Friday, June 26, 2009

A quick Wine note

In the past year or two I've become increasingly disenchanted with Italian wines in the $13-$16 range. At the "above $20" price range Italy certainly holds its' own but too often the "everyday" wines from Italy are either too fruit forward or, more often, too light and acidic.

Recently I came across a new bottling from Marches Rosso Piceno - De Angelis, $14.99, CSPC#632141. Rosso Piceno is the workhorse red of the Marches, on the east coast across the country from Rome.

The wine is generally a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulcoano, Passerina and white Trebbiano. The blend of the De Angelis version is 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese which results in full fruit but a nice seam of acidity to keep things in balance.

This wine drinks above it's price and is a great compliment to pizza, pasta or burgers off the grill.

The wine has moderate distribution and is a worthwhile addition to the summer cellar and if it's still around in the fall will be a nice combination to the richer meals of winter.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wurstfest 2009 and We continue to Hate the Dutch

Last Saturday marked the 4th, or possibly 5th but I'm pretty sure it's only 4th, Annual WurstFest at our home.

WurstFest is a celebration of Friendship and the Sausage, and of course friendship of the sausage, held annually right around the second weekend in June. It features grilled wurst, lamb sausage, bratwurst and the humble frankfurter, along with cold beer, sangria and various and sundry salads and other beverages.

The weather this year was hot and dry, the crowd was solid with a few additions of wife's workmates and the annual no show by Don. Last year Don showed up on the day after wurstfest while this year he had a "Pre-solstice art show and celebration of the herb Festival" to attend that his better half demanded his presence at. I will continue to invite Don in the hopes that his excuses get more and more outlandish, a sort of Munchhausen addition to the festivities.

It was a great day, and great fun. Wife did most of the grilling but there was a period of time when Daughter stepped up to the fire and took control. I was sitting in the shade enjoying a cold one when Daughter took over the grill and as I smiled G-man leaned over and said: "Now that's gotta be a proud moment"......... and it was. I love food, and the proper preparation of food, and daughter is beginning to appreciate these things as well, now as long as she doesn't attempt to make a career of it I'll be a happy man.

Back at work on Monday night I had my worst "Euro night" of the young summer season. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Euro, or to be Euroed, refers to those wealthy tourists from the European continenet who either don't know, or more likely don't care, that in North America service staff get paid shit wages and rely on gratuities to make a living.

Don't even bother with the "Well in their country the tip is included" argument because it's tragically flawed in that they aren't in their own country when they come to Canada. As one waiter once observed "I knew not to walk around Buddhist temples bare chested the least these fuckers could do is learn to tip 15%".

But I digress, on Monday I was gored by the worst of all the Euros - two tables of Dutch tourists. I mean any nation that has an expression describing cheapness named after them is pretty scary, and while the Brits are certainly generally poor (10%) tippers the Dutch are monumentally cheap. I mean cheap to the point that servers in good Dining Rooms, who generally pay out 5-7% of their sales to support staff, actually lose money serving them. That was my sad reality on Monday as my two tables of fucking wooden shoe wearing, cheese making cheap bastards racked up bills of $210 and $315 respectively and each left me ................ $10 while lavishly praising the meal and the service. So their net bills were around, oh $460 and I pay out 6% which means it only cost me $7.00 and change for these people to eat in my section.

Thank you very much, remind me to stop drinking Heineken and eating Gouda.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Almost Perfect ......... with a choral fist pump

Yesterday was as close to perfect as it's been in a while.

After the rare miracle of attaining eight hours sleep I awoke to a beautiful morning, clear, warm and sunny. A dawdly Sunday morning breakfast of blueberry pancakes and sausages followed by a little shopping expedition before the day's festivities began in earnest.

Yesterday marked the end of the season for daughter's Children's Bach Choir, the finale to be held at the Chan Centre on the UBC Campus. Despite being blessed with fine voice daughter was still nervous about the performance but didn't "freak out" as has happened in the past. The day was full of neighbourly good will as both downstairs and next door neighbours had children performing as well, in the younger "Piccolo" version of the choir.

We arrived on time but a small glitch in directions had me missing the parking garage on first pass so wife and daughter disembarked, I found the garage and arrived at the doors just as the Centre was being opened (1:30 pm). Then the waiting began, and continued, and continued ........... finally shortly after 2:15 the doors to the theatre were opened and we settled in.

The performances by the 5 different Youth Choirs were all rock solid, and if the show ran a bit too long well so be it. The highlight, to me, was the performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's version of the Pie Jesu for requiem mass by the 11-12 year old choir. The piece is heart achingly sweet and perfect for young voices, although it is very challenging.

The rendition featured two soloists, one male and one female. One of the features of this choir is that soloists at the younger levels are not identified until concert day. This is, I suppose, to lessen anxiety. Regardless both soloists performed beautifully, and as the song ended, to great applause, the young girl smiled broadly and gave a distinctive left hand fist pump ......... way cool in my mind. I'd much rather see 12 year old choral fist pumps than major league sports ones any day.

The concert marked the final day as Music Director for Bruce Pullan so the post concert speeching ran too long, the only thing really to mar the day. It was past 5 pm by the time we arrived home, and since we had arranged for a "three family BBQ" we had to move quickly.

Steaks were rubbed, asparagus was bathed in olive oil and lemon zest and garden fresh greens were tossed in garlicy vinaigrette while cold beer and G & T were quaffed. Table and chairs were moved downstairs to the back yard, Malbec uncorked and dinner hit the tables around 7pm.

Dinner was great, the kids didn't lose it and daughter even remembered to do her homework.

With everything packed up, dishes done and duaghter in bed around 9ish I reflected back, through a glass of 15 year old Dalwhinnie, on a very, very good day.

Sorry I forgot to blog in May, but who knows ? Maybe I'll do two, or more, in June.