Archive for April, 2019

EVOO – Quality Food Staple Like Wine – Check Out Domenica Fiore

April 29th, 2019

Your scribe really adores the best of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – almost as much as wine. It is definitely a top 5 food necessity! Lots in common with wine too from terroir to when to use – though EVOO is best the freshest you can obtain it while some wines like Madeira go on forever. Quality varies a lot. My regular go to is the fantastic EVOO from Argiano the winery in Montalcino Italy. However this week enjoying a Herade Do Esporao from the Alentejo wine region in Portugal & a Nekeas Arbequina from the Navarra Coop in Spain. Fun studying the differences in style. Last week had an opportunity from the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada- West to attend an educational seminar on EVOO by proprietario Frank Giustra (who says:”within the oil lies the memory of the land”) of his boutique Domenica Fiore (DF) presented by talented Chef Pino Posteraro. We are so lucky in Vancouver to have Pino who is one of the world’s greatest Italian chefs with his top restaurant Cioppino’s showing us the way. He has such knowledge and passion for top quality food and wine. DF EVOO is 100% traceable to their Estate in Umbria hand selected early harvest starting in October then modern small batch cold extracted within 4 hours and into nitrogen sealed 18/10 stainless steel bottles. Olives used are Frantoio, Leccino, Canino, and Moraiolo grown on trees in fossil rich soils with no pesticides or chemical fertilizers used. DF deserves respect and more recognition for the high quality EVOO they are producing. Superb product.

My fav was the organic Novello Di Notte from the 2018 harvest in 500 ml. format as super premium with fresh outstanding balance & depth from their night harvest. Pino cleverly showed all the selections to advantage with appropriate food matchings from specially morning baked crusty bread to tomatoes to burrata. The Monaco was delicate with dried fruit notes compared with the Reserva that showed more robust & peppery styling. Novello states on the label for consumer assistance as “Fresh and Grassy” while Electus shows “Rich and Spicy”. Veritas served last had a lovely fruity crispness. Also discovered a unique Organic Citrus Balsamic Vinegar made in Italy from lemon juice and grape must aged in Oak barrels by Ritrovo Selections in Seattle. Recommend you check out Domenica Fiore for quality EVOO.


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Ask Sid: Birth year wine to celebrate friend’s 65th?

April 24th, 2019
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Question: A good wine friend is celebrating her 65th birthday this year. Looking for a vintage dated birth year wine gift. Any ideas?

Answer: Often you can turn to a vintage port or Bordeaux. However often difficult to find the less successful years like the 1954 vintage. Suggest you look for a vintage Rivesaltes. I have experienced lots of different vintages of this naturally sweet fortified wine (vin doux naturel) from near Perpignan in France – some beautiful old rancio styled ones. Recently tasted the 1934 vintage birth year tribute to a friend of mine. They seem to produce nearly every year so ask your wine shop to seek one out for you.


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Making Wine Accessible, Fun & Drinkable Is Becoming More The New Focus

April 22nd, 2019

Last week on April 18 in Vancouver was the annual Spring Release Tasting “Bloom” by BC VQA at the Convention Centre. A rare opportunity to learn from just under 100 BC wineries each serving 4 wines- many with new whites from the 2018 vintage. 2018 was cooler than the 5 year average (including extensive smoke cover from wildfires in August blocking sunlight) resulting in some fresh lovely elegant crisp fruity whites with lower alcohol levels. Impressed by the overall presentation with the fun buzz in the room and so many being accessible and easy drinking new wines. In the old days we always were looking most for structure and balance in the wines with age ability but now accessible drinkability has become a most important factor for the younger demographics. Almost anything goes from new grape varieties, unique blends, eye catching labels, fruit bombs and wines with more residual sugar. This was driven home to me by comparing two excellent 2018 pinot gris wines with similar stats of about 13 alcohol, 3.2-3.3 pH, and just over 7 total acidity from the Quill label of Blue Grouse in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and Spearhead from South East Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley. There were of course differences in regional style from the fresh lively no malo Quill one to the richer textured lees & minerals of the Spearhead. However the main obvious difference for this scribe was the residual sugar levels with Quill at 1.7 g/l (perfect with seafood) while Spearhead was higher at 6 (what a delicious drinkable glass of white wine!). Talented winemakers Bailey Williamson of Blue Grouse & Grant Stanley of Spearhead were not looking for specific residual sugar levels but conscientiously seeking to get the very best out the grapes that nature dealt them in 2018. Both are well done indeed. However it spurred in me the reaction of noting the changing emphasis of diverse wines preferred by the present consumer. Planned to write this Blog about it but read this past weekend a wonderful feature in a similar vein well written by Jon Bonne in the Washington Post that I highly recommend to you instead. It states “changes pushed wine toward the lighter and fresher” and “to make wine fun, and accessible”. Check it all out here.


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Ask Sid: 2018 Bordeaux Vintage Outlook?

April 17th, 2019
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Question: What is the general outlook for the 2018 vintage from Bordeaux?

Answer: Comments generally have been mixed. Wet start during Winter and early Spring followed by a consistently sunny dry July, August & September. In fact the stats show those months with warmer than average temperatures and much lower rainfall. Some are saying close to 2016 in quality and perhaps better than 2015. Very encouraging indeed. There was some damage by hail and mildew plus higher alcohol issues. Some properties had exceptionally low yields for amazing concentration with smaller total production. Still early days but certainly worth monitoring their progress and the overall balance of the vintage. Excellent comprehensive review on 2018 by Gavin Quinney posted October 31, 2018 on Free For All at jancisrobinson.com is highly recommended and the team updates since. Reports on the Primeurs tastings are just coming out. Check them all out.


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Three Dining Recommendations for Las Vegas

April 15th, 2019

Always exciting to dine in Las Vegas. So many choices and always something new opening up. The latest hot NoMad Restaurant just debuted. From a trip earlier this month your scribe recommends these 3:

1. BURGER BAR: An old favourite of mine that I try to return to on every trip. Not really a burger fan but an admirer of what classic Chef Hubert Keller delivers. Followed him from his old days in San Francisco at two pioneering restaurants of Sutter 500 and later Fleur de Lys. The Burger Bar is so successful in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay just up the escalator off the Sports Book in the Shoppes and opens at 11am. Perfect snack or lunch for me. Big enough to share. You can build your own burger with outstanding ingredients. However opt for the delicious American Classic at $18.50 with hand chopped quality Black Angus beef, American cheese, crispy bacon, tomato & onion, on a sesame bun. Enjoy.


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2. MILOS at the Cosmopolitan: Owner/Chef Costas Spiliadas who started out in Montreal is on a roll with a big food feature on him in the New York Times last month and his second Manhattan restaurant Estiatoria Milos on the 6th floor of the newly opened Hudson Yards. He really highlights the very best of fresh high quality ingredients from fish to vegetables & fruits. Though it definitely is not locavore in Las Vegas it is amazing with so many items being flown in fresh every day because of the demand. Where prices can often be high in Las Vegas Milos has the biggest steal ever with his continuing 3 course spectacular lunch menu for $29. Choice of an appetizer, main and dessert. Starter of three Greek spreads included taramosalata, htipiti, and tzatziki served with toasted pita and raw veg. They kindly substituted hummus for tzatziki. Alternatively the Greek Salad was an item using barrel aged feta plus loads of vine ripened tomatoes showing well even in early Spring with EVOO. The main is incredible with a whole Dorade Royale (grilled Mediterranean sea bream) deboned with head and tail intact. A WOW dish! Fresh fruits of the season chosen for dessert among others. Worth a detour!


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3. FACTORY KITCHEN in the Venetian Resort: Newly opened LA roots Italian restaurant impressed. See Menu. Good starters from Kale salad to Mozz with good value $14 oven baked beets casserole to share. Tried over 2 nights all the pastas showing good flavours from Mandilli Di Seta handkerchief style, ravioli, & pappardelle. Duck confit with cherries and Branzino using top quality Castelvetrano olives all shone. Worth checking out.

Click here for the menu.


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