Saturday, July 17, 2010

World's Oldest Drinkable Champagne Found Near Baltic Shipwreck

Too fabulous!

HELSINKI (AFP) – Divers have found bottles of champagne some 230 years old on the bottom of the Baltic which a wine expert described Saturday as tasting "fabulous". Thought to be premium brand Veuve Cliquot (photo of Madame La Veuve Cliquot on left), the 30 bottles discovered perfectly preserved at a depth of 55 metres (180 feet) could have been in a consignment sent by France's King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court. If confirmed, it would be by far the oldest champagne still drinkable in the world, thanks to the ideal conditions of cold and darkness.

"We have contacted (makers) Moet & Chandon and they are 98 percent certain it is Veuve Clicquot," Christian Ekstroem, the head of the diving team, told AFP. "There is an anchor on the cork and they told me they are the only ones to have used this sign," he said, adding that a sample of the champagne has been sent to Moet & Chandon for their analysis.

The group of seven Swedish divers made their find on July 6 off the Finnish Aaland island, mid-way between Sweden and Finland, near the remains of a sailing vessel. "Visibility was very bad, hardly a metre," Ekstroem said. "We couldn't find the name of the ship, or the bell, so I brought a bottle up to try to date it." The handmade bottle bore no label, while the cork was marked Juclar, from its origin in Andorra.

According to records, Veuve Clicquot was first produced in 1772, but the first bottles were laid down for 10 years. "So it can't be before 1782, and it can't be after 1788-89, when the French Revolution disrupted production," Ekstroem said. Aaland wine expert Ella Gruessner Cromwell-Morgan, whom Ekstroem asked to taste the find, said it had not lost its fizz and was "absolutely fabulous". "I still have a glass in my fridge and keep going back every five minutes to take a breath of it. I have to pinch myself to believe it's real," she said. Cromwell-Morgan described the champagne as dark golden in colour with a very intense aroma. "There's a lot of tobacco, but also grape and white fruits, oak and mead," she said of the wine's "nose". As for the taste, "it's really surprising, very sweet but still with some acidity," the expert added, explaining that champagne of that period was much less dry than today and the fermentation process less controllable.

"One strong supposition is that it's part of a consignment sent by King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court," Cromwell-Morgan said. "The makers have a record of a delivery which never reached its destination." That would make it the oldest drinkable champagne known, easily beating the 1825 Perrier-Jouet tasted by experts in London last year. Cromwell-Morgan estimated the opening price at auction of each bottle at around half a million Swedish kronor (53,000 euros, 69,000 dollars)."But if it's really Louis XVI's wine, it could fetch several million," she added. 

The remaining bottles, which could number more than the 30 uncovered by the divers, will remain on the seabed for the time being. Their exact location is being kept secret. Meanwhile local authorities on Aaland will meet Monday to decide who legally owns the contents of the wreck. The archipelago at the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia belongs to Finland, though it enjoys autonomy from Helsinki and its inhabitants speak Swedish.

Friday, July 16, 2010

****BREAKING NOW!***** World Exclusive! Affleck Cheating on Jen Garner! Five
sources confirm story! Great story Mel!

My Jenny Craig Diet Meals

I thought you might like to see what some of the meals on the Jenny Craig Diet Plan look like. As with all frozen entrees, what is on the box bears very little resemblance to what you actually get. I do find that you really need to follow the package instructions quite carefully if you want it to come out OK. This includes the ubiquitous "Let sit for one minute before serving" instruction. 

Last night's delight from Jenny's "Cuisine" was Meatloaf with Barbecue Sauce with Roasted Potatoes and a medley of Broccoli and Carrots. Looks yummy on that beautiful Lenox china with the deftly placed parsley garnish n'est ce pas?

And now for your dining pleasure...

No wonder I'm losing weight!

(Disappointing) Topsy-Turvy Tomato News

Some of you may know that I have had a little trouble this year with my Topsy-Turvy Tomato crop this year. I think it is because of some tomato blight that hit the plants or maybe it is something to do with the planter itself. I don't know. It seemed like the plant in the front was getting a little "sickly looking with yellowing leaves, drooping, etc. but the plant in the back looked OK. I hacked off anything on the front plant that looked even suspicious and did a little trimming on the back plant as well. 

Now in an odd turnaround the plant in the back began to yellow and the leaves had a black edge to them. They also drooped quite a lot. There were two charming tomatoettes on the plant so I didn't want to dump the plant in case I could still get fruit off of it. Well, last night I decided to just chuck the damn thing so it wouldn't infect the other plant. Ah well... not as many tomatoes to can this year but I hope to get at least some. 

Better luck (and plants raised by myself from seeds) next year!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stinking America Haters: The National Organization for Marriage

Here's the National Organization for Marriage's Hate Tour Bus filling up at the teat of "Screw America and her environment" British Petroleum. 

Why do these people hate America and Americans so much?

Re: Le Diplomate

In response to my post about Graham Kerr and Le Diplomate, Michael D sent this along:

Oh, honey... I have a better, and easier recipe, and it's a real crowd pleaser:

 And this cool illustration:
I do think I'll "file" this one away for later...

Cue the harps indicating it is time for a trip in the Way-Back Machine

When I was but a callow youth growing up in Providence, I got interested in cooking by watching two shows on TV; The French Chef with Julia Child (of course) and The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr. I have vague memories of watching Graham Kerr and thinking what an urbane, entertaining chap he was, telling witty stories and taking us on tours of exotic restaurants in equally exotic locales. I even made my Mom take me to an outlet store in Rhode Island that sold Galloping Gourmet cookware and utensils so I could have a "spurtle" or two in my kitchen and with them be one degree of separation less from The Gourmet himself.

Recently I have noticed that we have a new channel in our cable TV lineup. It is The Cooking Channel and sure enough they are running episodes of the 1960's vintage Galloping Gourmet. OMG I did laugh when I saw just how tacky his "sophisticated" (not gay at all) gentleman's "pad"  was with it's crossed swords and shield wall decor, the red lampshades, the faux brick walls, the flocked wallpaper and the "contemporary" furniture right out of The Jetsons. He also sat at the bar in this set, drank a glass of wine and smoked a cigarette while telling his amusing anecdote for the studio audience! Nuts! The dishes he makes on the show are right out of the time machine as well; all esoteric, peculiar foods or the venerable classics served in those old oak-paneled dining rooms frequented by the likes of Larry Tate and Darrin Stevens. In one episode he made something called "Le Diplomate" which I vaguely remembered from some reading I did in cooking school, but that I had to look up in my Larousse Gastronomique. It is a variant on the Charlotte Russe formed in a Charlotte Mold with lady fingers, Creme Bavaroise, and fruit served with a Creme Anglaise. The difference being that Le Diplomate would be like the Charlotte below (without the whipped cream and berries) encased in a flavored gelatin coating and decorated with candied angelica and cherries. I haven't seen one of those since cooking school! Although I used to own a Charlotte mold I don't have one now. It may be time to buy another one and give making a Charlotte or even a Diplomate a try. 

In the meantime enjoy the photos. I am sorry they are of such poor quality as I took them from the TV with my iPhone. Also here is a photo of a classic Charlotte Russe. Looks like I can make one of those!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No One Is Above The Law... Except Bush and Cheney

Fox News analyst and contributor retired judge Andrew Napolitano speaking to Ralph Nader on CSPAN says that Bush and Cheney "absolutely should have been indicted" for the crimes of illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus, illegal spying, torture and conspiracy. Its not too late is it?

Jenny Craig Diet Update, Week 15

I wasn't really sure I'd lost any weight this week but it turns out I lost 4.0 pounds this week. That brings the grand total to 44.4 pounds so far! Woo-Hoo! Let's hear it for Frenchy!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Most Ironic Headline Of The Week (So Far)

In the last 7 days we have "Allow guns in churches" from that moron Bobby Jindal in Louisiana then in Hermosa Beach, CA we have "Guns on the beach". Let's just give everyone a "rod" when they sign up for Social Security. 2nd Amendment lunacy!

From The Huffington Post

"Man Attending Anti-Violence Barbecue Injured By Stray Bullet." That's the headline from The Globe And Mail. Doesn't get much better than that. But the best part is that it's totally real and not some screw-up by the headline writer who reported it. This happened. Which means we also get quotes from people like Staff Sergeant Richard McKeown:
"It kind of emphasizes their points that we really do have to get these guns off the streets"
Amazing. So basically, someone getting shot made for the most successful anti-violence barbecue ever. Mission accomplished.