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Bœuf Bourguignon

2013 October 26
by Eric Hwang

Bœuf BourguignonI’m not a fan of recipes that are overly complicated, especially when it comes to rustic French cooking. Bœuf Bourguignon or beef burgundy was originally a peasant dish first described by Auguste Escoffier and later popularized by Julia Child. However, over time, rustic cooking was transformed in haute cuisine with fancier methods of cooking and more sophisticated equipment. Unfortunately, so many of the cookbooks that had a recipe for bœuf bourguignon made it into a much bigger production than I thought it should be. The technique and the basic ingredients are still the same, but  I just simplified the process to dirty only one pan. The cooking method probably owed to the inexpensive cuts of beef available and braising is particularly good for tough gristly meat. The ingredients were those readily available—beef, salt pork, wine, herbs, onions and mushrooms. When these ingredients are added depends on the recipe you follow. Some make a bouquet garni sachet of the onions, carrots and herbs and some omit the carrot, sauté the onions with the mushrooms and add it when it’s nearly done. I found that mincing the onions and carrots and adding it in the beginning works just as well and is the least complicated. In the end, it still basically tastes the same. read more…

Truchard Vineyards

2013 October 7

Mention Napa Valley and it conjures up quintessential images of vineyards, wineries and small towns that many wine drinkers may be familiar with, such as St. Helena and Yountville. However, the Napa Valley is a large area divided into several sub appellations that stretches from Calistoga in the north to Los Carneros in the south. Of these appellations, the Carneros AVA is unique because it spans both Sonoma and Napa; it’s closer to the Bay Area making it cooler and more moderated than the rest of the Napa Valley, yet it has those coveted southwesterly exposed hillsides. It’s in that southern-most district, Carneros, nestled up in the foothills of the Mayacama range and Mt. Veeder, that you’ll find Truchard Vineyards. Truchard Vineyards has been growing grapes for 40 years and making their own wine from grapes grown on their 400 acre estate since 1989. In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent these samples. I received three different wines of which I tried two so far. The third, a Pinot Noir, I’ll try at a later date.

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What can we learn about marketing wine from the Chinese?

2012 May 23

A few years ago, if I suggested that China would be a major player in the wine industry, you would have thought I was hitting my cellar a bit too often. But who would have imagined 20 years ago that nearly all our electronics and manufactured goods now come from a country that is the last bastion of Communism. Today, China is the fifth largest consumer of wine in the world and poised to be a major player both in its consumption and production. Just this week, Chinese wineries took home 18 medals from the 2012 Decanter Wine Awards including a gold for a 2010 Cabernet Franc from  Chateau Reifeng-Auzias in Shandong province, a joint French-Chinese venture.

Photo by Powell Yang

Given China’s enormous population, very few are actually wine savvy. The typical Chinese consumer buys cheap plonk made domestically that is either very sweet or highly-fortified wines that more closely resemble moonshine brandy. Those who can afford higher end wines have nearly cornered the market on first and second growth French Bordeaux and Burgundy. Seeing the photos from my Facebook friend, Powell Yang, conspicuously reminds me of this. However, it’s that huge potential middle-ground where many New World wineries are hoping to score big with Chinese consumers. But even if your distribution plans don’t include China or Hong Kong, you can still learn something from them.

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