Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
When the rains begin in late summer on Vancouver Island, folks from all over converge into the hills in search of chanterelles. The chanterelle is a distinctive mushroom with a bell shape which come in colors of pale to golden yellow, and grow in coniferous forests - often poking out from the moss. They tend to grow in groups so when you spot one, take a closer look around as you'll probably find more within arms length. Care should be taken when harvesting these mushrooms by slicing them close the ground rather than picking. For those wanting to learn more about mushrooms, David Aurora's book, All the Rain Promises and More, is a great field guide.
This was the second year that we've taken our kids mushroom hunting and they have really started to develop an eye for finding them - the boys anyway. They also take special delight now that they've been entrusted to carry their own swiss army knives, and actually make the cuts. Mirabelle will have to wait until next year for her mushroom knife.
Here is a good recipe for chanterelle soup that will warm your bones on those autumn days.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The next stage after crushing and fermentation is pressing. This is the process where several friends get together to separate the grape must into two parts: the juice and the pomace (the skins, seeds, and in our case the stems). The juice of course is the real reason we go through all this trouble because in a few months of aging in air tight carboys and demi-johns, we will have something that actually passes for wine.
Since crushing, the grape must has been left to ferment for approx. 2 weeks in our fermentation buckets. It's an aerobic process, meaning that it is not done in a air tight vacuum. Open air as they say. Just take some care to minimize the fruit flies that are attracted to laying eggs in it. Bug larvae, bad. Kudos to Jason who devised a slick little screen on the lids of our containers to stymie those little pests. He drilled a bunch of holes through the plastic lids and taped a cotton patch over the holes! Very nice.
The pressing begins, of course, with a drink. Are you seeing pattern here? Back from his trip, Dave graced us with this presence and proved once again to be vital and belligerent contributor. Special thanks to Joyce for also coming along and helping us out! You may take a cut out of Dave's share.
Work begins with assembling the press. The stand and staves are cleaned. The pins are fastened to the staves and viola. We are ready to start pouring in the grape must.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The middle of Sept is a very special time for a small group of my friends and me. More than the harvests from our gardens, the salmon returns, chanterelles in the hills or the whiff of a new hunting season, the middle of Sept means the delivery of our grapes from the sunny state of California. Our order this year was a 1000 lbs of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 1000 lbs Sangiovese. The brains behind our operation is Jason, master drinker with not enough answers but all the right questions. Upon his advise we chose the Cab due to the cool wet weather California experienced this summer and that the Cab grape clusters tend to be loosely packed, and maybe less susceptible to mould. He turned out to be spot on in his prediction and we found not a lick of mould.
The brawn of our little group would be Armando, whose family actually brought the crusher and press to Canada from Rome many years ago.
Ben was gracious enough to stand as proxy for his father Dave who couldn't be present because he was drinking Riesling in the hills of Rheingau. Danke Schoen, baby.
Then there's your truly. They love my truck. And my immaculate white t-shirts.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Woke up this morning with the sun being diffused through dense fog/cloud and giving a very warm orange red tone. After a breakfast of blueberry lemon muffins, I captured a few portraits of the Westry and Mirabelle in the back yard.
Posted by Adelio Trinidad at 11:42 AM