Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tiki Cocktail Contest and Everything You Need to Know about Genever

In a buzzy room of Monsoon restaurant, bartenders, cocktail judges and gin enthusiasts came together for the Gindonesia Tiki Night last Sunday. Organized and sponsored by the Seattle Gin Society and by Lucas Bols USA, some of Seattle’s best bartenders went indeed head-to-head in a showdown for the most authentic Tiki cocktail contest. Judges had to rate balance, complexity, taste, presentation and garnish for a total of 25 points.

Bartenders are indeed creative personalities and can turn a simple mix into a fun glass with colors, garnish, fruit and flowers ready for a photo shoot. From spice to punches, we tasted many Gin concoctions during the evening including the Bols Genever punch. Additionally, Monsoon’s Vietnamese dim sum dishes that included vegetarian and beef rolls, rice noodles, chicken skewers and grilled bò la lot were the perfect pairing for the evening full of Gin and Genever!

Here are the winners:

Aaron Kimmel from Ocho (cocktail name "The Dutch Bomber")

Second Place: Brady Sprouse from Oliver's Twist and Rob Roy ("The Sprouse House Sling")

Third Place: Jack Sanders from Ba Bar

For the history: Genever is the juniper berry-flavored  liquor also known as Dutch Gin from which the Gin evolved. The Dutch were probably the first European nation to develop a large-scale commercial distilling industry. Between 1500 and 1700 every sizeable town had several distilleries making jenever, spirit or liqueurs. As they ruled the seas and owned colonies in West and East Indies –Indonesia today- they could import spices and exotic foods.  Amsterdam and Rotterdam were prominent ports for sugar, spices and grains. Many of today’s leading Dutch Genever distillers can trace their origins back to the 16th and 17th centuries as Bols (founded 1575). 

Gin is a juniper berry-flavored grain spirit is an English shortening of Genever, the Dutch word for juniper. Although the origins of Gin are rather murky, it seems that the first time that the spirit was found in the late 1580s in Holland by British troops who were fighting against the Spanish in the Dutch War of Independence. They gratefully drank it to give them what they soon came to call "Dutch courage" in battle.  The English brought the idea of making and drinking gin back with them. It would take another 150 years before they would have their own version.

What is inside? Traditionally the base of Genever had a high percentage of malt wine (15%-50%), resulting in a spirit that had malty notes like whiskey and an herbal component that is common with gin.  This is the style of Genever that we know as Oude or Old, meaning that it is made in the old style. A newer style of Genever is called Jonge, or young in which there is a much lower malt wine content (up to 15%) which results in a much lighter style of Genever. With both styles, the spirits can contain sugar, adding to the richness on the palate.

Gin: This is a juniper-flavored spirit made by simply adding approved natural flavoring substances to a neutral spirit of agricultural origin. The predominant flavor must be juniper. All gins include juniper as an ingredient: other botanicals used are coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cubeb berries and nutmeg. Typically a fine gin contains six to ten botanicals. Like all gins, London gin should have a predominant juniper flavor

For more events about the Gin Society click here:
For Lucas Bols, click here:
For Monsoon Seattle, click here:

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Gluten-Free Madeleines

The French Madeleines - the small cakes from the Lorraine region- may have become famous from French author Proust and his sensational descriptions in his palate. Now, they are available in their gluten-free form as well. I just saw this while visiting Paris at the Naturalia health store, offered from the Nature & Cie food company. I wonder that Proust would have said about it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pike Place Market Food Tour

Even for a Seattleite who is a regular at Pike Place Market, the market is still an unknown territory. So many purveyors, stalls, foods, restaurants, cafes, where you can start and end? Some aspects of it are known, others are unfamiliar.  Like the sign The market for the Producers or tiny alleys that were never followed. In an effort to explore it all, I spent nearly three hours with Leslie, our culinary tour guide of the Pike Place Market food tour organized by the Seattle Food Tours. Leslie as an insider of the Market does not only share the culinary details but also the history. We tasted gelato at Bottega Italiana, visited the DeLaurenti Specialty Food and Wine from a back door, met Rachel, the pig and indulged with donuts from the Daily Dozen Donut. Historic facts came along with tasty food. When the market started? When did it decline? What or who saved it? What is happening now? 

Through the buzzy storefronts to quiet side streets, freshly made chowder, Greek yogurt and crumpets with honey, you will explore unique layers of this wonderful, world-known market. The last stop was at Tom Douglas Rub Shack with a spicy salmon burger that the entire group appreciated even with a full stomach. I won’t reveal more as a personal experience of the tour is the best way to find out.

Leslie also answered the question that everybody often asks: do locals shop there? Of course they do, Leslie confirmed. But they know where to go and what time. Just avoid the weekends!

Seattle Food Tours:

The group

Friday, September 26, 2014

IFBC- My favorite product

During the International Food Blogger Conference, we were all exposed to several new and old products from cookies and nuts to bread mixes and seeds. This year my favorite product -and I vote for it-is the Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt. And this was unexpected as I  am not a pumpkin fan. I don't like pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins or even pumpkin beer or gum (they both exist). The only pumpkin related dish I enjoy is the pumpkin and corn soup, flavorful and smooth!

Therefore, I was surprised with this Noosa flavored yogurt. It is soft and creamy and tasty and the pumpkin puree blends perfectly with the creamy substance. Easy to eat, you will ask for seconds. And I don't blame you.

Monday, September 22, 2014

International Food Blogger Conference - The best off

One of my favorite things at the International Food Blogger Conference was this year's tote bag. I like it better full with the goodies but it is lovely empty as well. I wonder what people will say when I will carry it around in Seattle and in locations that my travels will take me. Here it is in color and in a Mad Men-like black & white version:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Chateau de Trirquevedel Tavel Rosé 2013

Last night I tasted for the very first time The Chateau de Trirquevedel Tavel Rosé. This wine has a long and glorious history. Favorite wine of Louis XIV and celebrated by author Balzac, I felt that I had to pay my tributes before I had my first sip. I love the deep pink color, very different than the traditional Provencial rosés. Tavel is the only A.O.C entirely made up of rosé, which prohibits any whites or reds from wearing the label of this Southern Rhône cru. This wine is a blend of 56% Grenache Noir, 20% Cinsault, 10% Clairette, 4% Syrah, 4% Bourbelenc, 3% Mourvèdre, 3% Grenache Blanc.

This said to be one of the best rosés of Southern Rhone, was dry with balanced acidity, pleasantly juicy and with red-fruit flavors that you can't miss. I would definitely recommend it even if it was slightly oversold by my friends and its historic timeline. I would like the fruits riper but all the same, it is an awesome choice for a hot summer day. Pair it with a light salad or slices of cheese. 
PS: Glasses were chosen with a practical angle as the wine was enjoyed at the park so they had to be different!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Discoveries in Wenatchee

I got just got off the train, walked a few blocks and I made my first discovery in Wenatchee's Public Farmers Market minutes before closing. The waffledog! A hot dog wrapped in a waffle with a stick and offered with syrup and/or mustard as a dip to go. It was an interesting pairing with the sweet and savory flavors balancing together; the syrup was a good addition even if it made the waffledog slightly sweeter.

OHME Gardens Wine & Food Gala

The watermelon salad with lime and chili was refreshing and a pure bliss in a 107 degrees day. It was offered at the Wine & Food Gala at the OHME gardens.

The chipotle popcorn was also a light and popular desert made with chipotle and caramel and was served in colorful paper bag. Spicy and addictive, I kept going back for seconds...

The Snowdrift Summer Red Apple Cider was a surprising red-colored cider made with the skin of red apples. This dry thus refreshing cider was lovely in aromas and flavors and what I needed in such a hot day.

Ohme gardens, an oasis for everybody

Downtown Wenatchee

Cherry Ice Cream Soda

Root Beer Float

The Owl Soda Fountain was a nice finding while strolling on the main street. I entered, sat at the bar and ordered the ice cream soda made with cherry syrup, cherry ice cream and soda water on top all mixed and served with a straw and a long spoon in a tall glass. But I couldn't leave without giving the soda float a try and I chose the root beer float. For the float, first  is added the root beer and then the ice cream on top served in a tall glass with a spoon to indulge. Both are the perfect remedy for the hot days in the summer; for the history they were discovered in the days of non-air conditioning. The Owl Soda Fountain made me nostalgic and brought childhood memories of ice cream parlors.

The Pybus Market

The cherry pizza at Fire

At the Fire restaurant, I had my first cherry pizza, made with fresh cherries, goat cheese, pieces of bacon and a pinch of salt and pepper. The pizza was one of a kind as the sweetness of cherries balanced off the strength of the goat cheese. Offered only in July when it is a cherry season, it was a treat. I also enjoyed the Italian margarita drink - a twist on the traditional margarita with a bright yellow color.
The market which turned one year old in May is a foodie's heaven: from fresh meat, fish and fruit to artisan oils, demonstration cooking classes, local wines and an array of restaurants, you can get it all. In addition, on Friday evenings, there is a live music concert on a rail car.

Wenatchee has more to offer: the Apple Capital Loop Trail for biking, paddle boarding at the lagoon (offered by Osprey Rafting), kayaking or just a nice swim at your hotel's pool. The summer months are hot and dry and the winters are super cold, ideal for skying on the mountains! Don't forget, it is the capital of Apples in the USA and maybe in the world.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sauvignon Blanc and Banana Flavored Popcorn - Seattle

Black pepper Sexy Pop -super spicy!
Back in Seattle after weeks of travels and absence from my blog, I spent some time at my local Lincoln Park. I found an interestingly named Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, the Ranga.ranga. Flavorful, light, fresh and with notes of grapefruit, it paired very well with the newly launched banana popcorn from Sexy Pop. The black pepper was also tasty but super spicy! Witness the experience with Samsung Mini photos:

Bodacious Banana Sexy Pop

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Paleo Diet bread and wraps are here

A fan or not of the paleo diet, you now have the option to get a bread made with coconut flour and almond. Paleo wraps are also available -those are made with coconut meat (I have no idea of what this is). All of the above are gluten free of course, non-GMO, vegan and overall low in calories.

Tasting notes: The wraps have a sweet taste as they are made from coconut (meat) so they will be ideal if you added some nutella on top. I wouldn't use them for savory creations. They are thin, nice in texture and tasteful.
The almond bread is flavorful but I can see a weird black ingredient (I assume it's the psyllium seed powder) that disturbed my tasting experience. The coconut bread has a better texture but it comes with a bitter taste.
They are both available at Seattle's Whole Foods so get them, try them and form your own opinion.

 Julian Bakery is the producer and is based in La Jolla, California. They offer a variety of paleo products. Their idea is fantastic but I hope that some of their items have a better texture and taste.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Seattle Chocolate Salon

The Seattle Chocolate Salon is a rather small but focused event presenting the best chocolates not only from the Emerald city but also from the surrounding areas. I tasted them all and took some, hopefully, nice photos to demonstrate if not the flavors, the looks and the concept behind them.

Have a visual taste and read my comments after each one:

The best flavored caramel from Smitten Artisan Truffles-a perfect balance of salted caramel with rum

Best packaging form the Tea Room Chocolates

The most amazing almond drageés from Dolcetta Artisan Sweets

The best single origin dark chocolate bar in the show -the Chuao Amano

No much to say for this unique tiny pralines made with pepper vodka fizz. Buttery and full-bodied and the vodka gives a kick! From Restless Chocolates.

Evolve came up with the most innovative blend: wasabi with coconut -pure and amazing ...

The best toffee caramels on the floor

The most well-presented chocolates in the show made with interesting ingredients from Cocotutti.