Hard Work on Labor Day Weekend

May 1st is Labor Day in France and many European countries. It is also one of the few days where the tram and the buses in Bordeaux do not run. But that weekend was also the Saint Emilion Portes Ouvertes and what else are a bunch of wine nerds to do with a bit of free time? Continue reading

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Now Officially (even more of) a Wine Nerd

Last year, I successfully completed the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Certification. So of course this year I decided to proceed with Level 3 “Exploring the World of Wine and Spirits.” In the typical fashion of my life, the timing couldn’t have been worse; the exam was two days before my thesis was due and the weekend before my parents unexpectedly arrived in Europe for a quick visit. But, I just received word that ….. I passed! So I am officially

Certified_LEVEL3_W&S(blk)OL

Of course being me, this won’t be the last of my formal wine education. I’m looking forward to taking a few courses with the Court of Master Sommeliers and continuing with the WSET. I’ve also been toying with the idea of taking a few professional courses at the University of California Davis campus to get a better understanding of the technical side of winemaking. But that is all in the future and my focus now is on finding a job. Wish me luck!

Off to Neverland

While I have a whole list of articles that I’ve been working on and trying to get online, I decided to post this one in honor of my upcoming trip back to Amsterdam. While I don’t think I’ll be able to repeat this particular adventure I am looking forward to heading back to what is rapidly becoming one of my favorite cities.

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IMG_2379Despite the stress of a thesis and exam, I recently found time to hop over to Amsterdam for an unexpected weekend with my parents. Given my high levels of stress and the fact that my mom’s birthday was about 10 days away, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out.  So after a little careful research we booked a table at Lastage, an intimate 30-seat Michelin starred restaurant on the edge of the infamous Red Light District specializing in Dutch cuisine and classic French technique. It was the best decision we made the entire weekend.

IMG_2381The flexible menu is all about choices and courses, ranging from 3-courses to the 8-course tasting menu. Everything sounded fabulous and we couldn’t decide: the 8 course tasting menu or selecting specific items from the six-course option. There were specific things on the six course menu that stood out:  the soup of fresh peas, terrine of sweetbreads and quail, dark chocolate and blueberry dessert. Of course all of this is complicated on my end by my fish allergy. But in the end, after being assured that our three call outs could be included and that accommodations could be made for me, we decided on the tasting menu. Which of course also included three petites amusés bouches. It sounds like a ton of food but the courses were purposefully small and it was a leisurely meal (about four hours to be exact).

IMG_2382The next big decision we faced was the wine. With the tasting menu we weren’t preview to what would be showing up on our plates and to be perfectly honest I was nerding out over the wine list. Carefully crafted by Sommelier and owner Elise Moeskops, the unique list includes everything from sparkling Hungarian Furmint to Petit Verdot Rosado from Spain in addition to classics such as Bordeaux and Barolo. There were so many fun options to choose from, so much diversity, I couldn’t decide. So we asked the obvious question: is there a wine pairing flight to accompany the tasting menu? And the answer: of course! So off to pairing Neverland we went.

IMG_2383In all seriousness, this was one of the best food and wine pairing flights I have ever experienced. New glasses with each course.  Full pours, none of this wimpy half pour nonsense. Bold and unusual choices: like the above mentioned Petit Verdot Rosado or Merlot Dulce. Different wines for me when the menu deviated due to fish. Good background information about each of the wines and what made them unique: different clone of Trebbiano, unique vinification methods and the winemaker’s “favorite, but not really” vineyard. At the end of the evening we had tried twelve different wines (photos of 11 below) and I would recommend all of them.

Now I have a few key tasks ahead of me. One: Plot my return for another amazing meal. And two: find the Nebbiolo rose we talked about but didn’t get to try.

And now the rest of the photos: