Wednesday, 13 March 2013
I really wanted to like this book. It is set in a restaurant in Miami (good so far as I'm a former chef). It's a mystery - that's good, too, as I love my mysteries. That's where it all ended. There's just no action and I can't get into the characters. Try as I might, I just can't recommend this one.
Monday, 26 April 2010
We will also be celebrating the anniversary of the Wine Century Club with president and founder, Steve de Long. For those of you unfamiliar with the Wine Century Club ( http://www.winecentury.com/), it’s an association of wine lovers who have tried AT LEAST 100 different wine varieties over their drinking lives. That might sound daunting at first but just drinking the readily available wines in the UK will get you a long way toward that 100. And if you attend this tasting, you’ll have another 15 to add to your “life list”.
This will be a ton of fun. Learn about Petit Rouge, Saperavi, Pecorino (NOT the cheese!), Frappato, the nearly unpronounceable Hondarribi Zuri, and many more. Taste wines from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Georgia (!??!). You know you have to do this.
Details are -
57 Pelham Street, London SW7 2NJ
The tasting venue is a private home about 200 meters from the South Kensington tube station so it’s easy to get to.
Advance booking and payment is required. Please make your booking NO LATER THAN Sunday, 2 May. Payment by cheque, electronic transfer, or PayPal.
Thursday, 21 January 2010
Cafe Strudel are renowned for their fabulous Viennese food while the Triebaumer family have been making wonderful wines since 1691. You'll have the opportunity to sample both at the dinner on 9 February 2010 at Cafe Strudel. Seven different wines will be presented to accompany a 4-course menu specifically designed for the wines. Here are the menu details -
Pate de Foie Gras - with brioche & black pepper
TRAMINER SPÄTLESE 2008
Pot au Feu - with clams, prawns & mussels
SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008
Venison - new potatoes, wild mushrooms & chestnuts
BLAUFRÄNKISCH RESERVE 2007
Strawberry Champagne Jelly
BLAUFRÄNKISCH ROSÉ 2008
Dessert Wine - AUSBRUCH (WELSCHRIESLING) 2006
All of this magnificence costs ONLY £70/person all inclusive, which is a deal. You'll need to book your places quickly to be sure of a space AND we really need bookings within the next week (or less) to be sure the event goes ahead. So book your places by calling Cafe Strudel at 020-8487-9800.
And now for a bit more info to REALLY wet your appetite -
Café Strudel, in the tradition of a Viennese Café, offers an environment where one can indulge in coffee and cakes at any time of the day but have a proper meal at lunchtime or a full dinner in the evening if so desired. The proprietor, Orly Kritzman-Kadron, has assembled a menu that encompasses some of the finest dishes the Wiener Küche has to offer. To complement this the wine list includes probably the most extensive collection of Austrian wines available in a restaurant anywhere in the UK.
The Food - Viennese cuisine, or Wiener Küche, is not based solely on the political borders of modern day Austria, but on Vienna's history since the middle ages as the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburgs, and later Austrian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Signature Austrian dishes like Wiener Schnitzel probably came from Constantinople via Venice and Milan. Wiener Küche dates from a time when Austria was not a landlocked country but a Mediterranean power whose main sea port was Trieste in modern day Italy (if you look in any old Austrian cookbook you will find many recipes for sea fish dishes). Strudel’s menus offer interpretations of Viennese cuisine as well as modern favourites with an Austrian twist.
Weingut Günter & Regina Triebaumer - The Triebaumer family have been active in Rust since 1691 - wine and winemaking has a very long tradition in the family. Günter & Regina Triebaumer have chosen a winemaking philosophy that is open-minded, modern and forward-thinking, combining roots and tradition with progress. They currently own 16 hectares of very high quality ‘Rieden’ vineyards in Rust, from which they produce a wide range of wines that are typical of the Burgenland region.
And for you Wine Geeks out there (and I certainly am one), here are some tasting notes on the wines -
Muscato - Pale straw with slight greenish reflections, fine mousse, lingering. Intensive bouquet of juicy-ripe pineapples, mango, blooming elder, buckthorn and dirndl. Delicate hints of Muscat. Delicious fruit sweetness, crisp, even thrilling acidity, creamy carbonic acid, seductive and refreshing at the same time. Be careful – a dangerous fruit bomb!
Traminer Spätlese 2008 - Light straw yellow, complex fragrance of sun-ripened yellow fruits, English tea-roses, a whole bunch of spices, clear and animating. Freshly picked flowers, greengage. young and full of aromas. Probably the best up to now. Pleasant fruit-driven sweetness in the upper Spätlese-range. Good Traminer spiciness. Aroma concentration on the palate. Nectarines, fresh kiwis. Finely chiseled. Makes much fun. A creamy fruit-drug, yet “easy-going” and modern. Falstaff - 92 points
Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - Straw-yellow and brilliant. Elderflower, guava and jostaberry, red and yellow bell pepper, grapefruit; an animating tropical orchard. Dry with delicate fruit acidity and a remarkable creamy texture. Gooseberry, maracuja, red currant and pomelo. Smelling of an early summer pick nick out in the open country! Complex, persistent, well structured and animating. A compact, characteristic Sauvignon blanc showing a nice potential.
Blaufränkisch 2008 - Purple with a dark violet rim. Intensive nose of cherries and black pepper. Stewed sour cherries completed by a hint of vanilla and lilac, spicy-dense, Sun-warmed dark berries. Dry, vivacious-juicy Blaufränkisch-fruit, very classic style, finely-wound tannin structure, inviting flavours of dark berries and cherries with a zesty-animating finish. Juicy and fiery notes deriving from chalky loam soils. Fruity and dense – the “heart and soul”. Wine Enthusiast - 88 points; Vinaria - "Best Buy" & "Top Varietal"
Blaufränkisch Reserve 2007 - Purple with a dark cherry-coloured rim, dense viscosity. Ample aroma spectrum displaying black heart cherries, cool elderberry stew, chocolate streusel, bark of oak, black pepper, sun-ripened blackberries, cedars, notes of blackthorn, vaguely perceptible hints of juniper. Dry, powerfully structured with substantial smooth tannins which seem as if covered with cherry chocolate. Characteristic and inviting. Very substantial, lavishly displayed. Animating fruit sweetness supported by “Rust minerality”, dressed up with a fiery temperament. Long finish with a promising ageing potential. Falstaff - 90-92 points; Wine Enthusiast - 90 points; Vinaria - "Vinaria Tipp" & "Wine with Potential"
Blaufränkisch Rosé 2008 - Clear, brilliant pink-rosé, lilac blossoms. Inviting like the fruit district in Cockaigne. Sweet peach and crisp bananas, some lemon and a hint of fresh mint. Semi-sweet, backed by a harmonious acidity. Elegant creamy texture with fragile fruit sweetness. Raspberries flirt with freshly diced mango. The small, lively fairies of the rosé whisper on the palate while the bottle is still half-full.
Ausbruch (Welschriesling) 2006 - Sparkling golden yellow, rich traces of viscosity on the glass, delicate notes of honey, a fragrance as if Welschriesling would directly descent from yellow peaches, underpinned by notes of passion fruit, pineapple and stewed apricot – simply delicious. Noble sweetness combined with a really racy acidity, soft peach skin, fragrant yellow fruit flesh, pear juice, juicy all through. Like a noble piece of jewellery, totally on the precise and reductive side, vivacious and backed by most delicate hints of blossom honey; minerality originating in Rust complements the aroma spectrum, a gentle grizzly, so to say, matures wonderfully, but not necessarily … Falstaff - 93 points
Now, aren't you thirsty?? Be sure to reserve your place at the dinner ASAP
Friday, 30 October 2009
These Black Diamond trekking poles combine a new shock system, double FlickLock adjustability and an ultralight diameter for year-round versatility.
Love these poles, easy to use
Pros: Easy to adjust, Strong, Lightweight, Flexible, Good grips
Best Uses: Hiking, Backpacking
Describe Yourself: Casual Adventurer
What Is Your Gear Style: Comfort Driven
These poles are great - easy to adjust, lightweight, and strong. I thought I'd broken one when I fell off the mountain on my trek to Machu Picchu (I was saved by the guide with me). On the way down, I could feel that the pole was caught between some rocks and I felt it bend. I was sure it was broken (or lost down the mountain), but it survived the fall as did I. My guide liked the poles so much, he asked to buy them. I figured that he had saved my life so he deserved the poles and I gave them to him. Now I need to get another pair for myself.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
OK, full disclosure here - in early July 2009 I went on a trip to Hungary to visit wineries in the south central part of the country (specifically in the regions of Villány and Szekszard). Although I had to pay for my own flights to and from the country, the rest of the trip (internal transport, winery visits, hotels and meals) was provided to me at no charge. If that makes me a flak in your eyes for these Hungarian wineries or for Hungary wines in general, then so be it. But all the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and I owe NOTHING to anyone nor could anyone make me say nice things about wines that I don't like. So there!
Having got that off my chest, I can proceed with my post.
This trip was organized by Vivienne Franks for Wine Education Service (WES), predominantly for the benefit of their educators. I managed to grab a spot on the trip because I happened to be standing next to Vivienne and Laszlo Hesley, MD of Mephistro Wines who import from all the wineries we would be visiting, when a spare space came available. Always one to grab the main chance, I immediately volunteered for this arduous duty. Tough life, right?
So off we went in early July, meeting at the Budapest airport in the early afternoon. I'll be covering other aspects of our visit in later posts but right now I'm posting about our visit to the Malatinszky Winery on the afternoon of our first full day in Hungary. Why am I starting in the middle of our trip? Because as "payment" for my trip, I was required to write-up notes on one of our visits. My assignment was Malatinszky so I've got that ready to go. So, without further ado, here are my impressions of our visit to Malatinszky.
Although Csaba Malatinszky comes from a noble family that can trace its wine-making roots to the 14th century around Lake Balaton, he didn’t start out making wines. Instead, he started on his journey toward making internationally-recognized quality wines while working as a sommelier at the world-famous Gundel restaurant in Budapest (not an unusual path as many of us now in the wine industry had a “real” life before we got the opportunity to live our wine fantasy. Perhaps, there is some sort of initiation requirement to do “something” else before having such a fun job.). While at Gundel Csaba went on a wine study tour to the Medoc where he had the opportunity to blend wines at some of the best estates, Chateau Pichon-Longueville, Chateau Lynch-Bages, and Chateau Cos D' Estournel Thus, began his love affair with the grapes of Bordeaux which Csaba feels best express terroir.
Csaba left Gundel in 1991 and shortly thereafter started the first specialist wine retail shop in Budapest, La Boutique des Vins. At about the same time he started making his own blend, “Le Sommelier” in cooperation with Jozsep Bock in Villány. In 1994 he started his own production in Villány and in 1997 his winery was built. Now Csaba owns approximately 28 ha of vines, most of which are west of Villány in the direction of Siklós. The soil is predominantly loess with some clay and limestone. Approximately 30% of the vines are Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the remaining 40% split among the local varieties, Kekfrankos and Kadarda, plus Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In 2005 he produced approximately 85,000 bottles while in 2007 he produced 130,000 bottles.
We met with Csaba at his relatively new (1997) winery just a short walk down the street in Villány from our host (and Csaba’s wine mentor), Jozsep Bock’s winery. This was just one more winery in Villány that looked brand new. I was impressed by how prosperous and modern all the wineries in Villány, and indeed, all those we saw in Hungary, appeared. To the surprise of many of us who have seen the packed and sometimes shabby conditions at wineries in France and Italy, Csaba feels that his current winery is too small so a much larger winery, guest house, and restaurant complex is planned near his vineyards. Business must be very good indeed.
After a brief introduction to his winery and wine-making history, Csaba lead us into his winery. Gleaming steel tanks were everywhere, pristine at this time of year with harvest so far in the future. In the centre of the tank room was a set of beautiful oak doors rising at about a 30-degree angle from the floor. At the push of a button the doors began to open and the entrance to what we dubbed the “Bat Cave” began to open. Once open the doors revealed a set of brick stairs sans handrails (what would Health & Safety think?) that lead to the barrel room. This was a place so immaculate and so unlike most barrel rooms, you could probably eat off the floor.
© Paula Sindberg 2009
After our visit to the winery, we returned to the sunny garden for a tasting of Csaba’s wines. As a confirmed lover of exotic indigenous grape varieties myself, I have to admit that Csaba’s passion for the usual international (French) suspects was a bit off-putting. Still, I can’t fault the quality of his products.
In the lovely surroundings of the Malatinzsky garden, we tasted some 15 different wines, about half tank samples that should be bottled later this year. Csaba’s philosophy of wine making is to express terroir, to seek typicity with gentle pressing and slow pumpovers. His aim is to create food-friendly wines. Some of his wines, like Kadarka, have only steel tank fermentation and see no wood at all. This creates a lovely, fresh wine with vibrant fruit flavours. When he does use oak, it is 100% Hungarian, used for flavour and for economy as the local barrels are much cheaper than French barrels. Csaba doesn’t want a prominent oak effect so his wood is aged for at least 4 years before use and flushed with water many times to dilute the hard tannins. He doesn’t filter his best wines and only fines as is necessary for stability. From 2010 he will be a certified organic producer though he is not sure about attempting biodynamic production.
Csaba makes 3 grades of wine. His “Le Sommelier” range is the entry level, followed by Noblesse, then Kúria wines. All are well made and delicious. The highlights of our tasting for me were his 2007 Noblesse Merlot Rosé, the 2006 Kúria Kövesföld, and the tank sample of his 2007 Pinot Bleu.
2007 Noblesse Merlot Rosé
I don’t normally like most Rosés as I feel they are wines that don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. I also am not over-fond of Merlot in any form (I won’t go as far as Miles in the movie “Sideways” – “I ain’t drinking no f*cking Merlot!” – but I’m not far from that). So it came as a surprise that one of my favourite wines was Csaba’s Merlot Rosé. This is a wine for grown-ups.
The wine is a dark rose hip colour with almost florescent highlights. Made in the saignée style with 4-5 hours of skin contact, it is brilliant and appealing to look at.
The nose is serious, full of juicy strawberry fruit and spice.
Sweet stewed strawberries with a mineral backbone on the palate, soft, creamy and rich with a long finish.
A wine with real personality.
2006 Kúria Kövesföld
This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cabernet Franc from Csaba’s best Kövesföld vineyard. It’s bottled ONLY in magnums.
A dark inky purple colour with a nose of espresso and sweet berries, menthol, minerals and heather. Someone called the palate a “blueberry macciatto” and that’s not too far from the truth. Blueberries, roasted coffee beans, creamy with ripe grippy tannins and a long finish. Most of Csaba’s top wines I found too big, too alcoholic and just too much (though Robert Parker and his minions would probably love them), but I rather liked this wine.
2007 Noblesse Pinot Bleu – tank sample to be bottled August 2009
The concept of this wine appealed to me. It is an unusual blend of Pinot Noir and Kekfrankos (known as Blaufränkisch in Austria). The 2007 blend was 30% Pinot Noir and 70% Kekfrankos. The 2006 version which we also tasted was a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Kekfrankos, it was earthy and full of cherries but didn’t appeal nearly as much as the 2007 where the Kekfrankos dominated and added character. While the 2006 version was a reddish purple of mid-intensity, the 2007 version showed its Kekfrankos with a dark, near blackish purple colour. The nose was all berries and spice while the palate was rich and full with zippy acidity, berries and chocolate with some vegetal character. This version was much more concentrated, longer, richer and more complex than the 2006 variety.
We also tasted the following wines which I hope to write up in the future –
2007 Siklósi Chardonnay
2006 Noblesse Pinot Bleu (mentioned above)
2006 Le Sommelier “Tenkes”, a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot
2006 Kúria Merlot
2006 Kúria Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Kúria Cabernet Franc
2007 Noblesse Cabernet Franc – tank sample
2007 Kúria Merlot – tank sample
2007 Kúria Cabernet Sauvignon– tank sample
2007 Kúria Kövesföld – tank sample, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc
2007 Kúria Cabernet Franc– tank sample
After a brief rest back at the hotel, we saddled up in our 4WD vehicles and headed for Csaba’s house in nearby Kisharsány (between Villány and Siklós) for our dinner. I’m not sure how much of the dinner prep Csaba did personally but I suspect it was quite a lot. And many of our dishes featured vegetables from his garden.
The meal we had was incredible, sitting out in a covered shed (though it was huge so what’s a giant shed called???) on a warm, clear night. We started with a selection of Hungarian bruschetti on organic bread. These included 2 kinds of steak tartare (one with basil and cumin and the other with parsley and garlic), sheep’s cottage cheese with roasted pumpkin and pistachio seeds and herbs, and HUGE slices of fois gras. Despite the large and satisfying lunch we’d had earlier in the day at the Bock guesthouse, we all dug in as if we were starving. The main course was an interesting white pumpkin risotto with cream and dill. This was incredibly delicate, fresh and bright and the pumpkin was served al dente so it retained an appealing crunch. As a side dish we had a rich but light veal stew (somewhat odd that the stew was clearly served as an accompaniment to the pumpkin risotto). The cheese course included Hungarian hard goat’s cheese, Hungarian aged “Gouda” type cheese, Dolcelatte blue and Fulum Daber (spelling??) from France. Dessert was a sort of berry parfait but by this time I was fading and didn’t take any notes. I also spent too much time eating and taking notes and forgot to get any photos of our dinner.
Thursday, 18 June 2009
If you’ve read my recent posts or followed me on Twitter (@UltimateWines), you know I'm hosting a charity dinner to benefit ClassicFM Music Makers (charity registration number 1091657) next week at Café Strudel in Richmond (see my post below). There will also be an auction and a raffle to raise even more money for the charity. In a blatant attempt to push the bar even higher, I decided to move the auction and raffle on-line to encourage people who can't make the dinner to get involved.
It’s easy to participate. Here’s how -
I’ve listed all the auction items below. All you have to do is email me (email@example.com) and tell me the item you want and what you’ll bid for it. I’ll update this post regularly with the latest on-line bids. On the night of the dinner, we’ll start the bidding for each item at the highest current on-line bid. So you’ll need to bid high on-line to have a chance at the winning bid. If you win the auction, I'll ask you to pay via my charity web page (http://www.justgiving.com/paulasindberg) and I'll ship your prize to you.
The TOP auction item is 1 week at my house in San Giorgio Scarampi in Piedmont (Piemonte), Italy. The house is in a tiny village that only has about 15 houses and is the second highest village in the Alte Langhe. When the weather is clear, we can see Alps over about 200 degrees (the 15th century tower behind the house blocks the view of even more mountains – shame! LOL!). There are only 2 commercial establishments in town – a friendly bar where virtually the entire village gathers every night and a fantastic restaurant, A Testa in Giu', run by a lovely young couple. Both are so close that you can crawl home – if necessary.
Here’s the list of all the auction items and the current top bid –
- 1 week at my house in San Giorgio Scramapi (Piedmont), Italy – house sleeps 4 in 2 double bedrooms and a 5th can sleep in the lounge. (£500 value) - Top Current Bid £600.00
- Champagne dinner for 2 at Café Strudel (£100 value) - Top Current Bid - none yet
- Overnight stay (bed & breakfast) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Marlow, including use of their fabulous gym (£100 value) - Top Current Bid - start the bidding now
- 2 golf lessons with Alasdair Barr, English Golf Union (EGU) coach to the British boys team, former coach of Luke Donald, the Ecuador amateur men’s and women’s team, among other things (£100 Value) - Top Current Bid $100.00
- Membership to Jancis Robinson’s “Purple Pages”, the members only section of her website (£69 value) - Top Current Bid - start the bidding now
- A Gold subscription to Wink Lorch’s “Wine Travel Guides” (£49 value) - Top Current Bid - start the bidding now
- 2 cup Espresso/Cappuccino maker (£35 value) - Top Current Bid - start the bidding now
Send in your bids now.
Meanwhile, the raffle is listing some amazing prizes. Here’s the prize list –
- Signed copy of Cherry Chappell’s book “Grandma’s Remedies”
- Signed copy of “Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course”
- ClassicFM T-shirt
- ClassicFM T-shirt
- ClassicFM T-shirt
- ClassicFM CD “Relax ...”
- ClassicFM CD “ClassicFM At the Movies”
- ClassicFM CD “ClassicFM At the Movies – the Sequel”
- ClassicFM CD “ClassicFM Baroque n’ Roll”
- ClassicFM CD “ClassicFM Presents Alfie Boe”
- 1 bottle Mont Hauban Selection Champagne
- 1 bottle Gozzelino 2000 “lo Sciorio” Barbera d’Asti
- 1 bottle Brundlmayer Rose Brut
- 1 bottle Duernberg 2007 Grüner Veltliner
Raffle tickets are 1 for £5 or 3 for £10, and multiples thereof. Ticket numbers won't be attached to each item. Instead, as the numbers are selected, each person will get to pick their choice from among the remaining items.
It’s easy to buy tickets on-line. All you need to do is email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), stating how many tickets you want and listing your priorities for raffle prizes. I’ll email back your number(s). You can pay via my charity web page (http://www.justgiving.com/paulasindberg), just contribute the cost of the raffle tickets and mention “raffle” in the message box. If your number is selected, the highest prize available will be yours and I’ll ship it out to you right after the dinner.
Please help me support this great cause. Thanks.
Friday, 5 June 2009
Here are all the details -
I’ve pledged to Trek the Inca Trail on behalf of the charity, Classic FM Music Makers (registered charity number 1091657) in October this year.
Classic FM's Music Makers is a grant giving charity, formed in 2006, that raises money to fund music education and therapy projects working with the most disadvantaged children and adults across the UK. I know how much music has transformed my life, how it helps me through bad days, and helps me to celebrate triumphs. I’ve seen what Music Makers has done and want to help it in its mission.
However, before I can trek to Machu Picchu, I’ve got a fair amount of money to raise for the charity (at least £3,250 to be precise). As a fund-raising device, I’ll be hosting a charity dinner on Thursday, 25 June 2009 (dinner menu below), at Café Strudel. I hope that you’ll be willing to attend this dinnera a to help my cause.
Tickets are £45/person for a three-course dinner and entertainment (baroque and opera favourites). Almost all of the proceeds will go to Classic FM Music Makers (Café Strudel is ONLY taking enough to cover their costs – supplies and staff wages). Drinks are extra. You can book tickets by calling the restaurant at 020-8487-9800.
There will also be an auction and a raffle on the night to raise additional funds. I’ve already got some amazing things available for the auction, including:
• 1 week at my house in San Giorgio Scramapi (Piedmont), Italy – house sleeps 4 in 2 double bedrooms and a 5th can sleep in the lounge. (£500 value)
• champagne dinner for 2 at Café Strudel (£100 value)
• overnight stay (bed & breakfast) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Marlow, including use of their fabulous gym (£100 value)
• 2 golf lessons with Alasdair Barr, English Golf Union (EGU) coach to the British boys team, former coach of Luke Donald, the Ecuador amateur mens and womens team, among other things (£80 Value)
• Membership to Jancis Robinson’s “Purple Pages”, the members only section of her website (£69 value)
• Signed copy of “Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course” (£25 value)
• A Gold subscription to Wink Lorch’s “Wine Travel Guides” (£49 value)
The raffle will include bottles of wine, Classic FM CD’s and T-shirts, etc.
I need lots of people to attend, and ideally bring their chequebooks, too!
I really appreciate any help you can give me with this. I hope you will attend and that you’ll pass this invitation on to all your friends and contacts and encourage them to attend, too.
And for anyone who wants to just donate to my charity, I’ve got a web page at JustGiving.com (http://www.justgiving.com/paulasindberg) where you can donate online. In the alternative, cheques can be made out to “Classic FM Music Makers” and sent to me (8 Millbank, Mill Road, Marlow, Bucks. SL7 1UA).
Dinner Menu -
Chicken Liver Parfait With Rhubarb Chutney
Cucumber & Vodka Soup With Bloody Mary Sorbet
Pan Fried Chicken Supreme With Fine Green Beans, Rosemary & Garlic Roast New Potatoes,
Sour Cherries & Jus Gras
Bell Pepper Stuffed With Feta, Tomatoes, Spinach, Capers & Pine Nuts Served With Salad
Thanks for your help.