Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beer and Cheese Basics Seminar at Les amis du Fromage

Last night we did another seminar at Les amis du Fromage;  Beer and Cheese Basics with Chester Carey and Allison Spurrell. We learned that beer is easier than wine to match with cheese and that smell is the first sense you engage when trying beer.
Chester is a Certified Cicerone, the beer equivalent of a Sommelier and he was very interesting.  Allison arranged 14 cheeses and a charcuterie plate to pair with 5 different beers and a control beer; from East Vanacouver, Parallel 49 Brewery's Old Boy, a Brown Ale that was meant to work with each food plate.

The Old Boy was a big hit with everyone at our table.  I nice balance of malt and hops with lovely caramel and chocolate flavours.  It really did work well with all cheese.  Not so well with the charcuterie, IMHO.

Our first cheese plate was soft cheeses and the clear winner was one of The Travel Group favourites, fresh Brillat Savarin from Burgundy, France.  It was my top match of the evening with Unibroue's Blanche de Chambly the first white ale brewed in Canada.  Check out this video to learn how to serve this champagne style beer.

Our 2nd plate was Washed Rind cheeses, not my favourite but I liked the Fleur d'Aunis from Brittany France.  Chester matched this plate with Ommegang's Hennepin, a Saison ale from Belgium.
 Plate 3 was charcuterie and Powell Street Craft Brewery's Dive Bomb, a porter from East Vancouver.
I don't eat meat regularly but I tasted the 2 salamis and a Serrano Jamon.  I liked the fennel salami but I'm not going to become a beer and porter person anytime soon.
Plate 4 was harder cheeses that are easier to pair with wine and were able to stand up to Surrey's Russell Brewing Co.'s Wee Angry Scotch Ale.  I'd probably drink it just to say the name but it had a long finish that was much too scotch like for this wine drinker.
The final plate was blue cheese with another Parellel 49 Brewery beer, the Lord of the Hops, an India Pale Ale.  It was one of our top picks and we loved the Cashel Blue Cheese from Ireland.  The names work well together too and they'll be part of The Travel Group's Friday St. Patrick's day celebration.  We've been inspired to change our weekly wine and cheese to a beer and cheese this week.  
Drop by.  We'd love to see you.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chardonnay Kitchen Party @VanWineFest

The Miele showroom was a perfect location for some local chefs to set up tasting stations to match the wines from 12 wineries from around the world. Extra Brut Rose from Las Perdices, Argentina and fresh shucked oysters started the mingler. Edible Canada, Lolita's, The Portly Chef and South China Seas Trading Company each prepared a small plate to pair with Chardonnay. Chardonnay is complicated wine and not my choice for sipping OR guzzling but I do love some of it, especially with food. We always start our parties we chips and sparkling wine, usually from Chardonnay and we love Chablis, France, the cradle of Chardonnay. I was lucky to taste BC's Sandhills Single Block Chardonnay poured from the hands of Howard Soon himself, a wine that could rival any in the room for quality and sheer deliciousness. Also loved Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Grand Cru Les Vaudevey '09, MacRostie Wildcat '11 and Edna Valley Vineyards Reserve '09. Good event and I love the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Tasting Room 2013 @VanWineFest

For the first time in many years we attended the Vancouver International Wine Festival.  We were invited  Thursday night to visit the tasting room and it was Great.   The crowd thinned out for the last couple of hours and it became easily accessible for tasting top picks  We studied the map before we went and along with some of the iconic wines available we chose many of the wine's represented by International Cellars Inc, trusting in their good taste to help guide us. We tasted over 35 wines from  11 countries.   This years regional theme was California and the global focus was Chardonnay.  Not my favourite wine although I like it in a white burgundy, more grape and little or no oak involved for me.
I'm really "into" Sauvignon Blanc and oysters lately, there's so much good stuff around to enjoy and I found a new favourite in Giesen Wines , from Marlborough New Zealand.  The August 1888 is 10% aged in oak and I love the roundness that brings to the sharp minerality. I was also grateful to taste their exceptional but unavailable Pinot noir.  

We're off to a Chardonnay Kitchen Party this afternoon at the Miele showroom.  I hope we don't come home with a new kitchen.

Cheers,  Cathy!