Sunday, November 28, 2010

Teperberg Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and Chardonnay Reserve

Teperberg vinyard, Ella valley
Teperberg winery is situated just outside Beit Shemesh with vineyards primarily in the Ella valley. The company was founded in 1870 in Meah Shaarim by the family Teperberg under the name "Efrat Wines". For over 100 years it has produced sweet Kiddush wine for the religious market with the highest kosher certification.

But in the early 1990s they decided to experiment with more refined wines. Because of its reputation for cheap Kiddush wines, the family business decided to change its company name to Teperberg 1870 and to market itself as a small boutique vinery despite being actually one of Israel's largest wineries!

Their cheap and cheerful Efrat range is still sold under the Efrat label in Israeli supermarkets. I have already mentioned that their White Zinfandel (around NIS 30) is actually quite good. Served straight from the fridge, it has a beautiful blush colour, floral perfume aroma and deliciously light sweet refreshing taste. Their Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are what you would expect from NIS 30 wine. I'll say no more about them.

"Yayin Ismach"Wine shop on 3 Yaakov Meir Street

Last week I was taking a walk through Geula when I came across this tiny Wine shop called "Yayin Ismach" on 3 Yaakov Meir Street, one of the small turnings off of Malke Yisrael. It's actually half a shop, sharing the other half with a tie shop.

The owner is a young man named Avi who I witnessed was very patient with every customer who walked in. I was impressed that he voiced his opinion on wines that he had tried and even recommended wines that were cheaper than the wine the customer had in mind. For instance, an American was asking him about a NIS 200 bottle of wine from 2004 vintage. Avi told him that the 2005 vintage tasted nicer although this was NIS 60 cheaper! I could see that Avi's main intention was to build up a clientele who would be coming back on a regular basis to hear his latest recommendations.

I explained to Avi that I was very familiar with the Golan winery and wanted to try some other high quality wine from Eretz Yisrael. He directed me to the Teperberg shelf and showed me a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. I told him that I wanted to say Kiddush over the wine and had not had a good experience with saying Kiddush over Cabernet Sauvignon in the past due to the rough taste of the tannin on an empty stomach. Avi replied that it was true that Cabernet Sauvignon should ideally be drunk with food but this particular wine was exceptionally smooth and would be fine for Kiddush. I decided to buy the Teperberg Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2006 (NIS 110). Next I asked Avi if he could recommend a white wine for Shabbos morning. He directed me to the Teperberg Chardonnay Reserve 2009 (NIS 60). From experience I have found that it is best to buy a Chardonnay that is slightly matured. Being a 2009 I was a bit hesitant but again Avi told me that it tasted mature well beyond its age.
Teperberg Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
Tasting the Wine

Before leaving for shul, we took the Cabernet Sauvignon out of the fridge to warm up for a couple of hours before opening. Returning from shul we opened the wine and let it breathe during Shalom Aleichem, Eishes Chayil and the kid's brachos. The label stated that the wine had been matured in French Oak barrels for 15 months.

Indeed, pouring the wine out into glasses brought an immediate and unmistakable sweet whiff of a musky damp wine cask from a winery storehouse. Having recently been to quite a few whisky storehouses as well as the Golan Winery winery, the aroma was very recognisable and familiar to us. The colour was a beautiful deep red berry red with a good body to it.

An Old Winery Warehouse
The musky smell was so overpowering that I was slightly worried that the wine would taste of musky storehouse cask wood, brick and cobwebs in a liquid form. I nonetheless commenced Kiddush with confidence.

Initial tasting was very surprising. A deep smooth fresh taste combined with its strong aroma seemed to transport us to the winery from whence this wine came. It was like we were sitting in the warehouse, surrounded by wine barrels, drinking this wine. It tasted of freshly squashed berries served in a damp wooden bowl. A slight dry hazelnut taste on the palette and a long heavy fruity berry aftertaste.

A very enjoyable wine yet I think the pungent musky smell of the barrel was ever so slightly over done . I wonder if a younger vintage would fair better? I'll have to go back to the shop and buy a 2007 and let you know. Definitely one  to buy again.

Teperberg Chardonnay Reserve
  Shabbos day, coming back from shul on a hot day, we always look forward to a white refreshing wine to quench our thirst after not drinking the whole morning. Out of all the white wines, Chardonnay is our favourite choice so we were really looking forward to this young Teperberg Reserve 2009.

Like all white and blush wines, we took the Teperberg straight out of the fridge just before we said Kiddush. Looking at the label it states that the Chardonnay had been matured in French oak barrels for 10 months. Opening the bottle our noses were immediately hit with the same powerful aroma of musky damp sherry barrels being stored in a winery warehouse mixed with spirit alcohol. This was certainly not what we expected from what we assumed was a young wine. My kids remarked that it smelled remarkably similar to a Glen Moray (Speyside) Single malt whisky.

Our next surprise came as I began pouring the wine. A Chardonnay should be a light yellow colour. Indeed the label states that it has a golden yellow colour. What we observed was a green colour similar to a Sauvignon Blanc.

After Kiddush I took my first sip of the wine. The barrel aroma and the heaviness of the wine were quite overpowering. To say that this wine had body was an understatement. I'd say it was well overweight. My family were likewise unimpressed. Whereas we would usually take more wine, this time nobody took seconds.

The wine sat on the table for half an hour or more. I decided to give the Teperberg another try. Now that it had had a chance to warm up to room temperature its flavour came bursting through. It now had a heavy sherry like taste with layers of complexity ranging from cider apples to hazelnuts and a hint of Speyside style whisky (that has a light and sherry like spirit - light for a whisky that is).

Here was a white wine behaving more like a heavy red! At room temperature it was a lot more interesting. However if we had wanted a heavy red wine then we would have bought one. As far as I'm concerned, a white wine ought to be light to medium body with a refreshing fruity taste. A Chardonnay ought to have more body but still retain that fresh fruity taste. The Teperberg reminded us so much of Glen Moray Single malt that we moved on to the actual whisky and forgot the wine.

If you like heavy white wine then I'd suggest you try this but remember to take it out of the fridge an hour or so before you drink it. I'd even suggest you open it and let it breathe for 20 mins. Sounds like I'm talking about a dry red wine? That's exactly my point.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to configure the Edimax EW-7206 as a Wireless to Wireless (Universal Repeater) Access Point

It’s a common problem. You have a Wireless Modem router situated by a phone socket in your home but the wireless signal strength is poor or non existent on the other side of the house or apartment.

You have a number of options to improve the situation.

1. You could reposition the Wireless Modem Router to the middle of the home. This might involve hiring an Electrician to add an extra phone socket (and electric outlet) at the most optimal place in your home. This may also involve ugly cables running along the walls which for some is totally unacceptable. Even after this, the wireless service may still not reach to the outskirts of the home.

2. You could buy a more powerful Wireless Modem Router to replace the standard Bezeq one such as the Edimax AR-7265 (NIS 500). This or even in combination with option 1 could be all that you need to get good reception.

Edimax AR-7265 Wireless Modem Router

However, even after spending all this money you may still not have signal strength at the extremities of your home. On the Edimax models you have the option to extend the antennas using coax extension cable to keep the Modem Router where it is but reposition the antennas to a more central place. Again, this involves ugly cables running along the walls

3. You could buy a Wireless Access Point such as the Edimax EW-7206 (NIS 160).

Edimax EW-7206 Wireless Access Point
This extends the wireless Internet reception of your Wireless Modem Router wherever you need it. By placing this Access Point at the edge of the wireless reception area of your Wireless Modem Router where you still get a good signal, the Access Point will then transmit its own wireless service, extending the coverage to cover the whole home. All you need is an Electric outlet at the point where the Access Point is to be positioned.

Wireless Modem Router overlaps Wireless Access Point coverage

The Edimax EW-7206 does an excellent job once it's all set up and at a much cheaper price than the previous solutions.

However, be warned, the device comes with no instructions in the box for setting it up for "Wireless to Wireless" configuration.

The only instructions that are included in the box is a Quick Start Guide for connecting the Access Point to the original router via a network cable. In fact, no indication is given in the guide that the device is even capable of being a wireless to wireless Access Point.

The first thing to know is that the correct technical name for this configuration is "Universal Repeater Mode".

Downloading the more in depth Edimax EW-7206 manual from the Edimax site won't help you much either. There is only a very brief reference to a "Universal Repeater mode" option but no attempt is made to explain what this configuration option is or how to configure the device to use it!

I have already spoken to two people who have bought the Edimax EW-7206 in order to use it as a wireless to wireless Access Point.

Both have returned the device to the shop as they were unable to work out how to configure it correctly.

This is a terrible shame as once configured correctly, the device does a great job.

There actually is a PDF file giving instructions on how to configure this device on the Edimax site but you have to really search for it. You'll find it not under Edimax EW-7206 manuals downloads options but under the FAQ link. There you will find a link to set the device up as a "Universal Repeater". The problem is that if you don't know that a "Universal Repeater" is a wireless to wireless configuration then you'll miss the link.

To save you time, here is the direct link to the file:

These instructions are relatively straightforward except for two points which need further explanation.

Before I tell you what they are, I have a few pieces of advice before you begin following the Instructions. 
  • Make sure you have the User/Password for your Modem Router console to hand. The default values will be printed in the Quick Guide that came with the device or a quick Google for "{name of the Router} password" should return the values you are looking for. (See Google screenshot below). Sometimes, the Internet or cable companies change the defaults so you'll have to phone them up to get the correct values. If all else fails, you'll have to do a manual factory reset of the router (by pressing the tiny reset button found on the back of the device with a pen) and reconfiguring the Modem router from scratch. Upon reset, the device will revert to its default user/password and allow you access.
  • You'll need a spare Network cable just for the installation. After that its use is no longer required.
  • Another point to note is that it's important to give the Access Point an IP Address towards the maximum allowed range of IP Addresses as defined in your Modem Router so that there is little chance of another device trying to grab the same IP Address. (The only way to guarantee that this will never happen is to define the Access Point as a Static Address within the Modem Router. Instructions on how to do this are beyond the scope of the current topic).
  • It is mentioned in the Instructions but its worth repeating here. Make sure you copy the exact Security Encryption Type and Encryption code as the Wireless Modem Router to your new Wireless Access Point.

Default User/Password (marked in yellow)
The two points within the Instructions which need further explanaton are:

1. On Page 5, the instructions refer to an ESSID and a ROOT AP SSID with no attempt to explain what these are.

The ROOT AP SSID is your Wireless Network Name defined in your Modem Router. This is the name you see when you search for available Wireless Services. For example, "MordechaiNetwork".

The ESSID is the Wireless Network Name you wish to give to your new Wireless Access point Repeater device. I'd suggest something similar to your original Service such as "MordechaiRepeater".

2. On Page 6 (the last page in fact) there ought to be a far better explanation to check that your repeater Access Point is working properly.

The best way to do this is:

a. Use your computer (which should be connected by a Network cable to the Modem Router) or your laptop (which is connected to your original wireless Network service) to log into the Access Point using its newly configured IP address. If you succeed then you know that the Access Point has Wireless to Wireless connection to your Modem Router.

b. Take your laptop or a second laptop to a point near the new Access Point and search for available Wireless Services. Looking at the list of available Wireless Services, what you ought to see is the name of the new Access Point Wireless Service (eg called MordechaiRepeater) listed with maximum signal strength. (You may probably also see your original Wireless Service (eg. MordechaiNetwork) at an obviously poorer signal strength).

That's it! You now have two Wireless Services connected to the same Network.

Final Points

Apart from the appalling lack of instructions that come in the box, my only other criticism is that there is no indication of Wireless reception strength on the front display of the EW-7206. The Access Point Wireless strength could be showing maximum strength but there is no way of knowing what the Wireless strength of the Access Point to the Modem Router is and therefore the actual connection quality. This is an oversight in the design of the device which I hope will be addressed in later models.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Armistice Day shame

Dover Castle
Some years ago we were in the UK during the month of November. The weather was awful but we travelled down to Dover to show the kids one of Britain's most magnificent castles,

It was rainy and foggy which made for a very surreal atmosphere. When we arrived in the inner walls of the castle we noticed a group of old soldiers, men and women, in their 70s and 80s, standing to attention beside a young soldier and a large gun. I overheard someone talking about Armistice Day and looking at my watch, realised that we had arrived slightly before 11:00am on the 11th November. At this hour and on this day in 1918, the First World War came to an end. The date was established as Britain's Yom HaZicharon LeChayalim and two minutes of silence is observed at 11:00am every year.

My wife, our Israeli kids and I all stood in silence as the young soldier tried repeatedly to fire the canon without success. After trying five or six times, he eventually gave up to the clear disappointment of the old soldiers. The scene was I have to admit though, rather comic. We were quite some distance away from the old Soldiers and I do hope that they didn't notice our reaction to the events. In hindsight I should have explained to my kids exactly what was going on before hand but it all happened so quickly. Afterwards however, I did talk to them about the tremendous sacrifice of the British Armed Forces on behalf of freedom and liberty throughout the world. Had it not been for His Majesty's Armed Forces, they would not be alive today because their grandparents living in Britain would have surely been murdered by the Germans.
Churchill inspecting the troops at Dover Castle during WWII

I was not angry with them as they don't live in Britain and cannot be expected to feel part of this day of remembrance.

Child wearing his Grandfather's cap and medals looks up at a soldier of the Queen's Guard. 11/11/2010, 11:000am

However, British citizens living in Britain certainly ought to observe this day. That's why I was so shocked when I saw this video of Muslims screaming "British Soldiers burn in hell" in central London at the exact time of the two minutes silence.

UK Muslim's Burning Poppy's on Remembrance Day

What shocked me was not so much the behaviour of the Muslims but of London's Metropolitan Police.Why on earth did they not arrest the whole lot of them? Instead, London's PC PCs stood there and did nothing!

It is true that Arabs ignore our Yom Zicharon in Israel within their villages. However, the British should ask themselves why it is that the Muslims don't hold demonstrations like this in Zion Square in Jerusalem or Rabin Square in Tel Aviv? The answer is not that the Arabs here are any less extreme, anti-West and Anti-Semitic. It is because they know what would happen if they tried a stunt like this in Israel!

Taxi drivers in Israel get out of their cabs and stand in silence on Yom HaZicharon

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

LBC Radio, Clive Bull and Shlomo From Finchley

Mike From Stamford Hill
You know how you start looking for something on the Internet and get side tracked into looking for something else? Well, I was looking for some tourist guides to Central London on and came across an old 1980s documentary about the Londoners who phoned up Clive Bull's "Through the Night" show on LBC Talkback radio in the early hours of the Motzei Shabbos and Sunday morning.

The video featured an Orthodox Jewish Green grocer known as "Michael from Stamford Hill" who I remember used to send Clive a box of fruit every week, fresh from old Spitalfields Fruit market.

I used to listen to the Clive Bull show every Motzei Shabbos in the 1980s when driving to and from London with friends to see a film up the West End.

Back then, a good percentage of these callers were Jewish, many of them Frum Jews. Michael from Stamford Hill had an unmistakable Stamford Hill Jewish/Yiddish accent. He was clearly a religious Jew and proud of it. He would phone to chat with Clive about his Shabbos or his Jewish customers. Every Motzei Shabbos he'd send Clive some exotic fruit. This turned into a 3:00am quiz where Londoners would call in and try and guess the name of the fruit that Clive had in his hands.

Clive Bull Gets his box of fruit

So, there I was, watching this documentary about Clive Bull's 1980s LBC show on and reminiscing about the good ol bad ol days when I suddenly remembered one particular Clive Bull show from February 1988 that so angered and upset me, I occasionally think about it even today. My feelings of rage and betrayal came flooding back like a Tsunami in the mind. It was as if it had happened only yesterday.

I was remembering another one of Clive's regular callers. He was known as "Shlomo from Finchley". Like Michael from Stamford Hill, he also had this half English/Yiddish accent. (I wonder if there are still Jews in England who speak like this?)

He told us that he owned and ran a Jewish Deli in North London. He spoke about the Jewish customers that came into his deli in the small hours of the morning and of the food they prepared there. He never said exactly where his deli was so my friends and I used to listen carefully for clues so that we could find the place and try out what sounded like delicious Heimishe food.

Well that cold February night in 1988, Shlomo was going to tell Clive how to cook Schnitzel and Potato Latkes. Clive had transferred his show to the LBC kitchen and was broadcasting live while following Shlomo's instructions over the phone.

We all had a good laugh when Shlomo was explaining to Clive and the rest of London that he must use Elswood's Extra Strong Chrein, her Polish heimishe cucumbers and Rakusen's Matza Meal instead of flour for the Latkes!

Clive in the LBC kitchen examining the Matzo Meal
 Then, about 30 mins into the program as we were just driving through Stratford heading East, Shlomo gave Clive the next set of instructions which was to add some milk to the egg which was about to be used to dip the turkey schnitzel into.

I looked at my friend. He looked at me. This was Shlomo from Finchley? For years we had had this image of this middle aged pot bellied Jew in black trousers, tzittis, white shirt with food stains on it, big black kippa and beard. Here he was telling Clive to mix meat and milk! We thought it was a mistake but to our amazement and disgust he then said in his Yiddish accented English that "if you v-vonted to keep it kosher then leave out ze milk".

I was still thinking about this when I glanced at the side bar on the YouTube page and noticed a link to another video entitled "Cook With Clive - a Clive Bull Through the Night special". I clicked on the link and to my utter amazement, found it to be the entire three hour radio show from the 21st February 1988 where Shlomo from Finchley tells Clive and the rest of London, how to make treif schnitzel and latkes!

I recorded the audio and extracted the disreputable segment that was still so fresh in my mind.

By the technological ingenuity of the Internet, here it is in all its horror, Yiddish accent and all!

Listen to Shlomo From Finchley 4:00 mins

Press to Play

Clive Bull today, still going strong on LBC radio.