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Category Archives: Rioja

Poutine, Alfredo, and Five Bottles of Wine

Here at TSB, we have a long-standing tradition, established this weekend, of introducing Mexico to Canadian cuisine whenever possible.

Demian and MJ came to dinner, and Megan’s mom, Susan, has a friend, Wendy, who is visiting from British Columbia.  If there ever was a better Sunday to make that true Canadian dish, poutine, I’d like to see it.

For the uninitiated, poutine consists of thin-cut French fries, cheese curds, gravy.  If you’ve never had it, it will sound … odd … at first.  But trust us – there is nothing that sates a hungry person like poutine.

Canadian Fun Fact:

A Quebecois dish, poutine was invented when drunk coureurs de bois  ran out of beaver meat, and were forced to supplement their diet with potatoes and beef gravy.  Few people know this, but in addition to beer and maple syrup flowing from the trees of our plentiful coniferous forests, beef gravy can also be sourced from birch trees, and cheese curds grow on the stems of the ubiquitous blue flag irises that grow across la belle province.

On the Menu: Poutine, Garden Salad with Goat Cheese, Berries and Starfruit, Chicken Alfredo with Asparagus, Candied Ginger Cookies

Our guests had some reservations about the poutine, but once you try poutine, you are powerless to resist her … powers.  The salad was a product of Megan’s imagination, and cleansed our palettes before embarking on another rich culinary adventure.

Alfredo is a dish best served guilt-free.  If you are counting calories, Alfredo is probably not for you.  Anything made with heavy cream, butter, and cheese is one of those things best left to professional eaters.

Since we had so many guests this week, we were also stuck with a glut of wine.  Which we drank.

Wine: Canepa, Novísimo, Syrah, 2010, Chile, $122 MXN (Chedraui)
Rating: One Bottle

Demian, MJ, Cara, and I drank this while we waited for the rest of our guests to join us.  Nice on the nose, but flat in the mouth, this wine was disappointing.  Not terrible in any way, but also unremarkable.  The promise of fruits and berries is replaced with a mouthfeel of “Meh” and a palette of “Well, that’s a shame …”

Acidic aftertaste – goes well with a glass of water.

Wine: Moëbius, Cabernet/Syrah/Merlot, 2009, Mexico, $450 MXN (Cava Veinte33)
Rating: Two Bottles

Robust and full, this is a great wine for people that love a big wine.  Oaky and leathery, Moëbius is a complex wine that hints at all-spice, cardamom, and dark chocolate.  On a muggy afternoon, this wine was a little overbearing.  It lacked a fireplace and a cloudless, cold night.

Pronounced “Mo-e-bee-us.”

Wine: Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery, Canoe North White Bluff, VQA, 2008, Langley, British Columbia, $12.99 CAD
Rating: Three Bottles

This is a superb white.  A blend of grapes (Pinot Blanc, Madeleine Angevine, Chardonnay and Madeleine Sylvaner) makes it soft and sweet, with flavours of peaches, lemongrass, and cotton candy.

Being Demian’s first try at a Canadian wine, we were very grateful for Wendy bringing it down with her, and so was he.  Yay, Wendy!  I love it when people try Canadian wine for the first time.  They always have a look on their faces that reminds me of when Cara saw me play sports for the first time.  Like, “You can run?”

Capitoso, Tempranillo, Rioja, 2009, Spain, $136 MXN (Chedraui)
Rating: One Bottle

Flat.  Meh.  Smuh.

I don’t know what’s going on with Chedraui.  They used to carry decent wines.  Maybe they just aren’t selling enough of the stuff to make it worth consistently bringing in good vino.  Whatever the reason, the last few bottles we’ve tried in the $100 – $200 pesos range have been fairly disappointing.


Fratelli Pasini, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Mexico, $400 (Cava Veinte33)
Rating: Two-and-a-half Bottle

FP strikes again!  We love this winery.  And not only because it’s in Mexico, but because their wine is so fantastically consistent.  Their wines never disappoint, they are balanced, have all the right characteristics in all the right places, and are not ridiculously expensive.

The Cabernet is a very good, well-rounded wine.  Soft tannins make it a perfect wine for pasta. (And for the fifth bottle of the night.)  Being Wendy’s first taste of Mexican wine, we were very glad it was this one.

Needless to say, everyone was pretty much ready for bed by the time we were finished with our heavy food and copious cups.

I think I will need the rest of this week to rejuvenate.

Until then,


Grilled Cheese Dissidents: A Quick Post, On The Eve of Our Wine-iversary

The only thing worse than falling off a scooter is falling off a scooter while it’s parked in your driveway.

‘Nough said?


Megan did everything this week as my body was in rough shape, we are (going crazy) closing on our house, and I am on painkillers.

On the Menu: Roasted Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese Samwiches with Sharp White Cheddar and Herbed Focaccia or Herbed Ciabatta, Homemade Oreo Cookies

The ultimate comfort food dinner.  We enjoyed the fare, with its epicurean touches, and everyone ignored the wincing man-child at the table.   The Homemade Oreos were pretty rad.  They tasted just like Oreo cookies, but really soft and chewy.  Kind of how the founders intended Oreo cookies, I would imagine, if the founding fathers of America had spent time discussing the proper execution of baked goods.

Which they did.

(Sorry … painkillers.)

Wine: Viña Ardanza, Reserva Especial, Rioja, 2001, Spain, $470 MXN
Rating: Zero Bottles

Zero bottles, you ask?  That’s right.  A big bottle of moose urine.  Are we being too harsh with this wine?  No.

And I’ll tell you why …

For a wine to get a One Bottle rating, it must be a wine that you would buy “in a pinch.”  I would grab Gato Negro before I bought this wine again.  I would not buy this wine in a pinch, and certainly not for $470 pesos.

And why not?

As mentioned already, too expensive for the quality.  Very tart, with not a lot of improvement after aerating (and letting it sit for a while to think about what it did).  Plummy, with just a hint of vinegar.  Also, a strong taste of vinegar, with just a hint of plum.

We actually think this wine might have just been too old.  Which is possible.  It could have been just sitting too long.  Maybe it got lost at sea and someone found it, years later, and thought, “Let’s sell this for money!”  I’m sure it seemed like a good idea.

Less of a good idea?  Buying and drinking it.

Anyway … you live, you learn.

You lose … you learn.

Next week marks our one year wine-iversary.  We are excited.  We are being treated by Rene and Cara who will be making all of the cooking and doing with all of the baking for food.  (Painkillers.  Sorry.)  Megan and I will be permitted to drink to our hearts content.  Which, according to heart doctors, is a glass-and-a-half a day.  Which means that we’ll have to not drink any glasses all week so that we can have ten-and-a-half glasses each on Sunday!

Till then,


Oh the Zen! The Zen of it All!

There is a Zen-like composure that comes over you when you are cooking the only meal of the week in which you are allowed to indulge your less healthy desires.  You pay more attention to the little details.  You prepare in advance more, not wanting something to be spoiled because of bad timing.  The process of cooking takes on a life of its own, sucking you in and down into its delicious, swirling vortex, the anticipation of the meal to come, ripping out all impatience, and replacing it with a sense of oneness with your kitchen.

I have just completed my second week of body modification.  There will be no cutting, piercing, or inking going on.  None of my modifications will be permanent; all will require maintenance for the rest of my life.  Yet I find myself embracing these changes in lifestyle for the ecstasy they bring, once a week, on Sunday nights.

Anything, when only permitted once a week, takes on a new level of importance.  It becomes a quest.  The week spent in the gym – the labyrinths and catacombs and dungeons and caves.  The weights and treadmills and reps and sets – my dragons and Cyclopes and minotaurs – all to be defeated for my maiden fair Meal.  “I see thee, fair maiden, and I shall deserve thee.”

The challenge, now, is not undoing all of the work I have put in at the gym all week by loading up on carbs and fat.  (Challenge failed.)

On the Menu: Citrus Twist Coleslaw, Three Lettuce Salad, Tri-Colour Baked Beans, Seasoned Potato Wedges, Butter-Flashed Asparagus with Rosemary, Oven-Baked Steak Medallions, Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

On the surface, I know, it looks like a healthy enough dinner.  The reality is, that anything that gets cooked in that much butter cannot be healthy.  Well, not lean, anyway.

I have found that if you marinade beef in butter for thirty minutes prior to cooking, it tastes like awesome.  (The marinade also included salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary.)

The steaks get seared on each side for about two minutes, with a little olive oil in the pan to keep them from sticking, then the whole skillet goes into a 230 degree oven for 8 minutes.  This should give you a medium-rare to medium result.

Joseph handled the salads again, and his introduction of citrus to the coleslaw blew everyone’s minds.

Megan’s poppy seed cake was an exercise in elegance and exquisite balance of flavour and texture.  At the end of a long day and night, it was just what everyone needed, whether they knew it or not.

And we had two additions to the table this week.  Megan’s aunt Judith is visiting us from Toronto, and Cara and Rene’s cousin, Lada, is visiting from the Czech Republic.  TSB goes global, y’all …

Judith was kind enough to bring a bottle of wine from Canada.  Well, from France, but the bottle was in Canada for awhile.

Wine: Les Hauts de Castellas Vacqueyras, Red Blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), Rhône Valley, France, 2009, $19.95 CAD
Rating: Two Bottles

Since we detected hints of rosemary in this wine, it went very well with this week’s meal, the harmonizing herb of this week’s dinner.  In their tasting notes, the LCBO mentions, “Ideal for homemade gourmet hamburgers or rich meat-based pastas.”  Funny, that.

Earthy, herby, and floral, this wine is on the light-ish side, but with tannins that more than make up for it – a little too up front for most of our liking.  We were a divided bunch on this wine.  The vintners recommend shelving this wine for five to seven years, so we were two years short.  We agreed with their estimates.  Given a little more time, this wine would probably round out a bit more and lose a lot of its bitey-ness.

Being that there were nine of us, wine didn’t stand on ceremony this week, so neither will we.

Wine: Pagos del Moncayo, Grenache/Syrah, Campo de Borja, Spain, 2010, $150 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

I got this wine from Demian at Cava Veinte33.  One of his new wines, his enthusiasm for it was contagious, so I bought it.  (Never refuse an excited sommelier.  It’s kind of like turning down a bower.)

With dark fruit and apple flavours, this woody wine is light but complex.  Sandalwood plays off peppery notes, while chocolate and figs bring up the bottom.

Amazing value for the price.

Wine: Viña Pomal, Rioja Crianza, Spain, 2009, $145 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

All of the wines this week went very well with red meat.  This very typical Rioja – earthy, oaky, and leathery – was no exception.  Although, if pressed, I would have to say that it didn’t have as much character as the other two.  Also, we were tired.  It just felt a little flat.  It was fine, don’t get me wrong, just not much to write home about.

And with our plates clean and our bellies full, we bid each other a good night.

And I toddled off to bed, to sleep, eagerly awaiting my work-outs to come, knowing that each bench I press (?) brings me that much closer to the next Sunday Bottles.

Until then,


Good-Bye, Carbs … Good-bye, Happiness …

I don’t even remember what we ate this week.

I seriously don’t.  It seems like forever ago.  I just finished my first day with a personal trainer, you see, and let me tell you, if you are thinking of doing it, hiring a personal trainer, be prepared to feel very awkward about how you see yourself.  The trainer won’t say anything, but when someone who is in perfect shape is advising you how to get in shape and there are mirrors … (fucking) everywhere, you start to feel pretty pudgy.

Anyway, we did have a good Sunday.  In anticipation for this new lifestyle change that I am putting myself through (why???), I made a dinner that would be a sort of send-off to carbs.  Not that I had committed to any kind of diet in advance, but I just figured the trainer would look at me and say something to the effect of, “Okay … so we’re going to be laying off the carbs for awhile, okay?”  (Which he did, but in a much nicer way.  He’s actually a really good guy.  Very supportive.)

On the Menu: Creamed Soup Florentine, Spinach and Hydroponic Lettuce Salad with Spring Onions, Radishes, and Hard Boiled Eggs, Garlic Bread with Basil and Mozzarella, Fettuccini Alfredo with Pan Seared Asparagus

Megan, Rene, and the gang went off to the Cozumel Air Show for the day and so I was alone in the kitchen.  Oh, except for Joseph.  (Who used to own and operate his own high-end restaurant.)  Except for him, I was completely alone.  I tackled the Alfredo sauce, while Joseph handled the soup.  The salad, Joseph also prepared, and the garlic bread was a team effort.

The soup was awesome.  Just the right balance to make it warming without being too heavy.  The salad was light and fresh and played off the spinach in the soup nicely.  The garlic bread went with both perfectly, the basil and the garlic complimenting the two appetizers well.

The fettuccini, I hate to admit, was a little on the disappointing side.  I had thought that we had parmesan at home, but we did not.  Alfredo without parmesan in the preparation is not really Alfredo and my sauce was judged to be lacking.  It was still good, but was missing that certain something that would have put it over the top.  (As evidenced by the tiny piles of noodles left scattered on various plates.

Alfredo should be something that you eat even when you know you should stop.  It should compel you to eat it.  You should get to the point where you feel full, your instincts are pulling you back, but your desire to finish what’s in front of you is like a pack of ravenous dogs, breaking their master’s chain, ignoring his commands, and gorging themselves on their helpless prey.  Without all of the ingredients, however, it just doesn’t do that.  Without all of the ingredients, it makes you feel a little like you are eating papiermâché.

The wine, on the other hand, was fantastic.  Let’s talk about that!

The Wine: Sancinos, Crianza Rioja, Spain, 2008, $230 MXN

Rating: Three Bottles

This wine was awesome.  Oaky, earthy tones mixed with plums and chocolate-covered cherries.  Peppery and deep, this wine immediately wakes up your taste buds on the first sip.

There is a slight harshness to this wine, but kind of in a warming way, like ginger, or port.  Megan and I got a little silly off this wine.  We’ve had rain for the past week or so, and the wine was kind of like a feeling in a bottle.  The rain be dammed, it seemed to say once uncorked.  Bring us your rain, for we car not!  Let’s sing a chantey, what!

And Megan’s mom is visiting!  She brought a bottle down from British Columbia, so we’ll tell you all about that next week.  (Wink!)

All right: that’s enough.  My body is screaming at me and my trainer promised me that my calves would cramp up excruciatingly at some point in the night, so I want to be all tucked into bed so I can enjoy that to the fullest.

Until next week,


A Good Time Was Had By All

This week, we decided to switch things up a bit.  Instead of our usual evening of fine wine and a family dinner, we thought it would be fun to invite some friends over, drink some wine and eat some snacks, and try a wider swath of wines all at once.

We were not wrong; a good time was had by all.

Six wines, lots of cheese, some prosciutto, and mini-hangovers the next day.

We invited four of our dearest friends to join our family for a fun little set-to.  We would decant each wine, one by one, so that people were unable to prejudge the wines they were drinking based on either the vineyard or the varietal.  My thought was this: if I tell you that you are enjoying a merlot, you immediately dig into your memory vault of merlots you’ve tried in the past, but also into your emotional vault of how you generally feel about merlot.  In general.  If you are unaware of what wine you are sampling, you have to try the wine and really taste it.  Your only preconception is that it’s red.

Each guest brought a bottle.  With Megan and I, that made six wines, and a loose price range of $300 to $500 pesos per bottle.  (Roughly, $20 – $40, FYI.)  We weren’t looking for snobbery, just a blanket, approximate, assurance of quality.

(I had actually toyed with the idea of buying a couple of really cheap bottles to see if anyone noticed the difference, but people had to drive, so …)

Our guests included Marcelo and Alejandra, good friends of ours (and of our family) for several years; Demian and Maria José, just back from their recent nuptials and honeymoon; Megan and Rene, of course; Cara and Caia (until bedtime); Marilyn and Joseph, the in-laws.

Oh: and me.

With snacks out, we decanted our first bottle of the afternoon.

Wine: Emevé, Tempranillo, 2009, Mexico, $350 MXN
Rating: Three Bottles

This is a really fantastic wine.  For the price, very hard to beat.  If you want to impress the crap out of people at your next dinner party or whatever, this is the wine to bring.  Fruity and soft, the flavours expand gently, not overpowering your senses, but being ever-present.  The perfect wine to start with, since it’s complexities complimented the varied fare we had laid on our table.

Wine: Inédito, Crianza, Rioja, 2006, Spain, $540 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

Starting out with a wine like Emevé kind of ruins the next wine you try.  That being said, Inédito is not a bad wine.  Being a Crianza, it must meet certain requirements for its appellation, and we noted them well.  Leathery, peppery … a distinct odour of feet.  Yep.  Feet.  Unfair, I know, since New World tempranillos don’t have the same restrictions that Old World vineyards have placed on them, but still: feet.

Here’s the thing with buying wine in Mexico, and I would imagine anywhere: cost does not dictate quality or enjoyability.  It merely denotes what the rough cost of importation was for the product that you are drinking.  (Don’t get me started on the LCBO … ahem.)

Really, this wine was fine.  It had some very nice qualities and an eye-catching bottle.  For the price, however, I wouldn’t say it would be a repeat.  If we had tried it first, instead of the Emevé we would have most assuredly enjoyed it more.  It’s just the foot smell, you know?

Wine: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Jacques Charlet, 2009, France, $490 MXN
Rating: Three Bottles

Loved this wine.  Sharp and clean, a welcome addition to the afternoon.  Strong berry flavours.  A good companion to the garlic bread.  Another benefit was watching our friends try to figure out which wine they were drinking as it is not a commonly available (or served) wine here in Playa del Carmen.  One thing you notice this particular Châteauneuf-du-Pape is it’s strength.  Compared to many New World wines, this is a powerhouse – strong, present flavours, with tannins equal to the task but without being pushy.

On the Menu: Assorted Cheeses, Prosciutto, Olives, Assorted Jams, Tomato Garlic Bread, Dark Chocolate, Quiche Lorraine

Megan and I wanted to keep things simple.  She picked up a couple of cheeses and whatnots, as did I, and we put some basic amuse bouches out.  Joseph, our father-in-law, made his Quiche Lorraine, which was a treat for our Mexican friends who had not been indoctrinated into the world of egg tarts.

The nice thing about finger foods is that everyone gets to eat whenever and however they like and we don’t have to spend eternity in the kitchen.  It frees us up to host and serve and entertain.  Megan was able to freely take as many photos as she wanted, or not, and I was free to talk my face off.  (Yeah, on that one, there is no “or not.”  Seriously: I don’t stop.  It’s a problem.)

Wine: Fratelli Pasini, Nebbiolo, 2010, Mexico, $310 MXN
Rating: Three Bottles

We’ve reviewed a Fratelli Pasini back in August.  We were impressed then; we are impressed now.  The wonderful berry flavours come screaming through this wine in such subtle, yet powerful, ways.  I will warn you, however: this is a very dangerous wine.  It would be easy to turn your back on this wine, thinking that it means no harm.  That would be folly.  This wine will wait for you to drop your guard and suckerpunch you with its awesome.  Fratelli Pasini makes dangerous wines because they are so smooth, so delicious, that without realising it, you have finished a bottle and opening another.

Which is exactly what we did.

Wine: Fratelli Pasini, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Mexico, $310 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

A young, fresh wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon had a sharpness to it that the Nebbiolo did not.  Unlike the fuller, rounder, blueberry and cherry flavours of the Nebbiolo, the Cabernet snuck in some cranberries and black currant through the back door.  Where the Nebiolo was sweet and playful, the Cabernet is a little more pronounced, a little greener.

This really is a vineyard that you should try to find anywhere you can.  We have never been disappointed with their wines and Demian sells a lot of it at Cava.

Wine: Casa Madero, 3V, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Tempranillo, 2009, Mexico, $250 MXN
Rating: Three Bottles

In my opinion, however, we saved the best for last.  Casa Madero, another winery we have reviewed in the past, has blended three varietals together in such a way that what you have in your glass is a triumph.  What you may notice first is the bouquet, flowery and delicate, and very surprising.  Unlike many wines that give you that acrid, bitten nose feeling, the 3v greets your nose with lilacs and lavender.  Very soothing to breathe in.

Then, as if to trick you, your mouth picks up on black pepper, oak, and chocolate!  You feel duped, so you take a whiff … nope.  Nobody here but us lilacs.  Sip.  Pepper party!!

If this wine is a changeling – distracting your senses into believing one thing only to reveal its true nature to be another.

Having started the afternoon at three o’clock, we finished the evening at around eight.  Our guests happy (and tipsy), we made our farewells and promised to do it again soon.  And honestly, if we did this every Sunday, we wouldn’t mind at all.

Until then,





That basically sums up last week for all of us.  Between stomach bugs and head colds, everybody felt pretty beat up.  Luckily,  nothing helps lift your spirits like comfort food.  Digging through our archives, we came across a recipe that Megan had never tried and that I only tried once, but with great success.  Tyler Florence’s “Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish,” which was met, the only time I tried it, with great fanfare and accolades for the chef and guests demanding (not asking for, demanding) me to give them the recipe.  Which I did.  Without claiming it to be mine.

Actually, one of the best things about cooking and baking and all things kitchen is the sharing between chefs, amateur or not.  Each week we get people offering new ideas or solutions to old problems we faced in our (my) culinary disasters, and that’s what we love about cookies: everybody just wants everybody else’s meatloaf to kick ace.

I was on full daddy duty this week, since Cara had a previous engagement, so Megan spearheaded the gastronomy and I took charge of the wine selection.  Megan fared better than I did, unfortunately.  (Well, fortunately, but … oh, you know what I mean.)  Also unfortunately, she developed a massive head cold late in the afternoon and so was unable to truly enjoy all her work.

On the menu: Tyler Florence’s Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, Mashed Potatoes, Chocolate Chip and Banana Bread

This is a great recipe and one that you can rely on in a pinch.  The only alterations we made were excluding the pork for just beef and dried thyme for fresh.  Fresh thyme can be hard to find down here.  Also, Megan spiced it up a bit more than the recipe calls for.

What makes this dish so special is the flavour that it brings to an unfairly vilified North American staple.  True, we have all eaten our fair share of lousy meatloaf.  This one makes up for it.  The relish keeps everything moist and is a welcome alternative to gravy.  The bacon on top lends a savouriness to the meatloaf without overpowering the entire dish.

If you are in the mood for an amazing dinner that makes you feel warm from the inside out and puts you in the holiday season mood, I highly recommend trying this one out.  It makes up for Tyler hosting one of the worst-named shows in television history.  (“The Great Food Truck Race?”  Seriously?  Who thought that was the best name available?  It’s just terrible.)

Wine: Faustino V, Reserva, Rioja, Spain, 2005, $257 MXN
Rating: One-and-a-Half-Bottles

This wine … well, let’s just say it serves me right.  Feeling a little Faust-ish myself on Sunday, I thought that this wine would play nicely into my mood.  And it did.  I traded a few moments of earthly haughtiness for a wine that would leave me feeling actually good.  In short, I sold out to pettiness.

Now, this wine wasn’t a total waste of time.  Deep claret in colour, this is an earthy, musty wine with a smooth finish and lingers just a little on the palette.  Anise, lavender, and Something dominate.  But it’s that Something, that intangible quality that kept us from truly enjoying this wine.  For the money, we just couldn’t figure out what was up with this wine.  The Something, the Escaped Flavour, the Missing Link, kept this wine down, in our opinion, from being … well … something.  And this is not, as some detractors have put it to me in the past, criticism for criticism’s sake.  We like plenty of wines, and this wine had some good qualities.  We just felt that it was also missing some key qualities that would have made it gushable.

Yes, that’s a word.  Gushable: having or possessing the quality that makes one rave on and on about … (All right: it isn’t.  So what?  Your face, that’s what.)

Cara and Rene’s parents are now in town, and we are getting furniture, I’m told, soon.  Next week.  In other words, everything promises to be much more normal next week.

Keep the comments and emails coming!


* Yes, we know the date is wrong on the photo.  Megan has a huge head cold.  Leave her alone.

Lemony Chicken and The Stupid Bundtdtt Cake Pan

If you follow us on Twitter, then you know how I feel about buntdtddt cake pans.  We don’t get along yet.  I don’t know what it is about me and baking.  I follow the recipes to the letter and yet they always turn out to be disasters.

What happened was I was using a sub-par bundttdtdddtd cake pan, see?  And when I poured the batter into it and put it in the oven, the batter started seeping out the bottom, causing a molten pancake to form.  I tried to get the bundttdtdd cake pan out of the oven but the damn thing kept threatening to come apart, which would have drained all my pound cake batter into the nooks and crannies of the oven, plus, the towel I was using to hold it was slipping (and getting into the batter) so I had to grab the bundttdtdddtdtt cake pan with my bare hands. “Was it hot?” you might ask.  If lava tasted sweet with just a hint of lemon, then you’d have a general idea of how hot it was.  Was there enough smoke in my house to set off every smoke alarm within a three kilometer radius?  If there were smoke alrams in any of the houses within a three kilometer radius, I’m sure they’d have been singing.

The anger I have felt this past year towards baked goods is not normal.

What can I say: baking is not my forté.  Thank goodness I can still cook.  I have a knack for cream sauces and pastas.  I have a flair for lamb and chicken.  I can sauté the crap out of fish.  I can out-grill your dad on his best day.

Just keep me the fuck away from blintzes and pastries.

This week I was on my own.  Megan and Rene had to be at the bio-desiellery ensuring a better tomorrow for all of us.  Cara worked until the wee hours of the afternoon.  Caia had her fourth swimming lesson.  (She is learning how to kick and hold her breath so that she can put her head beneath the water and also how to hold onto the edge.  Oh, and also how to flirt with the swim instructor.  He’s gay.  Poor thing.  Her first heartbreak.)

Anyway, the culinary duties fell on my shoulders this week.  I bought the wine, made the dinner, (eventually) made the dessert, and everyone was eating on time.  I felt so efficient I swear there were trains in Japan seething with jealousy.

Okay: the wine was terrible.  We’ll review it, anyway.  But this is the first week we didn’t finish any of the bottles.  Actually, it’s the first week we didn’t finish a bottle, period.  (Do we have a problem?)

But first, the food.

On The Menu: Lemon Chicken with Dill in a Lemon Beer Cream Sauce, Dill-Infused Rice, Steamed Asparagus, Lemon Pound Cake with a Lemon Icing Drizzle (sensing a theme?)

There is no greater joy to a cook than to have his guests truly enjoy the meal he prepared for them.  It doesn’t matter if you are a professional chef in a world-class restaurant or an amateur weekend warrior, cooking for your friends and family – the look on their faces as they savour every bite of the food that you made is a hauntingly beautiful feeling.  Gratifying in a way that is difficult to put into words.  So I’ll stop.

Okay …

The ahem … “wine.”

Wine: Montecillo, Crianza, Rioja, 2007, Spain, $159 MXN
Rating: Half A Bottle

There were some redeeming qualities to this wine, which is what saved it from getting a zero bottle rating.  That being said, we cannot recommend that you drink this wine unless you like really musky wine.  If you do, have at ‘er.  Dark fruit doesn’t begin to cover it.  Think fermented prunes.  Plums, yes.  Black cherries, certainly.  But also prunes.  I kept waiting for my bowels to start moving while I drank this wine.

Like I said, we didn’t … check that … couldn’t finish this bottle.  It was just too much.  So, we hoped, in vain, that the second bottle would be better.

Wine: Finca, La Linda, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Argentina, $154 MXN
Rating: Half A Bottle

Sharp and bitey.  Lots of tannins.  Smoothed out with time, but even with an aerator, this wine kept its tartness.  Maybe if it had been a colder night and we had eaten steak instead of chicken, this wine would have served us better.  Megan said, “It tastes like Red,” and I agreed.  In fact, it tasted like drinking an entire puddle of red, right off the ground, it was that enjoyable.  The salient flavour was RED.

Yeah: didn’t finish this bottle either.  Oh well, some wines you like, some wines make you want to hurt things.

Who knows what next week will bring us?  I do know that two weeks from now will bring us the wine tasting at Cava Veinte 33 and we are running out of space.  If you are in the Playa del Carmen area (or will be on the 17th of September) reserve your spots now.

Also, we fixed the subscription thingy on the top right of the page.  Look up.  That’s it.  There it is!  (Thanks to everyone who alerted us to its unworkingness.  We owe you one.)


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