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Sideways, Merlot and sudden enlightenment

Served at 1:11 AM on Sunday, August 20, 2006

It's interesting to know that the 2004 movie Sideways increased the demand for Pinot Noir in a phenomenal way. On the downside, it also somehow killed Merlot.

Miles, in the movie says:
"No. If anybody orders merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any f***ing merlot!"

And Jack replies back saying:
"Okay, okay. Relax, Miles...
Jesus. No merlot...

But Merlot is not always all that bad!

Many say that this generalized aversion to Merlot is not correct. The most expensive and sought after red wines in the world (like the Château Pétrus) are merlots.

Sula Satori Merlot: Sudden Enlightenment
The Sula stable carries an interesting Merlot that goes by the name of Sula Satori Merlot. Satori, they say, is a Zen term which means sudden enlightenment. This Merlot has a bouquet of spices on the nose, and a surprisingly balanced and nice-bodied feeling around the tongue. The tannins are subdued, so it makes a great beginner wine.

It stands tall as a wine that can be perfectly enjoyed on its own, but we experienced that it actually accentuated the taste of thai food, especially "Pad Thai" with green curry. The lemongrass and the Merlot are an amazing combination to seduce your senses.

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Hummus bi tahina

Served at 10:03 AM on Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hummus: A heavenly dipSmear your senses with the subtle exotica of Hummus. Relished as an unparalelled dip that originated in the middle east, it's both nutritious and tongue-tickling at the same time.

But mind you, it is an acquired taste. Just like chinese food for Indians, just like Wasabi sauce for Americans and Chicken Tikka Masala for the Japanese.

For the ones with an adeventurous palate, this dip is highly recommended.
It is a paste made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. There are two ways you can cook this delicacy, one by soaking chickpeas overnight, and simmering for three hours, or an alternative method by using a pressure cooker which requires about no pre-soaking and is ready in about two hours.

Now, coming to the recipe of Hummus, here we go:

What you need:

  • 3 cups raw dried chickpeas (or skip the soaking and cooking steps, and use 7 cups of drained tinned chickpeas)

  • 9 cups water (twice)

  • 1 T cooking oil

  • 3/4 cup (175 g) tahini

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 12 cloves of garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 T salt

  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

  • approximately 3/4 cup chickpea cooking liquid

How to make it:

  1. Soak the chickpeas in the water overnight, then drain (skip this step if you are using a pressure cooker).

  2. Gently simmer the chickpeas with the next lot of water (generously salted) and the tablespoon of oil until very soft, but still whole (about 3 hours, or 1 1/2 hours if using a pressure cooker).

  3. Drain the chickpeas, and reserve a few cups of the cooking liquid (you will need it later).

  4. Rinse the chickpeas with plenty of cold water, while doing so, gently rub them between your hands to release the skins, they should float away with the rinsing water. After a several changes of water, and removing a majority of the skins, drain the chickpeas again.

  5. Using a food processor (or other means), mix the lemon juce with the tahini.

  6. Process (or mash) the chickpeas in batches, using the lemon juce and tahini mixture, the olive oil, and the cooking liquid as required to maintain the desired consistency (add the garlic to the batch with the olive oil, and process until smooth).

  7. In a large bowl, using a spoon, mix the salt and pepper into the other blended ingredients (add additional cooking liquid, if still too thick).

And lo and behold, what you have is a sumptuous dip that goes well with Pita Bread or Naan and is best paired with a nice White Zinfandel.

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Ernest & Julio Gallo White Zinfandel (Blush)

Served at 8:01 AM on Friday, August 11, 2006

Ernest & Julio Gallo White Zinfandel (Blush)E & J Gallo's White Zinfandel is a classic 2001 from the Sierra Foothills.

A twinkling Rose coloured wine with a tint of golden-straw, the colour will come as a distinct, pleasant surprise.

This wine features a pleasant floral aroma, fresh strawberry and juicy peach flavors, and a delicate finish.

A mysterious sweet, medium-dry crispness and a nice fruit finish make it a versatile wine with a variety of food. Pair it with nice Hummus bi tahina, your favorite cheeses, or skewered prawns and it will show its magic.

A bunch of us got together and explored a 2001 label. It takes a while to open up. Swirl it well in your glass, and roll it in your mouth to experience it blooming. The sulphur may be on the upside as some felt a mild headache. Overall, an amazing experience!

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