Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pairing Merlot & Steak #MerlotMe 2017

I love pairing food and wine. While a wonderful food and wine match can bring out the best in both the food and the wine, I also believe you should drink what you like and not let classic pairings get in the way of a good thing. Last year I took part in #MerlotMe and this year I was drawn to same bottle as before, a J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot, this time the 2015. But I went in a totally different direction with it.

The 2105 vintage has 9% Malbec in the blend and that’s what made me think, why not pair it with steak? Of course I know Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic wine pairing for steak but I actually prefer steak with Malbec. In general I also prefer Merlot to Cabernet. The J.Lohr 2015 Los Osos Merlot has big berry and cherry aromas as well as a ton of mocha. It’s fresh, fruity and youthful and I was surprised to learn it has 13.9% alcohol because it certainly didn't seem like it did (but for all I know it might even be higher). I served it with slices of a fantastic New York dry aged strip steak.

I’m not going to go into all the technical specs, but I will say that in reading the notes on the wine I saw that “splash decanting” was recommended. That was a new one on me. Apparently it just means a more vigorous decanting as opposed to the gentle kind of where you run the wine down the side of the decanter as opposed to dumping it in all at once. It’s not about removing sediment but just giving the wine some more breathing room. Personally I found that opening the bottle about 30 minutes before drinking it and giving it a good swirl in the glass was just fine.

Happy #MerlotMe and Halloween!

Disclaimer: I received sample bottles of Merlot as part of #MerlotMe. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

G.H.Cretors Giveaway!

I've learned a few things about myself lately. I took one of those genealogy tests and got the results. Do I look Greek to you? More on that later. I also discovered that despite my age, I may have a thing or two in common with millennials. According to the results of a survey sponsored by G.H.Cretors, 65% say “I've eaten popcorn I picked off my clothes” and 64% admit licking their fingers after they are done snacking on popcorn. I fit right in with those millennials!

As long as I'm in a confessing mood, I'll tell you the photo above represents the sad remains of a deluxe shipment I received including quite a several organic flavors of popcorn from the aforementioned G.H.Cretors. While I pretty much like all their popcorn I will admit that nothing so far has topped my favorite flavor, The Mix, which is a combination of caramel and aged cheddar cheese popcorn, an addictively delicious salty sweet snack. If you've flown through Chicago O'Hare airport you may find this flavor reminds you of the popcorn you'll find there. 

GIVEAWAY

Currently G.H.Cretors is hosting a quiz anyone can take to determine their ultimate TV and snack pairing. Feel free to check it out and leave a comment with your pairing OR choose your own ultimate pairing of snack and TV show. I will choose one winner at random who will receive several different flavors of popcorn plus a deluxe canvas zippered tote bag and a snazzy S'Well bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours or hot drinks hot for 12 hours. You must have a US mailing address to win. The comment form includes a field for your email address, so no need to include it in your comment. One entry per person please. Winner to be chosen at random on November 1, 2017.

Good Luck!

Disclaimer: My thanks to G.H.Cretors for sponsoring this giveaway. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chimay

If I were to ask you to name a Belgian Trappist beer, I bet you’d say Chimay. But I also bet you don’t know all that much about Chimay. I certainly didn’t until I met the utterly charming Luc “Bobo” Van Mechelin, US brand ambassador. We sat down over a beer or two so I could learn more about all things Trappist and Chimay. 

Trappists originally came from La Trappe in Normandy, but were expelled from France by Napoleon and settled in Belgium. Today there are 170 Trappist monasteries around the world, and 10 of them are in the US. In Belgium Trappists first made cheese, but then began making beer (they still do make cheese). In 1992 six Belgian and one Dutch Trappist monastery came together to protect the designation, “Trappist beer.” They agreed that to be a Trappist beer it must be brewed inside the walls of the monastery, there can be no commercial investment and 90% of the net profits must be given away to charitable causes. Chimay has given proceeds to support orphanages, schools and clean water. 

The Trappists of Chimay are particularly intellectual and have an impressive theological library. The Chimay Trappist monks arise between 3:30 and 4 in the morning and pray seven times a day. They are vegetarian and maintain silence in the monastery. Their beer takes 3-5 days to ferment and the yeast used to make it was lost during World War II (it took 3 years to recreate it). Unlike other beers, no imagery of monks is used on their labels out of respect for the monastery. 

Chimay was introduced to the US in 1983 and really took off in ’97-98 and is currently available in all states. Chimay makes about 300,000 cases and the vast majority is sold in Belgium, only about 25% is exported to the US. There are 4 kinds of Chimay beer you are likely to find: 

Chimay Gold — a pale ale, it has the aroma of hops and spice. It’s made from water, malted barley, sugar, hops, yeast, bitter orange peel and coriander. It’s 4.8% alcohol. 

Chimay Premiere — the oldest brew, a double, it has more malt and has a slightly sweet flavor of fruit and spice. It’s red colored and is 7% alcohol. 

Chimay Cinq Cents — is a balance of dry, floral and bitter and is a golden blonde color. It’s a tripel, made with triple malt and a higher alcohol level, 8%.

Chimay Grand Reserve — was originally brewed as a Christmas beer. It’s dark strong ale and has earthy, spice and caramel notes. It has the highest in alcohol at 9%.

Disclaimer: My thanks to Chimay for inviting me to learn more about their beers and try some samples. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Ramen Summit at J Pop Festival 2017

Kaz Tsutsumi showing off ramen noodles
Part of the annual San Francisco celebration of all things Japanese, the J-Pop Summit is the Ramen Summit. There are five different ramen shops offering a different style of ramen. This year I tried each of the bowls. And so can you! Tickets are still available for Sunday September 10, 2017 for the J-Pop Summit and the Ramen Summit is located outside the entrance. Each bowl is $8, and definitely large enough to share. Here's my take on each bowl featured this year.

This Hakata style ramen is one of my current favorites. I really love the creamy texture of their tonkotsu and their ultra thin noodles which still manage to remain al dente. It’s made under the guidance of Kaz Tsutsumi, who has been a ramen chef for 11 years.

Marufuku has a shop in Japantown in the old Sapporo-Ya space. I wrote about it for Tasting Table, it was one of my picks for cheap eats. Their noodles are custom made by Yamachan

Yoroshiku is a ramen shop in Seattle, Washington and serves 150-200 customers a day. The ramen they served is Sapporo style, from the North of Japan.

It’s made with a blend of red and white miso. It’s sweet and spicy, not too salty and comes with fresh corn, scallions and bamboo shoots. I liked it very much. Their noodles are custom made by Yamachan
The ramen at Orenchi Beyond is tonkotsu style but “beyond.” What does that mean exactly? A
boosted flavor thanks to garlic, fish powder and shoyu.

Their classic style is shio and is served in Santa Clara. But in San Francisco, it's an over the top style ramen that's the signature bowl. The noodles are the thickest I've ever seen, almost like linguine. I liked the topping of mizuna and crunchy garlic chips. Their noodles are custom made by Yamachan
This is perhaps the most unusual ramen, it’s served with a dashi broth. It’s intensely
flavored but still light.

The noodles are a bit thin but thicker than those at Maufuku. It's less of a gut buster bowl of ramen. Their noodles are custom made by Yamachan
A year and a half ago this ramen company with 200 shops in Japan came to San Francisco. Their specialty is chicken ramen. In Japan they have their own farm, but here they source the chicken locally.

The ramen has a tender chicken meatball, chunks of bamboo and a tangy yuzu garnish that complements the ramen, but I found the ramen a bit too salty for my liking. Their noodles are custom made by Sun Noodles