Friday, July 30, 2010

Hobby or Obsession?

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!".
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.
Here is the list of the wines I purchased (listed alphabetically).Chateau D' Agassac
Chateau Batailley
Chateau Beaumont
Chateau Bellefont Belcier
Chateau Cambon La Pelouse
Chateau Cantemerle
Chateau Cantenac
Chateau Clos L'Eglise
Chateau Fombrage
Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva
Chateau Haut Batailley
Chateau Lynch Bages
Chateau Lynch Moussas
Chateau Martinens
Chateau Petit-Village
Chateau Pibran
Chateau Reignac
Chateau Rollan De By
Chateau Rouillac
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

Crunchy Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

Crunchy Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

Since the weather actually got nice here in Portland I have been doing a lot of entertaining and also have been getting invited to cookouts. Lately I have been focusing more on side dishes and salads. While growing up I have to admit that I wasn't a big potato salad or cole slaw guy. As of late I realized that both of these dishes have a broad flavor and taste profile.
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

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grilled Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Aioli

Roasted potato dressed with Red Pepper/Smoked Paprika Aioli

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

I have been going to a ton of barbecue's and this has been a crowd pleaser. My recipe bumps up the amount of smoked paprika (maybe even double it) and I like to use a mix of potatoes (red, russets, fingerlings, etc.). I also substitute jarred Piquillo Peppers and lemon juice for the acid instead of the vinegar. If you don't want to break out the grill go ahead and just cut and toss the potatoes with olive oil and roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes once and roast for another 2o minutes then remove from the oven and toss with the Aioli while they are still warm. The word Aioli sound way sexier than Mayonnaise, don't you think?