And then there was wine

There are approximately 10,000 winegrowers and 853 wine companies in Catalunya. None of which I had ever heard of a few months ago. Now I can confirm that Catalonian wines (or at least the ones I have tried) tend to be full bodied and high in alcohol. Apparently, due to the grape varieties and the region’s warm weather ­conditions. With so much diversity around, one ought to start somewhere and look forward to explore other grape varieties and climate conditions…

A promise delivered

Tucked away at the end of a street and in the middle of a maze of narrow street of the gothic quarter is a place that promises good coffee. The long walk and wait were well worth it. Though I should have probably ordered two.

Decadent luncheon

Three kilometers away from Noosa and its gazillion tourists, Noosaville takes full advantage of its riverfront location with relaxing foreshore and leisurely aquatic pursuits. Running, walking and bike riding are popular activities along the riverside walkways; so is people watching or dining whilst sitting on the public benches. You might even see a boat go adrift. Early mornings you can be woken up by the colourful local and loud rainbow lorikeets with their morning calls.

Noosaville’s location makes it a perfect place to stay away from the crowds. Though it is possible to join them with the ferry service. A river cruise which includes commentary about the local history, wildlife, what to do and the homes along the river. Other more popular destinations are the nice restaurants with stunning river views and degustation menus with matching wines. Indulgence for an Easter Saturday afternoon!

How to make proper Tequila

Is it the drink that made Mexico famous or did Mexico make this drink famous?

Good Tequila is a mix of art, patience and hard work. The “pineapple” of the Agave takes from 7 to 10 years to harvest. It grows to an average of 40kg – 80kg; though in some cases it has grown to weigh 120kg.

The Agave is a cactus, though only one specific one can be used to make tequila: blue Agave, and is the sugar source for the fermentation needed to produce alcohol. After the pineapple is cooked and ground, it is juiced and only 40% remains. The rest is used as compost. Or in some places to make biscuits. The juice is then fermented and distilled at least twice to raise the alcohol content. In Mexico, tequila can have 35-55% alcohol though the minimum alcohol content to export is 40%.

Tequila that is bottled after distillation is “white” tequila. Its flavour is raw and is truer to the fruit. Tequila can also be aged in barrels for different lengths of type to make “reposado” (2-11 months in barrel), “añejo” (1-3 years in barrels) or “extra-añejo” (3+ years in barrels). The barrels, as with wine, change the flavour of the drink. White oak is what is needed and it comes from USA or France. There used to be also Canadian oak used but our northern neighbours tore their business by raising their taxes in the transportation.

The cost of barrels drives decisions on the final product. French oak is generally used for the older tequilas. A barrel can cost between 1000-1500 usd. Whilst american oak is used for younger types of tequila as the barrel cost is between 300-500 usd. Barrels used to age wine and bourbon are also sometimes re-used for tequila. Barrels life is 8-10 years thus so is the aging period of the “oldest” tequila.

Tequila is produced world wide though the drink has denomination of origin, which means that to be called as such it has to come from this region where blue Agave shares the same altitude, weather and soil. Otherwise the drink can be called Agave liquor or distillation of agave.

Real tequila is elegant and must be had sip by sip, accompanied by a slice of lime or orange and possibly a cricket. So next time you try this drink, make sure you appreciate the art that goes behind its production.

Lob not love

The greatest food of them all is a tortilla wrapped or rolled around a filling. Tacos predate the European invasion and were really invented by indigenous though they were not called “tacos” back then. In those days, between 1,000 and 500 B.C., tacos were really just a kind of edible spoon: using a tortilla to scoop a filling. It is thought that as corn was seen as a religious symbol by indigenous, it was incorporated into their cuisine to honor the gods. Hence making its appearance in tacos. There are also records that Hernan Cortez back in 1500s referred to the tortilla in one of his reports back to Spain. The word tortilla comes from the Nahuatl “tlaxcalli” and Hernan described it as a “corn flat bread sold in local markets”.

So now that we have history sorted, let us get one fact straight: real tacos come from a stand not from a sit-down restaurant. And it is always better to have a recommendation from a local. Like this place, commonly known as “tacos Lob” because they are outside the Mexican clothing chain “LOB”.

Thus, as you enter Mexican lands that is the one thing you must do – direct yourself to the best nearest taco stand. Who knows maybe you get to try a new filling – like tongue or lip!

Prosperity Toss

During Chinese New Year many Singaporeans toss and eat yusheng or prosperity toss, a raw fish salad. This infographic explains the ritual and meaning quite well. The important bit is that everyone tosses the salad with shouts of “Lo Hei”.

The salad is made every night for around two weeks. Sometimes even a couple of times per day as it is something to do with friends and family. Having Singaporeans around in the office and as friends is actually helpful and nice, being able to live these quirky traditions. Plus the salad is very tasty.

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Meh…

Chilli crab is considered the national dish of Singapore. It is one of the 7 iconic dishes in the world along the Yorkshire pudding and the mole Poblano. I, personally, thought it was meh. Not impressed – it is exactly what it is – eating crab in sweet chili tomato sauce. I have been more impressed before by the black pepper crab

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Pineapple tarts

We have a multi-cultural team in the office. Only a few Singaporeans and one Chinese, many indians and few other single representation of other countries – who for the purpose of this post don’t matter much. Anyway, during Chinese New Year the amount of pineapples has increased: in ornaments, food, snacks, etc. Of course I asked the inevitable question of why.
Here are a few findings:

  • This pineapple thing is particular to Singapore.
  • The reason why is because “pineapple” in the Hokkien dialect also means Prosperity comes to me.
  •  王梨  -> the Hokkien characters, also read as wang lei.
  • According to this post, pineapple means wealth, luck, excellent fortune, gambling luck for Chinese culture.

Lastly, and what I found really intriguing:

  • Pineapple tarts are made into rectangle cakes to resemble “golden bricks”, which signifies prosperity.

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The simple things

Sometimes the small or simple things are the ones that bring us the smiles to our faces.
In the middle of Scotts Blvd. a place that makes all day breakfasts and good coffee: Wild Honey.

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Warning:
My coffee judgement might be completely off at the moment after so many months here.