Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Frito Pie

This holiday season I have been eating like I was part of the court of Henry the 8th. A Champagne party with about a dozen sparkling wines, including a 1996 vintage Dom Perignon. I brined and Hickory smoked a turkery for that party and the accompaning food was killer....Sushi, Smoked Turkey, Portugese Pork Roast, House Cured Olives, Spiced Pecans, a killer Charcuterie tray...Oh, but I digress.
So, what am I cooking in lieu of an 18 lb. Prime Rib (I should have taken photos)?
I am taking the high brow/low brow approach and pulling out that white trash favorite know as "Frito Pie". I grew up with the "Frito Banditio" (wasn't advertising so much simpler in those days?) and these chips used to be part of my school boy sack lunches.
I have to confess though, as rural and middle class as I grew up in Southern Idaho, even my Mom didn't put this mess on the table.
At the base level this recipe is merely Frito chips with Chili with beans (from a can of course) and a little cheese sprinkled on top (served in the bag is even better).
My version is a little sexier. I seasoned ground beef with cumin, chili powder, cayenne, black pepper and kosher salt then added the beef to some molten hot refried beans. I layered that unsightly mixture with the chips and then added a garnish of sour cream (yeah, like this dish needs more fat ), cilantro, sharp Tillamook cheddar, jalapeno, red onion and cherry tomatoes (from who knows where this time of year). Anyone who knows me knows that I hate processed food and as horrific as this mish-mash sounds, it tastes great. I don't know what they put into these chips but I had a second serving and was craving a third before I had to pull a Roberto Duran and say- "No mas" .

Frito Pie

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ned Ludd

The other night I had a chance to visit a brand spanking new restaurant called "Ned Ludd".
My friend Tom Harvey knew the new owner and a group of us decided to give it a try on Saturday.
The space used to be a Wood oven pizza/BBQ restaurant (pizza was great, but the BBQ was pathetic). The new owners did a quickie remodel to spiff things up, but they are using the wood oven to its full advantage. Everything on the menu is cooked in the wood burning oven. This is more than just "old school" this is a philosophy of cooking seasonally with minimal prep to showcase the ingredients. If you are into highly sauced fussy cooking this is not the restaurant for you.

The five of us had just about everything on the menu. The Trout w/Lardo was very nice and Braised Beef went well with a bottle of 2005 Pax-Lauterbach Hill Syrah that I had yanked out of the cellar. We sampled the Charcuterie plate and the Creamed Kale we ordered was so tasty we ordered a second one. This restaurant reminds me of a leaner and meaner Wildwood. Head over some cold winter night, the restaurant is warm, the service nice and the food will send you home fat and happy.

Located at:
925 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, Portland OR.
Phone: (503) 288-6900
Hours: Thursday - Monday, 5pm till close

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lamb Shanks Braised w/ Oranges & Green Olives


Assorted Cheese Plate
Crostini with goat cheese, fig preserve & proscuitto

Lamb Shank Braised with Oranges and Green Olives
served with
Chipolte Sweet Potato Puree
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Shaved Brussel Sprouts w/Bacon & Pinenuts

Damn near the entire dessert case from Pix Patisserie

Shaved Brussel Sprouts w/ Bacon & Pinenuts

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Baked Penne w/Ricotta

Baked Penne w/Ricotta
After all the turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy and stuffing that I have been trying to get out of my refrigerator I thought it would be nice to have some "Italian" comfort food for dinner. I was craving pasta with a meat sauce and contemplated making lasagna but I thought that was a bit fussy for a week night. I thought of spaghetti, but I really wanted something a bit sexier. I had made a Ragu that had a pound of Italian sausage and I decided to toss it with a pound of penne then dot with some fresh ricotta and then top with some grated mozzarella.
Bon Appetit

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Patricia Green Cellars

If you heard the following: “Anden, Balcombe, Bonshaw, Etzel, Windlea” would you be:

1. Saying: “Roger…Wilco, over and out” and preparing for the carpet bombing of an enemy target?
2. Calling for a linebacker blitz audible out of a 3-4 package and man-to-man coverage on the wide-outs?
3. At a new age baby shower helping to pick out names for a boy/girl?

Actually if you were around when I did repeat the above you would be grabbing bottles of single vineyard Pinot Noir wines produced by Patricia Green Cellars.

Patricia Green & Me +some signed Magnums

Patricia Green is a self taught winemaker who through pluck, tenacity and extreme passion has risen to the top echelon of premier Pinot Noir producers in the Willamette Valley. I had come across a great article about Patty and wanted to share it.

The following is an excerpt of an article written by: Christina Kelly, Avalon Editor/Writer
Everything about Patty Green defies appearance.
The 53-year-old winemaker didn't follow the usual path to wine country. In fact, her arrival followed a long history of working in non-traditional professions, including tree planting, sailboat crewing, work in construction and geophysical surveying. (Norm's note: I even heard tales of her having been a mocassin maker, a silver jewelry artisan and even having boasted of living in a cave in the SW at one time. None of this is verifiable and it may have been my overactive imagination and or too much of her wine that planted this in my memory).
At 5-feet tall, she doesn't look like a winemaker, although up close, her small frame contradicts a physical and inner strength often overshadowed by a beaming smile.
With nearly 17 years of winemaking experience, Green finally opened her own winery, Patricia Green Cellars, in the fall of 2000. This also didn't happen the way most transactions occur in the purchase of a winery. In fact, Oregon's wine industry almost lost Patty Green that year.
How it Began
In 1986, Green began working at Hillcrest Vineyards in Southern Oregon at the request of a friend. With an innate sense of how things work and a mechanical aptitude, Green performed a number of jobs at the winery. When the 1987 harvest came in, she made wine and in 1988, became the official winemaker.
She left Hillcrest in 1989 and took work in the construction industry. However, she continued to keep one foot in the wine industry, working the harvest for Adelsheim in 1990-91. For the following two years, Green made wine for La Garza Winery in Southern Oregon.
Torii Mor hired Green in 1993, where she worked for the next seven years. It was during this time that Green developed a loyal staff that stayed with her after she left Torii Mor. The parting was not easy.
Green was uncertain what she would do next. She didn't think it would be in the wine industry.
"I was ready to change my life," Green recalled. "I was burned out, fed up and tired with the wine business. I don't think people understand how hard this work can be."
Making wine for other people was sometimes frustrating, especially if winery owners and the winemaker didn't always see eye to eye.
Although Green was ready to leave the wine industry, it was not ready to let her go. She left Torii Mor in 2000 without knowing where the future would lead her. It was deja vue with Green - following instincts when the path before her was as clear as a desert sand storm.
In the past, Green always landed on her feet, happy to pursue another adventure in her life. This time, however, grape growers and winemakers urge her to stay in the industry and produce wine.
Vineyard owners told Green they wanted to sell their fruit to her. She explained she had nothing - no winery, no equipment, no staff. But Green promised to consider their offers if something fell into her lap.
"A short time later, I walked into Panther Creek Cellars and there were a number of (Willamette Valley) winemakers doing a tasting," Green recalled. "As I walked over to their table, they all applauded me.
"It was the spurring on from people in the wine industry that kept me here," she added. "I am very thankful to those people in the Oregon wine industry."
Winemaker Ken Wright said he doesn't believe Green would have left the industry.
"Her internal compass would have brought her back," Wright said. "She so obviously loves what she is doing and she wears that enjoyment. She loves it right down to her soul."
On March 1, 2000, about two weeks after she left the wine industry, Jim Anderson, who worked at Torii Mor with Green, and left at the same time, received a call from Tom and Wendy Kreutner, owners of Autumn Wind Vineyards. The couple offered to sell their winery. Green and Anderson had a friend who wanted to be a silent partner in an Oregon winery so all parties began discussions.
"By July 21, we closed the deal and looked forward to harvest," Green said. "It was pretty fateful alright."
The estate has 26 acres, although Green and Anderson farm 60 acres of property for grapes. Green lives at the estate with four cats - they take care of the house and farm just fine when their owner is on the road.
Were it not for the loyalty of her friends and employees - Anderson (her business partner and cellarmaster), Jose Garcia (her vineyard manager who worked with her at Torii Mor) several vineyard workers who have been with her for years and others who helped out when it was needed, Green said the winery would only be a dream, not a reality.
"I think when you go to a winery, there is a feeling about it, an ambience," Green said. "We are a cohesive bunch. We are a loyal group and I think it shows.
"I don't do all of this by myself - it's physically impossible to do it all. If you take care of the people around you, you will get rewarded."

Oregon (The Willamette Valley) has definitely been discovered in regard to the Pinot Noir we produce here. The industry has just barely transitioned into the second generation of most family wineries and vineyard owners and managers are still trying to figure out what grows where. The distinct soil types and different Pinot Noir clone varieties will keep this area playing hop scotch with their vineyards for more than my life time. Pinot Noir is a grape that reflects not only where it is grown but also the personality of the winemaker.

I tasted the 2007 lineup at Patricia Green Cellars on the pre-Thanksgiving release weekend. Patty poured 12 + wines and all had a distinct personality

Patty Green's wines have her personality. The wines are approachable young, but they have the ability to age and develop complexity over time. Earth, fruit, a bit of funk and a whole lot of fun is how I would describe these wines.

I swung over to Penner-Ash after a 2 hours stop at PGC. Lynn Penner-Ash is a classically trained winemaker and she and has a gorgeous winery within eye sight of PGC. Lynn makes roughly the same amount of wine as Patty (8,000 cases), but the styles are dramatically different. Lynn has a strong science background and an incredible palate. She has a much more cerebral approach to her wines vs. the intuitive approach that Patty projects. I urge anyone who thinks that all Pinot Noir tastes the same to do a side by side of these two great producers. Maybe I will even see some of you next year (the weekend before Thanksgiving).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Black Bean Chili with Avacado Relish

The weather is starting to turn a bit here in Portland, Oregon. For all the press we get about how much it rains here, this year has been unseasonably dry and temperate (global warming?).
It seems like as the weather turns cold I start to crave soups, braised dishes and chili.
As good as authentic Texas Chili is (meat only), I do like to play with this dish. Since I grew up in Idaho I came to know chili from what came in a can (with beans). My father was a manager for a family owned cannery and the company (American Fine Foods) canned chili, beef stew,pork & beans, corn, and a slew of beans (red, kidney, garbanzo, pinto,etc.). Growing up I even worked on the cannery floor one summer. The cannery had been in operation since the early 1900's and much of the equipment was antique. I remember pushing rolling carts filled with neat stacks of canned product into pressure cookers that were tall enough to stand in. The work environment was loud, hot, humid and physically demanding. While images of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" might come to mind, the people we worked with were a pretty happy bunch. Many of the line workers and foremen had worked for decades doing the same job. This is the kind of place where they would refer to someone as "the new guy" (this "guy" had actually been at the plant for 8 years).
The thing I remember though is on the days that we made chili we had USDA inspectors on the line to oversee the meat we were using and to watch the process. Imagine scaling up a chili recipe for a batch of 500 gallons. Forget teaspoons and ounces, we were adding jalapenos by the gallon and chili powder by the 50 lb. sack. As much chili as we made you would think that the last thing I would want to eat when I got home was chili, but I can vividly remember actually craving chili at the end of the day.
My chili recipe is a bit more exotic than the one I grew up on, but the taste still takes me back to my home and the summer I worked on the canning line.

Black Bean Chili

8 Chicken thighs -boned and skinned

Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 Tbsp. Cumin

2 Onions-chopped
8 Garlic Cloves-finely minced
2 Chipolte Peppers
1 Jalapeno-minced
1 Canned Tomatoes-28oz.
1 Cup Corn
3 Cans Black Beans
2 Cups Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper

Cut the chicken into 1" pieces and then add to a Dutch Oven and sear until slightly browned, add the ingredients in the above order-add the seasoning to the meat before you add the garlic and onions. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for at least an hour.

Avacado Relish
1 Avacado-finely chopped
1 Handful cherry tomatoes-chopped
1/4 Red Onion-finely chopped
1 Handful Cilantro-finely chopped
1/2 Jalapeno-finely chopped
1 Lime-Juiced

Toss all the ingredients together in a small bowl. I like this to be a bit looser than my guacamole so I use less ripe avacados and then fold rather then mash the ingredients together.

Serve up the chili in a warmed bowl, top with the avacado relish and some grated cheddar cheese. With all the spice in this dish a wine would be overwhelmed. I served this with a Oatis Oatmeal Stout from Ninkasi Brewing
. The Stout was rich with a hint of bitterness from the hops and at 7.5% alcohol it more than held its own with my Black Bean Chili.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chianti Classico

I was invited to a wine tasting on Monday night and the wines we tasted that evening were 2004 and 2005 Chianti Classico wines. Chianti is a classic food wine and my only lament for the evening was that the wines were tasted in one sitting against each other and without food. These wines age well and you can see that the price for wine you can cellar for 10+ years is very affordable.
Click on the photo to see my detailed notes of the evening-Cheers!

Tasting Notes

Sausage, Beans & Escarole

It has been forever since my last post. It isn’t that I haven’t been eating and drinking (trust me), it is just that I haven’t been writing about it.
Tonight I am dusting off one of my standby recipes that has been in my permanent rotation for the past 20+ years. The dish I simply call “Sausage, Beans & Escarole” is Italian in origin. I used to have a faded clipping from Playboy Magazine (where this recipe came from….I read Playboy for the recipes, yeah thats it). The clipping is no more but the recipe has taken on a life of its own and even my son who despises any vegetable that is not Broccoli will actually ask for seconds.

Sausage, Beans & Escarole
2/3 lb. Italian Sausage (without casing)
5 Garlic Cloves-fine dice
1 Jalapeno Pepper-minced
1 Head of Escarole-very coarsely chopped
2 Cans Cannelli Beans
1/2 cup White Wine
3 cups Chicken Broth

In a Dutch oven sear the Italian sausage under it browns a bit and then add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and heat to a boil then add the roughly chopped Escarole, Beans, and Chicken Broth. Simmer the mixture with the lid of the Dutch Oven just barely cracked.

This is a great dish to make when you go skiing or have just spent a day outside in the cold. It is warm with a touch of spice and some garlic bread and a rustic red wine go well with this-Buon appetito

Italian Sausage, Cannelli Beans & Escarole

Monday, October 27, 2008


Sineann, Domaine Drouhin, Boedecker, Ken Wright....Oh My!

Chien Fache (Mad Dog)
This Saturday I was fortunate enough to be a guest at a Foodbuzz 24,24,24 event. My friend Heather came up with the idea to do a locavore event called: Hunter, Gather, Vintner. My contribution to the event was the idea of providing local wines as well as some homemade (soon to be commercial) wines I helped to make.
I have been making wine with a handful of friends since 2004 and my passion for wine has never been stronger than it is today. The wine I want to make is so much more than a commodity and what my co-winemakers and I believe is to make great wine you need to start with great grapes. The term "Wine is made in the vineyard" is probably overused, but none the less very true.
The menu that Heather developed for the dinner included Elk, Salmon and Chantrelle mushrooms. These are flavors that to me almost scream to be paired with Pinot Noir and since we happen to live adjacent to a "World Class" wine region the access to high quality, small production wine was more than just a wish.
For the event I brought out five wines that I helped to produce and also four commercial wines as well.
The line-up with tasting notes included:

2004 Chien Fache Yamhill County Pinot Noir-Light colored, almost a rosé
in color and very Burgundian in the nose. This is a wine that early on we would chill and serve as a Rosé. With time this wine has become more complex and the bright acidity remains and this wine has a nice balance of perfume on the nose and a good interplay of fruit and acid on the palate.
2005 Chien Fache Dundee Hills-Holstein Vineyard- Pinot Noir-This wine was made from grapes sourced from the vineyard of Allen Holstein. Allen is a long time vineyard manager and has managed properties for Stoeller, Argyle, Domaine Drouhin & Knudsen. His home vineyard is on a great Southeast facing slope in the Dundee Hills. This appellation is know for its red Jory Clay soil.
This wine has big, concentrated black fruit driven nose. The palate shows dark fruit and maybe even a bit of dried fruit (fig and dried currant). Good acidity and a long finish. Unfortunately this was a wine we only made a tiny amount of so today I have about 2 bottles left.
2005/2006 Chien Fache Dundee Hills-Holstein Vineyard- Pinot Noir-2006 was a leaner year than 2005 and this "Cuvee" balances the richness of the 2005 with the bright cherry fruit of the 2006. Great perfume on the nose and a brighter fruit focus that leans towards red cherry and sour cherry. Again a very small production and I might have two bottles of this hanging around as well.
Oregon's next "Cult" Pinot Noir
2006 Chien Fache Dundee Hills-Holstein Vineyard- Pinot Noir- This is a very "Manly" Pinot Noir. Concentrated black/purple fruit on the nose and a fruit driven style of wine that brings blackberry, marionberry and blueberry on the palate. I am sipping this tonight and I am getting a taste of berries and some black licorice. Great balance and mouth coating tannins that are very polished considering this has only been in the bottle for two months. Great with Salmon or venison and this wine has enough stuffing to go well with a rare Ribeye as well.
2006 Chien Fache Walla Walla-Ash Hollow Vineyard-Cabernet Sauvignon-
A Cabernet that shows what the fuss is about Walla Walla. Good upfront dark cherry fruit on the nose that shows a bit of spice and vanilla as well. A balance fruit driven style that has good tannin and a Cabernet we were very pleased with (this was our first effort with that grape). This wine went especially well with the Elk served with dinner.
2003 Domaine Drouhin-Laurene-Pinot Noir-
This was a great bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir. The "Laurene" is the reserve wine of DDO and all of their wine is "estate wine" which means they own their own vineyard (100+ acres of top notch Dundee Hills property). The wine had very good balance and a perfumed nose. Red fruits with a hint of French Oak. You could do worse than to have this be your introduction to Oregon-Willamette Valley- Pinot Noir.
2003 Ken Wright-Elton Vineyard-Pinot Noir-
Ken Wright is one of the 2nd generation of winemakers that came to the Willamette Valley. Ken has been making Pinot Noir for over 20 years and today he has achieved "cult" status for his line-up of single vineyard wines. The Elton vineyard bottle was a concentrated wine that showed earth and dried rose petal on the palate. Bright acidity and a fun mushroom component that paired well with the bounty of Chantrelle's we harvested.
2004 Boedecker-Stoeller Vineyard-Pinot Noir-This wine is made by Athena and Stewart Boedecker. Their part time wine venture is on the verge of becoming their vocation. The Stoeller vineyard is also in the Dundee Hills Appellation and the Boedecker's got enough grapes to make 50 cases of wine (2 barrels). This wine showed good restraint and a balanced nose of red cherry/raspberry fruit. Good acidity and a nice finish.
2004 Sineann-Resonance Vineyard
2004 Sineann-Resonance Vineyard-Pinot Noir-Last but not least was my favorite wine of the night. This wine made by Peter Rosback of Sineann was stellar. Peter is a self taught winemaker who today has enough reknown to also make wine for Thomas Keller and his restaurant "The French Laundry". I have been buying Peter's wines for years, but when I heard he was making wine for Thomas Keller my respect for him grew even more and I remember uttering that if he is making wine for Thomas then he "Is the Sh**".
Great nose of red and purple fruit, a well balanced wine that showed enough acidity for the Salmon and enough tannin for the Elk. Blueberries with heavy cream on the palate and a very long finish.

Okay, I know these notes were a bit wordy and probably give you more than you want to know about wine but most of the information is there to glean. All in all I was very pleased with how the wine I helped to produce held up in this esteemed company.
All of the commercial wine is in the $40-65/bottle category and wines like the Boedecker Stoeller vineyard are nearly impossible to obtain. The food was fantastic and this was truly a special day of great food and great company. I am glad to have been a part of it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roasted Yam Salad w/ Warm Chutney Vinaigrette

Yuck or Yum?
With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner I wanted to share a salad/side dish that I think is absolutely perfect for this time of year. Roasted yams, cranberries, scallions, pumpkin seeds and some red pepper, awesome (no?). It seems that pumpkins, squash, yams and sweet potato dishes abound in the fall and this is a great alternative to Grandma Mildred's Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows. This dish is an adaptation of a sweet potato recipe from Sarah Mouton and a fall menu she put together with one of my favorite chefs-Cory Schrieber (founder of Wildwood Restaurant in Portland, Oregon).
The above photo was taken at a company Halloween party and this is merely a serving suggestion ; )......(If you are having the Addams Family over for dinner).

Roasted Yams w/Warm Chutney Vinaigrette

  • 5-6 medium-sized yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon+ finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (green and white)
  • 1 cup julienned roasted red pepper


  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup mango chutney
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


Make the Salad: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a roasting pan, combine the potatoes, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, cumin and ginger. Stir to combine and bake until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring, until toasted. Transfer the seeds to a plate and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, scallions, and red pepper and set aside.

Make the Dressing: Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients (except for the olive oil) in a small saucepan and heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the olive oil.

Assemble salad by gently tossing the roasted potatoes with the red pepper mixture. Add enough of the dressing to coat and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with extra dressing on the side.

The above photo is just a serving suggestion and the kids might actually love it. If you are headed to a dinner party you might sex this up and not take the Jack-o-lantern serving dish.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pasta Amatriciana

It seems like I have been making this pasta sauce forever but truth be told, I came across this pasta sauce in the early 1990's when I was working on a project in Honolulu, Hawaii. Since then it has become a family favorite and a staple when my cupboard is near bare.

Pasta Amatriciana
4 oz. pancetta or bacon
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 sweet onion
1 can of plum tomatoes
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese

Saute the pancetta until nearly crisp and then add the red pepper flakes and the onion. I like to saute the onion until it nearly disolves.
After twenty or thirty minutes I add the tomatoes and then let the mixture cook while covered with a lid partially off the pot (to allow some evaporation). I let this cook for another half hour and then toss with a tubed shaped pasta. Bucatini is the traditional shape to use, but I like to also use Penne and I haven't gotten many complaints from my dinner guests.
Buon Appetito!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I have been having these primal urges to eat more vegetables this past year. Maybe I am a latent vegetarian?.......(yeah, that's it, that's the ticket). Nah, I think it is just the fact that I have been seeing (and buying) better and better vegetables.
To paraphrase Julia Child-"You only eat the rabbit food while waiting for your steak to cook".
The mixed grilled salads I have been doing this summer all have one thing in common, they taste good! I love the idea of being a locavore, but as you can see I am putting together salads that have frozen ingredients (edamame) or out of season ingredients (asparagus...good grief, where are these babies in season....Peru?). Well I never claimed to be a purist and dammit when I see some big, fat, succulent asparagus that pleads to be oiled and grilled, who am I to deny that request (heh, I'm a giver)?

Dinner tonight was simple-Chicken, roasted potatoes, asparagus and soyccotash

1 cup Edamame
1 cup Corn
1 heirloom tomato
1/2 Red Onion-chopped
2 Scallions-chopped
3 Patty pan squash-chopped
1 pat of butter
Salt & Pepper

Cook the edamame for 3 minutes and shock in cold water, the corn can be cut from the cob or just pan sauteed if frozen. Grill the squash and toss in the raw onions and parsley. Add or subtract vegetables to your hearts desire.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Succotash vs.Macque Choux

Succotash or Macque Choux

Summer is winding down and Fall is definitely in the air. I had been over to some friends house for dinner and since they were leaving for a short vacation they gave me a bag full of produce from their garden. This Summer I think I grilled more than Bobby Flay on "Boy meets Grill" and with the added cornucopia of produce was trying to figure out how to "sex" up a weekday meal.
I love grilling vegetables and had been playing with mixed raw and grilled vegetable salads all Summer long. I had adapted a Ratatouille for a grill prep and tonight I decided I wanted to make a Succotash. Corn, lima beans, tomatoes, celery, scallions, red onion, fennel bulb, serrano peppers and a little parsley for color. I grilled the corn inside the husk and even grilled the scallions and the celery for a couple of minutes. Was this an "authentic" recipe? Hell, I don't know, it is probably more authentic than the frozen Succotash I ate growing up. This salad can be tweaked a hundred different ways and

Grilled Tri-tip w/Chimmichurri, Bacon wrapped jalapenos, Asparagus & Succotash....er Macque Choux?

It wasn't until I was done with dinner and starting to sit down and write this post that I realized my Succotash might also be considered a Macque Choux (pronounced "mock shoe"). My guess is that Macque Choux had its roots in Succotash and the Cajun/French/Spanish/African influences of Louisiana transformed that dish into a regional specialty. Succotash comes from the Native American Narraganset Indians and it appears to be almost any vegetable medley that uses corn and lima beans. I added a vinaigrette to mine, but in the future I would probably go with a pat of butter and just salt and pepper

2006 Altano

This "bad boy" of a wine has been a favorite Summer pick from Trader Joe's. This sells for around $7.99/bottle and it fights well above its weight.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic pairing with beef, but to be honest the "good" Cabernets have an entry price point of $15-20 dollars and the lower end wines tend to have so much oak that all I taste is the vanilla. Don't get me wrong, if someone is opening a bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia I am all over it. On the other hand, if I am buying wine for a Monday night dinner, I am stocking up on this wine by the case.
Do yourself a favor the next time you are at TJ's, skip the purchase of the $2 Buck Chuck. Spend a couple more dollars and get a wine that has a lot more heart and soul and at this price point this is almost as good as finding a $10 dollar bill in the parking lot.

70% Tinta Roriz and 30% Touriga Franca. Spicy aromas and a hint of coffee and chocolate on the nose. This opens up to a much more meaty complex wine and it shows off a core of dark purple/black fruits. This wine has no apparent oak (yeah!) . Tannins are rounded but clearly present and make this a great wine for a grilled piece of beef. Just enough acidity to provide some freshness and liveliness on the palate as well

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blind Tasting

Professionals at work
This weekend my "formal" wine group Confrerie des Vignerons de St. Vincent Macon held a "blind" tasting of 10 Oregon Pinot Noir wines. By blind I don't mean that you needed a seeing eye dog to attend. Tasting blind means that you conceal the identity of the wines you are tasting and you judge on taste alone. The quality of the wine has to stand on its own and just because the producer is reknowned or that the label happens to be a cute animal is not going to carry the day in one of these events.
Like the "Unknown Comic", except for wine
The great thing about these events is that you really get a chance to smell and taste and throw out random comments about how stuff tastes. The downside is when you have the winemakers in attendance (we had three) you just hope that none of the wines they brought is going to be an embarrassment (none were).
The only REALLY funky wine of the night was a 2001 Panther Creek-Bednarik Vineyard that tasted like a slightly older Bordeaux (kind of a "barnyard meets saddle leather" not exactly what I am looking for in a Pinot Noir).

Tasting or drinking?

My winemaking friends Tom Harvey and Andria Shirk were able to attend the event. What made that special is we had spent the morning bottling our own 2006 Holstein Vineyard-Dundee Hills Pinot Noir and we were throwing it into the event as well. Just for good measure we also tossed in our 2005 vintage of that same wine. If you click on the below photo you can see my notes of the tasting. We ended up being really happy with how our wines showed. The 2006 needs some time in a dark, cool place. I want to see how this shows after a year in the bottle.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bad Menus

Damn, they must have used the "Red-neck" English/French translation dictionary

How much for the large?
Maybe Dan Quayle works here
MMM, Fried Porn & Rice (my favorite)
I was surfing the internet today and came across a great flickr site called Bad Menus. What is not to like about that?

Friday, September 12, 2008

2003 Quilceda Creek Red Wine

2003 Quilceda Creek Red Wine
I am heading to a barbeque tonight and my hosts are huge California Cabernet fans. While the above wine is actually a Washington wine I think that it will hold its own tonight when it squares off with the likes of Silver Oak, Ridge and Staglin. This wine happens to be the "2nd" wine of Quilceda Creek. Its Daddy was scored a perfect 100pts. by no less than Robert Parker. Below is Parker's notes. When I get back from the party I will post my own notes.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 92 points "The finest Red Wine the Golitzens have fashioned to date, the 2003 (1,300 cases) is an assemblage of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot. It bursts from the glass with black currants, violets, blackberries, and notes of dark cherries. Dense, medium-bodied, silky-textured, and intense, this black fruit-packed wine bears Quilceda Creek’s trademark marriage of power with elegance and sweet tannin. Projected maturity: now-2020. Congratulations Alex and Paul, welcome to the big leagues."

Norm's notes: Very, very ripe (maybe overripe) dark purple fruit. Some spice on the nose but a hint of decay (like when you leave blackberries on the counter and they begin to mold). Big bodied wine that verged on being flabby. A decent finish but I wanted more balance and structure from this wine. I was expecting Kathleen Turner in her prime and I wound up with Anna Nicole Smith before she went on her diet.
If I am scoring this, I'll give it 84pts. At $35/bottle you can do much better for your $.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Dinner






Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Official" Beer of Portland


I admit it, I am a total beverage snob and I was on the bandwagon early in regard to the whole micro-brew movement. I know a Belgian ale from a Barleywine, the difference between and ale and a lager and what an IBU is (in fairness, I used to homebrew). When I moved to Portland, Oregon (Munich on the Willamette), I knew I had found my home. There is an almost unlimited amount of craft beer being brewed out here. It seem like every small pub has its own beer/ale/lager. The days of having two beers on tap at your local watering hole are over.
So, what is this can of Pabst doing on my counter? Well, I have come full circle in my beer selection. I still love a microbrew and I am a total hophead (can you say Imperial IPA please?), but I hate paying $8.00 for a six-pack. So to solve my dilemma and to provide some serviceable "lawn mower" beer (I don't really have a lawn-urban condo dweller) I have turned to an old school standby. This is the kind of beer we (40-65 year old demographic) used to slug down playing quarters at a frat party or shot-gunning at a tailgater before heading back for the second half of a football game. Pabst Blue Ribbon sells for about $14/case and when all you want is something cold, fizzy and a beer that is not 7% alcohol this fits the bill....plus this actually gives my refrigerator some street cred as it is the Macro beer of choice among young Portlanders.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chateau Ducru Beaucallou

What I appreciate about having a small wine cellar is having the ability to buy and store wine for a long period of time. I love buying wine that I know I won't touch for a decade or more. Hey, don't get me wrong, I like instant gratification as much as the next guy, but when it comes to food and drink I like to spend an inordinate amount of time and money chasing that pursuit.
This wine comes from the St. Julian appellation of Bordeaux. In the 1855 Classification it is considered a 2nd Growth (officially Seconds Crus, sometimes written as Deuxièmes Crus)

The full list of the 2nd Growth wines

âteau Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux
Château Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux
Château Léoville-Las Cases, St.-Julien
Château Léoville-Poyferré, St.-Julien
Château Léoville Barton, St.-Julien
Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux
Château Gruaud-Larose, St.-Julien
Château Lascombes, Margaux
Château Brane-Cantenac, Cantenac-Margaux (Margaux)
Château Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac (commonly known as Pichon Baron)
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac (commonly known as Pichon Lalande or Pichon Comtesse)
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St.-Julien
Château Cos d'Estournel, St.-Estèphe
Château Montrose, St.-Estèphe

To me this bottle and lable scream "old school". With all of the animal labels of Australia and the pseudo labels of distributors in the United States it is nice to actually have a bottle of wine that not only contains great wine, but that also carries itself with an understated amount of class and dignity. This bottle is going to a neighbor and a friend of mine who just got married on Monday. My friend is in the wine business so he knows what the pedigree of this wine. With proper storage this wine could easily be opened to celebrate his 20th Anniversary. I hope they enjoy drinking this wine as much as I did giving them their little bit of delayed gratification.

Bowpicker Fish & Chips

Trust me, less is more
Every once in a while I happen across some fast food that I have to rave about. I am not a big fan of any of the chains (except for McDonald's french fries) but I do enjoy coming across a family run business that has its sh*t together.
This weekend my son and I made a quick run up to Astoria to meet up with my aunt and uncle. They were visiting some friends out at Ft. Stevens and a recommendation was made for a lunch.
Lucky for all of us the place recommended was the "Bowpicker".
The Bowpicker is a little fish stand (across from the Maritime Museum-highly recommended also)
. This to be honest is a place I wouldn't have stopped at had it not been recommended so highly. Theme restaurants and roadside stands can be a dicey proposition and too often are a disappointment. In this case we were in for a treat.
"Keep it simple stupid"
A former fishing boat, turned Fish Shack that serves two things......Deep fried, beer batter Albacore Tuna and French Fries. Damn, these guys have gotten the zen thing down. The mantra of "keep is simple stupid" or "less is more" completely applies here.

When a place has more condiments than menu items (and a 20 minute waiting line) you have to think they are doing something right. I wish more places would figure out what they do well and whittle down what doesn't work on their menu.

Fresh, lightly beer breaded Albacore tuna and just right french fries are a hard combination to beat. If you are in Astoria, you really should treat yourself to lunch at the Bowpicker.

The Bowpicker
17th St. & Duane St.
Astoria, OR 97103

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fair and Balanced

I couldn't help but post this clip of Jon Stewart. I love when reality becomes so bizarre that you couldn't even make this stuff up. Thank goodness we have Fox News to keep us informed and tell it like it is. See if you don't agree that Karl Rove has a face made for radio.
The clip is on the right side of the blog...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Grilled Pizza

Grilled Pizza
Summer is winding down and I was trying to think of something I hadn't already grilled this Summer. I threw an idea at my son and he was more than happy to take a shot at grilling some pizza. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home. Our local store of choice is called "New Seasons" and it is a small, local chain in Portland, Oregon that has a big focus on local products. Produce, meat, dairy, beer, etc. They also happen to make a really kick-ass pizza dough. We grabbed a bag and headed home.
I knew I was going to have to pre-cook the dough enough to firm it up for the grill so I rolled out three small pieces of dough instead of the two we usually do. I baked the dough for about 5 minutes and then set aside so we could top our pizza and take on the grill.

The first pizza was a take on a traditional pepperoni pizza, except this one used was a hot calabrese salame. A light brush of Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Parmesan and the Salame. Hot Calabrese Salame
The other pizza was bushed with olive oil and I added Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Gorgonzola.
Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Gorgonzola

The third pizza was a mirror of the first.

My expectations were fairly high, but I have to admit that I liked the crust on these actually better than the oven cooked pizzas I have been making. The crust takes on an almost wood fired oven char and the taste was nearly identical to a Brick Oven pizza. Keep the toppings light as the thin crust is probably optimal for about 3 ingredients.
Grilled Pizza Crust-This was great!