Wine tasting and grape picking chez Steve

grapesDuring my graduate training in Lausanne, I got the opportunity to learn about wine. It is a unique experience that I assimilated by doing. I must confess that most of the PhD candidates miss such a chance either because of not knowing about this opportunity or simply because of another order of priorities.

dazzlingLong story short, I did my first vendange in 2010, on Steve’s little domain from Sensine– a gem-like terroir, that soaks up with an endless thirst, the gentle and warm rays that the Sun casts over the northern terraces of the Valais. The domain is pretty small, yet the terrain presents a wide palette of geological variety. The view is dazzling! Isn’t it? ;-)

The driving philosophy that stands behind the Phusis brand is biodynamic viticulture.  This makes the wine taste better and, satisfies the high standards of fine wine-lovers and bio product consumers.

workMy main point here is however, by doing I meant grape picking and what makes it special: a hike could be a very rewarding form of physical exercise and mental break from all-day-long decision-making process. Instead it reconnects the individual with earth, wind, plants and living creatures, nature in one word.

For the curious minds, some wine theory from the good old wiki leakyHere is my collection of know how, cheese/food/glass pairing for wine, and some useful vocab for wine tasting.

Brussels sprouts and minced soy-hash with Asian influences

As Stephen Covey says, begin with the end in mind. Brussels sprouts and minced soy-hash with Asian influencesHere it is! and then lets get it started …

Serves 3. Ingredients:

    Brussels sprouts:

  • 1/2 kg sprouts washed and cut into quarters
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp pecan nuts chopped
  • 4+ garlic cloves chopped
  • 2+ cm ginger grated or finely chopped
  • soysauce
  • 1/2 lemon zest and juice
  • olive oil


  • steam the sprouts by taste ( ‘5), but only until they are still vivid green
  • preheat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic and the ginger until fragrant and the garlic is not yet golden brown;
  • add into the skillet the steamed sprouts, the pecan, the raisins and season with the soy sauce
  • cook by stirring occasionally until desired degree of grillness for the sprouts is attained and shortly before that squeeze the lemon over it, stirring it in before removing it from the burner
  • set aside the sprouts in a dish or other container

The soy-hash:

  • 2 carrots peeled, 1 celeriac root, or any (root) veggies of preference at hand, cut into steamer friendly lengths
  • soy based mince 110 g
  • a dash of coconut grated
  • 5+ garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • some soy sauce
  • olive oil or another lower calorie oil
  • 1 fig


  • steam the veggies and when finished, cut them up into small cubes
  • reuse the skillet to preheat some olive oil and to sauté the garlic
  • once the garlic is done, add the veggies and fry them until desired state is reached
  • add the minced soy-based product, the soy sauce, the lemon juice and zest, and a dash of coconut rape
  • stir occasionally until the soy product is done, then remove from the skillet

Cut a fig in 2 and meat side down, caramelize it in the skillet in a bit of sesame oil, just for ‘3. Serve with the fig on top and sprinkle it over with a fancy fruit based zesty vinegar ( e.g. framboise or mango).

It pairs lovely with a well chilled Gewurztraminer!

Bon app’

Calories per serving:  350 Kcals, Proteins 12.5g, Fat 19.0g, Carbohydrates 41.3g, Dietary Fiber 10.0g, Sugars 18.4g. Lessons learned: replace the olive oil as it accounts for 120kcals per serving!

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

Bad points: High in sugar

Summer Ratatouille

summer ratatouilleThis is the result of throwing together all kind of veggies that i had at home and wanted to eat at the same time and this makes it good also with only few of the ingredients.



Ingredients | makes a full pot of 4l ~ 8-10 servings

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium/large eggplant, cubed and salted, put aside for like ’10
  • 1 zucchini, cubed (and salted, put aside for like ’10 *)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red/green/yellow pepper
  • 2 chili (fresh or dried)
  • a handful of mushrooms, washed, peeled and cut ( I used dried ones, which I soaked beforehand in lukewarm water for like ’10, until they softened up)
  • olives (with bones) at the discretion of the chef
  • 1/2 10cm head red cabbage sliced up as for a coleslaw
  •  1 cup tomato(sauce) peeled, coarsely chopped
  • coconut oil for braising the onion
  • garam masala, turmeric, cumin up to 1 tbsp each, salt by taste
  • 2 celery stalks with the leaves chopped
  • a handful of cauliflower florets, and or (romanesco) broccoli
  • cinnamon*
  • a few cloves of garlic — which I did not have at home this time


  1. braise the onions in the coconut oil; once the onion becomes less opaque, add the carrot rings and continue braising by them as well. Carrots will take a little longer to soften, so give it at least ’10.
  2. once carrots look promising, add the chopped peppers, chili, garam masala, turmeric and olives. I happened to have my cruciferous veggies steamed from beforehand (broccoli and cauliflower), but it would be the moment to add them
  3. add some water accordingly to avoid frying ingredients. cover and let them braise for another ’10.
  4. add the tomato sauce, eggplant, cabbage, celery stalks, salt and cumin
  5. once almost all look ready, add the zucchini and after like ‘5 it should be ready

I’d keep on checking for the right saltiness and adding water as needed (or veggie broth instead of the two). Also I have omitted the cinnamon in this round, however I think it might make it interesting. In any case, I haven’t tried it yet in this combination.

This ratatouille goes well on a bed of lentils, chickpeas, rice, amaranth. Enjoy!