Birthday Celebrations – Sarah & Maggie!

Our family enjoyed celebrating Sarah’s birthday and Maggie’s birthday this past week! We usually enjoy a special breakfast and a favourite dinner meal as part of our celebration.

IMG_9200.jpgSarah requested a buffet breakfast, so the family enjoyed homemade cinnamon rolls and muffins, hard boiled eggs, toasted English muffins and bagels, and hand dipped fresh strawberries. For supper, Sarah requested a turkey dinner, so we enjoyed roasted turkey with stuffing and homemade turkey gravy, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, homemade rolls, and sweet potato casserole. We couldn’t find the sweet peas, so we were missing that! Iain made homemade lemonade to enjoy with the meal. Mommy and Daddy enjoyed a pleasant Pinot Noir, as well.

IMG_9251.jpgMaggie requested a biscuit breakfast, so we enjoyed homemade buttermilk biscuits with scrambled eggs and bacon, and homemade strawberry and raspberry preserves. For supper, Maggie requested a Filipino meal we call mikki which is a savoury chicken stir fry with carrots, cabbage, scallions, garlic, and pancit canton or “Chinese noodles,” served with white rice. Very delicious.


McManis 2008 Pinot Noir

McManis 2009 Pinot Noir

The McManis Family Vineyards produce some very delicious and accessible wines that are remarkably inexpensive. From their web site:

McManis Family Vineyards is a grower and vintner of premium varietal winegrapes located in the Northern Interior of California. The company was founded in 1990 by Ron and Jamie McManis – fourth generation family farmers. The McManis family has been growing grapes in this region since 1938.

McManis Family Vineyards currently operates over 2500 acres of winegrapes and after the 1997 harvest, a state-of-the-art winery was designed and built to maximize the resulting wine’s quality through small lot handling, whole cluster pressing and barrel storage and fermentation.

We enjoyed the 2008 Pinot Noir this evening with homemade “Chicken Bryan” (a copy of the Carrabba’s specialty that Jonathan has mastered). The description of the 2009 Pinot Noir from the McManis web site indicates a greater emphasis on a fruit forward character, but the 2008 had an excellent balance of the traditional earthiness of a Pinot Noir along with some spiciness. This paired deliciously well with the goat cheese and sun roasted tomatoes of the Chicken Bryan.


Steelhead Double India Pale Ale


Produced by the Mad River Brewing Company and weighing in at 8.6% ABV, this ale appears to include a bottle aging. I observed settled sediment in the bottom of the bottle when putting it in the refrigerator to cool. The label doesn’t mention bottle aging and so many tasters poured the sediment into the glass and found that to be (not surprisingly) an unpleasant addition. I carefully poured this ale with the aim of avoiding the sediment and was successful in doing so. This yielded a beautiful light copper amber coloured ale with a creamy white head that lasted for quite a while but did not lace the glass as the beverage was being enjoyed.

The aroma is tart with the citrus smell of hops but includes a solid and pleasant malty foundation. The mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied. This Double IPA begins with a mellow malt sweetness that is immediately checked by the aggressive hops. Lots of grapefruit and orange peel flavour almost overwhelms the maltiness all the way across the palate through to a dry finish. As the beverage warms, however, the malts are given more emphasis and the combination results in a sweeter fruitiness on the palate. Still, the deliciously strong hop backbone remains. There is an enjoyably long finish that initially emphasises the dry tartness in the back of the mouth but grows to give a full balanced expression to the malt in the middle of the palate as the beverage warms.

The Mad River Brewing Company of Blue Lake, California, has exhibited great craftsmanship in this ale. They describe it as follows.

Maltier, hoppier and stronger than regular IPAs, Double IPA is dry hopped with Amarillo hops for a fresh citrus flavor and aroma. Goes great with red meats and life in general. Does not go well with driving or machinery.

It is a worthy and enjoyable high gravity IPA — recommended.


Victory Storm King Imperial Stout

VictoryStormKingImperialStout.jpg This Imperial Stout is unusual in that it has been hopped more heavily than is typical for this style, but the brewers have maintained this addition with a great degree of balance that gives added complexity without detracting from the traditional elements of the style.

This delicious Imperial Stout pours up a rich amber black with a full frothy head that remains and moderately laces the glass. The nose presents full coffee, molasses, and cocoa aromas, with a distinct and enjoyable tart hoppy fruit overlay and quiet alcohol background.

The taste continues this balanced interplay of the Imperial Stout style with the clear hop notes that makes this beverage very distinctive. It begins with a caramel malty sweetness that is quickly overtaken by powerful roasted coffee and and bitter chocolate flavours. The hoppiness is present throughout without ever distracting or overwhelming. This hop flavour becomes more pronounced just prior to the complex dry finish.

This somewhat smooth, medium to full bodied Imperial Stout has a deliciously complex aftertaste that lingers long. It is well-crafted and manages to offer both balance and complexity without that becoming a distraction from its enjoyment.


Terrapin’s Reunion ‘10 – Belgian Style Scotch Ale

reunion_beer_label_052010of.jpgI really enjoy the craft beers from Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, Georgia. Of course, I’m partial to anything from Georgia, but these fellows do an outstanding job.

This ale is an interesting blend of two styles: Belgian and Scottish. The craft and moderate level of complexity in this brew is appreciated.

This ale pours up a nice rich dark amber brown with a smaller tan head that did not stick around long. The nose reveals the Belgian style yeast with a definite dusty fruity banana aroma, the sweet Scottish maltiness being hinted in the background.

It’s important to give this 22 ounce serving the time for its complexity to be revealed. Don’t over chill this ale or you’ll miss what it has to offer. The mouthfeel is medium bodied. This ale begins with a clear emphasis on the Belgian style, and that style remains on the nose throughout, becoming somewhat less pronounced on the pallet as the ale warms, giving way to a much fuller expression of the sweet Scottish maltiness. Throughout, the hops remain in the background, accented on the finish.

This is a skillfully crafted blended style ale that is a treat to enjoy.


Oskar Blues Ten FIDY Imperial Stout

I don’t generally drink beer that comes in a can. Mostly that’s because I prefer craft brewed beers which ordinarily come in bottles. There is an exception.


I love a good Imperial Stout and while this one doesn’t take the place of my all time favourite, it certainly gives it a run for it’s money. I was completely surprised! This brew lives up to its reputation. (It get’s a 100 rating from and an ‘A’ from Beer Advocate Magazine.) An Imperial Stout is typically a high gravity beer and thus has a higher percentage alcohol by volume (ABV). This one gets its name from its 10.50% ABV.

It pours up licorice black with a deliciously dark chocolate coloured head. The nose is wonderfully unique, offering a rich mixture of sweet caramel and malty dark roasted barley. On the palate it gives up full and smooth chocolate and coffee flavours. I think the uniqueness of the nose and the palate may also have something to do with the addition of flaked oats (giving it some of the qualities of an oatmeal stout) as well as the way it’s been hopped. It’s definitely everything the brewery advertises.

Ten FIDY Imperial Stout – This titanic, immensely viscous stout is loaded with inimitable flavors of chocolate-covered caramel and coffee and hide a hefty 98 IBUs underneath the smooth blanket of malt. Ten FIDY (10.5% ABV) is made with enormous amounts of two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops. Ten FIDY is the ultimate celebration of dark malts and boundary-stretching beer.


Viña Requingua Toro de Piedra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2008

torodepiedracab2008.pngViña Requingua Toro de Piedra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2008

This is a delicious Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon that is delightfully complex! On the dry side, it reminded me a little of a chianti at times with hints of leather, but it is definitely a cab with flavours of pepper, black cherry, cedar, and maybe some mocha. Lots of fun, and modestly priced, too!


Toasted Head Chardonnay

This is not a subtle Chardonnay — it’s very oaky, buttery, and robust. I guess California Chardonnays have that reputation, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you don’t mind the lack of subtlety, this is a very fun beverage to enjoy with a more robustly seasoned poultry dish.

Here’s the description from

Bright tangerine and pear fruit aromas are highlighted by clove and nutmeg. Pear and toasty butterscotch oak flavors. Mellow creamy texture. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish. Pour with citrus-and-herb halibut, a roasted pineapple and avocado salsa. Tropical!