Archive for the ‘tastedc’ Category
Portugal is Unique in that they produce 250 grape varietals unique to their region..
OK, I didn’t actually try to taste 250 new grape varietals (can you say “Alvarinho”, “Baga” “Trincadeira” or “Touriga Nacional” ?) but I did try to better understand the wonderful variety of wines coming from a country with a unique language and known more for fortified wines – their Ports – than for their still wines.
The best part of my tasting was the seated seminar with Evan Goldstein
- I had seen him in videos, but it was great to actually meet the wine powerhouse in person. Passionate is not a wasted word on this wine lover – he really presented with energy and humor and a keen sense of fun and adventure – he popped a few key Portguese words into the presentation but for the obvious effect – few people understand the language!
-Vinho Verde which translates as “Green Wine” does NOT mean green-hued wine, but rather a wine meant to be consumed “young”.
-Portuguese “Verdelho” is NOT the same as Spanish “Verdejo”
-There is a Rose Vinho Verde
-There are many micro-climates and the wines from the southern planes tend to ripen very evenly from year to year.
-Moscatel de Setubal is a Muscat Fortified wine other than Port from the southern Peninsula and has more of a golden raisin/apricot flavor than Ports more prunish, dark fruit flavors.
Overall I was impressed by the consistency of the wines – most had abundent acidity and enough fruit and flavor for backbone. Some of the reds such as the pure Touriga Nacional’s were quite tannic and “cedar box” spice, but still the average quality of wines was quite good.
I do want to mention that TasteDC was affiliated with the Consumer Grand Tasting that evening and helped to sell it out – although the wines were the same in the consumer tasting, the food was much better than the Trade got which is actually a good thing. Also the food was quite good – really tender carved Roast Beef, Ham Table, Specialty Taco Table and something I hadn’t seen before – a Ramen Noodle table with the chance to choose your own noodles and fixings- this kept the Vegetarians happy – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
“In Order to Make Great Wine, the Vines Must Suffer..”
I attended a recent trade tasting given by the Bureau of Burgundy Wines on Tuesday, April 23rd at the Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C. – it was taught by a very affable and precise Jean-Pierre Renard who took us through history, philosophy and ultimately a tasting of 9 wines from the lowest classification up to a Grand Cru – Corton Grand Cru, les Renardes, 2008 Domaine Maillard.
We covered the basics of Burgundy which can actually be quite confusing. In a nutshell, Burgundy is a region and the wines are named from their location in that region. The basic breakdown is Regional wines, Village wines, Premiere Cru wines and Grands Cru wines, each respective layer being more rare and specific to a smaller number of wines and thus normally costing more as well. If you purchase a regular Bourgogne with little more information on the bottle, it most likely can come from grapes grown anywhere in that region. Village wines have regionality, but are not specific to any site while Premiere Cru and Grands Cru grapes come from specified parcels. Add to this the complexity rule-wise of “climats” which loosely translates according to the speaker as the “DNA of the individual Bourgogne Vineyards” – I actually found a site in English that delves deeper into the climats concept – the “climats”. Climats equates closely with “terroir”..
OK, now that you’re probably totally confused, let me say that much of what the speaker said rang true with what I had learned over the past 15 years at various wine classes and courses.
Burgundy has been producing serious wine since the Roman times, and afterwards the plots of land came from Church donations by nobles – they always gave their worst sites (poorest and rockiest soils) to the local Monasteries. Ironically, the rocky soils and hills they donated actually produce the world’s greatest wines!
The concept of “terroir” has really been developed from the wines of Burgundy more so than any other region – why?
1)They pretty much only use Pinot Noir for red wines and Chardonnay for white wines (a few exceptions like Aligote, but these are not blended)
2)hillside vineyards grow very different quality grapes from vineyards grown in the valley – hillier/higher sites produce more intense wine flavors, valley grapes are more generic.
3)Each vineyard site has it’s own weather patterns, geology, geography and even human/historical conditions. This last point is very confusing to most Americans: wine is made by humans, NOT by nature! Choosing the right site and propagating the best grapes is a human endeavor, but Nature is always adding chance to the equation. There is science as well as mysticism in the vineyard, maybe even some witchcraft..
“People can’t wait for aging wine any more, they want to drink everything young..”
A sad refrain by Jean-Pierre, but the reality of the modern wine drinker – people today don’t want to age their wines, so they want to drink young vintages before they’re ready to shine. There is so much history in Burgundy and even though winemaking today is better than ever, to truly understand and appreciate a fine age-worthy Burgundy, you simply must wait – Patience!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Upcoming French Events on TasteDC April/May 2013:
-April 30th – French Cooking: French Basics 101 at Cookology, $65
-May 1st – Wine Maker Dinner at Eola, featuring Château Léoville-Poyferré, $135
-May 20th – French Classics: The Suckling Pig, $60
Taste of the Nation is Always a Great Foodie Evening..
I attended the 2013 Taste of the Nation at the National Building Museum and had a chance to catch up with many chefs and mixologists that I hadn’t seen in some time – well considering all the events in the Spring..I pretty much had seen most of them within a week or so! Seriously, these mega-chef events showcase culinary talent in a different setting from the traditional restaurant roll. Successfully serving small plates to 2,000+ people outside of your restaurant shows a talent for both intelligent food production and maximum PR for your establishment – you have to be good..
Taste of the Nation 2013 – so many great chefs and restaurants – see below. Wonderful mix, check out the Gelato made with Limoncello, the lamb’s tongue, the great sliders and Adam Bernbach mixing it up..
Monday April 8
Washington DC 20001
2013 Chef Council
Bryan Voltaggio – VOLT | Lunchbox | Range
Nicholas Stefanelli – Bibiana
Scott Drewno – The Source
Mike Isabella – Graffiato | Bandolero
Victor Albisu – Taco Bamba | Del Campo
2013 Sommelier Chair
Nadine Brown – Charlie Palmer Steak
2013 Mixology Chair
Gina Chersevani – Buffalo & Bergen
2013 Participating Restaurants
I Got My Piggy On..
Cochon 555 in DC..This event is not just about the Pig..it’s also about the drink, the chef, and the Foodie..maybe even the Foodie Groupie (did I make that up??)..
I attended my first Cochon 555 on Sunday, April 7th, 2013 and it was all that I expected and even more..More pig combinations,
Cochon 555 is a celebration of life – just as everyone must eat, some of us eat to fulfill our passion or maybe it IS our passion. If I was going to explain this event to someone from outer space, I would say that man was once a primitive animal that lived primarily in caves or on the savannah. Over a period of thousands of years, he formed civilization and started culture (she too!)..but the need to satisfy those primitive urges never disappeared – thus Cochon 555!
Heritage Pigs – well, ever since modern industry took over the majority of our food system, food has been “designed” to fit consumer lifestyles – thus was created the modern pig – it gets fat fast, needs little space to roam (or it may need it, but it doesn’t get it!) and it has lean meat..Why lean? We food consumers (actually, I should change that to “industrial pig consumers” – forgive me if you’re Vegan..) read a study in the 70′s that suggested that eating too much fat, especially animal fat, caused heart disease and will shorten your life..it seems to make sense right.. I mean ever since the times of Henry VIII, only the wealthy could afford meat on a regular basis, and all of them were rotund and had gout – so obviously the study is right – I mean, surely if you eat Fat, you get fat, the fat becomes fat around your belly and thighs and of course there’s cholesterol in the fat, and that fills your arteries and you die young.. right??
No way – bad study, bad logic, but smart companies taking advantage of the reality of modern life: sell the benefit, not the product..it’s easy to convince people that fat = fat = fat..it’s total nonsense, but hey, who has time to even thing about such stuff??
Conclusion: these Heritage pigs with their thick covering of serious fat are actually healthier for the environment, healthier for the pig, but most of all – THEY WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHY – Eat Them!
Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].
2013 marks a culinary milestone: The fifth anniversary of Cochon 555, a one-of-a-kind traveling culinary competition and tasting event created to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. Arriving in the nation’s capital on Sunday, April 7 at The Newseum, the pork-centric tour gathers together five chefs, five pigs and five wineries at each event – ultimately touching down in 10 cities across the country and bringing its message of nose-to-tail cooking, breed diversity and family farming to food enthusiasts nationwide.
Each Cochon 555 event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu created from the entirety of heritage breed pigs for an audience of pork-loving epicureans and celebrated judges. Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].
Guests will be treated to an epic pork feast alongside wines from five small family-owned wineries including Sandhi Wines, Scholium Project, Elk Cove Vineyards, Westport Rivers, and Silver Oak plus special tastings from Rhone Valley Wines, Anchor Brewing, Crispin Ciders, Illegal Mezcal, and Blue Coat Gin. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef, who is crowned the Prince of Pork and will compete against other regional winners at the finale Grand Cochon event at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on Sunday, June 16.
Also included in the evening is a preview of the new Heritage BBQ event in which John Critchley of Bourbon Steak will roll out family meal – an additional whole hog cooked barbecue-style immediately preceding the awards.
VIP guests receive early access to the event and special offerings including a special tasting with three competing chefs. The VIP hour is filled with experiences that will not be found on the main floor such as access to “Punch Kings” – a new cocktail competition featuring Breckenridge Bourbon and six local bartenders, a VIP-only gift bag, the all-new Tartare Bar, Rappanhannock River Oysters, and reserve wines and spirits. Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.
In addition, to celebrate five years of Heritage Breeds, Cochon added five bourbons to the lineup! All attendees will get samples of Breckenridge Bourbon, Eagle Rare, Templeton Rye, High West, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses in addition to the Perfect Manhattan Bar showcasing Luxardo and Eagle Rare. New to 2013 is also the Chupito/Mezcal Bar, a tasting experience featuring Mezcales de Leyenda, Pierde Almas and Fidencio. The infamous Craft Cheese Bar sees a facelift featuring a local cheesemonger, Cypress Grove Chevre, Vermont Butter & Cheese, Spring Brook Farm with an exclusive tasting of blues from Rogue Creamery, and favorites from Kerrygold. Everyone can commemorate the experience by visiting the City Eats photo booth and voting for the best bite of the day.
The fun continues with a butcher demonstration presented by Zwilling / MIyabi with Chris Fuller from Alleghany Meats and a raffle to benefit the student volunteers, ice-cold brews, Fernet Branca digestifs, Taza Chocolate pork-spiked desserts, Champagne toast, award ceremony, and of course, the after party will immediately follow.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
4 p.m. (VIP); 5 p.m. (general admission)
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Cochon 555 Tickets: $125 (general admission) and $200 (VIP); to purchase tickets, visit www.cochon555.com
ADDITIONAL EVENT: CHEFS COURSE DINNER
To kick-off the 5th Anniversary Weekend Celebration, Cochon 555 will curate an intimate “Chef’s Course” Guest Chef Dinner on Friday, April 5 at The Source by Wolfgang Puck hosted by Scott Drewno, two-time Cochon winner. The 5-course dinner will feature great chefs, including past participants, friends and judges paired with a winemaker, distiller or brewer. Go behind the scenes with Team Cochon for this amazing dinner and meet the folks driving the flavor train. Tickets to this dinner are $110, all inclusive and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at (202) 637-6100 and please reference Cochon555.
Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.
Please invite your facebook friends to this event. Invite over 75 friends, show us screenshot proof, and get a $25 discount code for being a partner to responsible agriculture.
The Craft Brewer’s Conference Beer & Food Experience..
So what happens when a couple thousand or so Brewer’s and their beer-loving cohorts come to DC to partake in a 3 day Conference around Beer? Total Chaos! OK, it wasn’t that crazy (I skipped alot of the Shenanigans..), but it started off for me with a serious beer dinner at Birch & Barley on Monday, March 25th, 2013 – Charlie Bravo Charlie (which stands for Craft Brewer’s Conference..get it??) Rare Beer Dinner: Volume #1
Let’s take you through the menu and beers..
Dish #1: Ahi Poke Tartare (Soy-Mirin, Tobiko, Wasabi Peas, Wonton, Sesame)
Beer Pairing: Maui Ginger Saison by Maui Brewing Co., Hawaii
Dish #2: Seared Shad Roe (Lemon Puree, Braised Escarole, Sherry-Bacon Sauce, Arugula)
Beer Pairing: Surly Smoke Lager by Surly Brewing Co., Minnesota
Dish #4: Roasted Squab (Toasted Farro-Marcona Almond, Fresh Radish, Roasted Sunchokes)
Beer Pairing: Barrel-Aged Ghouls Night Out by DC Brau, Washington, D.C.
Dish #5: Fourme D’Ambert (Cream Sherry-Plumped Dark Raisins, Rosemary, Hazelnut Butter)
Beer paired – Firestone Walker (CA) XV
Dessert: Vanilla Bean Cheesecake (Citrus Segments, Blood Orange Sorbet, Ginger-Cardamom Pound Cake, Basil)
Beer Paired – Hunahpu’s Imperical Stout (FL), Cigar City
Digestif: Odic Equum (Co) Avery Brewing
This one takes the cake..I mean pie!
First a confession – I’m not much of a dessert eater, and I probably eat less than a dozen pieces of pie in the average year. Pies to me are SO filling and full of sugar normally, that they make me feel stuffed. Still, having been a wine judge, a chocolate judge and who knows what else, I felt I could do this..I mean, taste is personal, and I’m in tune with my own palate. I may not be able to detect every nuance in wine or for that matter pies, but I do cook and bake, and I know how ingredients taste when they come together well.
But I also have a slight bias – I prefer foods with a balance of ingredients and decent acidity – if you gave me a chocolate covered piece of chocolate cake smothered in chocolate sauce, that would score VERY LOW to me – and I would call that a “heavy” cake..The same with pie – things that are truly delicious on their own – chocolate sauce, fudge, peanut butter, gooey sauces – can overwhelm my palate when combined. When I was a kid, I LOVED Chocolate Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, but today I could probably only eat 2 bites – that is simply too heavy for my palate..now if you add a citrus or sour flavored sauce to that, different story!
Pie #6 – Triple-Crust Cast-Iron Skillet Apple Pie This was heavy – heavy/doughy crust, heavy filling and the apples were chewy and didn’t seem acidic enough. This was a “heavy” pie – but of course, made in a Cast-Iron – so you might call this a “country pie”.
Pie # 4 – Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie My favorite pie or a tie with my other favorite pie which was #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb. I’m not sure if this was the first Vinegar Pie I ever had, but it had a wonderful tartness of cider vinegar against the weight of the eggy filling..ohh, and the crust had tons of butter – Gooood!
Pie #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb – This pie was one of my favorites – both tart and sweet and even rich – according to the pie baker, they use tapioca pudding which acts like a gelatin to give the ingredients some weight..Yummm! Excellent pie crust too, lots o butter..
Pie #2 – Peach Cobbler This was very sweet and on the heavy side..needed some acidity – maybe work on presentation too – but all-in-all very authentic and homey..
Pie #1 – Fruits of the Forest Pie VERY tart, but I tasted it right after a really sweet dessert and it just seemed a bit too tart/acidic..which normally just means add some sugar! Beautiful presentation..
Pie #10 – Chocolate Chess Pie These were mini-pies and I was pretty full at this point. They tasted like pecan pies without the pecans..but I couldn’t detect any chocolate. Not bad, enjoyable, the crust was good too.
Pie #12 – German Chocolate Pie This came in 3rd in my tasting (tie for 1st mentioned above) – it had pecans on top, but was not a pecan pie. I would call this one of the “rich” pies – dessert as a meal in my book – but it had a few real positives which included texture, crunch and a very good crust – this was the only of the “heavy” pies that I gave a top vote..
Pie #9 – P-Chocobana Pie Visually, over the top – and the
The Next Food Network Star?presenter was so Bubbly! It was about 6 inches thick and Rich, rich, RICH! A “heavy” pie with a peanut butter custard filling. Great looking, decent crust, this would go over GREAT for a kids party.
Pie #8 – Dottie Sweet Potato Pie Traditional – this was a very steady original version of this – the maker actually said this was a “slavery recipe” from the 19th century..I would have given this a winning vote, but it is a very simple delicious pie with a very good crust – give it 4th place or 5th place – having said this, there was nothing wrong with this pie – solid!
Pie #7 – Cheryl’s Nice and Naughty Sweet Potato Pie This was good, but very modernized version of Sweet Potato Pie – it was almost a cheesecake with cream cheese added..I liked it, but I wanted whipped cream on top of it – shame on me!
Professionals Spit Their Wines Out for a Reason..
How many times have I heard at a wine tasting – “why should I spit out or dump my wine out – I paid good money to attend this event?” Well, at a recent wine tour that came to DC Around the World in 80 Sips presented by Bottlenotes everyone behaved pretty orderly, but I had to recant tales to fellow wine lovers what the point of the spit bucket is – to prevent being bombed! What I always find entertaining about 100+ person walk-around wine tastings is how formal people are at the beginning of an event..maybe even a bit uptight..but how much they loosen up after the first hour or so.So Is There Proper Etiquette at a Wine Tasting?
You know what they say about Americans – Anything Goes we take our democratic freedoms seriously, and we don’t like when people tell us to behave. Having said that, Americans often feel directionless when it comes to cultural events and particularly wine – what is the “proper” way to behave at a wine tasting? Believe it or not, I think many people are TOO polite at wine tastings, so here are some fun rules which you may feel FREE TO BREAK:
Rule #1: “Thou Shall Not Drink Everything In Thy Glass” The purpose of a spit bucket is 2-fold: first, so you can spit out wine so that you can drink more and not get drunk; second, so you can dump out excess wine for the same reason – not to get drunk! The wine professionals pouring the wine EXPECT you to dump out excess wine..they’re hoping you do so, they don’t want people to drink too much! Maybe it seems wasteful to Americans to throw away wine, but there’s a reason these are called “tastings”..dump away..
Rule #2: “Thou Shall Rinse Thy Glass Between Wines, But Not With Water” You rinse your wine glass so that the next wine tastes like the wine should. If you rinse your glass with water, that water will DILUTE the wine you’re about to taste..and it’s usually a pretty small pour. The way the PRO’s do it, is we ask for a little pour of the wine we are about to drink, we swirl and pour that excess into the bucket, and then we wait for the wine to be poured..in this way, the wine you’re tasting tastes like the..well, uhh..wine you’re tasting – not a blend of water/wine or wine and something else..I know, it seems like YOU’RE WASTING WINE..get over it..
Rule #3:“Thou Shall Move Close to the Pourer and Put Thy Wine Glass Out To Receive a Pour” I actually have a funny story in my book I Drink on the Job about a woman who walked up to receive a pour of wine, but never put out her glass..she just stood in front of the table..thinking..about what, I have no idea, but when she was offered a pour of wine, she acted like it was an offense! Don’t use your time at a wine tasting to ruminate..you’re there to taste (NOT DRINK) wine..yes, of course take a few breaks, talk with your friends, get some food, etc..but use your time EFFICIENTLY. Walk up to the wine table and find a little space to stand, put out your wine glass (do not hold it close to your body..this is how you get wine on your clothing, and that’s a BAD THING!), and either wait for the wine to be poured or request a wine to be poured..this is NOT RUDE – this is actually proper..it’s efficient too..Personally, I’m a machine when I taste: stand, offer glass, swirl, look, sniff, taste, spit or swallow, spend moment in reflection on the wine, dump wine, REPEAT..
Rule #4: “Thou Shall Not Wear Perfume, Cologne or Anything That Has an Aroma at a Wine Tasting”I’m smelling coconuts in my wine..but, it’s not emanating from the glass – somebody wore a body lotion that smelled like coconuts! Actually, I spoke with her and she was very nice, but whenever she was within 5 feet of me..ALL I COULD SMELL WAS COCONUT LOTION!
Hopefully, you take this post with good humor – none of the above mentioned Rules is really written in stone. We Americans love our independence and freedom, but when we try to behave at a cultural event, maybe we’re actually too polite..I’m not saying you should be a hillbilly and come into a wine tasting with a cavalier attitude, but it’s OK to loosen up, enjoy, and even have lively banter at a wine tasting. Within the confines of a wine tasting, there is room for self-expression, creativity, and of course conviviality, but it’s best to get the etiquette down pat first – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Some Upcoming Wine Events on TasteDC:
- 4-Course Wine and Soul Wine Dinner, Tuesday, March 19th at The Fairfax Hotel at Embassy Row
- Cheese Class with Rogue Creamery’s Cheese Maker, Wednesday, March 27th, Ici Urban Bistro, 806 15th St., NW, Washington DC 20005
- Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..), Thursday, May 2nd, W Hotel Washington D.C. 515 15th St NW , Washington DC 20004
Sometimes You Get More Than You Expected at a Wine Tasting..
I’ve been to alot of low-priced wine tastings – and normally, the price of the event and the quality of food/wine/ambiance match – but not this time! Redwood Restaurant in Bethesda, MD which is right in the heart of the burgeoning retail sector on Bethesda Ave (anchored currently by Barnes and Noble) is a beautiful high-ceilinged restaurant with plenty of redwood (surprise!) and glass fronting on a lovely outdoor open-aired pedestrian atrium.
Although there was not actually a private area for this walk-around tasting (no seating) it was in the back of the restaurant and began at 6 pm before the hordes of diners and bar loungers came in. It was a simple basic setup of regular tables with wine reps pouring a selection of their wines at each table based on a theme: Table 1 – South Africa, Table 2 – Italy, Table 3 – France/Germany/Spain and Table 4 – Argentina/Australia/California. Each table had 5 wines, so that adds up to 20..the 20 wines for $20 title..but really, this event had more: generous hors d’oeuvres! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take photos of the food, but it was well-prepared, presented by servers with a napkin (nice touch..funny how important a napkin can be when you are trying to drink wine in a glass!).
The Wines (my apologies for forgetting vintages!): Since I find reviewing wine boring and frankly hard to follow, I’ll focus on what caught my attention. I started at the South African Table with wine rep Matt Leemhuis of Cape Classics, a well-known importer from that region. Two wines were really noticeable – the Kanonkop Pinotage and the Detoren Fusion V, both over $50 retail in Montgomery County. Pinotage is a funky, earthy smokey kinda wine, but it goes great with food. Detoren was it’s polar opposite with a Bordeaux Blend that was luscious rich black fruit and soft tannins and extremely accessible.
At Table 3 which was a mix of European wines, the Leitz Dragonstone Riesling really stood out – all the things I like about a German Riesling with a hint of petrol, but lots of minerality and acidity to balance a bit of sweetness – although Rieslings are great food wines (think Asian food), this one was actually so vibrant on the palate that me a Red wine drinker was just savoring it!
At Table 2 Italy, there was a very interesting white, but I was really enjoying the Argiano Non-Confunditor which is a blend made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese – a Super Tuscan wine, and it actually tasted like a blend of Old World and New World – earth and soil from Italy, but roundness from Cabernet – a really interesting contrast!
Table 4 had contrasting Malbecs: Finca Sophenia Malbec Reserva vs Voodoo Moon Malbec – the first was pretty traditional with a touch of rough tannins and earthy overtones, while the latter was all perfume and weirdly candy-like – unexpected but delicious!
Food: I didn’t try everything, but all hors d’oeuvres were passed – the chicken wings were especially good and enormous – they were in a sweetish BBQ sauce that was decadently good, thumbs up (I ate them to the bone!). The fried foods were served hot, an although the pimento cheese biscuit was only OK, I was overall impressed by service and the food in general.
Conclusion:If they do another 20 for 20 event, snap up a ticket – it’s a great deal, great food and really decent setup and service. If I could Yelp this event (I probably could!), it would be 5 Stars, no caveats. Forgot to mention..even the wine glasses were very nice and big allowing for good swirling..Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Upcoming Wine Tastings at TasteDC:
I attended a really fun Sparkling Wine Comparison Tasting of Champagne vs. The Rest at the Hill Center as part of the Barracks Row Culinary Crawl on Sunday, February 17th, 2013. There were actually 2 speakers at the event: Burnie Williams of Chat’s Liquors who did most of the educational component of the event and a French gentleman I only remember as “Charles” who spoke about the specifics of the 4 wines we tasted because he imported them.
The Wine: There were 4 sparkling wines poured of which 2 were non-Champagne (one Italian, one French Cremant) and two “true” Champagnes. (I’ve included “suggested retail price” which usually means you can get them for a bit less..)
- Ca’ dei Zago DOC Proseccor Coi Fondo 2010 – Prosecco is actually made in a less expensive method than traditional Champagne – the Charmat method, where the second fermentation is done in tank. This was also a pretty dry version of Prosecco – they usually are a bit more sweet.
- Klein “Cremant d’Alsace” Chardonnay Extra Brut (Alsace, France), $29.99 – very nice Chardonnay based sparkler – pretty good value.
- Champagne Francois Diligent Rose Cote de Bar, NV (Champagne, France), $36.99- this wine was a bit funky, but I think the cork had ruined it..
- Laherte Freres “Les Vignes d’Autrefois-A Chavot” Extra Brut, 2006 (Champagne, France) $74.99 – My favorite by a long shot – price doesn’t always determine quality, but this wine had the wine on the lees for 3 years in bottle and this created that nutty, smokey, yeasty complexity that I LOVE in Champagne – by this one for me!
The Education: Burnie Williams, the owner of Chat’s Liquors did an excellent job of covering a pretty involved and complex topic. You see, sparkling wines are created different from other wines – they must go through a second fermentation to create the bubbles, the first fermentation creates the “wine” and alcohol. He did an excellent job of covering both the history (yep, Dom Perignon was NOT the inventor of sparkling wine!) and the process of making sparkling wines. I’ve attended many sparkling wine classes so rather than bore with you with all the details, the most interesting parts of making this type of wine are:
Lees - these are the dead yeast that drop to the bottom of the barrel or bottle, depending on how you’re aging your wine. If you let them stay with the wine and age, they create a yeasty/nutty flavor and aroma, if you take them away (slightly different than “filtering” a wine, but similar process), then the wine will have a cleaner more fruit-driven expression.
Riddling – this is the process of turning the bottles a few turns every so often for maybe a year or two to get the dead yeast from the 2nd fermentation out of the wine. This was once done by humans wearing cages on their face to prevent chards of glass from cutting their faces if the bottles exploded (19th century bottles had poor technology!), but now often done by machines.
Disgorging – After riddling, the dead yeast/lees are now upside down in the bottle and form a plug of..dead yeast! This has to be removed or “disgorged” – the way it’s done today is by freezing this gook but putting the bottles part way into an ice bath with salted water – the low temperature freezes only the plug and thus it is pulled out.
Dosage – This is after the dead lees are taken out, the final flavor and sugar level is added back – Brut is less sugar than Extra Dry, so the type of flavor/sweetness is determined at this point.
Overall, had a really fun time at this event and it was a helluva deal at such a low price! I’m chatting it up with Chat’s Liquors to do more tasting events – DC has very few wine tastings right now, and the demand is there. As always, keep drinking good sparkling wine, Champagne or whatever is in your glass..you only live once – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I wanted to learn how to make the juiciest fried chicken and fluffiest biscuits in DC..
I had the really great luck to attend a cooking class on Thursday, February 28th, 2013 at a totally new facility in DC – the Union Kitchen. So you may ask what exactly IS Union Kitchen? That actually might be hard to explain, but let me give it a try – it’s a place for Start-Up food businesses to go the next level in production and ultimately business success. But not always..it’s also a commercial kitchen for Food Trucks and other food producers who can schedule a time and then produce their product for commercial purposes..but it’s also one more thing – a potentially excellent venue for hands-on cooking classes and events. In a nutshell, it’s an exciting opportunity for food ventures in DC to go to the next level – I was PSYCHED to go to this event! (Note: Here’s a really good explanation by City Paper )
The Chef: I stole this from the Chef’s bio on her website, but I also would like to add that the chef was excellent at organizing and teaching a cooking class – she had wonderful rapport with the 10 attendees and she was very organized and straight to the point of the class – let’s get cookin’! Jessica also mentioned to me that she’s working on a commercial recipe for her Southern pimento cheese ..but I didn’t get much detail, I’m sure there will be more to tell..From her page: Jessica O’Neal started JLOkitchens to share her love of Southern cuisine with the District. She teaches cooking classes at CulinAerie, is a personal chef for a very tall man and is currently developing a line of Southern food products at Union Kitchen. She will gladly trade you her tasty pimento cheese for honest feedback and/or champagne.
The Class: This class was held in a commercial kitchen, so we used the same industrial equipment that all of the commercial businesses use, but our recipe was for producing similar amounts to what we would make at home. We got right down to cracking eggs, adding them to the flour with hunks of butter and making biscuits. The basic format was that we were shown how to make each dish with basic recipes and then broken down into groups to cook for the group.
-Sweet Potato Herb Biscuits with Honey Butter – I finally learned the secret of making great biscuits – hunks of butter and folding the flour and compressing to create layers for steam and flakiness..
-Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken – I actually missed the recipe for this part and basically all I did was flip some fried chicken (my fault – I was off on a tour of the facility!)-a much longer than expected slow fry in the oil made this chicken both crispy and cooked through..but the meat was really juicy – I ate it down to the bone!
-Creamy Cheddar Grits with Smoky Greens – this is actually 2 dishes, but they were combined. The secret is in both the type of corn grits and in the way they are ground – stone ground is best. And cheese was added at the very end only as a topping, rather than in the cooking process. We used curly Kale, but any green works for this dish.
-Cornbread Custard with Berry Coulis – this was a very simple dessert essentially using store bought corn bread, breaking it up and adding eggs and milk into a custard and heating at a relatively low temperature – simple, but classic comfort food!
-Bourbon Whipped Cream – real Bourbon..I should know, I was sipping some of that Jim Beam during the class..
Conclusion: This was a really fun event in a great location..I was warned about this neighborhood, but when I found the space (it was a little hidden – but it’s an old warehouse building, c’mon!) and parking in front, I began to think – people are just living in the past..this facility IS the future of DC and the entrepreneurs who run it are the next wave for DC. Jessica gave a great cooking class and the facility is perfect for a multitude of events – there’s even additional spaces for Pop-Up Dinners, wine tastings and more culinary endeavors. OK, so it’s a bit edgy, but you know the expression – you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler