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Friday, July 15, 2016

Mediterranean Quinoa and Orzo Salad


2 C. Uncooked Quinoa
1 C, Uncooked Orzo
1 large Eggplant, sliced
3 medium Zucchini, sliced
3 mediun Yellow Squash, sliced
4 large cloves of Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
2 large Tomatoes, diced
2 medium Onions, diced
2 C. Olives, diced
1/4 C. chopped fresh Basil
Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Cook the Quinoa and Orzo from package instructions.  Set aside to cool
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Place the Eggplant, Zucchini and Yellow Squash flat on a baking sheet. May need 2 so that they aren't touching.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a little Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil, making sure each piece gets some Olive Oil.
Cut the Garlic cloves in half without peeling. Put them cut side up in aluminum foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and seal the foil.
Place the veggies and garlic in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.  The veggies should be soft and slightly brown. Cool and set aside.

Place the Tomatoes, Onions and Olives in a large bowl.  Once everything is cool add the remaining ingredients except for the roasted Garlic.

Toss will the Balsamic Vinaigrette and Basil.  Chill and serve.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/4 C.  Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 C.  Olive Oil
The roasted Garlic Cloves from the previous recipe
1 T. Dijon Mustard
1 T. Honey
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

In a food processor add the Vinegar, Roasted Garlic, Dijon, Honey and Italian Seasoning.  Pulse a few times first, and then leaving the processor running, slowly add the Olive Oil.  Once added, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vrisi36 Balsamic Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil



When you visit the Vrisi36 website, the words"Farm to Bottle" are the first things you see.  They literally do everything by hand and let Mother Nature take care of the rest.

Their Extra Virgin Olive Oil is fresh pressed from nutrient rich Greek Olives.  It is bottled unfiltered and unblended.  Most EVOOs you see on grocery store shelves are actually blends of different countries or regions.  Moreover, the FDA requirements for labeling a bottle as EVOO is that it must be less than 10% acidity, be derived from fruit and "edible".  Therefore, not all EVOOs are the same.  Read the back of the label to see what you are getting.

Their Balsamic Vinegar is made from Corinthian Grapes, sometimes called currants, and are only found in certain regions of Greece. Unlike commercial Balsamic Vinegars, Vrisi36 contains no sulfites, artificial caramel coloring, GMOs, or other artificial preservatives.  It is simply made by fermenting the grapes repeatedly in to wine, then into Balsamic vinegar and aged in oak barrels.

http://vrisi36.com/recipe/fresh-tomato-soup-with-bulgur-and-vrisi-36-oregano-infused-olive-oil/



Information used in this blog comes from their company website.

http://vrisi36.com/



Friday, April 15, 2016

The Fermented Gourmet: Versatile and Food Friendly Wines

The Fermented Gourmet: Versatile and Food Friendly Wines

Versatile and Food Friendly Wines



I just read an article in Food and Wine called The 12 Wines that Pair with Absolutely Everything.
It was a good read with good information.  However, it suggests wines at price points higher than my pool of customers can afford.  Here are some suggestions based on this list, but at more budget-friendly prices.  I will go 1-12 in the same order as the article.

1.  Saint Hilaire Brut - The first Sparkling Wine produced in France about a century before anything from the Champagne Region.

2.  Meinhard Forstreiter Gruner Veltliner (aka. Grooner) - Gruner Veltliners are light in body with crisp acidity.

3.  Pewsey Vale Riesling - A dry Riesling from Australia that has some serious awards behind it.

4.  Hugel Gentil - The wine world was saddened by the passing of Etienne Hugel last week.  The Gentil is a great gateway wine into the Alsace region of France.

5.  Wente "Morning Fog" Chardonnay - This is an estate grown and bottled wine, but not too heavy for pairing with food.

6.  Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois - A Gamay from the Beaujolais region in France.

7. Chateau De Pizay Morgon - A Cru Gamay from Beaujolais

8.  Ravenswood Mendocino Zinfandel - A rocking Zin from a cooler climate.

9.  Bodegas Breca Grenache - Aragon, Spain.  Beautifully balanced.   A home run.

10.  M. David 6th Sense Syrah - Lodi, California.

11.  Vina Falerna Syrah - Chile is producing some beautiful Syrah these days and very affordable.

12.  Trifula Piemonte Rosso DOC - 80% Barbera and 20% Nebbiolo

There is no mention of a Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc or Tempranillo listed in the article.  I find these wines to be very food friendly also.  I've kept this short and to the point.  Please add a comment or a question if you would like.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Crios Wines of Argentina


The Crios line of wines are a creation of famed Argentine winemaker, Susan Balboa.  She was recognized as one of "The Most Influential Women Wine Makers" in 2012 and "Woman of the Year" in 2015 by the Drinks Business magazine.

The intent of the Crios line is to produce fruit forward and easy drinking wines to be consumed in their youth.  They are natural wines for enjoyment on their own, but also work well at barbecues and other social gatherings.  Not to mention, they have received numerous awards and high ratings since their creation.


The Torrontes is an aromatic white varietal.  It often smells sweet, but it does finish dry. This is perfect for sitting on the deck on a clear afternoon, or pairing with Asian or Indian Quisine.

The Red Blend is a combination of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Tannat. It is a soft, lush wine with just a hint of oak.  Open this one up at any backyard barbecue, and you'll be considered a wine guru by your friends.

Finally, the Malbec, a signature varietal for Argentina, is a structured, sturdy wine to go along with that big Rib Eye sizzling on the grill.  The presence of more tannins from time spent in oak barrels are soften by the fat content of the steak.

These wines are very reasonably priced and seamlessly go from a Tuesday night wine to a Saturday night wine.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Wines of Alsace


Its Spring.  The weather is getting warmer, and Summer is just around the corner.  I'm not sure if everyone categorizes wines as either a Summer wine or a Winter Wine.  In my case, any time you open a bottle of wine is a good time to drink it.  That being said, if you are one who thinks of wines in terms of the weather, let me introduce you to something other than Pinot Grigios or Sauvignon Blancs.

The Alsace region in France is known mostly for white wine, and tends to use the varietal name on the label.  Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc are a few examples.  These wines, however, can be rather costly.  But, when these wines are blended, they offer a good starting point for enjoying Alsace wines.

Edelzwicker is a blanket term used for these wines, and they have no restrictions as to the blend or how it is vinified.  The term Gentil, is also a blend, but must stick to an established charter of how these wines are blended and vinified.  Only the "noble" varietals can be used, and they all need to be vinified separately before blending.

 Some Alsace producers use a proprietary name for their blend, or simply label it is as an Alsace Blanc.  Keutz Bas is an example of this.


The blend for this wine is made up of Sylvaner, Auxerrois and Muscat.  These aren't exactly house hold names, but they do make a nice wine that is light, floral and dry.

The Meyer-Fonne Edelzwicker is composed mostly of Pinot Blanc, and the rest are a combination of the lesser known varietals.  It is also floral, dry and complex.


Hugel's Gentil follows the standards of the charter, and uses Gewurztraminer as its base.


It is freshly aromatic with floral and fruit driven notes.  It has a bit more body than the others mentioned here, but finished equally dry.

All these wines are perfect for the warmer weather, but should not be relegated to the shelf until the Spring time.  They are delicious all year.  As far as a food pairing, please check out my recipe for Alsace Farmhouse Chicken.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Louis Latour Pinot Noir Valmoissine


A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending a week with the Latours at their annual Burgundy Seminar.  It was a wonderful experience that I'll treasure, and what I learned remains with me until this day.

The Latour offices are in the town of Beaune.  They are what is known as a Negociant, meaning that they buy a large amount of theirs grapes from some of the smaller growers in Burgundy.  While they do own vineyards in the Burgundy region, they started investing in other areas of France, particularly in the south.  Burgundy prices had long been going up, and the Latours saw an opportunity to craft great wines at a reasonable price.

Their first purchase was in the Ardeche.  Ardeche is located west of the Rhone Valley and is an ideal climate for Chardonnay.  They produce two wines from this area, one is a stainless steel fermented wine with a clean, and crisp flavorful profile.  The other is called The Grand Ardeche and uses grapes that the Latours feel are perfectly suited for their Burgundian style of wine making.  This means that they are barrel fermented and aged in oak for a certain amount of time.


Now, onto my favorite of the bunch.  After the Latours found so much success making Chardonnay in the south of France, they wanted to find an area to plant Pinot Noir.  Their search ended in the VAR region.  No reason to get wine geeky here, just realize that Pinot Noir needs a long growing season with cool nights.  They found these conditions at an ancient monastary and university named Valmoissine.  At an elevation of about 500 meters, there is plenty of sun during the day, and the nights cool down to ensure a long growing season with plenty of hang time.

I had previously been bitten by the Pinot Noir bug long before I tasted this wine.  The problem was that the bug that bit me sold for about $30.00.  This was not exactly in my price range. So when I tasted the Valoissine Pinot Noir, I new immediatly that this was going to be my go-to Pinot Noir.  It had all the characteristics of the one mentioned above and sells in the $14.99 range.

I'm not going to burden you with all the aromas and flavors I got out of this wine.  It was just a sublime experience that Pinot Noir lovers have, and can only be experience subjectively.  So, I encourage all, not just Pinot Noir lovers to give this wine a taste.  Please share your experience and thoughts in the comment section.