Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2024

Hard Pass On The Pasta - I'll Take The Olive Oil

I recently had the opportunity to sample a very nice Italian wine, Frescobaldi Pomino Bianco. I loved it. Along with that, I was given a sample of a couple of Frescobaldi's other ventures. Their Tirrena pasta and the accompanying Laudemio Frescobaldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil receive a more mixed review.

The Tirrena pasta is cultivated from ancient wheat grown in the Tuscan terroir. The olive oil has a rich history which dates back to the Middle Ages. The folks at Tirrena sent along a recipe using both of those items. 


Tirrena Spaghetti with Laudemio Frescobaldi Oil, Pepper, and Parmesan (pairs with Pomino Bianco)

Tirrena Spaghetti
Laudemio Frescobaldi EVOO
Parmigiano Reggiano
Black Pepper

Boil water and add salt to taste
Add the Tirrena Spaghetti and boil for 11 minutes
Reserve 1 cup of pasta water 
Drain spaghetti and add back to a saucepan
Mix in Laudemio Frescobaldi EVOO and stir until creamy
Top with black pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano

Now for the bad news. The pasta was nothing to write home about, especially for my spousal culinary expert. She was quick and brief with her review. "I hate it," she said after the first mouthful. "It ruined your fantastic sauce!" She had the pasta with my famous tomato sauce (her recipe). I had mine as per the recipe above, and it paired wonderfully with the Pomino Bianco wine. I stirred in the Parmesan cheese along with some pepper. 

If you cook this pasta for 11 minutes, as prescribed, you will be eating crunchy spaghetti. I cooked it for 18 minutes and it was still rather al dente. The oil was delightful, however. 

Is there such a thing as simply virgin olive oil? Extra virgin seems to be all I could find in a semi-serious search. I ask in all seriousness, although the question probably points out a deficiency in my kitchen knowledge. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Washington Syrah For My Pot Roast

I was shopping for the goods needed for a pot roast when I spied a wine for less than ten bucks on the top shelf at the market. That's unusual placement, so I picked it up and found that it was a Vintage Upper Left Syrah. The grapes for this wine were grown in Washington's Columbia Valley, which encompasses an enormous portion of the state. I figured I could hardly go wrong by using this wine in my slow-cooker roast.

Winemaker Hal Landviogt has made wines for some three decades, so he knows a thing or twenty about it. He is billed as an unpretentious winemaker who likes to make unpretentious wines. Alcohol in this one resides at 14.2% abv and it was on sale for just $9 at Whole Foods Market.

This wine has a deep purple color, very dark. Aromas of blackberries, leather, tar and black pepper dominate on the nose. The palate follows suit with extremely savory notes of pepper, cardamom, anise and allspice to adorn that dark fruit. The medium length finish is tasty and the mouthfeel is full and round. The tannins are firm enough so that I can pair the wine with the pot roast into which it went.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Chenin Blanc Wine For Cooking And Drinking

The Vignobles Lacheteau Vouvray 2021 is a semi-dry white wine from France's Loire Valley. Vouvray is an appellation, not a grape. Most of the white wines of Vouvray are made from Chenin Blanc grapes, as is this one.

This Vouvray - I bought it for cooking, but drank what was left - is a great match for something spicy, like Thai or Indian food. Alcohol is restrained, at 11.5% abv and the wine ran me just under ten bucks at my local Trader Joe's grocery.

The very pale straw-tinted wine has a floral bouquet which carries with it a tangerine scent that also appears in the flavor profile. A flinty note balances the fruit with some minerality. Acidity is nice, but not too racy, perfect for pairing with those spicy cuisines. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Recipe: Prime Rib Chili

Here is the winning recipe in the promotional push engineered by the folks from
San Marzano tomatoes.  Bunni Bixler's recipe for prime rib chili earned her a gift basket full of good products, including those wonderful Italian canned tomatoes.

Prime Rib Chili

1 1/2 pound prime rib

Three whole zucchinis

1 1/2 yellow onions

1 15 1/2 ounce can pinto beans

1 15 1/2 ounce can black beans

1 800 gram can Pomadoro San Marzano dell Agro Sarnese-Nocerino D.O.P.

Chili powder

Granulated garlic



Cumin powder

Raw Sugar

Measure to your taste


Chop all vegetables in bite-size pieces.  

Chop prime rib into bite-size pieces.

Brown onions with prime rib on a medium heat. Add seasonings, zucchini and keep stirring. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn stove down to simmer and cover for one hour and a half. Add more seasoning if necessary. Side note: If you wish, chili can be served with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

As an extra bonus, Bunni got to choose someone else to receive a gift basket.  She chose her doctor, Blanche Watson.  Here is why:

"As the world struggles through our deadly pandemic, every day our health care workers put their lives on the line for us.  My doctor, Blanche Watson, is a true hero.  She was set to retire, date announced, retirement adventures planned, and then people began to get sick and die from COVID-19.  Dr. Watson immediately cancelled her retirement plans.  She continues to work, caring for her patients, and being a support through these troubling times.  Dr. Watson has given me a great deal of emotional support.  She’s a constant source of encouragement.  Like me, I'm sure her other patients are grateful that she continues to work. We hope the new year finally brings her a chance to retire!"  - Bunni Bixler   

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Greatest Tomatoes From Europe

How do you feel about tomatoes?  If you say you’ve never given the topic much thought, I’ll believe you.  Then I’ll politely ask you to scooch down the bench a bit, away from me.  I like tomatoes, and I like them a lot.  You might even call it a love affair.  Canned tomatoes are a staple of good home cooking, and when good cooks look for canned tomatoes at the grocery market, they look for Italy on the can.  Tomatoes preserved in cans are great any time of year, but they are especially handy in the winter when it’s hard to find a good tasting tomato in the produce section.

My wife is an amazing cook, for whom I often shop.  She told me years ago that if I couldn't find San Marzano on the shelf, that I should go to another store.  European preserved tomatoes are a staple in any Italian dish you might make at home.  Spaghetti and meatballs is swimming in them.  Lasagna is layered with them.  Bolognese is based in them.

The Greatest Tomatoes From Europe is a campaign staged by ANICAV, the Italian Association of Canned Vegetable Industries.  Their mission is to raise the profile of Italian preserved tomatoes in the U.S. and around the world.

The San Marzano tomatoes, grown in the Sarno River valley, carry the designation of Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino.  You may find it simpler to look for the European Union's "DOP" symbol on the label.  The effort is much like the wine industry's protection of appellations through the DOCG or DOC designations.

ANICAV states that canned tomatoes are made through a traditional process which retains their great flavor.  That aspect is heightened in Roma tomatoes, which include the San Marzano variety of the fruit.  They are more flavorful, sweeter and less acidic than other types of tomatoes.  Plus, they have an oblong shape which they hold well, making them perfect for peeling and canning.

Tomatoes not only taste great and make for delicious cooking, they are healthy.  Tomatoes are naturally low in sugar and fat while bringing plenty of other good things - vitamins A and C, potassium, minerals, fiber and antioxidants - to the table.  ANICAV likes to say that Italian canned tomatoes deliver all the energy they have soaked up under the Mediterranean sun.

The Greatest Tomatoes From Europe come in various forms that cater to your needs.  Whole peeled tomatoes for cooking with a roast and potatoes, diced tomatoes for mixing in with eggs or pasta dishes, or chopped for soups or sauces.

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Fogo De Chão Unveils Spring Menu Meats, Drinks, Wine

The fantastic, Dallas-based Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão is now serving new menu items for the spring season.  If you've never been to a Fogo location, it's been described as a "meat parade," in which servers keep those choices coming until you throw out the stop sign. 

Fogo has introduced seven new seasonal dishes, a new cocktail and a new red wine.  The new meats include Pork Picanha - butchered and prepared with the same simple style as traditional Picanha, then carved tableside - and a new spicy Linguiça Sausage - pork with red pepper, garlic and fresh onion.  I was invited to sample the menu recently at the Beverly Hills location, with manager Sevenir Girardi guiding me along.  Girardi told me the BH store was the fifth in the nationwide chain when it opened 14 years ago.

The new pork meats are excellent, especially the Linguiça, which was an overwhelming favorite for a sausage-lover like me.  The sirloin was done to perfection, as was the Frango - chicken marinated in beer and brandy and wrapped in bacon.

Fogo's CEO Barry McGowan says "Brazilian cuisine focuses on harvesting and serving fruits and vegetables when they are in season and have reached peak flavor," and the revamp also shows up on the salad bar, or Market Table.  I'm not a particularly big fan of carrot ginger soup, but I'll have the Fogo version anytime.  It's vegetarian, gluten-free and delicious, with a bit of a spicy kick to the coconut milk.  The Brazilian kale and orange salad is also fresh, as is the roasted cauliflower salad.   The Bosc pear slices pair nicely with bleu cheese.

Dessert also got a new dish, one that Girardi says came straight from Brazil.  The Crème de Coconut combines freshly-shredded coconut with condensed milk and cream, baked in the oven and served warm with ice cream and a little lime zest.  I had this instead of my typical Key lime pie, and was glad I did.

There's a new cocktail at Fogo de Chao for spring, the Blood Orange Manhattan.  The bartender mixes Buffalo Trace Bourbon with a splash of Carpano Antica, a dash of blood orange and angostura bitters.  It is served over rocks, and the loads of citrus and its easy-drinking nature make it a great seasonal choice that should be a fave right through summer.

Fogo also unveiled Eulila, a Chilean red wine blend from the Cachapoal Valley (Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) specially created exclusively for Fogo by the award-winning winemakers at Viña Vik that pays tribute to Eulila "Selma" Oliveira, Chief Culture Officer of Fogo de Chão.   It's a great pairing with Fogo faves like the dry-aged steak offerings: Bone-In Cowboy Ribeye, 24-ounce New York Strip, 32-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye.

Born and raised in Brazil, Oliveira moved to the United States in 1985, determined to achieve the American dream. Following a chance encounter with the founders of Fogo de Chão while in Dallas, she joined Fogo as the brand's first female manager and, eventually, executive.  She's considered today to be the heart and soul of the organization, affectionately known as the Fogo matriarch. 

Created by Viña Vik for the Fogo de Chao restaurant chain, this wine blends 48% Carmenere grapes, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Syrah into a food-friendly delight.  The wine smells of earth and dark fruit and has a savory edge to the fruitiness on the palate, with excellent acidity and tannic structure.  It hits 14% abv on the alcohol scale, a little lighter than wines of this type usually are, and it sells for $76 bottle in the restaurant. 

Fogo de Chao is not a seasonal choice for me - I’ll go anytime, no arm-twisting required - but their springtime focus adds a few new reasons to stop by.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Temecula Wine Pairing Dinner

Temecula is trying to work its way up the California Wine Regions ladder, and it's a tough climb.  It's got to be hard enough to fight for the attention of Southern California with Santa Barbara County, just up the coast a bit.  But trying to wedge yourself into a conversation containing Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Paso Robles, etc. is a suicide mission.  Add in the fact that Temecula is still just getting on its feet as a serious wine region, which many will argue is still a work in progress.  The Temecula wine community would love to see Angelenos spending their day trip money there, instead of driving north.

The Temecula Winegrowers Association recently held a small dinner in Los Angeles, the purpose of which was to woo people who write about wine to write about Temecula.  I was an easy target, because I do like Temecula and have found a number of wines from that region to be quite good.  That said, there has been a lot of chaff with the wheat as the area grows up.  The dinner was held in a pop-up space on a side street in Venice. 

One aspect of the Temecula Valley that was hit upon time and again was its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.  Most people think of the area as a hot, landlocked inland hell, but it's not.  Several of the representatives present pointed out that Temecula is actually less than 20 miles from the California coastline and receives the benefits of the ocean breezes.

Winemakers were standing together as I walked in before the dinner, telling each other "PBR per acre" inside jokes, spinoffs of "it takes a lot of beer to make wine."  In the aperitif time, I got to speak with Leoness Cellars owner Mike Rennie, a self-described "crazy ol' farmer" who happens to own about a quarter of the Temecula Valley's 2500 acres of grapes.  Rennie talked about how he speaks with former NFL quarterback - now Orange County winegrower - Vince Ferragamo weekly about grapes.  Rennie grows 19 different grape varieties in his Temecula soil.

Patrick Comiskey, who writes about wine for the "Los Angeles Times" seemed rather unimpressed with the pre-dinner beverage until I told him it was a Temecula Blanc de Blanc.  He admitted that it was "very good," and he seemed to be genuinely surprised by the realization.  The Carter Estate Blanc de Blanc is all Chardonnay - that's what Blanc de Blanc means - very dry, toasty, bright and balanced.  It will pair with just about anything, and it went great with the African spice popcorn and sfingi - Italian doughnut puffs - that were passed around before dinner.

Former NFL star and actor Fred Dryer was there as the guest of CRN's Michael Horn.  Dryer does a sports show for Horn's website and seemed rather unengaged - even when asked about his TV series "Hunter."  Dryer lit up, though, when I asked about his status as the "Sultan of Safeties."  He’s the only NFL player ever to score two safeties in the same game.  He really didn't seem very impressed with the food, which I thought was outstanding.  He also begged off on sampling much of the wine, explaining that he was driving.  Locavore chef Leah Di Bernardo of E.A.T. and her crew provided a menu that was inventive and delicious. 

As for the wine, Renzoni Vineyards winemaker Olivia Beale spoke eloquently about her creations, Tim Kramer explained the Leoness offerings and Marcello and Damien Doffo were there as a father and son wine crew.

Wines and Food

Leoness Mélange d'Ete 2017 - This lovely white is an off-dry mix of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Muscat.  Its sweet, floral nose is great, while the palate is flat but fruity, peach mostly.  It was paired with grilled peach toast to nice effect.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards Vermentino 2017 - Made from grapes grown by a grower "down the road."  There's a nice tropical nose with fabulous salinity, and similar notes for the palate.  The great acidity suggests a great food wine.  It should have been a great pair with the San Diego halibut, but oddly, it was not.  It wasn't a bad match, though.

Renzoni Lyric Rose 2015 - This rosé of Syrah displays a nose that’s herbal and full of strawberries.  The palate is dry and fruity, perfect .  Chef Leah's heritage pork paired extremely well with it, featuring strawberry on pork, served with the bone on plate.  A knockout dish.

Doffo Winery Viognier 2017 - This was served with the cheese course, in the middle of the meal.  Its flowers, peaches and herbs show wonderfully on the nose.  The palate has a great acidity, with stone fruit flavors in a straightforward presentation.  The wine was very nice with the triple cream brie.

Leoness Cellar Select Meritage 2014 - 50% Merlot and 35% Cab Franc with splashes of other noble grapes filling out the blend.  This beefy wine was paired with beets and berries, and fared surprisingly well.

Doffo Mofodoffo Gran Tinto 2015 - This wine features mostly Zinfandel with some Petite Sirah.  I would have bet it was a Tempranillo.  Smoke and red fruit decorate the nose, big tannins are there to work on meats, and a savory streak delights.  It paired with braised lentils well, too.

Renzoni Sonata 2014 - A Tuscan blend, half Cab and half Sangiovese, the clone used to make Brunello.  All oak and tannins, this might have been better as simply a Sangiovese.  24 months in new French oak definitely left its mark.  It shines with food and was served with grilled octopus, pasta shells and a tomato sauce.  It was an interesting pairing, although not ideal for this wine.

Doffo Mistura 2015 - Mistura is Portuguese for "mixture."  This Cabernet/Syrah blend was the first Doffo wine produced on the property.  There are baskets of red and blue fruit on the nose, and a soft and fruity feel on the palate . The wine paired wonderfully with the King Trumpet mushrooms on grain.  In my opinion, the Mistura was the best wine of the evening, and it was the best pairing offered.

After a break for an iced hazelnut and vanilla Spokane coffee, the meal wrapped up with the Leoness Signature Selection Grande Mélange 2014.  Their play on Châteauneuf-du-Pape has Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre.  There was good structure, nice fruit and a savory note that showed a bit tart.  It paired well with the vanilla bean gelato that ended the meal.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Japanese Beer For Sushi That Tastes Great On Its Own

My much better half and I were having sushi the other night.  I love sushi, but the beverage options always leave me cold.  I like wine, but the choices never seem good at a sushi place, at least not the ones we frequent.  Beer always seems to be Asahi or Sapporo, neither a fave.  Our sushi place offers an extensive selection of sake, but I've never delved into that ocean enough to know where I'm swimming.

This night, I noticed a Japanese craft beer, Kawaba Sunrise Ale.  Billed as an unfiltered amber ale, I figured it had to be pretty close to my wheelhouse.  It was good, beery and ale-y enough to make both of us happy.  But that's a fairly weak description, especially for a guy who can go on and on about wine.  Why does beer stump me?

I clicked my way over to Beer Advocate, as I do when I want to know what real beer geeks think about a brew.  The Kabawa had - in one user's opinion - "some caramel malt sweetness and toasted grain… a lightly sweet, even creamy coating of caramel… an increased brown bread quality… some light hops spice… a dry tea leaf feel."  And he didn't think it was all that complex.

Maybe I'll just stick with "gimme an IPA."  That's what I really want when I want a beer.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Loire Rosé On Wonderful L.A. Wine List

The wine list at Los Angeles restaurant Market Provisions is a good one. Not too fancy, not at all pedestrian and always loaded with choices that show the care with which they are made. I love the whites and rosés there, all of them as food-friendly as you could want, with savory, shimmering acidity.

The 2015 Rosé Chinon by Jean-Maurice Raffault is one of those wines, perfect for seafood, cheese or salad.  The Loire Valley Cabernet Franc grapes are grown in gravelly soil along the Vienne River, two-thirds pressed and one-third saignée for the pink wine. The Raffault family is into its 14th generation of making wine in Chinon.  Their rose cost $12 for a glass at the restaurant.

It carries a light pink color and a fruity, strawberry nose.  The cherry palate is not only tasty, but shows good acidity as well before a little melon on the finish.

It was great with the Moroccan olives, but my wife liked her Pinot Blanc so much with that app she didn't even sip the rosé.  She also really enjoyed her Uruguayan Albariño. That choice displayed a savory quality and an acidity I have never found with that grape. The rosé was just fine with my smoked scallops, too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Just A Snack. Just A Chardonnay.

Wine goes with food.  Food goes with wine.  I know food came first, but was food really worth the chewing without wine with which to pair it?   What is a great wine without something great to eat with it?  Is a gorgeous steak anything more than just a piece of meat if not brought to life by its proper wine mate?  A fantastic food and wine pairing is simply a beautiful thing, but which is the more important aspect?

Such tiresome questions for this day.  Someone to cook, someone to pour, someone to wash the dishes.  Someone to help enjoy it all.

Happy holidays to you and yours, from the house of Now And Zin.  Thank you for taking the time to read these words through the years.  We appreciate that you are there.

Cornerstone Cellars Oregon Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2012

This Chardonnay comes from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  The grapes - Chardonnay clones 76 and 95 - are from the Carabella Vineyard on Chehalem Mountain and the Gran Moraine and Willakia Vineyards in Yamhill Carlton.  It was aged for 15 months in French Oak barrels, 28% of which were new.  It is completely barrel fermented with full malolactic fermentation employed during that process.  Alcohol rests at a reasonable 13.5% abv, 300 cases were made and it retails for $40.

Very nice, this Chardonnay.  The oak - as pronounced as it is - is played perfectly, not overdone.

A light golden tint leads to a nose of lemon zest and minerals. The palate shows great flavor, with citrus and rocks prominent.  The oak softens the mouthfeel but remains just a supporting player despite the length of oak aging.  The wine drinks clean, with a very nice acidity.  It won't rip your face off, but it will pair well with your caprese salad, leaving your features intact, but your cravings satisfied.

Cornerstone's Craig Camp believes in Oregon as a great place - maybe the best in America - for Chardonnay, and he tells me that "the 2012 chardonnay fruit was the most beautiful and defect free I've ever seen in Oregon."

This wine tasted extremely good with roasted vegetables - specifically, my wife’s roasted Brussells sprouts with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  They were augmented by her roasted celery with sesame oil, sea salt and paprika.  “Just a snack,” she said.  It was much more than that despite its simplicity, and the wine really completed it.  The oak aging married with the oil, while the citrus elements of the food and the wine blended smoothly.

This was one of those instances in which it was hard to tell if the food made the wine or the wine made the food.  I suspect it was a little bit of both.  I know neither would have tasted so good without Denise.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Wine And Food: Los Angeles Indian Restaurant Gets It Right

We have all dined in at least one restaurant - many more, I'm sure - in which the wine list left much to be desired.  A flimsy little sheet of paper bearing the names of a few wines you passed up at Ralph's on your way to dinner is nothing for a wine lover to get excited about.  And isn't it a shame that so often, that's what a wine list is?

Owners can blame it on the distributor, blame it on the customers, blame it on the economy or blame it on the Stones.  The thing is, if you run a restaurant where adults are expected to dine - and you want to be taken seriously - you'd better bring something to the table besides the bill.

Given this blustery preamble, it may surprise you to learn that I will eventually get around to writing about a good experience here.  A Los Angeles Indian restaurant that Denise and I frequented - for its dependable food and convenient location - changed hands.  For several reasons, we thought this was probably a good thing.  

The wine list there was something I rarely bothered to scan.  It was completely unimaginative, appearing to be the result of the distributor's desire to push some cheap wine that was in large supply.  The restaurateur did not drink wine and had no feeling for wine or the way it complements food.

Under new ownership, as Cardamom, things are quite different.  British chef Manju Choudhury is responsible for the changes in the kitchen and the place has taken on the stylish look of a modern London restaurant.  The food has definitely stepped a notch or two, from "dependable" to inventive and delectable Indian-inspired cuisine.  The wine has made an even greater leap forward under the guidance of Stewart Prato of Southern Wine and Spirits.

What was, at the previous incarnation, a completely uninspired and misdirected wine list has been transformed in one that displays wines chosen specifically to compliment the spicy dishes.  Fresh, clean whites and reds that are not too heavy on oak are perfect choices for this type of food.  To nitpick, the  wine list is a little French-heavy.  Four of the five whites, the rosé and two of the three sparkling wines offered by-the-glass are from France.  (The lone non-Franco white is an Italian Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige.)  France accounts for four of the five reds, too, with Beaujolais making a welcome appearance alongside Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône.  There is also an Argentine Malbec by the glass.

Breaking one of the cardinal rules of restaurant dining, Denise and I decided to go there on the first night they were open under the new regime - for our anniversary.  Expected missteps did not materialize, so we felt that Cardamom had earned a spot on our short list of favorites.

An amazing chutney tray is served with the papadum openers and the naan is more like Indian pizza than bread.  I like that thick, doughy naan, but Denise prefers the lighter, easily-tearable style.  The tandoori prawns were some of the best-tasting shrimp either of us had ever had, while the chef's curry is delicious - and very spicy.  

I chose the 2012 Marc Bredif Loire Vouvray to go with these dishes.  It was perfect with the shrimp, but a little too acidic for the curry - acidity and heat do not mesh well for my palate.  According to their website, the winery was “established in 1893 under the original name of Château les Roches.  In 1919 Marc Bredif took over from his uncle and renamed the property to mark the change of ownership."

The wine has a greenish tint in the glass.  Unfortunately, as is the case in many restaurants, it was improperly chilled.  The wine was ice cold and, as such, the aromas were difficult to sniff out.  The nose eventually offered minerals and flowers.  Denise claimed to get an aroma of cheese, Edam or Jarlsberg.

The wine's great acidity makes it a wonderful food wine, but just sipping it isn't too bad either. Minerals and citrus notes make for a refreshing mouthfeel.  It's a little too acidic for the spice of the chef's special curry but is perfect with the tandoori prawns.  

We mentioned on our way out of the restaurant that it was our anniversary.  The manager insisted that we sit down again and have a glass of bubbly to celebrate.  It was Barton & Guestier sparkling wine.  The Vin Mousseux de Qualité is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes which undergo a second fermentation in vats and three months of aging in vats while resting on the lees - the spent yeast cells - for added complexity and weight.  The wine offers fine bubbles, a fruity nose and peach on the palate.  

Before a week had passed we were back at a Cardamom again, this time with an occasion no more special than Thursday night.  The Sancerre fit the crab cutlet and the Shahee Jhinga lobster in cream sauce to a tee.

The Michel Girault La Siliciese Sancerre 2012 features a fresh lime nose that refreshes, and aromas of flowers that add a pretty side.  The palate shows a round mouthfeel, while citrus and herbs have a mingle on top of some really great acidity.  The long, green finish brings those herbs back into play. 

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Beer With Seafood: Lagunitas Pils

It’s good to give yourself a treat once in a while, something you really like and don’t want to live without.  For my wife - still missing her East Coast roots after decades in Los Angeles - that treat has become lunch at Connie and Ted’s.

Connie and Ted’s is a West Hollywood restaurant specializing in what they describe as “simply prepared fish and shellfish, inspired by the classic clam shacks, oyster bars, and fish houses that dot the New England Seaboard.”  Denise and I seek out the places that do things right, not fancy or overdone, just right.  Connie and Ted’s is one of those places, and it has achieved the status of “treat” in our family.

It is expensive, but we generally share what we order, and that generally includes a beer.  Lagunitas Pils is a Czech-style pilsner which rings up a 6% abv number.  Served in a 12-ounce bottle, the brew costs $6.

Located in Petaluma, a California town north of San Francisco, the Lagunitas Brewing Company has 17 beers on their list, but they note that Pils is their “only Lager, brewed with loads of imported Saaz hops and a bottom-fermenting yeast strain that leaves it a bit lighter with a lot of smoothishness.”

The beer’s head is a big, frothy white and it stays nicely.  The color shows fairly rich for this type of beer.  Nutty aromas dominate the nose, with notes of bread and cereal and a bit of lemon.  Malty flavors mostly decorate the palate, but the taste is rather subdued - it’s a better beer with food than without.

The Lagunitas Pils sure did hit the seafood well.  The lobster roll and Ipswich clam steamers both benefited from the pairing.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Weller-Lehnert Spatlese Riesling 1998 at Sausage Palooza

A Los Angeles restaurant named Cook's County has become a favorite place for Mr. and Mrs. Now And Zin to drop in for dinner.  Incredibly fresh, local food plus a lean but extremely interesting wine list keeps us coming back to see what new additions have come to the menu.

They did a series of Oktoberfest Monday dinners, and we managed to snag a reservation for the last one, Sausage Palooza.  You had me at sausage.

The menu - prix fixe at $24, including the glass of wine - featured spretzels with mustard dipping sauce, a sausage platter - veal, lamb mergez and bratwurst - with bacon stuffed dumplings,  brussels sprouts and roasted squash.  It was an autumnal feast.

Sausage and Riesling happens to be one of my favorite food and wine pairings.  Sausage and anything, actually.  Riesling and anything, for that matter.  It's like bacon - and that was on the plate, too.

The wine was a 15-year-old Weller-Lehnert Spätlese Riesling, 1998.  Like many wine lovers, I thoroughly enjoy the aromas and tastes of a Riesling that is showing its years.  Strange things happen in Riesling, I understand, because of acid hydrolysis.  A compound whose name has more letters than the alphabet - which I’ll just call TDN - is credited - or blamed - for those offbeat smells and flavors in aged Riesling.

The rich, golden-orange hue looks exactly like it belongs with a fall meal.  Tons of honey on the nose are joined by apricots and a touch of petrol.  The palate also features flavors of sweet apricot along with a sense of rubber.

The sweetness of the wine was a little distracting for the food pairing, but I just sat back and sipped.

The night's menu closed with a quote from Julia Child:  "Life itself is the proper binge."  Eat more sausage, drink more wine.

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