Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cute Pig's guide to best food and wine of Okanagan

Like Napa Valley, Loire Valley, and Tuscany, the Okanagan Valley is no less and one of the most beautiful places Canada has to offer. Frankly, I can't think of a better place to be around here during summer time.  Dry climate, picturesque scenery, and abundant in vineyards and orchards.  The fresh fruits from the Okanagan are some of the sweetest and best tasting you'll ever find.  I recently made my second trip this past May Long weekend and hope to come back for some fresh peaches and cherries.

Monday, April 9, 2012

D'Vine Wine bar and Tapas at Crystal Park

There's a trending food scene going around in Bangkok and it's growing faster than germinating dandelions; wine bars.  Just around my area, I can count at least 5 wine bars within 2 km radius. Competition is fierce and each establishment must do their best to captivate patrons in more than one way for them to keep returning.  D'Vine Wine Bar & Tapas is one of the new places opened earlier this year.  I believe some Thai celebrities have also joined in this venture and thus, much of marketing and hype have been put in to this place.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wine Republic

Located at the heart of Thonglor, Wine Republic is one of the go-to wine bar and bistro in Bangkok.  For most people getting to WR (or anywhere in Thonglor actually), the best way to go is buy taxi.  There's very little parking space in this area and when there is, it can be quite expensive.  Valet parking is available for 100 bath, and you get a coupon for a barbecue skewer (yayyy).  

Lamb skewer yum!
Like most bars and lounges at Thonglor, the ambience is appealing to BKK socialites age 20 + and foreigners.  The vibe is mature, yet hip and casual.  I love the atmosphere at WR as it is spacious with 2 levels and a large patio, which often gets filled up fast on the weekends. Around 8 pm there would be a dj spinning live music ranging from old school hip hop, top 40, and techno.  

Since this is a wine bar and restaurant, we had to ask the server, "where's the wine list?"  She replied that they don't offer a wine list, you can go inside to the front entrance of the restaurant which is a bar, as well as a wine store.  There, stood a helpful gentleman who would help you select the wine bottle that would suit your taste.  I guess the point is for the customers to have a unique experience of walking through the selection, shopping, and be advised of the flavours rather than just looking in the menu.  I find it neat, yet tedious at the same time.  With over 170 selections of wine to choose from, I nominated Mz. J, the wine connoisseur to help us pick out a winning bottle for the night.

Happy hour  happens Sunday to Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  Everything on the classic cocktail menu is buy 1 get 1 free.  The price range is around 220 - 280 bath.  I tried the lychee martini and lychee mojito.  Definitely fell in love with the lychee mojito which came in a generous size!

The menu consists of tapas and pub fare with selections of pizzas and pastas as well.  I find their food to be tastier than other wine bars and the prices are reasonable.

The caesar salad is a moderate portion with large chunks of bacon pieces.  The dressing is house-made and delightfully rich and creamy.  They don't hold back on the grated parmesan either.  You would think you are being healthy eating a salad, but definitely not this particular one.

I love their pizza! Family-size anchovy fire-oven pizza is obviously an acquired taste.  Most people will either hate or love it.  The pizza itself is delicious, crispy crust with tons of cheese, and they are generous with the ingredients, in this case, anchovy bits on the topping.  Can't choose which one to order?  You can actually order each kind of pizza as half and half in one order.

Their spicy squid-ink spaghetti for 280 bath is to die for.  It is served in a clay pot backed with pizza dough.  Of course, it's not the most appetizing colour to eat and the thought of having black sauce on your lips is not an appealing image.  But the taste is totally worth it.  It's bold and spicy with tons of flavours and seafood such as clams, squid, and shrimp.  Mz. J who is particular with her food, had it for the first time here and said she dreams of this dish and will always come back for more.

My new favourite go-to spot!

Food: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5
Price: $$$
Service: 3.5/5
Value: 4.5/5

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wine tasting weekend in the Okanagan

The Vineyards

I knew my sister's passion for wine runs deep, but I had no idea it was developing into an obsession until she took us on a getaway trip to the Okanagan last weekend.  Each typical day involved grandmother and I passing out in the car by mid day, and most often me begging my sister, "No more for today...I can't go on" and "Granny...Make her stop...." Average humans simply can't keep up with her pace.  Regardless of the overwhelming experience, we got to taste some of the most amazing wine this land had to offer along with the most beautiful, picturesque scenery reminiscent of eastern Europe.  I'm definitely no wine expert but I could confidently say that I've tasted some of the best wine that came out of BC (some better than Napa).  I mean, you don't really need to be too knowledgable to know the difference between good and bad wine.  For me, they have to include these characteristics; scent (fruity or floral aroma for white wine), body, level of sweetness, and a smooth finish.  We came across so many of the good ones that we ended up with 3 full cases by the end of the trip.  So if you are not familiar with BC wine already, I definitely recommend exploring the Okanagan and see for yourself what they have to offer.   I suppose we will make another trip down in the summer once the fruits are ready for harvest at the orchards.  Last year, I tasted the sweetest nectarines, peaches and apricots from the Okanagan and I'm still yearning for more.

3 days, 26 vineyards, 35 bottles of wine later....

Vineyards we visited:
-8th Generation
-Silkscarf (love)
-Dirty Laundry (love)
-Sleeping Giant (love)
-Thornhaven Estates (love)
-Black Widow Winery
-Hillside Estate Winery
-Elephant Island Orchard (love)
-Stag's Hallow
-Church & State (love)
-Red Rooster (love)
-Hester Creek (love)
-Forbidden Fruit (love)
-Noble Ridge vineyard (good chardonnay and meritage but not my cup of tea)
-Road 13
-Wild Goose vineyard (love)
-Crownest Vineyards (Taj!)
-Burrowing Owl (great chardonnay)
-Nk'Mip Cellars
-Silver Sage
-La Frenz
-Blasted Church
-Painted Rock

8th Generation


 There's a meaning behind the name "Dirty Laundry".  There are 14 naked girls in the steam.  Can you spot them all?
Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry

Church & State

Road 13

Hester Creek

The Family

I probably won't list all the ones we purchased, but only of the ones that really stood out.  First and for most, Sleeping Giant pumpkin wine really captivated me when I heard of the name.  When I tasted it, it was everything I expected and more.  It tasted just like pumpkin pie; sweet yet subtle, with hints of cinnamon and ginger, definitely something more unique than the average grape wine. Now that I think back, I can't believe I didn't buy more than one bottle.  Yummyyyy!! 
Thornhaven 2009 Gewurztraminer (not pictured) has a distinctive lychee note, but not too sweet.  It smells and tastes so nice, great for pairing with Thai food (especially with papaya salad! MMMMMM).

 From one fruit wine to the next, I have to give it up for Elephant Island apricot wine.  Before I sipped it, I was embraced by a wonderful fragrant resembling jasmine.  Wow, this one was also something special. I just really love fruity wine :)  Another honourable mention from Elephant Island (they make many wonderful fruit wine) was the black currant wine.  We were told that the first 2 sips would taste completely different from each other, and it did! The first sip was tart, while the second and third sip got sweeter and sweeter.  It was pretty cool.
 Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc, mmmmm.. the sweet nectar of the Okanagan valley.
Originally made for an east indian restaurant in Vancouver, Crownest Taj spiced wine is one of a kind wine that has developed a reputation even after the restaurant was closed down.  The owner decided to keep carrying the wine as patrons from the restaurant came knocking on his door asking for more.  The spiced wine, serve chilled, goes extremely well with curry and spicy food.  It is not overly sweet and has a hint of cinnamon and either spices.  For only $13.50/bottle, it's quite an amazing deal.  I'm glad they haven't discontinued the wine yet, but the only way to have access is to drive all the way down to the winery. 

Although not mentioned here, we also bought a few bottles of the red wine.  I'm more of a sucker for white wine, but both my sister and I agreed that this year is the year of the white, while the red is only so-so.

Check out more information on the vineyards and map here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wine Connection Deli & Bistro

Going out in Bangkok with Miss J wouldn't be complete without a stop over at some kind of a trendy restaurant/lounge.  This time, she brought me and my other good friend, Pam, to a fairly new bistro called Wine Connection Deli & Bistro.  As a wholesale wine supplier, Wine Connection has branches all over Bangkok and well as other cities in the country.  As the largest wine store chain in Southeast Asia, the company focuses on importing selected wine and premium spirits from all over the world. Located at K Village, Wine Connection Bistro allows customers to be able to enjoy their wine along with delicious European food.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oyster, 2 ways: oyster salad and baked oysters recipes

This oyster salad is inspired by how raw oysters are served in Thailand; with 10 million sides (k, not that many).  Using this concept, I thought it would be interesting to dress the oysters with a bunch of flavourful herbs to balance its taste.  
Deliciously fresh and sweet raw oysters in Thailand

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wine tasting in Napa

Earlier in November, I geared up for my first trip to Napa Valley, and was quite delighted that it was a beautiful sunny day.  I was ready for a full day of culinary and wine tasting adventures.  Being my tourist self, I purchased the Go San Francisco card which included Taste Napa Downtown (a $20 value).  It was an easy, no brainer guide which enabled us to "taste hop" certain vineyards and tasting rooms in the downtown area.   Even though I wanted to see the beautiful Castello di Amorosa, I decided to save it for the next trip when we will have more time for sightseeing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Curry Puff diary (v.2.0)

Curry puffs are deep fried pastries filled with curried meat filling, similar to empanadas and samosas. For me, each attempt to make curry puffs is like a journey.  My last attempt making them solo actually took me 2 days to accomplish; one afternoon making the filling, the next full day making dough and finishing everything off.  Once again, this time it took painstaking 9 hours to complete with 2 people, my sister and I.  Mind you, we took really long breaks in between making the filling and dough and running to stores to grab more supplies.  This time, we were fortunate to have an expert in curry puff making to guide us through the beginning process of making dough.   While I cannot possibly share accurate proportions of ingredients, I can share the experience of making these curry puffs with you all and noting a few mishaps to avoid.

What NOT to do:
*1. A rolling pin cannot be substitute by anything else, including a wine bottle.  My hands became raw and sore by the end of flattening endless line of dried dough.
2. Do not air out dough for 15 mins. We followed the cookbook, however, the weather in Canada is much drier than Southeast Asia.  Therefore, the dough became almost completely dehydrated.  Cover dough with moist linen cloth instead.
3. Make curried meat filling saltier and sweeter than normal because they will lose flavours after being combined with fried dough.
4. Slowly combine drops of cold water to the dough instead of pouring in x amount at once.  I always fail to learn that by now.
It is 7.30 pm.  Curry puff chef watches in horror as I blindly pour too much water on to the dough.  "It's ruined!" she exclaims.

Wrapping outside dough to inside dough... They're actually not supposed to be this small.

After wrapping 2 doughs together.  It's kinda like making xiao long pao.

Kneading the dough with Taj wine bottle.  It would've been easier if we bought a rolling pin.

Dough flattened and rolled, once on the right and twice on the left.

Taj getting dirty.  We were waiting impatiently to empty the bottle after.

Curry filling we started with at around 2 pm.  It is made with minced pork, carrots, sweet potatoes and seasoned with bay leaves, curry powder, palm sugar, garlic and soy sauce.  It was a huge pot of filling.

After second time kneading and rolling we cut the dough into slices.  

Kneading again.  This time Taj was too big to use.  I resorted to a small stone pestle.  This is the part I wanted to kill myself.

What the final kneaded dough should look and shouldn't look like.  Thin, flat with embedded layers to make the pastry flaky when frying.  But they should be a bit bigger, and not as dry.

This is when we made the mistake of cutting all the dough at once and not covering them up.  

As a result, they start to look like word bubbles with layers sticking to the board.  Each time dough I kneaded was drier than the next.  I end up spending all my energy to the point I want to quit (after seeing what appeared to be endless line of dry dough).

Here's a nice one after we put in the filling.

Finally! The hard part is over.  It is now 10.30 pm.

It's frying time! We made sure they are golden brown to maximize the crispiness. 

Condiment to pair with the curry puffs called Ajaad (sp?).  It's made with cucumbers, carrots, shallots, vinegar, sugar, and sweet chilli sauce.  A very tangy, refreshing taste to cut through the curry puffs.

The most anticipated part, tasting! Don't they look wonderful?  It's 11 pm.

Inside the curry puff.  The crust turned out very flaky, crispy, and had enough flavours.  We could season the filling more next time to the point that they are glazed and juicy.

Taj was thrown into the freezer and re-visited.  Pairing the curry puffs with this spiced white wine with a hint of cinnamon was the best reward to happen tonight.