Sunday, April 19, 2015

An Evening With Elizabeth.....

It all started at my Christmas tree trimming party when I pulled out a 2009 Elizabeth Spencer Rose. I had been saving it to share with some friends who visited the winery in Napa with me a number of years ago. Since several of us were together that night I thought it the perfect time.

However, it wasn't chilled and we had long since moved past the rose' stage of the night. Instead, we planned for an Elizabeth Spencer tasting after the holidays, with the goal of gathering as many vintages as possible--a grand tasting of sorts.

We began the evening with some bubbly and then dived in to my bottle, the oldest and proof that most roses are meant to drink, not age. As soon as we opened it, I could tell it was past its prime as it smelled like a fortified wine, sweet, nutty but not the kind you really want.

Disappointment that I let that one sit too long, then excitement we had several more bottles to go.

Next up was a 2011 pinot noir rose that was quite pleasant, with good fruit and acidity, however, it lacked the freshness we were expecting. Good thing we saved it from the perils of sitting in the cellar much longer.

The idea was to keep the tasting as close to a vertical possible but since the 2012 was a grenache rose, instead of a pinot noir, we skipped over it briefly. When it finally made the round it was full of raspberry and reminded me of a Necco Wafer Candy.

The 2013 pinot rose was the vintage that really hit the spot with bright acidity and red fruit like strawberry.

Moving right along in the Elizabeth Spencer portfolio, a 2012 Chardonnay was pulled from the ice bucket. While it smelled a touch oaky, it was crisp and tropical, with flavors of pineapple; a favorite for sure.

Up next came the reds and a 2007 Zinfandel. For a zin it was quite mellow; another one that was on its way out. The fruit was still intact but we were gentle with it in the glass, afraid it would disappear with any spirited swirling.

The 2010 Mendocino Cabernet was a beautiful color and a lovely way to end. The wine was a bit chalky, again a bit of that Necco Wafer Candy, with juicy raspberries.

If you are like many of us at this tasting, and have set aside some wine for a special occasion or to share with a special group, do some spring cleaning in your cellar. You might be surprised at what has been tucked away, forgotten about and is now in need of being uncorked. Nothing is worse than having to dump a precious bottle that was soooooo delicious and had so much promise when you bought it--because you let it rest for too long. Cheers. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What's New At Cru

Chef/Owners Bob Boye and Harold Balink
Cru, one of the most popular restaurants at The Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, recently passed it's 10-year anniversary and has celebrated with a bit of a facelift; a fresh coat of paint and other changes in the decor.

But one thing that hasn't changed is its superb food and service, along with its inviting atmosphere.

Click here for the complete story in my latest 10Best feature.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ready, Set.....Hurry and Open!!!

It's the best recipe for a new restaurant.....BUZZ. That is exactly what is happening at the soon to open Melograno Italian Gourmet Bakery and Bistro at Tarpon Point in Cape Coral. Tarpon Point houses the Westin, beautiful waterfront high-rises, a marina and shops, however, it is in need of another quality dining option.

Locals have been lighting up the phones for reservations and information. But anyone who has ever opened a business knows the harsh reality of dealing with last minute permitting, inspections, etc. That being said, all is in place and the doors should be opening any day now.
Some of the beautiful tiles you'll see at Melograno
The photos you see were taken a couple of weeks ago, plastic protecting the beautiful furniture and accessories from all of the last minute prep work. Much of the interior was brought in from the 'mother land,' including lovely tiles and the Cadillac of coffee machines.
A premiere Italian coffee machine for delicious cafe!
It's the first US location for the well established, family restaurant in Pomponesco, Italy.

Melograno is committed to serving local, fresh and healthful food. You may find it an odd combo, a bakery with a juice bar, but that is one of the many great things going on here. And speaking of the bakery, gluten free diners will be ecstatic at the offerings.
This case is soon to be filled with mouthwatering treats
Besides the bakery, fresh juices and bold coffee, there is a bistro section where you can dine on authentic Italian cuisine, with a gluten free pasta option.

I've seen the menu, met the chef (from the mother land as well) and when I actually get to taste his creations that sound so good, I'll be sure to pass on a full review. In the meantime, they are set and we are ready for Melograno to open.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Crazy for Coconuts

I've tried more than my fair share of flavored vodkas over the years and a few flavored rums. Most of the experiences ended with me tossing the liquid in a nearby plant and ordering something different.

So when I heard about flavored tequila I was not exactly excited. But in the name of research (for real, I was working on a 'spirits' story) I decided to give the 1800 brand a go.

The first bottle that was sent to me somehow ended up on the wrong doorstep and the neighbor who received it must've opened up the box without checking the label. Surely if they had seen my name they would've been certain the tantalizing spirit made it to its rightful owner.....surely.

In the meantime, I waited patiently for a replacement bottle while doing my best not to blowup the shipping company's costumer service line. Alas, it arrived, just in time for Easter.

Distilled three times, made with 100% Blue Agave Tequila, it is infused with just the right amount of coconut, not so much that I feel as if I'm licking a bottle of suntan lotion. Best of all, I taste the beautiful tequila that I often forsake for vodka. Thanks for not giving up on me..... luuuuvaaa (that's 'lover' in Carrie Bradshaw speak.)

As I was sipping, I thought how lovely this would have been with the fresh water I was able to slurp directly out of a real coconut the week prior while in the Bahamas. When my housemates and I were done with the juice, we broke the giant nuts open for their gel and meat. A splash of 1800 Coconut Tequila and a slice of pineapple would've been lovely.

Digging into a fresh coconut in the Bahamas

OH! And then there was the coconut French toast! tequila with a splash of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Now we're talking. I tried it with OJ, but not quite feeling the combo. Either way, next trip to the islands I'll have to stash a bottle in my beach bag.

Coconut French Toast at Old Bahama Bay, Freeport

After doing some experimenting, I prefer this tequila on the rocks. I also like it the traditional way, with a little lime and salt.

I'm Not sure why coconut seems appropriate for Easter, maybe its the delicate sprinkles on desserts that seem like spring. Why not serve this spirit as change, with dessert. Or leave a shot for the Easter Bunny.

Now if someone can help me work the shot top without spilling.....