Archive for July, 2019

Chain Restaurants: Rising Star – JOEY

July 15th, 2019

Chain restaurants usually conjure up consistency but often also rather stuffy standard menus. That is not the case in Canada and especially British Columbia. They have been leaders on the Vancouver dining scene for some time now. First it was Earls with 66 locations including 10 in the USA showing the way as perennial Chain restaurant winner at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurants Awards. More recently it has been the Cactus Club Cafe with some 30 locations spread across Canada leading the way with innovative dishes of star Chef Rob Feenie. Currently there is another contender JOEY Restaurant Group (with their Top Employer Award) that has been slightly under the radar till now but moving more into the spotlight as a rising star with 27 locations expanding this week with the largest street level patio in downtown Los Angeles at 7th & S Hope Street with Chef Zach Helm. Credit goes to the Fuller family who are the driving force investors in all three of these leading chains. Lots of other emerging chains too like Browns, The Flying Pig, Nuba, and check out Tacofino who has Michelin-starred chef Stefan Hartmann with their upscale Ocho in the trendy Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver.

Dined last week at Joey Bentall One and was blown away with the overall hospitality of the well trained staff. Our server Jessica was alertly on the ball and Group Sommelier Jason Yamasaki is a leading knowledgeable wine guy. Really like the clever short list of wines by the glass & the bottle he puts together which are diverse fairly priced and manageable for the diner. The 4 different sensible bubble choices are a very good example of this. Not surprised to see Jason is first again in collecting and pouring the brand new hot demand product release of delicious 2017 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau. The Chef brigade is led by the talented Executive Chef Chris Mills (a winner of our IWFS Scholarship decades ago when he first started out at Diva at the Met) who has taken his team to the James Beard House on three occasions. Now on board is the amazing winner of Top Chef Canada Matt Stowe as Executive Director of Culinary raising the bar even higher. Really admire the special courses they have at their showcase location at Bentall One – especially that remarkable Sake Glazed Sablefish with wok-fired vegetables, fingerling potatoes and dashi broth! Their Chicken Parmesan is always consistent but you have to try some of the best starters in the City – that Hummus with dill & olives has true tzatziki and winning crispy pita.

Look at some Chain restaurants in a different light. You will be surprised at the high quality innovative dishes. How are Chains doing in your part of the world?


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Ask Sid: How much milk is needed to produce one wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano?

July 10th, 2019
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Question: How much milk is needed to produce one wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese?

Answer: Those wheels are very large cheeses which weigh around 38 kg (or 84 lb) each. This natural cheese Parmigiano Reggiano usually uses about 500 litres of cow’s milk to produce each wheel (called “scalzo”). Fantastic product.

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Textbook Example of What Old Vines Bring: Chablis Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau

July 8th, 2019

As followers of this blog know well your scribe has been a long time big fan of Chablis. Remember so well buying in December 1977 at a British Columbia liquor store all 86 bottles on sale of 1976 Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru by J. Moreau at $8.05 each. Over the next 10 years they were all opened consuming the last marvellous one with fresh Petrale sole on September 20, 1987. My cellar book notes show a lot of bottle variation as some corks looser and some tighter than others plus differences in ullage resulted in higher fills being much more dependable. However the inital light green colour showing so much glycerol legs inside the glass with high acidity brought with ageing increased rich complexity. Even back then our exciting passion was further enhanced by pairing Chablis with food – from seafood to cheeses. So admire those Grand Cru Chablis!

This Chablis love-in has continued even more frequently over the many years since and especially over this last month with the first fresh wild Sockeye salmon of the season, Sablefish, and Dungeness Crab available – three really outstanding matches for Chablis. Enjoying so much the outstanding quality for price from excellent producer Christian Moreau Grand Cru Right Bank vineyards – particularly my favs of Les Clos & Valmur. However also use their fresh minerally Premier Cru Vaillon with mature vines though prefer even more the specific lot within that vineyard of Cuvee Guy Moreau with vines almost twice the age planted in 1934 by current winemaker Fabien Moreau’s grandfather. Not only are they very old vines but are also located on the steepest part of this Left Bank slope with good drainage and south & south-east exposure on Kimmeridgien clay. So pleased they made the important decision to keep this separate and continue to do so. I have noticed that this Cuvee (which IMHO competes for best 1er Cru with Montee de Tonnerre next to Blanchots & northern end Vaulorent a special part of Fourchaume next to Les Preuses) needs time but has a wonderful rich intensity often showing a bit more wood initially. It is a textbook example of what very old vines can bring to the overall complexity of the resulting wine. Congrats! Lately I have had several bottles of the 2012 with lively verve and rich full intensity that rivalled their 2012 Les Clos for perfection right now. The 2010 is a richer more mature year, 2011 & 2013 somewhat simpler while the 2014 has perfect vital Grand Cru-like balance with depth and 2015 is forwardly riper. The 2016 use those Diam composite corks to advantage. In 2017 frost really affected the Grand Crus with very low yields and total production but mainly spared Vaillon. Therefore highly recommend buying some Vaillon Christian Moreau in 2017 – and worth the search to find some of that special Cuvee Guy Moreau! Old vines can make a big difference moving a Premier Cru to a Grand Cru look alike!


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Ask Sid: US Supreme Court Recent Decision on Alcohol Regulation?

July 3rd, 2019
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supreme court tennessee liquor wine decision

Question: What is the latest SCOTUS decision on wine that people are talking about?

Answer: On June 26 the United States Supreme Court by a majority decision 7-2 delivered by Justice Alito decided Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association vs. Russell F. Thomas against two year residency requirements for liquor retailers in Tennessee. Reference was made to the US Constitution “Commerce Clause” and the extent of the protection for producers but also for retailers seeking to do out-of-state shipments There was also clarification (or confusion depending on your point of view) on the continuing important issues for individual states (and hopefully some dicta guidance for provinces in Canada) on their restrictive liquor regulations. Particularly retailers trying to do more out-of-state direct shipping. The US has a three-tier distribution system that further complicates the issues. Interesting dissent comments by Justice Gorsuch. Obviously more litigation to come. Good brief overview of the case in Wine Spectator here.

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Fine Wine Increasing As An Estate Asset Resulting In Administration Complications

July 1st, 2019

Over the past 20 years there has been more buying of fine wine as a distinct asset investment. Some investors have done very well indeed as the limited supply rarity of top mature wines often just continues to increase in value. For most of us though the wine (& food) boom has meant not an asset portfolio but acquiring some special bottles here and there for expected later drinking but resulting in more of a “wine cellar” than we perhaps intially anticipated. The unwitting result is that more and more “collectors” are having a fair amount of valuable wine left on their death as an asset to be dealt with by their estate. Fewer problems if your spouse, children or other relations have an interest in keeping them. However this is becoming a less unanimous choice and the Estate usually wants to turn those wine assets into cash for distribution. What to do?
In many jurisdictions with a less restrictive liquor policy you can usually contact an auction house or wine store and get an appraisal and eventually deal with the matter on a simpler sale – though value can be very difficult to determine. However for instance in Canada it is becoming a much bigger problem with this increasing asset value. Your scribe was invited as an after dinner speaker at The Law Courts Inn on this topic for a large turnout of the June meeting of The Estate Planning Council of Vancouver. The Executive led by wine lover Vince Cardella of the Promerita Group organized this event very well. Our head table enjoyed a delicious still young loaded with balanced complex fruit 2005 Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeleire St Emilion from his personal cellar which matched perfectly with the main course duck confit. In a good mood. The talk tried to be light and uplifting but was burdened down by the monopoly reality of the BC Liquor Control & Licensing Act (and BC Liquor Distribution Act). Section 39 refers to the unlawful purchase of liquor providing “Except as provided in this Act, the Liquor Distribution Act or the regulations made under these Acts, a person MUST NOT, personally or by his or her clerk, employeee or agent, PURCHASE or, in consideration of the sale or transfer or any property or other consideration, take liquor (which includes wine) from another person”. Section 35 refers to Offence & Penalty under the Offence Act where section 4 has a fine of not more than $2000 or imprisonment of not more than 6 months or both. The Liquor Distribution Act section 2 (2) provides that the LDB has “sole right to purchase both in & out of BC, liquor for resale in BC in accordance with the provisons of the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act of Canada. Section 4 provides you must not even possess + 4(1)(e) unless purchased from an authorized vendor (ie. LDB). Of course you can sell the wine Estate asset to the BCLDB (with added sales taxes) but not really a practical solution because presently they have no store to take it for resale but expecting you to come up with your own purchaser. You may want to check with a lawyer on the legality of sending it out of province to one of the helpful Auction Houses (Acker, Christie’s, Hart Davis Hart, Sothebey’s, Zachy’s etc). Ontario now has their own authorized auction company Waddingtons but can’t ship wine in BC to them. Hugh Bulmer of BC local Auction House Maynards would like to help but states he is not legally allowed. They do deal with a long list of other interesting non alcoholic trendy older collectibles such as comic books that are also being increasingly found in Estate assets. Everyone seems to agree that fine wine as an increasing Estate asset is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for executors to administer. They have a high duty of care to locate and review any original will, protect the assets, obligations to beneficiaries & creditors, and so on. What are their duties and best procedures in dealing with Estate wine? Looks like a lot more work coming for the lawyers! Any comments or suggested solutions most welcomed.

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