Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Donkey and Goat Winery Tasting

Last week I stopped by Blue Ribbon Wine Bar for a late-night winemaker tasting with Tracey Brandt of Donkey and Goat Winery in Berkeley, CA.  I hadn't heard of Donkey and Goat before but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and taste of their wines.  It was fun to chat with Tracey as well.  They're celebrating their 10th year in the wine business.  If you're curious where the name came from don't worry I was as well.  Turns out donkeys are often used for tending the vineyards in France and goats are their companions which also serve the purpose of natural weed control.  Their French roommates affectionately started referring to Tracey and her husband Jared as the "donkey and goat".  He did the work in the vineyards and she was his companion.  The name stuck and a brand was born.  

All of the wines were delicious but my favorite was the 2011 El Dorado "Improbable" Chardonnay.  Harvested in an area surrounding the Sierra Foothills, certainly an "improbable" place to find Chardonnay but it works.  Crisp, bright, clean, with notes of citrus and a structured minerality supporting the finish.  No new oak means the fruit and bright acidity shine through.  The Rhone Blend "Five Thirteen" was also delicious and a different style of wine, similar in style to a Chateuneuf-du-Pape from the southern Rhone Valley.  

While the price-points on these wines certainly reserve them for special occasions, I can't wait to visit their tasting room next time I'm home!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Lenz 2010 Chardonnay

While out in Greenport we decided to pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy before dinner.  The local wine store recommended the 2010 Lenz White Label Chardonnay, and he just so happened to have a bottle on ice ready to enjoy immediately.  It was delicious.  The nose was full of bright citrus, crisp green apple, with a touch of vanilla.  The wine in their White Label is fermented in stainless steel with just the slightest touch of oak (hence the vanilla) but the crisp acidity and clean taste shines through.  A wine that is very easy to drink and paired perfectly with our leftover snack of triple cream brie, prosciutto and marcona almonds.

Wine:  2010 Lenz Chardonnay
Purchased:  Greenport Wines and Spirits - Greenport, NY
Price:  Retail price $15
Would buy again: Yes

Friday, April 18, 2014

Girls Getaway - Greenport L.I.

Last weekend a couple of my closet girlfriends and I decided to get out of town for the weekend.  We wanted something close so we decided to head out to Greenport on the Northfork of Long Island.  After exploring Greenport back in June with my mom, I was eager to go back and see what it was like in the off-season.  We stayed once again at the beautiful Fordham House B&B.  Halina welcomed us back with open arms and did not disappoint with her delicious breakfast spread!

We explored 2 new (to me) wineries, Pellegrini Vineyards and Croteaux, made our way into town and explored a few new shops, and enjoyed another fabulous dinner at Noah's.

First stop - Pellegrini Vineyards

We picked up an epic picnic spread at The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck and brought to Pellegrini, unfortunately it was too cold to enjoy outside but we made do in their light-filled tasting barn.  
No picnic is complete without cornichons
Rose for dayssss
Sparkling tasting - it's all in the presentation!
Still tasting - a great way to find out what you like/don't like in a Rose as these were all very different in style and taste

One new shop in Greenport was The Times Vintage - a wonderfully curated shop of vintage clothing and home goods.  I couldn't resist this rabbit fur coat with mixed leather piecing, I wore it to dinner that night but I'm hoping I can put it away until next year - bring on spring!!

I'm a sucker for a good seafood tower
Such a wonderful way to start the day!

On Sunday we rented bikes and made the 8 mile trek out to the eastern-most tip of the island.  It was a little chilly but reminiscent of our summer bike rides in Montauk!  We stopped by Kontokosta Winery on our way back for a quick tasting before packing up and heading back to the city.

Homemade strata - with gluten free bread!
This was before the wind picked up...such troopers for sticking with it - 18 miles!!

Post bike ride wine tasting
If you're looking for an easy overnight getaway I would highly recommend Greenport and the Northfork!  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - 2011 Blina Barbera D'Asti

When my dad was in town I took him to one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Jeffrey's Grocery.  We shared a seafood tower (with which I enjoyed a crisp sauvignon blanc) then moved on to the skirt steak as our main.  I asked the som, Erika, for a recommendation of a red wine to enjoy with my steak.  After describing my ideal glass of wine (fruit forward, balanced, not too tannic) she brought me a glass of the 2011 Blina Barbera D'Asti.  

Made of 100% Barbera (Italy's 3rd most planted grape, and slightly more approachable than the more famous Nebbiolo of the Asti region) the wine was a beautiful cherry red color.  It was aged in stainless steel for 10 months allowing the fruit to really shine through, bright juicy red fruits, balanced with acid and minimal tannins.  This formula really makes it a food friendly wine.  It continued to open up and got better with every sip throughout my meal.  

Wine:  Blina 2011 Barbera D'Asti
Purchased:  Jeffrey's Grocery
Price:  Retail price $15
Would buy again: Yes

Friday, April 11, 2014

In the Kitchen - Preserved Lemons

I first experienced preserved lemons during a cooking class in Morocco last year.  The chef explained the arduous process of letting them cure for 6+ months.  I quickly wrote it off as something that would be nice to have but not something I ever thought I could recreate at home.  

Turns out I was wrong.  Inspired by the abundance of Meyer lemons at my local Trader Joe's, I found a recipe for preserving that takes a week tops on one of my favorite blogs.  I chopped up these yellow beauties and stashed in the cupboard for the week.  The good news is they last 6 months, so taking a little time now to cut and prep ensures endless Middle Eastern dishes to come.  And they certainly look pretty on the shelf!  

I've successfully used the lemons in a version of this cous cous dish, but I used riced cauliflower instead of actual cous cous and added roasted fennel, delish!  I also chopped up some lemons and tossed them in a bowl with mixed olives, olive oil and some of my secret Moroccan spice mix; takes me right back to Marrakech!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 Failla Pinot Noir

Part two of my trip to Ohio was spent exploring all of the new bars and restaurants in my college town.  So much has changed in what feels like such a quick 6 years since we graduated.  

A welcome addition to the town is Cru Winebar.  Opened by seasoned restaurateurs Mike and Michelle Patterson, Cru is both a wine bar and wine store located next to their delicious breakfast spot, Patterson's Cafe (formerly Uptown Cafe where I enjoyed many a "big fatty" breakfast burritos back in college; now happy to see they have plenty of gluten free options including the best GF pancakes I've ever had!)

We had the honor of being added to the select few who are privileged to drink out of proper "big ass" wine glasses

My college roommate Erin, made the trip down from Cleveland to join us for the weekend.  We spent early Saturday evening at Cru with a bottle of 2012 Failla Pinot Noir.  I must admit I'm not the biggest Pinot fan, but my cousin has insisted he's going to make a Pinot drinker out of me sooner than later - and with wines like this it's safe to say I'm moving over to the "dark side".  

The wine was delicious.  The nose had notes of wet earth, crisp minerality and a stoney characteristic.  The taste was extremely well balanced, fruit forward but balanced by bright acidity.  Despite being aged in 20% new French oak, the tannins were very soft and provided additional structure on the finish.    

We paired the wine with a beautiful cheese tray, including Cru's delicious honey fig spread.  The wine was especially yummy with the aged Gouda we picked up at Piazza Discepoli earlier in the week.  I was in heaven.

Trying to get every last drop
Wine:  2012 Failla Pinot Noir 
Purchased:  Cru Winebar
Price: $32.99 retail
Would buy again: Yes, my new fav 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wine Wednesday - Back in Ohio with Shifflett Wines

Last week I joined my dad for a series of tastings in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.  I went to school at Miami University so it was a fun excuse for me to go back and visit campus while also shadowing him in his tasting routine.  

Our first tasting was held at Main Street Gourmet located in Oxford, Ohio in the heart of Miami's "Uptown".  Many years ago while visiting me at school, Dad quickly found his way to the best (and perhaps only?) wine store in town and befriended the owner Chris.  Since then any visit has required a stop at Main Street Gourmet, so it was especially nice to kick off the weekend with a tasting with some of their most valued clients.  

World's largest wine opener???
In action

The tasting ended after 10pm and I was ready for a nice dinner out.  To my dismay (how quickly I forget as a NY-er) all kitchens in the town of Oxford close by 10pm at the latest, and to make matters worse, it was Green Beer Day, a Miami institution, so bars and restaurants had decided to close even earlier to avoid the mayhem.  The day was saved when I learned that Bagel and Deli now offers gluten free bagels!!!  You have no idea how excited I was, I went in like a kid in a candy store, indecisive on which bagel to order, which prompted the bagel maker to ask me if it was my first time there, (hardly)!  I decided on a "donkey punch" took it back to my hotel room and devoured it, happy as can be!
The next day we went in to Cincinnati to another favorite wine store, Piazza Discepoli in Glendale for another tasting.  Just as successful, we had a great turnout, with amazing food pairings.

All in all a very fun and successful weekend.  Can I go back to college??

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