Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Birthday Paella and Pink Bubbles

It was wife's birthday on Sunday, not the easiest day of the year in our house but getting better. Over the years wife has vacillated between over celebrating (birth week) to ostrich (head in ground denying that birthday even occurs), but this year a nice equilibrium was struck.

The Sunday before we brunched at DB Bistro in a joint celebration, early for wife's birthday, late for Auntie Mads . It was a lovely brunch and when paired with attending daughter's choir performance with the VSO on the actual birthdate and a special dinner at home all would be handled in suitable celebratory manner.

On a side note daughter's choir were performing a symphony based on the music from Lord of the Rings and much of it was sung in Elvish, when I informed daughter that after the publication of Tolkein's books several Elvish Dictionaries were created by fans she had but one word in response .........."Nerds".

Earlier in the week wife had chosen paella for her birthday dinner. Since I don't have a proper pan I made a modified version that was cooked in the oven, my paella contained chicken, andouille sausage, prawns, clams,rice, diced tomato, whole garlic cloves, saffron, smoked paprika and peas. It was the first time I'd made it but it is just a variation on a theme of baked rice dishes so it turned out very nicely.

The wine pairing for paella can go in many directions, light white from Spain like an Albarino would be classic, or a fuller rose or even a fruity red, pinot noir or garnacha based would all work but since this was wife's birthday the obvious choice was bubble.

Wife adores bubble, many years ago when there was no child and we were flush I once served Taittinger Brut Reserve with KFC for a wife birthday dinner . Still the pairing of bubbles with paella is a solid one, the effervescence and acidity work well with the shellfish and the richness of rice cooked in a combination of chicken stock and clam nectar. I chose rose because the red grapes add a fullness to the sparkling that pairs better with cooked foods in my opinion, I prefer "blanc de blancs" bubbles with raw fish.

The BCLDB sparkling section tends to run to two extremes,under $20 and over $50 ..... I chose door #1 and went with a reliable favourite in Veuve de Vernay Brut Rose . This producer makes consistently excellent wines in a classic style for ridiculously low prices, the regular Brut is the ultimate Mimosa wine and the slightly more muscular Rose is a great holiday, or any day, bubble. The Rose is made from 100% tempranillo grapes, generally used in Spanish Cava, and has lovely strawberry notes but is still dry and possesses a long finish with a nice acidic backbone to keep those rich paella flavours in check.

All in all a nice dinner and a very solid wine pairing.

I've been asked to post some wine info in December about values and wines I've enjoyed this year and I'm going to try hard to do so, but in case I forget remember to pick up some Veuve de Vernay, Brut or Brut Rose for the festive season, costs $14 and drinks like $25.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Apparently I'd be a Terrible Travel Agent

My friend, former Large Firm Partner now Small Firm Partner, called today with the announcement that he would be spending some time over Christmas in Ottawa.

He appeared quite excited about the idea and asked me as a former resident of the NCR, that's National Capital Region, what I would do in Ottawa over Christmas.

After a moment's pause I replied: "Not go".

Ottawa is brutal in the winter, a bracing combination of cold and too much precipitation generally combined with high winds, plus December is often "Ice Storm Season" . The only real attraction, skating on the Rideau Canal, is not even a mortal lock because while Global warming has done little to make the overall climate in Ottawa better it has screwed up the opportunity for the canal to freeze over enough to guarantee that your pastoral evening skate doesn't end up in a freezing drowning.

The restaurants are decent I suppose, I have fond memories of the pizza at The Colonade and good Italian in any number of spots most of which are probably closed. The culture is hard to find outside of the National Gallery and the Museum of Science and Man and the only good live theatre in town is closed - that would be the House of Commons.

Sports wise I loathe the Senators, plus they don't even play their games in Ottawa their rink is in the suburbs 40k from Downtown.

So my initial advice stands, go for four days in September but Christmas in Ottawa is just a bad idea.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Proof that Darwin was Right

In today's news CBC reports this story of a failed robbery.

So let me get this straight, at 2AM you decided that robbing a doughnut shop using a butcher knife was a good idea but somehow you stabbed yourself and passed out .

If ever there was a crime that screamed out I'm a Simpsons episode waiting to be written this was it .

Conan Doyle should be happy he didn't live in the 21st century.