Free Food

So many bakeries and restaurants you enter these days have a note on their menu about their new gluten-free options. Gluten is a protein in processed whole grains like wheat, barley and rye. A growing number of people have a gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or an immune allergic reaction called Celiac disease. Substitute grains you could use include rice, buckwheat, millet and quinoa among others. As a result flours from nuts and rice have become more prominent recently. Gluten-free diets, gluten-free cookbooks, gluten-free recipes and even gluten-free blogs are now out there to help you and make life easier. Domino’s Pizza has a gluten-free pizza crust made from rice flour, rice starch and potato starch.

If you are hosting a dinner or party with food it is now important to be aware of this issue for the welfare of your guests.

If you have a fool proof gluten-free recipe you use – especially for bread, cookies or cakes – please post it here.




July 15th, 2013

Interesting to see how the 2012 vintage is evolving for Sauternes. Several chateaux now have announced they will not be making a first label Sauternes in 2012: d’Yquem, Suduiraut, Rieussec and Raymond Lafon. Other properties like Climens feel it may be a less concentrated year but still worthy as very fine and elegant. Quality through low yields reported as averaging only 2.5 hectolitres per hectare are impressive. What makes a top Sauternes vintage? How important is the botrytis factor? Look for more improved dry whites from Sauternes in 2012 which also helps the producer with cash flow. Check out Bill Blatch the #1 authority on Sauternes at his website for interesting interviews and more details.

In my Andre Simon lecture last year on Andre Simon’s Partners I quoted Bill “a fervent promoter of Sauternes with all food” for his recommendations on pairings and he provided the following tips:

Chateau d’Yquem: Roast Turkey (Andre Simon: Peaches)

Chateau Suduiraut: Szechuan & Spicy Indian Food (Andre Simon: Nectarines)

Chateau Climens: Oysters on the half shell – especially salty ones (Andre Simon: Apple Charlotte)

What is your favourite Sauternes of all time? Chateau d’Yquem 1967 & 1921 are among mine.

Please let us know your innovative ideas for best food matching with Sauternes.


July 15th, 2013

Last week relaxing in Maui provided some unique culinary delights! Here are some highlights:
-Local Farmer’s Markets:
Our fav one right at the start of South Kihei Road and the intersection of highways to Lahaina and to Airport.
Everywhere fresh sweet ripe pineapple, papaya, mango, Meyer lemons, guava, apple bananas, avocadoes in several shapes and sizes (have Sharwil variety rather than California Haas), tomatoes (also Gourmet Select Kamuela vine ripened greenhouse grown from Kawamata Farms), lettuces (Waipoli Hydroponic Greens grown and packed fresh in Kula). Premium fresh strawberries grown at Kula Country Farms a special surprise.
Outstanding wine values! Selection slightly dumbed down from last year but I guess that is what the consumer wants. Whites: Zesty 2011 Ponzi pinot gris Willamette $13.59, 2010 Sancerre $14.99, 2011 Pouilly Fuisse Louis Latour $16.49, 2011 La Crema Sonoma Coast chardonnay $15.99, dependable Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling from Anderson Valley $19.99. Reds: 2010 Michele Chiarlo Barbera D’Asti Le Orme $10.99, 2010 Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone $10.99, 2009 Volpaia Chianti Classico $14.99, 2008 Villa Antinori Toscana IGT $16.99,
2009 Saintsbury Carneros pinot noir with 30% new French oak at $21.47. You could try the local stuff with Maui’s own winery Blanc Pineapple $8.89 or be a big spender with 2002 Dom Perignon $145.99, 2005 Cristal Roederer $190.
Recommend La Brea Bakery Whole Grain Loaf for outstanding bread – 2 lb loaf for $4.99
-Macadamia Nuts:
Prefer dry roasted style with sea salt (Mauna Loa brand) but excellent quality big ones with no salt at markets.
Also delicious Macadamia Blossom Honey or Volcano Winery Macadamia Nut honey wine $13.49 for 375ml.
New homemade fresh noodles bistro outside Lahaina at 286 Kupuohi 808 667 5400
-Fresh Fish:
Black Cod, Mahi-Mahi (dorado), Yellowfin Ahi, Opah (moonfish), Ono(wahoo) wild caught in Fiji only $11.99/lb Costco,and my fav the delicate moist Opakapaka. Try in Paia either Mama’s Fish House or Paia Fish Market.
-Chef Alan Wong:
With Chef Roy Yamguchi and others he has really brought focus to Hawaiian food and cooking. Now has Amasia (converging of continents) at Grand Wailea (Waldorf Astoria)for classy small plates 808 891 3954.
Handmade in Hawaii since 1986 with crunchy walnuts, sweet coconut, whole grain oats (no wheat), healthy seeds (sunflower, sesame) and Hawaiian honey!
-Long Drugs:
Always check for Champagne here. Bought last 5 bottles of vintage Veuve Clicquot on sale last year and tried to grab a few of Montaudon regularly $40 for $33 but already sold out.
Seek out the fab Kona Coast Abalone of Japanese “Ezo” from 10 acres aqua-farmed on the Big Island.
Sold at the Saturday Honolulu Farmer’s Market among other outlets.
-Maui Style Potato Chips:
Have to try the addictive Kitch’n Cook’d made right here. Visit the factory for samples.

Many more yummy delights here in Hawaii.
Please post a few of your tips and recommendations for all of us.


July 13th, 2013

If you love food you must love Paris dining! Such a wide range of restaurants to choose from at different price ranges. Tried many of the three star Michelin and other top rated places. Last few years have been checking out several smaller newer spots.
Just completed a 2 week update in May 2013 so here is a current personal Top Ten:
10. AGAPE SUBSTANCE 66 rue Mazarine 2nd
The hot innovative Paris restaurant during 2012. Brand new chef Gaetan Gentil has just started with Menu Affaire for 45 Euros.
9. SEPTIME 80 rue de Charonne 11th
Entered the new May 2013 list of Restaurant Mag Top 50 best restaurants in the world at #49. Chef Bertrand Grebaut trained with Alain Passard and offers a fairly priced 3 course set lunch 28E. Very casual rough dark wood table tops but during last visit served hard raw fresh rhubarb detracting from the delicate fish course.
8. LA VERRE VOLE 67 rue de Lancry 10th
This hot “grubby” blackboard wine bar delivers on their 16E plat de jour cooking – like a tasty Iberique grilled pluma de cochon with vibrant bulgar Taboule & baby onions. Value.
7. FISH LA BOISSONNERIE 69 rue de Seine 6th
Always like this casual fish place where all is fresh including classy crisp white napkins – beautiful 15E plate of grilled mullet with lovely crisp skin yet keeping moist in a minestrone sauce including citron, aneth, fennel, carrots, beluga lentils, Gnocchetti sardi. Menus of value too.
Three worthy sister places nearby at COSI (super focaccia), SEMILLA, & LA DERNIERE GOUTTE.
6. MON VIEIL AMI 69 rue Saint-Louis en I’lle 4th
Old fav of Chef Antoine Westermann who also is involved with DROUANT 2nd and recently opened LE COQ RICO 18th specializing in farmed chicken dishes. Features wonderful vegetables and always reliable lunch plat de jour 15E different for each of the 7 days of the week.
5. SPRING 6 rue Bailleul 1st
Limited no choice 3 course tasty lunch menu 46E of whatever is freshest at the market. Ask to see their old wine cellar dating from the 16th century.
4. LE VILLARET 13 rue Ternaux 11th
Extrordinary 55E dinner menu degustation & real wine values – 07 Raveneau Chablis 1er crus for only 54E.
3. LA DAME DE PIC 20 rue de Louvre 1st
Talented chef Anne-Sophie Pic has been criticized for what some have called a gimmicky start by smelling three scent cards to determine your preference of her 3 menus: Terre Safrance, Agrumes Aromatiques & Sous-Bois Epices.
However the flavours of the dishes run true and are outstanding – the last two at 100E & 120E. Highly recommend.
2. PASSAGE 53 in covered alleyway of Passage de Panoramas at # 53 in the 2nd
Amazing Japanese chef Sato has quickly obtained 2 Michelin stars for a small 20 seat unusual spot with a small kitchen upstairs. Truly brilliant cuisine! Every dish a work of art that tastes delicious. 110E menu. An outstanding culinary adventure. Highly recommend.
1. AKRAME 19 rue Lauriston 16th
This small 20 seat one star was our fav last year. Returned and it is still outstanding. Set menu of 4 courses 70E or 6 courses 90E but you end up getting 10+ dishes. Classic but so appropriately innovative as well.
Busy driven chef Akrame has found time to open across the street Atelier Vivande a more casual 3 course bistro 35E that is also packed. Highly recommend.
Don’t forget special treats like ice cream at Berthillon, gelato at Grom, macaron at Laduree, and chocolate & mille feuille at Jacques Genin.
Please take the opportunity below to let us have your special recommendation for a restaurant in Paris. Merci!

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