Friday, October 22, 2010

Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival

Can you believe that this amazing Wine & Food festival has been running for thirteen years now?!
It is a local show that showcases more than 50 local area restaurants and more than 120 beverage exhibitors.

Every year, I've been meaning to go and check out this event...BUT it seems that every year, I just so happen to miss it because I waited too long to get my ticket and the event is sold out. So, this year I decided that I needed to stop being a serial procrastinator and bought myself my ticket ridiculously early. I arrived to the event on a cool, and snowy day, full of excitement/anticipation...and armed with my tasting glass, program guide and BlackBerry, I set about to wine and dine my way through the Grand Tasting Hall. And yes, you read that right...I took all my photos with a BlackBerry (sad, but true).

Now, I'm not going to write about absolutely everything I drank and ate (and boy, did I have a lot to drink) but just the stuff that was truly memorable. Besides, if I can be totally honest - as the night went on, my pictures got progressively worse. Funny how that works eh?

All in all, a great night out....and considering it was $30 for the ticket and $40 for 80 tasting tickets, for a grand total of $70, I left with a full and totally satisfied belly. Will definitely be back next year!

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
Shiver me timbers....'tis be not ye typical spiced rum! At a whopping 94 proof (47% alcohol), I tasted this bad boy on the rocks. This rum is distilled in Trinidad & Tobago, then infused with more spices and flavoring in Indiana.

What drew me in was the unique bottling. The Kracken has a couple of grip handles for ease of drinking whist on the pirate ship. Another thing that drew me in before even tasting it was the beautiful labelling. Seriously?! This rum has a Latin name (Acchiteuthis dux)...AND how can you resist a bottle that says:

BIZARRE & FIERCE Sea Creatures
As seen through the eyes of imagination

Rusted hook line 'n sinker, I had to be off in fer a taste. As fer th' taste, 'tis dark rich 'n smooth.
I detected chocolate and molasses, with a strong vanilla finish. Definitely something that would be wasted if you are serving it as a cocktail or even a highball. This one, I highly recommend to be served on the rocks - or if you must, with a splash of water (leave the mixed drinks to your trusty well brands). Then again, it's not me holding the bottle to your lips!

Best part is that this rum retails for approximately $20. Now go get yourself a bottle or two.

Ballast Stone 2004 Emetior Shiraz
This was a great wine which I found quite unusual from my typical Shiraz picks. Although my friends thought that I was nuts when I told them that I detected a hint of coconut in the nose, (What?! Is it wrong that I may have a better palate than my sommelier friends?) all I can say is "Ha! I'm right!" (doing my happy dance)...

The vines are apparently over 65 years old and the vino is matured in both American and French oak for 30 months. I detected smokin' vanilla, oak, chocolate and coconut with a hint of floral notes (courtesy of the violets). It's big and bold, with not too much of a tannin finish. Highly delicious!

I don't know where I can find this wine sadly. I need to look it up - because this one, I can seriously drink all the time.

Giuseppe Campagnola 2006 Amarone
I.LOVE.AMARONE. What more is there to say? I'm such a sucker for it...I'll try them all....

Made in the Passito (pah-see'-toe) method, the grapes are harvested and laid on racks until January when they are then crushed and fermented into wine. Because they essentially turn into raisins before being pressed, it results in a much more concentrated sugar ratio.

The result is a really full bodied wine where I detected an explosion of fruit. Bright jammy flavor with hints of blackberries, red apple, vanilla, oak and cola. Smooth and velvety, this puppy retails for approximately $40.

The Food
After all my drinking, I started to get a little tipsy (and hungry), so I went in search of some nosh. Pictures of my two favorite bites of the night. A delectable Foie Gras (sadly, I don't remember where this was from), and an unbelievable lamb lollipop (from Broken Plate).

Some honorable mentions need to go out to:
1. Quincy's for the Kim Chi Burger (although IMHO, it needed more Kim Chi)
2. Springbank Cheese for their amazing cheeses (I waited 20 minutes for a little taste of cheese heaven)
3. Kefi for tasty cheeses and olives

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preserving and Canning

Alright, so I'm the first to admit that this is the very first year I've EVER tried to do any type of canning/preserving...but I have to say that I'm very proud of my (tasty) results. What I thought would be a simple afternoon experiment with one or two recipes has turned me into a mean canning machine. Just ask my DH. I think I was living in the kitchen for a few weeks straight...preparing my jars, lids and bands...whilst totally ignoring any and all household duties (like making dinner).My love affair with canning/preserving really started a few years ago when my dear GF Joanne gave me a couple jars of her amazing Nanking Cherry Jam. I kid you not, I would take these jars and hide them from my DH so that they would not be inhaled within the first 20 minutes of being in our house. It's like heaven in a jar, and I would ration out the portions to ensure that it would last for as long as possible. Her kids can now rest safe knowing that I will not be competing for jars of her precious jam next year :)

Below is a small sampling of the goodies I have made. A huge shout out to the fine folks at both Bernardin and Epicurious for giving me the confidence and the guidance to try this out (and subject my DH to being even more of a human guinea pig taste tester). While I have mainly stuck to recipes I have found either online or in my small stack of preserving books, I'm thinking that I'm going to experiment a little more next year.

  • Spicy Red Pepper Jelly - The fine folks at never let me down. My friends and family actually have started fighting over who gets the precious jars when I make a batch.
  • Zesty Zucchini Relish (
  • Spicy Beans (
  • "Habby to Heat You" Hot Sauce - oh man....this is so good. Unfortunately, when I created this tasty (and oh so spicy) concoction, I forgot to take notes. Recipe for this one will follow eventually, when I make my next batch.