I cooked Sunday roast – 2006 Timo Mayer Cabernet, Yarra Valley, Australia

May 29, 2011

As you know I am not much of a cook. But today I cooked a traditional Sunday roast. I am so proud. I did it. Not that it was particularly difficult. Actually I just seasoned the meat, put it into the oven for 60 minutes, and voila there was a delicious meal.

This called for a special wine, and a special wine we had. I choose a ‘2006 Cabernet’ from the Mayer Vineyard, made by my old friend Timo Mayer in the Yarra Valley. Timo is one of the famous South Pack, a group of young and creative wine-makers in Victoria.

This is a beautiful wine, full of red berry flavour, a good structure and a long finish. The cherries on my palate were almost like the ones of a Merlot, but it is a straight Cabernet, amazing.

Great colour

The roast was just perfect with its pink colour. It was Thai beef of a very good quality. As were the other ingredients by the way. The girls made a Yorkshire pudding. Moreover we had broccoli and carrots as vegetables.

The roast

Delicious Sunday lunch

Great vegetables

From here it was downhill all the way. First came my favourite cigar, then came the port. I just love Sundays like this.

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Riesling-Traminer Cuvée from Saale-Unstrut, Germany

April 6, 2009

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“In all things there is something of the marvellous”, Aristotle, 384-322 B.C.

Four days ago my colleague and friend Christian brought us a bottle of Riesling Cuvée from Saale-Unstrut, the most northern wine region of Germany. It did not last long. The first occasion was excuse enough for us to open this rare bottle of German wine. The ‘2007 Riesling Traminer Saale-Unstrut’ from the Winzervereinigung Freyburg-Unstrut (a type of co-operative) was a most amazing wine, a treasure here in Bangkok.

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Saale-Unstrut is not only the most northern wine region of continental Europe but also one of the smallest in size (below 700 ha). It takes it’s name from two rivers: Saale and Unstrut. Grpae growing and wine production, though, go back a long way. The earliest prove dates from around 998 A.D. and covers the wines from Memleben Abbey.

The climate in the region is generally rough and very cold. Only in very warm years can good wines (Spaetlese, Auslese) be made. Yields are usually very low in comparison with other German wine regions. About 75% of the grapes grown are white varieties, among them Mueller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Traminer and other white varieties. However, given global warming more and more wines from Saale-Unstrut are of outstanding quality and find eager consumers.

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We had this Riesling-Traminer Cuvée with Sunday lunch. I must admit that I never before heard of such a cuvée blending Riesling, my favourite white wine, with Traminer. Both are aromatic varieties but of a very different nature. The Cuvée displayed a honey aroma and tasted like peaches and apricots. The finish was acidic and sharp but not unpleasant. The wine has 12% alcohol, is very young but well balanced. Unfortunately, we had only this one bottle. It matched the food perfectly. So what was the food?

Well, it was a recipe from my favourite cooking book, the Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan which contains recipes from ancient Greece and Rome.

“Grouper with herbs and pecorino” (originally the fish in the recipe was ray fish, Francine uses skate, but any white fish will do) was the plate of the day.

The dish is accented with fresh fragrant marjoram, a herb that “Aristotle believed was an antidote to most poisons”. You take the following ingredients:

– 1 ½ cups of white wine
– 2 pounds skinned grouper, cut into 4 pieces
– Salt and freshly milled pepper
– 2 tablespoons minced assorted fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, and chives, lots of majoram
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese

How is it done?
Well, first bring white wine to a boil over high heat until reduced to half (5-6 minutes); season the fish with salt and pepper.
Then add marjoram and minced herbs, oil and mix with the hot wine, add fish and cook until firm, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with the cheese and a sprig of marjoram. The recipe can be found in the above book of Francine Segan page 97 (From Life of luxury, Archestratus).

We had it with potatoes and a salad (cucumber with orange and walnuts).

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The potatoes

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The fish with the herbs

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On the plate

Needless to say, the food was very yummy. The four of us gobbled it up in no time. Especially my children were amazed (usually they prefer meat) that fish can taste that good. It is only the second recipe I know of where fish and cheese are successfully matched together.

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After lunch it was espresso and Averna and some Belgian chocolates. I followed up with a cigar (a Casa de Torres, CT, Nicaragua, hand made).

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What a beautiful smoke!


Francis Coppola

February 24, 2009

Recently, my friend Holger from Berlin had given us a bottle of “Francis Coppola wine”. I had never tasted anything from this producer though I have read a couple of reviews on the net. Therefore, opening this bottle of Pinot Noir and enjoying it with a Sunday roast (chicken this time) promised to be an exciting experience.

The ‘2006 Francis Coppola, Diamond Series, Silver Label Pinot Noir’, originates from Monterey County, a cool climate wine region in central California. During an Agricultural Economist Conference in 1997 I had the opportunity to visit this wine region. It’s a marvellous place and I treasure my memories of tasting various delicious boutique vineyard wines.

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The ‘2006 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Collection Silver Label’

So tasting wine from this part of the world was exciting indeed. We do not drink very many wines from California so this wine extended our experience with USA-wines. Ratings of the 2006 vintage vary (87 or so points), but it is definitely not one of the best Californian Pinot Noirs. However, the price of US$ 20 in the USA indicates that there is quite a market out there for this “very drinkable” drop.

The medium-bodied wine showed plenty of fruit on the nose (cherries, raspberries), it felt silky in the mouth with some forest flavours, and displayed a nice finish. No bitterness could be detected as some tasters have reported earlier. To my taste buds the pairing of lemon chicken with Pinot Noir worked well.

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Port wine from Portugal helped us to digest the meal

What a pleasurable tropical afternoon on our terrace we had. The 38 degrees Celsius did not feel that hot but the dry-hot seasons has definitely started. After the meal I had a port wine. I always liked port. Our visit to Porto last summer re-enforced this passion.

With the port (10 years old), I smoked a cigar from Nicaragua, a hand made ‘Casa de CT Torres, Nicaragua, Hecho a mano’. The “smoke” was very pleasant, not to heavy; the tobacco was mild but distinct. I should buy more cigars from Nicaragua.

Cigars relax me and that is what I needed between two very busy work weeks, some relaxation. Also the bad news that we would not have a vintage this year at Two Hills Vineyard needed to be digested. Well, so is nature, unpredictable, unsteady, volatile, but marvellous.