Hatch Hongos y Elote- Meatless Monday

So much for freedom.  It is week two and my sweet girl is home sick.  And will be for a while.  Poor thing. At least I get some time to spoil her.

It is Hatch Chile season here and I wanted to get a recipe up for Meatless Monday so if you can forgive the lack of story, here we go.

Hatch Hongos y Elote

Roast 4 Hatch (mild if you want your kids to eat it) chiles and 2 ears of corn

(After roasted, put chiles in a brown paper bag.  The steam helps the skin peel more easily.)

Sauté 1/2 Onion and

1 Package of Baby Portobello Mushrooms (or whatever you have), cut in 1/4 or 1/6

Cut corn off the ears, peel and slice hatch peppers.

Add them to the pan.

Add 1 tsp. Cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

squeeze of lime

Chopped cilantro

Sprinkle of Cotija (or skip to make it vegan)

Serve with warm tortillas (or not if you re gluten-free) and sliced avocado.

Not sure about wine pairings, but a nice cold Pacifico or Margarita would do the trick.  Cheers!

Ok, back to my baby…Happy Monday!

A Surprise in Any Package-Monday Wines with Banfi

One of the joys of writing about wine is, indeed, the packages that arrive requiring a signature.  Some are expected, others are not.  Each time, it is a little like Christmas.  You may have a good idea of what is inside, but there is always a little flutter of expectation with the slicing of the tape.  Sometimes the surprise comes, not with viewing the bottle, but what happens when you open it.

I recently received three wines from Banfi: a Rosso di Montalcino (always a bit of comfort), a Prosecco (always a bit of fun), and something unexpected. I read the description of 2013 Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi Frascati DOC and thought, hmmm.  Composed of  50% Malvasia Bianca di Candia, I thought it may be a little a little sweet for me.  I read on.. 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco, 10% Malvasia del Lazio.  I love Trebbiano, great acidity and citrus usually.  I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was recommended with Thai or Asian (read sweet) but described as dry.  Now I was really confused.

And that, my friends, is why I always try to taste with an open mind.

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I brought it to my parent’s as an appertif (as recommended) for my father’s birthday. That way, if it were indeed too sweet, I had just the people there to enjoy it. It turns out, that was everyone.

Light and tropical, fruit forward without too much residual sugar.  It was bright but not biting, refreshing and easy to drink. And at around $13 it is great for summer parties with a little something for everyone. Surprise!

The Rosso and the Prosecco were as expected. The Maschio Brut Treviso is festive, citrus and stone. 100% Glera it is classic Prosecco in style and composition and another great Monday wine ($13). The Rosso is fruit, and spice, and everything nice.  Just enough tannins to give it structure while remaining versatile. I never say no to either.

Let’s face it, I don’t say no to wine very often.  I always like to try something new.  Sometimes it is hard to check my expectations at the door. But, now I know, even more definitively, that surprises come in all sorts of packages and packaging.

Friday Fancy Ticklers

Sometimes I have products I want to share that have nothing to do with wine. Some are samples, some are finds, all are current obsessions.  Ok maybe not full-fledged obsessions, but they certainly tickle my fancy.

Evan Healy Face Products

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I already loved the mask, a recommendation from a friend, so when they were sampling the facial serum and tonic at Whole Foods, I tried.  I couldn’t stop smelling and feeling my arm. I stopped in the next day to try it on my face.  And the next day to buy it.  I’m pretty sure my skin has never been so soft.

These plant-based products are based on the idea that “less is more.” The idea is to restore the balance of the skin so that is thrives.  The tonic hydrosol is 100% Organic Rose Geranium, the serum is fruit and flower oils and Vitamin E.  The idea for choosing the right fit? Smell them, your body will tell you what you need by which scent you are most attracted to.

I love the idea of minimal, clean ingredients in and on my body.  Check them out.

Millcreek Cacao Roasters*

 

As part of the Austin Food Bloggers Association, I was given a chance to sample these Farm to Bar chocolates.  The company is dedicated to preserving heirloom quality cacao through sustainable practices and support of small farmers.  Owners Mark DelVecchio and Dana Brewster are committed to maintaining direct trade relationships to produce the finest quality cacao and chocolate.

The commitment shows.  I like my chocolate like I like my wine: clean, honest, with a sense of place.  Subtle fruit and spice, just enough sweet to enhance the flavors.  These are beautifully made and beautifully packaged.  If you are looking for a gift for a chocolate lover, or yourself, this is a gift that keeps giving.

For more information about what they are doing in Ecuador, visit their blog.

Royitos Hot Sauce

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I could drink this.  I love salsa, especially ones that taste this fresh.  The perfect amount of spice, acid, a little salty, a lot addicting.  It is on the pricey side of salsa at around $5 but my mouth waters every time I see it and I can’t pass it up.

Wine Wipes*

 

A cute little compact to wipe the blue residue when you’ve been indulging in reds.  These came in VERY handy at the Wine Bloggers Conference last year.  If you, like me, have somewhat porous enamel and get the blue hue, these may be worth the investment. They also come in singles so you can hand them out or stick one in your clutch.

Pop-Up Campers

Ok, these don’t really fit the list, but I am truly obsessed with finding one for this summer’s trip.  If you have any experience or tips, please enlighten me. Shower? No shower? things to look for/avoid, etc. On that note, I am also thinking of chronicling our family camping adventures (travel, cooking, campground, spots to stop) in a new blog.  If you have any favorite camping blogs, share!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

{*These items were received as media samples.  I received no additional compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

 

Make Your Easter Celebration Sparkle

SAHMmelier:

Many thanks to Michelle for including me with these far more experienced writers. She asked for an accessible California sparkler and, of course, J was the first thought. News of the Gallo takeover after I’d reviewed which was disappointing. I hope they are able to maintain their family feel.
I’m excited to be joining our church family in serving the city’s homeless population. If you are in Austin and would like to help, let me know. If you are not in Austin, you can still contribute by sending a pair of shoes for our shoe drive. Message me for more info.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday with loved ones. Cheers!

Originally posted on ROCKIN RED BLOG:

This is the first in a two part series on wines to enjoy with your Easter meal celebrations. Easter is a day of great joy and celebration for Christians all over the world; what better wine to enjoy on such a celebratory day than bubbles! This article focuses on Easter brunch and the outstanding sparkling wines to pair with that meal for your friends and family. Furthermore, I have enlisted the assistance of some of my favorite wine bloggers. These are all blogs I follow; each is informative with its own unique style, all are educational. I highly recommend you follow each of these bloggers. Please note these recommendations range in price from $6 – $60 and includes a variety of sparkling wines  from the US, France, Italy Spain and Chile. Enjoy each of these sparkling wine recommendations, make a list of the ones that fit your taste, then head…

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Spring Forward

 

One thing that is consistent about Texas weather is its inconsistency. Fifty degree swings in 24 hours are not unheard of.  In fact the week before Spring Break we had freezing temperatures, the weekend it began we hit the seventies, the second weekend was chilly and raining.

Another consistent for Spring break is daily drinking with friends. There were plenty of opportunities to do some sampling, and those bottles were as varied as the temperatures.

The week before, I participated in a Snooth Twitter Tasting with Ruffino‘s line of Chianti*.  They ranged from the 2013 Chianti DOCG ($9) with bright red fruit and plenty of acid to the 2010 Riserva Ducale Oro ($28), a rich, layered, brooding example of what Sangiovese can be.  One thing remained true throughout.  These are well made, balanced wines that are priced to benefit the customer. It was a pleasure to hear from the winemaker, Gabriele Tacconi, about both the history and winemaking process and the participants always entertain.  If you haven’t joined before, we will banter again on Monday April 27th,

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Malbec is a grape I enjoy more in cooler weather so I made it a point to open a sample from Rutini** ($18) before the temps changed.  This 100% Malbec from Argentina is held in 50% French, 50% American barrels.  The fruit was deep, rich, intense and has a smooth and spicy finish.  I paired it with a ratatouille with turkey sausage, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and herbs.  I finished the sauce with some of the Malbec and let it simmer for a couple of hours.  It turned out really well and paired nicely.

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Later that week we opened the Rutini** Chardonnay($18).  Chardonnay is generally not my go-to white, but when the oak is subtle and the fruit has a starring role, I am in.  This wine had tropical fruit notes and honey balanced with abundant acid.  50% goes though Malolactic fermentation and it sits in New French Oak for 10 months. I rarely make recipes anymore but as I was thumbing through my mom’s Country Living magazine, I found this for Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts linguine.  Since I had the ingredients (sub bacon for pancetta and pasta) I gave it a try.  Lovely together.

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By mid-break I was in the mood for Sauvignon Blanc and so I invited a neighbor over to sample with me.  These two SBs from Chile were vastly different. Outer Limits by Montes($30)*** is a series that explores grapes from new regions.  This bottle yields from the Zapallar vineyards in Chile, 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  This came as no surprise to me as the first sip tasted like the ocean.  A great deal of salinity, tropical fruit, and citrus with a touch of oily green.  The color reminded me of an unripened banana, yellow with hues of green.  Although not my preferred style of SB, it was a food-friendly, complex, and interesting wine.

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The second Montes wine was Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc ($15)***. Grass, white peach, and floral notes on the nose and in the mouth.  Crisp, fresh, floral and delicious.   Grown in the Leyda Valley, this was exactly what I am looking for when I open a Sauvignon Blanc.

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They say if you don’t like the weather, wait.  By Friday, it was chilly and rainy.  I had previously caramelized onions for French Onion Soup and then frozen them.  I knew it might be our last chill of the season so I decided to finish the process.  With one more sample that was predominantly Malbec looming, I knew what I had to do: call in the hubs for red meat reserves. When the wine suggests decanting for at least an hour, you know you’re dealing with a big one and the soup just wouldn’t cut it.

The 2011 Achaval Ferrar Quimera**($38) is a Bordeaux style blend but the predominant grape is Malbec. 60% was aged 12 months in 1-year old French oak barrels, 40% 12 months in new French oak barrels. The color was a deep cherry plum, the nose conveyed spicy dust and sun-warmed fruit.  A surprising amount of acid at first, it faded as it opened.  Black fruit and alpine herbs with sturdy structure and a long finish.

There are some wines that I receive as samples that, in my mind, need to be held for a bit.  It pains me to open them, but it hangs over my head if I don’t. This was one of those wines. In retrospect, I would have paired it a little differently (stinky cheese?), decanted more, and held it a little longer.  It was clearly well-made and has potential, but I think I missed the mark with this one. Now I know.

Sometimes price point is not an indicator of how much you will enjoy the wine.  Yet another reason to taste before you judge and  review with an open mind.  In each of these samplings, for whatever reason, I found myself enjoying the wines that were less costly. Now if only that were true with shoes…clothes…hotels…

Wishing my friends up north a jump towards spring and for my friends in Texas, a lengthy one.  Cheers!

*These wines were provided as media samples for Snooth Virtual Tasting and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

**These wines were provided as media samples by Gregory White PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

***These wines were provided as media samples by Feast PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Cold Hands, Warm Heart-Texas Tuesday

The fine folks at Wine and Food Foundation of Texas (WFFT) aren’t going to let a silly thing like weather get in the way of a good time.  Despite the drizzle and cool temperatures, some of the top Texas winemakers and epicureans came out to enjoy the Inaugural Toast and Roast Event at Rancho Cuernavaca.

During the first hour, guests huddled under cover or warmed themselves by the fire while sampling Texas Monthly’s Best Texas Wines as chosen by Jessica Dupuy.   The second portion meant more wine provided by Pedernales Cellars and Fall Creek Winery, two of the winners, and a roast of goat, pork, and lamb by Chef John Bates of Noble Sandwiches.  Austin’s “Browngrass” band, Sour Bridges entertained.

A lot has happened in the Texas wine scene since my friend and former roommate moved out of state, so I was so excited to get to introduce her to these wines.  There were several favorites and several more that I had not yet had the opportunity to try.  As we weaved our way from whites to pinks, I was able to introduce her to the people and the wines that are making the Texas wine industry shine. Sample after sample, she was impressed, as I knew she would be.

As I have come to expect, but always appreciate, the WFFT were professional, organized, and friendly through out.  Having the limited time for sampling and drink coupons was wise.  The shuttle was a thoughtful touch.  The food was excellent and the music provided the perfect backdrop for conversations and was good enough to stop them.

My only regret? So enjoying the company of my friend and others that I didn’t make it around to taste some that I had been looking forward to trying. But that isn’t really a problem, is it? After every conversation, my friend commented on how friendly the people were.  It is one of the things she misses about Texas and one of the many reasons I love the Texas wine industry.  Our hands and toes may have felt the chill, but there was plenty of warmth.

Many thanks to Matt McGinnis and The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas for inviting me to the event and for making every one special.

{I received a media invitation to the event but no other compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

OTBN- A Gift from Gundlach Bundschu

SAHMmelier:

Since I’m not participating tonight for #OTBN, Open That Bottle Night, I thought I’d resurrect this post from three years ago in which I opened a very special Jeraboam from one of our sentimental favorites, Gundlach Bundschu. I’m looking forward to reading the upcoming posts from others. Salut!

Originally posted on SAHMmelier:

If you are on Twitter and a wine lover, you are probably aware that Saturday was Open That Bottle Night. One of many Twitter-born events that encourages readers to go ahead and open that bottle that you are saving for a special occasion. The bottle IS the special occasion so enjoy it now. Being awarded first place in Gundlach Bundschu’s Deed Day Poetry contest was in and of itself an amazing gift. The bottle they presented me with was enough to make me squeal and blush: A 1996 Cabernet Franc Jeroboam.

Now, let me preface all of this by saying that I have never had the privilege of enjoying a large bottle of fine wine. If I sound like a novice, it is because I am. Since receiving this bottle, I have envisioned the dinner party that I would build around the wine. I love Cabernet Franc but was not…

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“Sparkle and Shine”-Bubbles for NYE and Beyond

SAHMmelier:

Anyone else find that the time of year with the most drinking and celebrating is also the time of year when it is most difficult to find time to write? This piece was originally published last year. I have included a couple more Champagne suggestions in italics. I’d love to see what you open on NYE. If you get a chance, comment below with a picture and your thoughts. I’ll compile for Valentine’s Day. Hope you have a wonderful end to 2014, surrounded by those you love.

Originally posted on SAHMmelier:

I love Steve Earle.  I first fell for El Corazon, went back to I Feel Alright and then on to Transcendental Blues.  “Ft. Worth Blues” was on repeat as I watched the moon over the Adriatic.  I had people come up to me at the show at La Zona Rosa and say they had never seen anyone so into Steve Earle.  I snuck up front at The Backyard and “Galway Girl” and “More Than I Can Do” always get me moving.  I’ve missed some of the more recent stuff as I don’t dedicate nearly enough time to music these days, but one from 2007 will always be a favorite.

When I think back on my first pregnancy, two songs come to mind.  We chose not to find out the sex, but I knew.  I knew I was having a girl and I sang to her in the car…

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Holiday Comfort-Texas Tuesday

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Which, for many of us, also means one of the busiest times of the year.  So, even though I’m up to my eyeballs in holiday crazy…I mean, cheer…it is Texas Tuesday which now means a post about Texas wine.  This makes three weeks in a row and since three is required for a pattern, I just must. Here we go…

Four years ago we spent a week in Bandera.  We had a timeshare week that was going to expire and we had a 1and 2-year-old so we kept it simple: a week in the Hill Country.  We discovered several gems and have meaning to get back out there every year at Christmas time but those wishes seem to get usurped by the busyness.  But this year I was determined.

Friday after school we picked up my daughter and headed west to Boerne, a favorite German town.  We ate dinner at The Dodging Duck Brewhaus and planned to do some wandering, but this town shutters early.  So we went to the hotel and relaxed.  The only hiccup?  Not a bit of glassware in the hotel.  Not even a coffee mug.  FYI, in a pinch, Styrofoam cups are less egregious than the plastic.  I felt a little “Emotional” about drinking William Chris Emotion out of Styrofoam, but it was better than swigging out of the bottle.  Note to self: next time we stay at  Fairfield Marriot, bring glasses.

The next morning, our little elves woke us early so we ate and went downtown for Market Days.  If you live in the area, this was a great one.  The vendors were varied and reasonable.  The food trucks looked great.  Home Depot was even there with a wood-working project for the kids.  A few presents later, we were off to Comfort.

We ate at High’s, a wonderful café, and then made our way to Bending Branch Tasting Room, Branch on High. It was a glorious sunny afternoon. I went inside to taste and the hubs stayed on the porch with the littles.  They all came in periodically to grab a cracker and listen to the music.  Then, we sat on the porch and shared a glass of The Thinker, a secret blend of 7-9 varieties.

Here is what I sampled:

2013 Comfortage Hall Ranch, Paso Robles 100% Rousanne: Soft mouth feel, stone fruit, acid, clean.

2013 Vermentino Las Brisas, Carneros Citrus, pear, soft fruit, salinity, crisp.

2011 “1840” Bella Collina Tannat RF Black fruit, blueberry, chocolate, velvety, tannins for days.

2010 “1840” Silvaspoons Tannat RF Blue, black fruit, herbaceous, silky, bold.

2011 Texas Tannat Black integrated fruit, more cigar box notes, old world.

2011 Petite Sirah Shell Creek Vineyards, Big, bold, and blue. Smoky and elegant.

Thinkers Blend Red fruit, seemed unfiltered, floral, spice, acid, easy to drink.

The tasting room feels like you are in someone’s home and our host, Linda continued that air.  Friendly, warm, great décor, acoustic music. It is a place where you can unwind and enjoy a break from the crazy, a place to find a little “Comfort.” We brought home a bottle of the Bella Collina which was delicious with lamb chops.

From there we went to  Camp Verde, a general store established in 1857 in Center Point.   As luck would have it, they were having their annual community Christmas party.  It was an amazing event :food, wine, music, Santa. If you need a little holiday cheer, this is the place.  And they were serving wine from the Boerne Wine Company produced by McPherson Cellars, Tribute 1866.

We had one last stop before we headed home: Johnson City.  The lights there are amazing. It helps that the Pedernales Electric Company is headquartered there.  If you are looking for a family-friendly place to view lights, it is great. You can even put your name down at the Pecan Street Brewing Company and head out to see the lights.  They will call your cell when your table is ready.  The kids can run at the courthouse under the lights and you can sip on some great Texas wine while you wait.  I’ll always drink to that.

I’m always more about experiences than gifts and this was a great way to get in the holiday spirit. What are your favorite Hill Country Holiday traditions?  Feel free to share in the comments.  Cheers y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhh-lianico: Texas Tuesday

Awake at five, lunches packed, presents opened, cupcakes frosted, drop-offs, four loads of laundry, a couple of hours of work and a very brief workout. Pick-ups, stop at library to deal with missing book, trip to the toy store for the birthday boy punctuated by gelato courtesy of his grandmother.  Rhyming game leads to discovery and multiple attempts to use newly discovered inappropriate word. At a loud volume.  In public.  Long talk in the car about limits, boundaries, word choice, testing, and loss of new toy which demands responsible choices.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Just your typical Tuesday!

Enter my liquid hero for the evening: Duchman Family Winery’s 2010 Aglianico.  Or tonight, it is known as Ahhhh-lianico.  Not familiar with this grape? Originally from Greece, Aglianico made its way to Southern Italy where it became a signature grape in Basilicata and Campania.  It produces a full-bodied wine with structured tannins and acid to match.

This grape does well in hot, sunny climates so it is not surprising that it is shining in Texas.  Duchman Family Winery produces their Aglianico with grapes sourced from the Reddy and Oswald Vineyards in the Texas High Plains AVA.

Dave Reilly made a bold move with this bold grape and it has paid off in a big way.

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In the glass, the wine is brick-red with a burnt orange rim.  That’s either a nod to our local university or to the origins of the grape.  My understanding was that Italian wines often have the rusty ring around the glass.  Maybe some domestically produced wines do as well.

On the nose I get red cherry and a ton of cinnamon.   Red cherry, baking spices, violet with a different note highlighted in every sip. The time in the bottle has allowed the flavors to really integrate and blossom.  It is full of flavor, but the acid keeps it from being heavy.  It is structured, but has the honest, rustic nature you expect from Italian wines.

The birthday boy has requested pizza for dinner.  He is five, after all. So while this wine calls for hearty, chewy Italian or grilled meats, pizza will work just fine.  It could be the cooler weather, it could be the wine, but if I had my druthers I would put this with chunky tomatoes or mushrooms.  Maybe a Bolognese.  Tonight I will be blissful with anything I don’t have to cook and a full glass of this beauty.

You may have noticed the subtitle of this: Texas Tuesday.  I am really excited about what I am seeing and tasting in the Texas wine industry and my goal is to be more purposeful about getting the word out.  So, while it may not be very Tuesday, I am aiming to make Tuesdays for Texas wine.  And this was a great way to start. Cheers!