My Photo

search the juice

January 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    


  • Food & Drink Blog Top Sites

28 May 2007

Barbera d'Serpente

Snake_river Who'd a thunk it!?  A very drinkable wine from the spud state.  And a non-Merlot/Cabernet/Shiraz to boot.

Snake River Winery Barbera 2005 ($17) - This Italian-Idahoan offers echos of old school d'Asti or d'Alba with slightly taut tannins and red cherry flavors.  Its new world tell is the slightly hot, medicinal/Kirsch flavors on the finish.  In a world of blasé, new-school copy-catters, this is a breath of fresh air.  Try it with pan-roasted duck breast & truffled polenta + lingonberry sauce.

22 March 2007

Dueling Asparagus

Asparagus_w A bit of apocryphal history* for you: Cleopatra, of lethal-asp-clutching fame, is purported to have ended it all with a spear of asparagus rather than a venomous serpent. My reaction to asparagus isn’t quite as dramatic as the Nile Queen’s. However, few vegetables, when mismatched to wine, mete out palate punishment like the shoots of Asparagus officinalis

My oeno-advice to all brave souls attempting asparagus-wine harmony: Bring a duo to this duel. Allow me to explain. Asparagus commonly appears on your dinner plate in one of two roles. It may headline dinner as the main attraction – as it does with this goat cheese and asparagus pizza. More commonly, it plays the supporting role of vegetable, and leaves the spotlight to a main course, like steak. One wine won’t handle asparagus in both roles.

Continue reading "Dueling Asparagus" »

17 October 2006

Chair Beats Wallaby

Renebarbier_chair Before there were day-glo kangaroos on labels, there was The chair.  Prior to puny little penguins, there was The chair.  Ante- most any cuddley, crittery wine, The chair reigned supreme.

The chair is not cute. It is not pretentious.  The chair is simply drinkable, cheap wine.  It isn't terribly memorable.  Indeed, it is most memorable for what it lacks.  The chair lacks Hi-C phony flavor intensity.  It is void of misbehaved tannins.  It does not possess a sonic-inebriating alcohol content of 16, 15, or 14%.  In short, The chair is table wine in the most unobtrusive sense of the word.

The chair beats any schmalzily-marketed wine in the $5-$7 range.  Try out The chair.

The Skinny
Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red ($5-$7) NV, Catalunya Spain

  • Imported by Freixenet; 12.5% alcohol; a blend of Tempranillo, Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) and Grenache.  Available at supermarkets everywhere.
  • A simple, soft-structured red wine that is made to take an unobtrusive spot at the dinner table or party.  Flavors of ripe, red raspberry are prominent, but subdued.  The perfect wine to sip while you concentrate on preparing your first Chicago/Uno/Duo-style pizza.


PS - Pizza was a success, and oh-so-easy (recipe here)

Technorati Tags: , ,

03 October 2006

Food Words: Gratin

Gratin T/F: Gratin is a type of casserole, covered in cheese and baked/broiled.


If, like me, your childhood exposure to 'gratin' comes from Betty Crocker's potatoes au gratin, then you may have guessed that the above statement is true.  Actually, gratin simply refers to a covered casserole, which has been baked or broiled.  The covering doesn't have to be cheese.  It can be bread crumbs or a mixture of bread and cheese or butter/cream.

Two gratins to try:

Raspberry and fig gratin + try with an extra dry (off-dry) bubbly or a late harvest Muscat

Goat cheese gratin + try with a sahara-dry Spanish Cava or slightly funky Pinot Noir

Technorati Tags: , , ,

28 September 2006

Better Than Warm Apple Pie

Apples_1 Warm apple pie and a scoop of ice cream sounds great right about now, doesn't it?  But the problem with a.pie is pairing it with wine.  I don't think there's any wine out there that makes for a perfect match.

So make an apple pizza.  Trust me.  It's excellent and you can enjoy a glass of wine with it.

Apple-Onion-Cheddar Pizza (modified from this recipe @ epicurious)

1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-oz package), thawed
2 tablespoons panko or dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion - thinly sliced into rings
1 1/2 lb fresh, u-pick apples (e.g. little McIntosh, Gala) (3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup grated aged English white Cheddar (e.g. North Devon Cheddar)
parchment paper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Allow pastry to thaw at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.  Roll out pastry sheet into a 15- by 12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then prick pastry all over with a fork. Sprinkle panko over pastry.

Heat butter in a medium skillet over moderate heat, swirling pan, about 1 minute.  Add onions and sautee 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, add apples, sugar and salt and mix thoroughly. Spread apple-onion mixture evenly over pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Fold in edges over apples, pressing down firmly on corners and sides. Bake until apples are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over apples and bake 5 minutes more until cheese is golden and bubbling.  Better than granny's apple pie!

Pair With:  Through dumb luck I discovered that Amontillado Sherry is a surprisingly good match with this pizza.  The funky-tart-sweet flavors pair well with this rich, salty-nutty style of Sherry.  Try Lustau 'Escuadrilla' Amontillado ($15).

Or:  Prosecco or Cava are, of course, ready to harmonize with this dish.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

07 August 2006

Got A.C.?

Accover Have you ever seen/heard of the magazine Art Culinaire.  This may be one of the best food/cooking/spirits publications* you've never read.  AC is a seasonally (4x/year) published magazine full of food porn (literally - large, glossy pics of the sexiest food you've ever laid eyes on.  This magazine is actually hard-bound and looks as good as any celeb-chef cookbook you're bound to drop $40 on.  When I paper-cut that space between my 1st and 2nd fingers with the subsription card (and yelled, "#$%%^!@") I noticed that one year of AC goes for $59.  For 4 issues of any old average food magazine, I would skoff, and say, "yeah right.  I'll pay for that."  However, I'll gladly fork over some dough for 4 beautifully bound recipe books containing such treats as:

*Full disclosure: Several months ago, I was interviewed for an article about funk (Gotta Have The Funk) for the Summer issue.  I promptly forgot about the interview until a copy of Art  Culinaire was sent to me by the interviewer.  I was honestly amazed by the quality and creativity of the publication - in spite of my lame-o quotes.

Technorati Tags: ,

31 July 2006

The Few, The Proud, The Combiners

Combinationslogo_2_4 Great movements don't always begin with a bang.  For example, take Combinations.  The July installment only had a few participants.  Yet, I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week.  The theme for July Combos was 'go green.'  I challenged all d.i.y. Sommeliers and chefs to create a menu based on fresh herbs out of their own gardens, from a farmers market, or green grocery.  My Combinations menu was an Italian-influenced exercise in Iron Chef-ing.


The herbal building blocks for this menu all came from my humble herb & tomato garden.  I selected rosemary, basil, sage (two varieties: 'common' and yellow-leaf) and sweet grape tomatoes.  Out of this green (& red) bounty, I created the following:

Fried Sage Leaves - If you've never fried up a little sage, you are missing out on a highly addictive appetizer & garnish.  Many of the fried sage recipes I found call for veggie oil as the frying liquid.  Instead, I decided to 'shallow' fry these tasty leaves in butter.  Make sure you fry the leaves until crisp.  Soggy leaves are just sad.  Fatty and high calorie?  Oh yes - deliciously so.

Linguine with Pancetta, Sauteed Grape Tomatoes and Fresh Basil - I based this pasta dish on a familiar epicurious recipe.  Seeing as how my grape tomatoes are considerably sweeter than your average cherry tomato, I opted to up the crushed red pepper and basil content of this easy-as-pie pasta entree.

Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Chop - Nothing terribly creative here.  However, before adding the pork to the hot, shimmering olive oil, I infused the oil with fresh rosemary.  This had the effect of adding just a hint of rosemary flavor to the finished chop.  I also discovered that a fried sage leaf is the perfect garnish for pork chops.  The two pair quite nicely together.


Continue reading for the wine combos..

Continue reading "The Few, The Proud, The Combiners" »

26 July 2006

Dos Combos

Combinationslogo2 The Combinations are starting to trickle in...ahead of schedule (deadline: July 30).  Yesterday, I received two entries:

Uno -
Ann, my favorite poultry-laden granny cart pusher, takes us to the prairie where 'dem buffs roam.  Dig her grass-fed (grass counts as an herb!) bison hangar steak with gilded glazed carrots (including lavender blossoms & squash blossoms) + slightly chilled Languedoc red (Domaine Rimbert Les Travers de Marceau 2004).  Salut! Mme Ann.

Dos -
Edward, the Wino sapien, gets minty and spicy with his Combos entry.  Behold the squid, rocket, mint, coriander and basil salad.  I was very curious to see how our Aussie wino would match wine to this minty-spicy-bitte-sour flavor combination.  E didn't disappoint with his selection of a split personality Italian white: Tamellini Soave 2004.  Edward, good on ya, mate!

Hey, shouldn't you be out in the garden picking some green stuff for your Combinations entry?

Go on now.  Shoo!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

25 July 2006

Remember to Combine Your Greens

Combinationslogo_2 Don't forget that the deadline for submissions to July's episode of Combinations is coming up on July 30.  This month, I'm asking you to combine your greens:

Your mission is to wear both an Iron Chef hat and Sommelier tastevin.  Create a dinner menu/plate using any 3 of the following fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, chives, basil...or any other fresh green herb.

Now, whatever else you add to the dish is up to you.  However, extra bonus points are awarded for purchasing all ingredients from a green market (or your own personal garden).  Once, you've created the entree, task #2 is to select a complimentary wine.

Katie P. stimulated the creative side of Combos by suggesting a Kaffir Lime Leaf-based dish + white Bordeaux.

Andrew of Spittoon gets the gold star for early submission with his Prawns & fresh herb dip + Gavi (Italian white wine).


A great combo, no?  Now go pick some herbs and start combining!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

18 July 2006

Very Simply Sherry

Jerezlogo_2 Sherry is one of the wine world's most undervalued creations.  Sherry's history alone could fill up a War and Peace-sized volume.  Additionally, the production of Sherry, and its numerous styles, is complex enough to add a second volume to Sherry's tome.  When confronted by Sherry & its vocabulary, many modern wine drinkers become dazed & confused by terms like flor, fino, olorosa, criadera and solera. It's easier to walk on by.  However, a little time investment in understanding Sherry, will open up an entirely new world of wine scents and flavors.  Allow me to present Sherry in a user friendly, 3-part format.  Who knows, you may experience the sudden urge to grab a bottle and whip up a few tapas.  It could happen.

Part 1: Make Sherry, Not War

Part 2: Waiter!  There's a 100 Year Old Wine in My Sherry.

Part 3: Sherry Comes to Dinner

Technorati Tags: , ,

site sponsors

Vino Voyeur