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Posts Tagged ‘wenchie’

As you may recall, I recently had the honor of being flown to Charleston, SC to attend an all-expense-paid, super special beer dinner co-hosted by the Culinary Institute of Charleston and Samuel Adams.

beer menu

Prior to the actual event, I was sent the invitation above — which listed the various courses and pairings for the beer dinner. Other than knowing the tentative list of food & beers, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the evening.

And any expectations that I might have had, were completely blown out of the water.

There were several highlights of the night –one of which included meeting and conversing with the phenomenal team of chefs from the Culinary Institute of Charleston.

Two such chefs were Chef David Vagasky and Chef Ben Black — the brilliant talent behind the fantastic appetizer spread.

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The Wench & Chef David Vagasky

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The Wench & Chef Ben Black

At the end of the evening, I got the opportunity to interview the main chef behind the entire orchestration of the Samuel Adams beer dinner, Chef Michael Carmel. Chef Carmel is the Department Chair of Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of Charleston-Trident technical College. He is a Culinary Institute of America graduate, 1978 as well as holds a bachelor’s degree from Long Island University, master’s degree at National-Louis University and he is currently pursuing a doctorate degree.

culinary-of-charleston

The music in the background of the video is fairly loud, which makes the interview difficult to hear. This is only my second use of video on my blog, so I will note this for future posts. Oh and disclaimer number two, this interview was unplanned and completely off-the-cusp. So if I stutter, sorry :) Either way, I hope that at least some of it is entertaining and informative.

THE BEER WENCH INTERVIEWS CHEF MICHAEL CARMEL

CHEERS!

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This, my dear friends (and loyal subjects), is an extremely important landmark in the history of The Beer Wench blog.

I am extremely honored and excited to present my first ever official Beer Wench video interview.

And if that was not cool enough, the interview is with the head brewer from Sam Adams –the one, the only– Mr. Bob Cannon.

BostonLagerPintGlass

As you may recall, I recently attended a Sam Adams beer dinner at The Culinary Institute of Charleston. While I was there, Bob Cannon was kind enough to let me interview him.

Since I was unaware of the fact that I would be given this opportunity, the actual interview is completely of the cusp. Nothing that was discussed was planned in advance — and actually, the “interview” flows more like a conversation.

As you will notice, the interview is in two parts. This is because both Bob and The Wench love to talk — especially about beer.

So without any further ado, allow me to present The Wench’s very first video interview with Bob Cannon from Samuel Adams.

SAM ADAMS INTERVIEW PART ONE

SAM ADAMS INTERVIEW PART TWO

Feedback is greatly encouraged!

Cheers!

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This weekend I traveled out to the heart of California’s wine country to attend The Wine Bloggers Conference.

WBC09

Sounds weird, right — since “technically“, I’m not a wine blogger (details, details).

Last year, I missed the first ever Wine Bloggers Conference. This turned out to be extremely tragic and I vowed never again to miss such an event.

Although I am not a wine blogger, a significant portion of my “professional” experience has been wine-related. Wine is one of my greatest passions as well as subject in which I have devoted a SIGNIFICANT amount of time to studying.

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I love wine AND I am a total wine geek. (OKAY THERE, I said it. I’m out of the “wino closet”)

I have a pretty decent collection of wine books and for some time now I have been studying for sommelier and CSW certification. BUT, although I love me some geeky textbooks — when it comes to wine reviews, I trust wine bloggers more than wine writers from traditional media platforms.

social_media

The wine blogging community is a commnity of wine evagelists, wine geeks, wine enthusiasts and winemakers.

Some blogs are more relevant and interesting than others. Some blogs I follow purely for educational purposes. Some I follow purely for entertainment purposes. And some I follow for both educational and entertainment purposes.

My love for food, beer, wine and social media has given me a community of friends like none other I have ever known.

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Shana Ray, The Wench, Wannabe Wino & Wine Brat (SF)

So naturally, when I heard that a signifcantly large percentage of my Twitter friends were going to attend a conference centered around social media, food & wine — I could not resist attending the event.

Yeah yeah, it was the “Wine” Bloggers Conference … and I write about beer.

Blah blah. All I heard was “BIG PARTY out in California — where the wine flows like water.”

And except for one minor incident (which has been noted and need not be named), the wine did flow … and flow … and flow … and flow …

bus #4

The Wench, Rob Bralow, Shana Ray

No, seriously. We are talking breakfast, lunch and dinner — heck, even on the bus.

But aside from all the drinking, all the food, all the great people, great laughs and great memories — the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference was, in fact, a very serious event.

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Shana Ray (@sharayray) & The Wench

Okay, maybe not THAT serious But, it was extremely educational, informative and valuable — REALLY.

Personally, I tasted over 200 wines. I’m sure that many of the hardcore wine bloggers (aka people who actually spit) tasted nearly twice as many. In addition to drinking and eating our way through wine country — we went on vineyard walks, winery tours and attended several wine & web themed seminars and keynotes.

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The overall experience was entirely too extensive to capture in merely one post. I was impressed by several wine bloggers, winemakers, wineries, wine something-or-others … and well WINES themselves. Lots of hits, lots of misses — but nonetheless, lots of laughs, lots of memories & lots of fun.

Lots of fun.

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Ward (Dr. Xeno) & The Wench

But, ahhhh screw it. As much as I would love to illustrate my experience through the use of witty metaphors and uber creative writing, I would rather just flaunt it through the use of a select series of photos … and one oh so memorable video (which I will make you anxiously wait to see until the end …)

I arrived in California one day before the start of WBC. Instead of twiddling my thumbs or mindlessly walking throughout the city of San Fransisco, I lived “dangerously” and hitch-hiked a ride to Murphys. And by hitch-hiked, I mean I was picked up from the SFO airport by a good friend from Twitter — Russ Beebe, the infamous Wine Hiker.

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The Winehiker & The Wench

Russ kidnapped me and forced me to eat a picnic of prosciutto, cheese, fresh peaches & fresh sourdough bread on the way to visit Twisted Oak Winery. The experience was utterly unbearable …

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The Wench & El Jefe

My visit to Twisted Oak was rather inspiring — and may deserve its own post (re: beer epiphanies). I met some AMAZING people (my long lost soul-mates from Twitter), toured the Twisted Oak Winery, visited several tasting rooms in downtown Murphys, tasted many great wines (especially from Twisted Oak and Newsom-Harlow), drank some “epiphany” beers, enjoyed a nice swim in Murphys Creek, chowed down on some ridiculous good BBQ (mmm steak …) and played master winemaker in a blending competition.

Bur for me, the real “epiphany moment” came after I woke up from a remarkable nights sleep in the great outdoors underneath the infamous Twisted Oak tree …

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The Twisted Oak Tree

Russ (Winehiker) was kind enough to provide me a modest & ultra satisfying breakfast … served straight off the trailer of his truck.

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An amazing nights sleep under the stars — in combination with great company, a tasty breakfast and a beautiful crack-of-dawn view of Twisted Oak Winery — equated to absolute bliss.

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After what seemed like the perfect wine country experience in Murphys, we all headed on up to the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa for Day One of the WBC.

BUT …. this post is already entirely WAY too long. Which means, I am forced to reveal the photographic evidence (with some video footage) of the WBC in a series of consequetive posts.

Have no fear, kids. I will provide you with one little (but ultra compelling) sneak pea k …

CHEERS!

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The marks my first “official” post in Project No Man’s Land. The project will consist of a series of posts illustrating linear pairings between wine varietals and beer styles. Naturally, this project is entirely subjective and has absolutely no scientific foundation. Nonetheless, I have a lot of confidence in its purpose and I am tremendously excited about starting this venture – regardless of the results.

Perhaps after this project I will no longer be known as The Beer Wench, but as The Beer & Wine Yenta … (matchmaker matchmaker, make me a match … find me a find … catch me a catch). But I digress, let us move on to the first pairing.

SAUVIGNON BLANC & INDIA PALE ALE

Now there is some method in my madness in picking this as the first pairing. First off, the Sauvignon Blanc varietal is nostalgic for me. When I was 16 years old, I went to France. (Quand j’avais seize anees, je suis allee au France.) My first winery tour and wine tasting experience was in the Loire Valley, France. And consequently, my first “real” sip of wine was a Sauvignon Blanc.

loire

And this brings me to the India Pale Ale. Anyone who has ever interacted with me at some point, whether it be in real life or through the internet, knows that The Wench is an ale girl. Whereas I do experiment from time to time with different styles of lager, I prefer to stay where I am familiar –  in the land of ales. It is only natural for me to begin my project with an ale . But not just any ale, folks. We are skipping the foreplay and diving right into the “king of hops” – the IPA. And you will see why, soon enough.

Now let’s get to the nitty gritty.

THE VARIETAL: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon_blanc

First, let us try to pronounce it: SOH-vihn-yohn BLAHNSOH-vee-nyawn BLAHNGK. Good job.

The Sauvignon Blanc varietal first originated in the Bordeaux region of France, but it is now grown in just about every major wine making region in the world. Wines made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc are typically fermented in stainless steel and almost never touch oak. Because of this factor, it was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screwcap in commercial quantities.

screw cap

Although its aroma and flavor profiles change with region and climate, the Sauvignon Blanc varietal is most commonly described as being dry, crisp, herbacious and acidic. Most Sauvignon Blancs are categorized as being either “herbaceous” (grassy) or “tropical” (citrusy). Other flavor and aroma descriptors include green & red peppers, flint, asparagus, gooseberry and even cat piss. These wines are typically light to medium in body, with moderate alcohol content.

citrus

Since it does not particularly benefit from aging, wine made from Sauvignon Blanc is usually consumed young. As with most things in life, though, there are “exceptions to the rule”. Oak-aged Sauvignon Blancs from the Pessac-Leognan and Graves regions in Bordeaux can be aged up to fifteen years.

Sauvignon Blancs pair very well with fresh seafood/shellfish/white fish/salmon (esp poached or lightly grilled), sushi, chevre (goat cheese), tart & herbacious cheeses, chicken (fried/roasted/sauteed), pork, curry, Thai food, Tex-mex food, salsa and vegetables (especially green and grilled).

THE STYLE: India Pale Ale

HoppyBeer!

The origin of the IPA is greatly debated. But I am a story-teller by nature and, regardless of what the truth may be, the “creation myth” of the IPA is one of my favorite tales to tell.

IndiaBeer

Once upon a time, the crazy Brits decided that colonizing the country of India was an awesome idea. However, this was before planes, trains & automobiles. The fastest and most efficient way to get from England to India was to sail around the continent of Africa.

africa-map

Obviously, this was not a short trip. Africa is a pretty damn big continent. Many consumable goods (including beer) could not survive the long voyage. In order to prevent the beer from spoiling during the trip, the traditional Pale Ale recipe needed to be tweaked. Beer already naturally contains 2 different preservation agents – hops & alcohol. Increase these elements and you get a recipe for success.

BeerHop

As legend goes, Hogdson was the most popular brewer during this time and has been credited as the creator of the original IPA. In order to ensure his ale weathered the journey to India, Hogdson made three crucial changes in his brewing methods. Hogdson increased the hopping rate, exaggerated the level of alcohol and used an abundant dry hopping process.

hodgson

So I know what you are thinking – great story Wenchie, but what the heck does this have to do with the Sauvignon Blanc. And the answer is … absolutely nothing. I don’t even know if the story is accurate.  I just like to tell stories.

Time to get down to business. In my opinion, Sauvignon Blanc’s beer equivalent is the IPA. Why? Both are medium-bodied, dry, crisp, herbacious and acidic. As with Sauvignon Blanc, the IPA style changes based on where it is produced. English IPAs are like Old World Sauvignon Blancs – softer and more balanced. American IPAs are like New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs – sharp and grassy with heavy notes of citrus.

Just as the Sauvignon Blanc varietal has exceptions, so does the IPA. There are a few interpretations of the IPA style with a higher malt content, which makes them similar to the oaked versions of the Sauvignon Blanc (I hope this makes sense). BUT – for the most part, the Sauvignon Blanc varietal and the India Pale Ale style are BOTH primarily known for dominant grass and citrus characteristics.

green grass wallpapers

In addition to possesing very similar aroma and flavor profiles, India Pale Ales and Sauvignon Blancs pair well with many of the same foods. These include cheese, chicken, pork, salmon, seafood, curry, Thai food, Tex-Mex food, and salsa.

Since they can be sharp and astringent on the palate, both of these beverages tend be an “aquired taste”. I have an affinity for acidity, astringency and bitterness. As a result, the Sauvy B varietal and the IPA style happen to be two of my favorite beverages to drink. In my eyes, they possess similar qualities which make them almost interchangeable. I could easily drink an IPA under the same conditions as I would a Sauvignon Blanc. Hence my choice to make them a linear pairing.

whitewine

And what do you think?

Is this a hit or miss?

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