Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blackwood Canyon

Old School?

What can top a day of fabulous wine tasting in the Red Mountain Appellation? Almost nothing, but if you are a wine geek, not just a casual wine drinker but a true geek I can recommend a wine tour that you will never forget.
Two words: “Blackwood Canyon”. Up for an adventure? Go ahead and tell the tasting room manager at what ever winery you are visiting, that you are headed to Blackwood Canyon for a "reserve" tasting. That should start the conversation rolling. Yeah, maybe you have been to Opus (very cool) or seen the barrel ageing room at Mondavi (remarkable) in Oakville. Maybe you have visited the hallowed ground of Haut Brion (Un-freaking believable) in Bordeaux or seen the Francis Ford Coppala Museum (kinda weird, but fun) at Rubicon. All of these are great, but for a sheer in-your-face, did-we-just-experience-that? event, you have to go visit Mike Moore and his near mythical Blackwood Canyon winery.
On the gray November day that five of us headed to Walla Walla the chatter in the car was all about Red Mountain and a trip to Blackwood Canyon. Three of the five travelers had actually visited before and soon stories about a veritable barrel grave yard, a broken down sign, a winery that looked like it was the movie set for Sanford and Son meets Road Warrior. I was thinking to myself –c’mon, it can’t possibly be that bad.
At 3:00pm we took our photos out at the road next to the sign to the winery. The sign was probably put up about 20 years ago by the looks of the fading paint. I imagine that the bullet holes have been added over the years. The hand written invitation exclaiming “Old World Tasting” (looking like it had been written in white shoe polish) should have given us pause, but no, we were in for the long haul.
Back in the car and headed down the lane towards the winery. About a half mile down the road and with no winery in sight you see a hand written sign that says: “Keep going”. The next marker about another 1/8 of a mile says: “A little further”. As we pulled up through what looked like a kind of funky farm/barnyard (only surrounded by vineyards) we were met by the site of some cellar workers making wine and filling barrels.
Wine in barrel being aged outdoors-Blackwood Canyon
There were literally 100’s of oak barrels on the sloping hillside, all full of wine and apparently ageing until they reached their peak.

Barrel Aging Area-Blackwood Canyon
The description of the facility that my friends had given of this place was actually understated……..way understated. wow, wow, wow, WOW! What happens when reality far surpasses your wildest dreams (in a surreal way)? The grounds and the facility reminded me of Grandma Prizby’s bottle house or maybe Simon Rodia’s Watts Tower. Just like I said, "Sanford & Son" meets "Road Warrior IV" (just add a couple hundred wine barrels)......Holy smokes!
Michael Moore
We made our way down the path into the winery tasting room and met the owner and legendary winemaker, Michael Moore. To say the tasting room is a bit eclectic is an understatement.  When you walk into the door of the winery it appears that the contents of 1000 junk drawers has been ransacked and their contents taken for decor. Mike's persona can be described as some kind of cosmic link to Bill Murray's (Carl Spackler) character in Caddy Shack (at least they share the same interior decorator).
Actually, if you are going for a visit, just think of Michael Moore as Carl Spackler.....gopher killer/wine maker............I think..... and this will give you a bit of a mental edge when your imagination meets reality. It might even be fun to hum a few bars of the "Green Beret" song on your way in the door.
Lab/Office/Back Room-Blackwood Canyon & The laptop with which we viewed the Wine Library ReviewCarl Spackler's digs in Caddyshack

Michael Moore's digs at-Blackwood Canyon

As I indicated this is unlike any winery you have ever visited. Michael has a degree from UC Davis and while you might find his approach to making wine a little odd, I prefer the think of him as a modern day Don Quixote. We were one of the last groups of the day and we ended up spending three + hours discussing fermentation, aging of wine, tasting profiles, oak, oxidation, lees aging (for 20 years) and a host of other topics. We also tasted through 10-12 different and unique wines. Even with our lengthy visit we never even made it to the red wines in his portfolio. The wine that stuck out in my mind was the Chardonnay that he had barrel aged (on the lees) for 20 years. This wine was reminiscent of old White Burgundy and had an acidity and flavor concentration that made it stand out. The rest of the bottles we tasted through had a similar aged (oxidized? component). Are the wines for everyone? No. Are these cocktail wines? Definitely not. Are these interesting wines? Hell Yes! The discussion turned to the wine style and what he is trying to do with these wines. Mr. Moore claims to be replicating the wine styles that existed in France in the mid 1800's. Who are we to argue.
Bon Appetit
Okay, so we spent a long afternoon with a man who has probably forgotten more about wine making that most of us will ever know. He is a contemporary of Heidi Barrett (Cult Napa Winemaker) and while I absolutely think this guy is one part genius, I also think he is two parts mad man. Just before we made our escape and just before I thought our day could not get any weirder, Michael mentioned that he had just sent some wines to Gary Vaynerchuk. If you aren't familiar with Gary, he is the owner of Wine Library and he produces a video blog to review wine. At well over 50,000 viewers per day, he is becoming a Gen X Robert Parker, (speaking of Parker, here is what he said about this winery) I couldn't imagine him tasting these wines. Well, long story short, he did. We watched the video on the laptop in the "office" area (shown above) and instead of me spoiling the experience for you , just go ahead and click on the link I provided to view this video. I will say this, Gary V. loved both wines and gave major kudos to Michael Moore for his unique approach.
All I can say is if you are headed to Blackwood Canyon do yourself a favor and think of this as theater, maybe even a play (Think "Tony and Tina's Wedding") that you are a part of. The wine (really interesting), food (c'mon be a sport and play along), conversation (did I just hear what I think I did?) and sheer anti-establishment tenor of this place will blow your mind. This is a winery visit that will stick with me the rest of my life. Life is short, have fun-

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wild Rice and Chanterelle Salad with Dried Fruit, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. Food, Friends, Family along with conversation and some great wine always make this a fun day. This year I had the chance to go to two T-day events (woo-hoo!). This rice dish that I borrowed from Portland Icon, Chef Cory Shreiber formerly of Wildwood Restaurant has become a favorite and was a dish I took to both events.

The below recipe is his with the exception of my addition of crimini mushrooms in lieu of Chantrelle's (hey, if you have access to Chantrelle's, knock yourself out and use them.......heck, go whole hog and use two pounds!).


8 cups water
2 cups wild rice
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 bay leaf
12 sprigs thyme
4 teaspoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 pounds chanterelle or portobello mushrooms or crimini, wiped clean and chopped

1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mixed dried fruits, such as cherries, cranberries, raisins, chopped figs, or chopped apricots
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 pound stemmed arugula or watercress
8 ounces fresh white goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

To prepare the rice: Wash the rice under cold water for 2 minutes. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add the salt, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the washed rice to the boiling water and simmer for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain the rice and remove the bay leaf and thyme; let cool. (This can be done 1 day ahead of time and refrigerated.) You should have 7 cups cooked rice.

In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from heat, drain well, and set aside.

To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, shallots, fennel, cumin, thyme, and pepper and season with salt. Add the dried fruits.

In a salad bowl, combine the cooled wild rice, cooked mushrooms, and walnuts. Toss with the vinaigrette and fruits.

To serve, portion the greens on a plate, top with the rice mixture and sprinkle with the goat cheese.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Hero

Writer Jim Harrison

Here is the man whose book; "The Raw and the Cooked", gave me the title for my blog. His reputation for enjoying good food and wine is legendary. Besides, when you can name drop about having Mario Batali make you a 19 course dinner for your birthday or casually mention the evening you powered down a huge prime rib and a couple of bottles of St. Emilion with Jack Nicholson, you, in my book, are: "The Man"

Legends of the Fall author, poet, screenwriter and wine lover discusses a lifetime of special bottles
Owen Dugan/Wine Spectator
Posted: September 15, 2009

Jim Harrison is an American writer who has worked as a screenwriter and published poetry, fiction (including Legends of the Fall, upon which the 1994 screenplay of the same name was based), and non-fiction on a range of subjects, including wine and food. Many of his stories are set in the wild, and are concerned with humanity and man's moral center. Wine Spectator caught up with Harrison on the telephone from his Montana house.

Wine Spectator: Do you collect wine?
Jim Harrison: There was a lawyer in Southern Michigan who had a nice petite cellar of about 70 cases. He developed cirrhosis but didn't want to sell his beloved collection to a restaurant, so I bought it. I had about 40 cases of premiers crus in there. My daughter even had a '49 Latour and a '61 Lafite for her night before the wedding dinner.

It's basically all dissipated now. But I still get to have some good bottles when I travel, because some people feel ashamed of their wealth and pour nice things for poets. Just a couple of years ago I was hunting at this big ranch in New Mexico and a man there, a friend, tried to give me an '82 Pétrus. I said, "I can't take that." I get home and there it is, stuffed in my duffel bag. It was almost the best ever.
NS: When my college buddy Brad Stone mailed me a 1989 Lynch Bages (loosely packed in a shoebox), I was just as jazzed.

WS: I'll bite: what was the best wine you ever had?
JH: I was in Malibu, cooking dinner for a bunch of fashion models who were drinking cola. [Record producer Lou Adler] offered me two '53 Romanée-Contis which I was able to drink, if you can imagine that.

WS: What was the beginning of your love of wine?
JH: My big break was when I was in the [Florida] Keys, fishing. I was about 28. I was with [author] Tom McGuane, and we met [author] Guy de la Valdène. And I start palling around with him, and fishing. He couldn't conceive of a day going by without a decent bottle of wine. I spent time at [his family's] place in France. His mother had a nice cellar. She packed two '23 Margauxs in our picnic lunch.

WS: Do you still spend time in France?
JH: I found a vineyard that fascinates me in Collioure, down near Perpignan, called [Domaine] La Tour Vieille. It's really fascinating because the terrain—talk about terroir—is sort of straight up and down, overlooking the sea. I got an award last November in Lyon, and I'm just ecstatic for these old bistros [there]. That kind of food really turns me on, whether it's beef, snout, lard or mayonnaise.

WS: What about food-and-wine pairing, do you give it much thought?
JH: Oh, it all goes together: what you eat, how you live, food and wine. In San Francisco, there's a deli called Lucca. The other day I had a Gigondas with an Italian sandwich, which had the best provolone I'd ever had in my life, including in Italy. You know when it goes right up your nose? And sizzles in your ears. What intense pleasure. And here's a wine-and-food pairing: [Jack] Nicholson's not a big drinker, but he really likes nice wine. We went to Gibsons, which is my favorite steak place in Chicago, had an enormous prime rib steak and drank two bottles of St.-Emilion. What more do you want?

WS: You've written about marathon eating sessions. Have you been involved in any lately?
JH: Well Mario Batali and April Bloomfield and Adam Perry Lang came down to Patagonia, Arizona for my birthday last year. They cooked me a little dinner. We had 19 courses. We even finished with a 1937 Chateau d'Yquem and a nice '34 Armagnac.
NS: That doesn't suck

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Au Lait & Beignet's at Cafe Du Monde-New Orleans

This seems like a fitting post since I haven't written in so long. I just got back for a week in New Orleans and I just want to go on record and say that a steady diet of Oyster PoBoy's, Beignet's, Bread Pudding, Abita Ambers and Hurricane's, while all very tasty, may not be optimal for long term health.
If you haven't been to New Orleans I am throwing down the gauntlet and saying that if you are a foodie then this place has to be on your "bucket list"
The photo of the above is from Cafe du Monde.
Beignets are just square French donuts, and at Cafe du Monde they are served with about a cup of powdered sugar on top. They are served warm and after a long night out I think these are second only to Ibuprofen as a cure for what ails you. While the original spot off of Jackson Square seems like a tourist trap (it is), the dirty little secret is that the locals also love this place as well. They have been around since 1862 and with the business they do they will be around as long as New Orleans is still above water. As they say in New Orleans-Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Polish S'mores

Polish S'more

I spotted this today in the Willamette Week (Portland Alternative Weekly).....insert Homer Simpson drooling sound............-dooh! why didn't I think of these?

Former: Why “Polish s’more?” Because its creator is Polish, and this baby is the ultimate rebuttal to all Polish jokes. Former WW art director Maggie Gardner writes in with an Independence Day discovery: a bacon s’more.

[We] had a stroke of genius while, watching the camp fire cook breakfast on one side, and a morning s’more on the other: why not marry the two? And hence, the bacon s’more was born. I tell you, it’s the best fucking thing in the whole world. Like a white-trash version of a bacon-wrapped date.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Grandma Mildred's Baked Bean

"Golden Spike Ceremony" -First Transcontinental Railroad-1869

I was just lamenting the other day that I hadn't grown up in an ethnic household. Sure, my family is German and I do know that my Great-great grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1856. He was Sixteen years old and when he landed here he had exactly 40 cents in his pocket. He worked as a farm hand, basically for room and board and from what I gather the "board" portion of his pay was pretty slim. I have read accounts of him eating more than a fair amount of squirrel. Long story short John Schoen enlists in the Union Army and served as a guard for U.S. Grant. After the war he was granted citizenship and he started a construction company that did the grading for theUnion Pacific Railroad. This was part of the construction for the Inter-continental Railroad and he was actually in Utah when the golden spike was driven. He made enough money to move to Kansas, purchase a 137 acre farm, get married and eventually have 9 sons.
Okay, enough of the family history-
Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to have been invited to a Pig Roast my blog friend Heather put together this event for her husband Scott's birthday. My contribution to the event was a batch of Baked Beans. The recipe I used was from my fraternal grandmother and it is one of the few culinary memories from my childhood that I want to see carried forward. The recipe is simple (kinda white trash actually), but these beans are awesome!
Chicken Kabobs with Aleppo Pepper & Yogurt Marinade and my Grandmother's Baked Beans

Grandma Mildred's Baked Beans
2 lbs. Pinto beans (soak overnight)
4 oz. Bacon
1 Onion
6 Cloves Garlic
1 cup Ketchup
1/2 cup Ballpark Mustard
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Molasses
1/2 cup strong black Coffee
Cook (simmer) the beans in ample water for an hour then let rest for 30 minutes. Brown the bacon, add the onion and garlic. Add the beans and the wet ingredients. The mixture should have enough moisture that the beans are swimming in liquid (add more of any of the wet ingredients as you adjust to taste). A Dutch oven is perfect for cooking these at 325 degrees. The beans will be done in 3-4 hours-cook covered (check hourly and stir).
What makes my grandmother's recipe a little more unique is that she used to cook the beans until they were almost dry (see the photo). My recipe for Heather kept this a little more traditional and a bit more "saucey".
At home I cook the beans until the liquid is just barely gone. These beans are absolute flavor bombs-let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why?.............Because Bacon Tastes Good

Yeah, I guess that you might get sick from the H1N1 Virus, but c'mon and get real about eating Pork. The swine flu isn't caused by eating Pork (especially Bacon). Bacon is savory deliciousness and while a VERY bacon heavy lifestyle might not be in your best interest. As part of a balanced diet that includes the fruit, vegetables, and that green side dish often called a "salad" you should be able to look forward to 6-7 decades of bacon consumption............"More Bacon please"!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jerked Chicken

I have been busy with a new job since January and even though I have been cooking at home my blog posting has suffered. Last week I was on the road all week and this weekend I really wanted to do some "Home Cooking". With the weather in Portland, Oregon finally looking Spring-like I decided to fire up the grill and try a new favorite of mine. If you have followed my blog you will note that last year May I made a Jamaican Jerked Rib Eye Steak, this weekend I did one of those and then followed up with a Jerked Chicken. While the spices (Cinnamon, Ginger, Allspice, Cloves, Nutmeg) used sound like you are doing some Christmas baking the taste is anything but the Fruit Cake you got from your Mother. With these aromatic spices go ahead and toss in 3-4 Habanero peppers and you have some serious heat. If you haven't had one of these peppers raw just know that the heat quotient is roughly this: If heat equals strength and this is the World's Strongest Man Contest, the habanero chile can lift an 18-wheeler (300,000 scoville units). The serrano can lift a VW van. The jalapeño (5,000 scoville units) can lift a Vespa. If you want to simulate the heat just light a match, let it burn for 3 seconds, blow it out and then stick the match on your tongue.....nuff said.
This chicken is best if marinated overnight and it was awesome with some grilled asparagus, roasted cherry peppers (suprisingly hot) and a mixed vegetable salad. Try using hardwood charcoal with some fruit wood to produce some smoke (I used apple wood). About 30 minutes per side gets this done. Pair with a Red Stripe or a crisp and fruity Spanish Rose.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Penne All'Arrabbiata

The weather in Portland, Oregon still trying to decide if it is going to allow Spring to rear its head. I am aching for some sunshine and tonight's dinner really needed to be kicked up a notch to get me out of my funk. A lot of foods are familiar or provide comfort, but tonight's meal I wanted something that would give me an endorphin hit. What better to provide that than a Roman pasta sauce that takes Olive Oil, Garlic, Pepper flakes, Plum Tomatoes and little Parsley to a new level. A big fat splash of Olive Oil into a hot pan along with a handful of Red Pepper Flakes (1+ teaspoon ). Cook the peppers in the oil for a minute then add 4-5 cloves of Garlic, a large can of imported Italian Plum Tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes.
In case your aren't fluent in Italian, the name of this dish basically means "angry or enraged" it is going to be more than a little spicy-hey, at least I warned you.
These peasant sauces are so simple and so spectacular. If I owned a restaurant this dish would be on my permanent rotation.
Pair this with any wine that is red, rustic and Italian-Mangia!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Paella Valencia

Man, I sometimes forget how awesome this single pan meal can be. Last weekend I had some time to play around in the kitchen so I dug out my Paella pan and went to work.
The biggest hurdle for this dish is the prep it takes to throw it together just before you are ready to serve. That said, this is a dish that you can prep for in stages and the final presentation is spectacular.
The variations of meats and seafood you can throw into this are almost endless. I did a bastardized version of Paella Valencia.
Start with a soffritto of peppers, cilantro, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Brown your sausage and chicken and set aside. I took the soffritto, and four cups of rice and heated the mix in the Paella pan until it was starting to toast. Add six cups of broth and then layer in the chicken and sausage. Place this in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes then add the mussels, clams and shrimp and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Pull the Paella pan and place on a gas burner and crank the heat up high for a couple of minutes. This will produce the the dish with a toasty brown carmelized rice on the bottom of the pan that the Spanish call socarrot. Toss the pan with some chopped green olives and some parsley just before you pour a Rioja and sit down for dinner.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lewis & Clark

Cedar Plank Roasted Wild Salmon

Some things are just meant to go Basil & Tomatoes, Peanut butter & Jelly, Hotdogs & Mustard, French Fries & Ketchup. In the Pacific Northwest the combination that goes together like Lewis & Clark is that of Roasted Salmon & Pinot Noir.

If you want to be even more specific you can add that the Salmon needs to be roasted on a Cedar or Alder Plank over an open fire (Weber is fine). The fresh Salmon is best when just seasoned with Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper and cooked for 12-15 minutes. The wood plank adds fantastic aromatic spice note to the dish. The Sineann Pinot Noir with its primal earthy nose and tart huckleberry/blueberry palate was a perfect foil for this succulent dish.

While I am pretty sure the Corp of Discovery wasn't having this for dinner while looking for the Northwest Passage, I am certain that they would have been happy to trade boiled venison and camas roots for what I had for dinner.
What Lewis & Clark wished they had for dinner

Sineann 2005 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Muffuletta-Portland Style

It seems that since about Thanksgiving I have been eating like a bear getting ready for hibernation. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, My 50th B-day, and finally this past weekend the Super Bowl. Yikes, any more marathon caloric intake events and I am going to challenge Joey Chestnut at the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest in 2009.
My group of friends are huge foodies and big time wine people as well. Our Super Bowl parties end up being more like a holiday cocktail party versus becoming a college like.... pretzel, chip, Bud Lite event that seems to be more the norm for this most hallowed American tradition.
Since I was hosting I wanted to do something a little over the top as far as food went. In the past I have made Chili, Cioppino and even a fantastic Paella. This year I wanted to make something fun, festive and basically something that I could do ahead of time (hey, I wanted to watch the game).
When I contemplate the words "fun", "festive" and "over the top" the first thing that comes to mind is New Orleans. Damn, that city has a complete grip on my foodie cerebral cortex. What isn't to like about a city that has great food, awesome cocktails, lax laws about public nudity and a place that virtually encourages public intoxication (no open container laws......and drinks to go are the norm)?
I am not sure, but it may be a law that you have to have at least a 16 oz. alcoholic beverage in your hand to even be allowed to walk up and down Bourbon Street. To be safe when I last visited I didn't want to offend any locals or break any laws so I made sure I had a beverage in my hand at all times.
Anyway, back to the Superbowl........ and what to make for a main course. In New Orleans there is a funky Italian deli called the Cental Grocery Co. that serves up my favorite sandwich on the planet...The Muffuletta. The locals call it a Muff-a-lotta, but however you pronounce it this sandwich it is an awesome collection of olive salad, genoa salami, ham, mortadella, provolone cheese and a great sicilian style round bread loaf.
The cold cuts and cheese are no sweat to come by. The bread and the olive salad took some work and I was lucky to have a good bakery nearby that actually sells a Sicilian round loaf that is very close to a muffuletta loaf.
As far as the Olive Salad is concerned I am sure there are as many recipes as there are recreations of this sandwich. All I know is that if you let this mixture sit for a few days before you use it you will be rewarded handsomely.
Olive Salad....I am so proud

Olive Salad
1 cup Green Olives w/Pimentos-chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives-chopped
2 Tbsp. Capers
1 Carrot-fine dice
1 Celery Stick-fine dice
1 Jar Giardiniera (pickled cauliflower,celery, carrots, peppers, onion, etc.)-chopped
1/2 cup green onions- fine dice
1/2 cup Red Onion-fine dice
3-4 or 8 Garlic cloves-fine dice
Olive Oil-to cover

I sliced the round bread loaf in half and pulled out about 1/2 of the bread then started with a layer of Olive Salad and went with the provolone, ham, mortadella, salami, more provolone ( use your judgement...3-4 oz. of each makes a BIG sammy), some more Olive salad and topped with the bread. Wrap this bad boy in plastic wrap as tight as you can get it and let this sit for a couple of hours. For serving cut the sandwich into fourths, crack a cold beverage and enjoy the game.
Say Ahhhh!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blood Orange Marmalade

Blood Orange Marmalade

Oh my! It has been almost a month since my last post. Trust me, I have still been cooking, I just haven't been blogging. Time to ring in 2009 with a recipe that adds a bit of summer to a cold winter day.
I am lucky enough living in Portland, Oregon to have a great local market (New Seasons) that has great produce. Recently that had a veritable cornucopia of citrus fruit. 4-5 kinds of tangerines, sweet limes, Meyer lemons and one of my favorite members of the citrus family, the Blood orange.
I was lucky enough to go to attend a semester of classes in Rome (Italy, not Idaho) while I was in Architecture school. One of my most vivid memories is of going to Campo di Fiori and seeing Blood oranges for the first time. I knew vaguely what they were, but having grown up in rural Idaho it goes without saying that I didn't grow up with this fruit on the table.
I had just planned to consume these oranges, but a happy accident occurred when I stumbled across a recipe for marmalade and I decided to notch it up by adding the Blood oranges to the mix.
I started with a couple of Blood oranges that I thinly sliced and added to a small sauce pan that had a cup of sugar and a cup of water. The oranges simmered for 30 minutes and then I drained the syrup, finely diced the oranges and then place back in the sauce pan with another cup of sugar and half a cup of water along with two tablespoons of lemon juice. I simmered that mixture for another 30 minutes, then cooled the mixture and place it in a jar and refrigerated it. This marmalade has such a great freshness that shames store bought imitators. Think about it, this is so easy to make that you can throw it together and still catch your favorite reality television series. At the worst, it will give you something to help get rid of the sour taste of "Superstars of Dance".

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friends, Food, Fizz

The Saturday before Christmas I got together with about 12 of my friends for Champagne tasting. We have made this event a holiday tradition and the only rule is you have to bring at least one bottle of Champagne (the real deal). Beyond that initial bottle you can drop in anything you want. I love throwing in a ringer to see if we know what we are doing. To make this a bit more interesting we go ahead and either bag or in this case we put foil around the outside of the bottles so we can blind taste the wines.
Normally getting together in Portland, Oregon for the holidays is no biggie, you just put on a rain coat and head out the door. The weekend of December 20th there happened to be 12" of fresh snow on the ground and Portland was in the midst of what news channels were calling: Arctic Deathwatch, or was it Artic Thunder or maybe even Artic Shock and Awe? Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but the weather was really crappy and a foot of snow in a 12 hour period anywhere will put a crimp in your day. I was glad I lived only about 6 blocks from our hosts Tom Harvey and Andria Shirk.
The house was gorgeous (complete with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree) and the food was amazing.

A Hickory smoked turkey, Portuguese pork roast, smoked salmon, sushi rolls that my friend Heather (from Gild the Voodoolily), spiced pecans, cheese puffs stuffed with olives, assorted cheeses, a charcuterie tray and a cheesecake and chocolates at the end of the night.

We tasted through 11 wines and you if you are interested you can take a look at my notes (above). In general this group of wines showed the more acidic and citrus side Champagne and sparking wine. The wine of the night was the Tattenger-earthy, yeasty and great balance. The suprise of the night was a bottle of NV Domaine Meriweather that I brought. This Oregon wine showed a lemony citrus edge with a bit of earthy character and at $15/bottle this wine rocks. Oregon is producing some great sparkling wines and if you are looking for a good domestic wine that is a little exotic check out Domaine Meriweather or Argyle.

The ringer of the night was a 1996 Dom Perignon. My friend Gretchen threw this into the mix. This wine divided the group right down the middle. Some thought it to be "a bit off" and others said it had classic earthy/yeasty components and it needed a little time to breath....too bad we finished this off in about 20 minutes.