Monday, November 1, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
In homage to the winner and their amazing chef John Gorham, I had to make their specialty egg dish called Shakshuka. This dish has its roots in Morocco and it is a spicy/savory /tomato/pepper/onion melange that gets a couple of eggs poached (soft & runny) just before service. This is quick, easy and it kicks serious flavor ass. The only thing that made this better was some toast and some fresh ground Stumptown Coffee.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Anyway, tonight I was craving something "fun", but just a bit lighter. I had some nice Spring Greens (from Fresh Express via Foodbuzz) and some Sourdough bread that needed attention so I thought I would do a quickie warm bacon dressing . I keep a homemade Balsamic vinaigrette around at all times so I tossed in a couple of spoonfuls of that into a sauce pan that I had crisped a single slice of minced bacon. An assortment of greens, some toasted bread (please note, I make the best garlic bread on the planet...really, just ask my son. Recipe: toasted bread, rubbed with a piece of raw garlic, butter a dash of olive oil plus some kosher salt...I think I am more than ready for a Bobby Flay Garlic Bread Throwdown!) and a couple of 3 minute poached eggs. This came together in the time it took to get the two eggs poached.
Not too shabby for a Wednesday, eh?
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
When I go out to a restaurant I often see people treating the Wine List like it has been infected with the Ebola virus. I am sure many uncomfortable diners would love to be able to have a wine super hero "Wine Guy" fly in and make a wine selection . While there are more and more restaurants who have a Sommelier or a knowledgeable Wine Steward who can assist in making a selection, I get the feeling that many of you have a fear of asking for directions when choosing a wine (kind of like not asking for directions to the Freeway and spending an extra hour driving in the wrong direction).
Well, I am here to say that the wine list is not made out of Kryptonite and if you want to think of me as a wine Super Hero (but without the cape and the tights) that is up to you.
The next time you are figuring out what to serve with dinner or are going to dinner and you are looking at the "Wine List", just keep in mind a couple of things when trying to pair your wine with your meal.
1. If it grows together, it goes together. Italian food goes well with Italian wines. Oregon Pinot Noir goes well with Salmon, mushrooms, truffles and game. When eating well prepared fresh local cuisine look for the wines of that region as well.
2. Forget the Red Wine w/Red Meat -White Wine w/Fish or Poultry Rule. While a Bordeaux or a California Cabernet go well with a steak you are absolutely allowed to drink whatever your palate says you should drink. If you want to drink a Sauvignon Blanc with a steak ..... do it! Personally anything that hits my grill is getting paired with a red wine that has the backbone to standup to some smoke and spice.
3. Don't be afraid of asking for directions. If the restaurant has a Sommelier use his/her expertise. These people have spent years training their palate (like a runner training for a marathon) and they can be a wonderful resource. Also, don't be anxious about ordering something less expensive on the list. The restaurant doesn't care if you order the most expensive bottle or the least expensive bottle, they want you to have a great dining experience and they want you to come back.
4. Take your own wine- My group of friends are very wine savvy and we all take wine to restaurants. Keep in mind that the restaurant will charge you to open the bottle. The standard term is called a "Corkage Fee". These fees will range between $10-25/bottle. The reason to bring wine is not to save money, it is to enjoy wines that are not on the restaurants wine list. Older wines, limited production wines, wines from mailing lists, etc.
5. Upgrade your stemware- As geeky as it sounds, different wines taste and smell better in different style glassware. If you want to maximize your drinking pleasure use a proper glass. While you can have an almost infinite variety of stemware if you are just starting out, purchase Cabernet/Bordeaux style glasses. These glasses are the most versatile for both red and white wines and by the time you get around to really enjoying Burgundy or new world Pinot Noir you will already have notched up your glass collection a stem or two just by osmosis.
6. EEE-Experiment, Expand your palate, Enjoy!-The more wine you taste, the better your palate will become and the more you will enjoy what you drink. Not to go all Forrest Gump on you, but the wine world is like a 1000 piece box of chocolates-try them all!
7. Watch a couple of episodes of Wine Library TV- Trust me, Gary Vaynerchuk is doing more to take the "snob" out of wine than anyone I know. Follow the Three-E's and remember as Gary says: "You, and a tiny bit of me, is changing the wine world".
Friday, July 30, 2010
I can remember vividly when the "light" was switched on in my head (the wine light that is). Or maybe since I still have "Exhibit A" I can refer to the date on the spine of the Wine Spectator magazine that shoved me into the deep end of the wine pool (March 31, 2003).
I had been a wine drinker for more than 20 years and though I love the taste of wine I never really thought about what I was tasting. Looking back it surprises me just a bit. I am a very accomplished chef and I was good at matching food to wine, but after reading that issue of Spectator I had a revelation. That revelation was simple: "I need to buy 2000 Bordeaux......now!".
For the next several weeks I poured over as many sources of information as I could get my hands on. Wine Spectator, Wally's of L.A. newsletter, Wine Advocate, Zachy's online and countless online sources I can't even remember. The result was that I ordered about 15 cases of Bordeaux. Most of this was Petite Chateau and Bordeaux Superior, but I did also snag some Cru Classe wines. My goal with my selections was to get as much high quality wine as I could for what I had to spend. This also meant that I needed to get a place to store the incoming wine since suddenly my 5 case under counter cooler was now woefully undersized.
I discovered a new wine storage facility on the Eastside of Portland called Portland Wine Storage. I rented a 18 case locker and the rest is history. Today my locker has turned into a 30+ case room and the owners Tom Harvey and Joe Padulo have become good friends of mine. Tom, his wife Andria and my buddy Sam Sundeleaf and I are on the verge of making wine commercially. The funny thing about wine is that once you start amping up your collection you would be surprised how often I can walk into that 30 case cellar and still not feel like I have anything to drink.
Chateau Bellefont Belcier
Chateau Cambon La Pelouse
Chateau Clos L'Eglise
Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva
Chateau Haut Batailley
Chateau Lynch Bages
Chateau Lynch Moussas
Chateau Rollan De By
Chateau Sociando Mallet
Chateau Les Trois Croix
I have sampled all of these wines with the exception of the Sociando Mallet and the Lynch Bages. The find of the bunch I think is the Reignac. Wally's wine shop was out of one of the wines I was ordering and they recommended this wine in its place (Parker gave this 92 pts. and I think I paid $19.99/btl.). The nice thing about purchasing wine that you intend to drink versus collect, is that any of them can be broken out for a party whether it be formal or just a couple of friends. Wine is meant to be shared and I hope I can share some of these with those of you who are my friends reading this.
The top bottles I purchased were the Lynch Bages and I tell my 15 year old son that someday we will open those when he gets married. This makes me wish my Dad had set down some 1961 Lynch Bages for my wedding.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I now understand what I didn't like about cole slaw was the mayonnaise/sugar based dressing.
Once I found you could dress cabbage with an oil and vinegar dressing I have broken out of the box and been playing with all of the tastes humans can discern: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and that late addition to the taste game, umami .
For this dish I use thin sliced Red and Green Cabbage along with some Napa Cabbage for fun. A thin sliced red onion with scallions to taste. The dressing is a 3:1 mix of canola oil and sherry wine vinegar, salt, pepper, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a few minced garlic cloves. Dress the salad then add a scant cup of crumbled gorgonzola and toss again and refrigerate until ready to serve (this is best cold). This dish looks great and is a simple to make, looks tremendous and it is a great foil for anything you can grill-Enjoy
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Summer is finally here in Portland, Oregon. We had the worst Spring this year since I moved here in 1993 ( 3 clear days.........yeah, it sucked to be us), but the Summer we have been having is almost on the verge of making up for it.
As anyone who has read my blog knows, I am a huge fan of Bobby Flay. The above is my adaptation of his recipe for: Grilled Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise
Monday, May 17, 2010
The venue was the Historic Governor Hotel and the celebrity chef list included:
NAOMI POMEROY – Beast
JASON BARWIKOWSKI – Olympic Provisions
ANDY RICKER – Pok Pok
CATHY WHIMS – Nostrana
Butcher: RYAN FARR - 4505 Meats
Special Guest Chefs:
ADAM SAPPINGTON - The Country Cat
ETHAN POWELL / TOBIAS HOGAN - EaT
GREG DENTON - Metrovino
DAVID ANDERSON - Genoa Restaurant
The food as one might imagine pretty much too advantage of the theme ingredient (Pig) from snout to tail. Charcuterie, blood sausage, pate as well as a host of Asian and Mexican influenced stews.
Olympic Provisions "Meat" sign
To be honest as much as I love bbq and whole hog roasts, the single item that stood out for me was the Posole, Cilantro Puree & Cabbage Cotija. It may have been the reason that when the final tally was done by the judges and the eating public the winning chef was Jason Barwikowski. When his name was announced his sous chef's rushed the stage and hoisted him like he was Tom Brady and had just tossed the winning Super Bowl pass! It is great to see that Portland has so much talent and passion when it comes to pushing the locavore movement..........plus you gotta love kitchen geeks getting star treatment!
I had a friend who just got back from three weeks in Italy and she spent time in and around Rome. Her thoughts were that Portland has a much stronger food scene than what she encountered in Rome.
The highlights for me were the offerings form Jason Barwikowski at Olympic Provisions and Andy Ricker of Pok-Pok (and their respective and sizable crews)..
In the wine category, when you have both Domaine Drouhin and Domaine Serene show up for a tasting event like this the competition usually feels like they brought a knife to a gunfight. Actually, while DDO and DS were great, I was impressed by the offerings from Elk Cove (the dry Reisling was fantastic). Soter was right in there and made an impression with their Mineral Springs Ranch (MSR) Pinot………..but, for my money
Ben & Mimi Casteel-Cute enough to be the King and Queen of this Pig Prom
Bethel Heights Winery brought some serious thunder and having the second generaton winemaker & vinticulturist (Cousins Ben & Mimi Casteel) sharing the love with four single vineyard Pinot Noir offerings was a special treat. This is a 30 + year old winery in the Central Willamette Valley. I love these family owned and operated wineries (note to self, get on the mailing list).
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Connor (future Master Sommelier?) - helping me bottle my 2007 Pinot Noir
*Note: These ribs would beat Pinot Noir like a rented mule....think Zinfandel (Turley if you can get it)
I have the Steve Raichlen BBQ Bible Cookbook and I did a variation on his basic dry rub......Chile powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes and some celery seed. I added the rub and let the ribs sit overnight. The next day I smoked the ribs in a a Weber grill that I added a full chimney of mesquite coals and a log of apple wood. I piled the coals on one side of the grill, added a pan of water (moisture) under the meat and set the ribs to one side. I also nearly close the vents (top and bottom) and then tried to leave everything alone for about 5 hours.
While I didn't get a chance to sample the ribs at Louis Mueller BBQ (they ran out), I will say that these ribs at least matched the product at 2 Bros. BBQ Market-nice bark,decent smoke ring, good tenderness, but not mushy. The cole slaw and beans were both a step up on either venue. Next time we go after the Holy Grail of Texas BBQ and try smoking a whole brisket.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I made a point of contacting my blog friend Daniel at Full Custom Gospel BBQ to ask his advice about BBQ in the area. My intention was to rent a car and head out to either Luling to City Market or up to Lockhart to Kruez Market. Unfortunately due to timing both of those options were out of the picture. Plan "B" ended up being a local BBQ joint called Two Bros. BBQ Market. Two Brothers is about 12 miles from downtown and with the help of my handy Blackberry we were able to navigate from the hotel to this out of the way BBQ joint without a hitch (thank god for technology).
Okay, so how often do I get to have "real" Texas BBQ? Not that often (actually until this last month, never!). I made a point of skipping lunch because I knew that moderation in ordering multiple smoked meat options was not on my dinner horizon.
I ordered up a 1/2 lb. of the brisket, a couple of ribs and a sausage.........oh yeah, and Shiner Bock too (don't you love that a whole bunch of Germans decided to settle in Texas). The brisket had a tremendous smoke ring and the bark was great. With just a dab of the House BBQ sauce this was really good. I would make a point of ordering the moist brisket next time (personal preference). The ribs were very good as well with great smoke flavor and good tenderness. I think that many people misunderstand what a great rib is.
A perfect rib is tender enough that if you take a two rib section, you should be able to pull the two rib sections apart without pulling the meat off the bone (really fine line).
The sausage reminded me of the Portuguese Linguisa I cook at home. This was smokey and succulent. All in all this was a great night out and the guys who operate this place were awesome hosts! If you are in San Antonio in the future make the trek out to see Two Bros.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
To be honest I had never been to an authentic Texas BBQ joint and had no idea what to expect (other than what I had read). Walking in the front door you are greeted by this amazing smoke smell. Remember when you were a kid and you got to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick and hang out telling ghost stories by the campfire. Remember how your clothes smelled the next morning.......that is what Louis Mueller's smelled like (amazing!).
Check out the business cards on this wall. The brown cards are that way because of the smoke they have seen. The smell makes me want to build a smokehouse, but I am not sure my condo board would approve of that.
While I didn't get to the restaurant that late (5:00pm), they were out of all but the Pork Loin, Chopped Beef and Brisket. I was going to go with a mixed plate, but thought better after I saw the Brisket. I ordered 1 lb. of Moist Brisket (the end with the fat) and Wayne told me if I was in the area again to call ahead and they would either hold food or cook a bit more.
The Brisket was served with a couple of slices of white bread, a dipping sauce, some raw onion slices and dill pickle chips. I got a side of beans and a Shiner Bock (these guys have been making German style beer in Texas since 1914), served in a Mason Jar...........Yum!
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Last week a group of my friends and I were out for dinner. As is ofter the case, our table talk turned to wine. The discussion ended up with us deciding to taste a vertical of Le Cigare Volant, a wine my friend Andria had a 7 bottle vertical of.
What to have for dinner? Since we had recently seen the movie Julie/Julia my buddy Sam said lets have " Pâté de Canard en Croûte".
I thought about it for a second and decided what the heck. All in this recipe took 3-4 solid hours of focused prep time and that doesn't include cooking or shopping.
Was this the most amazing thing I have ever eaten (nah), was it one of the most spectacular things I have presented on a set table (hell, yes!).
Monday, February 1, 2010
Well, a couple of bottles of spirits plus the rind of 15-20 lemons (I used Meyer Lemons) and you have the makings of Limoncello. Limoncello is is an Italian lemon liqueur most often produced in Southern Italy, mainly in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France and the Maltese island of Gozo.
To the lemon peels you add the spirits and let this mixture sit in a cool, dark spot for 45 days. After that you take 4 cups of sugar added to 5 cups of boiling water to make a simple syrup. Add the syrup to the lemon/spirit mixture and let is sit for another 45 days. Strain the mixture with a mesh strainer to remove the peels and then strain the remaining mixture through a coffee filer two times. Now it is ready to bottle.
Serve ice cold (go ahead and keep the bottle in the freezer........since this is about 150 proof you don't have to worry about it freezing) in small glass (take care, this stuff is strong)