Cork vs. screw cap with Franz Haas

Wineries, no matter how long they are already existing, are always trying to improve themselves  . Obviously today this is much easier than for example 50 years ago thanks to the evolution of technology and science. What we notice today is that there are many vineyards testing on replacing the classic cork by a screw cap as closure of their bottles. The biggest problem in this change is not the producers who don’t want to make the change (as the screw cap will give less bottles that are corked or that are gone bad), but rather the miss-interpretation of the consumers who have a wrong idea of the screw cap.

Many people think that wines that have a screw cap are of inferior quality to the wines that have the traditional cork or that wines with a screw caps are the low budget ‘chateau migraine’ wines 🙂  Well nothing of the above is true.  In fact a good quality screw cap will preserve the wine better than the classic cork and let less air get in touch with the wine (or get in the bottle when closed)?  Did you know that in New Zealand they don’t use regular corks anymore, but only screw caps?

A few weeks ago the winery of Franz Haas invited some sommeliers to show and experience themselves the effect the 2 types of bottle caps have on the aging of wine. Basically we were served the same wine (aged in the same conditions), but one bottle with classic cork and the other bottle with a screw cap and this this from several vintages and both white and red wines . During this tasting we did the comparison from the Franz Haas Manna (2016,2011, 2010)  and their Pinot Nero (2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006)

FYI I don’t have any shares of any screw cap or cork company 🙂 So I’m just saying how I (and I think I can speak for everybody at the table that night) experienced this.

Even before this tasting I didn’t have anything against screw caps as I already had many wines that had a screw cap that I liked very much… the tasting only made me like them more (not that I won’t drink bottle with corks anymore 😉 ). It was particularly interesting to be able to put the both wines next to each other and the difference  has been significant in many cases. What I noticed was that the wines that had the screw cap were much ‘fresher’ and ‘alive’ than the ones with the classic cork. Not that I’m saying the ‘classic cork’ ones weren’t nice, because they were…but my preference went to the ones with screw cap (with my personal favorite the 2008 Pinot Nero 🙂 ) and you could definitely notice the difference. True for some vintages the difference was smaller, but it was there.

The only message I can give is, please don’t let your pre-judgment stop you from buying a bottle of wine (or even ordering it at a restaurant) just because it has a screw cap as the only thing a producer want to achieve with this is getting the wine in the best conditions to you and how he made the wine (so with as few changes as possible)!!

Another beauty we had at the end of the evening was the Moscato Rosa!!

In case you have questions regarding the Franz Haas wines you for Belgium you can contact Vinivins for people outside of Belgium please contact Franz Haas directly.

Cheers!

P.S.: Thanks Danny for letting us have this tasting at Silo’s!!

Roadtripping through Portugal: Lisbon

When you do a Portugal roadtrip Lisbon is an inevitable stop or destination. Obviously already because of it is Portugal’s capital city, but also because of its heritage!! There is so much to see and to discover in this city. Lisbon was much larger than I had imagined it, not that I thought it would be a teeny tiny village, but that it was so spread out, no… not even in my wildest dreams ;-). I need to confess that the first day in Lisbon we were very lazy (Yes woman of mine! If you are reading this, you know we were) and the idea of having to do some climbing wasn’t helping! (as you might know Lisbon isn’t a flat city, it has quit the few hills…) so the best idea seemed to start our holiday in a very touristy way by taking the Hop-on hop-off bus tour (Yellow Bus) this way you get a very good overview of the whole city and decide what you would want to see in more detail the following days (when feeling less lazy). Good thing for us, the bus stopped right in front of the hotel 🙂 🙂 (Yes, it was that level of laziness)

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That first impression of the city was a slightly overwhelming one, because ever corner you turn and street you cross you see things reminding you the important role in discovering the world as we know it today Lisbon has played. Something that colors up the city is the beautiful tilings you see, it really brightens up the city. A square I enjoyed maybe most was Praça do Comércio , first of all as it reminded me of one of my favorite squares  ever Piazza unita d’Italia in Trieste.  Just like in Trieste this square is the gate to the town. On Praça do Comércio the entrance to the city is a very beautiful one through the Arco da rua Augusta which is as majestic as the square. I’m sure it is the waterfront that makes me happy on squares like this… I love the sea/ocean/ water smell. I can still see us sitting at the waterfront , feeling the sun on our skin, seeing old trams passing buy and thinking what we wanted to see next… (and ok the square is also a very good people watching spot 😉 ) Oh and if you look at your left (or right depending which way you’re looking) you get a very good view of Lisbon’s Golden Gate bridge or the 25 de Abril bridge which is its correct name.

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There are sooooo many  things to see and try in Lisbon: Belém, Pasteis de Belém, taking the Santa Justa lift to have a great overview of the city, do some shopping Avenida da Liberdade or around Rua Garrett, go to Sintra, Cascais, … I really would know which one I would need to say you  to visit first?? Just explore the whole city that makes it easier for me 😉 no no, just kidding… try to get to the Mercado da Reibera if you’re a foodlover and even architechtural lover, this is a large indoor market (like the Boqueria in Barcelona). For the most beautiful view over the cities you could either go up the Santa Justa Lift or or when you up at the Jardim Amalia Rodrigues. I won’t even start talking about all the palaces there are because I’d be going on and on about it :-). And one more thing don’t be afraid to take a taxi, their price is very reasonable!Also try to get to the new part of town (Parque das Nações.)

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Something I find my duty to share with you is where you should be eating 🙂 (sure you didn’t see this one coming) as like in lots of other capitals or cities there are a lot of tourist traps and I really HATE the restaurants where they try to drag you in when you pass them!!! This said I first need to thank my friend William as he was the one advising me all these spots I’ll be sharing with you (he lived in Lisbon for a few years and like good food as much or maybe even more than me 😉 ) Something I learned during my trip through Portugal is that the Portuguese have a soft spot for sweets and desserts. Every town and even every small village has its own pastry or dessert (mostly existing of egg yolks 🙂 ). If you have the same soft spot (guilty as charged) there are 2 places you must visit. First there is the Confeitaria de Belém to eat the world famous ‘pasteis de Belém’. Secondly there is the Confeitaria Nacional which is an institute when it comes to pastry in Lisbon (Good luck with only sticking to 1 piece of sweetness ;-), I know I didn’t) where they also make the pasties de belèm… maybe do a little own test to see which one you prefer.

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Confeitaria Nacional

If on the other had you are a shellfish fan Cervejaria Ramiro will be your Walhalla. The difficult part is definitely deciding what kind you feel like eating as they have all nominations of (local) crabs, lobsters, clams, etc… which you will also be seeing in fish tanks all around you (even just outside the bathroom)  so they are FRESH that is sure!! So if the menu doesn’t help to decide you just point to which shellfish you want to eat. Everything is served in a very simple way with some buttered toast and lemon, heavenly that’s all I want to say (simple is the best). We shared a lobster, although the rock lobster or crab or langoustine that we saw passing by looked great as well. Oh and you’re not able to book a table at this restaurant so you might need to queue up for a while, but if worth it I promise you! BTW don’t expect a fancy restaurant as it isn’t, so entering in shorts isn’t a problem 🙂

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Foodies and winelovers who are also big soccer fans will like Solar dos Presuntos (but I’m sure all other people will like it as well) as the walls on all 3 floors of the restaurant are filled with pictures and signed jersey’s from famous soccer players that ate at this restaurant… sometimes “big” restaurant like this scare me as you’re never sure what the quality of the food and service will be, but in this case I can say for a fact that it was impeccable, but I didn’t expect otherwise under the coordination of Augustinho. I was advised by my friend William that I absolutely had to try the sea bass cooked in a salt crust, but as it was a 2 person dish and my fiancée didn’t feel like taking it I took the Grilled stone bass with roasted potatoes “a murro” and spinach puree… again the simplicity itself, but ooooh so good. Also try the Pata negra ham!! It is freshly cut. I know you’ll probably be thinking that I’m saying this because I’m an Italian… but until now I was never impressed with the Pata negra hams I ate, not until the one they served at Solar dos Presuntos was one very very tasty Pata Negra that did change my idea and shows again that is all comes down to the quality of product you buy. They also a very nice wine selection!! Just have them advice you and I’m sure you’ll get the prefect wine. I finished with this meal with a slice of almond tart (still dreaming about it).

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For a great selection of old madeira’s a stop at Gambrinus is a must!! They have an incredible selection…. Gambrinus is in the same street as Solar dos Presuntos. In contrast with what lots of people think, Portugal also has some very nice meats (mostly Pork) not only fish. There are 2 places in Lisbon (that I know) where you’ll taste the best/tastiest pieces of Porco Preto (a local Porc kind). The first one is O Mattos, where we got very well explained the level of greasiness of every piece of pork J. If you are a meatlover like me I’m sure you’ll appreciate the Secretos or the Pluma cut (I’m sure you know which cut I took). But I’m sure if these are too fat there are enough cuts of meat that are less ‘fat’ or even fat free. The grill all their meat and is served with some kind of spinach puree and baked potatoes. Again here a very nice wine selection (I’m sure Antonio will advice you well). FYI I didn’t just get the piece you see on the picture below, there was a whole tray of meat next to us 🙂

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The second must-do place for Porco Preto is restaurante Carvoaria Jacto. Unfortunately didn’t make it here as our days in Lisbon were numbered, but form all I’ve heard it is for pork meat what Ramiro is for shellfish 🙂 I could still give you many more restaurant tips, but I’ll keep them for another time.

Even though Lisbon was great and very beautiful, but what was about to come was even greater !! Stay tuned for more about beautiful Portugal…

Happy 2014

Let me first start with wishing you guys all the best for 2014! May all your dreams come through. I know  it has been a while since my last post, but I’ve been so busy with renovations at home (somebody always seems things to renovate at home, somebody not gonna specify who 😉 ) and with all the festivities during the holiday periode… But I’m back

This year I didn’t go for the “cliche” New Year’s resolution saying I would eat less 🙂 . As I know I would be lying to myself as before the 2014 started I already had some nice dinners and trips planned for the New Year to which I’m looking forward a lot! I’ll keep you posted (oooooooh yeah, a little word game going on here)

Anyhow I’ll be publishing my first 2014 blogpost very soon and hopefully you’ll be liking my new blog posts as much as in 2013!

Cheers!

The big apple – part 2

In the big apple part 1 you could read that I had found a great hotel and the best ways to explore the city. I could start this part talking about what you should be seeing in NYC, but people who know me (and I think people reading my blog as well by now), know that when I travel the most important (or one of the most important) is eating good… so this wasn’t any different for this NYC trip and I’ll keep the things to see for one of the next parts 🙂 because to have enough strength to explore the city one needs to eat well (and most importantely not skip a meal).

Knowing that NYC has hundreds or maybe even thousands restaurants doesn’t make it easy to make a choice of which ones you want to visit in 7 days (I think somebody living in NYC doesn’t even get to try every restaurant). So I decided to bring in some help from friends who go often to NYC, friends living in NYC and NYC friend foodbloggers…. but let me just say that it didn’t make the actual picking of the restaurants easier (as I thought it would)… the Total NY list I had initially might have decreased, but I still had a list of at least 60 restaurants… so I just wrote them all in my little Moleskine cityguide booklet (I liked this as this booklet in pocketsize contained a map of NYC streets and the NYC subway) subdivided per district or are of NYC and checked on the spot which restaurants were close by where I was at that moment. Or that’s what I did most of the time, because there were indeed a few eateries I just had to do in NYC 🙂

In general I found NYC quite expensive to eat, LA or Miami are much cheaper… not that this stopped me from eating of course (a man has got to eat).  What I have to admit is that in general I ate well, but not extraordinary or mind blowing for a normal price (but maybe I’m just too spoiled)… OK, enough jibber jabber and more sharing of eateries, let’s start with where you can have lunch

One of the places I just HAD to try when in NYC was Eataly, I already went there on day 1 for lunch (a man has got to do what a man has got to do). I think I was about to cry out of happiness or maybe have a heart attack of the overwhelming choice of what to eat (really). I have never seen so much great Italian food in 1 place (no, not even in Italy).  You can ask my fiancée, I was like a kid in a candy store (or like a Spinelli in a food store ;-)).  So again we had to choose (it just didn’t stop during this holiday), did we want pizza, pasta, meat, fish, veggie, just some antipasti, which kind of wine did we want…., but we did I we chose to just sit in the ‘middle square’ of Eataly and try different things. Starting with some salumi (ham, salami …) followed by the day special a sandwich with Sicilian sausage) in between (a bit too salty if you ask me) and my fiancée took a salad. Overall a nice meal accompanied with some good wines, but for me a bit too expensive
for what you get… but definitely a great concept and a must see as food lover in NYC

Another eatery everybody told me to go to was the Chelsea Market. At first when my friends talked to me about the Chelsea Market I was expecting to see a kind of open air market in New York were you would be able to eat the things the stalls are selling… But it is actually one very big food court, but with no fast food chains in a very vintage like setting. There are around 35 different small restaurants (American small, not European small) that are all specialized in a type of food, for example a bakery, a lobster restaurant,  a cupcake shop, sandwich shop… BUT the best part of all you can see how everything gets made freshly, because the kitchens are setup with glass walls that allow checking it all out…

Our choice in the Chelsea Market went to Friedman’s lunch where I had a burger (the real deal) served with French fries and Ketchup that was not from Heinz (I was as surprised as you are now) and my fiancée for a Turkey sandwich. A nice lunch for a correct price… but still lots of places to try at the Chelsea market and definitely a place to visit for a nice lunch

The third restaurant I want to share with you guys is Tartinery, a nice little French eatery where you can eat some nice slices of bread, salads or sandwiches AND that has a great wine list 🙂 (Is actually also known for it). Tartinery is located in Mulberry street which is a street in New York’s very own little Italy. I know it has no editorial value, but I just need to share the following. On our way to Tartinery I saw the cooles magnet with the following on it: ‘Not only am I perfect, I’m Italian too’, I wanted to buy it for on my fridge but forgot it. OK, back to Tartinery. For our lunch here I had the Jambon Puree (Ham with mashed potatoes) and my fiancée the Mozza … both nice slices accompanied with a garden salad and for me followed by a ‘Tarte Tatin’. We had a nice lunch with portions big enough for lunch for a still ok price considering it is NYC.

The another lunch eatery I want to share is ‘INO , this was for me the one of the nicest lunch places we had lunch, good, low price, in a quiet neighborhood and very njummy  (Italian influenced)… nothing more to add, just try it yourself. I can say for a fact it wasn’t easy to choose the sandwich or other lunch dish you wanted to eat as they all seemed good…

The last lunch place I want to share is actually for the healthy people amongst you (I want there because I promised my fiancée I would try at least one healthy lunch). This lunch was at Hale and Healthy  and I have to admit that I liked it the whooooole healthy way 🙂 an idea would be to buy your food here and eat it in Central park or NY high line. I went for a healthy sandwich (FYI, the red on the picture is NOT bacon, before you start judging me) and my fiancée this was an even better experience as she could choose everything she wanted in the salad from an almost endless choice of vegetables, nuts, … Definitely the place for you if you like to keep it healthy

Wow, I have told you guys so much… Sorry for that, but I like to make sure you get the whole picture and believe it or not, but to be continued with some dinner spots, tips and things to see in NYC…..