I had a wine ready for review today, but I drank it.
Finishing the bottle at the botequim, I forgot to bring it home… I had hoped to get another, but haven’t been out of the house for the cold.
It was French, red, good… Not plonk. Name started with a B, not Burgundy.
Heres the blurb I wrote on the day of the crime:
“Yes, today, weinerschnitzel; all crumbed and ready to go. Boiled potatoes and buttered peas and cauliflower cheese on the side. French Bordeaux in the offing…
Oh, I know how to do it on a Sunday.”
I’ll do better next time.
I really must stop drinking wine before I’ve featured it here, but I am such a weak person.
Sneaky tricks of the restaurant trade and how to avoid forking out too much
During the summer, smart restaurant owners put cunning tactics on the menu to boost profits
Ever found yourself unexpectedly drinking expensive French wine in a restaurant while Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose plays in the background? Or perhaps you’ve unintentionally parted with a hefty tip after being touched on the shoulder by your waiter? Oops. You might well have succumbed to two of the restaurant trade’s sneaky ways to get you to spend more money without realising it.
And never are these subtle strategies more employed than during the holidays. Recent figures from the Post Office show that more than 40% of parents are worried about how much they are going to spend on family meals out during the summer.
So, while smart restaurant owners have a number of clever ways to boost their profits, learn their tricks and you could make considerable savings.
How much we spend on a meal hinges on the way the menu is presented. Everything – from the listing of the dishes to the language of the descriptions – has been designed to appeal to your senses.
While you would assume that we read a menu from left to right, studies show that our eyes gravitate toward the upper right-hand corner first. This is often where the “anchor” – or the most profitable item – is located.
But this particular ploy is more cunning than simply getting you to buy the most expensive dishes: typically, having this usually quite costly dish listed will make everything look reasonably priced in comparison.
“Having an outrageously expensive item is both likely to get publicity for a restaurant, and will also get people to spend more,” says Charles Spence, experimental psychologist at the University of Oxford and co-author of The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining.
“People think ‘I wonder if anyone ever orders that?’, without realising that its true purpose is to make the next most expensive item seem cheaper.”
Conversely, research suggests that diners look at the bottom left of a menu last, so this is where the least expensive dishes will be positioned.
Even the way the food and drink is listed can subconsciously influence our spending.
Many diners will order the second least-expensive bottle on wine in an attempt to avoid looking cheap. Knowing this, restaurants place the highest markup on that very bottle.
Diners on a budget will often scour the menu and choose one of the three cheapest dishes, but the restaurant industry is fully aware of this and takes steps to ensure bumper profits.
“Restaurants will centre-align a list to make it more difficult to compare prices,” says Spence. “If you right-justify items, customers can more easily compare and will be less likely to go for more expensive items,” he says.
And watch out for those pound signs – or lack of them. A study from American university Cornell found that guests given a menu with only numbers and no currency symbols spent significantly more than those who received a menu with prices either showing currency symbols or written out in words.
Source: TheGuardian Read more about their sneaky tricks.
When gin was full of sulphuric acid and turpentine
It’s 250 years since the death of William Hogarth. His famous work Gin Lane still informs the way people think about the drink.
It’s arguably the most potent anti-drug poster ever conceived. A woman, her clothes in disarray, her head thrown back in intoxicated oblivion, allows her baby to slip from her grasp, surely to its death in a stairwell below.
She’s the centrepiece in an eye-wateringly grim urban melee – full of death, misery, starvation and fighting.
The year was 1751. The drug in question was gin. And the engraving was a conscious effort by William Hogarth, along with his friend novelist Henry Fielding, to force the government to do something about a drink that was threatening to tear apart the social fabric of England.
The craze had started with changes in the laws at the end of 17th Century aimed at curbing consumption of French brandy by liberalising the distilling industry.
The Glorious Revolution in 1688 saw the arrival of William and Mary, from the Netherlands, to topple James II. The Dutch influx brought a new spirit – genever – which rapidly caught on in England.
“There was a good chance in the 18th Century that the gins being drunk in London were genever-style,” says Gary Regan, author of the Bartender’s Gin Compendium. “A lot of it was probably really terrible. People were distilling in their houses.”
Of course, the genever being drunk by William III and his successors was not easy to replicate in a bathtub in a basement. The eager entrepreneurs reached for just about any additive they could in an effort to make the drink even vaguely palatable.
Types of gin
Genever, Jenever: Dutch spirit, still immensely popular in the Netherlands today. Distilled from malt wine and flavoured with juniper, hence the name jenever. Also referred to as Madam Geneva in English.
Old Tom Gin: Now used to refer to a style of gin popular in England in the 19th Century. Typically sweeter than modern gin. Various explanations for how name came to be. Traditionally often featuring some sort of cat on the bottle.
London Dry Gin: Modern style of gin, which has dominated since the late 19th Century.
Plymouth Gin: Similar to London dry gin, although said to be slightly sweeter, and the subject of protected geographical indication status, meaning it can only be made in Plymouth.
Sloe Gin: A liqueur made from gin and sloe berries from the blackthorn.
“You had a poorer populace who aspired to drink like the king,” says Lesley Solmonson, author of Gin: A Global History. “They wanted novelty. But the poor couldn’t afford the genever that the king was drinking.”
Instead home distilling operations mushroomed, with some areas having every single building churning out bad gin.
“They were using sulphuric acid, turpentine and lime oil,” says Solmonson. “It was like death in a glass. One tankard could kill you.”
“People were drinking to forget their misery. These gins were roughly double what the proof of a modern gin is. And they were drinking a whole tankard of it.”
For even the most virtuous pauper, temptation was hard to avoid.
“It was ferociously adulterated,” says Jenny Uglow. “And it was sold everywhere – in grocer’s shops and ship’s chandlers. There was a bar in every building. It has been said that it tasted more like rubbing alcohol.”
The first half of the 18th Century saw rapidly escalating concern over the new drug’s effects, as the records of the Old Bailey show.
Source: BBCNews Read more
Surely, an oxymoron…
First bottles of Ethiopian wine produced by French firm Castel
The grape names – merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay – are distinctly French, but the label on the Rift Valley wines is surprising: made in Ethiopia.
The French beverage giant Castel, one of the world’s biggest producers of wines and beers, is raising a glass to its first production of 1.2m bottles of Ethiopian Rift Valley wine.
The African state’s former president Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, encouraged Castel to develop vineyards in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, as a way of improving its image.
Half of the bottles are destined for domestic consumption and half for export to countries where the Ethiopian diaspora have settled, though 26,000 have already been snapped up by a Chinese buyer.
Although Castel does not expect its Ethiopian wine business to make a profit until 2016, it hopes to more than double production to 3m bottles a year. Though Ethiopia is better known for its production of another drink, coffee, Castel says the African country has the potential to rival the continent’s main wine producer, South Africa.
“It’s not that difficult because the climate is good and it’s not too hot,” Castel’s Ethiopia site manager, Olivier Spillebout, told Agence France-Presse. “Exports are small now, but year after year they will grow.”
The company has produced a better quality wine called Rift Valley, selling in Ethiopia for the equivalent of €7 (£5.50) and a grape-mix wine called Acacia, retailing at the equivalent of €5.
Source: TheGuardian Read more
Castel, A French Wine Maker, To Export Ethiopian Wine
A leading French wine maker, Castel Winery plans to begin bottling wine for export starting early next year from its Battu (commonly known as Zeway) based vineyard.
It is Ethiopia’s first foreign winery after all wineries were nationalized during the Derg regime, and has been cultivating four different types of French wine since May 2008.
Back again after the interruptions of the World Cup.
Concha y Toro
A Chilean wine from the Central Valley.
It doesn’t stipulate the harvest.
Aroma of ripe red fruit.
Goes well with white meats, pastas, pizzas, risottos and fresh white cheeses.
I am having mine with feijoada, a little bit heavier than the recommended pairings.
But I like the smoothness of Merlot.
Priced to fit my pocket at around R$20.oo.
definitely NOT plonk.
What happens if you eat 112-year-old ham?
A ham in the US said to be the oldest in the world has celebrated its 112th birthday. Can it really be edible after all this time, asks Tom de Castella.
It was first cured by the Gwaltney meat company in 1902, forgotten about at the back of a storage room, and eventually donated to the Isle of Wight County Museum in Smithfield, Virginia. Today it looks like a piece of old leather. A special case protects it from bugs and mould, and it is billed the world’s oldest edible cured ham. “It would be dry, dry tasting, but it’s not molded,” curator Tracey Neikirk told the Wall Street Journal.
Dry curing – salting the meat and draining the blood – allows ham to last and develop a richer flavour. But most hams are only aged for a year or two. Not 112. “After such a long time and without knowing how the ham was processed it’s difficult to know whether it would be safe,” a Food Standards Agency spokesman says. To most people “edible” means more than the ability to eat something without it killing you. “Jamon iberico of four to five years is amazing,” says Jose Pizarro, owner of Pizarro, a Spanish restaurant in London.” The oldest edible ham he’s heard of is eight years old. After that the fat starts to oxidise and the flavour disappears from the meat. A rancid taste develops as the yellow fat diffuses, and as the decades pass it will become as hard as a stone and incredibly ugly, he says.
And then there’s the question of whether the Virginia museum’s really is the oldest. In 1993, Michael Feller, a butcher in Oxford, bought a ham at auction that was 101 years old. It looked “rather yukky” but was edible, although he wasn’t going to cut into it. Today it hangs in the shop window, unnibbled at the ripe old age of 122. Food writer Jay Rayner is unmoved by the battle for the title of oldest ham. “I’d be suspicious of anyone getting excited about the former back end of a pig that’s been hanging around for 112 years.” Wine and spirits offer a better bet. He remembers drinking a “rather lovely” 1865 armagnac. It had aged well – “deep and toasty” – but the real attraction was not its flavour, he concedes. It was “that link with antiquity”. Which perhaps explains the birthday party for a shrivelled up piece of pork.
and a bit of humour this week…
I have never thought about “food saints” before…
Originally posted on Cheese FC:
Saint Lawrence was a Deacon of Rome in 258, a time when Christians were not really venerated in the eternal city. He made the mistake of distributing riches to the poor. This attracted the attention of the Roman emperor, who ordered him to hand over those riches to him. Lawrence, who was actively looking for martyrdom, presented some beggars, crippled, orphans etc., to the emperor, saying that these were the greatest treasures of the Church. This pissed off the emperor just a tiny bit, so he decided to kill Lawrence by grilling him above some nice hot charcoal. After being grilled for a while Saint Lawrence was nicely burned, but had one last witty remark in store: “This side is nicely burned, you can now turn me…
View original 285 more words
Preparing a scary horseshoe crab lunch
It’s a classic vegetarian Indian restaurant dish that’s quick and easy to make. But do you like yours wet or dry? And is frozen spinach ever acceptable?
Choosing from a menu is never straightforward where I’m concerned – I’m always worried I’m going to make the wrong choice, and miss out on something I’ll never get the chance to try again. But as soon as I sink into the soft flock cushions favoured by British Indian restaurants of the old school, all such worries melt away – I know exactly what I’m going to have. Inevitably it’s a spicy lamb curry from the chef’s specials, with tarka dal and saag paneer, accompanied by a plain naan, ideally one the size of the napkin.
Now, I can make some pretty decent lamb curries, even if I sometimes have difficulty identifying one, and I’m a dab hand at dal, yet the simplest dish – fried spinach and fresh cheese – has proved a remarkably tough nut to crack. Nothing I’ve tried has come close to matching up to the garlicky, greasy greens served in the humblest of curry houses; nice, sure, but not the kind of dish you’d go back to like a woman obsessed. It seemed time for a more systematic approach – just how do they do it?
Now, if your interested… you can read all about the greens, the cheese, the spices and flavourings and the ‘how to’ on The Guardian.
A Cottage Kitchen
A typical country kitchen with a brick floor and pot on the open fire.
err, Bacon Cake???
The wine today is no longer in my rack…
I drank it on Saturday to celebrate the Argentine game against Iran in the FIFA World Cup…
Ugni Blanc Chardonnay 2013 from Viñas de Balbo, Mendoza, Argentina.
“This generic wine is obtained from the harmonic combination of Ugni Blanc and Chardonnay varieties which gives this wine a delicate yellow color with hints of green, a subtle and persistent aroma and a particular soft and fruity flavor. It goes well with white meats, soft cheese, fish and seafood.” – Don Cano Wines
Although I drank it with weinerschnitzel, boiled minted potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce…
Good price, went down a treat, looking for more.
The Mendoza region in northwest Argentina produces many great wines. Here’s a good guide to northwest wines: Grape Travel
My rating: Definitely not plonk.