Save water, drink wine

“I drink when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty”  by Madame Jacques Bollinger who was obviously referring to Champagne…Me personally I would relate it to wine in general :-). Finding a good wine bar in Antwerp to drink a good glass of wine until 1 or 2 years ago was a difficult quest… you barely had them  (with exception of the Pazzo wine bar). The past year however more wine bars seemed to find their place in Antwerp. (which I like) One of those wine bars/shops that opened 2 weeks ago was Avini aka the Avignonesi flagship bar/shop.

Avignonesi

Avini already caught my attention before it opened. Not only because I know the owners (Thomas was singer in a band I used play in high school – I played drums), but also because it would be a wine bar/shop serving only Italian wines (yes, the chauvinistic Italian in me rises on moments like that ;-)). Not only Avignonesi wines (as that’s what you would expect it beeing a ‘flagship bar), they also serve wines from estates from all over Italy (the usual suspects, Tuscany, Piemonte, Alto Adige, Valpolicella) that you can either buy to enjoy at home or drink at the wine bar (maybe with some bruscetta or other antipasti) for which you pay the so called ‘cork-fee’ of around 10EUR per bottle. This does make it very interesting to open some real beauties they have in their collection. (I already put some on my list for next time)

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When I went to Avini earlier this week, my mind was set on trying the Nobile di Montepulciano and especially the Grifi from Avignonesi as I had heard lots about it. Why especially the Grifi? Because it was, before Avignonesi was taken over by the new owner, one of its most famous wines that unfortunately wasn’t made anymore since 1996 (read more about it in this article). As I think the new/current owner probably was (or became) also a fan of this wine, she decided to remake the wine 🙂 Thank you for that Virginie, I did enjoy it 🙂 It had this great round aftertaste and was full bodied, something I like about red wine. I wish I could express/explain it in a fancy way like pro sommeliers, but I’ll just stick to that I liked it ;-).

I did finish off with a weakness of mine, fortified wines like Porto, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala or in this case Vin Santo… Lucky me they even had 3 different kinds (technically 2, as 1 is not called vin santo, but its the same thing). I tried 2, so already 1 reason for me to go back to Avini.

VIn santo

I enjoyed my evening, first of all thanks to my buddy Laurent who joined me, the host and hostess for taking good care of us and because of the nice we were able to taste. I know they just opened and searching for the exact thing they want to do, but I do hope that one day they will be serving wines from less known regions in Italy like Valtellina, Lazio or made with less famous grapes :-). BUT I did get the taste for trying more of the Avignonesi wines (about wish I’ll take some more soon, I’m sure).

I wish Eline and Thomas all the best and see you soon!

Hinky Pinky Robby Gin & Tonic

After Dominique Persoone’s Rock ’n Roll Gin & Tonic I now also share with you the recipe of coffee maker Eveline’s Hinky Pinky Robby Gin & Tonic creation.

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Ingredients:

  • Bombay Sapphire,
  • Tonic (Fever-Tree Mediterranean),
  • Red caster sugar,
  • Pure Fruit & Hibiscus tea,
  • Rose pepper,
  • Rosemary,
  • Chives in bloom,
  • Orange thyme,
  • Sage in bloom,
  • Lemon zest.

Get Started:

  • Make a day upfront a Pure Fuit & Hibiscus tea, let it cool and make ice cubes from them OR , as Eveline did, make 1 big ice cube using a tea holder (in this case Robby).
  • Rub a lime wedge on the rim of a glass (preferably a burgundy glass) and dip it the rim in red caster sugar.
  • Put 1 ice cube you made in the glass and top it with transparant ice cube, add the lemon zest, 5cl Bombay Sapphire and top with tonic

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

  • Garnish with some the fresh blooming herbs, rose pepper and if wanted some red fruits.

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

If you don’t feel like making these Gin & Tonic’s yourself you can still taste the @Imagin.

Gin & Tonic revisited

Gin & Tonic is without any doubt a very big hype at the moment, no matter where you go, which country you are in Gin & Tonic is more present than ever. The same goes for Belgium…  Last week (15/08) I was finally able to get to Imagin a pop-up bar specialized in Gin & Tonic’s. I know you might not expect it, but I took my mom to Imagin as August 15th is mother’s day in Antwerp (not sure why it is a different day than in the rest of Belgium, it just is). After a long walk along the beach it seemed like a perfect plan to end our unexpected sunny day (before dinner that is) with some Gin & Tonic. I wasn’t sure if my mom liked Gin & Tonic, but I found out that back in the day she didn’t mind drinking Gin & Tonic’s 🙂 🙂 Who knew??

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

The reason I wanted to come to Imagin was because besides the classic Gin & Tonic, they also have some pimped versions. Their original idea was to ask bartenders to make some Gin & Tonic creations which they would do great, but it seemed to be more interesting to have people from different backgrounds like artists or creative people to make their interpretation of Gin & tonic… So they asked a lightning designer, coffee brewer, perfumer, chocolatier, a former dental technician (hope he didn’t make his creation to dental fresh 😉 ), king of fire (BBQ king) and a few other people to make their own Gin Tonic.

Imagin’s setting is quite unique as it is situated in a former antique shop that still has all the original furniture. It is true that at the inside it might be a bit dark, but for me it gives the place a bit of a colonial feel… which fits (to my opinion) right in the Gin & tonic theme knowing Gin & Tonic originates back from the British East India Company in India around the 19th century (aka colonial time 🙂 )

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Imagin only uses Bombay Sapphire gin for its Gin & Tonic combinations… Why? Why not!?  I know there are lots of different kinds and types of Gin, but when I think of Gin I picture the azure colored Bombay Sapphire bottle… as that was the first Gin bottle I remember seeing when I was still a small boy  and from playing the annual Bombay Sapphire Golf tournament.

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Anyhow, I’m wondering off, back to the Gin & Tonic’s! The Creative people they had invited were no one less than one of the world’s best chocolatiers Dominique Persoone  and coffee – tea brewer/roaster Eveline Hoorens aka Panamarenko’s wife.

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Dominique Persoone’s creation was  the “Cacao hardcore”. As you might already assume from the name and knowing Dominique is a chocolatier there will be chocolate involved… There was 🙂 Dominique based himself on a classical cacao drink from the Maya’s although it is not an obvious  combination Gin and chocolate, big D added some Angostura, port (to make it a bit sweeter) and egg white to pimp it up and make it all Rock ‘n roll. Yes,  Egg white as to make it airier… to “whisk” he used something called a Molinillo which is an Ancient Mexican Hot Chocolate frother. He wanted to make it airier because according to the Ancient Mexicans the more air the more flavors you’ll taste from the chocolate.  To finish his Gin & Tonic he added some Fever Tree tonic and what else a skull shaped chocolate praline 🙂 The chocolate is best to be eaten last otherwise it would overrule the tastes of the Gin & Tonic. I think Dominique missed his call as cocktail shaker!

Molinillo

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

Eveline’s creation was something completely different already starting with the name “Hinky Pinky Robby”. Eveline inspired herself on Arabica berries first of all because when they are picked they are in her favorite color red, secondly because of the sweet taste they have. She also made use of a tea from red fruits and hibiscus from which she made red ice cubes that slowly melt when adding the Gin & Tonic and gives a beautiful color to the drink. In the naming of her Gin& Tonic she wanted to involve her husband’s art “Robby” refers to “Arlikoop” a robot like art piece she made together with her husband and the First part of the name refers to the Hinky Pinky Prova Car her husband made.  But I think another reference to her husband was the small robot tea holder 🙂 To finish it all she added a little bouquet of freshly picked herbs…A wonderful smell I must say! Which made drinking a Gin & Tonic a whole different experience.

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

I can’t say I preferred one of them better as it were both very different creations. If you prefer having a more authentic Gin & Tonic flavor I’d go for the ‘Hinky Pinky Robby’ if not I’d go for the ‘Cacao hardcore. I’m glad I could try both of them!  If you want to try to make them yourself stay tuned as I’ll post the recipes soon!! In case you don’t feel like making it yourself just go and try it at Imagin. FYI don’t forget to reserve your seats as they are only open if invited or reserved a table via the following link

Imagin - Cocktailbar - Bombay Sapphire - Fever-tree - Knokke

OMG I have outdone myself again with explaining too much 🙂

My Pre-visit to Bodega Winterbar

Last night I went to the pre-opening of the Bodega Winterbar that I told you guys about in company of my dear friend Carlos. At first I was doubting a little bit, as the weather yesterday wasn’t really what we could call good 🙂

I also thought they would cancel it, being that close to the river… but at the end I was glad I passed by

From the first step you set in the bar, you get an instant winter feeling (if this wasn’t already the case because of the weather)

The Winterbar is divided in 2 parts. One side you have a  sort of open-air (but with roof) bar and at the other side you can find a restaurant.

The restaurant part is in partnership with restaurant Josephine’s (that you might remember from my blogpost) and from what I tasted last night, I can assure you that they serve some nice meal … They serve winter classics like Swiss Raclette, pig’s cheek (I tried and liked) to Belgian classics like beef stew (Antwerp style), Sausages with mashed potatoes

But don’t worry if you don’t feel like eating,  they also have a big choice of warming drinks at the bar!!

All by all a nice ambiance  yesterday and I hope for the organization it will start snowing as that would make it even better (although I’m not really in for snow…) For all you guys who also want to try, the Winterbar is opened from  Thursday until Sunday as off 4 o’clock in the afternoon until …

This from today until 22 February

Viel Spaβ!