Menu For Hope 6 – Donate and Win (a wine tasting for 8!)


Update: Bidding just became easier! This nifty little form will help you choose your items and transfer it directly to the donation site – remember my code is EU23.

Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising campaign hosted by Chez Pim and a revolving group of food bloggers around the world.  For the past three years, Menu for Hope raised nearly a quarter of million dollars in support of the good work of the UN World Food Programme, helping to feed hungry people worldwide. We, food bloggers from all over the world, join the campaign by offering a delectable array of food-related bid items for the Menu for Hope raffle. Anyone – and that means you too – can buy raffle tickets to bid on these items. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on an item of your choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

Once again we’ve chosen to work with the UN World Food Programme. This year, we are supporting a new initiative at the WFP called Purchase for Progress (P4P). P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation.  We food bloggers understand the importance of buying locally and supporting our local farms, P4P helps do the same for farmers in low income countries around the world.  More on the campaign, the donation system and the programme we are supporting can be found here.

This year, I am again offering a bid-item:


(EU23) My Italians wine tasting in Rome for 8! A great opportunity for wine lovers – beginner or expert – to get an overview of Italian wines, learning about and tasting 7 of them. Let yourself be guided by sommelière Hande (me!) through this fun and informative 2-hour tasting that gets rave reviews! Offer is valid for up to 8 persons, so gather your family, friends or colleagues and hop on a plane to Rome!

Small print: Tasting to be taken within 2010 and date to be arranged with vinoroma. No guarantee on exclusive, private date – there may be others taking part in the tasting, especially if your party is less than 8. Winner may not “sell” remaining places if his party is less than 8. Shipping N/A. Worth of bid item is (up to) €400 / $600 (for a group of 8), non-redeemable.

There are many food and wine related items out there that you can bid for. Over at David’s blog you can see the other bid items offered in Europe and at Alder’s vinography you can see other wine related items. For the master list of all bid items you can win with a donation of only $10, have a look at Chez Pim. And if you want to win the wine tasting in Rome, don’t forget to state EU23!

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list over at Pim’s.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which bid item (EU23 for the wine tasting in Rome) you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item if bidding for more than 1, and please use the bid item code.

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02, so write: 2xEU01, 3xEU02.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.


Menu For Hope 5 – Donate and Win


Update: The deadline has been extended to 31st December – You can still donate and win! Unbelievable that we already have the 5th year of Menu for Hope, the annual fund raising campaign hosted by Chez Pim and a revolving group of food bloggers around the world. Each December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a delectable array of food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. Last year we raised almost $100K! Anyone – and that means you too – can buy raffle tickets to bid on these prizes. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of your choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim. Click here to read more about the UN World Food Programme (school lunches in Lesotho) we are donating to and how donations are handled.

This year, I am again offering a prize:


(EU18) My Italians wine tasting in Rome – A great opportunity for 2 wine lovers – beginner or expert – to get an overview of Italian wines, learning about and tasting 7 of them. Let yourself be guided by sommelière Hande (me!) through this fun and informative 2-hour tasting that gets rave reviews! Tasting date (within the year 2009) has to be arranged directly with vinoroma. [Shipping: N/A] [Worth €100 / $140]

There are many food and wine related gifts out there that you can bid for. At Ms. Adventures in Italy you can see the other prizes offered in Europe and at vinography you can see other wine related prizes. For the master list of all prizes you can win with a donation of only $10, have a look at Chez Pim. And if you want to win the wine tasting, don’t forget to state EU18!

How to donate & bid:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at Chez Pim.

2. Go to the donation site at firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize you’d like in the “Personal Message” section of the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize and please use the prize code!

For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU18 (my prize!) and 3 tickets for UW05. Please then write “2xEU18, 3xUW05”

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone!

Been Drinking Wine – Bibenda Day 2008, and others

Bibenda Day 2008

This past 10 days, in between all the last minute preparations for vino roma (like begging wine distributors and reps to sell me wine, please, and when they consent to do so, after many mails and calls, wait for them to deliver), I have been taking part in a lot of wine events here in Rome, most of them thanks to A.I.S., the Italian Sommelier Association, of which I am a proud member.

Marchesi di Barolo 1947

There was a vertical Barolo tasting (vertical not meaning that we were standing all the time, as one of you asked in an email, but that we tried different vintages of the same wine from one winery – in this case Marchesi di Barolo) where I got to drink the oldest (non-sweet) wine of my life, a 1947 vintage, which was very, very good, smooth as silk and velvet, no tannins to disturb your palate, and with very fine, warm fruit aromas.

There was a 2004 Barbaresco tasting with 23 different wineries, where I got to try the first Gaja of my life (I mean the original, Piedmontese, Gaja, not one of his experiments elsewhere – the next day I had the 2nd and in 10 days I will be drinking more and getting to know Mr. Angelo Gaja himself, so I will hold my evaluation of Gaja back till after that event, he is called a “volcano-like man”) along with La Spinetta and Ceretto.

And then there was the Bibenda Day. Bibenda is Italy’s best Wine Mag and is affiliated with A.I.S. Every year they organize a day, where the members get to experience a guided tasting of 25 of the best wines to be found, Italians and international ones, rotating every year, from several (old) vintages. I drank the most expensive wines of my life during this evening: nothing under €60, the most expensive at €500, some were invaluable because not on the market! The picture at the beginning is from this tasting. Do you see the perfect accuracy? 50 rows of perfectly prepared tasting tables for a total of 500 tasters at this event: everything was perfectly organized.

perfect organization

They really thought about everything; there were 6 glasses, a spittoon for each taster, booklet of the wines to taste, a booklet for your tasting notes, a pencil, a napkin, bread and cheese, water….The rows and everything on the table were accurately set, the tasting began on time (all the A.I.S. events- 4 up to now – have been on time and well organized, I have to say, we had been expecting anything but good organization based on our experiences in the last two months here in Rome, but A.I.S. is nothing less than perfect) , the excitement was palpable. I really was nervous (in a good way), I have to admit, I knew I would drink wines better than any I had, and so many of them.The tasting was divided into 5 parts, the bubbly, the white, the red – Italians, the red – international, and the sweet. For each part the 90 sommelier on duty (all very friendly and professional) served the wines for that part in our glasses (each part had 3 to 6 wines, a total of 25 wines) and a different specialized moderator for each part talked about the wineries and the wines and did a tasting of each wine, relating his/her thoughts about the wine.

1932 Marsala Florio

My highlights were:

The bubbly: 1995 Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore Spumante Metodo Classico (I loved the base wine of this spumante most; among 1989 Ca’del Bosco and the champagne from Krug, Jacquesson and Bollinger, all 1996)

The white: 1987 Terlano Sauvignon (this was really hard, as I loved all the whites: 1998 Chardonnay Tasca d’Almerita, 1984 Cabreo, 2006 Riesling Dellchen Dönnhof, 2004 Meursault-Genevrières Jobard and 1991 Chevalier-Montrachet Jadot)

The Italian red: 1995 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Valentini (this was the most “ready now”, doesn’t mean others won’t be grand when their time comes: 1999 d’Alceo Castello dei Rampolla, 1999 Sassicaia, 1998 Sorì San Lorenzo Gaja and 2000 Barolo Giacosa)

The international red: 1999 Chateau Margaux (this was also the most expensive wine – aside from some which were invaluable because not on the market at all – with €500 for a bottle. I loved, loved, loved this wine, it was the best one for me in this evening of superlatives. Other international reds were 2002 Chambertin Rossignol-Trapet, 1998 Latour, 2001 Le Méal Chapoutier, 2002 Relentless Shafer and 2001 L’Ermita Velles Vinyes Alvaro Palacios)

The sweet: 1932 Marsala Ambra Dolce Florio (this being the oldest wine I have ever tasted – the record which has been broken twice within a week -, others were 1996 Rotenberg Vendange Tardive Humbrecht and 1975 Sauternes Suduiraut)

If you want to see all the wines we tasted, here they are (pictures courtesy of Bibenda):

Ca’del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvée Annamaria Clementi 1989 Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 1995 Krug Champagne Brut 1996 Jacquesson Champagne Extra Brut 1996 Bollinger Champagne R.D. 1996

Cantine Terlano A. A. Terlano Sauvignon 1987 Tasca d’Almerita Chardonnay 1998 Tenute del Cabreo Cabreo La Pietra 1984 Dönnhof Riesling Dellchen Trocken 2006 Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard Mersault-Genevrières 1er Cru 2004 Louis Jadot Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Grand Cru 1991

Castello dei Rampolla d’Alceo 1999 Tenuta san Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia 1999 Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1995 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sorì San Lorenzo 1998 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 2000

Domaine Rossignol-Trapet Chambertin Grand Cru 2002 Chateau Margaux 1999 Chateau Latour Pauillac 1998 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal 2001 Shafer Napa Valley Syrah Relentless 2002 Alvaro Palacios Priorat L’Ermita Velles Vinyes 2001

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Alsace Pinot Gris Rotenberg Vendange Tardive 1996 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes Ancien Cru du Roy 1975 Florio Marsala Superiore Riserva Ambra Dolce 1932

Wine and Food Fair Finds

Forum Vini Logo Kulinart Logo Best wines of Stuttgart

In this past 10 days, we have visited 3 very different wine and food related fairs. I liked them all, although they differ vastly. Each of these fairs had its strengths and we found some gems and learned new things in all.

RinklinThe week of wines started in Munich with the 22nd edition of Forum Vini. In this international fair which is getting bigger every year (almost 10.000 visitors who had to haggle themselves through 323 exhibitors this year) we always visit some “constants” like our beloved organic wine producer Rinklin, who years ago seriously led us to German wines for the first time. His Muskateller, Riesling and Pinot Blanc may be expected from a winery in the Baden region, but he surprises with his Pinot Noir and Regent, reds which are full of body, with very well balanced tannins and aromas of spices.

If you do not limit yourself to a certain theme or region, you will easily be overwhelmed with the abundance in this fair. My advice, actually for any wine fair which is bigger than just 10 vineyards or so, is to seek out maybe a region (e.g. south Italy), a theme (autochtonous varieties) or a seminar well in advance, register where necessary, and stick to it. Afterwards, if you feel up to it, you can still visit the one or the other promising-looking wine-stand.

Chocolate and wine tastingOne seminar I visited this time was very interesting: Chocolate and Wine! Combined were different wines from the Graf Metternich Vineyards and chocolates from chocolatier Bernd Danner. As with any food, when combining wine with chocolate there are lesser and better results but the one important lesson to learn was: Do not be afraid to try different pairings. Sweet whites are of course the first that come to mind, but there were interesting tastes to be created even with dry whites or not so dry reds. Just make sure to choose pure chocolates with high cacao percentages, experiment with different beans and regions. Stay away from chocolates with flavors, like orange, chili etc. when combining with wines. Taste the wine first, then take a piece of chocolate, let it melt a little bit in your mouth and take a sip of the wine. Now mix everything in your mouth with a “washing machine movement”, as Mr. Danner put it. Especially chocolates with light acidic notes (a criollo from Venezuela or Madagascar) in combination with sweet white or red wines were my favorites, both benefiting from each other and creating new, fruity aromas.


RömerkastellBeekeeper Peter Pfeifle The second exhibition which we visited was the contrast program. The Kulinart which just took place for the second year in Stuttgart had around 60 exhibitors (mainly delicatessen from Italy and France, wine from all over Europe, chocolate and kitchen utensils) and 5000 visitors in the beautiful and over a century old Römerkastell building on an historical site near Stuttgart. White trufflesTruffle Don, Jr.This exhibition was very nice, almost intimate and had a lot to offer although it was rather small. We ordered some great Burgund wines (Morey St. Denis, Gevrey Chambertin and Corton Grand Cru) from an irresistible Frenchman named “Du Pape”(!), bought some honey made by real Stuttgart bees in Stuttgart vineyards and: Truffles from Alba from some very charming Italian men. The one to the right might be Truffle Don, Jr., don’t you think?


Last but not least, we visited a wine tasting of 11 winemakers strictly from within the city limits of Stuttgart. From our terrace we can see almost all of these vineyards (and no, Stuttgart is not a village, although a lot of Bavarians thinks so) and it was very exciting to try whites and reds from these winemakers. Some are co-ops, some are privately owned and along with the usual suspects (Riesling!) we had a few surprises: Some Lemberger (Blaufränkisch elsewhere) with just the right amount of time in the right wooden barrels were real charmers (Weingut der Stadt Stuttgart, for example), Rotenberg, which we had already tasted in Wielandshöhe proved that the whole assortment is worthy. But the real discovery was a very light dry red wine, almost rose, from the rare “Muskat-Trollinger” vine. The winemaker told us that this vine is autochtonous, but some online research reveals that it is also found in France, USA and Greece, under the name of Black Hamburg, Muscat de Hambourg or Black Muscat. If you drink this wine from a black glass you would surely think it is a white wine, it is so full of typical Muscat aromas, reminding of elder flowers. Although other Muscat varietals are often used for sweet or fortified wines, this was dry. The combination on the palate was unbelievable. I will definitely hunt this wine down and buy some bottles.


All in all, a week full of very different wine-related events. And it is not even over: Tonight we are going to a southwest France wine tasting by one of Germany’s best sommeliers, Bernd Kreis. First new information I will put to a test will be combining wine and chocolate for the coming up Sugar High Friday with the irresistible theme chocolate truffles!

Upcoming Wine Events

Vertical tasting

a private wine event

Here are some wine and culinary events that might interest you. We will be attending all of these. Reports will follow!

Forum Vini, the 21st 22nd edition of the fair for wine lovers and gourmets is taking place this weekend, 10-12 November, in Munich. We have been visiting this fair for 6 years now and it has always been very interesting. This year there is a new mini sister-fair: XOCOLADE! Guess what that one is about.

Kulinart, the fair for indulgence and style about all things culinary, is on 18-19 November in Stuttgart. This will be a first for us.

Best wines of Stuttgart, a wine tasting with the best Stuttgart has to offer, is on November 19 in Stuttgart.

Telling the plain truth- the wine world in flux, an exhibition about wine in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany, is going on till July 2007.

Paris: the Highlight

Le Restaurant Lavinia

le restaurant Lavinia

We ate the best chocolates and macarons of our lives in Paris, but the highlight of the trip got to be our lunch experience in Lavinia. It is actually a 3-story wine shop, where they classify their wines in price categories as “under €50, 50-100, 100-250, 250-500 and over 500″…. The most expensive normal size bottle we saw revered was a Petrus 1995 for €1.600 and there was even a 5 liter bottle (of something I unfortunately can’t remember) that cost around €8.000. You get the picture.

But then again, you don’t. They also have perfect bottles under €10, wines we know from Italy and adore for their price-performance ratio and they have “le restaurant Lavinia” on the upper floor where you can eat perfectly well and drink any wine you like for the store price! (This is of course only if you are drinking a bottle. They also have some wines by the glass, which have a little mark-up.)

We arrived at the restaurant around 12 and only a few seats at the bar were taken. Were asked if we had a reservation, which surprised us a lot, as we didn’t know it was a “proper” restaurant. We had thought there would be some charcuterie or a tartine, ignorant us. The menu is small but full of seasonal items, changes often and every item comes with a wine-recommendation that you can have by the glass. On that day for some reason we didn’t want to eat a proper meal (maybe because we were so pre-conditioned that there wouldn’t be any) so missed out on all the gorgeous food we admired on neighboring tables, which were, after half an hour, all taken. But still, our choices made us totally happy.

Foie gras at Lavinia

foie gras

I definitely wanted to try the fresh foie gras with rosemary and fleur de sel. It came with some rocket. This foie gras was one of the best we ever had, it lacked the heaviness we have experienced in many cases and was full of flavor although so simple. We loved this.

Cheese platter


This cheese platter was good but the star was the blue-veined cheese you can see on top left: This is “La Fourme d’Ambert“. This was so mild with all the tastes subtle but there; the creamy cows milk, the blue mold, the cellar, the age… We like blue molded cheeses a lot but you can not always eat the very hefty ones, in these cases with gorgonzola we go for the “dolce” version and leave roquefort or cabrales out. The fourmet d’ambert is like a mild roquefort, a beginners version, if you like. We could have eaten more of this.

Saint-Romain, Combe Bazin

Combe Bazin

To accompany this two dishes we wanted to drink a bottle of wine instead of two different glasses. I was thinking about a Sauternes but our great waiter suggested something else: Domaine de Chassorney Combe Bazin from the Saint-Romain appellation in the Burgundy region, an organic and unfiltered white wine from chardonnay grapes, barrel-fermented. This wine reminded us of our secret hero, Josko Gravner, and his very polarising Breg, which he “lets become” in clay amphorae. Not as dry as Breg but definitely something in the same direction and at a more affordable price.

So why was Lavinia our highlight? Because they have great wines. Because they have good food. Because you can combine them without going bankrupt. Because you get perfect assistance. Because French bosses seem to allow their employees 3 hour lunchbreaks and do not mind a bottle of wine consumed, either. Lavinia staff know their wine and have a great concept and it makes us want to weep why there is no such place in Germany. If you love food and wine and go to Paris, visit Lavinia. You will love it, too.

This is part three in a four-part series.
read part one – Paris: the Pilgrimage
read part two – Paris: the Food
read part four –
Paris: the Tourist’s Dilemma

An Evening of Pleasure

An evening of pleasure

an evening of pleasure

Last weekend we were invited to a special dinner by one of the vineyards that we know and buy wines from in the Kaiserstuhl area, Trautwein. This winery is bioland and demeter certified and one of the first vineyards in Germany to completely convert to bio-dynamic and organic farming (in 1980). By no means do we choose our wines according to this criteria, but it is an added bonus to know there are no chemicals in that sip of wine if it tastes good.

The event, “an evening of pleasure”, took place in a Michelin “Bib Gourmand” Restaurant, Scheidels Restaurant in Kenzingen, a mere 10 k away from the winery. After an initial getting to know with some nibbles and live music in the cozy court yard of the restaurant, the 65 wine- and food-interested were let into the restaurant to enjoy a 7 course dinner with corresponding wines from the Trautwein vineyards.

ScallopsOur first course was a scallop carpaccio with olive oil and basil. This was accompanied by a 2005 Rivaner, which is also known as Müller-Thurgau and once was the most planted grape variety in Germany. It is a cross of Silvaner with Riesling and was the grape behind the ubiquitous “liebfrauenmilch” and therefore sank into disrepute. We liked the wine as a fresh and light summer wine but the pairing was not optimal. The sea-smell of the scallops, the saltiness, choked the wine. I can imagine a Pinot Blanc with some body a lot better with these scallops which tasted very fresh.

Poultry terrineThe second course was poultry terrine with Judas’ ear fungi and pistachios, accompanied with Pinot Grigio jelly. Of course the corresponding wine was a Grauburgunder 2005 (Pinot Grigio). I wasn’t crazy about this terrine, it was rather bland, but I liked the idea of combining poultry with pistachios. The wine was a plus for this course and lifted it up. Maybe the cook deliberately hold back the spices so that the wine can shine? I don’t know.

Pike-perch the asian wayThen came my second favorite course of the evening: Pike-perch (also known as zander) “the asian way” with Basmati rice. The fillet was wrapped in rice paper with some ginger, coriander and tomato and then poached. This was very tender, tasted very delicate, and the ginger and coriander gave the fish a whole new dimension without overpowering it. And the combination with the 2003 Weißburgunder Auslese (Pinot Blanc selection) was just right. The wine had a lot of alcohol but was almost creamy on the palate. This was a perfect combination, being more than the sum of its parts.

Ravioli of king prawnsThe next course was anti-climactic. The ravioli stuffed with king prawns was just ok, the prawns not adding much taste and the balls of Charantais melon just disturbing. They were too sweet without holding up to it with taste and completely ruined the perfect 2003 Chardonnay Auslese Edition RS (selection reserve, aged in barriques) that was served with this course. T. had some pasta with a tomato-garlic sauce because of his allergy and was happier with his combination than I was with mine. The next day we tasted the wine again, liked it a lot and bought some, but the combination within this dinner was almost fatal.

Braised calf's cheeksThis rather disappointing course was followed by my favorite: braised calf’s cheek with porcini-cabbage vegetable and pommes Williams. I have been meaning to cook braised calf’s cheek myself for some time now, and this course makes me want it even more. Sitting here early in the morning, days after the experience, I am still tasting it just looking at the pictures. The cheeks were so tender, so flavorful, the sauce almost made me mop it up with bread…Have to replicate this! Also braised calf's cheeksThe wine we drank with this was also, surprisingly, very good, especially if you think about our, well, aversion to German reds: 2003 Spätburgunder Edition Reserve Spätlese (Pinot Noir late vintage reserve, aged in barriques). The next day we learned that this wine costs 25 Euros and had to think about the Pinot Noirs we get in Austria for this amount. This is, according to us, the greatest problem with German reds. There are some really good ones every once in a while, but when you think of the price/performance ratio, they lose.

The cheese course was Tête de Moine, which actually I like a lot. Unfortunately, this was served not the correct way, pared into the shape of delicate rosettes, but in plain slices. I believe this really makes a difference in the structure and taste of the cheese and could not understand why it was served like this. Were 65 servings too much? The wine pairing with the cheese was just ok: 2005 Gewürztraminer Edition Spätlese (late vintage), slightly sweet and full of rose aromas. I would have liked this wine a lot better with some other cheese, maybe a blue-veined cheese like Gorgonzola. No pictures of this no-no serving.

Mascarpone tartletsOur dessert was a mascarpone tartlet with strawberry coulis and raspberry sorbet. The tartlet was sweet but light (!) and the various berries were refreshing. The serving was rather big after all the food we had during the 6 courses before this. We were served some 2000 Pinot rosé Sekt Reserve Brut (sparkling rosé, the traditional method – bottle fermentation) which tasted fine, I am not a great rosé fan, be it sparkling or not, the only one I liked until now was the Moet Chandon Rosé we drank at a Moet Chandon tasting dinner in Munich a couple of months ago.

Although I have criticized quite a few courses I have to say that the overall experience was very good. We liked most courses and most wines and I guess that the cook had some problems having to adjust his food to match the wines (which is usually the other way around) because the wines were the given and he had to come up with the dishes. And you cannot beat the price: We paid 70 Euros per person and it was worth it.

Gewürztraminer grapesWeedsThe next day we had the chance to visit the vineyards with winegrower H.P. Trautwein himself and it was very interesting to compare and contrast his methods with those of Claus Preisinger (who is converting to organic farming) whom we had visited just a week earlier. Trautwein lets a lot more grapes grow on the vines, lets the useful weeds grow higher between the rows and has his vineyards more or less all together in one place. Later on we tasted all the wines of the winery before buying some of the 2003 Weißburgunder Auslese Edition and 2003 Chardonnay Auslese Edition RS.

This was again a fun weekend, with good food and wine. We also got to know some very interesting people during the dinner and got some useful tips about the region. We will definitely use them!