Saturday, April 30, 2016

04/23 - 04/25 - The Annual Whisky Madness


Whiskyfair Limburg, a fixed date in the calendar of many whisky fans.... and it's a fixed date in my calendar since many years.

This year I came again with my friends from Switzerland and again we'd an amazing weekend. We started earlier than the years before, many construction sites on our route made it hard to forecast how long it would really take us. Finally we've been on the road for approx. 6.5 hours but the schedule was perfect. Enough time for a relaxed walk in the city, for a cigar and a few beers at Villa Konthor before we started with the first event of the weekend, the Bruichladdich Tasting Dinner.

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In comparison to last year the food was definitely much better and - at least for me - the whiskys were not too bad. Of course you cannot compare them with the old school stuff that we prefer to drink but beside the Bruichladdich Classic we'd some tasty ones. The both Port Charlotte as well as the Octomore 7.3 and 7.4 were absolutely my liking... peathead! As the tasting lasted until approx. 11 pm we headed back to the hotel and went to sleep after a last dram...







The next morning, the usual procedure: getting up early, having a quick breakfast and then rushing to the event location to find a queue which is hopefully not too long. With the rainy weather it was a bit challenging this year as everybody tried to stay under the roof but after a bit more than one hour of waiting the doors opened. As every year the place was packed with people and as every year I met a lot of people that I know now since many years and I also had some really interesting whiskys in my glass. Too much to list all of them but if you look on the pics you can have an impression of what we possibly enjoyed.


























Spontaneously we decided to join the Springbank Tasting Dinner on Saturday evening as the lineup sounded really interesting with cask samples from Longrow, Kilkerran and Springbank. Hrmmm... it was an interesting evening, but there was something which made it more memorable than the whiskys. The guy from Springbank who was intended to make the presentation of the whisky and tell us something about it was.... slightly drunk. At least drunk enough to have some difficulties to talk...
I think he had a faint idea that something's wrong with him as he told us that he's "sorry about being involved in that tasting" and reminded us that "if you have any questions, rrrrrrrrraise your hand"! Finally somebody of the Villa Konthor team took care of him and he was replaced by one of the participants, also a member of the Springbank Society like me. He made a good job, considering the circumstances, but I am sure it would have been much better to get some more specific details about Springbank and the whiskys. Anyhow, it was a memorable evening!







Beside me all the others were completely tired, so we drove back to the hotel with a cab to take a well deserved nap...

The way home was a bit easier, less traffic and no trucks, so we arrived in time to enjoy the afternoon at home.

CU again next year in Limburg.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

04/15 - Whisky and... pork cheeks reloaded


Yes, it's correct that you might remember exactly the same title of a blog posting from approximately one year ago (maybe it's a wee bit more) when we'd pork cheeks on the menu in the Restaurant Gemsle. But this time it's different. We make the events private with a selection of high quality Single Malts... and we also do some cooking. After the warm days we'd recently it's a bit colder outside today which's the perfect occasion for a stew, therefore I decided to make some pork cheeks as I really love that dish! Some homemade bread dumplings as a side and the dinner is just perfect.

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But let's start slowly... with an Amuse-Gueule consisting of homemade bear's garlic sausage with a Westmalle Dubbel. Making sausages is one of the new things I tried recently and it's always good to have some guests who can try some new stuff! The sausages itself are really savory and this Belgian Trappist beer is a good companion, just a soft start before we switched over to the Single Malts.

I forgot to take a picture of the beer but the Elements of Islay, Bw 5 went also very well with the sausages...




The first course of the dinner was homemade ravioli with salmon & creme cheese filling and sage butter, the corresponding whisky a Bowmore 12yo., distilled late 60s. Definitely a great combo. All the aromas melted in the mouth and made it a flavor explosion!



Between this appetizer and the main course, braised pork cheeks in port wine sauce and bread dumplings, we had a glass of the Macduff 35 yo., distilled in 1969. What a fruit bomb! A very complex whisky!

With the main course I served Caol Ila 22yo., 1984 - 2007, bottled by the Whisky Fair as the one I originally intended had not enough left in the bottle. But anyhow: the combo was great and all were happy, so what else to ask for!



After a short break and another glass of Glen Grant 1973 bottled by Thosop Belgium, the dessert, homemade Mousse au Chocolate with Coffee Stout marinated cherries, was served. In this case we'd to drinks to go with it: a Coffee Stout from the Liechtensteiner Brauhaus (the beer in which I marinated the cherries) and a Laphroaig 21 yo. bottled by Silver Seal. Needless to say that this also was a winner combo!



The eating was over (and we've been all filled to the brim) but a few more whiskys followed: the new club bottling from Slowdrink which obviously seems to be a sherried Ardbeg, a Samaroli Caol Ila from 1978, Bruichladdich Black Art (1st Edition), Octomore Orpheus and last but not least my birthday whisky: Ardbeg 1973, Single Cask, Cask Strength!

It was an amazing evening and I'm sure the next whiskydinner in July will be great too!






Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Burger 2.0


With more and more burger joints springing up like mushrooms - and I'm talking about those which make really good stuff, not the big chains - I'm also inspired to show some of the burgers I've done over the last months.




I acquired a meat grinder a while ago which enables me to influence the quality of my ground meat, and therefore the quality of the final product. I did some experiments with different recipes for the composition of my patties and finally ended up for the standard beef patty with a mixture of chuck roll and brisket, coarsely ground. I don't use too much fat, definitely less than the often mentioned 80/20 mixture (80 % meat, 20 % fat), but by serving it medium cooked it's always very juicy and tasty. To enhance the flavors I additionally use my High 5! (a natural flavor enhancer), capers and sometimes pickled jalapenos...

In most cases I use beef for the patties but from time to time I also make some experiments with other stuff. Bratwurst is one thing I really love, the beer marinated bratwurst burger with Sauerkraut definitely rocks... but also stuff like venison or kangaroo is worth a try and gives an interesting chance of taste.

Beside the meat the bun is another important key component. If one of both sucks, the whole burger sucks... or at least it's less enjoyable! So I also spent some time to improve my homemade buns as the storebought ones are not really a pleasure if it comes to good taste. I tried a lot of recipes and meanwhile I found a good basic recipe that I use now and gave it also my personal twist. The buns are amazing... Fluffy on one hand but with a good consistency on the other hand, definitely a good balance.

Ok, we've had enough of words! Here are some pictures, I hope that they don't make you too hungry... or just have a look on those with a burger in your hand...

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