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 & 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