Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BEER: MIKKELLER Spontancassis

Ah, sweet, sweet blackcurrant. Also know as cassis in some European circles.

A large, airy, pink head on the pour, much like the Spontangrape I reviewed the other day. The head also dissipates fairly quickly, again, much like the Spontangrape.

The nose is sour, dark berries and a little vanilla. Kind of like a berry sourdough.

Quite similar to the Spontangrape in flavour, as you’d expect. Though the blackcurrant comes through more than the grape. The berry flavour also helps soften some of the impact from the sour funk by injecting a little freshness and sweetness.

Good length on the finish, though the cassis flavour becomes a bit cloying.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

COCKTAIL: The Fuzzy No. 8

Inspired by the no. 8 from Icebergs, which is the same as the below sans sparkling water.

1 shot Campari
1 shot vodka
3/4 C freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
1/4 C sparkling water

1. Put plenty of ice in the cup.
2. Add (in order) vodka, Campari, grapefruit, sparkling water.
3. Mix, taste for levels.

Perfect in a sticky Sydney summer, even though grapefruit isn't in season.

You can substitute freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit for bottled, but you won't get as good as a result.

Monday, November 28, 2011

BEER: MIKKELLER Spontangrape

A new range of offerings from Danish gypsy-brewer-extraordinaire Mikkeller has hit the shelves. After a somewhat lacklustre ris a la m’ale, I head into the range of 7 “spontan-“ lambics that have arrived.

An interesting move, with lambics being one of the few styles left that Mikkeller hasn’t had a shot at. Until now, I guess.

A large, airy head on the pour, which quickly dissipates.

Smells like your average limbic, really. Slightly sour and funky, with a little grape.

Light on the carbonation. Just enough to push it along. Which is good, I find you don’t want a lot of bubbles in a lambic.

Reminds me a lot of a Cantillon in the balance of the funk and the sour. It’s not at the extreme end of the scale, but it’s definitely no shrinking, funky violet. You get the grape but it comes across slightly muddled and more like artificial green grapes. Grape aside, it’s a really tasty funk going on.

The 7.7% abv really helps the flavours fill out the mouth.

Finish has good length, as you’d expect from a sour beer that will pucker you up for days.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

RECIPE: Butter Chicken

Miss Understood.

As hard as it may be to believe, that is actually not the title of an album from American, female rapper, Missy Elliott. Believe me, I thought it was and I checked Wikipedia so quick!

So... butter chicken ey....

Did you know that Westfield food courts save 5% of electricity automatically if an Indian takeaway joint has a stall there, since their butter chicken is so neon-bright-orange that it actually doubles as a light source? If you ask me, the whole "solar panel" thing (that was a thing, right?) was a waste of time: they should have just put butter chicken in people's houses to generate energy. And it's not like it would get used up, since the only people that like butter chicken hate Indian food.

Hunt for Red October (also not a Missy Elliot album)

Okay, so that was a bit harsh (ed: a lot harsh). Butter chicken is an alright dish when you're getting into Indian food and don't want to be blown away by spice. But after a while.... a man wants more. A man wants... an authentic butter chicken.

Stage One: Marinate
- Wrap a bulb of garlic in foil and roast in an oven until soft. Set aside to cool.
- While the garlic is roasting, make a garam masala from scratch. Be sure to include 1/2 T of fenugreek seeds, 1 T of coriander seeds and 1.5T of cumin seeds. Don't shy away from dried chillis: a butter chicken doesn't have to be mild. You'll need around 5 T of garam masala all up.
- Take 1kg of chicken thigh fillets and trim off any excess skin of unwanted bits (hey, chicken butchers, stop leaving fucken bone shards in the fillets). Quarter them and add them in a large bowl/dish (ideally not metallic).
- Peel and roughly chop ginger so you have around 4 thumbs worth.
- Peel and roughly chop fresh turmeric so you have around 3 thumbs worth.
- Put the ginger, turmeric and the insides of the garlic bulb (cut the bottom off, squeeze out the goodness) into a food processor and blend.
- Add 3T of the masala, the ginger/garlic/turmeric mix, 500g of yoghurt (Greek is fine), 2 T of chilli powder, the juice of a lime and a good pinch of salt to the bowl of chicken. Mix well so the chicken is well coated in the mix. Cover in cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.

Step Two: Chicken
- There are a few options here to try and replicate the tandoor char on the chicken (hint: you won't get close). Either you can bbq, grill or bake the pieces of chicken chicken (in order of how good the results will be) (save the leftover marinade). Whatever method you choose, you need to get your fire as screaming hot as possible and you need to cook the chicken until it starts to get some char. If the chicken releases some moisture during cooking, pour it into a pot/bowl and we'll use it later. Set aside the cooked chicken.

Step Three: The Actual Cooking
- In a large pot, melt a tablespoon of ghee or butter and add the leftover marinade and any juices you saved from cooking. Over a low heat, cool this for around 15 mins until it goes darker, stirring occasionally.
- Add 3 tins of pureed tomato, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and cook for a further 20 mins.
- Add 150g of unsalted butter (or ghee) straight from the fridge and stir until melted.
- Add your remaining garam masala (around 2T), 1 T of chilli powder and 2 T of dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi in an Indian supermarket).
- Add the chicken, stir and cook for a further 30 mins.

- Serve it with naan and rice.

(Yes, I'm aware I served the below with flatbread and no rice. IF YOU COOK YOU CAN DO STUFF LIKE THAT)


An American strong ale made with birch and maple from two of the biggest names in American craft brewing today.

Carbonation is perfect throughout, beginning with a perfect head.

Maple, birch and chocolate on the nose.

Medium to thick weight in the mouth. First you get the birch, then some sweeter grain tones—almost like a barley wine—before it wraps things up with a big release of maple on the finish. Great balance of flavours.

The maple rounds out and you’re left with a mapley, malty taste for quite a while.

Perfectly executed, excellently balanced and flavoured. Exactly what you’d expect from these two heavyweight craft brewers.


Monday, November 21, 2011

BEER: PORT BREWING "Older Viscosity" Boubon Barrel Aged American Strong Ale

So I’d had the Old Viscosity from Port Brewing before, as well as a bunch of other beers from them and stable-mate Lost Abbey. And, quite frankly, I haven’t been overly impressed with any of them. Good? Without a doubt. Great? Not for me.

So I was fairly non-plussed when Older Viscosity came along. From what I can see it’s the older brother to the Old Viscosity and hits a smaller bottle after spending over six months in bourbon barrels.

Poors black as sin. Not much of a head to speak of.

The nose is HUGE. Bourbon dominates up front, before vanilla comes through. Then coffee and caramel.

It hits the palate and is almost too strong, until the heat from the bourbon dissipates and leaves caramel, coffee, vanilla and a little aniseed. Perfect balance. Slight carbonation pushes it along. The finish lasts forever.

I’ve just made a new entry to my list of top 5 beers of all time.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

BEER: JOLLY PUMPKIN "La Roja" Artisan Amber Ale



As a huge fan of sour ales, I was super excited to get my three hands on this thing (I was so excited I grew a new hand) as Jolly Pumpkin are well regarded in the US.

Not a lot of head.

Staggeringly beautiful sour, fruity nose. Almost candylike.

Carbonation is also low in the body, letting the sour nectar glide around the mouth. It’s a robust sourness, probably a result of the barrel ageing. So hard to pin down the flavours. It’s as much green apple as it is strawberry as it is plum. Nothing is overly musty like a lot of other sour beers.

After a while (it’s a 750ml bottle) it loses a bit of it’s excitement as the oak overpowers, unlike one of the better Rodenbachs (grand cru or vintage) or the Liefmans Goudenband would. Still, an excellent, complex drop.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

WINE: SEPPELTSFIELD Para 100 Year Old Tawny 1911

What can be said of one of the world's greatest wines?

Maybe some reasons about why it's so incredible.

Seppeltsfield are one of Australia's oldest wineries having been established way back in 1851. Some time in the 70s (the 1870s that is), Benno Seppelt got the idea of putting a 500L barrel of one of his vintage tawnys away for a lazy 100 years. So, since 1978, Seppeltsfield having been putting out a vintage port that is 100 years old.

Not surprisingly, it's become one of the most unique and iconic fortified wines in the world.

As a fan of fortified wine, I've been aching after this for years. Finally, I got my hands on some.

A lot of wine reviews describe a wine as viscous or "clinging to the sides of the glass". You realise that's all bullshit when you see how this clings. Almost like syrup to a spoon.

Coming in at around 21% means there is quite a lot of heat on the nose. Like smelling dried fruits soaking in brandy. But the wonderfully complex aroma is there too, entering the nostrils and immediately swamping the brain.

It's thick and luscious but not stupidly so. You still know you're drinking wine.

But the flavours. The flavours. Staggering. Something between coconut sugar and a rich Christmas pudding. But with so many different spices and flavours thrown in there. And it's so generous: just think of a flavour and you'll probably find it in there, somewhere.

It goes without saying but the finish lasts forever, leaving you with a lot of time to reflect on an extraordinary wine that has changed everything you thought you knew about "good" fortified wine.

100% (obviously)