Monthly Archives: August 2016

Heroes and a Bottle

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A melange of things that remind me of my heroes

I’ve been MIA for a week now (so much for that target of hammering out an article at least 2x a week, eheh), but as people close to me know, my calendar has just erupted like one of those Dr. Pimple Popper videos… Out of control and messy (I’m sorry for the graphic analogy!).

Think four wine events right before I fly off to Europe for work/research, followed by travel plans once a month until the end of the year.

Professional wino problems.

That being said, I’ve mostly used my laptop for research, RSVPs, email, homework, and admittedly, entertainment.

One of the entertaining things I came across involved people talking about what they’d like to eat and discuss with their heroes (living or dead)… Then, I thought to myself:

What would I drink with my heroes?

So, my imagination on overdrive, I decided to compile a list and share it here.

 

Ernest Hemingway

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”Ernest Hemingway

Why: He had one of the wildest lives I’ve ever read about, and I admire his writing style. His time in Paris was so epic; I did an “homage to Hemingway” walk and hung out in his Parisian haunts when I last visited the city. One of my all-time favourite books is “A Moveable Feast”, which chronicles some of his adventures.
What to Drink: Bourbon. The man loved his alcohol… The stronger, the better. While he was known to drown himself in some of the best French wines during his time, I feel like Bourbon is a little more like him: Masculine, rough, and earthy.

Edith Piaf

“Quand il me prend dans ses bras, il me parle tout bras, je voie la vie en rose (When he takes me in his arms, and speaks to me softly, I see the world in rose-coloured glasses)”Edith Piaf, La Vie En Rose

Why: Môme Piaf’s agitated, powerful, and heartbreaking voice was a reflection of her tragic life. Whenever I get melancholic and miss Paris, I listen to one of her songs and I’m transported to the beautiful but grimy streets of the city.
What to Drink: Champagne. Oh, the woman could down a bottle like it’s nobody’s business. I also loved that she lived during a time when drinking Champagne out of a coupé was considered très chic.

Anthony Bourdain

“When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.” – Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown (Peru)

Why: The man is one of my culinary idols. While I decided not to pursue a career in the kitchen, his irreverent take on haute cuisine (and his colorful vocabulary) has consistently inspired me to be as unconventional and cheekily verbose as I could when dealing with wine. Also, it has to be said that he has fantastic taste in vino.
What to Drink: San Miguel Pale Pilsen (with Sisig!). The man loves the pig, which we Pinoys have perfected in the form of heart-attack inducing dishes, like Bourdain’s Filipino favourite, the sisig. Nothing on earth goes better with sisig than an ice-cold beer. To truly be Pinoy, San Miguel is the ultimate, decent brew to go with our greasy bar chow.

Audrey Hepburn

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn

Why: The woman personified grace, fashion, elegance, and everything a true lady aspires to be. Her iconic films, such as “Roman Holiday” and “Sabrina”, showcase her poise, diction (to this day, I couldn’t believe a chauffer’s daughter or a high-class call girl could speak like that), and Givenchy’s 1960’s creations.
What to Drink: Cognac. A little known fact about Hepburn is that she drank a glass of cognac after dinner every night as a digestif. For me, there’s something incredibly stylish about swirling a shot of cognac in a snifter.

Natalie MacLean

“The question I’m asked most often: ‘What’s your favorite wine?’ My answer: ‘The one someone else pays for.'”Natalie MacLean, Unquenchable

Why: I’ve always loved her wine writing style, which is humorous, light, and approachable. Wine novices and hardcore winos always appreciate her work (I still use them as reference).
What to Drink: Romanée-Conti 1979. I’d love to share one of my favourite Burgundy vintages over stories of her meeting the Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy.

Jane Austen

“There is not the hundredth part of the wine consumed in this kingdom that there ought to be. Our foggy climate wants to help.”Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Why: I think girls who dream of getting swept off their feet (by a man with “10,000 a year”) read an Austen novel at one point in their lives. Her famous works are light, fast-paced, and a guide on marrying well in Regency-era England.
What to Drink: English Breakfast Tea. Honestly, it’s because all three words make me think of Austen… Having tea during a bright, sunny morning in a cottage overlooking fields of wild flowers, gossiping about suitors and marriages. Of course, proper frou-frou teacups are a must!

Adele

The focus on my appearance has really surprised me. I’ve always been a size 14 to 16, I don’t care about clothes, I’d rather spend my money on cigarettes and booze.” – Adele

Why: Plus-sized women need an enormous amount of confidence and talent to be successful… Both of which Adele has. Add to that her unique brand of sass, and we’ve got a heroine everybody could relate to (from heartaches, to moving on, to having her H&M card declined), all packaged with a set of pipes that could make the undead quiver.
What to Drink: Right Bank Bordeaux. I found out from some of her interviews that she likes a glass of wine… Red wines from the right bank of Bordeaux are both powerful and silky, just like Adele’s voice.

Iris Apfel

“You have to try it. You only have one trip. You’ve got to remember that.”Iris Apfel

Why: Talk about longevity. This woman is 94 years old and can accessorise outfits like it’s nobody’s business. I’m amazed at the fact that she’s still relevant in the world of fashion and lifestyle after so many decades. She had one of the longest marriages in the public eye, spending 67 years with her husband, Carl Apfel, until he died in 2015.
What to Drink: Manhattan. A proper Manhattan involves Canadian whisky, Angosturra bitters, sweet vermouth, and a maraschino, served in an incredibly chic cocktail glass. Added bonus, the name is a nice way to honour her New York roots.

Oz Clarke

“The ritual observed by professionals is not just showing off: there is a purpose to every stage, and it can help you to get maximum pleasure from a bottle of wine. Wine can be complex stuff, and if you just knock it back you could be missing out on a wonderful sensory experience. Instead, take a few moments to discover a little about a wine’s background, appreciate its colour, and savour its scents and range of flavours.”Oz Clarke

Why: He’s irreverent, entertaining, knowledgeable, and has an enviably no-nonsense palate when it comes to wine. I’ve always admired and respected him for his approach on wines and writing… He manages to inject his dry humour while beautifully utilising the English language, without losing essential information that allows winos to truly learn something. One of my favourite wine shows is “Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure”, and I use his book “Grapes and Wines” often… Confession: One of my life goals is to meet him one day.
What to Drink: Anarchy from Cypher Winery, Paso Robles. I loved learning about how Anarchy truly captured the rebellious nature of these Paso Robles winemakers during an episode with James May… What can I say, I like people (and my wine) out of the box (no pun intended). I especially loved Clarke’s apprehension as he rode on the back of a hog to get to the winery.

General Antonio Luna

“Mas madali pang pagkasunduin ang langit at lupa kaysa dalawang Pilipino tungkol
sa kahit na anong bagay. (It’s easier to get heaven and earth to agree versus two Filipinos on anything.)” – Antonio Luna (the character), Heneral Luna

Why: Admittedly, my mind wandered off during history class when I was a kid (I honestly blame the deep Tagalog our teachers used to teach the subject), so I never really looked into General Luna’s life story until the film “Heneral Luna” came out. Through the movie, I learned about his passion for the country, disdain for dissension, and stubbornness to inculcate a national pride amongst the Filipinos of the time.
What to Drink: Ribera del Duero Tempranillo. Honestly, because p*ny*t@ it’s good s**t from Spain. 

I realise that my eclectic list of “heroes” includes famous people, but anyone can be a hero, including us everyday folk… As long as we’re courageous and noble in our own way.

What would you drink and talk about with your hero? Cheers!

An Excerpt from The Diary of an Alcohol Specialist (Part 2)

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Part 2!


30 July 2016, Saturday

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No rest for the wicked: I got inquiries as to where to get Whispering Angel. Emailed the wonderful people of Premier Wines & Spirits, Inc. (I love working with them, their products are pretty exciting), and got the information… I’ll put it on a blog post on Monday.

Spent the day with Chad… I think we totally needed a weekend together. He has a lot of product launches over the next couple of weeks… A vacation is an absolute must.

I have a secret: People often think that I drink 24/7, but honestly (and especially during the weekends), I avoid alcohol altogether. It gets frighteningly easy for me to get my hands on alcoholic drinks, and I’m trying not to get sick of it or drink to excess.

 

31 July 2016, Sunday

Did I mention having no rest for the wicked?

I received word today that I needed to speak with Chef Jonas Ng for the Metro Magazine event on Tuesday. No complaints, but I knew I need to beef up the research I did on food and spirits pairing.

Thankfully, I got the confirmation when I was in Rockwell. I passed by Shu Uemura to book a makeup session for the event through EJ Mallorca, one of the best makeup artists in the business.

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Harry Potter and a Cognac before I go off to bed!

Got one of the last copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child… Here’s to hoping I could actually sit down long enough to read it.

It’s Sunday, so it’s laundry day… Hopefully I could give the dog a bath later and tidy up the condo.

 

1 August 2016, Monday

Wow. It’s August. Time flies.

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Food Pairing (from What to Drink With What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen A. Page)

 

 

Finalised research on food and spirits pairing and sent it to Chef Jonas.

Here’s what I got: Gin and Bagna Cauda (anchovies and crudités) to play with the dryness of the gin and the saltiness of the anchovies. Chardonnay and Tuna Avocado (because Chardonnay pairs wonderfully with both tuna and avocado). Single Malt with Smoked Salmon Rillette to complement each other’s smoky flavours. Cognac with Boudin Noir as an homage to a classic cognac-Foie Gras pairing.

I spent the morning holed up in my office. Yaya and the plumber had a final showdown. I wrote a play by play on my (personal) Facebook feed… It was hilarious. Needless to say, yaya won, and our toilet is finally working properly.

 

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Tested a food and beverage theory that regional drinks match food from that region (Tteokbokki + Soju = yum!)

Had some time for a proper breakfast (a rarity for me these days) with the last of the pomegranate juice I got from Hong Kong. I had a foot spa in Mich and Myl (their team is amazing), and a Tteokbokki dinner with some Soju. I liked how the extreme spice and touch of tartness paired beautifully with the Soju, but man… It was lethal for my tongue and liver.

Preserving my energy for tomorrow.

 

2 August 2016, Tuesday

It was one of those really, really busy days.

I got to Le Jardin Manila around 11 am for a meeting with Chef Jonas and sample the cheeses Rustan’s gave him. They were exquisite… I’ve always been partial to creamy, stinky blue cheese and goat cheese (some of which were included in the samples); so I knew I was going to buy some more from Rustan’s Marketplace after the event.

I dropped by the new Poco Deli branch in Fort BGC (behind Rox). I’ve always loved the vibe of their restaurants in Kapitolyo and Ayala Triangle, and the BGC branch was just as cozy. Their artisanal sausages were once again on point, paired well with affordable wines and excellent beer.

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The always entertaining Chef Jonas Ng of Chef Next Door (Lifestyle Channel every Wednesday nights!)

 

 

I went back to Rustan’s Marketplace in Central Square BGC for the Fête du Fromage event. I got to meet the CEO, Philippe Olivier Deplanck, who regaled us with wonderful stories about Rustan’s direction on their deli (so many exciting things happening!). Chef Jonas was entertaining during his discussion on cheese and wine pairing.

I went to Rockwell, had my makeup done by the fabulous Irene of Shu Uemura, and headed to 8 Rockwell for the Metro event. It was well attended.

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Deliciously crisp The Botanist Gin (available in S&R, and in Elbert’s, Curator, Mandalay, Exit Bar, Bondi & Bourke, Blind Pig, Pablo’s, and Hooch)

 

 

A few highlights: I fell HARD for The Botanist Gin. Distilled from handpicked juniper berries coming from one specific place in Islay, the gin was deliciously crisp. I went with the evening’s Russian bartender’s suggestion of having it with a slice of lemon and tonic water.

It changed my life.

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Bruichladdich (available in S&R, and in Elbert’s, Curator, Mandalay, Exit Bar, Bondi & Bourke, Blind Pig, Pablo’s, and Hooch)

Then, there was the Bruichladdich. First, I couldn’t pronounce it with the same conviction as Chef Jonas did (while he channeled his inner Sean Connery). Apart from that, it was a beautifully complex Islay scotch. See, whenever one talks about Islay, “intense smoke” and “peat” find their way into describing a typical glass… But this one was different. It was “unpeated”, so it still was floral, but with a subtle hint of smoke characteristic of the region’s scotch.

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A once in a lifetime opportunity to sample Hublot cheese #nomnoms

There was Hublot (yes, the watches) cheese, which we found out never goes on sale. Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot, makes about five tonnes of cheese in his farm in the Swiss Alps yearly, but refuses payment. He only gives the cheese to people or restaurants of his choosing. The cheese was elegant, flowery, and as exclusive as Hublot watches.

Brutally exhausted. Tomorrow, I have to map out a schedule for the blog (hopefully I get to follow it this time, eheh), help a friend move into the neighbourhood, and maybe catch up with my friend, Ines.


Phew! That was exhausting.

Speaking of busy, excuse me while I RSVP to a few events I’m looking forward to in a couple of weeks (all of which will be posted on the blog).

Cheers!

An Excerpt from The Diary of an Alcohol Specialist (Part 1)

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Hello, my name is Gail and I’m a slasher.

Not the kind that gets locked up behind bars because of bloody violent tendencies… But the kind that, as an acquaintance pointed out, wears so many hats that my job title requires a lot of “slashes”.

Technically, I’m a beverage specialist/blogger/restaurant consultant/housewife/student. Explaining that to people I’ve just met normally requires a long story, so I decided to dedicate a couple of entries to taking an in-depth look into my life.

 


26 July 2016, Tuesday

Manic-edited and released article about Korean beverages. Felt the effect of my absence from the blog, my stats dipped slightly… But I think it was good to have taken a break. It has been a nutty few weeks, and taking my friend’s suggestion of just being a couch potato was great.

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This of course means that I have a backlog the size of Everest.

Edited my article on Rosés, but I have to go out tomorrow and buy that Hoegaarden Rosée I saw from a friend’s feed… It’s so pretty!

When I decided to avoid getting freebies to make sure my articles are 100% unbiased, I knew there was a hell of a price to pay to maintain some semblance of integrity. It was even worse when I decided to make sure that all the photos that come out in the blog either came from me, a friend (with permission), or any source with explicit consent.

With that in mind, I have to finish my dark beer shoot… Thank goodness our home/office has great lighting and windows. I’ve never had any lessons on photography or photo editing… I’m grateful for my Samsung Note’s camera and Fotor.

 

27 July 2016, Wednesday

Made a mad dash for Bottle Shop along Jupiter Street to get the bottle of Hoegaarden Rosée.

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Must tell the marketing manager about my thoughts (all positive!). Heaven forbid I forget, I’ll send him the link to the article (and blame it on the alcohol)*.

Thank goodness I left when I did, I think our yaya almost throttled the plumber for his incompetence.

I have to make sure I give her an extra hug when I see her again on Friday.

My business is practically a one-woman show, and I’ve been infinitely blessed with wonderful people who I get to work with on a regular basis (suppliers and clients alike)… However, I’m especially thankful for the people that work for us and keep me sane. Our yaya is indispensable (I call her a 5’1” bouncer), our driver is amazingly patient with my direction and schedule-challenged self (and would take a bullet for us), and our ironing lady is a fabulous mix of formidable and sweet (she gives me hugs and cries tears of joy whenever I do any favour for her).

Got inquiries for cheese suppliers… I honestly get mine from Rustan’s Marketplace. They have a wonderfully diverse, delicious selection of about 270 cheeses from different parts of the world.

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Kitty from the Park

Walked around the neighbourhood (need the exercise!) with Chad and met one of the sweetest street cats, which we named Kitty from the Park.

 

28 July 2016, Thursday

I had to do an intense, manic research on beer styles for the dark beer article. It took me about an hour and a half to find decent text on Russian Stout, and a lot of the literature I found emphasised the difficulty in producing this style of beer. It made me appreciate the guys of Baguio Craft Brewery even more for their ingenuity.

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Exhaustive Research!

Here’s the thing about my articles: I never, ever release any without research, preferably from books. I get practically obsessive in getting the details accurate… After all, the goal of the blog is to provide an entertaining resource. It isn’t a lifestyle blog (and I’d rather kill myself than spend 80% of an entry talking about myself and 20% on the beverage), although I do try to entertain (my French teacher, Olivia, says I should work on putting a bit more of myself in my articles).

Speaking of Olivia, I gotta finish my French homework.

 

29 July 2016, Friday

Released my Rosé article… I can’t get over the fact that the Sospechoso from Barcino’s worked well with the longganisa our friend, fashion designer and chef Ryan Madamba brought over.

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I love having friends over for dinner… It makes for excellent conversations, challenges my food and wine pairing and mixology skills, and… Food. Cooking is therapeutic for me.

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The gratin I made for friends during one epic dinner (over tons of alcohol and food!)

Speaking of friends, one of ours is in Korea… Her adventures are making me envious. Maybe it’s time to schedule a trip to Korea.

Olivia came over for my lessons. It was also her birthday! We gave her an H&M gift card, and had dinner with her.

People wonder why I’m still continuing my French lessons. Honestly, I need to know a Latin-based language to help me decipher wine terms, and I decided on French during the time when Chad was working for a French company (it was useful for both of us). I’m not a total pro at it, but the French winemakers I’ve met so far were kind enough to meet me halfway and correct me when needed.


 

End of Part One. The next article will showcase what normally happens when I have events. 🙂

Cheers!

*I eventually forgot, eheh…

Weather, Weather Part 2: The Dark Side of Beer

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The normal association between beer and weather is a nice, cold bottle on a hot, sunny day.

The thing I find, however, is that dark beer tends to go well with a cloudy day… First, there’s the colour connection: I have a tendency to relate murky coloured skies with the shadowy hues of a stout. There’s also the texture: Dark beer can be creamy and thick… Not something I want to drink in the heat.

With that in mind, here are a few of my personal favourites that I enjoy during my rainy season exploration of the dark side:

 

Murphy’s Irish Stout

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A can of Murphy’s Irish Stout (available in South Supermarket Alabang and other leading supermarkets)

 

 

Under the same umbrella as the famous (and readily-available) Heineken, this 4% ABV Irish Stout hails from Cork, Ireland. This beer is so dark; its colour classification is under “black” (though I’m sure our friends from Pantone will have a different opinion). Compared to other dark beers, it’s lighter and less bitter, with notes of caramel and malt that make me think it’s a cousin (twice removed) of chocolate milk.

What’s particularly interesting about Murphy’s is that it’s free from any hint of carbonation, making the liquid look like one solid black mass once it settles (and it’s mesmerizing to watch it as it does… Or maybe it’s the alcohol talking…?). The firm creaminess of the head is because of the nitrogen widgets in the can, making pouring the beer in a glass idiot (and tipsy) proof.

 

Guinness Stout (Foreign Extra)

The “bitter” rival of Murphy’s (pun intended), this Irish dry stout is a staple in UK pubs. The standard iteration of the label’s iconic beer gets its burnt flavour from unmalted barley, and has the unusual distinction of positioning itself as a “healthy” beer: Studies claim that Guinness has a good amount of antioxidant compounds (similar to those found in fruits and vegetables), which is good for the heart and slows down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on artery valves.

 

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Guinness Foreign Extra (available in Cash and Carry Supermarket and leading supermarkets)

Personally, I prefer the Foreign Extra variant. This deep brown, 7.5% alcohol variety has pronounced flavours of roasted malt and dark cherries, and is the rough, ashy, heavily hopped brother of the standard Guinness Stout.

 

Stout Crusader Russian Stout by Baguio Craft Brewery

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Baguio Craft Brewery’s Stout Crusader

I rarely rave about particular winemakers/brewers non-stop, but I can never shut up about the dudes from Baguio Craft Brewery and their ingenious beer making skills.

 

Backtrack: At the risk of revealing my “blogging” methods, I have a confession to make: I never simply rely on the Internet, tasting notes, or personal opinions whenever I write an article. As much as I could, I look at books to substantiate anything I put on the blog, and can get pretty OC about it (as any non-writer would, I guess).

That being said, when I tried to look for material on Russian Stouts, it took me about an hour and a half to find one, which brought me to a conclusion: Making Russian Stouts is an ambitious, painstaking, unusual endeavour.

Russian Stouts (or Russian Imperial Stouts) can trace their origins in England, but the popularity of this beer reached its height in the 19th century Russian tsarist court. Everyone knows how tsarist Russia ended up (Anastasia, anyone?), and with that, anything reminiscent of Russian monarchy.

Baguio Craft Brewery’s Stout Crusader, their take on Russian Stouts, is gorgeous: A very hoppy, borderline opaque black beer with bitter, aromatic notes of cooked plums and sultanas, that lasts forever in the mouth and can hold its own with chocolate pudding and coffee-flavoured desserts.

 

San Miguel Cerveza Negra

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Cerveza Negra, available almost anywhere in Manila

This is the Philippines. Whenever anyone talks about Philippine alcohol, one label comes to mind: San Miguel Beer. Their collection includes affordable, accessible beer that caters to the Pinoy (and some foreign!) palate.

Cerveza Negra is an excellent way to begin exploring the world of dark beer. It retains a crisp, refreshing quality (read: not intimidating), but the colour, quality, and flavour profile reminds me of Schwarzbier (a classification of dark lagers that shouldn’t be said five times fast).


 

With that in mind, excuse me while I grab a pint and chill out at home, watching the rain batter our windows.

I’d like to take this opportunity as well to apologize for writing sporadically the past few weeks, but as the photo illustrates, I’ve been busy… It does give a bit of a teaser as to what’s coming next in the blog though. 😉

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What I’ve been busy with, and what to look forward to in our upcoming posts

 

What’s your favourite dark beer? Cheers!