Summer Fun Food Drink and Gear - The Gin Virgin - Chapter 21 · 23 August 2010 by colin newell
If you think Victoria B.C. is coffee central, better get ready to add a new category for this little piece of West Coast paradise! Victoria Gin has hit town.
We spoke with boyish master distiller and molecular biologist Peter Hunt, 31 as he tended his copper pot still – the first one I have ever seen.
Photo right: From L to R – The Hemp Vodka, the Oaken Gin and the Pure Gin.
Peter did his B.A. and Masters degree in Micro-Biology at UVic and seemed as surprised as my wife and I to be tending and managing the intricate discipline of distillation. One of his former vocations was community development work in Africa – but now, at this very early stage in his career, he is doing something completely different – if not just as equally satisfying.
This was our second attempt at finding the operation (they have added some more signs!) and adjacent to a small vineyard in Saanich, the distillery and tasting room are in a barn, giving it that cottage industry feeling that you find in many small wineries.
I learned a lot about distillation and the process of making gin and vodka while checking out their neat operation. A mash of juniper berries and 10 “botanical” additions are used in this handcrafted spirit. Watching it “boil” away at just over 80 degrees © was cool – as well as seeing the condensation towers “perking” – with a gentle little stream of refined “brew” ending up in a steel tin.
Wild organic herbs and spices plus natural spring water create the complex flavor profile of gin – and it is not entirely lost on me, an avid coffee taster. In some ways, it is even more challenging. In the sample room, there are martini glasses laid out with samples of the botanical pallet they use. So much for secret ingredients!
We sipped several varieties of the Gin, one Oak aged and one pure as well as the hemp vodka – and bought a bottle of each. Because I was driving I kept my tipple to less than 1/8th ounce sips with each sample – but the flavor was all there.
Some extra things I learned…
The German-made, 120L copper pot-still produces a “batch” in an attention grabbing 4 to 6 hour distillation process. Intense knowledge of biology and chemistry is key because you do spend a lot of time stripping off ingredients you really do not want in liquor – like acetates and methanol, the blindness inducing byproduct of careless distillation.
Summer Food Fun and Drink 2009 Chapter 6 B.C. Transit to suspend Charter Rights for one day · 29 June 2009 by colin newell
Arborbrook Pinot Noir Vintner’s Select 2006 at $67 a bottle (U.S.) is a remarkable grape.
This huge wine hits you harder than a jilted bride with bigger-than-Rita McNeil style – and flavors: fat, voluptuous with powerful fruit seasoned with ungodly quantities of exotically spicy new oak.
And if you are thinking about doing the right thing and leaving your car at home on Canada Day – I mean, doing the Legally right thing… by not drinking and driving – by taking the Bus (with this great Wine in your Man-Bag…) well think again Cowboy and Cowgirl!
Even if you have this sealed Wine double paper bagged and sealed in your ruck sack, the brown thugs at B.C. Transit will be taking it from you – after they illegally search you… violating your Charter Rights.
And sure, you can avoid the shake down by not taking the bus…
But that is not the point.
You have the right to ride the bus and you have the right not to be searched without probable cause.
So. Buy yourself a big fat bottle a grape and welcome yourself aboard!
I say we all show up for the Bus on Canada Day and express ourselves.
Click here to read it from the B.C. Transit webpage.
Summer food fun and drink - Enjoy an Okanagan Meritage Today · 25 August 2008 by colin newell
Andrea asks… “When does your Summer Food Fun and Drink series end? And what are you going to call the new series?”
Was thinking something along the lines of Autumn Leaves Feast of Fields… in celebrating harvest… something that resonates with me… having grown up on a small farm. It is calm. It is subtle.
Or we could call it Listeria Hysteria Pass me the Bacon Mildred…
Not so subtle.
Speaking of which, Sunday morning I was gazing fondly at a portion of Maple Leaf bacon in the fridge on Sunday whilst whipping up some of my not-yet-famous Non-Dairy Waffles... Kids love `em and you will too!
And what goes better with a nice linear stack of waffles than 8 slices of bacon?
Especially when the threat of illness, death and cholesterol posed by contaminated meats – rests over your head like a scimitar hanging by one hair from your grandmothers head…
Anyway – a Olympian tug-of-war ensued between Andrea and I… I won. Bacon in pan.
And apart from the bacon tasting vaguely like Kopi Luwak all was well –
Today in Wine: Enjoyed a 2005 Red Rooster Meritage with dinner. It had pretty bold oak that merged as the wine caught a breath. There were fairly focused blue-berry notes, some pluminess and sufficiently chewy to sustain the pairing…
There. I said it.
Dining in Victoria as good as it gets #1 · 26 May 2008 by colin newell
To describe the restaurant, Brasserie L`ecole as unpretentious is like pontificating on the genuinely modest nature of the Dali Lama.
Shut up and eat already.
This is one of the reasons I find Eat magazine so amusing – whenever it appears on the stands that is.
They gush and genuflect on restaurants like Brasserie L`ecole, Cafe Brio and Zambri’s…
And others. They back slap. They self reward and worship.
It is a veritable love fest.
But I digress.
Brasserie L`ecole is a great restaurant with some amazing pluses, twists and turns in what should be a stuffy and boring French restaurant.
Starters: It appears that guests can order 2 glasses of wine from virtually any bottle in their cellar. Name one other restaurant in Victoria where this is an option?
We go for the Steak-Frites… Steak perfectly prepared served with a bassinet of skinny Belgian fries, anointed with salt, baptized with truffle oil and parmasan.
Expect to book 2 weeks in advance for a good seating during the dinner hour(s).
In this 1st in a marathon of local restaurant reviews, diner Colin Newell hopes to educate, entertain and reveal some of Victoria’s gems. Bon Appetit!
For your stomaches sake... · 19 June 2006 by colin newell
In 1986, a buddy of mine and I helped a gal (a UBC medical school graduate) move to Regina, Saskatchewan to do her internship.
lauren was her name. Nice gal.
Her Dad came along for the ride. The extra help was appreciated.
Seems Dad is something of a diehard Christian… at least one that believes in some odd things.
One of them pertains to alcohol… like Wine.
Apparently Jesus, and his disciples did not drink wine.
They drank grape juice. Good old welches grape juice.
Why, you ask?
Well. One drop of wine across your lips is alcoholism.
Not 2 drops. One drop.
Whokay. Grape juice. Whatever.
To make my point, I took a picture of Lauren at Expo 86 taking a big gulp from a Labatts Blue sleeve.
Here Dad. Your GP Doctor daughter is a drunk. What do you think of that?
Anyway. This weekend we bottled 90 bottles of wine in 54 minutes.
This wine will be shared between 3 families.
Our 30 bottles will easily last a year.
Am I a drunk? (apologies to those that are… it is, after all, a sickness or disease)
I have not been under the influence of drink in over 15 years.
That is, to say… Impaired in any way.
One glass is ok for me. Two glasses very rare.
My other point: Life is not always about coffee.