Friday, April 30, 2010

Salmon, Sauvignon & PInot

Funny how great minds think alike. My friend Michelle was traveling this week and talked about a great salmon recipe she came across. "Funny" I said, "I found a good one also!" Turns out we were both reading Food & Wine Magazine and were on the same page, literally. She cooked, I brought the wine! Perfect!
Pinot Noir typically pairs well with salmon and I had been dying to open the '07 Martinelli Bondi Home Ranch that's been in my cellar for the last year. Big nose, smooth, just phenominal! One problem. The two sauces that accompanied the fish were super spicey with black beans, chipotle, tomatillo, etc. And the salmon was topped with a chile-honey glaze. The Pinot Noir, as fabulous as it was, disappeared in all that heat. Thanks goodness another friend brought an '08 Cremashci Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. The crisp fruit did a much better job of cutting through the spice! Talk about an explosion of different flavors! I'm still thinking about it!
The salmon recipe comes from Bobby Flay and is in the May 2010 issue of Food & Wine! Michelle opted for jarred tomatillo's, when you read the recipe you'll understand why! Find it!! It's a keeper!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blue Eyed Boy

Blue Eyed Boy, sounds like someone I'd like to date or at least mercilessly flirt with. Instead it is a fruit bomb from Molly Dooker, an Australian winery. The winemakers, Sarah and Sparky Marquis, named this Shiraz after their very own blue eyed boy, Luke. His picture is even on the label to the left.

The wine has a high alcohol content at 16% and is bursting with delicious black fruit and spice; a little smokey with smooth tannins. The 2006 got 96 points from Wine Advocate. It wasn't tagged in my modest cellar so I couldn't remember exactly how long it had been aging. I got online and found it could've sat in there for another ten years. At first I was a little disappointed that I was so impatient (once again) and opened it.

I've had Blue Eyed Boy a number of times and always enjoyed it. Then I read a quote from the winemakers calling the Blue Eyed Boy one of their three Party Wines that, "make an ordinary day extraordinary. They’ll make you the life of the party any where you take them!"  I smiled and thought, how perfect that I DID open it!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Dinner and a movie has always been a good combination. So I couldn't wait to try Silverspot, a new theater/restaurant combo at the trendy Mercato in Naples. I thought it was one of those places where you could actually dine during the movie but the restaurant is in the lobby, across from the concession stand. The theater itself has those big oversized, comfy chairs and plenty of room for your champagne but no tables.

Misconception number two for me was that the menu was full of nachos and burgers and well, 'basic food'. I dined on beef carpaccio, tuna tartar and a delicious goat cheese salad! The pizza was some of the best I've had in a long time. The crust was super thin, the cheese was fresh and allthough it was small it was still enough to share!

The wine list was not too overpriced and there was a nice selection of red, white and bubbles!! Best part, you can take the bottle into the theater while you watch the movie. POSH!!! What a great date night!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Schug Wine Dinner

I've been to many wine dinners but the Schug wine dinner at Bistro 41 Monday night was one of the best! The dinner not only showcased some great California wines from celebrated winemaker Walter Schug but the newly formed team of Executive Chef Reiner Drygala and his new Executive Sous Chef Heath Higginbotham.

The first course was caramelized Granny Smith apples wrapped in prosciutto over a wedge of creamy St. Andre cheese and finished with mixed herb beurre monte. The plate was full of contrasting flavors and textures and talk about rich! The crisp '08 Sauvignon Blanc cut right through all that butter and cream for a perfect pairing! The quote of the night came from a gentleman at my table who was shocked that his girlfriend found a Sauv Blanc that she liked because "she's such a Chardonnay whore"!

Next course was a pan seared Halibut cooked to perfection with wild mushroom couscous and an '07 Pinot Noir. Third course was followed by a chorus of moans, the GOOD kind! Oak grilled New Zealand Lamb with wild boar sausage, sweet potato hash, steamed haricot verts and finished with a pomegranate demi glace. Yes pomegranate! We were sticking our fingers in the demi glace and tasting it with the '06 Merlot. The Bordeaux-Style wine was big, bad and juicy, with mocha and cherry. 75% percent Merlot with a little Cabernet and Cab Franc for blending made it smooth and delicious. WOW WOW WOW

The fourth course (pictured above) caused much discussion and a little trepidation prior to it being served. Maytag bleu cheese and dark chocolate wrapped in phyllo topped with strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries served with an '06 Cabernet. It was a big hit and the surprise of the night! The wine was a little tight at first but after it opened up it was delightful!

This dinner was not a home was a grand slam!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Surprising Chardonnay

I'm not a big fan of the BIG, oaky Napa Chardonnays. So when I saw a 2008 Clos LaChance on the list at a tasting this week at Austin's Wine Cellar I ignored it and scanned down to see what reds were being poured. Satisfied at the goodness that awaited if I endured the whites, I took a second look at the list and found the Clos LaChance was actually from Monterey County and the grapes were by sustaniable farming. Now I'm a little more interested. The wine was full of pineapple, peach and tropical fruits with a hint of cinnamon and spice. I heard someone call it an apple crisp. Quite a surprise for a Chardonnay and the price made it even more appealing...$14.50! Yes, I bought a bottle!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Easter

Easter is a special time for many reasons. Holidays are almost always synonymous with family. But if you can't spend the time with blood relatives next in line is your family of friends. I gathered some of mine for an Easter Wine Dinner. I provided the food the guests each brought a bottle of wine with some kind of holiday theme whether it be religious, commercial or even Passover! We tasted everything from a French Whispering Angel Rose to a bottle of "Pink" sparkling wine, a Peter Lehmann Cabernet (Peter Cottontail reference), Our Daily Red (an organic blend) to Yidron (an Israeli wine). The later actually scored highest in our rudimentary grading system. It's a Bordeaux blend from Galilee, perfect for Easter! It's also kosher so I gave a bottle to my Jewish friends who are total wine snobs. Their critique "wasn't bad"!! The gentiles critiques "smells like sugar plums and prunes, licorice on the finish, good with food, delightful!" Worth a try especially if you've never found a decent kosher wine!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lets Try Some South African Wine!

Gotta love South African and Australian wines, they all seem to be named after animals! Tonight a friend showed up with a Tall Horse 2009 Merlot in a convenient screw top. First taste was fruity and jammy. But as the night went on it got a little more spicy and a bit drier. I have to say I was a bit skeptical of how it would pair with our dinner: Chicken in a sauce of tomato, onion, garlic and artichoke; topped with wilted spinach and mozzarella. I was more looking forward to tasting the Tall Horse with the dark chocolate Dove bites in the candy dish!

What a nice surprise to find that the merlot was actually a nice match. Even more surprised to find it was better with the flavorful chicken dish than the much anticipated dark chocolate. I love a good surprise!