Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tasting party

I threw a "tasting party" this past Sunday with some friends. Each couple or person bring a few varieties of a certain food for us all to taste and compare. (For example, 3 blue cheeses, or 3 kinds of cherries)

It looked like everyone had a good time, aided in no small part by the yummy wines from Stormhoek. I'll be heading off to Pete's Wines in Bellevue to see if I can buy some more!

Here's the final list of goodies:

  • Me: Stormhoek wines from South Africa (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinotage, Shiraz). The wines were all excellent, and I especially liked the Pinot Grigio and Pinotage. The Pinotage is smooth, fruity and juicy - no hint of greenness.
  • Raymond: Beverages:
    • Water (Evian, Dasani, municipal tap). Raymond did a blind tasting for these, and most people were able to pick out the Evian as being the most fancy/epensive. Most people found it hard to distinguish between the tap water and Dasani. Interestingly, several people preferred the tap water or Dasani to the Evian!
    • Tea (Froufy tea [from a tea shop], Bigelow, and Lipton).
      Again, these were served blind. The froufy tea was easy to spot. Bigelow and Lipton are pretty much the same...
  • Hilary: Cheeses: Stilton (blue), Cranberry Wensleydale, French camembert-type cheese. Onion jelly from South Carolina. We ate the cheese with a nice selection of crackers and breads (ProVita crackers from South Africa, Carr's water crackers, pumpernickel and caraway toast from Ikea). Yum! The onion jelly is slightly sweet and savoury and went well with the Wensleydale.
  • Dorothy: Alsation-style fruit tarts (one apple, one apricot). Sweet olives to go with the cheeses (from the Riebeek Valley in South Africa). Sweet olives? Yes, and they're delicious - a bit like candied figs. The tarts were amazing - Washington Braeburn apples worked really well.
  • Ben & Becky: Three salads. Sorry, I'll need to get the specific of each salad and update this... They were all amazing!
  • Carrie & Keshav: Dipping oils (basil-infused olive oil, roasted garlic olive oil, artichoke and garlic dipping oil), with Pugliese bread from Trader Joe's. The artichoke one was my favourite!
  • Mathias & Stephanie: Tapenades from DeLaurenti in Pike Place Market: Green olive, black olive, sun-dried tomato and also hummus.
  • Eric: Three chocolates (randing from 35%-53% cacao). Callebaut chocolate from Whole Foods.
  • Ari: Double chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. Sadly I didn't try these, but they looked very rich and decadent!

I'll post some pictures later this week...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wine Info

I've been meaning to put together a list of some of the wine retailers, importers, storage, etc. in Seattle. So here goes...

Importers/Online Stores:
Garagiste (link). (Seattle). Mailing list offers new wines daily, you choose what you want to purchase. Mainly rare and unusual or limited production wine.
Mad Wine (link). (Bellevue). Online store with some a great selection of US and imprted wine. Nice Italian, New Zealand and South African wines.

Wine Stores:
Esquin (link). (Seattle) "Seattle's oldest and largest retail wine merchant". I haven't been here yet...
McCarthy & Schiering (link). (Queen Anne/Seattle). Very friendly staff, good selection and free wine tastings on Saturday.
Vino 100 (link). (Downtown Bellevue). Wine store franchise offerign 100 wines $25 and under. Interesting wine layout (by body/sweetness) so you can pick wine according to your taste, not region or cultivar. Friendly staff, and tastings offered.
Larry's Market (link). (Multiple locations). The Redmond store has a good selection of wine. Service can be iffy, though - it's sometimes hard to find someone to answer questions...
Trader Joe's (link). (Multiple locations). The place to go for cheap, easy-drinking wine, although they do have some decent imports too. No real service/help in choosing, though.
Pete's (link). (Seattle/Bellevue). I've heard good things about this place, but never been. Supposedly a good place to order Stormhoek wines in Seattle.
Pike & Western Wine Shop (link). Local (Seattle). I've been in a few times but been unimpressed with the service.
DeLaurenti (link). (Pike Place Market/Seattle). Great selection of Italian wine. They have a wine club you can join too (red/white Italian mostly).
City Cellars (link). (Wallingford/Seattle). Great selection, very laid-back, friendly staff. Wine tastings on Friday evenings for a small fee. 100 wines for $10 and under.

Seattle Wine Storage (link). Seattle. Friendly, not pushy, reasonably priced and good access hours.
Elliott Avenue Wine Storage (link).
Eastside Wine Storage (link).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Overheard at the Oregon Country Fair

I heard this snippet of conversation at the fair this year, and it seems to me to be the perfect summary of the fair spirit.

(tall gangly dude walking in front of me) "... so I rush out onstage to shave him with the chainsaw running, my pink tutu wafting up around my waist, my privates in full view, and 3000 stoned hippies go 'Ooooh!' "

It turned out this guy was the Danish member of The Flaming Heterosexuals. I caught their show later during the fair and really enjoyed it! (Although there were no privates on display this time...)

Speaking of the OCF, here's an article on the fair for those that haven't been and want to get a sense of it.