Monday, May 30, 2011

05/28 - Bird's eye view


A few days back I decided to make a trip to one of the mountains in our region, the "Hoher Kasten", 1795 m / 5889 ft. I arrived in Bruelisau to park the car around 9.15 am and was welcomed at the lower terminus of the cable car. But no cable car for me uphill, I wanted to walk.

The band's playin

The first part was still flat in the valley, I still had some time to take some pix along the way.

Cable car to the summit


A lil creek

The first part uphill was definetly really steep, slope around 20 %!! So this helped to heat up the body at the outside temperatures around 10 to 12 °C / 50 to 54 F. My thighs seem to explode... oh wow....

It's really steep

Approaching the Plattenbödli

After 1.15 h I reached the first subgoal, the Gasthaus Plattenbödli at a level of 1284 m / 4213 ft, but I continued my walk without stoppin there.

Lil tavern where you can make a break

The next subgoal was the Sämtisersee, but hey?!? Where's the lake? Nothin there but a little wet spot... not much snow and no rain within the last weeks made it to dry out.

Sämtisersee - all dried out

Cattle on the alp

The way led along the "lake" and it's goin up again.... getting steeper and steeper again.

Lookin back to the dry lake

Last weekend the cattle has been brought to the alps and I met a bunch of guys in the traditional garb doing their work in the little cottage...

Some guys in the typical garb

From time to time the clouds break open and I had a wonderful view to the valleys, but unfortunately this happened not very often.

View down to the valley

Appenzeller Land

Very cloudy today


After nearly 3 hours (2.45 h to be precise) I reached the so called saddle, a place where many paragliders start their flight, but not today.... Another 15 minutes to reach the summit... ok, let's go.

The hardest part is done

Still some snow left

The summit is near

I reached the summit of the Kasten after a march of 3 hours, grabbed a Rivella and a wheat beer and took a seat outside to smoke a summit cigar. Due to the clouds the temperatures're low... around 5 °C / 41 F, but I'd the right clothes with me....

A hard but definetly nice day.... to be repeated.

Summit beer and cigar - Montecristo Petit Edmundo

It's not a trick, it's a Monte...


Friday, May 27, 2011

Mel's Vertical Laphroaig Tasting


I had the chance to meet Mel when I was in the USA in April... unfortunately he's in a worse situation than I am regarding availabilty of Scotch Single Malt, which he really loves... so I brought him some samples... the same Whiskys we'd during our last tasting...

Here's his report.

At the recent herf in Orlando, I was very surprised and pleased to find my Brother of the Leaf and Malt, Heiko (Eldondo) in attendance. Not long after we met, Heiko graced me with a package, which, when opened, revealed seven 20ml bottles of the Laphroaig Scotches that he and his group sampled in March. I finally found the time to do the sampling that these fine spirits deserve, and this is my take on the tasting.

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I used a proper nosing glass for each sample. I had on hand a bottle of Speyside-Glenvilet sparkling water, chilled, to cleanse my palate between tastings. I also had a bottle of Gleneagles Spring Water, from Scotland, used to add a few drops to the glass after nosing and tasting each sample neat. This opens the aromas and flavors a bit. Now, I am NOT a single malt expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I used a tasting template to record my impressions, which lent some degree of organization and procedure to the experience. So, without further adieu, here are my impressions of these wonderful Single Malts provided by my friend Heiko:


#1 Laphroaig Douglas Laing's Premier Barrel Selection, 7 yrs, 46%

Pale yellow color, with iodine, seaweed, smoke and herbal scents. On the palate, the flavors were pepper, peat, iodine and tangy. The body was mouth-coating and of medium texture. The finish was peaty, clean and almost sweet, and lingered for a long while. A very pleasant Scotch, indeed.


#2 Laphroaig Exclusive Malts, 10 yrs, 53.3%

Pale straw in color, with a clean, salt air and slightly smoky scent. The taste was intense but fresh, sweet with a hint of vanilla. The body was silky smooth and crisp. The finish was warm and long, smooth and savory, very slight peatiness. A wonderful Scotch.


#3 Laphroaig Single Malt Circle, 12 yrs, 59.9%

The color was light amber with a hint of gold. The scent was fruity and sweet, with a subtle peatiness. On the palate, it is tangy and assertive, with citrus and very subtle peat notes. The body was a smooth and light texture. The finish was clean, sweet, with lingering peat and smoke. Delicious.


#4 Laphroaig High Spirits, 13 yrs, 46%

The color was pale straw. Scents included sea air, light peat, tar and smoke. On the palate, soft peat and smoke, slight sweetness with a slow developing fruitiness. The body was dry and light, and very smooth. The finish was smooth and slightly sweet, with smoke and peat in proportion. An interesting Scotch, and excellent.


#5 Laphroaig Auld Distillers Collection, Chateau Lafite finish, 13 yrs, 54.0%

The color was medium amber. The scents were grass, seaweed and a complex citrus aroma. On the palate, it was light, fresh, spicy with a subtle sweetness, and very slight smoke and peat. The body was full, mouth-coating and velvety. The finish was exceedingly smooth, lingering and warm. WOW! A masterpiece of the distiller's art!


#6 Laphroaig Waldhaus am See, 18 yrs, 46%

Light gold in color. Floral, spice and a delicate sweetness in scent with very little smoke and peat. The taste was clean and sweet, well balanced, with vanilla and hints of citrus. The body was light in texture, with a soft, silky smoothness. The finish was delicate, restrained fruit - very pleasant but short lived. A very interesting, amazing and incredibly pleasant Scotch.


#7 Laphroaig 25 year, 40%

The color was beautiful, golden, almost amber. The scents were grass and seaweed, slight fruitiness, and the slightest hint of peat, with almost no smoke. On the palate, the tastes were herbal, very slight peat and smoke, complex fruit/citrus, all very well balanced. The body was silky smooth, viscous and almost oily in texture. The finish was surprisingly short, smooth and soft and very pleasant and savory, building to a peak and quickly dissipating. Another amazing example of the distiller's art. Nectar of the Gods, to be sure!


Thanks again to Heiko for allowing me the opportunity to sample these amazing bottlings from Laphroaig. These just aren't available here in the US, and I probably would never have had the experience but for his generosity.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

05/24 - Tanja's Birthday


May is filled with many birthdays.. my wife's birthday is also in May...

We'd wonderful weather and so we spent a very relaxed evening outside on the balcony.... havin some homemade grilled Cevapcici, different salads, cold beer and two good cigars for me.

Salad and grilled Cevapcici

The first was a Diplomaticos No. 2 from 1997, those smoke really good... I'm lucky to have some of those left.... the second one was a Custom Rolled Lancero with Medio Tempo. I was told that this cigar's really, really strong and that I need a good meal before... I'd a good dinner before, but... hrm... the cigar wasn't really strong. Tasty, but maybe medium strength....

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Diplomaticos No. 2, 1997


Monday, May 23, 2011

05/22 - Pulled Pork - the first try


A while back we got a new gas grill, a perfect one with which you can grill directly and indirectly, thx to the brilliant funnel system in the inside... I like those BBQ stuff like e.g. Pulled Pork and so we decided to make it on this Sunday...

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Outdoorchef Ascona 570 MX

The preparations startet a bit earlier by preparing the "Magic Dust" to rub it on the meat. On Saturday morning I put the rub on the meat, put it into plastic wrap and stored it another 24 hours in the cooler, that the rub can impinge on the meat...

Meat in the plastic wrap

The alarm put woke me up on Sunday morning 5:20 am. Firin up the grill, puttin the meat on the grillage, placing the core temperature sensor and then goin back to bed again... I put it to a temperature between 105 and 115 °C / 221 and 239 F...

Let´s start

The result after nine hours on the grill doesn't look to bad. The smell is incredible, I'm sure that some in the neighbourhood wonder where this smell comes from which started early this morning...

9 hours later

In the meantime we also prepared some coleslaw, I grated the ingredients, Tanja made the sauce...

Preparin the coleslaw

I told our friends to come upstairs at 6 pm and it seems that my timing was absolutely perfect. At 6 pm sharp - after 12.5 hours - the temperature reached the value it should've and I packed the meat in some kitchen foil to let it rest for app. 30 minutes. Then I took it out and pulled it into pieces... the smell's fantastic... I hope it´ll taste as good as it smells...

Pullin the pork

Ok, that´s it.

Bon appétit

All of us four took more than one roll filled with meat, coleslaw and BBQ-sauce... a good sign... everybody liked it! Task fulfilled. Thx to Steffi and Roger who acted as guinea pigs for this first try...

In the end I've to say: it was definitely worth that I got up so early in the morning to start with it... it takes a long time to get it done, but it's worth every minute...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

05/19 - World Wine Festival in Bad Ragaz


Last Wednesday there's not only the 20th business lunch but also the opening day of the World Wine Festival which's also held in the Quellenhof in Bad Ragaz.

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So after lunch and a cigar we moved to the Kursaal where the degustation'll take place. Grabbin a glass and then divin into the world of wines...


Ok, before we started with the wine we took another Champagne... very refreshing if you think of the warm temperatures inside and outside...


Then we started to taste some wines... white wines first... but there was only one which was good... the rest? Ok, no more words about it.

Switchin over the red... some really interesting ones... a really good French, a good Spanish, good Barolo from Piemont... and in the end some vine vinegar from China... I didn't try it, but Antonella was too curious... hahaha

It was a funny afternoon, thx for the good company...












Friday, May 20, 2011

05/19 - Business Lunch in Bad Ragaz


Wonderful weather... sunshine and about 20 °C / 68 F in the morning with the tendency to rise even more later during the day...

I arrived at the Grand Hotel Quellenhof in Bad Ragaz around 11.30 am and met Marc outside close to the Salon Davidoff.

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Grand Hotel Quellenhof Bad Ragaz

In front of the Salon Davidoff

In the garden

It started with an Aperó, the guys served some well-temperatured Champagne and we chatted a bit with the people who arrived now before we moved over to the area where the lunch was served later.

Aperó with Champagne

Sittin in the shadow and talkin

Restaurant Olives d´Or

White wine - ready to be served

The organizer of the business lunch

The food was really delicious and the service good as all the times before when I've been there for an event. I'd some very interesting conversations, as always when all those cigar smokers come together, all with different jobs, talkin about their experiences and sometimes findin out that we could come into business with each other.

The appetizer - shrimps and salad

Turkey breast filet with grilled vegetable and potato gratin

A cigar was included in the price for the lunch but I was too unpatient, so I fired up one of my cigars that I brought with me... a 1992 La Corona Corona... a fantastic smoke. It's a pity that they´re gone years back...

La Corona Corona from 1992

Ode to Salon Davidoff