Mediterranean cuisine

April 30, 2011

Skewers of lamb on the “home” grill

Lamb is not necessarily everybody’s favourite. In my native Germany the consumption of lamb is about less than one kilogram per capita. Only in the 18th century lamb and mutton was the main meat consumed in German lands. Sheep meat has a bad reputation because most people do not know how to properly prepare it. That;s at least my understanding of the matter.

Since I marries Margit I have learned my lesson about lamb. It can be a wonderful dish, you just have to cook it in the right way and, I might add, with the right spices.

The finished lamb skewers

A nice salad with onions and some chilies

Also some rice

The coriander and the other “Southern” spices as well as the lamb itself call for a Mediterranean wine. So why not a Nero d’Avola from Sicily?

This red grape variety is the most important one of the island. The grape is used in blends and for the production of fortified wines. The ‘2009 MandraRossa Nero d’ Avola, IGT’ was just the right wine for that meal.

A beautiful colour of the Nero d’Avola

Wines made from the indigenous Nero d’Avola grape is sometimes referred to as the ‘godfather’ of Sicilian wine. The MandraRossa Estate is located near Menfi in the southwest of the Island. When I visited Sicily in 1988 (oh god that’s so long ago), my first and last visit of this splendid place, we did not go that far West.

The front label

The wine shows beautiful flavours of plum, is spicy and richly textured. The MandraRossa is not a blend but a single variety wine. In my view this is a wine for every day consumption. In the “Timo Mayer classification”, it would qualify as an “umpf” wine: a wine with guts. My verdict: get a bottle and enjoy.

The back label


Easter Sunday: Lunch at Bacco, Bangkok

April 26, 2011

No better place to go for a Sunday Easter family lunch than Ristorante Bacco, our favourite Italian restaurant in Thonglor, our old neighbourhood. We like real food with rustic charm and not the designer stuff, small bits of food looking like works of art on big plates.

Below you can see what we ate. First are the three antipasti we selected. Delicious.

Melanzane alla parmigiana

Carpaccio

Insalata caprese

All three antipasti on my plate

Our family consists of “traditionalists”. Three of us ordered gnocchi, the other main dish was tagliatelle with mushrooms in a creamy sauce.

Gnocchi

Tagliatelli delicata

How about the wine, you might ask. I love to order a simple ‘Primitivo’ (called “Zinfandel” in the USA) from Apulia. This time I selected a pricier wine than normal, a Primitivo made from 60 year old vines.

It turned out to be an excellent choice. The ‘2007 Primitivo di Manduria DOC’ by Feudi di San Marzano is a big wine (with 14.5% alcohol). The intense fruit aromas, plums mainly but also with earthy and spicy notes, had me forget that I was in the tropics.

Manduria is a town of about 30,000 inhabitant, about 30 km east of Taranto and about 14 km north from the Apulian coast. The place has a very warm climate.

The wine is made from 100% Primitivo grapes. One can sense that the vines are old, very old (sixty years, is what the label says). The bottles are also very heavy and old fashioned. I liked it, not wasting any thought about the carbon footprint.

2007 Primitivo di Manduria DOC

The back label of the Primitivo by Feudi di San Marzano

And after all this delicious food came the sweets or dolce as they are called in Italian.

Strawberries and cream

Pistaccio ice cream

Tirramisu

This was a very memorable Easter Sunday lunch. We had a great time with yummy food and delicious wine at Bacco. I will remember the wine and order it again.

If you need something special, and you do not want any more Thai food, have a break and eat Italian at Bacco. You will not regret it.

Address:
Bacco Osteria da Sergio
Sukhumvit Soi 53, Bangkok,
Thailand
Tel.: +66-2-662-4538
http://bacco-bkk.com


How about some bubbly?

April 25, 2011

Easter, as any Christian holiday, lends itself for a treat and why not celebrate with some “bubbly” as we say in Australia. I had just the right stuff in my wine fridge, a bottle of ‘Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut Cuvée Réservée’ by Florens-Louis Heidsieck from Reims, France.

Florens-Louis Heidsieck was the founder of the champagne house Heidsieck (in 1785). He was the son of a Lutheran minister who had migrated from Westphalia to France. In October 1839 the name of Piper, another descendent of Florens-Louis, was added to the band name.

Great fizz from the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut Cuvée Réservée

The bottle was a present from our friends Emmie and Rob. We had kept it for for some time, for a special occasion of course. This had just arrived, I guess.

The champagne is a non-vintage but very classy sparkling wine with 12% alcohol. It is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Meunier. The nose shows some citrus notes. The acids are finely balanced. I just loved the fact that the bubbles were “big,round and slow”.

This is a highly recommendable drop. Great stuff this Piper-Heidsieck.

The front label of the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut Cuvée Réservée


Trier a love story: come on a walk with me

April 24, 2011

Let me take you on a walk through my home-town Trier today.

I am sure that if you follow this route on Easter Sunday or Monday it will be even lovelier since nature will be greener and the sun will shine on you.

Let us start with what I call the “public” city.

The public city

The “Porta Nigra”, English the Black Gate, is the landmark of Trier.

“Dreikoenigshaus”, please notice the door on the first floor

The “Steipe” and the red House, where the guilds used to congregate

The fountain of St Peter, the city patron

The market cross

The main market square

The cathedral or “Dom”

The “Domstein”, a column with a folk story attached to it

The Roman basilica of Emperor Constantine

Here I will end the public walk through the city and take you to some more “private” places, places I am attached to.

My private Trier

The “Maerklin-shop-Theisen” in Metzelstrasse, where we spent zillions of hours looking at the various miniature toys

Chinese restaurant, one of many catering to the needs of the more than 30,000 tourists from China visiting the birthplace of Karl Marx

Renovated patrician house in Nagelstrasse, formerly owned by friends of ours, the Fey family, where we spent many hours as little kids

My old watering whole: “Die Glocke”, a rather traditional tavern which attracted the young when I was young

Of course there is much more to see than that above. I could have uploaded many more pictures of my beautiful home town. Why don’t you come and visit?

This is actually a must-do for any Riesling lover. There are so many wine bars, and cellar doors to explore in Trier that you might need some time.

In the meantime please explore the virtual map which I like quite a bit.


The “philosophers fish” with a St. Urbans-Hof Riesling

April 17, 2011

I love fish in all variations. “The Philosophers Kitchen”, a cookery book by Francine Segan offers great fish recipes. The red snapper in parchment recipe you can also find in my blog entry of 2007 titeled: A philosopher’s lunch.

Fish with olive and capers

Potato wedges

I had brought from Germany a great wine for exactly such an occasion, a ‘2009 Laurentiuslay GG Riesling’ by St. Urban’s Hof Estate in Leiwen, Mosel.

Refreshing 2009 Laurentiuslay GG Riesling

This grand cru Riesling is just wonderful. It not only scores high on Parker points but is a great example what top Riesling producers from the Mosel can do with this grape variety. The 2009 Laurentiuslay Riesling GG was one of the five best Riesling wines I tasted in 2010.

I can do only one more thing: suggest to you to get a bottle, soonest I would say.

The front label

The good news is that I have one more bottle in my fridge here in Bangkok, reserved for another special lunch with great food. Unfortunately, my fridge has no “magical properties”. I will have to bring more bottles from Germany via suitcase which is not very commodious.

Address:
St. Urbans-Hof Estate
Urbanusstraße 16
D-54340 Leiwen/Mosel
Germany

Tel.: +49 65 07 / 93 77-0
Fax: +49 65 07 / 93 77-30
www.urbans-hof.de

Winery’s opening hours:
Monday – friday: 9 am – 5 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 3 pm (on appointment)
Sundays and on holidays: closed


Old Man K and the Australian meat industry

April 15, 2011

A lone kangaroo on our dam

It is a very strange feeling when you realize that someone is watching you. You might have experienced this yourself. There is an urge to look up and there it is: someone is staring at you with an intensity which makes you feel the stares on your skin. If the other is a human being that’s one thing. But if this other is a kangaroo that’s quite a different story altogether.

It was the last day of our Christmas holidays and we were having a swim in our big dam. After the outside refreshment, we decided to have a kind of pick-nick under the lone tree next to the dam where we took refuge in the little shade the young tree could provide us with.

We chatted and had a relaxing time, suddenly we looked up and there it was: a big kangaroo stood on the bank of the dam watching us intensely.

The wind must have blown our way so that the kangaroo could not identify us. The ‘roo’ could also not see us, because we were sitting in the dark of the shade. It was very quiet and calmly went about its business. We were calm too, no words left our mouths, we just stared back, enchanted by the beauty of the bush.

It was a magic moment, Australian nature at its best, just the right encounter at a last day on the farm before returning to the bustling Asian city which we also call home.

It watched us for quite a while, then hopped along the dam, came down to the water, had a drink and disappeared into the bush and the little wood below the dam. We were enchanted. What a beautiful animal! What a wonderful moment!

Kangaroos are big “fellas”

Hopping along the bank of the dam

Have a drink in our dam

Time to move on

When I read in the International Herald Tribune an article on the prospects for the export of Australian kangaroo meat, I was reminded of the above encounter and its magic.

I am not a vegetarian nor someone who cannot live without a steak a day. The Kangaroo Meat Association of Australian, a lobbying group, hopes that global demand can be revived. After Russia banned the import of Australian kangaroo in 2009 the export of the marsupial’s meat had dropped significantly (from about 10,000 to 3,000 tonnes and from 36 to about 12 million A$).

Now there is some new hope that the Chinese, who eat everything with legs, except a chair and everything with wings except air planes, might develop a taste for the hopping marsupial. As always with the China market, export managers make up these wild calculations:

If every Chinese would eat xyz grams of kangaroo meat every, we could sell abc tonnes of additional meat. There are about 1.3 million Chinese consumers. And they hear in their inner ear the dollars chinking.

Last December a delegation from China visited Australia to look at kangaroo meat processing facilities. The industry is awaiting certification to be concluded in a couple of months so that the export of kangaroo to China can begin.

About 27 million kangaroos seem to roam Australian lands. The Australian Society for Kangaroos is not very happy with the prospects of increased exports of the marsupials’ meat. They see the meat unfit for human consumption and fear the extinction of the kangaroo in its natural habitat.

I had my first taste of kangaroo when I was a student at Bonn University. It was offered as a cheap meal in the student mensa. In the early 1990s, Michael, my brother-in-law, prepared a kangaroo steak for me on the ‘barbie’. I liked it and have had the occasional ‘roo’ here and there.

Actually, I find it a quite delicious meat and since I love other game, I love kangaroo too. That it should have a pungent flesh, I cannot confirm. It’s like other wildlife and since it is a herbivore, there is nothing wrong with the meat. My wife is still reluctant though. She vividly remembers her childhood when kangaroo meat was offered at the far end of the weekly food market in Adelaide as pet food only.

One ‘roo’ a year would suffice for our household, I think, if I could just shoot it on our farm from the existing stock. I hope the Chinese do not develop too much a taste for it, because domestic prices for the marsupial might go up. But whatever happens, happens.


Mother’s cooking: Venison with a Grans-Fassian Riesling, Leiwen, Mosel

April 13, 2011

I love nothing more than when my mother cooks venison or other game meat for me. She does not eat it herself because she does not like game meat at all. But my friend Heinz, a passionate hunter, and me, we just love it.

Mushrooms, Swabian “Spaezle” and venison from a ‘red deer’

In his freezer Heinz has stored all kinds of beautiful pieces of hare, roe deer, red deer, moufflon and wild boar from his hunting expeditions. And when I am home in Trier, we have a feast. This time they prepared a fillet from red deer for me.

And that’s the meal

No better wine with this al of game than a wine from the Saar river, I thought. Because the red deer was shot in Schoden, Saar where Heinz used to hunt. “Used to” because he lost his hunting territory. From the first of April other tenants has taken possession of it. The association of landowners, ‘Gehoeferschaft’ called in German, has decided to award the six year lease contract to another group of hunters.

But I had no wine from the Saar at hand. So what to drink with the delicious venison?

Well, there are plenty of good Riesling wines around. My choice then was a ‘2009 Laurentiuslay GG (grand cru) Riesling’ by Grans-Fassian a top Riesling producer from from Leiwen, Mosel.

Though I am not a “point drinker”, and this wine scores in the mid 90ies, is a ripper of a Riesling. As expected, it did not disappoint me. This is a “must buy” wine. I just love it. I even got a bottle here in my wine fridge in Bangkok.

So if you are traveling along the Mosel, visit Leiwen and buy a couple of cases from Grans-Fassian Estate. You will not regret it.

2009 Laurentiuslay Riesling GG by Grans-Fassian Estate

Address:
Weingut Grans-Fassian
Römerstraße 28
54340 Leiwen, Mosel

Tel.: +49- 6507 -3170
Fax: +49-6507 – 8167
E-Mail: weingut@grans-fassian.de

Monday-Friday
8.00-12.00 und 13.30-16.30 Uhr
or on prior appointment


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