German Wine Escapade Part I

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The story of how I got into the world of wine is pretty simple.
I went to the CIA, not knowing a single thing about wine, except that my parents drank it occasionally, and that it tasted like awful grape juice.
I entered my wines class, scared shitless, but came out at the end on top, and newly converted.
Professor Weiss actually used Brachetto D’Acqui to convert me (paired with a chocolate tart) but the wine I fell in love with was really a German Riesling.
From then on, I dreamed about going to Germany.
7 years later, I finally made it!

I arrived in Frankfurt and my host Wilhelm picked me up and we drove straight to Rheingau for my first tasting.You know Wine tasting is serious business when you head straight from the airport to your first tasting at Weingut Knyphausen.

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The right side of the photo is dirty because that’s what you get when you step out of a plane into wine region and get super excited that you forget to check your camera.

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This awesome dog greeted me as son as I stepped down from the car!
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Watched the guy tend the vines for a bit before we went to the tasting room.
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With the winemaker!
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Some of the wines that I tasted…

Then off to Rheinhessen and Schloss Johannisberg…
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What a nice place to hangout and drink wine in the spring!
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Jesuit vineyard across his house and tasting room…

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Sweet Rhodesian Ridgeback!
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Photo with the winemaker/owners! And the Rhodesian Ridgeback shaking my hand!
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We saw a little bit of downtown and had lunch in this great tavern.
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Schnitzel, anyone?
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I really love the charm of these small German towns. I’ve lived in big cities all my life so it’s really a great experience to be in these towns so different from the places I’ve lived in.
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After lunch, we went across the river to Mosel.

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Drove to Prinz Salm

Various slate/soil around the vineyards…

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Awesome underground tasting/function room…
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We went to their old house which was destroyed during the World Wars.
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We drove to the top of the Urzinger Wurzgarten gardens and the view was amazing!!

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Bud break…
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Packed slate/rock formation…

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From there, you can see something off. They are building a bridge through the landscape and the winemakers are fighting against it.

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Here’s one panoramic photo.
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We headed back down to make our appointment at Jos Joh Prum.

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With Katarina Prum!

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She served us an amazing dinner! Thank you, Katarina!

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And with that, I was pooped…and jetlagged.

Germany Day 1 was an amazing experience. Couldn’t wait for Day 2.

But first, some much needed rest at a quaint B&B.

At Mosel, Germany

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Hello from the top of Urziger Wurzgarten, Mosel, Germany!

I finally made it to my dream wine destination.
Thank you very much to Joh Jos PRUM, Knyphausen, Prinz Salm, Schloss Saarstein, Schloss Johannisberg and
for taking their time to taste with me and feed me.
I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.
I still had a list of other wineries to visit but I only had two days in Germany.
Now that I know how to get around, I can come back easily.

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Who’s Not Going Sightseeing In London?

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Who’s Not Going Sightseeing In London?

I already did that when I was younger.

I’m not even going to pretend anymore that I’m interested in going back to the museums or historical sites.

WHAT?

This is going to be a wine debauchery trip.

I’m going to drink all the wines that I can’t get here in the Philippines.

My liver may suffer for it, but at least I’ll die happy.

EXCITED!!!

Flow.Surf.Yoga.Samba Weekend Part II – Coffee and Surf

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WHAT? It’s March 2014 already?! Where did the end of 2013 go?

INSANITY. That’s where it went, thus, having no time to blog at all.

Slow season is here once again so now I more time to putz around and update this bloody thing.

Before my end of 2013 turned insane, I was able to escape to La Union for a little R&R with the girls of Flow.Surf.Yoga.Samba. This was my second trip with them and I went alone as I needed to recover from an emotional setback.

I’ve been coming here since 2005 but the area keeps changing so much every time I go back. I don’t get to go back often enough but I do love this place, as this is where I first learned to surf.

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I said hi to my buddy River (my friend Noelle’s dog) as soon as I arrived early in the morning.

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Was feeling a bit groggy so I was about to order instant coffee (which I knew was the only kind they had from previous stays) but Noelle stopped me and told me about this “awesome coffee place” across the street from La Union Surf Resort where we were staying. As soon as I heard “awesome coffee”, I took my wallet and ran to cross, not minding that the street was a busy highway with speeding commuter buses and cars.

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I was shaking from excitement when I saw the place.

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I had to line up behind some regular surfers and customers which was fine.

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They gave me a cupcake which was nice of them.

I ordered a cappucino and it was HEAVEN. So psyched that I wouldn’t have to drink instant coffee again. That’s what I basically did the whole weekend. I surfed and ate drank coffee.

In between coffee runs and surf sessions, I joined Monica and my newfound friends for yoga and “taho” (soybean) for a little snack. I’m not a yoga person but I wanted to try it once in the hopes that it would calm my troubled mind.

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I also joined them for raw food and healthy shake workshops.

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Again, not me, but miraculously, I truly enjoyed the workshop and was inspired to continue it even after the trip. I still do a modified version of what I learned there. I also fully quit smoking as I had been smoking heavily from that emotional setback.

We drummed and danced to samba while the sun set and it was awesome.

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I didn’t really eat that much that weekend. I normally scarf down unhealthy food when I’m surfing but I was using this weekend to turn over another leaf in the hopes of forgetting the reason for my emotional setback of 2013.

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I did manage to eat a giant omelette which I didn’t finish. *SHOCK*

Totally needed the weekend, if only for the surf sessions and much needed detox….

oh…and the FABULOUS COFFEE from EL Union Coffee.

…which I will look forward to when I return to La Union again.

 

 

 

 

Basil

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I realize I haven’t raved about a local restaurant in year (or more) so it’s about time.

I’ve had a hankering for Thai food lately, and while Benjarong can fit the bill, a) it’s too far from my house, b) weighs quite hefty on the wallet. 

I’ve been driving by Basil for quite a long time now as it’s near my house. I’ve noticed that it’s always packed so I started being curious about it and started asking the food circuit about it. Unfortunately, I only found the time to try it today, because the parking situation there is horrendous and I had to wait until I could drag someone who could park for me (and eat with me) as well. In this case, I successfully dragged my brother (who already ate there and confirmed it was good). 

Outside it looks like a greenhouse, as the area surrounding it is known for selling plants for houses. Inside, the restaurant was gorgeous. 

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It felt like I was in Thailand, and not in Quezon City. Benjarong still feels like I’m in Manila, and it definitely feels like a hotel, so sorry, Basil wins in ambience. 

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They have a quite a selection on their menu. I was salivating just reading it. They didn’t have Khao Soi though. I really want Khao Soi. 

I was extremely hungover today so my brother ordered a Tom Yum to start. The rest, I ordered with my eyes, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to finish it. The server warned me that portions were for 2-3 people, but I figured my brother eats for 3 people and I eat for 2 people so it would be just right for both of us. I could always take the leftovers to work the next day. 

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Tom Yum kicked my pounding head to the curb. Especially with the spice!

I ordered my usual fish cakes and pad thai. Pad thai was amazing! It tasted like the pad thai I had in Bangkok which my tour guide said was “the best in Bangkok. I would have finished it except I had 4 other dishes to eat and I mixed in too much of the chile so it got too spicy for me to finish. If I brought my Schloss Lieser Kabinett, then I prob would have finished it. 

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Pad Thai From Basil

I was going to get the Crispy Fish but I figured I had that already so I wanted to try something else. My eye caught the Squid in Salted Egg. I’m a sucker for anything with salted egg. So I was sold on it.

So glad I got it! It was so tasty. Would have been better if I ordered rice, but I already ordered too much to start. I ordered my brother not to eat it so I could take it to work tomorrow for my lunch. HAH!

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I also got the beef curry, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the other dishes. I make a pretty mean curry so that’s probably why. HARDY HAR HAR. Next time I’ll order the green curry for future reference.

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By this time, I was stuffed and felt like hurling so I decided to walk around the restaurant and take more photos.

I went to their outdoor seating and it was really nice. Would be awesome to eat there if only Katipunan Ave wasn’t so noisy with all the cars beeping and pollution.

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My only complaint is the wine list…or lack thereof. They listed it just as house wine and premium wine. How is that supposed to tell me anything? But I guess I understand because the Quezon City neighborhood are not really wine drinkers, except for yours truly. Since it’s so near my house, I can just lug my stash from my house to the restaurant, and it would still be at proper temperature by the time my food arrives.

Guess I’m taking my Prinz Von Hessen Riesling Dachsfilet 2011 for my next visit!!!! AYEEE!!I Can’t wait!

I’m so glad I came and that this restaurant is so near me. I used to live by Fenway and this restaurant called Brown Sugar Cafe was so near me and I would go there to have some Khao Soi and Pad Thai.

This is definitely a refreshing breath of fresh air amidst all the restaurants opening which have shitty food. 

Now if only they can have better parking.

Or maybe I should take my bike? 

 

Straits Wine Fiesta 2013

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I was able to get in through trade tickets given to me by The Straits Wine Company and I came early to Whitespace to try the wines before they let the general public in. 

See how it’s nice and quiet when I arrived.

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The area was well-organized with the table arrangements, matching the arrangement of the wines in the tasting book they gave us. I tried to taste systematically, even spitting at the beginning, but each year, I always fail, and the next thing I know, I’m all over the place.

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Took my sweet time in the Germany and Austria section, tasting every single thing that they had to offer. 

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Found a winner in the Prinz Von Hessen Riesling Dachsfilet 2011 and Laurenz V Friendly Gruner Veltliner.  I liked the Dachsfilet for its complexity, although shy on the aroma, had a lot of underlying flavors of old citrus, white peach, lychee with slight oxidative notes (but not to a fault). It was one of the more interesting Rieslings I’ve had since the Grosses Gewachs and Erst Lager lectures of Joel Payne earlier this year. 

The Gruner was pretty awesome too, no notes on my tasting book, because I think I just rushed off to reserve myself a bottle of each (Riesling and Gruner). 

Decided to then just go off and have a rose which was fantastic. Aix from Provence, France. 

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I also bought myself a bottle. They were also giving away cute pink cork keychains. I only got one but I should have gotten more. 

Then I dropped by my favorites, the Italians. 

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Really appreciating the Barone Ricasoli  Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 during Joel Payne’s “Masterclass” which we rushed off to attend about 6:30pm. It smelled a lot like foot but had so much complexity which I love about Italian wines. Sour cherry, really earthy, tarrish. I carry the Brolio Chianti Classico in the restaurant so I skipped tasting that wine already.

Headed over to Marco Felluga for his Pinot Grigio which I’ve had before but just want to drink again to remind myself. 

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Then it was time for Joel Payne’s Masterclass so went over to that one. 

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See my ridiculous scribbles on the tasting mat.

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Then we went back in the tasting room so we could finish off the rest of the wines.

I introduced my friend to Brokenwood because Alan, our master somm instructor, gave us a Brokenwood Semillon 1995 as a reward for our class one day to try. I remember it already being a little oxidated but it was still pretty amazing.

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This one is obviously much fresher than the one that we had. Still sweet, but not cloying.

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Tried a few cognacs.

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I could barely get this down my throat by this time.

We still attended the Riesling and Gruner Veltliner Masterclass (we’re such geeks).

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Until I finally decided, I should probably head out while I could still walk properly.

I collected and paid for my bottles and set off for home, happy and geeky. 

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By the way, I really loved that Vina Pedrosa La Navila 2009 from Ribera Del Duero. I forgot to take a photo of the table while I was tasting it but I managed to remember to buy it, which was an awesome thing.

Thanks Straits Wine for another awesome event!

 

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