Posts Tagged ‘wine’
Posted Thursday 09 August 2012on:
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Starbucks. This is not a sponsored post.
The first coffee I drank was from Starbucks. It was early morning and I was bleary eyed when I entered a Starbucks in Sydney and ordered an iced mocha. Espresso. Chocolate. Milk. Ice. Its cold sweetness was jolting, the caffeine sharpened my senses. Thus I welcomed coffee into my life, a daily embrace with a chocolaty, milky beverage that focuses my mind.
A proud Seattle company, Starbucks pilots new concepts such as Starbucks Evenings here. Stores such as Olive Way and Terry and Republican have pioneered an after 4pm menu of wine, beer and small plates. ‘Drop in after work, with friends, after yoga, by yourself, after a long day or after a great day’ for an apéritif or digestif from your friendly barista!
Located in the Amazon hub at South Lake Union, Terry and Republican is a lively Starbucks. About half a dozen tables are in the sunken courtyard.
A sign advertised Starbucks Evenings with a sketch of a wedge of cheese, a wine glass and a beer bottle.
A radiant sun: coffee, tea, pastries and sandwiches. A crescent moon: red wine, white wine, small plates and desserts.
The interior is spacious and modern with exposed ducts, cement pillars, wood panelling and industrial lights. Floor-to-ceiling windows brightened the muted tones. The Starbucks logo is spray-painted on a wall made from salvaged bicycle tires.
As you wait for your coffee you’re reminded of Starbucks Evenings with more chalkboard art.
We were seated behind the counter and we peeked through the open shelves to the nimble baristas and crowd of patrons.
We perched on stools and were greeted with Starbucks designed Riedel glassware, a glass of ‘refreshing’ Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC Treviso Il Fresco from Italy topped with a petite bowl for spiced pepitas.
Each glass is etched with a whimsical saying such as ‘take a moment or three’ and ‘permission to relax’. We also sampled a ‘crisp’ Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon, ‘fruity’ Rosa Regale Brachetto from Italy and a ‘full-bodied’ Bergevin Lane Syrah She-Devil from Columbia Valley.
A bowl of rosemary and brown sugar cashews were warm and crunchy.
A wedge of triple cream blue brie was paired with walnut cranberry bread and fig preserves.
Deglet Noor dates were stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon. A drizzle of piquant balsamic glaze tempered the decadent morsels.
An oval flatbread of marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, dry Jack and goat cheese was appetisingly spicy.
A bouquet of vegetable spears was served with a pot of smoky chipotle hummus. I munched on the plain crudités as a palate cleanser between the small plates.
Two tender skewers of panko and Parmesan crusted chicken were dipped in a tangy honey Dijon sauce.
Truffle macaroni and cheese was in a shallow dish to maximise the surface area of the golden herbed Parmesan breadcrumbs.
The pièce de résistance was the chocolate fondue. A cookie tray was filled with luscious dark chocolate. Threesomes of madeleines, marshmallows and strawberries were the perfect shapes for plunging into the viscous pool with our fingers.
Ms D-R and I lingered for a while afterwards, enjoying the ambience and discussing gathering friends for Starbucks Evenings.
Seattle was blessed with consecutive weekends of glorious weather. The feeling of sunshine on bare skin is so restorative and we had a serene afternoon at the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden, strolling and gazing at the blooming trees.
We leisurely looped the arboretum and garden, and had afternoon tea at Belle Epicurean.
Located at the Madison Park end of the botanic gardens, the second café by Carolyn Ferguson is in a spacious slate building.
A marble counter and glass cabinet displayed sweet treats.
The décor is Parisian chic with panes of vintage mirrors, framed black and white prints, and replica Thonet chairs and stools.
A gleaming espresso machine dispensed Caffé Vita coffee and there was a wine menu by the glass.
There were cake balls wrapped in mint and fuchsia foil, Rolo tart, and slices of raspberry mousse cake, Alhambra cake, red velvet crunch cake, opéra cake and coconut crème cake.
In the perpendicular cabinet were flat discs of pastel macarons and jars of pistachio, vanilla, rose water and orange buttercream.
Pastries included pain au chocolat, orange scented brioche and croissants.
There were also lemon brioche buns with citrus confit and spiced almond brioche bostocks.
Mr S ordered le feuillette, a savoury tart. Black Forest ham, Gruyère and Mornay sauce were encased in a flaky brioche crust. The golden, molten mass was buttery and cheesy.
My coconut crème cake was baked with coconut milk, pineapple juice and rum. The layers of sponge and coconut cream cheese frosting were decadent and textured with shredded coconut. The tang of pineapple and the residual alcohol of the rum tempered the sweetness, it was an adult dessert!
Belle Epicurean Provisions was connected by a doorway.
A wall of square shelves cellared hundreds of bottles of wines.
Opposite was Belle Epicurean branded dessert sauces, and cake and frosting mixes, Riedel glassware and cookbooks.
Bars of Michel Cluizel chocolates of various cacao percentages tempted us.
The fridge at the back was a trove of gourmet and artisan aioli, butter, chutney, compote, soup base, tapenade, vinaigrette, and ‘take and bake’ croissant, brioche, puff pastry and tart.
Belle Epicurean is a French trio of café, pantry and wine store!
My previous attempts to visit The Meadow in Portland and New York were cancelled by illness and foiled by Hurricane Irene. I was enchanted by the charismatic Mark Bitterman at a potluck last year and had imagined The Meadow as a quaint boutique. Located on the hip Mississippi Avenue in Portland, The Meadow is a purveyor of salts, chocolates, wines, bitters and flowers.
A chalkboard, pails of flowers and stacks of Himalayan salt blocks framed the mint window sill.
The view of The Meadow through the doorway.
A rustic wooden table was laden with mixed vases of vibrant flowers. Their floral fragrances scented the whole room.
A printed missive stated ‘throw away your table salt’. Mark is an advocate for artisan salts.
A wall of shelves was full of glass jars with azure labels. There were sections of curing salts, flake salts, fleur de sel, Hawaiian salts, Italian salts, Japanese salts, Korean salts, rock salts and sel gris.
The salt starter set, left to right: fleur de sel, sel gris Noirmoutier, Maldon, black diamond, Molokai red and Kauai guava smoked.
The Meadow salt set, left to right: Pangasinan star, sel gris, Marlborough flaky, amabito no moshio, haleakala ruby and Halen Môn gold.
Peppers, infused salts, smoked salts, and salt and pepper mills.
Salt accoutrements displayed on Himalayan salt blocks.
Neat rows of wine were at the back of the store.
Colourful bottles of bitters were behind the counter.
A curated collection of chocolates.
The Meadow stocked a variety of local and international chocolates and caramels.
I spotted this cute tin of sardine shaped chocolates.
Individual chocolate bars and salted caramels tempted patrons at the register.
My purchases, clockwise from top right: François Pralus Mini Tropical Pyramid, ceramic bowl and pewter spoon, Paris Caramels with Charentes-Poitou butter, Pineau des Charentes and fleur de sel, Sahagún Almond Bergamot, and Santander semi dark chocolate bar 53% cacao.
I only have six French salted caramels left!
We have been foiled in several attempts to dine at Sitka & Spruce in the past year. The first was a walk-in rejection with nearly an hour wait. The second was an abruptly terminated phone call when I requested a table for eight during the festive season. The third was a hasty retreat due to a forgotten AmazonFresh scheduled delivery. Determined to have a meal at Sitka and Spruce I suggested dinner there after the Cheese 101 at The Calf & Kid but alas, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
I adore Melrose Market and every neighbourhood should have one! The Calf & Kid is an artisan cheese purveyor with personalised service and a genuine passion for quality cheeses.
The cheese counter at The Calf & Kid. A handwritten sign is spiked into each cheese with unique descriptions and flavour profiles.
Dry-aged beef at Rain Shadow Meats.
Cooking wood piled outside Sitka & Spruce.
Jars of herbs and spices at the Sitka & Spruce Pantry.
We peeked through the window panes into the Sitka & Spruce kitchen where cheeses were plated.
Bar Ferd’nand recommended Spätburgunder, a German Pinot Noir. A fruity bouquet, it was a light wine pairing for the cheeses.
Cheese 101 is an introduction to cheese with the founder and owner of The Calf & Kid, Sheri LaVigne.
We chose a table in the corner. Wine glasses were promptly dispensed. We sipped the red and flipped through the booklet on cheese vocabulary and types of cheese as we waited for others. An earthenware bowl of crackers and seeded bread were plenty for the cheeses.
A generous dollop of fig jam.
Sheri briefed us on the history of cheese, her background and why she opened The Calf & Kid. Her love for cheese originated from living in New York where cheese was an ‘affordable luxury’. In 2001 there were four cheesemakers in the Pacific Northwest, today there are more than seventy. The samples selected were European and local for comparison.
Like wine, cheese has terroirs. The characteristics of a cheese are impacted by the environment, the animal’s diet, the cheesemaker’s recipe and method, and the seasons. Every batch of cheese will taste different.
Sheri mentioned that the strength of the cheese has to match the beverage. She likes pairing cheese with beer. Bourbon and whisky add another dimension of flavour. Sheri recalled that goat cheese and coffee are the ‘worst combination ever’!
Sheri commented that drinking raw milk is ‘more dangerous’ than eating raw milk cheese. ‘The concern is listeria which is harmful to the immuno-compromised and can be fatal.’
Clockwise from top:
* Leonora – various producers, Spain, pasteurised goat milk
* Humboldt Fog – Cypress Grove Chèvre, California, pasteurised goat milk
* Fougerus – Robert Rouzaire, France, pasteurised cow milk
* Moses Sleeper – Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont, pasteurised cow milk
* Manchego – Pasamontes Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Spain, raw sheep milk, aged one year
* Tin Willow Tomme – Black Sheep Creamery, Washington State, raw sheep milk, aged five plus months
* Gruyère de Savoie – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, France, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Snow Canyon Edam – Rockhill Creamery, Utah, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Tallegio – Guffanti Brothers Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Italy, pasteurised cow milk
* Red Hawk – Cowgirl Creamery, California, pasteurised cow milk
* Colston Bassett Stilton – Neal’s Yard Dairy, England, pasteurised cow milk
* Oregonzola – Rogue Creamery, Oregon, raw cow milk
Sheri explained each cheese in detail as we nibbled and I took copious notes. Earthy, buttery, nutty, caramel, mushroom, funky and grassy were all words scribbled on the page!
I was enamoured by these pastel tassels accented by gold and silver tones.
Wine and cheese are joie de vivre!
Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Allan Aquila. This is not a sponsored post.
sozo (so·zo) – noun
To save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction. To save a suffering one from perishing, to make well, heal, restore to health.
Sozo is an artisan winemaker that selects quality grapes from vineyards to craft their own blends. The company partners with not-for-profit organisations to distribute a portion of sales to assist those in need. Each bottle of wine has a medallion affixed to its label to indicate its contribution to Sozo’s commitment to the community. For example, ’5 lives’ is equal to five meals supplied by local food banks.
Winemaker Cheryl Barber-Jones collaborated with Chef Peter Jahnke on the wine pairings for the five course tasting menu.
The first course was pear, caramelised onion and St André tart, and Sozo Humanity Riesling. Amber and flaky, the tart had a delicate sweetness that was accentuated by the mellow Riesling.
A generous fillet of salmon perched on a mound of mushroom risotto, and Sozo Potential Pinot Noir. Averse to fish skin, I gently peeled it from the perfectly cooked flesh. Both the salmon and creamy rice was well seasoned.
The third course was duck confit with lentils, and Sozo Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend. I love duck but unfortunately this was a little dry and lacked the sumptuous texture of confit meat. Traditionally coupled with Pinot Noir, the Mourvèdre Syrah was a delightful match with the game.
Abundant Mourvèdre Syrah Blend, one of four Sozo wines sampled.
The penultimate dish of braised beef with blueberry barbecue glaze, polenta and kale, and Sozo Generosity Syrah Tempranillo Blend was my favourite of the evening. Tender chunks of slow cooked beef were atop luscious polenta and wilted kale.
We concluded with an affogato. A single shot espresso and a scoop of espresso gelato was presented in a coffee cup. The espresso and vanilla ice cream are served separately in a classic affogato. The caffeine and sugar were appreciated after four diverse savoury courses that highlighted the Sozo wines.
Charmed by the smooth Riesling, Mrs W and I both purchased a bottle.
We were gifted a bag of Yemen Mocca Sanani as we exited into the crisp night.
Sozo is on the wine list of more than seventy restaurants in Seattle. Next time you dine out, consider this socially responsible winemaker!
It snowed in Whistler on Christmas Day and I loved it. Snowflakes zigzagged gently from the sky and dusted every surface. I was delighted with my first white Christmas. The powdered slopes were serene and the magic carpet was quiet. We skied in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon.
Survivor like torches guarded the entrance of the restaurant.
A cascade of glass globes were strung together as a sparkling chandelier.
The interior was warm and welcoming. On the far left was a champagne bar and Belvedere Ice Room. The main dining room was buzzing with families and friends celebrating Christmas. We were seated at a table with a view of the busy kitchen. Service was traditional fine dining style with a cocktail cart, sommelier and a plethora of staff.
Enticed by the cocktail cart, we ordered apéritifs as we composed our three courses. The bartender was a little absent minded. Ms S asked for recommendations for a refreshing cocktail and he referred her to the menu. Intrigued by dehydrated beer as an ingredient, Mr L ordered a Caesar. Unbeknown to our group of Australians, Caesar is a Canadian cocktail with Clamato juice which was not listed. We had the same expression after one sip each and it was abandoned.
An amuse bouche of salmon tartare whetted our appetite.
My first course was arctic char. From left to right: gravlax and celeriac, tartare and blini, and smoked and sorrel. Similar texture and milder flavour to salmon and trout, the morsels were perfectly paired.
Photographing was a challenge in the dim lighting! Ms S selected the Pemberton beets and carrots with shaved ricotta salata, spicy greens and white balsamic. It was artistically presented and I sampled a lump of white beet which was sugary.
The gentlemen had the wild mushroom soup with truffles. Poured at the table, the soup was a thick liquid with an earthy aroma.
A tangy citrus granita was the palate cleanser between courses.
The sommelier recommended a local wine, Foxtrot 2008 Pinot Noir. It was a classic match for our game main courses.
Three rare slices of Yarrow Meadows duck breast rested on a plump duck confit ravioli, squash purée, cauliflower florets, beets and pumpkin seeds. The dish was well seasoned and the meat tender, and the components were a delectable combination.
Mr S chose the wild game tasting plate of wild boar wrapped in venison and braised bison short rib with wild mushroom and heirloom bean ragoût. The other couple picked the chef’s Christmas special of goose.
We spotted a cheese cart and the fromage expert was friendly and helpful. We shared a bleu, a local cheddar and a semi soft, with raisins, candied walnuts, fig jam and crisp fruit bread.
I was determined to photograph dessert and I persisted with the single flickering candle as my light source. Served on a slate plate, the geometrical coconut and pineapple had frozen coconut mousse, Meyer lemon and kafir lime sorbet, pineapple and espelette jelly, rum caramel macadamia and cilantro. It tasted like a sophisticated piña colada!
A deconstructed St Honoré was a log of vanilla crème chiboust, coffee Chantilly, crispy malt Irish cream and brown butter milk jam.
On a rectangle of bourbon cake, the apple and caramel had a wheel of salted caramel maple parfait, apple pavé sour cream ice cream and crumbled bacon.
Petit fours concluded our Christmas dinner. From left to right: nougat, peppermint bark, ginger snap and hazelnut ganache.
It was a fun festive season in Whistler!
A group of friends gathered at 106 Pine for mid week wine and cheese. Next to Chocolate Box, both are boutiques specialising in Northwest goods. With adjacent entrances and a common wall with two gaps, the joie de vivre of chocolate, wine and cheese are intertwined.
A wooden table in the bay window was laden with Christmas themed gifts and wine paraphernalia. Recycled wine bottles are converted into bright lights.
I sampled the Chocolate Shop wine at Seattleite and Gilt City Seattle’s Fall Comforts Taste the Season at Wing Luke Museum a couple of months ago. It was a favourite of Naomi‘s, an infused red wine with an intense chocolate aroma.
A view into Chocolate Box and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.
A map of Washington State‘s American viticultural areas.
Bottles of wine lined neatly against the wall.
A long communal table is at the centre of the room. The bar separates a handful of cosy tables at the back.
It was a busy evening but service was efficient. The menu recommended wine flights, and wines are priced by full glass and tasting size. Flights of red wine were customised, and charcuterie and cheese platters were ordered to share.
From top to bottom: Mt Townsend Cirrus camembert, Beecher’s market herb curds, Rogue Creamery blue, Rollingstone Chèvre and Boat Street Pickles pickled raisins. Presented on a plank covered by parchment, the camembert was delightfully creamy, the curds squeaky, the blue mild, and the goat cheese delicate. I was the only one who nibbled on the mini bowl of pickled raisins which were appetisingly acidic.
A smiling Ms S said ‘wine and cheese, just like in France … I’m happy’!