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March 30, 2007

Washington and Oregon wine and cheese pairings

One of the sweet things about living at the confluence of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean is that I get to claim Tillamook Cheese as my local cheesemaker. The factory is close enough that I could drive down for the afternoon and still make it home for dinner. Since Tillamook cheddar is one of my all-time favorites, this is a real stroke of luck for me. It also means that when a local burger place needs a local cheese, they can go to the source of some very nice stuff indeed.

But the Tillamook folks aren't content to just promote their own fine cheeses. They have created a couple of wine and cheese pairing lists that highlight selections from local wineries, and even other cheese producers.

I have had a number of the listed cheeses and they are very nice indeed - Cougar Gold, for example, is a  longtime regional favorite and it was nice to see it on the list. A number of the wines were less familiar to me, but there are a few I am looking forward to checking out.

If you live in the area and want to expand your options for locally made sips and nibbles, you really should check these lists out!

White and Sparkling wines
Red wines

September 05, 2006

Summerset: the evidence

I totally forgot the obligatory lateInTheParty photo of people with their "Buy me or the puppy gets it" prints, so here's the very last shot of the revelers.

I also forgot to mention that, in the spirit of "geekiness" (they were Geek Dinners, after all) we came up with an additional use of technology for Stormhoek. See, they use screwtops (!) and, while I'll skip the technical arguments (how anti-geeky) we did find one aspect of the experience lacking. No satisfying pop of the cork coming out of the bottle. While we could (and did) argue for the use of corks, we did come up with an alternative: chip the screwtop.

It seems like those little chips they use to make music in greeting cards could be repurposed into a higher use. Create a realistic cork popping sound and design a means of triggering the sound when the screwtop "breaks" apart. Small touch, big effect.

Not wanting to offload the work for our idea onto Stormhoek, and in the spirit of international cooperation, we also offer to test the technology. Repeatedly. Through many beta cycles. Just as often as Stormhoek wants us to.

I leave you with a final thought, tossed out somewhere in the Pinotage (the last of the wines) by a wise person and agreed upon by all:

This would have been a lot less fun if the wine wasn't so good!

Thanks again Sam, Jason, Hugh, and everyone else at Stormhoek who helped make Summerset so much fun.

September 02, 2006

Summerset: wine, food, friends...does it get any better?

Pinotgritable_1 As part of their "100 Geek Dinners" promotion, Stormhoek Winery was kind enough to send a case of their wine out here to evenTinierTown and we put it to good use last weekend by holding a potluck wine tasting. Our good friends, Sunrise and Jessica Fletcher, loaned us the lawn by the pond at the Inn at Lucky Mud and we gathered a dozen and a half friends on Sunday afternoon to sip wine, nibble delicious food, and listen to a little guitar music (contributed by Sunrise and someoneElse, both charter members of WAGS). Sunrise even came up with a song pairing for each of the wines, which was a real hoot, especially as we got further into the evening.

I decided that we were going to make our wine tasting a potluck so that we could let everyone's efforts shine in the appropriate setting, with the right wine, and it turned out to be a wonderful idea. Invitations included an "assignment" of a wine to cook for, some tasting notes that Sam from Stormhoek provided, and what I could glean from the blogosphere on food pairings from earlier Geek Dinners. This turned out to be a great idea, everyone brought food that was very tasty and went well with their wine. It may have helped that the people who replied sayng they'd been drinking Shiraz a lot lately were given Shiraz and the farmers got a white to go with their abundance of fresh vegetables, but I'm happy with the results.

My job was bread, desserts and coordination...and onon tarts...and I think I pulled it off; the tarts didn't hurt. I decided to make an assortment of bitesized sweets for dessert, which was almost as good of an idea as having other people bring the rest of the food (did I mention it was all excellent? plus made with mostly locally produced ingredients...I wouldn't be surprised if we were darned close to meeting the locavores goal of a 100 mile radius for our foodshed...well, except for the wine from halfway around the globe...)

Details on the food and wine after the jump.

Continue reading "Summerset: wine, food, friends...does it get any better?" »

June 21, 2006

Blogger's Boot-up Blend

This is part two of a series of reviews of Blogger's Fuel, a line of coffee from Boca Java, written by someoneElse, the resident coffee aficionado. Links to earlier reviews are at the end of this article. (disclaimer: the coffee was a freebie in exchange for reviews)

The second Boca Java coffee I tried was Blogger's Boot-up Blend.

After a long and late night of tearing down and rebuilding a Linux server (Fedora), an XP workstation, installing a 400gb NAS device, and getting my new dual core P4 (Dell) to talk to my recording studio (Presonus Firepod w/Cubase), the next morning I was ready for something to boot my system.

Bootupblend I opened the bag of Bloggers Boot Up Blend with anticipation — hopefully something to yank my interrupts and get my operating system going!  The aroma lofting out of the bag was of a mild light roast with a bit of a rustic edge. There was a transient subtleness suggesting tastes imprecisely defined, like an elusive memory that slips away as you try to identify what it is or what it reminds you of. There was also a waft of something my nose identified as "staleness" — you know, like when you pre-grind extra beans that you don't use that day and you toss the extra coffee in a jar with a lid to use later, and then a couple weeks afterward you grab the jar because you don't have beans ground and you sniff it and it smells....stale.

Continue reading "Blogger's Boot-up Blend " »

June 16, 2006

Blogs of Bravery coffee review

Perhaps sensing a niche, Boca Java coffee recently started a line of coffees called Blogger's Fuel; a series of blends with names like Blogger's Boot-up Blend and New Media Mavericks and an offer that 500 bloggers couldn't resist: Free coffee in exchange for reviews on your blog.

My forays into coffee began in the military, where hot caffeinated water would have been perfectly acceptable — come to think of it, maybe we could have mixed that water with the sludge that filled the dingy glass carafes to make something a bit more palatable — and ended when I could once again make myself a decent cup of tea. (I really consider those triple-shot mochas I indulge in to be more of an adult hot chocolate with a caffeine kicker...and it's so much more socially acceptable to ask for a triple mocha than the other... but i digress...) The upshot is, not being much of a coffee drinker myself, I've recruited someoneElse, the resident coffee aficionado, for a series of reviews of the various Blogger's Blend coffees.

Blogsofbraveryfront The beginning of the adventure

The first coffee I tested was Blogs of Bravery, a good, serious-minded blend that left you with no doubt that you were drinking a real cup of coffee. No frou-frou stuff hereit is not flavored or spiced or altered in such a way that would leave you wondering what you are drinking. With Blogs of Bravery you have no doubt that you are drinking a solid cup of good coffee.

Continue reading "Blogs of Bravery coffee review" »

January 30, 2006

blenders of the gods...

The current Utne magazine has a recipe for Xocoatl from a group of folks at Chocosuisse. According to the article, Chocosuisse researched the Aztec chocolate drink and are attempting to recreate it with this recipe.

They offer an interesting sounding concoction of chocolate, crushed almonds, milk, honey, lemon juice, rum, arrack (a cocount palm liqueur which I've obviously been missing out on), allspice and ginger. (What? No cinnamon? No chiles? No vanilla?)

They go on to describe a method of making the drink that involves melting the chocolate wih the almonds and milk, then chilling it in the refrigerator. Did the Aztecs really drink their chocolate cold often enough that it is the authentic way? Wikipedia indicates that it was served at all temperatures, so maybe I am being a purist, but I am thinking hot chocolate. Maybe it's the endless rain.

The final step in the process includes this: " in a blender or shaker..."

But, but, but... (she sputters)

What about a delightful carved wooden molinllo? Yes, I know this is totally inauthentic, being invented by the Europeans who came over and "found" a continent that was not lost, being full of lovely people as it was. But it's pretty well associated with chocolate from south of the US border over the few hundred years it's been around and they said a blender! A blender!

January 26, 2006

Just what every drinker needs.

I am sure you've seen thing that make you wonder, if this is the answer, what in the world was the question. Perhaps this is the answer to balancing drink and plate at cocktail parties while occasionally having a free hand. Perhaps it doesn't look quite so ridiculous after a few shots. One can hope.

January 06, 2006

Drink your way around mid-Cascadia

Apparently someone sent a memo out with something about this being a post-holiday recovery time for food blogs. You know, low-fat, low-alcohol, maybe even go on a diet, that sort of thing. Hell, even my favorite crazies are joining in and Sam's declared it Sugar-LOW Friday! Sugar-LOW? Is nothing sacred with you people? shakes head in dismay

Whatever folks. You all enjoy your no-carb, no-fat, no-meat (no fun) carrot stick and celery dinners. I'm pouring myself a glass of something alcoholic and searching the cupboards for some chocolate. Sadly, I already know that I have neither great wine nor terribly good chocolate. I have perfectly good slabs of bittersweet chocolate, but that's my baking stuff and the last truffle dissolved last my mouth. Same thing with wine, the good stuff all went away over the holidays, leaving a small selection of random bottles.

And memories of better wines I've discovered in the last year...

insert waving fingers and doodley-boop fade noise

Continue reading "Drink your way around mid-Cascadia" »

December 17, 2005

Coca Sek: the real "real thing"?

We all know that Coca-cola used to contain a bit of cocaine, even though Coca-cola now denies it. Other soft drink companies are a bit more honest, one might say refreshingly so, about the not-so-secret ingredients in their drinks. Coca Sek, a new offering from a small business in Colombia (yes, that Colombia), is essentially bottled coca tea. Yep, that coca.

Continue reading "Coca Sek: the real "real thing"?" »

September 28, 2005

Pretty, and you can drink it too!

My frst serious fall color, a staghorn sumac that's still in its pot and tucked away in a back corner of the yard. This was going to be just a pretty picture to celebrate the turning of the seasons, but then I found a recipe for Sumac wine!

Sumac wine? Who knew! (and why didn't they tell me?) I don't have a significant amount of berries this year, so I can't try it now, but I bet I can turn up enough to try this next year. There's the kind of project I can get behind--one with a deadline that's an entire year away.

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