Friday, January 20, 2012

The Purple Café

Last night we ate at The Purple Café. We tried their Bellevue location last year and were looking forward to a “replay” at the downtown location. The dining room is large and open with a 2-story tower of wine as the central point. The wine list is set up by flights, glasses and bottles, and subdivided into reds, whites and origin. The flights are 2.5oz so you can try 4 wines in place of 1 large glass. Top of the flight menu was a flight called “Treat Yourself,” something I have no trouble with. It starts with Schramsberg’s Blanc de Blancs ’07 from California, everything I like in a bubble, not sweet, but bright and a real awakening for the taste buds. Then Pappas Wine Co Pinot Noir ’09 from Willamette Valley, Oregon: I was a goner from the first sniff. Lovely wine, note to self: “ I have to become more familiar with the Willamette Valley”. We then progress to the heavier reds, from Washington state, Waters Interlude ’09; and finally the famous Chateauneuf-du Pape, an ‘07 from Domaine Albin Jacumin . All good; but I couldn’t see past the Pinot Noir so we ordered a bottle.
The food menu at Purple Café is also delightful. They have an excellent selection of cheese plates that feature some of my favourite cheeses from all over the world; but we moved on to the $5 Tasting bar - a list of about 10 small plates excellent for sharing with the flights of wines. My absolute favourite was the Gorgonzola stuffed Dates. They make great salads and offer them in half and full sized. My favourite is the Purple Chopped with romaine, avocado, garbanzos, stilton, red peppers and balsamic vinaigrette. The kind of salad you crave. We also had the Lobster Mac and Cheese. It was too rich for me, but David ate every bite and claimed it a hit.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Winedown at TTG

January and everyone is trying to watch their waist so I thought I’d focus on goat cheese today since it’s generally a little lower in fat and calories.   

California’s Cypress Grove is justly famous for their goat cheese.  Humboldt Fog has been winning awards since 1998.  It features a ribbon of vegetable ash, is creamy and a little tangy.   We’ll try a Sauvignon Blanc with it.  The Truffle Tremor is for those who really like earthy flavours.  I’m going out on a limb and having a Cabernet Franc with it. 

And for those who can’t stand goat cheese we have a Spanish Manchego and from Quebec’s Fromagerie de L’Abbaye Saint-Benoit, the only Benedictine Abbey in North America making cheese, we are trying Frere Jacques, a firm cow cheese with a distinct hazelnut aroma and flavour. 

Happy Friday.

Friday, January 6, 2012

International Cellars kind of day at The Travel Group

The first Friday winedown of the year and we are tasting gifts of wine from International Cellars. I’m looking forward to tasting the Peter Lehmann Layers 2010 from Adelaide, Australia. A blend of Semillon, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay this is clearly a winemakers wine. I’ve never tasted that blend before, should be interesting. For a red we have a Spanish Tempranillo Valdepenas Anciano Gran Reserva 2003. Now that’s got to be good. 3pm here we come.

Three dead soldiers.  The Peter Lehmann Layers was a great hit and at $17.99 a great buy.  Complex flavours, lot's of stone fruit flavours.  I especially like the minerality.

The biggest hit though was the Tempranillo, very smooth and easy to drink.  A very good use of oak, not overpowering but well used to round out this sometimes too sharp varietal and at about $13.00 this is an incredible buy.

Finally I had a bottle of Meyers Family McLean Creek 2009 Pinot Noir that I was keen to open.  I was happy from the moment I pulled the cork and smelled that smoky leather smell.  I let the aromas work their magic for awhile and then tasted.  I could have finished the whole bottle myself but had to share.  Delicious.  Distinctive.  Lovely.  But boy at $40 it's a big price spread from the Tempranillo.  It's hard to stick to my "buy BC" rule.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fave Tastes 2011

I asked David today what his favourite restaurant was in 2011 and he set me to thinking about how difficult that was to define so we had to come up with some categories. 

Fave "Go To"- Miku on Hastings won this spot because it's the place craved most often.  This is the place we go when we've been working too late and need somewhere with healthy food that's fast and fantastic.  Salmon Oshi Sushi is a must.  We’ve ordered it for dessert.

Fave Plan Ahead - We love Les Faux Bourgeois but you have to plan so far ahead to get a reservation that we haven’t been able to eat there nearly often enough.  Great value and very good quality.  They make 2 onion soups, one of them is a vegetarian version made with beer.  Who could ask for anything more?

Fave New Restaurant - Tableau at the Loden Hotel - I walked out wondering how soon I could go back for the mushrooms on toast.  Second time, same thing.  Very French, very delicious.

Top Travel RestaurantLe Jardin Gourmand in Auxerre, France for the good artistry, the sophisticated modern service and the moveable feast: apperitif on the garden deck before moving into the dining room.  Would love to go back.