Tag Archives: drink

Tasting Beringer Wines with iYellow Wine Club

19 Feb

iYellow Beringer

Jenny and I both love wine, and like we do with food, we enjoy exploring different grapes and regions. Neither of us have any formal training in cooking, but I think we know enough about food and combining flavours that we’re comfortable experimenting, rather than being guided by a recipe. We know substantially less about wine than we do about food and cooking, but we generally prefer reds and like certain characteristics (full-bodied, and earthy or spicy rather than full-on fruity taste), and we experiment with different wines that fit these guidelines – experimenting, in this case, means hitting the LCBO and picking something that’s gotten good reviews and has interesting-sounding tasting notes.

While we’re usually able to find some great wines using this method, it’s nice to occasionally have the opportunity to learn about different wines in a more formal setting. Earlier this month, I checked out a wine tasting event put on by Toronto’s iYellow Wine Club. The event was called I Heart Beringer, and provided the opportunity to taste seven different wines produced by this California company.

iYellow Beringer pour

I’ve been to a couple of larger wine shows over the past few years, which allow visitors to taste a huge variety of different wines from all over the world. These kinds of events are great for discovering several new grapes in one place and learning about wine-producing regions (who knew the former USSR member country, Georgia, is actually the world’s oldest wine-producing country – a fact I learned at a recent wine show). But it can be difficult to mentally process the good from the not-so-good after an hour or two of running around tasting wines.

iYellow Beringer Wine Tasting

iYellow’s Beringer event brought together around 200 people in a casual, fun setting at a downtown art gallery, and allowed us to focus our taste buds on a series of wines produced by one company, all from grapes grown in California’s Napa Valley. The Beringer wines being poured were 2009 California Collection White Zinfandel, 2009 Founders’ Estate Pinot Grigio, 2009 Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Founders’ Estate Chardonnay, 2008 Founders’ Estate Merlot, 2008 Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2008 Founders’ Estate Syrah. I tend prefer cabernet sauvignon, and this was the one that stood out for me the most. But I really enjoyed the opportunity to taste these all at once and to be able to compare Beringer whites and reds from the same vintages.

Ange Aiello
Ange Aiello, founder of iYellow Wine Club

Ange Aiello (get it… iYellow) started iYellow Wine Club in 2006 after moving to Toronto from the Niagara region to provide people with the opportunity to learn about wine in an approachable, fun and casual environment. I talked to a couple people at the Beringer tasting who said that they generally avoid the bigger wine shows and educational events because they feel intimidating, but that they enjoyed the laid-back vibe of the gallery, with tasting stations set up around the venue and a DJ spinning tunes.

iYellow runs several events over the year, including tastings, wine education events and tours of Ontario’s wine regions, with prices starting around $35 a head, which seems like a pretty reasonable deal to me for wines, food and some valuable education.

For more info on upcoming iYellow Wine Club events, check out www.iyellowwineclub.com

(Special thanks to iYellow Wine Club and photographer Patrick Sijis for use of the images.)

The Moogarita: A Beef Cocktail

1 Feb

Beef cocktail

Jenny and I love cooking shows based around secret ingredients, like Iron Chef and Chopped. So I was intrigued when I discovered Kitchen Play—a website built around that very concept—earlier this year.

The site invites food bloggers from across North America to participate in monthly “progressive menus.” Bloggers are assigned to develop a recipe for a particular course, using ingredients from a sponsor organization. We were excited and up for a challenge when Casey at Kitchen Play contacted us to be part of the February menu. But we never could have expected just how challenging this particular challenge would be.

Our course: a cocktail. Our secret ingredient: Beef, courtesy of sponsor Canadian Beef. Translation: Make a beef drink.

Our research quickly uncovered the fact that there aren’t too many alcoholic concoctions containing beef, aside from variations of the Canadian classic, the Ceasar, which incorporate beef stock. Then Jenny had a revelation—tamarind, the sour-sweet fruit common to Mexican, Thai and Indian cooking. We’d had a tamarind tequila in Mexico a couple years ago, and knew the flavour would complement the rich, earthy taste of beef.

And so, after a bit more thinking, testing and drinking, the Moogarita was born: a combination of tequila, pure beef stock, tamarind, and lime-ginger syrup. And to beef it up even more, we garnished the drink with sticks of homemade jalapeno and lime beef jerky.

To make the Moogarita, we set out to find the purest beef stock and found some at a local market made from Canadian beef bones and water. That’s all there is to it—no added salt or flavourings, which makes for a very pure and clean tasting stock that doesn’t overshadow the other flavours in what turned out to be a delicious drink. With its tart citrus taste, the Moogarita is similar to a classic margarita, but with a richness from the beef stock and a sweet-sour bite from the tamarind and ginger-lime syrup.

If you can’t find tamarind paste or concentrate (widely available in Asian and Indian food stores, as well as in ethnic food sections of many grocery stores), we’ve discovered that HP sauce—which actually contains some tamarind—is a reasonable substitute.

Check out our recipes for both the Moogarita and the beef jerky garnish below—and read on to find out how you can win $100 from Kitchen Play by recreating this recipe or others from the February menu!

The Moogarita (makes 1 drink):

1 oz tequila
1 oz good quality beef stock (unsalted and as pure as possible)
½ oz ginger-lime simple syrup (see recipe below)
½ oz thinned tamarind paste*
Ice cubes

To thin tamarind paste, put about a tablespoon of it into a bowl and whisk in about a tablespoon of warm water, a little bit at a time until you get a smooth, thin, syrupy consistency. Set aside.

Put 3 or 4 ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, beef stock, ginger-lime simple syrup and tamarind. Shake well. Pour into a highball or margarita glass and garnish with jalapeno-lime beef jerky and a slice of fresh lime.

*Tamarind paste can be found at many specialty stores and ethnic grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can substitute ½ oz of HP Sauce, which is similar in flavor with a bit more spice and bite to it.

Ginger-Lime Simple Syrup:

½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

Bring lime juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Add sugar and ginger, and lower heat. Simmer and stir for 5 minutes, or until sugar dissolves and ginger infuses syrup. Let cool.

You can strain the syrup to remove pieces of ginger, but we decided to keep them in to add more flavour to the drink.

Makes about 2/3 cup of syrup. Syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about two weeks.

Jalapeno & Lime Beef Jerky

3/4 lb flank steak
1 jalapeno, half of seeds discarded, chopped
1/3 C fresh lime juice
1/2 C tequila
¼ C tamari soy sauce (or regular soy)
4 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Slice beef against the grain, into long, thin strips. (Tip: put your meat in the freezer about an hour before cutting it. It’ll be easier to slice.)

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, tequila, tamari soy, brown sugar, salt and pepper until the sugar dissolves. Stir in jalapeno.

Place beef strips in a glass baking dish (or other non-reactive receptacle) and pour marinade overtop. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours (overnight is best).

Preheat oven to 175 C. Remove marinated beef from the fridge, and place slices on paper towel. Remove any jalapeno seeds stuck to the beef if you want a milder beef jerky. Using more paper towel, pat the pieces dry to remove excess liquid.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Arrange beef slices flat on sheet without overlapping. For a more stylish-looking jerky, twist the slices of beef before placing them on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in oven.

After 1.5 hours, remove the baking sheet and flip each piece of meat over. Put back in the oven for another hour.

After another hour, check to see how dry the beef is, flip slices again, and put back in the oven for an additional half an hour if needed. The goal is for the jerky to be as firm and dry as possible, without getting too brittle.

When sufficiently dried, remove jerky from oven and let cool. The beef will dry further as it cools so make sure not to overcook/over-dry in the oven.

Enjoy as a garnish for the Moogarita—or on its own!

* Special thanks to our friends Sue & Chris Pink for the beautiful photography.

Up for a challenge of your own? Want the chance to win $100? Recreate this or any of the other recipes from February’s Kitchen Play menu, then post about it. Read the full contest rules at kitchen-play.com/contest-rules.

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