Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hop Scotch Spring Beer & Scotch Festival


At this year's Hop Scotch Spring Beer & Scotch Festival, I only tried cider and whiskey! I passed on beer as I wanted some new experiences in my overly satisfied palate from IPAs and Ales. So I tried all Ciders starting from the new Stella Cider made from the well-known Belgian beer company. The cider was crisp and refreshing made from hand-picked apples. Very pleasant to drink and definitely a good start for the cider drinking. 

I then tried the Crisp Apple Cider from the Angry Orchard Hard Cider. This very apple-y cider had sweet notes but finished with a balanced taste. Fresh Fuji apple aromas added to the ripe flavor.

Seattle Cider’s Gin Botanical was very different and proved to be my favorite. As its name witnesses, it was fermented with gin botanicals and was semi-dry featuring lemon, juniper and orange. Yes, it was very complex but all the same refreshing.


Crispin Cidery’s Foxbarrel Blackberry Pear Cider had strong pear aromas and flavors as it was fermented using 100% pear juice. It was also infused with natural blackberry juice and indeed was a very unique cider.


Strongbow’s Strongbow Golden Cider was light and surprisingly sweet made with a blend of bittersweet cider and culinary apples. Well-balanced and easy to drink and naturally gluten-free!



The BlackThorn cider from BlackThorn Cider is one of the UK’s best known and widely drunk ciders. It was dry, crispy, refreshing, balanced and very British indeed.

The Dark and Dry cider from Spire Mountain Draft Cider was actually a dark cider with a pleasant tart flavor and hits of caramel and brown sugar.



The Vermont Hard Cider Company offered the Limited Release Summer cider that was slightly tart with a nice apple aroma and sweetness.

I also sat at the Northwest Whiskeys Flight. That was interesting to see a new whiskey industry being born in the region. 


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Best of Taste Washington




Long due my piece for Taste Washington 2014. This year I decided to go for Washington State white blends and other interesting varieties. Here are my discoveries.



AniChe Cellars
The 2011 Lizzy White Rhône Blend from Columbia Valley ($22) was a nice marriage of the Marsanne and Roussanne varieties. I loved the earthy minerality of this combination with a pleasant nose and satisfying palate.

Maryhill Winery
The 2011 Aurelia White Rhône Blend, Horse Heaven Hills ($20) was another discovery. I am not sure for the grape blend but it had strong aromas of melon and pear and a fruity medium body. This elegant wine is  good choice for seafood and grilled poultry.

Cave B Estate Winery
The 2012 Cuvee Blanc White Bordeaux Blend ($25) was a wonderful blend of 79% Semillon and 21% Sauvignon Blanc. It gave aromas of kiwi in the first sip mixed with those of rich lemon and ripe nectarines. The wine was perfectly balanced and I would pair it with seared seafood and maybe with a risotto. 

Mellissoni Vineyards
The 2012 Pinot Gris from Lake Chelan ($35) was pleasant and refreshing. Great for a summer aperitif. 

The Tamarack Cellars Viognier, Columbia Valley ($24) has strong aromas of fresh peaches and nectarines and an amazing bright finish. Well done Tamarack Cellars.

Array Cellars
The 2011 Chardonnay Dijon Clone, Yakima Valley ($32) was also a wonderful surprise from the State that can produce some decent Chardonnays.

Laurelhurst Cellars
The Late Harvest 2012 White Rhône Blend ($28) was a perfectly balanced Viognier and Roussanne. The wine had a honey color and aromas of dried apricot, pear and honeysuckle.  

With over 200 wineries exhibiting their wines, my selection is really small. But I can guarantee the quality and the elegance of those wines so whenever you have the chance, buy a bottle. 

I was conservative with food. I only did seafood and some tasty meats including Hook & Plow’s house-cured pork pastrami, the whiskey-glazed smoked salmon with arugula salad from Ivar’s and Uli’s Famous Sausage gourmet sausage. I also had the house-made citrus gravlax with herb-cucumber salad from Urbane.  I dared to take a sip from the spicy nettle soup with crispy razor clams courtesy of the SkyCity at the Needle.  And the roasted pork belly with seasonal vegetable from Outside the Box Food Truck was delightful. 

The Taste Washington event is a must-do every year. If you are in the Seattle area, don't miss it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Vegfest Seattle 2014

Although I never claimed to be a vegetarian and I am not sure that I would like to become one, the recent Vegfest in Seattle was an interesting experience. As a new product scouter and trends spotter, I am always open to food shows and events. Here are the highlights of the Vegfest:

1. Earth Balance launches their new potato chip line and they are super tasty! Soon available in the market, they come in three distinctive flavors. The Sour Cream & Onion Flavor Kettle Chips, the Cheddar Flavor Kettle Chips and the Sea Salt Flavor Kettle Chips. They are all vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO. I am curious to see the nutrition facts on the package when available.




2. The Lisanatti Cheese Alternative made with Almonds. I have tried rice cheese before but never a cheese made from almonds. The Almond Cheese comes in its Cheddar, Mozzarella, Garlic Herb and Jalapeno Jack flavors. I would describe it as light and tasteful but nothing like real cheese!


3. The Soy Yogurt is back! After a few disappointed years for soy and soy yogurt in particular, consumers seem to return to the previously loved dairy alternative. The WholeSoy & Co yogurt showcased all of their fruit flavored yogurts included blueberry, vanilla and lemon -my favorite!



4. I was surprised to see all the major national snack and energy brands to be there. From Way Better Snacks to Pop Chips, Beanfields Chips, Beanitos, SeaSnax to Kind Bars, Odwalla, Larabar and Probar. So Delicious, Silk, Coconut Bliss, Honest Tea, Tumeric and GoodBelly had also a strong presence. On the cheese and meat alternative front, there were Daiya, Gardein, Wildwood and Vegenaise Original. It seems that food manufacturers target the large food trade shows but also smaller regional ones open to consumers.








Monday, February 24, 2014

The Better Chip Chipotle and Beet Chips

If you didn’t know that today is National Tortilla Chip Day,  you just found out.  

The BetterChip Company known for its motto Better Chip from the Inside Out  honors the day with the launch of two distinctive flavors: the Chipotle and the Beet chip. The Better Chip Beet chips and the Better Chip Chipotle chips are available nationwide in more than 10,000 grocery stores.



The Chipotle chips are described as rich, with a smoky flavor and a warm heat. Red-ripened jalapeno peppers are smoked over wood chips to create the chipotle pepper, then are crushed and cooked into whole grain corn masa. Eat them with bean dip, guacamole and with spreadable cheese and slice of salami.

The Beet chips are simple, bold and bright and are made with fresh beets straight from the field that are cleaned, chopped and cooked into every batch. Pair nicely with hummus, goat cheese and Greek yogurt dip.

Both products are gluten free, cholesterol free and non-GMO verified and suitable for vegans. Each serving has on average 150 calories.



For a guilt-free evening, pour your favorite wine and grab a bowl of Beet and Chipotle chips, a few slices of cheese and you are all set. Cheers!



Monday, February 17, 2014

Café Presse - Seattle Discoveries




Hot chocolate, cream and the creamy cup of yogurt at the back


It wouldn't be a better place to spend a rainy and windy afternoon. The Café Presse knows to host hungry for good coffee or chocolat chaud. The cappuccino may not be the most impressive one but the chocolat chaud comes in two separate cups: one with the hot chocolate, the other has the cream. Blend them together or just take a bite of the cream, then dive it into the chocolate cup. Either way it's pure indulgence. 


Saturday, February 01, 2014

220&Change party -Seattle




It was a fun, vibrant and well-organized event. Held at 220 2nd Avenue S, the 220&Change space hosted over hundred guests from the Pioneer Square neighborhood and elsewhere. Attendees had the opportunity to explore the building and what it has to offer.



On the fourth floor, the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, other known as BGI making a brand new debut that was well received with plenty of Finnriver Cider and Pinkabella Cupcakes.

Seahawks colored popcorn!


On the third floor, daring guests could tailgate before the Big Game with Hilliard's Beer and Altstadt Pretzels while learning more about the Social Venture Partners.

On the second floor, the Impact Hub offered Sake and Intrigue Chocolates while explaining what their mission is: all about a community "hub" and shared work space for purpose-driven ventures.

The first floor, an Impact Hub space, was open to Proletariat Wine, Ninkasi Brewing and some cocktails together with tastes from local restaurants, La Bodega and also Dry Soda.



Between tailgating, touring the space and tasting sample foods, I can say with no doubt that the space is awesome with inspiring people, social-driven ideas and a lot more!




Thursday, January 16, 2014

2014 Winter Fancy Food Show Preview




Here it is my preview for the upcoming Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.

http://www.examiner.com/article/2014-winter-fancy-food-show-preview