Category Archives: Europe Trip

Location, location, location

It appears that the real estate axiom “location, location, location” applies to the world of beverages. Normally I would never be interested in a white beer with lemon. However, package that up as bierre blanc avec une pointe d’agrumes – serve it to me in a jardin on the French Riviera and suddenly it’s ma boisson préférée dans le monde. Also I am on vacation – that helps.

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Summer wines

Drinking rosé this summer? We do in France.

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Watch your back

“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.

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Emilio Lustau – friend of the little guy

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.

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Oh Sherry

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.

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Cultural Appreciation

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

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The gift of generosity

I am learning this summer that generosity is abundant here in Europe. What a wonderful character trait it is too. I find myself surrounded by generous people. I recently wrote about James in Paris . I just discovered that Phil in Genoa also has the gift of generosity.

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Genoa Phil and his family came to visit Malaga and brought us this delightful wine from Sardegna. It tasted nothing like sardines – which was a good thing.

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Phil and Donna also brought us this fabulous Chianti – which tasted exactly like Chianti. Friendship and generosity never tasted so good.
I need to practice my generosity – it makes people feel good.


A rather complicated source

Sometimes the stories behind a wine are just as interesting as the wine itself. Often they are better. James in Paris hooked me up with these two bottles.

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The rosé from an Albanian friend who distributes for Famille Sumeire – a small family winery in Provence. The 1998 Reserva Rioja from an Irishman living in Paris who collected this bottle while living in Spain. He gave it to James in Paris as a thank you for helping him move the contents of his cellar (or “cave” as the French have it) two blocks down the road to his new home.

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Both were fantastic wines. Why I ended up with them is simply a story of generosity. Thanks James in Paris.

And thanks Brother in Spain who cooked this canard for me in Paris to enjoy with the wine.

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Noonish in Paris

Living out my own version of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris I had lunch in Paris – a picnic in Luxembourg garden to be exact – and the Police du Jardin were on patrol.

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I believe that they are ticketing people who haven’t properly chilled their white wine

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I think we are good


Google translate this

I have been “comment dit on” and “s’il vous plaît”-ing my way around France trying to navigate my way through food shops, cafés, and wine stores. So far so good – and the google translate app has been very useful too. However this needs no translating – c’est fou

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The sign in the basket says Côtes du Rhone 2€90


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