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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thanks Sonoma Cutrer




Thank you to Sonoma Cutrer Vineyards for publishing my blog on its Facebook page. As you may recall my last entry was prepared to serve with the Cutrer Chardonnay from that winemaker. SC Chardonnay is like an old friend, maybe a "best friend". I was first introduced to it in 1994 at a “good-bye lunch” with a dear friend as I was leaving one of my university jobs. The restaurant was the Striped Bass in Philadelphia Pa which I believe has closed. Sonoma Cutrer was the house wine. From that first sip, I was hooked.

It was difficult to purchase in wine stores, but over the next few years whenever I was in a restaurant which served SC I was certain to order it. Fast forward ten years to my first trip to wine country. My anticipation of finding the SC Vineyard was only surpassed by my husband's proposal the night before in San Francisco. But within minutes of checking in to our wine country inn (Vintners Inn,) I discovered that SC was just two or three turns away. Upon arrival at SC we were told that tours were only open to members - I joined on the spot and scheduled a tour for that afternoon. A couple afiliated with a restaurant in San Francisco joined us - we were educated on the grapes, the soil, the rocks, the wine making process, we met the assistant wine maker, we tasted the pinot noir grapes on the vine and then were treated to all three of SC's white wines. Not just tastings - our host set down three glasses for each of us and we enjoyed bottles of the Chardonnay, the Cutrer and the Les Pierres. What a delight!

As we were leaving my husband to be explained to me that this was an extraordinary wine tour and tasting and that while over the next few days I would probably taste other good wine the tour and the “tastings” would not compare to SC. And he was so right! This private tour remains the best I have had at any winery in the US, France, Italy, South Africa and Australia!

As a SC club member, for the next couple of years, we looked forward to and enjoyed our shipments of Chardonnay, the Cutrer, the Les Pierres and the Pinot Noir. You can imagine how disappointed I was when SC had to cease shipping to my state (and my neighboring state where many relatives reside). I felt like I was being dumped by a lover or at least a best friend, but I remained faithful. Fortunately, we live in an area where I can get SC's Russian River and the Sonoma Coast Chardonnays. I can get the Cutrer and Les Pierres at a grocer/wine shop in the neighboring county. But the SC Pinot Noir remains only a memory.

Check Sonoma Cutrer out on Facebook or at www.sonomacutrer.com

Enjoy,
Jo

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shrimp-Chicken Kabobs and Asparagus and Corn Risotto




The local grocery had Florida gulf shrimp (I will not purchase shrimp from various international locations after hearing an NPR special last year) and I had an extra ear of unhusked fresh corn from the night before. Most importantly I was in search of a meal that would go well with a bottle of one of our favorite white wines which we had recently purchased.

I found a risotto dish with asparagus and corn in the Bistro-Style Cuisine cookbook, which also includes the shrimp and chicken sausage kabobs which I have prepared in the past (see post August 23, 2010).

The kabobs would also give me the opportunity to use a set of kabobs which my mother found for me. I must admit they are trickier to use than the standard straight ones, but they look clever!

Entrée: Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Glazed Kabobs. The sausage that I use for most recipes is a package of precooked jalapeño chicken sausages (very mild). I cubed them so that they were slightly smaller than the shrimp, not wanting to over cook the sausage or undercook the shrimp. I cubed the pineapple approximately the same size.

For the glaze I combined apple juice, fresh ginger, honey, garlic, and a splash of sherry ( I did not have any brandy) and heated to blend the flavors. I tossed in fresh chives and thyme.

The kabobs were basted before putting them on the grill, flipped and basted again. Beware it is not easy to flip semi circular kabob holders!

Side dish: Risotto with Corn, Asparagus and Fresh Basil. The corn was removed from the cob and the asparagus was cut on the diagonal and set aside. The garlic and shallot were heated in evoo. The risotto was added and cooked with chicken stock (following the method on the risotto package). Five minutes before the rice was done I added the asparagus and corn, and parmesan cheese. I seasoned with fresh ground black pepper and lemon zest and placed in the bowl. The risotto was topped with more parmesan and fresh basil.

The evening weather was perfect and the dishes were excellent, blending flavors and textures of summer. All were a great accompaniment to a great wine!

The wine: Cutrer from Sonoma Cutrer Vineyard.

Enjoy,
Jo

p.s. before closing today’s post here’s to Julia Child on her 100th birthday!




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuna Salad on Olive Bread


With the wonderful taste of the kalamata olive bread still lingering from the recent heirloom tomato entrée (previous post)I used it to make a 'next day meal."

There are many recipes for tuna salad and I usually prepare it differently every time.

Tonight’s Tuna Salad: In a food processor I blended onion, bread and butter pickles, oo mayonnaise, and the tuna, then mixed with a few capers and seasoned with ground black pepper. The salad was spread on slightly toasted olive bread and topped with lettuce and tomato.

Side: Julienned Peppers and Farmers Market mini Carrots. I tossed the peppers and carrots with thinly sliced onion, rice vinegar and a tad sprinkle of sugar.

Simple and enjoyable.

Enjoy,
Jo


Friday, August 3, 2012

Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta on Olive Bread




Thanks to all who asked about my absence. I have a lot of dishes to share with you but here is one that I prepared this week.

Inspired by the August cover recipe on bon appetit ,with a couple of variations, this dish was great and a perfect summer evening on the deck dinner!

The local winery has a Farmer's Market once a week - I have not had a chance to go this summer until this week. I went specifically to pick up something for dinner -when I saw the heirloom tomatoes the cover of the bon appetit magazine flashed in my head.

A local Bakery has a table at the market and the kalamata olive bread looked scrumptious.

Entree: Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta on Olive Bread. The bread slices were toasted and drizzled with evoo. Layers of tomatoes, sliced feta cheese, and thinly sliced purple onion were added and drizzed with more evoo and topped with ground black pepper,fresh basil and oregano.

Wine: Badia a Coltibuono 2009 Chianti Classico Nice!!

At the farmer's market I also purchased beautiful gladiolus. My husband remarked how the colors matched the dinner food. Those who know me, know I am obsessed with matching and coordinating clothes, rooms, table settings, etc, but the colors in the flowers and the reds, yellows and purple in the tomato dish were a pure coincidence.
But I do appreciate his observation!

Enjoy,
Jo