Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oceania Cruise Party at The Travel Group

Last night at The Travel Group we had a wine and cheese tasting to represent the ports of call on an Oceania Cruise with Jacques Pepin.

We had cheeses from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Morocco prepared by Allison from Les amis du Fromage and matched with BC wines in the European style chosen by Leah from Kensington Square Wines.

We started with Spain and a sparkling wine; the gold winning See Ya Later Ranch Brut. It really worked with my personal favourite, salty potato chips and more to the point a Manchego with cherry compote and Spanish almonds.

Since the cruise spends 2 nights in Bordeaux, France we had a Cedar Creek 2006 Meritage that paired perfectly with a Pierre Robert triple cream and French fig preserve. Based on the number of empties I'd say it was a hit.

Portugal was a whole new experience for us. We tried a Quail's Gate Fortified Vintage Foch with a semi soft sheep milk cheese called Queijos Casa Matias and a cow cheese - Dom Villas. The Quince paste was delightful, especially with the Queijos. The Fortified wine is like a Port. I don't have an appreciation for Port. YET! Sometimes scares me how these things come about and I don't need another wine to love.

Italy was represented by a Sandhill 2007 Small Lots Sangiovese and a Gray Monk 2009 Pinot Gris. For cheese we had a Gorgonzola and Piave Vecchio,a beautiful cheese that I hadn't tried before it was firm and fruity. This one will move onto a regular rotation at TTG's Friday wine down. The sangiovese is a personal favourite.

Finally we had a Fromage frais with honeycomb and pomegranate seeds served with mint tea to represent Morocco. What a combination! It was excellent! I can't wait to try it again. There are leftovers. Always a good thing.

Many thanks to everyone who came, ate, drank on such a dark and dreary night.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wine and cheese tasting today at The Travel Group

What does Merlot do to Cabernet? Cage match – Sumac Ridge Private Reserve 2007 Merlot vs. Cedar Creek 2007 Cabernet Merlot. Same vintage, both well under $20.

I’ve heard that Syrah is the “fix it” grape for Cabernet that has a hard time ripening in the Okanagan, let’s see what Merlot does.

We have 3 cheeses; a 12 month Manchego, a triple cream brie from Chateau de Bourgogne and from Italy a Crotonese Calabrese, sheep with red pepper, we’ve never tried this one before so I’m looking forward to the taste and the response

Schokolade Cafe, Vancouver

I visited Schokolade for some Christmas shopping today. This is my third visit and each time I like it more. These people are serious about chocolate and pastry and I'm thankful.

Couverture chocolate encases each beautiful piece. Fillings are fresh and local where possible. The big box packaging is beautiful, my favourite extravagant hostess gift. Bring it back for a refill and you get 2 extra chocolates free. They have one client that returns every month for a refill. It’s that kind of chocolate and packaging.

I’ve tried a couple of pastries and they are also good. Today they had a Swiss croissant, stuffed with hazelnuts, a traditional Swiss breakfast food. I brought a half dozen back to the office and they were a BIG hit. If you have lots of Aeroplan points you can cash in 5,000 for a chocolate making class held once a month for Aeroplan members.

Schokolade Café, 2263 East Hastings Street, Vancouver

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Breakfast at Corner Suite Bistro

Louis XIII chairs dipped in turquoise rubber and a hand crafted Venus Century espresso machine set the tone for this sophisticated room. I tried the oatmeal brulee, fresh squeezed OJ, a croissant and an Americano. The oatmeal with stewed fruit was excellent, the OJ was generous and chilled and the coffee good enough for a second. The croissant is baked fresh in house but if you are used to Patisserie LeBeau, Thomas Hass or La Baguette you won’t be impressed. I can’t wait to go back and try lunch or dinner. With 30 to 40 cheeses on hand at any time as well as a thoughtful wine list and a beautiful bar this could be my new favourite place.