Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Women's Wine Dinner: Angelina's

I enjoy getting dressed up and going out in the summer storms in Florida as long as there is valet parking! Last night's torrential downpour did not dampen the spirits of the ladies who attended this month's Women's Wine Dinner at the award winning Angelina's in Bonita Springs. We filled the bar with lively conversation, posed for photos, then filled the private dining room to capacity!

Angelina's is an Italian restaurant so the first course was appropriately enough an antipasto tray filled with cheeses, cured meats, fresh olives and marinated vegetables served with an '08 Icardi, Cortese. I was surprised to find a white wine so full of raisin! I admit that all week I was hoping maybe even praying that this next dish would be served and I was NOT disappointed: Angelina's signature Butternut Squash Ravioli. The ravioli is hand-rolled, filled with roasted butternut squash and mascarpone cheese then topped with a decadent citrus tomato butter. It was exquisitely paired with a 2007 Soave Classico, Monte Grande. "Sexy" was the best description I heard for the dish!

I was also hoping for a nice big Tuscan red and once again my desires were fulfilled with a 2007 Brancaia "Tre". A female winemaker produced this smooth gem and landed in Wine Spectators Top 100 List. The Filet Mignon it was served with had a brilliant red center and was so tender I barely picked up my knife to cut it.

The best pairing was definitely saved for last, a Vanilla-Mascarpone Cheesecake with homemade strawberry jam accompanied by a glass of Brachetto. The wine was a sparkling, pink dessert wine that went down way too easy! Thankfully the bubbles helped to dissipate the sweetness. The last course was pleasing to eye and the palet. It was one of those combinations that danced!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kangaroo Chili???

My first experience at judging a Chili Cook-Off was on the beach in July!! Sounds a little out of season but Mother Nature blew some tropical winds our way to cool us down and blow things around quite a bit! After the sand settled the five judges settled in to a banquet table by the pool at the Pink Shell Resort and Spa on Fort Myers Beach. 17 different chili's were brought out one-by-one and passed down the table with lightening speed. We had to score on our first impressions with no information on what was in the chili. Each bowl was rated on things like appearance, smell, consistency, flavor, after-taste, etc.

I tasted spices like cardomon and nutmeg and of course lots of heat! The bowls were creatively adourned with things like hush puppies, queso blanco, sour cream, jalepeno's and scallions. I later learned that I ate chili's made of beef, pork, seafood, sausage, wild boar and KANGAROO!!! I kept eatting when I got home; a handful of Tum's!

The compeitors came from 3 counties. Some were restuarant chefs or employees,some were head chefs in their home but when all was said and done the top prize went to Heath Higginbotham from Bistro 41. His chilli was made with andouille sausage, fresh beans and chocolate! Chocolate, he must've known there would be women on the judge's panel!

The Great American Chili Cook-Off was the first event put on by Southwest Florida's Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. It was also a fundraiser for the Harry Chapin Food Bank! I love a party with a purpose!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good Grillin'

If you are grilling out this summer, here is a wine that you HAVE to try: 2006 Heartland Shiraz from Dulwich, South Australia. My first impression was BBQ in a glass!!! I closed my eyes and could just see a nice, heaping plate of ribs dripping with tangy BBQ sauce. The wine was smoky, meaty, spicy and with just the right amount of fruit (plum and blackcurrant). I found it this weekend at a tasting at Austin’s Wine Cellar for $18.75! Pick up a bottle and let me know how it goes with your grilled goodies!

Friday, July 16, 2010

When in Rome....

We’ve all heard the saying “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do”! The Roman’s drink Frascati! Frascati is synonymous with Rome having been produced in the region for nearly 2000 years. It also boasts of being the most often mentioned wine in Italian literature.

I just tasted a delicious 2007 Piero Constantini, Frescati Superiore DOC from Lazio. The blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes produced a light, citrus, floral delight with hints of fig and walnut! You should be able to find it for around $20. It’s a wonderful treat during these hot summer months!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sweeeeet Sake

I love sushi anytime of the year but something about cool cucumbers and spicy tuna is particularly appealing in the summer. Sushi puts wine drinkers in a bit of conundrum; what really works with spicy sriracha and ginger, salty soy, raw fish and miso? Rice Wine, Sake of course!

I found myself at Blu Sushi this week with a glass of flavor infused cold sake from Moonstone. Moonstone’s sake brewery or Kura is in Oregon. They brew premium Junmai Ginjo styles. I had a glass that was blended with Coconut Lemongrass. It was sweet, slightly creamy with a spicy finish and kind of reminded me of a delicious men’s cologne. The strange combination went perfectly with the crab stuffed jalapenos! The sake is unfiltered so the milky looking appearance might be a bit off-putting for some. As good as it was one glass was enough for me because of the sweetness.

Moonstone’s other infused sake’s include Asian Pear, Plum and Raspberry. You’ll pay $32 for a bottle at Blu but if you find it in your favorite liquor store it’ll cost about $12.