Posts filed under ‘beverages’

Wine Weekend – part one

Two weekends back, before the craziness of Thanksgiving took over my life, there was a weekend involving lots of wine tasting.

I met M and his two sisters at Renaissance Wine Shop (located at Orenco Station in Hillsboro) for a tasting of wines imported by Small Vineyards.  We all had a great time, for which I am very thankful.  I like them both very much and was a bit concerned things might be awkward after relationship situations changed.  I got met with hugs and giggles and support.

Small Vineyards comes to Renaissance a couple of times a year and I always try to catch their tastings.  They import small production wines from Italy (sometimes the wines are produced in lots as small as 100 or 200 cases) and often they have some very interesting and delightful wine at reasonable prices.

We tasted:

Tenuta Ponte, Coda di Volpe 2008, 100% Coda di Volpe (800 cases produced, a white which I failed to take tasting notes on, and didn’t end up buying a bottle [$17])

Fattoria Bibbiani, Treggiaia 2006, 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cab and Canaiolo (1200 cases produced, a slight raspberry nose, earthy currant flavors with medium tannins [$11])

Podere Ciona, Montegrossoli 2007, 95% Sangiovese, 5% Alicante Bouschet (290 cases produced, raspberry and strawberry on both smell and taste, light tannins [$17])

Antonion Sanguineti, Caruso 2007, 15% Corvina, 5% Rondinella, 20% Nero d’Avola, 50% Sangiovese, 10% Syrah (500 cases produced, this unusual wine has grapes from the vineyards of several friends of the wine maker.  Raspberry and cherry are found in the nose, to which a lemony note is added, high in the mouth, when tasted.  Light to medium tannins. [$20])

Tre Donne, d’Arc Langhe Rosso 2006, 40% Barbera, 30% Pinot Noir, 20% Dolcetto, 10% Freisa (400 cases produced, my favorite wine of the evening.  I had never had freisa grapes.  They lend a lovely floral nature to the wine.  Slightly floral strawberry nose, floral, peach, pear, almond, clove, and rosehips or hibiscus once tasted.  I tried to buy some of this, but they ran out of it about an hour into the tasting. [$17])

Eugenio Bocchino, Tom Langhe Rosso 2007, 70% Barbera, 30% Merlot (200 cases produced, velvety nose with temple flower notes, flavors of raisin and plum with a full mouth feel and medium tannins.  I bought a bottle of this, since the Tre Donne was not available. [$22])

Perazzeta, Rita Riserva, 100% Sangiovese (250 cases produced, smells like cherry cream soda, flavors of cherry, apple, mango [$34])

December 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Cubicle Foraging – Mangoes

I work in the food industry, though I don’t generally have anything to do with the recipe formulation part of things.  However, I do work closely in an administrative role with the R & D department, which is a lot of fun.

Our office space also shares real estate, as my cube lives inside of the R & D facilities.  Sometimes the ambient noise gets to me or means I have to get a different room to make phone calls from.  Mostly my location is a huge bonus, as I get first hand access to the information and projects people are working on and also get access to our fabulous kitchen.  I may have to make do with a tiny galley style kitchen, but here I have a Wolf range to play with if I want and a wide array of kitchen gadgets that I either don’t have, or don’t have in that size.

Sometimes we get large samples of various things that we can’t make use of and they get to come home with us.  Last week I scored several pounds of frozen diced mangoes.  They are happily ensconced in the tightly packed prime space of my freezer, awaiting an evening with guests.

I haven’t quite settled on the end goal, but vying for attention is an Indian food evening with Sweet Mango Lassi for everyone and an evening with fancy cocktails.  Andina, a neat Peruvian restaurant in Portland, used to sport a spicy mango cocktail as part of their drinks menu, but I don’t know if it is still there.  The idea of trying to recreate it, or something similar, has a lot of appeal.  I have found some interesting recipes online, one of which calls for fresh jalapeno in their mango cocktail.

I will keep you posted on what they end up being used in, hopefully with some pictures, and, of course, the recipes.  =)

October 28, 2009 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

Places to Drink in Portland

Imbibe magazine has a rather nice article in their September/October issue on places to drink in Portland, Oregon.   Most of the descriptions for locations are brief, but the list of places covered is extensive.  I have certainly added a number of places to my list of restaurants and bars to check out and the online version of the article has imbedded links that let you visit a majority of the places mentioned.

Whether you are visiting the city, new to Portland, or live here and just happen to like learning about places you may not have been, I recommend checking out the article.

The article prompted M and I to decide that we would head out this evening.  We plan on checking out some place new which the article mentions as having an extensive whiskey selection.

October 21, 2009 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

Tea, tea, tea – the third time’s the (extra) charm?

Tea has long been a matter connoisseurs have concerned themselves with, but in recent times the level of attention it gets as a connoisuers’s product in the general public has been growing significantly.  It is getting increased marketing as a specialty item, something to be picky about, and thus the number of people who consider themselves tea connoisseurs is on the rise.  You still get people who stick a bag of what-ever into their tea cup, don’t care about the temperature of their water, and call it tea (and in truth, this is still likely the majority), but, more and more, tea has become a place where those of us who love detail and subtle distinction have a lot of choice readily available on the market.

The Oregonian had an article in the Food section today about Steven Smith (who was one of the founders of Stash Tea Company, as well as one of the originators of Tazo Tea).  He has been living abroad for a year and has returned to Portland to continue his passion for tea.

If Tazo is perceived as step up from Stash, then Steven Smith’s new venture, Steven Smith Teamaker, is a leap into an even more upscale market.  His new company is set to make very small batch, hand picked and blended teas, done up in silken bags or sold loose leaf.  At first blush, it looks like he is taking a page from a number of different successful ventures (not to mention his own previous success stories).  His tea appears to be offered in a few ways – in loose leaf form, in pyramidal tea bags offered in a bag, and in individually wrapped bags (of more traditional shape) offered in two varieties of box.  I haven’t seen the tea bags myself yet, but from the pictures they look similar to those used by Mighty Leaf Tea, another tea manufacturer who makes use of different bag material and boasts of whole leaves.  The pyramidal bags look to be inspired by the bag shape introduced by PG Tips (now in use in slight variation by many companies) to increase water access to the tea during steeping.  I have to admit I am rather pleased by the string closure box, which has an elegant hand packaged feel.  Quality certainly matters more than packaging in my product choice, but I do enjoy a nice presentation.

Their description of the tasting room is brief in the article, but I am intrigued by the descriptions of the teas on the Smith Tea website.  I hope that I can make my way over to taste some time soon.  I am already a fan of Tea Zone and Tao of Tea, two of Portland’s well known tea houses, and am excited by the prospect of a new selection of teas to pick from for filling my tea cabinet.

October 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment

Impatience and Limoncello

Il Limoncello d'Amalfi

Il Limoncello d'Amalfi

When putting together something like a website or a business card design, I get involved in all the details.  I want to know designs, layouts, fonts, numbers.  I want to have the perfect layout all together, and then I will plunk down and write a first post or get things printed.  I want it to all come together before I set off on my journey.

This doesn’t always go so well.  It causes long delays.  And sometimes, one just gets impatient.  I begin to worry that if I don’t get started, I may forever be delayed in the realm of design, ideas, and planning, in limbo, never to actually escape.

Oddly enough, I seem to contend with this issue less while cooking.  Perhaps because I often cook without measuring, tossing things in according to taste and smell, or only loosely following recipes.

Today’s spur into action is limoncello.  Il Limoncello d’Amalfi to be exact.  I refuse to wait until things are pristine to write something about limoncello.

My coworker just returned from Italy, land of many amazing things, to which I heartily hope to travel at some point in the future.  He teasingly sent us a few pictures last week, making us all very jealous that we weren’t there with him in the sun and picturesque towns.

Apparently he spent some time on the Coast of Amalfi, which is world renowned for its lemons, most notably the Sfusato Amalfitan.  He brought each of us back a small bottle of limoncello, which I am very excited to try.  I didn’t know anything about the Sfusato Amalfitan lemon, but had to go look it up after receiving my gift.  Apparently they are quite large and much sweeter than the usual lemons that you will find in the store, with an especially strong fragrance.  They are also hard to find any where outside of Italy, though I may do a bit of searching to see if I can turn a few up.

I keep eyeing my tiny bottle.  I am torn between wanting to rush home this evening to pop it in the fridge to chill and drink tonight, and the desire to save it for a time when I can take some real time to savor it.  It is a tiny little bottle – do I guard it jealously, or try to share a sip or two with someone who will appreciate it?

October 8, 2009 at 11:02 pm 1 comment