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Daily Glass: Enjoy Your Wine and Play With Your Food – Beyond Meat Food, It Is

June 11, 2019 Leave a comment

I appreciate winding down Sunday with a good glass of wine and a family dinner. When it is warm outside, such a Sunday dinner typically means grill – and this past Sunday was not an exception (or maybe it even was a bit of an exception as it was dry and pleasantly warm, and not hot at all, compared to mostly hot and humid weather of the last year).

Kids love steak in this house. While shopping for a steak at our local Fairway Market, something caught my eye. Beyond Meat? Really? Both Beyond Meat The Beyond Burger and Beyond Meat Beyond Sausage Original Brat? Wow and double wow!

Let me explain the excitement.

Beyond Meat Burgers and BratwurstsI have plenty of friends and relatives who are vegans and vegetarians, so with the summertime, the question of a good meat alternative is always becoming hot – when someone visits our house, I really want people to feel included and taken care of, no matter what their dietary restrictions are, so the search for a good vegan burger, etc. was always on. A few years ago, I came across the product called Beyond Burger, made by the company with a catchy name Beyond Meat. The description of Beyond Burger, which offered full resemblance of the regular burger, including the blood, sounded a bit suspicious, so I carefully researched all the ingredients and to my dismay, found that all of the ingredients are natural and there was no red paint added to this product. When I decided to try it, further research proved it to be mission impossible – Beyond Burger was available only at the Whole Foods (which I don’t frequent), and the Internet was full of complaints of the people who desperately tried, but failed to find it in their local stores, as the product was always out of stock. I also learned that in addition to Beyond Burger, the same company is offering a new product called Beyond Sausage, which sounded to me too good to be true. Again, this all was taking place 3-4 years ago.

This year, Beyond Meat went public (and mind you, very successfully – while the initial offering was at $25/share in early May, today it is trading at around $168/share, and it is just about a month later). And it appears that they managed to increase their production and distribution – now I saw the actual product instead of just reading about it. Thus, as you can imagine, I simply had to try it, even though it is quite expensive for what it is – $5.73 for two burger patties and $9.99 for four “bratwurst” sausages – you can buy the pack of 14 real bratwurst sausages at Costo for $8.99. Nevermind all the price talk – the question is simple – is it tasty? Would I be happy to serve it to the guests?

What is the best way to compare wines? The blind tasting, of course. What is the best way to compare foods? Well, the concept of “blind tasting” in wine can’t really apply to the food, unless you would actually blindfold someone, or taste your food in one of those dark rooms were waitstaff wears special goggles. So I didn’t attempt to do any sort of the fair comparison, especially as the dinner plan included steak and not the burgers. However, I had some of the Costco bratwursts in the fridge, so battle sausage was definitely on.

Before we talk about the battle food, let me share with you two delicious wines we got to enjoy on Sunday. First, a Chardonnay from … Italy. Yes, Italy makes excellent white wines, and excellent Italian Chardonnay can be found more often than not – but I still get surprised every time at how good it can be. 2015 Maculan Chardonnay Veneto IGT (12.5% ABV) was delicious from the getgo. Beautiful golden color in the glass, a touch of honey and vanilla on the nose. The palate was plump and generous, with white apples, white plums, a touch of honey and vanilla, good acidity and nice weight. The wine might be close to its prime and offers an ultimate indulgence at the moment as it is perfectly balanced. My wife, who generally don’t drink white wines, said “wow” and asked for another glass.

Sunday calls for some special wine, so I decided to go with 1999 Hendry Block 28 Zinfandel Napa Valley (15.8% ABV). In case you are curious what makes this wine special, it is its age. I don’t drink routinely 20 years old wines (I wish I could), so every time I open a bottle of such an age, it constitutes a “special bottle”. Besides, Zinfandel is one of the pet peeves. The wine just jumped from the glass with the ripe blackberries and blueberries, supported by mocha and sweet oak. The palate offered layers and layers of goodness – ripe berries, a touch of blackberry jam, velvety smooth but well present mouthfeel, lots and lots of pleasure. I can also tell you that I noticed alcohol level only on the label, but not in the glass. A very well made, delicious wine.

Now let’s get back to food, as we have the battle to discuss.

Here is how both products looked before the cooking – note the real bratwurst at the bottom of the picture with sausages. Burgers look scarily realistic, and while Beyond Meat sausages look slightly different than the real sausage, they still look perfectly real overall (there are plenty of different sausages of exactly the same color):

Both burgers and bratwurst should be cooked for 3 minutes per side according to the package instructions, which is exactly what I did. Here is the result, again including the real bratwurst for comparison:

As you can see, Beyond Meat products have somewhat of a yellow hue (okay, this are the iPhone pictures, so you might have to take my word for it). Otherwise, both burgers and saysages perfectly held up to the cooking process and were very easy to handle – maybe even easier than the real meat products, considering the there was no fat coming out to cause the flare ups.

Just so you know we didn’t really convert into the vegans, here are few more dishes from our dinner (yes, this are real meat and real scallops):

And now, to the taste.

I made a small mistake of not creating the full experience out of the burger, meaning having it with a bun, tomato, ketchup and so on. On its own, it was quite decent, with some tiny hints of not been made out of the real meat (but then remember that it was not a blind tasting, so I was clearly influenced by the appearance). The sausage, however, was mind-boggling. It literally was identical to the real bratwurst in the taste profile and texture – I would never be able to distinguish it if I would close my eyes. Simply a wow.

If you read my typical wine posts you would know that at any possible occasion, I like to taste the wines over the course of a few days to see how they will change. When it comes to the food, it is not that I like to taste the food on the second or a third day (by the way, some of the soups and stews actually benefit from an extra day in the fridge), but I can’t stand wasting the food, so I usually make an effort to work on the leftovers for as long as possible or needed. What it has to do with this story? Simple. We had leftovers of both Beyond Meat burgers and bratwursts. Over the next two days, both perfectly held up to the reheating in the microwave, and both were perfectly on point in taste and texture, resembling its real meat brethren even more than on the first day while freshly made.

There you have it, my friends. The verdict on Beyond Meat burgers and bratwursts? Beyond reproach. I will be happy, very happy to serve them to my guests at any gathering. And yes, I hope you enjoyed your Sunday night wines too. Cheers!

Dozen of Personal Favorites From Michael Skurnik Portfolio Wine Tasting

April 3, 2012 2 comments

Thousand bottles of wine (this is not a mere matter of speech, but- more or less an exact count, give or take a hundred bottles). 4 hours. Come up with the list of 12 most favorite wines. What do you think about a task like that?

Whether you think it is easy or hard, this was my experience at the Michael Skurnik 25th Anniversary wine portfolio tasting few weeks ago in New York (selecting 10 wines was not the goal, of course, but tasting many great wines was).

”Overwhelming” would be an under-representation of the experience. Sip, swish for a second, think for a second, spit. Take a mental note, or may be a quick mark in the book. Move on to the next wine, then to the next table. Get through the crowd with your glass. Repeat until your palate is completely locked down by the amount of fresh tannins. Have a sip of fruity white to unlock and refresh. Continue and repeat until fully exhausted. Leave happy.

Above is a quintessence of the experience. Below, I would like to give you mostly a photo report with some comments on the most memorable wines. The list is not prioritized at all – if anything, it may be coming out in the order we tasted the wines. Here we go.

2009 Peter Michael ‘L’Esprit des Pavots’ – clean, gorgeous, elegant, balanced, approachable – this is Bordeaux-style red which you can drink now or cellar for next 20-30 years:

2009 Paul Hobbs Winery Chardonnay, ‘Ulises Valdez Vineyard’ – best non-French Chardonnay I tasted. Elegance and perfection of balance – acidity, hint of vanilla, hint of butter, hint of tasted oak – all in a perfect medley:

2009 Martinelli Syrah ‘Vellutini Ranch’ – full-bodied, luscious and well balanced, with nice dark fruit and spices. Outstanding Syrah:

2007 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Kronos’ – I was really looking forward to trying this wine after Joe Roberts, a.k.a. @1WineDude, called it “Black Panther” in his review. I’m not sure I personally met the panther, I rather discovered a mystery. This wine is impossible to understand in the format of the standard trade wine tasting. It says “let’s dance a little longer, shall we”? When you take a sip of this wine, it is asking you to think – there is no flavor attack, no particular taste element standing out – instead, there is a perfectly balanced, thought-provoking, mysteriously delicious substance. This wine needs double time – time in the cellar, and time in your mouth – then you might stand a chance of solving the mystery:

2009 Domaine Newman Mazis-Chambertin – exemplary Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir by the book – whatever way you want to call it, this was one of the most elegant Pinot Noir at the tasting – perfect balance of earthiness, fruit, acidity and power:

2010 Clusel-Roch Condrieu – beautiful full-bodied white, powerful and structured – great example of Viognier from the most classic Viognier Appellation:

2010 Domaine Saint Prefert Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘Cuvée Speciale Vieilles Clairettes’ – fresh, elegant, beautiful white fruit, perfect acidity – definitely one of the best white wines in the tasting. Unfortunately, equally rare and hard to get:

2009 Domaine Allary Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan – classic Bordeaux from classic vintage. Perfect wine – you can drink it now, or wait for 30 years – the choice is yours:

2010 Boyer-Martenot Meursault 1er, ‘Perrières’ – absolute elegance ( yes, if you think that I’m abusing the word “elegant”, I agree with you, but I can’t find a better word to express my thoughts about these wines, so bear with  me, please) – outstanding Chardonnay, great balance of white fruit, acidity, earthiness and tannins:

2011 Domaine du Moulin Méthode Gaillacoise – personal sparkler favorite at the tasting – bright, fresh, full-bodied, with apple and toasted bread perfectly showing on the nose and on the palate. Lots of pleasure:

2005 Cavallotto Fratelli Barolo Riserva, ‘San Giuseppe’ – trying Barolos at the such tastings is always fun – you need to build your impressions quickly, before tannins will completely numb your palate. This wine had enough power to get through everything else I tasted before and deliver plums and dark cherries and outstanding balance of spices which make Barolo a King of the Wines. Truly an outstanding wine:

2007 Hendry Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Hendry Vineyards Red Wine (Meritage Blend) – one of my biggest surprises in the tasting. I never heard of Hendry name before – they mostly had being known as a grape growers for all other prestigious winemakers. But then at some point they started making wines, and I can tell you – it was very hard to pick only one favorite out of the outstanding lineup of wines. This is why you see two red mentioned here – both are very elegant, balanced and varietally correct (and reasonably priced!):

This concludes our journey through the great tasting of Michael Skurnik wines – there were hundreds of other wines worth mentioning, but – sometimes I have to sleep too, right? Thanks for reading and cheers!

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