Sunday, December 7, 2014

Nothing From Scratch

I chose the "Nothing From Scratch" theme for two reasons; firstly I knew I would have a very long week at work. My boss was on vacation and that meant I had to be boss for the week of Thanksgiving. Several other things crowded my time and I decided it was time for an easy to prepare meal. Secondly I've had many people say they would love to have a food/wine group like this, but just reading the blog is so intimidating they give up before they start. Well if that is you, then this one is for you. I admit I had to resist temptation to not open a spice jar or make a salad. Scissors and can-openers were my only tools.
Appetizer; Bought a package of 3 little flavored goat cheeses, some crackers, dried apple chips, sugared walnuts and a friend gave me these weird lumps of cookie-like treats from India.

Starter; Mixed 2 containers of soup. One Tuscany white bean and chicken soup and a one butternut squash. (This is a personal favorite in my house. I usually buy a pre-baked whole chicken, tear it apart, and throw it in. Plus I usually throw in a can of cannellini beans for good measure.)

Main course; Bought fresh wild mushroom ravioli and a jar of pumpkin Tuscany pasta sauce and mixed em up.
We drove up to Jackson a couple of weeks ago and I picked up 6 chicken cordon bleus from Swingle's Meat. This is an excellent place to buy meat. Before throwing them in the oven I dumped a couple of cans of cream-of-chicken soup over them because I like the sauce. (I often cook up brown rice from the package to go with the chicken instead of the ravioli, but I was being fancy).

Dessert; Our Mother's caregiver, Tara is famous for her cake. I don't really know how to explain it but I'll try. White cake with the consistency of a chewy brownie. She sells them, so I bought one for the party. I added a little dollop of fig marmalade to the little squares of cake. It was a big hit. They wanted the recipe, but alas, I couldn't give it to them. No one knows it but Tara.
I called for a Merlot. I can hear the gasps of shock ... "Heidi choosing a Merlot?" In my defense, the Merlot grape used to produce amazing, big, complex wine. For centuries it was a beast, and then sometime in the 60s or 70s it was dumbed down to a soft fruity easy-drinking wine. Well it is making a comeback. The low end merlot is still out there, but expensive merlot is pretty darn good. The Wades won with Stephanie (extra special because that is their daughter's name) 2007out of Napa Valley. We came in second with 2010 Silenus, also from Napa. The Shetlers brought a 2010 Midnight Estate.
Next Wine Tribe feast will be in January

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Taste of Germany at the Shetler's

The Shetlers decided to produce a German feast and requested Zinfandel for the competing wine.
It was cool how they made a menu with German on one side and English on the other. I ate as little as possible that day because I knew I was in for a gastronomical event. I wanted to be prepared!

I started by combining the bratwurst with the German mushroom brie. I’m a mustard lover so I indulged in the homemade pretzels with several mustards to choose from.

The decanted wine was brought in at the same time as the fresh green pea soup with a little mound of crunchy bacon on top. I made my wine decision immediately.

Then came the beef pot roast and cheese spatzel with green beans. I changed my wine decision.

Dinner was followed by a four layer Black Forest cake. My wine decision wavered like a child who wants three toys at once.

The Shetlers had a 2012 Brandlin Zin, the Wades had a 2012 Rombauer Zin, and we ironically had the 2011 Fiddletown Rombauer Zin (mainly because we’d already brought the regular Rombauer Zin in the past and won). So true to history the Napa Rombauer won!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Italian Comfort Food and Chianti Classico

Wine Tribe feast at the Wade's house!

Primo Piatti:
Antipasto Platter (salami, cappacola, mortadella, assorted cheeses and olives, and Sardinian crackers) with Apple & Brie Croissants. Note that little cluster of Syrah wine grapes with the cheese.

Constructed Grilled Vegetable Caprese Salad. I loved this little concoction.

Sicilian Meatballs and Creamy Polenta with Fontina Cheese. I don't know what was on that bread, but it definitely wasn't diet food!  


Cannoli with Chocolate chips and Pistachios with a Zinfandel Chocolate Sauce (Denise made a couple of extra ones with Nutella for the lactose intolerant guests).

Wine selection: The Wades requested a Chianti Classico. I don't know about you, but I don't know my Chiantis. I had to turn to the professional . . . Sean at Il Forno Classico. He sold me a bottle of 2011 Peppoli. The Wades brought 2009 Viticcio Riserva, and the Shetlers brought 2009 La Castellina.
Typical of any wine tasting, the flavors change so much as the meal progresses. The air with the delicate wine and the robust flavors of the ingredients make it harder than you'd guess. All this to say . . . we won!! Thanks Sean :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mexican Fiesta

It was our turn to host the Wine Tribe Dinner, so I pondered long and hard, and decided to fall back on food from our last vacation . . . Playa Del Carmen. I came up with three tacos I’d had in various parts of Mexico; a Basil Shrimp Taco, a Chicken Fajita Taco and a Pork Carnita Taco.
For our wine competition we had the idea to have them blend their own from at least two different bottles. It was harder than you’d think!
I started with a California-Mexican favorite; Guacamole and Tortilla Chips.
Next I did an “every town in Mexico” favorite; Mango, Papaya, and Cantaloupe sprinkled with Chili Powder.
The salad is popular along the border (I purchased from the local Mexican tienda); Spicy Pickled Veggies. A must at any taquería.  
No photo of my favorite . . . the Caribbean Coast classic; Shrimp Tacos with fresh basil and sliced endive.
Another general all-over-Mexico taco; Fajita spiced Chicken, sliced Peppers Duros, and melted cheese.
For the last taco I went to central Mexico; The classic Pork Carnitas with an added twist of chunks of Butternut Squash.
Dessert was simple with different bars of Dark Chocolate, the most unusual being the Tabasco Dark Chocolate. It was very good actually. World Market carries it.
Dan and Denise took home the coveted medallion. They combined Crankcase with Bella Piazza Reserve Port.
We came in second with a purposefully odd combo of Apothic Red with a bit of Hatcher Voignier.
Mark and Melissa mixed two Bjorn wines; Barbera, and a Zinfandel Reserva.

The next day we went wine tasting and met the new puppy at Hatcher Winery. That evening we all chipped in and chowed on pasta salad, corn soufflé, and BBQ pork ribs, followed by poor man’s strawberry short cake. The wine didn’t go to waste J

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tastes of the World

Mark and Melissa told us to bring a Cabernet Franc. A Cab Franc? Seriously? I searched high and low and found one at BevMo, and luckily it was part of the 5 cent sale; Montgras Reserva from Colchagua Valley, Chili, 2011. I tasted it and was amazed at the deep layered flavors with a hint of smoked meat. Unfortunately the second bottle didn’t taste that way at the party. We came in dead last L

Dan and Denise bought one without tasting it; Vermeil Cab Franc 2010, it started light and smooth and built in flavor as it opened.

Mark and Melissa had the winner; Inkblot by Michael David 2010. It carried the flavors I had hoped for in my bottle. Heavy, smooth with that hint of smoked pork.

Now for the meal. Words fail me . . . Yes I know many of you find that hard to believe, but it’s true. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. All I can say is that I've never had such a confused palette. They had 4 regional cheeses, olives, and made 14 dishes, representing 20 countries. The flavors were astonishing.

Sweet Carrot Salad - Morocco
Marinated Grilled Vegetables - Italy
Baba Ghanoush - Lebanon
Shrimp Summer Rolls - Viet Nam
Shrimp Balls - China
Quesadilla with Carne Asada and Guacamole - Mexico
Couscous Stuffed Peppers - Palistine
Left: Tortilla with Ham - Spain
Top: Pissaladiere with Caramelized Onions - France
Bottom: Spinach Soup - Iraq
Jerk Chicken - Jamaica

Left: Kulfi (Pistachio Ice Cream) - India
Top: Chocolate Pot de Creme - Switzerland
Bottom Right: White Russian Cream with Mango
Puree - Russia/Peru
So now do you understand why I couldn't find words to describe the food? I would say, "only words could do it justice," but in this case only taste could do it justice. Well done Shetlers!