Wednesday, October 14, 2015

To the Islands!

Key West Cocktail
The days are getting shorter and cooler here, but that means less clouds and more sunshine.  I'm much in favor of that.  In two months this picture will bring back good memories of warmer weather.

Proportions are 60 ml of white rum, 30 ml of freshly squeezed juice from key limes, 10 ml of simple syrup, 5 ml of grenadine, 5 ml of Maraschino and a dash of orange bitters.  Everything goes into a shaker with ice.  Shaky shaky shaky until very cold.  Fill a glass half full of shaved ice (in this case a stemless champagne flute) and strain the content of the shaker into it.  Drink two and you can feel the island breezes.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thai Food and Riesling

Thai Curry with Shrimp

Another beautiful evening last night and dinner was the highlight. It was visually appealing as well as layered with flavor. It was time consuming in that all the spices were toasted and ground and the myriad ingredients were hand chopped. The broth is full of coriander, allspice, fennel, turmeric, bay leaves, cayenne, onions, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut milk and a few other things. It was finished with prawns and halved cherry tomatoes cooked in the completed broth.  It was ladled over rice noodles and topped with scallions and basil.

The wine was a 2010 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese.  The wine smelled like a perfect mix of spring flowers and fall tree fruit.  The acid was tremendous in this wine but balanced by the natural, residual sweetness.  It was tart enough to cut through the richness of the coconut milk and fruity enough to never be austere in any way.   Delicious combination.

2010 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese.  8% alcohol and $21.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Just Ducky

Bottoms Up!

It was a beautiful fall day yesterday and the canine and I had an eight mile walk along the river and through the woods.  Among the birds encountered was this hungry group of Mallards feasting on bottom muck in a shallow pond.  They were unconcerned about anything but eating.

I felt the same way later in the day with about 2006 Sempre Vive Old Vine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that accompanied a strip steak for dinner.  The steak was delicious, but the wine was tremendous.  This was Napa at its old style finest, full flavored without being over the top and high in alcohol.  There was tremendous balance between cherry and plum fruit, tannin, acid and oak.  There is a large glass left for today, and there is one more in the cellar.  Wonderful wine.

2006 Sempre Vive Old Vine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  13.7% alcohol and $45. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October Sky

Oct 8, 7:30 AM

The heavenly blue of fresh new days
Oh, friend, you must employ them
Before they pass away. Be brave!
Enjoy them; oh, enjoy them!"
Theodor Storm
A beautiful walk this morning along the banks of the Great Miami River.  Squirrels and gophers were kept at bay by the resident canine.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Water of Life, Scotland Version

It was a good evening last Friday as a group of friends got together to polish off the remains of a number of bottles of Scottish Whisky.  All but one had less than eight ounces left in them so the collection proved to be an interesting evening.  Pictured above are a bottle of Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition, a Highland whisky from what I understand is the distillery with the highest elevation in Scotland, and a bottle of Kilchoman, a somewhat new, craft distillery from Islay.  The Dalwhinnie was elegant and refined and the Kilchoman was was raw and wild.  I was not in an elegant mood and I preferred the Kilchoman.

Next up was a Glenmorangie finished in a Sauterne cask and an Oban Distillers Edition with a 1995 distilling date.  Both of these were quite elegant and tasty and much more refined than the previous two.  The Glenmorangie is another Highland malt and had a bit of smoke and a bit of earth to it.  The Oban is a coastal malt and had a secondary maturation in a sherry cask.  It had seaweed notes and a distinctly orange flavor, rather like a glass of Drambuie without the sweetness.  The Oban was my contribution to the evening.  You will notice the bottle is empty.

The one exception to the small content of the bottles was the Laphroaig QA cask, a double matured Islay available only at duty free shops.  We drank the first sips from this bottle.  Smoke and peat and iodine were everywhere, but they were in such good balance that this whisky had a touch of elegance to it.  Not for the faint of heart - but definitely for me.

And that brings us to another product from Islay, Lagavulin, a very near neighbor to Lagavulin.  This was the regular 16 year old bottling.  There is elegance here to go along with incredible smokiness.  Full flavored and rich and hearty.  If the gods told me that I could only have one whisky from anywhere this would be the one.  Not surprising that my late Gordon Setter was formally named Dunbar's Lagavulin.   Indeed this is the water of life.  A great evening.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


A few brief notes on the pig roast:

While the 2005 Vieux Telegraph Chateauneuf du Pape discussed a couple of posts below was a very good wine it was a little overpowering for the roast pig.  The crowd favorite turned out to be a 2010 Fontodi Chianti Classico, at least from how quickly the bottle was drained.  And while there was barbecue sauce and other accompaniments for the pig that called for beer, the Chianti was near perfect with the pig dressed simply with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.

It was such a typical Chianti.  There were earthy aromas mixed in with fresh fruit.  The wine was full of soft tannin and dry, red cherry flavors.  It was tart with acid and and finished with a great length bringing to mind thoughts of early autumn.  A beautiful combination.

2010 Fontodi Chianti Classico.  14% alcohol and $30.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cocktail Hour

A rye Manhattan with orange bitters

“Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink.” Haruki Murukami