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 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!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where there's smoke there's fire

Anyone who reads my blog even semi-regularly knows how I love to cook with wood and charcoal. I came across a great post on another site and I wanted to share it.
Below is an outline of different woods used to cook and smoke meat.
Take a look and try one of these at your next cookout.

ACACIA - these trees are in the same family as mesquite. When burned in a smoker, acacia has a flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy. A very hot burning wood.

ALDER - Very delicate with a hint of sweetness. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.

ALMOND - A sweet smoke flavor, light ash. Good with all meats.

APPLE - Very mild with a subtle fruity flavor, slightly sweet. Good with poultry (turns skin dark brown) and pork.

ASH - Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.

BIRCH - Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.

CHERRY - Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some List members say the cherry wood is the best wood for smoking. Wood from chokecherry trees may produce a bitter flavor.

COTTONWOOD - It is a softer wood than alder and very subtle in flavor. Use it for fuel but use some chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor. Don’t use green cottonwood for smoking.

CRABAPPLE - Similar to apple wood.

GRAPEVINES - Tart. Provides a lot of smoke. Rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.

HICKORY - Most commonly used wood for smoking–the King of smoking woods. Sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.

LILAC - Very light, subtle with a hint of floral. Good with seafood and lamb.

MAPLE - Smoky, mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.

MESQUITE - Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game. One of the hottest burning.

MULBERRY - The smell is sweet and reminds one of apple.

OAK - Heavy smoke flavor–the Queen of smoking wood. RED OAK is good on ribs, WHITE OAK makes the best coals for longer burning. All oak varieties reported as suitable for smoking. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.

ORANGE, LEMON and GRAPEFRUIT - Produces a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.

PEAR - A nice subtle smoke flavor. Much like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.

PECAN - Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is an all-around superior smoking wood.

SWEET FRUIT WOODS - APRICOT, PLUM, PEACH, NECTARINE - Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory.

WALNUT - ENGLISH and BLACK - Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Heirloom Tomato Blog

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Maybe if heirloom tomatoes weren't seasonal then I could do a year round Tomato blog. You know, kind of a take off on the the blog "The Bacon Show". You gotta love a blog whose motto is: "One bacon recipe per day, every day, forever".
Well, for better or worse these tasty gems are seasonal so I am feverishly trying to make as many dishes that utilize there tasty deliciousness before I am back to using canned Italian tomatoes.
Dinner used the recipe I had posted earlier this summer. This is an easy end of Summer supper dish and even I like to take a break from the kitchen now and then.
Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Heirloom Tomatoes

Stacked Tomato Salad w/ Basil Vinaigrette

One of the great things about living in Portland, Oregon is the amazing amount locally produced food we have access to. Berries, produce, wine, Salmon, game, mushrooms and did I mention wine? My Labor Day weekend was just as I wanted it to be. Great food, wine, good company and even a little college football.
Tonight my dinner is going to include the following:


Bruschetta w/Tuscan White Bean Puree

Stacked Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Heirloom tomatoes layered with fresh Mozzarella, Olivita & Basil

Jamaican Jerk Rub Rib Eye w/ Chadon Beni Sauce

served with
Grilled Potato Salad with Arugula, Green Onions, & Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Drunken Grilled Pineapple
Wood Fire Grilled Pineapple with a Rum & Raw Sugar Glaze
serverd with
1985 Chateau Gilette Sauterne (F*** yeah)

1998 Ridge Montebello

My buddy Sam Sundeleaf brought over three fantastic bottles for dinner tonight. First, a 1998 Ridge Montebello. This is one of California's original cult wines and this wine was spectacular.

1998 Ridge Montebello: Garnet color with a just the first hint of starting to develop some brickishness. An earthy nose (maybe just a hint of horseshit on a new pair of cowboy boots) reminiscent of some fine Bordeaux wines. Good, concentrated fruit, licorice and a great balance on the palate. Subtle tannins, though this wine does have a long finish. Drinking well now and I would say if you have this in your cellar go ahead and start breaking it out.

The next wine was an 2003 Alexander Valley Silver Oak. This too is a high quality Cabernet Sauvignon wine producer.

2003 Alexander Valley-Silver Oak: Deep, dark garnet color. Big fruit and big vanilla on the nose. Good balance, well made wine. I wish this producer would notch down the oak a touch as I think the fruit is more than good enough to carry this wine on its own. A great "date wine" and this would probably be a favorite with wine drinkers just starting to explore California wines.

The final wine of the night was one we paired with the Grilled Pineapple.

1985 Chateau Gilette: This Sauterne producer ages their wines for 20 years in concrete vats before they bottle and sell their wine. This bottle was a bright, clover honey yellow with great spice and perfume on the nose. A big, thick and full bodied wine that showed honey, caramel and spice on the palate as well. The wine has a long finish and could age in the bottle another 25 years with no problem.This is truly a transcendental wine. This wine made me glad that the food and menu for the night were on the same plane as the wine. This was a very special bottle and a big "Thank you" to my friend Sam for bringing it to dinner.