Wine Wednesday: Sargamuskotaly Tokaji Late Harvest

One of my personal wine fetishes is a passion for sweet dessert wine. The sweeter does not mean the better… Dessert winds are all about the perfect balance between aroma, acid, sugar, and mouth feel.

Wine Wednesday: Sargamuskotaly Tokaji Late Harvest

Probably the best value wine that I know of in this category is Tokaji from Hungary. Hungary and wine, once upon a time, was very popular in Europe. But the methods have fallen out of favor, and The region’s exquisite quality is ours for a bargain these days.

The most famous kind of wine from this area is Aszu. The grapes are affected with Noble rot, picked individually, and then fermented in their own best of wine.

This is not a bottle of Aszu, however. This is a late harvest wine.

You can taste in wine that some of the Yellow Muscat grapes have been affected by botrytis, Noble rot. But the sweetness comes mainly from harvesting the grapes as the colder temperatures set in on the late harvest. It’s a fresh, modern style with the backbone of botrytis, found only a few places in the world. Awesome. And the best part of all, is that this little bottle is on $12 in my province!

If I haven’t already convinced you with the price in the pedigree, let me lure you in with a description. The wind is a medium yellow color, clear around the room as it is only two years old. The aroma is full of honeysuckle, orange blossoms, white lilies, beeswax, and buttermilk. When you take a sip, take a big sip….And feel that luscious full wine swirl around in your mouth. Note the high acidity, the balances the sweetness. It has a delicious pineapple taste, with tropical lilies, strawberry blossoms and a mouthful of honey. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Of course you can drink this with dessert, but I love a glass appoint self. Some of my other favorite pairings are with popcorn, pad Thai, salty nuts and pate on crackers.

Enjoy!

Melkam Fasika

Two weekends ago we had the pleasure of going for an Easter celebration at my Eritrean friend Aster’s house. It was a joyous, relaxed occasional, with a plethora of food and good company.

Melkam Fasika

We had a dazzling array of food. It’s neat to talk with Aster and the other Eritrean women about the differences and similarities between Eritrean and Ethiopian food. There are more similarities than differences, of course. That’s the way we feel about each other. One of my two besties is Menbi, who is Ethiopian. And the other of her two besties (one is me!) is Aster. I remind myself on occasions like that that not everywhere would gatherings of Ethiopians and Eritreans take place. To add to that, there were Orthodox, Evangel Christians, Muslims and Buddhists at this Easter celebration. Both Jason and I felt blessed my our community and the acceptance of Habesha friends. We love it that 1/2 of the conversation is in Amharic (with side conversations of Tigrayan and Oromiffa) and 1/2 in English. It helps my brush up on my Amharic understanding when the conversation is mixed, too.

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One of the other gems of the day was when I was talking to the Jordanian woman who lives in Aster’s basement with her family. We had met before, but didn’t know each other’s families. “Which one is your husband?” She asked. There were two white women , including me, at the celebration, so she didn’t know if we were the interracial couple. “The white one, I chipped back with a smile.” As a mom of two daughters who live as minorities in a majority white culture, I relish those few moments when my us and I are the ones in the minority.

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The last highlight of the day was the honour Aster bestowed on me when she asked me to make coffee for everyone. Granted, she was using my jebuna (Ethiopian coffee pot,) since I have the biggest one in our group. But instead of just using it, she asked me to prepare the coffee. For those of you that don’t know, in Ethiopian culture, the woman of the house prepares the coffee. If she has a daughter that is old enough (her daughter is getting there, but was playing with the other kids,) she can do it, or a younger relative. Anyway, my punchline was that I was enlisted as a younger cousin or member of the extended family would be, and it tickled me pink.

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I hope you all had lovely Easter celebrations as well, and enjoyed the peace and friendship of your communities.

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Stinging Nettle Chickpea Salad

Stinging nettle chickpea salad with bacon

Yesterday, we ventured into a new realm of wild crafting cooking. It was the first time I cooked stinging nettles. Everyone loved it!

There is a fellow in town who makes a living wild harvesting plants and mushrooms. He sells them to local chefs and our grocery service, Urban Harvest. When we saw the nettles as an option in our weekly grocery delivery, we ordered one bag for the clinic (my husband practices herbal veterinary medicine,) and one bag for the house. Herbal tinctures are easy to make. But nettles to eat?

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First, I read a bit about cooking nettles and making them safe. The Wolf College has a lovely helpful post… We saw these guys at the Mother Earth News Fair, and they were fabulous! I felt reasonably confident I wasn’t going to burn my children’s mouths out.

Then I went to the garden shed, got some gloves, and ventured in!

Recipe: cook little bits of bacon in some olive oil. Add a can of washed chickpeas. Stir about in the bacon fat. Meanwhile, with gloves! Wash the stinging nettles. Chop them up, and boil them in salty water for five minutes. Now you can handle the nettles. Drain and throw them in with the bacon and chick peas, add a little sweet mustard, champagne vinegar, salt, and well! Delicious, hot, stinging nettles salad. I served it with garlic roasted squash.

Enjoy! And remember, wear gloves until the nettles are cooked.

Cultivating my twins’ individual hair styles

I have twin eight year old girls. To the majority of our friends, and even most of the children on the school playground, they are identical. Since they came to us three years of age, we have rarely dressed them the same. Instead, we have helped and nurtured them develop their own sense of style. Both my girls wear their hair fabulously naturally, but they have their own distinct hair style preferences.

My daughters are Ethiopian, and culturally, cornrows are a preferred protective hairstyle. Living in Canada, we have access to thousands of style inspirations for multiple cultures, so we have tried dozens of different styles.
One of my daughters is quite preppy… She often wears simple outfits and prefers functional clothes. Her face is a little longer, and she looks fantastic with styles pulled up and to the back of her head.
My other daughter, is a little more eclectic and her style. Sometimes she is Bohemian, sometimes she is funky, but she is always impeccably accessorized. This is the girl that can pull off a fro-hawk with confidence, and has an inate cool that I could only dream of pulling off.

How have been cultivated their personal styles? Our daughters share a closet, but they don’t have double of almost anything. We start our shopping at the secondhand store, and fill in with the off-season sale racks.

For hair inspiration, we scroll through images of their favorite natural hair fashion icons, like Alicia Keys, Willow Smith and many others. My daughters also found it helpful, in the first few years, to look through pictures of their previous styles. According to my youngest, she could see what she thought looked nice on her, and then would selectively pick those style.

When we are doing a multi-week style, I ask them to describe what they would like, and also tell me how they want to look. Then I tailor their style to fit other practicalities, like where their part was last time (avoid!) if they are biking or swimming, and who will be caring for their hair in the next few weeks.

Hopefully these tips will help you cultivate your own child’s sense of natural hair styling. Remember, hair is supposed to be self expression, and fun. Enjoy nurturing you child to develop their own expression of self.

Wine Wednesday: Tarima Organic Monastrell

alicante-bodega

Can you imagine a wine growing region that is so hot and dry, the vines can’t be grown in rows? Instead, the 30 year old vines are grown in a funnel shape, to capture the maximum moisture, and sent it directly to the root of the plant.

Yesterday I picked up a 2012 bottle of Tarima Organic wine, from  Bodegas Volver. The grapes for this juicy, hot-blooded wine are grown in a harshly warm climate off the coast of Spain, on the west side of the Mediterranean. The region is DO Alicante, which is close to one of my favourite Spanish wine areas, DO Jumilla.

I poured the inky purple wine into short Riedel glasses for supper. “I can’t tell what colour it is!” one of my daughters said, and she went to the office to get a piece of white paper to hold underneath it. (Yes, this is Sugar, the Little Chef.)

Tarima Organic

The wine was opaquely purple. Everything about it showed the climate it was grown in.

It had intense aromas of red bricks, cherry, steel, cinnamon, coal brickets. It’s incredibly intense – I can’t imagine enjoying it without food, but then again, I can’t imagine not enjoying it with food! We served it with mashed sunchokes and potatoes, bison steak and shitake mushrooms. It needed all those big flavours to cope with the intensity of the wine.

More cherries to taste, and this dusty, tumbleweed, herbaceous flavour. Hot with alcohol, but balanced with high acidity and dusty, soft tannins in full force.

Absolutely intense, and delicious, and for under $20 – great deal! Maybe a new grilling favourite?