Thursday, May 15, 2008


I should start writing down the wines I've bought for future reference. Most wines are between 10 and 15 euro per bottle, all bought at Van Bakel & Cavé located in the Kerkstraat, Amsterdam. Photo: Jean-Pierre Margan, owner of Château la Canorgue.

Château la Canorgue 2004. Red wine. Organic farming, producer: Château la Canorgue, region: Southern Rhone, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) Cotes du Luberon. [I don't really have an opinion on this wine, to be fair, I had a bit of a sore throat when I drank this bottle, undecided]

Canorgue 2005, White wine. Organic farming, producer: Château la Canorgue, region: Southern Rhone. Nice with bass, so I was told. [good wine, will buy again]

Vin de table de France, Louis et Chantal Julian Vignerons, Ribaute. Red wine, one liter bottle. Organic farming, does not contain sulfite. [one of the better simple table wines I have drunk, though not very complex. It has a little added carbonic acid. Open in advance for the gas to dissipate; good for cooking]

Weingut Debus, 2005 Sprendlinger Klostergarten, Pinot Noir. Rosé Brut. German sparkling wine from quality grapes. Region: Rheinhessen. [Very nice! A winner. Will buy again. Drunk without food]

I have six Schott Zwiesel wine glasses: 2 for red wine, 2 for white wine and 2 for sparkling wine. The red wine glasses are the Diva 'Burgunderpokal Claret Burgundy'. It's a huge glass, holding up to 839 ml! I wish I could remember the series of the other glasses. Diva as well, Fortissimo?


What is summer without gazpacho? On the internet there are plenty of gazpacho recipes floating around. Some even list tabasco and worcestershire sauce as ingredients. I'm somewhat of a purist: keep it simple.

Gaz is thought to be from an Arabian-Spanish word, kaz, a wooden mortar and pestle for grinding or mashing bread (Johannes van Dam: "De Dikke van Dam", page 221. Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2006). If true, gazpacho could be any soup made from ground vegetables, bread and oil & vinegar. Before the 16th century gazpacho was certainly made without tomato, and was most likely more of a bread soup. The basis of gazpacho are good quality olive oil and vinegar.

Start with a few slices of stale bread, without the crust. Don't use bread from the supermarket! Grind the bread together with 5 ripe tomatoes (seeded and peeled), green pepper (seeded and peeled; bake in oven to make this easy), 2 cloves of garlic, 4 table spoons of white wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar), black pepper and salt. According to Johannes van Dam cucumber does not belong in gazpacho.

Like when making mayonnaise, add about 50 ml. of olive oil while grinding the bread-vegetable mixture to a thick paste. Before serving, add ice cold water, or ice cubes, to taste. If eaten as a full meal, serve with cucumber, tomato, onion, bread and boiled egg on the side.

Methods of reusing used up tea leaves

It is "mottainai" to throw away used up leaves after infusions, full of beneficial nutrients! Here are some methods to recycle leaves after infusions (re-posted from Maiko Tea Shop).

Used up tea leaves, a dash of salt, sakura ebi (dried up shrimp), jako (tiny dried fish), tarako (fish eggs), sesame seeds

1. Microwave the used up tea leaves to evaporate the water
2. Crush the dried up leaves (e.g. in a food processor)
3. Dry-roast the crushed leaves in a frying pan to bring out a pleasant aroma. Add salt and other ingredients depending on your taste.

Enjoy by sprinkling over rice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hoji-cha & iced tea

Probably not very well known outside Japan: Hoji-cha, a green tea roasted over charcoal at high temperatures. Because of the roasting the color of the leaf changes from green to reddish-brown.

Hoji-cha is made from the lower parts of the bush, the stem (karigane). Because of this and the roasting, this tea contains little catechin (causes the astringency/bitterness of green tea) and caffeine. I love the sweet smokey flavor of this tea.

Hoji-cha (or spelled as: houjicha) can be used to make iced tea. The traditional way is to boil water in a kettle, add the leaves (according to taste) and boil for another 2 minutes. After cooling, chill the tea in the fridge. Without the leaves, of course.

Green tea like sencha or gyokuro is also perfect for iced tea. For the best 'green & vegetal' taste I steep mizu-dashi-cha for a long time in cold water: I add one tea bag of mizudashicha from Maiko Tea Shop to 500 ml - 1000 ml of water, and keep it in the fridge for about 8 hours, or overnight. You can use any green tea, but mizudashicha is stir-steamed extra deeply before drying, thus making it more suitable for extraction in cold water.

I can't imagine a summer without iced tea. It's cheap, easy to make and healthy since it doesn't contain any sugar. But you have to use really fresh tea – buy it in Japan from an online shop! – for the best taste and fragrance.