Black chicken

December 22, 2009

Black chicken

Have you ever eaten “black chicken”? During my recent visit to Taiwan I was invited by a professor from Taiwan Normal University to taste this Chinese delicacy. It takes a while to get used to the colour. However, the chicken meat and the soup it “swims” in are just awesome.

Try it next time when ordering Chinese food.

Nihonmura in Thonglor, Bangkok

December 20, 2009

That’s the corner of my street where I live in Bangkok. The sign on the sail of the boat reads: “Nihonmura” or in Chinese “Ri ben cun” (they are Chinese characters) which means Japanese village. According to a journalist friend of mine about 40,000 Japanese and Koreans are living my neighborhood Thonglor.

There are many Japanese and Korean restaurants here as well, which we have not started to explore as yet. But today we spend the time on our terrace with Italian food and Australian sparkling from Taltarni Vineyards with vineyards in the Pyrenees, and Heathcote, Victoria and in Tasmania.

My life as a “food and wine” blogger

December 19, 2009

When a couple of weeks ago I read on Wannabe Wino that she (Sonadora, but she does not provide her real name) had completed her third year as a blogger, I was reminded that my own three-year-anniversary was approaching fast (at the end of December).

Sonadora has completed her third anniversary with a record of 1076 posts in 1096 days, I thought how wonderful. But it made me also think about my own up-coming three year anniversary.

I then also counted. At that time I thought that even if I were very industrious for the rest of the month, I will not surpass 400 blog entries. Now I am only nine more entries to go. This (the 400 in 1096 days) makes an average of 2.6 days for one entry. I think that’s not bad for someone who has a demanding day job, lots of travel to do, a family, and consequently only evenings for preparing his entries.

However, when I read through my various entries I somehow feel that my life seems to be rather repetitive. So far I did not run out of stories but the stories are very much shaped by the way I live, whom I know, whom I meet and where I go, my habits so to say. How can that be interesting for a stranger.

My statistics look good, the general trend is still pointing upwards. But I am contemplating about stopping my blog altogether. I ask myself why I am still doing it? What are my motives? Should I not spend my precious time doing something else, engage in some physical exercise for instance instead of sitting behind a laptop at night (after I sat behind a desk top for 8-10 hours at work).

So why do I blog? Well, it provides a framework for storytelling. After all we humans love the narrative. Moreover, I disciplines myself. I have to write and keep writing, writing and collecting, and researching of course. I usually make some sort of “investigation”, check out websites and thereby learn a great deal about food and wine and the people who’s passion this is. Yeah, I learn a lot.

Another benefit is “staying in touch”. Living in foreign lands makes it difficult to stay in touch with family and friends. By updating my blog, people can learn about my movements, my thoughts and my life. And I do not to have write letter.

So do I want to miss this? I don’t know. Have to embark on some more introspection, I guess.
Have a good weekend folks. Cheers

Shanghai delight

December 18, 2009

The Bund from the Pudong side

My friend Wolfgang took me out on a walk in Pudong. We started with dinner in a restaurant overlooking the Bund. After that we “climed” the two highest buildings in Shanghai and enjoyed the architecture and the view.

I just love Chinese food, especially the cuisines which are a bit more spicy such as Hunan, Sichuan but also Yunnan style food. The plates below give you and idea. The dishes were delicious and the presentation was also quite nice.

Green beans and stripes of beef

“Stinking dofu” with soybeans

Green pepers with octopus

A jelly desert

Tsingtao beer

We could have ordered a bottle of wine but beer, especially Chinese beers, go very well with Chinese food. It was a wonderful reunion after many years of only conversing via mail. For me it was also the first ever visit to Pudong. The highrises are worth visiting and exploring (many restaurants and bars with breathtaking views).

My suggestion: Go to Shanghai as long as you are still young.

Wine from Slovenia

December 15, 2009

The 2008 Lanthieri Zelen

It’s already some time ago that our firneds Lucia and Giuseppe brought us the above bottle of Slovenian wine. They said, “put it back fro a special occasion”, which we did. But this splendid Sunday warranted a special treat.

To say it from the outset, the ‘2008 Lanthieri Zelen’ by Agroind Vipava 1894, a wine co-operative in the Vipava valley, is a wonderful wine. It was our first wine from Slovenia ever, a complete novelty to us.

Zelen is an autochthonous grape variety from the Upper Vipava Valley in Slovenia. The Lanthieri brand is reminiscent of the Lanthieri family, noblemen in the region, valley and town of Vipava, also called the Slovene Venice.

The Vipava wine road is going through the valley where viticulture is the main rural business. About 3,000 acres are under vines. The region is home to some very old, indigenous varieties which cannot be found elsewhere, for instance Zelen, Pinela, Klarnica and Pikolit.

The history of wine-making in the Vipava valley is interesting. It reminds me a bit of our own history in my home town Trier. Also in the Vipava valley, the Celts and Illyrian tribes cultivated grapes long before the Romans arrived. This is also true for my own tribe, the Treverer, in the Mosel river valley.

The back label in Slovenian

The wine has a light-yellow colour and seems to be an aromatic type of wine. Floral notes of mediterranean herbs such as lavender and rosemary can be detected. Very dominant, however, is the dried-apricot taste, very lovely and very unusual, I found. The wine has structure and is well balanced, fresh and zippy.

Spicy clam pasta

We enjoyed it with a spicy, clam pasta. The wine was “strong” enough to not “go down” with the red peppers, but, instead, held itself very well. I am sure we will not find any wine from Slovenia in Bangkok wine shops. I guess we have to visit Slovenia and detect its treasures during our next trip to Europe.

Thank you Lucia and Giuseppe for giving us this wonderful gift. We apprecite your generosity and we know how heavy wine bottles are.

I think Slovenia might have the potential to become the “wine Mekka” of tomorrow.

Tractor delivered

December 14, 2009

I know that many of the visitors of my blog are not interested in my “farm affairs” (statistics and comments point to that sad conclusion). This might have to do with the fact that most wine consumers are urban people removed from the realities of rural life and work on the land.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled by the fact that my new tractor was delivered last Friday. Michael, my brother in law, and Steve Sadlier, who manages our vineyard were there when Gordon rocked up with the trailer and dropped off our brand new Daedong tractor, received the good and stored them in the shed. We are ecstatic about this. I cannot wait to try the new Daedong out next time I am visiting. Michael took a couple of pictures which I show below.

Loading the machine off the trailer

Brand new Daedong tractor

Instructing the new user, Steve and Gordon

Get the machine into the shed

Dob well done, Michael and Steve

Bordeaux wines: Château La Gravière and pasta for dinner

December 13, 2009

The amatriciana pasta

There are just too many châteaux out there. I confess that I do not know much about the wines from Bordeaux. This wine region produces between 700 and 900 million bottles of wine every year. It is divided into 57 appellations. About 10,000 producers call themselves ‘châteaux’, the number of grape growers is about 13,000.

Fortunately, Haut-Médoc, just north of the city of Bordeaux, at the left of the river Gironde covering about 4,600 ha of vines, is smaller but still carries lots of different châteaux. The area used to be marshland until Dutch merchants began to drain it in the 17th century. From grazing land to vineyards (reminds me of my own story and Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn which is largely grazing land, but in the hills, no marshes to be seen), what a great success story.

2006 Château La Gravière

Our friend Emmie had given us this bottle (above), a ‘2006 Château La Gravière’ from Haut-Médoc, after her return from Europe. The Château La Gravière is actually situated on the right bank of the river, in Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC. It’s a small producer with only 2.3 ha under vines whose flagship wines are Château La Gravière, a typical blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc (20%) and Moulin de Gravière, its second wine.

The label is owned by the Rougefort Group. Total production from the Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC is about 500 cases per year. The Haut-Médoc wines (left bank of the river) are an addition to the portfolio. The character of the wines is quite different from the Lalande-de- Pomerol wines which is partly due to the blending formula, partly due to the different terroir.

The colour of the wine

The wine was very pleasant, full of vanilla and berry flavours. We just loved it. It could cope well with the strong flavours of the amatriciana pasta and the bacon in it. My prejudices against Bordeaux wines (which are partly the results of my ignorance) were utterly refuted.