Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Almond Thumbprint Cookies #BittenWordCookies #FoodandWine

Ho, ho, ooooh no...Santa's got a gluten problem.

`tis the season, and I am TRYING to get in the festive holiday spirit, so when Zach & Clay over at the Bitten Word announced that this year's cover-to-cover would be Christmas cookies, I signed up immediately.  As I waited for my assignment, there were visions of sugar plums and silver balls in my head. (you know those tiny silver balls that cracked teeth back in the day? Those were the days when  a Christmas Cookie was part sugar rush, and part fear of an emergency trip to the dentist).  When my assignment arrived, it was a healthy, and au courant - Food & Wine Magazine's Gluten-Free Chocolate-Almond Thumbprint Cookies.

I was apprehensive.  What is Christmas without SUGAR? Well, there is plenty of honey in these cookies to compensate for the lack of good old bleached and refined sugar. To add to the uniqueness of the recipe, this is a Christmas cookie without FLOUR- the cookies are made with not in your average grocery store almond flour (thank you Trader Joe's, you are always there when I need you).

This challenge was  my first gluten free baking experience, I made my first caramel with honey and coconut milk and coconut oil.   And you know what? They aren't too bad.  I'll admit I had more fun styling the cell phone photo and drinking the port (Santa LOVES Graham's Six Grape Port)

Well, Zach & Clay, I did it.  I'm still not quite in the holiday spirit, but I am getting there.

A slideshow of the process:


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer `10 $18.99 *** #Wine #ChickenSoup

It's official, here in New York the seasons have changed. There's a chill in the air, and in the morning I can see my coffee breath as I head off to work. These cold mornings and falling leaves call us to hearth and home.  For me, home is that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when simmering scents waft from the kitchen for hours, music plays in the background as I putter in the kitchen, slicing, dicing and sluicing.  In this ethereal bubble, no matter what, all is right in the world.

On Sunday, I had the chance to be in that moment, I made chicken soup & dinner rolls, and paired it with this NY State Gewurztraminer. The apple pie I baked was just culinary overkill.... (the wine was really good with that too!)

It took me three years to be able to pronounce Gewurztraminer correctly. This Alsatian varietal is a great option when you are an "ABC" like me. (anything but chardonnay). It is rich, with citrus notes, and a hint of sweetness (sometimes with honey tones) - it was a great foil for the fatty chicken soup and rich, buttery dinner rolls.

Dr. Konstantine Frank is a legend in the NY State wine demi-mond. Back in `10 (while the grapes in this Gewurztraminer were still on the vine), I reviewed their Riesling (paired with a PB&J). Traditional northern European wine varietals, grown on old vines in the Finger Lakes of New York. Dr Frank' legacy is robust, available and delicious.

Menu:
Crock Pot Chicken Soup (my own recipe)
Classic Dinner Rolls
Apple Pie





I'll leave you with a slideshow of early fall in Central Park:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bouchaine Pinot Noir `10 #BouchaineWines #CarnerosWine

Napa Valley's Carneros AVA on NY's Gold Coast: Lunch with Bouchaine Vineyard's Greg Gauthier.

We're surrounded by wine in NY - spoilt for choice actually; it's a city of 8 million people -  with a galaxy of wine shops and restaurants to choose from, so how do we decide?  Price? Recommendation? Reputation of the maker/area? There are so many choices, but when you cancel out the mass produced wines (you know, the ones you see on billboards and wrapped around the side of a bus) there are small gems to be found, bottled evidence of the efforts of passionate people who love what they do.  Each of these small producer wines that make their way to our tables represents a  diversity of landscapes from lands unlike Manhattan.  These wines are a tapestry of flavors,  moments that enrich our meals and enlighten us to a different place, unique to  farms, tilled soil and vineyard friendly climates- or as the French would say, "Terroir".

Lunch with  Greg Gauthier, Bouchaine's Vice President, of Wine Production and Sales, was just that kind of  transcontinental moment.  He's a UC Davis educated, Carneros Cowboy with a palate. As I walked in, I found him standing in the hotel lobby with his bags packed, and a bottle of  `10 Pinot Noir in one hand, and `11 Estate Chardonnay in the other - like I said... spoilt for choice.

Just when you think you know Napa, someone like Greg comes around and throws you a curve ball in the game of wine.  I hadn't really thought a lot about the sub regions of Napa, and I was surprised to  read that Carneros  "Where the San Francisco Bay meets Napa and Sonoma" produces wines I have really enjoyed in the past (at the time I just though "ahhh- Napa") Gloria Ferrer- Sonoma Brut , and Saintsbury to name a couple, now I'll put this Pinot Noir at the top of the list.  It was a perfect pour for the rich intimacy of the  Polo Steak House, in Garden City, NY.  Look for it on restaurant lists - you won't be sorry.

For romantic souls, wine alone can tell the story of a vineyard in the bottle, but for people like me, it's great to hear Greg talk about the colorful history of Bouchaine.  As I sipped the classically styled, (a delightful 13.8% ETOH), complex, earthy Pinot Noir with a hint of tangerine, I listened to Greg talk about his coming to Bouchaine over a decade ago .  We paused momentarily so I could taste a slice of seared tuna from his lunch, with the Pinot.  I smiled and thought of Robin Pfeiffer, who taught me that "wine wants to be married", the right wine enhances food and can make a good meal, great.  I sipped the Pinot as I nibbled away at the layers of my Cobb salad,  - it's true, although wine by nature is a brief and polygamous partner, it opened up the flavors of the salad's grilled chicken, balanced the smoke of the bacon, and then melded smoothly with the blue cheese, heightening the meal's layers of distinct, delicious flavors and textures. 

Greg told me about their wine making process - tasting, blending, tasting, waiting, tasting and then tasting again, to get the flavor "just right".  There is a lot of talent at Bouchaine,and along with the owners Gerret and Tatiana Copeland, everyone is part of the process, General Manager & Winemaker Michael Richmond, Greg,  and the newest addition to the team, second generation Associate Winemaker Andrew Brooks. Their work and dedication is paying off. This `10  Carneros Pinot is from a 9,798 case production -  one of their largest lots; With a total case production of 20,000 each year, Bouchaine is an artisanal vineyard, making about 15 wines; including other specialty Pinot Noirs,  and ranging to the Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, with some interesting varietals in between, including Las Brisas Vineyard Riesling, Pinot Gris, a late harvest Bouche d’or Chardonnay dessert wine, and an exotic Pinot Meunier to name a few.  


The staff at Bouchaine is working with cooking schools to educate nascent chefs in the layers of flavor that can be found in a single varietal wine, the 20 micro-climates that make each lot of their 80 acres subtly unique, and the blending process.  As I swirled my glass, and held it up to the light, to see the the vibrant garnet edges of the wine, Greg  shared Bouchain's history as the oldest continuously operating winery in Carneros - originally planted by a Missouri farmer, Boon Fly in the late 1880's, it's a labor of love that Gerret and Tatiana Copeland have fostered since 1993, They've got deep rootstock behind them, and a bright future ahead.  Bouchaine is a shining star in the New York galaxy of wine.

Monday, July 7, 2014

NV Viñedo de los Vientos Tannat Alcyone $27.00 2nd review #DessertWine

A crowd pleasing gift.

Exotic, approachable and unique, this dessert wine form Uruguay is the most universally interesting wine that I have ever tasted. It is a very sweet wine, which makes it popular with non-wine drinkers. This Alcyone is my hostess gift of choice, and I love watching people react to the sweet chocolate/marshmallow taste.

I first discovered it at Vini-Volo JFK. It's not easy to find (I get mine at Astor Wines and Spirits in NYC) and it varies in price, but it's a guaranteed to be a welcome addition to almost any dessert course.

Recently, I paired it with cake, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It really worked.  For the leftovers, it was suggested that I macerate the strawberries in the wine, brilliant idea. I'm thinking that I'll make a couple of recipe cards to add to the gift bags.