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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est arrivé!

The Third Thursday in November is Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Beaujolais is a region in France, and Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine made from the Gamay varietal. The wine itself is young and fruity, and meant to drink right away. Traditionally, this is the wine the french drink to celebrate the end of the harvest season. It is also known as a vin de l'année, or beaujolais premier. In 1937, France passed a law that the wine could be released on December 15th. This was slowly relaxed to the Third Thursday in November, in 1985.
Wine maker Georges Dubeouf, saw this event as a marketing opportunity. This also led to challenging other wine makers to race to Paris with their new harvest each year. This tradition spread to neighboring regions, european countries, and eventually North America. Beaujolais Nouveau Day is now an international event, leading people of all languages to chant " Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!"
Owners of SiP taking a moment to taste the 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau

In the US, Le Beaujolais Nouveau Day has been a way to kick off the holiday season. Since the wine compliments well with a traditional Turkey Dinner, it is usually the wine of choice for Thanksgiving, and served through New Years Day.
Starting midnight on Beaujolais Nouveau day, over 65 million bottles (half of the region's total annual production) is distributed. It has become a worldwide race to be the first to serve it. Beaujolais Nouveau is carried through the streets of Paris, and around the world by motorcycle, balloon, truck, helicopter, (until recently) Concorde jet, elephant, runners and rickshaws to get it to its final destination. Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the thin-skinned gamay grape. Whole grapes are tossed into a tank and each grape ferments in its own skin. Because the grapes aren't crushed, tannins are minimized and fruit flavors maximized, the upshot being a light-bodied, fresh and fruity wine with flavors.
According to the French public agricultural service, production is expected to be down about 10 percent from 2012, which in turn was down slightly from 2011 numbers. The low harvest numbers stem from cool temperatures, heavy rains and severe hailstorms during the growing year. While hail damage certainly impacts the overall yield, it doesn't necessarily mean that what is harvested is of low quality. Prices on Beaujolais nouveau may be higher this year

I can tell you the aromas of the 2013 vintage burst out of the bottle, with abundant strawberry, tropical fruit and raspberry. On the palate, the wine is delicate and full of flavor fruit with nice complexity.

I can now officially tell you that at SiP "Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!" The 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived! Stop into SiP Wine and Coffee Bistro, to try it for yourself!

For a list of international Beaujolais Nouveau Day Events, check out

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Quest for Riesling & Gewurztraminer

It only seems fitting that my first wine post, start where it all began for me in my wine tasting adventure. If you have read my post, A Tasting Adventure: from Wine to Coffee, you are already aware, that my experience with wine, began when I was 19, while studying in Engelberg, Switzerland. Most wine drinkers began tasting wines in predominantly red regions, like Italy or California; so they tend to prefer dry, red wines. I am the opposite. Since I received my Oenology (wine science) certification in a german Canton of Switzerland, my first tasting experience was in the region in which german style white wines were grown.

The first wine I tasted wine, was a German Riesling. By taste, I don't mean drink. I mean TASTE. In my post Train Your Palate: To taste coffee, wine, and the finer things in life. I explain what tasting really means, and how you can train your palate to taste. German Rieslings were the first wines, that I was able to dissect the individual flavors and characteristics. As I mentioned in my post, that first German Riesling brought back childhood memories.

For this reason, German Rieslings are special to me. As my palate evolved, I could no longer claim Riesling as my favorite varietal. Halfway into my wine course, I tasted Gewurztraminers from the Alsace region of France. I was blown away. When I am out, and sipping wine, I usually stick with my standard Riesling, but when I'm celebrating a special occasion, its with an Alsatian Gewurztraminer.

When we opened SiP, I couldn't wait to start writing our wine list. Of course the Riesling and Gewurztraminer would be the best I could find. Before we opened, we were bombarded by wine reps from every possible distributer. I affectionately named them my "Wine Stalkers." I thought with all of these reps bombarding me for business and putting various wines in front of me, finding the best Riesling and Gewurztraminer, would not be a problem. No such luck.

The Riesling we put on our list, was the first one we tasted. It was ok, but too syrupy sweet. It was from the Columbia Valley Region of Washington. I had excellent Rieslings from this region, Pacific Rim, and Chateau Ste. Michelle, to name a few. I asked about them, but this was the best they could do. It had a cool label, with a catchy name, so we settled for it, hoping to find something better, soon.

Shortly after, another distributer showed me their portfolio. I noticed Chateau Ste. Michelle was listed. I ordered a case, just for myself (Selfish, I know.) Since I settled for a Riesling, and Chateau Ste. Michelle Rieslings are on almost any chain restaurant list, I opted for the Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer for our list. Our rep turned up her nose, explaining that Chateau Ste. Michelle is sold in the grocery store. I explained that, I am not willing to sacrifice quality. I'm not going to put a lesser quality label on my list, just because it can't be found anywhere else. I explained the flavor profile I'm looking for, while pointing out that Chateau Ste. Michelle manages to make the best German style Riesling, and Gewurztraminer I have tasted outside of Europe. Furthermore, it stands up with most of the Rieslings I've tasted in Germany.

In addition to finding me the pillars for our wine list, I challenged my wine stalkers to find me a classic German Riesling and Alsatian Gewurztraminer.

Why Alsace? I may be partial to the Alsace region, knowing that my family is from there. Even so, Alsace is a 70 mile long, 2 mile wide region in France, on the border of Germany. This border, however has changed, frequently causing the region to be passed between Germany and France, for hundreds of years. These changes had a great deal of influence in the wine making traditions in Alsace. Alsace is the only region in France using varietal labeled wines. These varietals are also similar to the varietals grown in Germany. Most of the vineyards in this region run north and south at the lower slopes of the Vosges Mountains to the west, with the Rhine River to the East. The altitude and terrier provide an ideal balance between drainage, sunlight, and temperature.

Last week, I was brought a 2010 Trimbach Gewurztraminer. I was more than pleased. Trimbach is well known, as the best wine producer in Alsace. For nearly 400 years, the Trimbach family has been making wine. Since 1626, Trimbach has set the standard of what traditional Alsatian varietals should be. So much so, that the term "Trimbach Style" has become synonymous with traditional Alsatian. This tradition and quality is still carried out today by the 12th and 13th Generation Trimbach family. Hubert, his daughter Anne, and Nephews John and Peter are keeping their family legacy going.

I immediately recognized the simple yellow label. It was one of the Alsatian Gewurztraminers I fell in love with in Switzerland. I attempted to contain myself as the wine rep allowed me the honor of opening the bottle. I sat there, swirling and smelling. The aroma was so intense, and complex; I could sit there for hours, just swirling and smelling. I was naming off 5 different aromas, each time I swirled and smelled. Grapefruit, apple, guava, pear, white cherry at first. Then floral aromas, of daffodil, jasmine, and honeysuckle. Spices of cardamon, anise, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. I didn't want to take up any more of her time, so I tasted. All I could do was nod. "That's is! That's what I've been waiting for." Then I looked at the price. I would have to sell it for $16 a glass, but it was worth it. I was looking to replace the Chateau Ste. Michelle, but I ended up adding a higher end Gewurztraminer to the list. We also tastes 3 German Rieslings, but none of them had the intensity I was looking for.

The following week, she showed up with more German Rieslings. Without studying the label other than seeing one was from Pfalz and the other from Mosel, I tasted the one from Pflaz first. I nodded again, "Yep that's it! That's what I've been asking for." I said. I looked at the label again. "Wait a minute! I thought this was from Germany!" The back of the label said Chateau Ste. Michelle. The front said Saint M. I looked at the back again it said Saint Michel, and the importer was Chateau Ste. Michelle.

"Ok, I have to google this one." I said. Turns out famed German wine maker Dr. Loosen has been collaborating with Chateau Ste. Michelle for several years. Most notable is their Eroica Riesling. No wonder why I like Chateau Ste. Michelle so much! I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Loosen, while touring Staatlicher Hofkeller in Würzburg. I could write an entire post of how amazing that tour was. I remember arriving at the winery at 10am. It was Fourth of July, and Dr. Loosen knew a majority of the students were from the US. We were greeted in the lobby with several flutes of sparkling wine and a welcoming toast to our independence. Now that Chateau Ste. Michelle is importing, it only seems fitting to import Dr. Loosen's Pfalz grown Riesling into the US. They even named it Saint M or Saint Michel.

Below are my tasting notes, but stop in to SiP and taste for yourself.

Saint M, Riesling
2011 Rhine River Vally, Pfalz Germany - A traditional German style Reisling, made by famed wine maker Dr. Loosen. Fresh fruits and flowers on the nose, with brisk and tangy acidity you'd hardly notice the slightly sweet residual sugar. The flavors stone fruits and Granny Smith apples.

Chateau Ste Michelle, Gewurztraminer
2011, Columbia Valley, Washington
Sweet yet crisp, with a hint of spice. Huge aromas of grapefruit, pear and clove, followed by flavors of cherry, cardamom and guava.

Trimbach, Gewurztraminer
2010 Alsace, France AOC
Very intense, complex aromas of grapefruit, mango, daffodil and spice. Quite smooth with soft body, yet crisp flavors of ripe citrus, peach and tropical fruits. Finishes clean and long, with balance. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SiP Soft Opening

So our soft opening has come and gone, and we couldn't be happier. The support we have received from the residents of Holly Springs has been overwhelming. Since my previous post, we have managed to open our doors, and serve coffee and espresso drinks. Holly Springs has embraced the Spicy Mayan Mocha and the Sexy Modias

Two weeks later, we jumped through all of the hoops thrown at us, to get our ABC permit. With the help of some regular customers, we came up with an over the top Craft Cocktail List, that rivals the SiP Originals. With-in a day, we were serving beer, wine and spirits. We managed to stock our wine chiller and sold out within 4 hours! 

After a speed bump from the county, we are now serving food. This includes breakfast sandwiches, toasted Boar's head sandwiches, and tapas/small plates. We have taken the feedback provided by you, our customers and are tweaking our current offerings. We have hired a new Kitchen Manager, who is completely revamping our menu, based on the comments we have received so far. We have also decided the kitchen is still not functioning to our expectations. We plan to make some minor changes in the coming weeks.

We have also decided that our previous Point of Sale system, that had served us so well in the past, is not functional for our current concept. We have decided to upgrade, to an ipad system, which will allow our servers to input orders at the table, with an ipad mini!

Forecasting the traffic pattern and assuring proper staffing levels, and inventory has been a challenge. We have finally gotten an idea of our demand levels, and have been able to get on a delivery rotation with our suppliers. 

We have hosted several events, that have proven to be successful. Thank you to the ladies from Stella & Dot, for hosting their trunk show at SiP. We are also becoming a destination for folks looking for live music on Friday nights.

Each day, we are making improvements and over time, SiP will evolve into a superior operation that serves the community. We plan to have our Grand Opening Celebration in the fall, just in time to release our seasonal menu items. Keep watch for your e-vite. Thank you everyone for all of your support. We could not have accomplished all of this on our own. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What is Sip?

Our sign went up yesterday! I must confess, we are having a bit of an identity crisis. Of course, we know who we are, but how do we communicate what we are to other people?
We will continue to serve the same high quality coffee and espresso drinks, you are used to at Cafe Roche. In addition, we are hoping to bake breads and pastries on site and serve more substantial breakfast items like egg sandwiches, waffles, and tiramisu french toast. For lunch, we will serve toasted Boar's Head sandwiches, wraps, soups, and fresh seasonal salads. We will have a Siesta from 3-5 pm, then re-open for dinner. We will serve cheese samplers, flat breads, and simple small plates. Justin plans to feature his famous espresso rub ribeye.  Now that we will have evening hours, we will expand on our dessert selection. We will still offer Homeland Creamery ice cream and milkshakes, as well as cakes and my award winning tiramisu.

We will serve Old World and New World wines, as well as feature a local vineyard each month. We hope to balance our beer selection between bottled and draft beers. We will offer beer and wine flights, as well. We will have a high emphasis on fine wines and micro-brews, but will not exlude the people are happy to stick with a bud lite.

We will still continue to offer free WiFi and encourage people to meet in a fun, eclectic, unpretentious setting. Our take one/leave one library will still continue, as well as the comfortable couches around the fire place. This time, the fireplace is real ;)

Our dilemma, is what do we call ourselves? We need an action word, to communicate what we are to the general public.  Our sign shows that we will be serving coffee and wine, but we will also be serving food, beer, desserts...What are we? A coffee shop,  cafe, wine bar, Bistro, Brasserie? Help! We need your ideas. Please comment below. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sip Caffe & Wine, formerly Cafe Roche

After careful consideration, Justin and I have decided move Cafe Roche to Holly Springs, NC. It was never our intention to jump ship, even though Justin accepted a job over 100 miles away from Winston-Salem. After almost 2 years of commuting, we decided to do what was best for our family. I accepted a job in Raleigh, and we moved half way between Raleigh and Fort Bragg. Even so, Cafe Roche was doing so well, there was no reason to close. We even planned to expand, by offering beer and wine. We strategically planned to restructure our concept, to encourage an evening crowd. 

Ongoing tension with our land lord, limitations keeping us from expanding, and sheer logistical issues; have pushed us to relocate Cafe Roche closer to where we live. 

Our decision had nothing to do with a lack of community support. To the contrary, the support we have had from all of you, is what kept us going for as long as we did. Thank you to our amazingly loyal, regular customers, who have made Cafe Roche so special. We will certainly miss you, and hope you will check out our new location if you are ever in the area. 

In addition to serving the great coffee and espresso drinks you are used to, Sip will offer high quality wines, micro brews, desserts, and simple small plates. Follow us to hear more about our grand opening bash. 

Sip Facebook Page

Sip Twitter

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chemex Pour Over

     As I have said before in my choose to brew post, there are many different ways to brew coffee. For this particular choice, I confess I am late to jump on the band wagon for. Also known as "hand pour coffee," Pour Over coffee has hit the coffee scene in recent years. I saw this brewing method, for the first time, four years ago. It was at the World Specialty Coffee Association Expo in Atlanta, GA.
     At that time, the 6 cup brewing system that was on display, costed far to much money than we were willing to invest. Also, it was too time consuming for our in & out cliental. Over the years, our customers' taste has developed. They still come in for their quick morning jolt. Recently they have been coming back during their down-time. They are now willing to take the time, to relax and savor their coffee. They started requesting different brewing methods, and were willing to wait a few minutes for something special. 
      On a recent visit to Fortuna's showroom, I saw the Chemex Pour Over system on display. What intrigued me the most, was the functional design. It has a beautiful hour glass shaped decanter, made of heat resistant glass. The high polished wood at the center, serves as an insulated handle. A leather tie adds definition as it wraps the handle, and dangles along the side of the wood. Most other pour over systems, need a separate server. The unique design of the Chemex, allows for dual function. 
      The design, is so pleasing, I don't mind if my Barista's leave it out on the counter. Once a customer sees it, they ask about it. It gives us an opportunity to educate the customer, about other brewing methods. The customers of course, are so curious, they eventually try a mug for themselves.  
     Some important things to remember when using a pour over system, is to be sure the water stays at the proper temperature, between 195 and 205 degrees fahrenheit. Also when any system uses paper filters, the taste is altered. This is why it is so hard to pull me away from my French Press. 
     Place a chemex filter in the top of the carafe. Pre-wet the filter, with no more than 2 ounces of hot water. I find this allows the filter to cling to the side, and it doesn't shift once the grinds are added. Pour the excess water out of the carafe. Freshly grind your coffee for a medium grind. I say medium, but adjust to your preference. If the water flows too quickly, the grind is to course and will result in a sour taste. If the water flows too slowly, or not at all, the grind is too fine. Thus resulting in a bitter taste. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America standards, a proper coffee to water ratio should be used. If you are brewing the full 6 cups, use 30-36 ounces of water, and 7.25 grams of ground coffee, or 1 rounded tablespoon per 6 ounce cup. 
     Pour a small amount of hot water, no more than 2 ounces over the grinds. Again, be sure the water is 195-205 F.  If the coffee is fresh, it will swell. We coffee snobs call this a "bloom." Allow the bloom to grow. Once the grinds have had some time to bloom, slowly and evenly pour the rest of the water over the grinds. Some pour in a circular motion, to allow the coffee to be as compact as possible. 
    Once brewed, lift the filter out and discard. Used coffee grounds are a great fertilizer, so you may choose to add it to your compost. Replace the filter with the glass lid, to help maintain the temperature. 

    Our first coffee to hit the Chemex at Cafe Roche, was our popular single origin, Tanzania Peaberry. We noticed more berry notes from the chemex, than our other brewing methods. The body was lighter, with a tea-like quality. Once the coffee began to cool, the flavors began to evolve, and the body was heavier. We noted blueberry, lemon, and cocoa, with a hint of spice. After our tasting, the shop got busy, and the rest of the coffee was left to cool. We noticed that even luke warm, the coffee still tasted great! 

     When you have some time to kill, or the urge to try something new, stop into Cafe Roche; and try any of our single origin coffees in the Chemex. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Book Signing: October 23 10am-Noon

For those of you new to this blog, I wrote in my post Dream the Impossible Dreams that I was asked to write the Nine Bars Column for Fresh Cup Magazine. This meant the world to me, because of how far I had come. With undiagnosed dyslexia, I went from being unable to read or even put a sentence together; to being a published writer in an international trade publication. After writing that post, I was asked by the editors of Chicken Soup for the Soul to include it in their Power of Positive Edition. The book will be released October 23, 2012. I will be in Winston-Salem and signing books at Cafe Roche, the coffee shop that made all of my dreams possible. If you're in the area, stop by for a coffee, chat, and view the book. All proceeds that I personally receive for the book, will be donated to charities that help struggling children get tested for a diagnoses, research to determine the cause and treatment of dyslexia, and programs that help children compensate for their differences so they can thrive in our society and achieve their dreams. Join me at Cafe Roche October 23, 2012 from 10am - Noon.