Drinking rosé this summer? We do in France.
Author Archives: Travis Oke
“Expect the unexpected” is perhaps the most absurd saying in the English language. If you start expecting then it ceases to be unexpected.
“Things are going just a little too well” is perhaps the most paranoid phrase. Then again being paranoid is only good thinking if everyone is out to get you.
So I combined the two sayings this week during my visit to Bodegas Lagar Blanco in the hills outside Montilla.
I was enjoying the best winery tour of my life thanks to the conversations with Miguel Cruz Marques and his son Miguel. Best tour ever!
I was enjoying myself so much that I almost forgot the suddenly eerily applicable warning by Edgar Allan Poe in his tale The Cask of Amontillado – where the ironically named Fortunato is distracted by his companion by a delicious amontillado and cemented into a wall. Note that in my photo of the casks I have one eye on my companion, Brother-in-Spain, and one eye on the cask.
I don’t expect he is out to get me – but then again I’m sure Fortunato wasn’t expecting the unexpected.
More on my visit to Bodegas Lagar Blanco in my next post.
Emilio Lustau is arguably the most distinguished producer of fine sherry in all of Spain. Which is why his backing of some of the smaller artisanal producers in and around Jerez interests me so much. Not everybody at the top looks after the little guy. Let me explain.
Lustau has searched out artisanal sherry makers, buys a share in their solera, and then markets and distributes their sherry. The Oloroso we purchased at the Lustau Bodegas is part of the Almacenista series – almacenista meaning storehouse or cooperative. The maker of the “Pata de Gallina” [Hen's Foot] is Juan Garcia Jarana – a motorcycle mechanic by day and an artisan of the solera system at night. He only has 38 barrels in his solera, making a bottle of his Oloroso a rare treat.
We served this Oloroso with sheep cheese and anchovies on toast. Well done Juan Garcia Jarana. Well done Emilio.
The funniest songs can get stuck in your head. Like Oh Sherry, by Steve Perry, while I walked around the city of Jerez in 40 degree weather today. Stupid song – especially considering I had the best Bodegas tour of my life at Emilio Lustau today and should have written a song about that. Thanks Ana for our private tour.
Later in the day Brother-in-Spain and I visited Domecq and I completed my 80’s flashback and got my photo with the Bo Derek cask! For the record, Bodegas Lustau was also a 10.
Subtitle: How Germany Wrecked Soccer Forever.
The Germans are taking their best shot at wrecking soccer forever. They beat Brasil 7-1 both scoring and allowing goals at a rate of one goal every 11 minutes. This unprecedented display of soccer excitement prompted my friend [rugby guy] to email me here in Spain asking if FIFA had finally done away with the offside rule for the last stages of the World Cup – something he has been lobbying for as long as I’ve known him. When rugby guys are finding soccer interesting there is clearly something wrong.
The Dutch and the Argentines quickly snapped us back to reality one night later buy scoring ZERO goals in 120 minutes – or a rate of zero goals every infinity.
I’m grateful to both these teams for helping me fall asleep during a FIFA semifinal. Try watching that rugby guy.
So I am consoling myself with the most expensive beer that money can buy in Spain – Alhambra Reserva 1925 at under 1 Euro per bottle. Spain is wrecking the way I look at beer too.
Some observations for my first week in Spain
1. My outdoor cocina is an upgrade from my own in Guelph. At least the view is
2. Large dogs still bark all night. The small ones bark all day – prompting me to learn a new Spanish phrase, “ese pequeño perro es un charlatán incansable” [that small dog is a tireless barker] which I think demonstrates considerable cultural acceptance from my last visit when I learned “cállate estúpido perro” [shut up stupid dog].
3. Coffee is milky and good and you get little heat blisters on your fingers because they serve it in un vaso
4. Wine is inexpensive and really good – good enough that I dared myself to drink the lunch sized tetra pack last night
5. The food colours are vibrant
A funny thing happened at the Farmers Market last Saturday. There was wine for sale! So I bought some – a Gewürztraminer Riesling from Pilletteri estates- and then made a delicious risotto for dinner with asparagus, brussels sprouts, and zucchini that I also bought at the farmers market.
The wine was a great blend of dry Riesling and the Gewürz perfume and honey – one of the best R-G blends from Niagara that I’ve had.
The proof is in the photos. I’m sure you can do the same this week. Thanks to the Government of Ontario for recognizing that this is an important part of farmers markets! In the words of Yakov Smirnoff – “What a country!”
Pillitteri line up of wines
Me drinking a little G-R while doing food prep
My French copper pot and ladle from the Paris market helped make my risotto
Sitting down, sipping a glass of Royal City Brewing Gateway IPA I came up with a few more World Cup Observations – aside from the one that my IPA was delicious.
Puma is getting attention at these games with their stupid coloured shoes. The right foot is pink and the left is blue. Sorry did I say stupid? Good, I did say stupid. Besides looking like the pink and blue popsicles the players look like they’re annoying, “I’m so wealthy I buy 2 pairs of shoes and only wear one of each” kids.
Speaking of popsicles did you catch a look at the USA jerseys – now those look like popsicles. No matter how you love USA soccer don’t buy one of these, they will look 10 years out of date by July 5th.
And finally, check out the new World Cup Adidas ball. Tell me it doesn’t look eerily like like the one I bought my daughters 5 years ago at Old Navy for $2.
Nano is small. Really small. But don’t underestimate the power of nano – especially when it’s in your back yard. Royal City Brewery is a nano-brewery [that means tiny] right here in Guelph. They opened up on Saturday with sample tastings, a tour, and sales.
So I sampled
And I toured
[Local coffee roaster Joe Harrison's Grizzly Bear coffee is used in this über-local stout - click here for my exposé on Grizzly Bear Coffee]
And they sold me a Growler of Gateway IPA
The best thing about buying a growler [2 litres] of IPA is that you bring it back and then they refill it for you. 199 Victoria Rd S – GO NOW!
Day 1 – I couldn’t be happier knowing that there is a month of the beautiful game to watch. Here is what I have observed from the opening match Brasil vs. Croatia.
- FRED is my favourite name for a footballer
- HULK is actually an enormous man. His shoulders and pects alone probably need 10,000 calories each day
- David Luiz looks like Sideshow Bob
- It appears that Gene Hackman is coaching Brasil this year
- The vowel to consonant ratio in Croatian names is ridiculously low [Vrsaljko - time to buy another vowel please]
- Daniel Craig has given up on James Bond and is now a midfielder for the Croatian soccer team under the pseudonym Ivica Olić
- My skills are wasted as a wine blogger – soccer analyst is clearly my calling