3 Fonteinen Brewery Open Beer Days in Belgium: September 5-9, 2013

From August 30 through September 3, 2012, the 3 Fonteinen Brewery near Brussels held their annual open beer days.  This is a rare opportunity to visit one of the premier brewers of the local specialty lambic beers.  The event includes free tours of the brewery in Dutch, French and English, a chance to taste some of their products, and most importantly, a chance to buy some of their special, old bottles not usually available for purchase in the shop.  You may also get a chance to meet Armand and Lydie Debelder, the owners and brewer of the 3 Fonteinen beers.

Armand Debelder finishing up a tour of 3 Fonteinen Brewery

Armand Debelder finishing up a tour of 3 Fonteinen Brewery

 

Armand Debelder's Philosophy on Making Geuze

Armand Debelder’s Philosophy on Blending Geuze

Lydie Debelder helping a customer with their special beer purchases.

Lydie Debelder helping a customer with their special beer purchases.

Available for tasting at lat year’s event were the 3 Fonteinen Lambic, Oude Geuze, Oude Kriek, and Faro as well as the Beersel Blond, Lager and Zwet.be.  I had to partake of a Faro here, as they don’t bottle this for normal sale.  The Faro seems to be usually available only in the 3 Fonteinen Restaurant located next door.  Faro is a lambic blended with caramel and candied sugar.  It retains the normal sourness of a lambic, but with a nice sweetness that makes it quite smooth.  These beers are usually short lived, only three to four weeks in the bottle, as the added sugars result in very active fermentation that could make the bottle explode!

Tasting Bar at 3 Fonteinen Open Beer Days

Tasting Bar at 3 Fonteinen Open Beer Days

The 3 Fonteinen Faro, only available at the Restaurant or during the Open Beer Days

The 3 Fonteinen Faro, only available at the Restaurant or during the Open Beer Days

3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek - Amazing color!

3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek – Amazing color!

For the bottles for purchase in the store, the following options were available:

Beers available for purchase at 3 Fonteinen Brewery

3 Fonteinen

Oude Geuze 0.375 L €2.50
Oude Geuze 0.75 L €4.45
Golden Blend Oude Geuze 0.375 L €8.00
Oude Kriek 0.375 L €3.85
Schaarbeekse Kriek 0.75L €12.00

Armand D4 2010 Limited Edition Oude Geuze 0.75 L €24 each for Autumn, Summer and Winter.
Spring is only available as part of the limited edition (500) collector’s box at €110.00

Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2011 0.75 L €7.00

Beersel

Blond 0.33 L €1.25
Lager 0.33 L €1.15
Zwet.be 0.33 L €1.75

Special Offerings during 3 Fonteinen Open Beer Days

Oude Geuze Vintage 2003 0.75 L €24.00 (max 1)
Oude Geuze Vintage 2005 0.75 L €17.00 (max 1)
Oude Geuze Vintage 2008 0.75 L €10.00 (max 6)
Oude Geuze Vintage 2008 0.375 L €6.00 (max 6)

Doesjel Vintage 2006 0.75 L  €7.00 (max 6)
Doesjel Vintage 2010 0.375 L €4.00 (max 6)

Oude Kriek 2006 0.375 L € 6.00 (max 1)
Schaarbeekse Kriek 2006 0.75 L € 20.00 (max 1)
Schaarbeekse Kriek 2008 0.75 L € 15.00 (max 6)

Straffe Winter 0.75 L € 34.00 (max 1)

Selection of 3 Fonteinen Special Beers available during the 2012 Open Beer Days

Selection of 3 Fonteinen Special Beers available during the 2012 Open Beer Days

The 2013 Open Beer Days will be held from Thursday, September 5 through Monday, September 9, 2013.  If you’re looking to pick up a few of the rare older bottles, try to get there on Thursday or Friday, as quantities are often limited and they run out of choice vintages fast!

If you’re driving to 3 Fonteinen, they’re off Exit 19 on the R0 Ring Brussels.  As you’re exiting, veer to the right to cross back under the highway and head up into Beersel (don’t go straight towards Lot).  When you hit the top of the hill with the large church, you can see the Restaurant 3 Fonteinen in the square, and the brewery in just around the corner on the main road.  Parking is free in the spots in front of the church and restaurant.

3 Fonteinen Restaurant - Beersel, Belgium

3 Fonteinen Restaurant – Beersel, Belgium

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen
Hoogstraat 2a
1650 Beersel
http://www.3fonteinen.be

Restaurant 3 Fonteinen
Herman Tierlinckplein 3
1650 Beersel
+32 (0)2  331 06 52

Festival Dei Birrai Eretici – Craft Beer Festival in Bologna, Italy

When I think about Italy, usually great food and wine are the first things that come into my mind.  However, being the inquisitive soul that I am, I wanted to find out if there is good craft beer as well.

Last week, Erin and I were in Bologna, Italy for the BlogVille project, sharing an apartment with a great group of travel bloggers from the US (Oregon), Australia, and Venezuela.  Up until one of the last nights, my search for beer had not been very thorough. I do have to admit that I got caught up in the tradition of enjoying some of the wines of Emilia Romagna with our meals, and we’d been too tired most nights to do much in the way of going out to look for a pub to enjoy a beer in the evening. I did see a few beers around that I want to go back and try, and managed to try a couple craft beers in Ferrara at the Eco + Food Festival we attended, so I was hopeful that I’d have a chance to experience the beer culture in Bologna before we had to leave.

Apologize in advance for the lack of quality photos — Erin had the good camera with her as she was scheduled to do an interview with a local chef!

Sadly, on Monday, our initial group of six was breaking up, as Bethany and Ted from twoOregonians and Michael from Time Travel Turtle were leaving to continue on their journeys.  As Sunday was to be our last night together, and hearing there was a craft beer festival in town, we decided to head out and see what was on offer.  Michael, Bianca from Nomadiba and I wandered down to the university area of town, to where the Festival Dei Birrai Eretici was being held in a collection of pubs and cafes on the via Mascarella.

Beer Festival in Bologna, Italy (credit: BeerLab.it)

The establishments taking part in the Festival (and their offerings) were:

Lortica
Via Mascarella 26
+39 051 5876455

Beer Menu at Lortica

Beer Menu at Lortica

Beer Taps at Lortica

Beer Taps at Lortica

Birrificio Del Ducato, Roncole Verdi di Busetto (PR), Italy, Via Emilia – 4.8% Classic German Pilsener, slightly hazy blonde color. Fruity and slightly peppery. Pleasantly bitter and refreshing.

Birrificio Del Ducato, Victoria Light IPA – 3.5% American Pale Ale. Clear, light and fun-loving. Strong character given by dry hopping from American and German hops.

Birrificio Del Ducato, AFO – 5.4% American Pale Ale. For those obsessed with hops – 9 different types to get this Pale Ale with a complex and intriguing bouquet.

Birrificio Del Ducato, New Morning – 5.8% Belgian Saison style, created to celebrate the spring. Golden and slightly veiled, particularly spicy, with aroma of wildflowers, green pepper and ginger.

Vecchia Orsa, Crevalcore (BO), Italy, Saison – 5.5% Dry and refreshing Saison. Very spicy and slightly fruity bouqet.

Menaresta, Carate Brianza (MI), Italy, Flora Sambuco – 4.8% Spice/Herb/Vegetable Style, brewed with Elder Flowers. Intense, strongly characterized by the elder, fresh and fragrant, supported by a good bitter taste.

Left Hand, Longmont, Colorado, USA, Wake Up Dead Barrel-Aged – 10.2% Russian Imperial Stout exaggerated and uncompromising, peculiarly American. 12 months in barrel. Rare and not to be missed.

Ridgeway, Reading, England, Bad King John – 6% Stout, dark but not impenetrable. Tied to the ancient British traditions. The aroma and taste are dominated by liquorice and toffee.

De Ranke, Dottenijs, Belgium, XX Bitter – 6.2% The most bitter of the Belgian Ales. The explosion of noble hops in the nose, fine structure balanced by malt and Belgian spice, giving it an unmistakable rustic touch.

Hardknott, Millom, England, Cool Fusion – 4.4% Pale ale for those who love ginger spices.

Birrificio Italiano, Lurago Marinone (CO), Italy, Vùdù – 5.5% Dunkel Weizen. German style, uncompromising, spicy and refreshing, well-structured body.

Emiliano, Anzola Nell’Emilia, Italy, Forum Gallorum – 5% Inspired by the beers of Cologne.

Girardin, Sint Ulriks-Kapelle, Belgium, Black Label – 5% Geuze, A blend of lambics of different vintages. Wild and refreshing, well-carbonated with citrus notes.

Dark Star, Horsham, England, Old Chestnut – 4% Old Ale, Light in alcohol content but rich in flavor, from wood to dry fruit. Served in a cask, English to the core.

Old Chestnut Barrel

Dark Star Old Chestnet Barrel

Modo
Via Mascarella 24/b
+39 051 5871012

St. Peter’s, Bungay, England, Cream Stout – 6.5% Stout. Soft and elegant, very balanced.

Centokiodi, Bologna, Italy, Sveltina – 5% Cream Ale. The slender body makes it a very drinkable bitter beer.

Bruton, San Cassiano di Moriano (Lucca), Italy, Lilith – 5.5% American Pale Ale, Tuscan version, for strong palates.

De La Senne, Brussels, Belgium, Taras Boulba – 5% Belgian Ale, lower alcohol content, with a high bitter content.

Au Allertau, Germany, Weisse – 5% German wheat beer, straight from Bavaria. Banana and clove characterize the traditional bouquet.

Moustache
Via Mascarella 5/a

+39 051 235424

De La Senne, Zinnebir – 6% Belgian Ale, Sister of Taras Boulba, shares the bitter elegance and innovative spirit.

Brewfist, Codogno, Italy, Fear – 5.2% Sweet Stout. For those who are afraid of the dark beers. Cream and cocoa beans make for a sweet and soft palate. Romantic.

Gwatkin, Hereford, England, Golden Cider – 5% Cider in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition.

Cantina Bentivoglio
Via Mascarella 4/B
+39 051 265416

Rurale, Certosa di Pavia, Italy, Seta – 5% Blanche-style Belgian wheat beer. Clear and slightly veiled. Spiced with orange peel and coriander.

Menaresta, Felina – 7.5% Beer with a beautiful amber color, full and enveloping tones of cinnamon spice and ripe fruit.

Birrificio Italiano, Tipopils – 5.2% Classic German Pilsener. The founder of Italian pils, distinguished from its German sisters with a more slender body and more explosive aroma, herbal and peppery.

Bon Secours, Péruwelz, Belgium, Triple – 9% Golden. Dry and floral. Elegant final alcohol.

Bravo Caffe’
Via Mascarella 1
+39 051 266112

Revelation Cat/Mikkeller, Copenhagen, Denmark, Cream Ale – 5% Inspired by traditional pre-Prohibition American blonde, it breaks the boundaries of style, being more bitter and more fragrant.

Cremeria Mascarella
Via Mascarella 30
+39 051 263236

Granita of Craft Beer

Twenty-seven beers in total as part of the festival, and fourteen of them were from Italy, and none of them named Peroni!

Birrificio Del Ducato AFO

Birrificio Del Ducato AFO

I was very happy to see the high concentration of Italian craft beers as part of the festival, with more than half of the total selection coming from Italy.  And the styles of beers presented by Italian craft brewers showed a nice diversity.

Birrificio Del Ducato Via Emilia

Birrificio Del Ducato Via Emilia

Unfortunately, the Bravo Caffe’ was closed already when we arrived, so we did not get to try the Revelation Cat/Mikkeller Cream Ale.  We passed by Moustache and Cantina Bentivoglio but they were quiet and empty, and we wanted to be more in a crowd.  We found L’Ortica, where not only was there a nice mix of people, but we also managed to snag a table out on the patio where we settled in for the next few hours.

Hardknott Cool Fusion

Hardknott Cool Fusion

Over the course of the evening, I tried the Via Emilia, Cool Fusion, Old Chestnut, Flora Sambuco and Wake Up Dead.  I wanted to try a few of the other Italian beers, but two of the taps were on rotation, and neither Saison was available, the AFO available instead (which I had already tried), and the Vùdù and Forum Gallorum being off the tap in favor of the Cool Fusion.  AFO and Bad King John also found their way to the table, and I did take a small taste of the Bad King John when it arrived.

Bad King John and Old Chestnut

Bad King John and Old Chestnut

I loved the beers I did try, especially the Old Chestnut, Flora Sambuco and Cool Fusion.  The Wake Up Dead was good, but had a bit too much alcohol taste for me.  According to Bianca, this would be a great beer for marinating meat with.

Flora Sambuco and Wake Up Dead

Flora Sambuco and Wake Up Dead

Next door to L’Ortica is Modo and we discovered it was quite interesting as well — nice crowd and also a good beer selection – offering a one-two punch for a night out in Bologna. I would definitely suggest making 24 and 26 Via Mascarella your places to stop when you’re out for a beer.  And I would definitely suggest giving the Italian craft beer selections a chance, as they are quite good, and show that there is definitely a growing beer community in Italy.  Granted, not as strong as the wine community, but certainly not something to ignore for the future.

 

Preparing for Queen’s Day in Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Tonight and tomorrow will be perhaps the biggest party of the year in Eindhoven, even more crowded than Carnaval, and perhaps only rivaled by those days when the local football team wins the championship.  Last time I was in town for Queen’s Day I could hardly move, the crowds of orange so vast it took hours just to walk a few hundred meters.

The weather seems a little more threatening this year than it did that year, but the city is gearing up for quite a party nonetheless.

I took a walk through all the major squares in the center of town this afternoon to see what was being prepared for this year’s festivities.  All of the major local beers seemed to be well represented, with numerous stages and every variety of food truck to be found, representing all of the traditional options, from trucks offering selections of French Fries / Krokets / and Frikkendel, to hamburgers, bratwurst, mini egg rolls, pizza, and every other food that pairs well with the ever present beers.

I hope the rain holds off.

Stage set up in Stationsplein

Stage set up in Stationsplein

Stocked up on Red Bull

Preparing for a long night?

Bavaria Truck

Bavaria Truck

Cakes and other "baked" goods

Cakes and other "baked" goods

Grease Popcorn

Popcorn, Grease style!

Beck's stand

Beck's Beer not to be left out.

Grolsch Truck

Grolsch Truck with food stands in the background

Leompias and Tostis

Loempias and Tostis

Hamburgers and Bratwurst

From America? Hamburgers and Bradwurst

Pizza

Queen's Day Pizza - New York Style

Frituur Stand

Frituur - Frites, Kroket, Frikkendel. Yum!

Jupiler

Jupiler set up to represent Belgium

 

For more photos, check out my Google+ Album of Eindhoven Queen’s Day, 2012 Preparations

American Craft Beer Week May 16 – 22, 2011

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22, 2011

Brett is more of the beer connoisseur in our travels, but I definitely enjoy a great craft beer — especially American microbrews.  I find the Belgian varieties Brett craves are often too high in alcohol content for me, so I can’t sample too many before wanting to curl up on the couch and take a nap.

For other American craft beer lovers like myself, there’s a whole week devoted to this hoppy red, white, and blue goodness — American Craft Beer Week!  This year’s event is May 16 – 22 and is organized by the Brewers Association / CraftBeer.com.

To help celebrate American Craft Beer Week, we will feature a number of posts this month dedicated to some of our favorite craft brews, brewery tours, and other American beer gems.  On my Culinary Travel column for Examiner.com, I will be listing some of the upcoming events for American Craft Beer Week.  There are a number of other Beer Weeks happening during American Craft Beer Week including:

  • Minnesota Craft Beer Week — May 13-22, 2011
  • Long Island Craft Beer Week — May 13-22, 2011
  • Nevada Beer Week — May 14-22, 2011
  • San Antonio Beer Week — May 15-22, 2011
  • Chicago Craft Beer Week — May 19-27, 2011
  • Seattle Beer Week — May 19-28, 2011

 

What are some of your favorite American Craft Beers?  Please share with us as we’re always looking for a few more good beers!

Culinary Events: Cheesemaking Workshops from New Zealand Cheese School

I’m not sure about you, but one thing I tend to miss most when departing certain countries is their cheese.  How many times have you found yourself saying, “Oh, the Mozzarella in Italy is fresher,” or “Manchego in Spain tastes different?”  I’m certainly guilty of it, and now living in Taiwan for two years — where cheese is not an integral part of the diet — I’ve found myself living a life of cheese deprivation!  Just to be fair, we do have some craft cheeses available in larger, more western style grocery stores, but they don’t come cheap, nor can you find the variety I’m used to back in the United States.

If you are a cheese lover like me, you should know there is help for us — they are called cheese workshops!  If you’re working on upcoming culinary travel plans, you should know that New Zealand has a cheese school that offers one-day workshops where you get to be a cheesemaker for a day!

You can be a cheesemaker for a day in New Zealand!

Nearly every month this year, the New Zealand Cheese School is holding these workshops all around the country, making it convenient to do one no matter what part of New Zealand you plan to travel in.

What Topics do the Cheese Workshops Cover?

Workshops run from 9:30am to 3:30pm and include a discussion about the origins of cheese, starter cultures, and rennet.  They go over home hygiene, how to source milk, recipes and techniques for making cheese at home, necessary equipment, and how to ripen and mature your cheese.

Each class will focus on making one or two cheese types — Feta and Halloumi, Brie, Washed Rind, Goat cheese, or Blue.  Also, every one of the workshops will teach you how to make ricotta, mascarpone, Greek-style yoghurt, and quark.

What is Included in the Workshop?

Included in the courses are notes, recipes, and instructions.  Enjoy complimentary tea and coffee, along with a hosted cheese tasting with cheeses from Over the Moon Dairy.  You also get to take your cheese home to ripen and mature.  Now, if you are planning to leave New Zealand right away, and traveling to a country that doesn’t allow dairy imports, you may have to part with your beloved creation and start over when you return home.  Or, consider the Feta workshop as your cheese is aged the next day, allowing you to devour it before traveling!

What Supplies Should You Bring?

Requested materials include a clean apron, a pen to take notes, and cash or check to purchase cheesemaking supplies (they note that most people spend between $40 and $150).

To find out more information on workshop locations, prices, and to sign up, please see the New Zealand Cheese School website.

Have you taken a cheese making course in New Zealand?  Please let us know about your experience as this is something we’re very interested in doing on our trip to New Zealand!

This post is part of the #Blog4NZ event taking place March 21-23. Please help this worthy cause and support tourism to New Zealand by sharing this article across your social networks.

Autographed Copy of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

Several weeks ago, famed chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller “brought” French Laundry to the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong for a special $900 11-course tasting menu.  While Keller was in town, the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong was running daily Facebook and Twitter contests for a chance to win an autographed copy of Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook.

Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook

Although we couldn’t secure a reservation for the dinner (yes, we did actually try and would’ve flown over for the night), I did luck out and manage to win a copy of the cookbook on Twitter one day!

French Laundry Cookbook signed by Thomas Keller

I have to pay the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong quite a compliment in that they were willing to work with us on getting the book shipped here to Taiwan.  The other winners were local and it was expected you would pick up the book in person.  However, we had just left Hong Kong two days prior and without securing a reservation for the dinner, I would’ve had a hard time convincing Brett to fly back out just to pick it up!

We were prepared to have a local colleague of Brett’s pick it up if need be; however, the Mandarin Oriental agreed to ship the book to us (at our expense).  We preferred to have it shipped so we did not have to worry about it getting damaged in our carry-on luggage.  Much to our surprise, the book arrived a couple days later, and they took great care in wrapping it and ensuring it arrived undamaged.  We cannot thank them enough!

Book arrived carefully packed and wrapped with lots of bubble wrap!

Be sure to follow the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong on Twitter @MO_HKG and join their Facebook Page to keep up to date on their upcoming events, special deals, and any additional contests they might be running!

Perhaps winning the cookbook was a sign…maybe we will finally be able to secure a reservation for French Laundry on our next trip to Napa!

Another shot of Thomas Keller's signature on our French Laundry Cookbook

Our Tasty Travels Listed Among 50 Amazing Food and Travel Blogs by CulinaryArtsCollege.org

Although we are a pretty “new” and small blog, we were incredibly honored and quite surprised to find out we were included in CulinaryArtsCollege.org‘s post of 50 Amazing Food and Travel Blogs!  We are #37 and listed amongst some heavy hitters and some of my idols!

Culinary Arts College

Our Tasty Travels listed as #37 in 50 Amazing Food and Travel Blogs!

Be sure to look at the other incredible sites included in the list and check out their other blog posts.   They have put together some comprehensive lists of specialized food blogs.  Have a passion for Mexican food?  They have a list of their top 49 Mexican cooking blogs.  How about cheese?  Oh yeah, they have compiled the top 50 cheese blogs on the Internet!  There are other resources for specialized topics like coffee, self-canning, and one of my personal favorites – baking!

Thanks again to Cindy from the Culinary Arts College website for including us in your list!

Josef Chromy Wines: French Cuisine and Tasmanian Wine Pairing Dinner at L’Atelier de Patrick in Taipei, Taiwan

I’ve been on the road for two months and literally just returned to Taiwan Sunday night/Monday morning and Brett already managed to find a really unique wine event taking place Tuesday night.  We have an Australian wine specialty store (Adelaide Finewine Cellar) here in Taipei who was hosting a wine pairing dinner in conjunction with Josef Chromy Wines from Tasmania.  The event was limited to 20 people and I figured we had zero chance of getting in the same day, but they made room for us with only one spot actually still available.

Josef Chromy

Josef Chromy Wines at L'Atelier de Patrick in Taipei

Josef Chromy event

Table settings at the Josef Chromy wine event at L'Atelier de Patrick

The event was being held at a relatively new French restaurant here in Taipei – L’Atelier de Patrick opened in July 2009, literally a block away from our beloved Abu Authentic Cuisine.  Since we had not tried this restaurant and want to learn more about Australian wines, this was a win win situation.  For NT 3,000 (about $100 US per person based on current exchange rates), you would receive an seven course dinner paired with 8 different wines.   David Milne, Sales and Marketing Manager for Josef Chromy was on hand to introduce the winery and explain the wines of the evening to guests, which was great for us since we were the only two in attendance that did not speak Mandarin.

We started the evening by sampling the 2008 Josef Chromy Pepik Sparkling Rose wine.  This dry wine had an aromatic nose of strawberries that carried through to the palate.  It is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from Josef Chromy estate vineyard at Relbia in northern Tasmania.  This current release would definitely pair well with salmon or a light seafood dish as suggested.

Josef Chromy Pepik Sparkling Wine

Josef Chromy 2008 Pepik Sparkling Rose

First Course (Amuse Bouche): Caramelized Foie Gras Brulee and Sweet Pea Shot
Wine: 2005 Josef Chromy Vintage Sparkling wine

Our first course was the Amuse Bouche, which was a caramelized foie gras brulee and sweet pea shot, topped with onion confit and pancetta sauce.   This definitely left me wanting more!  The caramelized foie gras was so light, yet very flavorful, and it was caramelized perfectly.  The onion confit had the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  The course was a great match for the first wine, which was their signature Vintage Sparkling.  I am the first to admit I am not the biggest sparkling wine fan, but this won me over.  The nose of crisp green apples was quite evident and it had a toasty element on the palate.  This wine is a mix of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay and cellared for 3 years, giving it that toasty element, which will become more evident with further aging.   This is a great wine with pate, oysters, and I have a favorite vanilla bean Champagne scallops recipe from Emeril Lagasse that this would pair perfectly with.  I can definitely see enjoying a dozen oysters with this wine as well!

Amuse Bouche

Caramelized foie gras brulee & sweet potato shot, topped with onion confit and pancetta sauce

Second Course (Soupe): French Clam Soup with Vegetables
Wine: Josef Chromy Gewurztraminer

This was an interesting course.  The French Clam Soup was a thin soup with tiny bits of chopped vegetables.  The soup had a decent amount of clam, but I was not sold on the vegetables.  They were a bit strong and almost overpowered the clams in my opinion.  The wine was quite a surprise as well. I am used to a Gewurztraminer that almost slaps you in the face with its sweetness and I did not get that with this wine.  The rose petal aroma was quite evident and a bit of the spice came through over the sweetness, which I loved.  Although not as sweet as many other Gewurztraminers, still a perfect complement for Asian dishes.  I would have much preferred to see a little more spice in this course to see how the wine stood up.

French Clam Soup with vegetables

French clam soup with vegetables

Third Course (Entree): Pan Fried Halibut with Chorizo, Herb Salad, and Green Apple Sauce
Wine: 2006 Josef Chromy Chardonnay

This course was a true home run in my book.  The pan fried halibut was stuffed with a delicious chorizo and the green apple sauce really paired well with the Chardonnay.  We are not normally big white wine drinkers (except for when we are cooking Asian food) and this was probably our top wine of the night.  The fruit notes of the wine were very evident when paired with the green apple sauce.  This Chardonnay had a lot of the characteristics I love in some California Chardonnays, minus the butter.  It was quite oaky, but still rather fruit forward.  The wine is aged in French oak – 1/3 is new oak while the rest is 1 to 2 year old barrels.  The wine goes through no malolactic fermentation so it lacks the buttery element often found in California Chardonnays and instead retains the green apple quality of the malic acid.  Brett described this one as a mouthful of toasted marshmallows!

Pan fried halibut

Pan fried halibut stuffed with chorizo, served wtih herb salad and green apple sauce

Pan fried halibut

Another view of the halibut stuffed with chorizo

Fourth Course (Petit Plat): Slow Cooked Veal Fillet with Potato Mille Feulles and Bearnaise Sauce
Wines: 2007 Josef Chromy Pinot Noir and 2006 Josef Chromy ZDAR Pinot Noir

We learned the Tasmania region is a cool wine climate and known for its Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wines, and Chardonnay, so we were rather excited to get to this course.  I am not a huge fan of veal, but it was super tender and hey, anything topped with foie gras is ok in my book.  The potato mille feulles was quite interesting and a unique take on the traditional French pastry.  Both of the Pinot Noirs were incredible – the 2006 Reserve was Brett’s favorite.  He really liked the earthy and “dirt” component whereas he felt the 07 was a bit tannic still.  I really liked both, but the fruit was more forward in the 2007.  I liked the mix of fruit and earthiness, but hey, I wouldn’t complain if we had either.  Both were definitely bold Pinot Noirs and two of our favorites of the night.  Dave explained their take on Pinot Noir was to go “back to basics” and showcase the characteristics of the Pinot Noir grape itself.

Slow cooked veal Fillet

Slow cooked veal fillet with potato mille feuilles and sauce bearnaise

Veal fillet

Close up of the veal fillet topped with foie gras

Fifth Course (Palate Cleanser): Granita

Always a perfect palate cleanser and a great way to prep the taste buds for the big course to follow.

Granita

Granita - palate cleanser

Sixth Course (Plat): Pan Seared Pork Rack of Iberian Pig with Truffle Mash and Perigot Sauce
Wine: 2005 Warrenmang Grand Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon and 2004 Warrenmang Estate Shiraz

This was a beautiful course with two bold red wines.  I think I will always be loyal to my California Cabernets, but this was a good offering out of Australia.  This is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  An interesting note, each grape is fermented, pressed, and matured separately – in both American and French oak for a period of two years.  The 2004 Shiraz is exactly what you would expect form an excellent Australian wine.  The fruit is hand picked from Warrenmang’s low yield non-irrigated estate vineyard and is aged for 18 months in both French and American oak.  This is a very complex wine with notes of pepper and dark fruit.

Moving on from the wines, this course was heaven on a plate.  The pork had a nice balance of fat and a rich flavor and the truffle mash…ohhh the truffle mash!  The menu listed a Perigot sauce, but I am guessing it was a Perigord sauce, which I believe is a wine and truffle sauce.

Iberian pig

Pan seared pork rack of black Iberian pig with truffle mash

Black Iberian Pig

Another shot of the black Iberian pig

Seventh Course (Dessert): Tout Cafe
Wine: 2009 Josef Chromy Botrytis Riesling

The dessert course included a rich chocolate cake and sorbet with a dried/candied fruit slice.  According to the winery, the Botrytis Riesling pairs well with both light desserts, like sorbets, to rich desserts, like chocolate cake, so we experienced both ends of the spectrum.  The cake was rich in flavor, but very light in texture.  Both desserts worked very well with this wine, which had floral aromas and a crisp mouthfeel with an orange marmalade finish.

Dessert course

Dessert course - sorbet and chocolate cake

Chocolate dessert

Close-up of the chocolate dessert

Sorbet

Close-up shot of the sorbet

After we were done with dinner, the chef and restaurateur, Patrick, came out to say hello.  He is a very talented chef and has already made a name for himself in just over a year.  We are looking forward to visiting the restaurant again to try some of his other prix fixe menus!  Thanks to Dave from Josef Chromy, the staff at Adelaide Finewine, and chef Patrick for an absolutely wonderful evening!

Chef Patrick

Chef Patrick from L'Atelier de Patrick and Shelly from Adelaide Finewine Cellar

Josef Chromy Wines
370 Relbia Road Relbia
Tasmania 7258 Australia
Website: www.josefchromy.com.au

Adelaide Finewine Cellar
3 locations in Taipei
No. 162, sec. 1, Fusing S. Road
Taipei, 106 Taiwan
+886-2-2777-2279
Website: www.finewine.com.tw

L’Atelier de Patrick Restaurant
42 Siwei Road
Taipei, Taiwan
+886-2-2707-9586
Website: http://patrick-atelier.com/taipei.php

5 Helpful Tips For Visiting Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

One of the top dream destinations for any beer lover is surely a visit to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.  Held every year from the third weekend of September through the first weekend of October, this is the event to attend if you want to see what Oktoberfest is all about!

While you may think Oktoberfest is the perfect spur of the moment trip, I must warn you, this is not the case!  I truly suggest that you do all the proper preparations if you want to have a problem-free Oktoberfest memory!

Entrance to Oktoberfest

Here are a few tips to help you through your first visit to Oktoberfest:

1.  Ensure You Have a Hotel Reservation

Oktoberfest is not a weekend in Las Vegas.   The festivities do not run all night, in fact, the tents close at 10:30PM every night, so you will need to have something in line for the late-night hours and when the tents officially open at 9 (sat/sun) or 10 the next morning.  If you wait too long to find a hotel, you may find yourself out of your budget, or staying very far out of the city, with an hour+ train ride back to your hotel.   Some hotels fill up a year+ in advance of the event, so if you are thinking of attending Oktoberfest, book your hotel as soon in advance as you can.  If you can find a hotel in the center of town, you can more easily enjoy the post-fest activities in Munich itself, such as the original Hofbrauhaus in the city center.

2.  Book Your Seats

Especially if you have a large group you are traveling with, and even more so on the weekends, you will want to reserve seats in a tent a few months in advance, otherwise you will find yourself scrambling to find a seat in one of the hugely crowded tents at the festival.  Remember, if you’re not in a seat, you won’t be served!

3. Be Flexible!

So you’re not in a tent…so what?  It just so happens that the month of September tends to have some very nice weather, and both times I have attended, the weather has been perfect the entire time I was at the festival.  While seats within the beer tents may be very hard to come by, it is often much easier to find seats outside the tents in the beer gardens of each of the tents.  While you may miss out on some of the formal entertainment (brass bands), all of the other elements are available at the outside seating, including the large Maß of beer, served by an official “beer wench”, with the same food choices and most of the rest of the ambiance (i.e. loud mobs of drunken fellow celebrants).  On weekdays, you can often even manage to visit multiple tents in a single day if you make use of outside seating instead of waiting for seats inside each of the tents.  There are six official Oktoberfest beers, Spaten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu, so this is the way to go if you want to try all six in a single short visit.

4.  Eat! Eat! Eat!

Remember, each Maß of beer is 1 litre in size, and if you go through a couple of these, you will feel it!  Be sure to eat and drink other fluids (i.e. water) throughout the day to ensure you can enjoy the full experience.  Oktoberfest is known for its food as well as its beer.  Be sure to try a half-chicken, giant soft pretzel, and/or weisswurst!

5.  Be Safe

Remember, Munich is a large city, and aside from the celebratory atmosphere within the festival grounds, you are within a major metropolis when outside the grounds.  Be aware of your surroundings, and know where you are, and where you are going.  While the increased tourism is accompanied by increased security, you should be sure to ensure your own safety and secure your belongings at all times.  Don’t let the party ruin your experience!

Be sure to start your planning now for Oktoberfest in the coming years.  Dates are:

  • 2013: September 21 – October 6
  • 2014: September 20 - October 5
  • 2015: September 19 - October  4
  • 2016: September 17 - October 3

Be sure to check out the official Oktoberfest website for detailed information: http://www.oktoberfest.de/en/

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