Waiting for the seedling to grow up in my edible garden

The seeds I have sewn in the CNY had mostly sprouted, except with the big ones like nasturtian and snow peas. The small and mid size seed were the first pop their heads, and then the fine seeds like chamomile also formed root and first leaves.

I have also made a couple of boxes for the growing pots from savaged wood. One I have painted lavenda colour. It’s looking very nice. (Picture to be posted.)

I am just waiting for the temperature to come back up, as the last few days it has been near the low teen. For the seedling to grow up, the temperature needs to be in the high teen and low twenty.

I bought a couple of small basil prants in the Flower Market in Mongkok just before the CNY. They’ve grown more than a couple of centimeters already. I guess they don’t mind the cold weather.

The garlic buds I sewn into the herb bed are doing just fine, and I am looking forward to a whole load of garlic for my cooking in the summer.

I’ve planted a dozen sweet corn seeds this week. Let’s see when will it sprout.

Tomorrow, I need to clean all the troughs for the plants and put new nutrient again. I figured once a week I have to do that and it takes about an hour or so. Not to bad for about 50-60 plants. It’s about 2 month’s supply of salad!

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Waiting for the seedling to grow up in my edible garden

The seeds I have sewn in the CNY had mostly sprouted, except with the big ones like nasturtian and snow peas. The small and mid size seed were the first pop their heads, and then the fine seeds like chamomile also formed root and first leaves.

I have also made a couple of boxes for the growing pots from savaged wood. One I have painted lavenda colour. It’s looking very nice. (Picture to be posted.)

I am just waiting for the temperature to come back up, as the last few days it has been near the low teen. For the seedling to grow up, the temperature needs to be in the high teen and low twenty.

I bought a couple of small basil prants in the Flower Market in Mongkok just before the CNY. They’ve grown more than a couple of centimeters already. I guess they don’t mind the cold weather.

The garlic buds I sewn into the herb bed are doing just fine, and I am looking forward to a whole load of garlic for my cooking in the summer.

I’ve planted a dozen sweet corn seeds this week. Let’s see when will it sprout.

Tomorrow, I need to clean all the troughs for the plants and put new nutrient again. I figured once a week I have to do that and it takes about an hour or so. Not to bad for about 50-60 plants. It’s about 2 month’s supply of salad!

SCENTED HEDGEROW OF SUSSEX IN A BOTTLE

After more than twenty years living in Hong Kong, Annabel is still home sick when Sussex is mentioned in conversations. So when we were invited to the Ridgeview Wine Estate wine tasting at Berry Bros last night Annabel was especially excited. One long draw on the nose with a glass of Bloomsbury, Ridgeview’s signature blend, she turned to me, “this is exactly my memory of the scent of hedgerow, strawberry and floral” in Sussex.

Ridgeview planted classic French Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines sixteen year ago at the foot of the South Downs in Sussex and today it is named as one of the best sparkling winemaker of England.

Simon Roberts, son of Ridgeview founder Mike Roberts, was speaking to guests in the tasting party. I asked Simon, “Why did you describe the bubbles in the wine as ‘mousse’?”

“Because when you pour the wine, you can see the bubbles floating up the glass like a mousse on top of the wine,” Simon said. The mousse “is the result of 3-4 months second fermentation under controlled 12 degree temperature.”

The Mousse, aka 'Bubbles'

I asked, “Why did the mousse goes down so quickly?”

Simon said, “It’s because when we drink the wine our saliva touches the wine which dissipates the bubbles.”

Well, that would be a very good reason to drink the wine quickly. And, don’t swirl the glass too much either.

Berry Bros had provided for tasting the following sample of Ridgeview wines, which are selling in their Lee Garden shop:

1.    2008 Cavendish ($230)
2.    2008 Bloomsbury ($240)
3.    2007 Grosvenor ($265)

Ridgeview Wines

There was one bottle of Fritzovia Rose, which is not yet available for sale in their shop, to share among the guests. I had the chance to taste a petite measure of it. The nose is filled with raspberry and redcurrant, as is described by the winemaker, while the palate has presence of strawberry and feels of creaminess. “For me this is all strawberry and cream,” said Geordie Willis, Business Development Manager of Berry Bros & Rudd, Hong Kong.

Simon recommends a way to drinking their wine, “Serve the wine in wine glasses,” instead of champagne flutes. “Stand still, fill the glass quickly then drink and analyse the wine.”

Simon Roberts Winemaker

I followed Simon’s recommendation and is delighted to enjoy the tinkling sensation of the mousse and the creamy finish of the palate. The scent of the fruit comes through while I was drinking it.

The three wines featured in the tasting were impressive. The pale golden colour mimic the soft golden sunshine of Sussex. I can now say I have experience the scent of hedgerow of Sussex from the bottles of Ridgeview wine.

Annabel reminisced, “This is the smell of English countryside. When I am back in England, this is the only wine I would drink.” My guess is, when she is feeling home sick this is the wine to drink too.

When the Fritzrovia is available, I am heading down to Lee Garden to revisit the strawberry and cream of Ridgeview.

Try the wines and tell me what you think.

Latest update: 2011-11-01

Ridgeview sparkling wine lovers would be glad to Ridgeview will be making a Waitrose brand for the supermarket chain.

Steve James Viticulturist Talks About Wine in Watson’s Cellar

Steve James Viticulturist

True to form, Steve talks about wine drinking in the most down to earth manner. He uses the ‘bottle test’ to measure a good wine. He said, “If you open a bottle of wine and you can finish it in one meal between two persons,” it has to be pretty good.

I was invited to attend the wine tasting for Voyager Estate’s in Watson’s last night. Viticulturist of the estate Steve James talks to Annabel Jackson, wine consultant and food writer, about his philosophy of wine tasting.

Voyager Estate Wines

Steve explained that although Western Australia only produce 4% of the wine in the country, it is accounting for 23% of its premium wine.

Annabel asked what is the attribute of premium wine in Australia, “Is it quality or price?” Steve said, to a large extend “it’s the price that determines” whether to category the wine as premium. So WA really produce more expensive wines per hector than other states in the federation.

Before moving to Voyager Estate 13 years ago, he had stints at the Stonier’s Winery and Amberley Estate, which he compared quite differently. He said, “Obviously the soil type and climate affects how the grapes grow.” He is very keen on preserving and improving the soils by employing organic and biodynamic philosophies.

Steve said, fruity style wine “is more commercially” focused and he thinks now the wine they are making in Voyager is “less about fruitiness and more about complexity.”

Voyager’s wine making philosophy is “to make great wine with common vine management principles,” said Steve, which he attributed the success to the teamwork in the estate.

We tried 5 wines from Voyager, and they are priced in Watson’s especially for this wine tasting promotion:
1.    Chenin Blanc 2010 ($115)
2.    Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 ($125)
3.    Chardonnay 2008 ($204)

Voyager Cab Sauv Merlot 2005

4.    Shiraz 2009 ($165)
5.    Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005 ($285)

The last wine of the evening was the Cab Sauv Merlot 2005, which had a RP rating of 93. My first sniff of the wine was like a powerful punch to my nose. Full of aromatic complexity, dusty, chocolaty and generously fruity.

I asked Steve about the description ‘fleshy’ in their recommendations for their Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005. “Does that mean, it’s like a piece of juicy steak type of ‘fleshy’?” I asked. He said, he would relate more with the ‘blood plum’ and when you eat “the ripe plum the flesh is so soft and juicy that it runs on you face” type of ‘fleshy’.

The plum analogy did not work with me, I can’t relate to a red with the acidity of blood plum even when it’s fully ripe with all the sweetness. Instead, I said “It feels like sucking the flesh of a ripe fig, after you open up the skin and the soft pink flesh exposed for your ingesting pleasure.”

Try the wine and let me know which feels closer to your own experience.

Although Steve said the wine is ready for drinking after it’s opened, we found that even after breathing for about an hour prior to the tasting the wine was still quite tight. Annabel and I thought another hour might open up the compacted fruity flavor even more.

The white wine we tried exhibit excellent nose and rather straight palate and should be drunk quickly after opened, as the wine did not last. The Shiraz and Cab Sauv may be enhanced with longer airing.

Dinner at Dan Ryan

Tonight we had dinner at Dan Ryan in the Festival Walk.

The restaurant is having a wine promotion:

For white wine there are (1) Maple Ridge, Chardonnay 2007 at $65 per glass, and $180 per bottle, and (2) Ceviche, Sauvignon Blanc 2009 at $58 per glass, and $160 per bottle.

For red wine they serve (1) Chateau Fortaubert, Bordeaux 2007 for $60 per glass, and $180 per bottle, and (2) J.C. Conde, Bodega 2009 for $58 per glass, and $160 per bottle.

They look incredibly good value.

We, three adults, had an order of chicken strips, and a combo order of half a roast chicken and baby ribs, by recommendation of the waiter, with a bottle of Bordeaux. Together the bill comes to $540.

The service has been excellent, as always, friendly and prompt.

As usual we come away satisfied and full.

Well, ok, the food is nothing like delicate tasted stir fry beans I had last night (I made it !!!), but the conversation was good and no one has to wash the dishes.

What is this post?

New addition to this blog is to keep a journal on how to build an edible garden in Hong Kong and Macau. Be it a window box, a balcony, a kitchen counter or a backyard lot, oh, and hydroponics too.

To write about the red wine, or the white wine for that effect, culture in China.

Where to go, what to buy and how to enjoy.

To meet new faces, old vintage and enjoy the conversation.