Sunday, November 22, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
"What wine should I serve on Thanksgiving?" This is always the most frequently asked question of me leading up to turkey day. Wine selection can be challenging with the wide variety of flavors and dishes at our traditional feast. Cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, stuffing, scalloped oysters, and the star of the show, turkey, blend sweet, creamy, savory, herbaceous, earthy, and spice into a state of culinary chaotic nirvana. So what wine(s) can we serve to cut through and compliment this cornucopia of tastes? Fortunately, there are a multitude of options to pick from. Because of the host of flavors and individual preferences (and prejudices), a mix of white and red is preferred. Here are my varietal and regional thoughts concluding with my grand pick of 2009. As for specific domaines or wineries, your local wine merchant can ably assist you. My suggestions are in no way intended to be exhaustive. Please comment with your own recommendations.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
For years certain Thanksgiving dishes have not done it for me. Cranberry sauce was one, especially that jello, silo shaped stuff in a can...Gross!! In the last few years I began searching for and creating traditional dishes that are more red wine friendly and thus tastier. Here's a cranberry sauce recipe that I have been serving during the holidays for several years that is not only palatable, but extraordinary. It is a sure hit.
Credit must be given, however, to Andrea Immer-Robinson's Fine Living Network series, Pairings with Andrea. I friend told me recently that her professor at Wharton graduate business school advised her to "steal shamelessly." When it comes to recipes, I always have, while giving proper credit, of course.
Cranberry and Roasted Shallot Sauce with Port and Red Wine
18 Medium shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise through the root end
1 TBL Extra Virgin olive oil
5 TBL Balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup Dry red wine (Zinfandel or Pinot Noir)
2/3 Cup Ruby port
1/3 Cup Light brown sugar, packed
12 Oz Bag fresh cranberries
TBL Fresh Thyme (or dried)
1 TBL Chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400F
Toss shallots with oil and minced fresh thyme on small rimmed baking sheet.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.
Drizzle 1 TBL vinegar over shallots, toss to coat. Continue roasting until shallots caramelize, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Bring red wine, port, brown sugar, remaining 4 TBL of vinegar, and granulated sugar to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Add cranberries; cook until berries pop, stirring occasionally about 8 minutes.
Mix in parsley and shallots.
Transfer to bowl. Cover and chill overnight.
Serve cold or at room temperature.
Note: This dish can be made up to a week in advance if kept refrigerated.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This past week I heard author Malcolm Gladwell speak at Elliott Masie's Learning 2009 conference in Orlando. Of course, one his best sellers is Tipping Point, which "is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." I can't help but believe this is happening with high quality Extra Virgin olive oil. Quality olive oil production is not only about the old world of Italy, Spain, France and Greece. Similar to the spread of wine, the new world has caught on. Australia, California, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Tunisia, and New Zealand are producing oils that have earned a place in our pantry.
Now, here comes Brazil. With their growing economy, Brazil might be about to enter the world stage. Thanks to the wonders of social media, I recently met an enthusiastic evangelist for Brazilian olive oil, Laura Reinas. I have included below a post from Laura about Brazilian olive oil (http://www.naosocomidinha.blogspot.com). It is good to know through Laura that we can track the progress of olive oil production in Brazil. A bottle of Brazilian olive oil might be in our pantry in the not so distant future. Perhaps, I should order the Portuguese version of Rosetta Stone.
"Yes, We Have Olive Oil!
The olive groves, very diffused throughout the Mediterranean, took place thanks to the speed of the Cretan and Phoenician ships, and the adoption of olive oil as the local currency, which made planting trees very important economically for the people of the region. These plantings are now spread around the world with their seedlings taken by settlers to countries such as America, Argentina and Chile.
And following the logic that Argentina and Chile produce quality olive oil, why not Brazil?
There is a responsibility for producing a quality olive oil that reflects Brazil’s rich cultural and economic history. Currently producing Brazilian olive oil carries a big task in cultivating a large estate of olive trees in ‘Serra da Mantiqueira,’ bordering the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. The seedlings adapted to the climatic conditions, which are not very favorable conditions of the Mediterranean region, because in Brazil, we have a lack of sandy areas and harsh winter.
There are 37 varieties planted, especially the Grapollo for oil, and Ascolana for table olives.
While the first harvest has been frustrated because of hailstorms that occurred in the region, the expectation remains that Brazil will produce quality olive oil on a large-scale basis as in European countries, such as Portugal and Spain, old world examples of success and tradition in the production of large quantities of fruit.
This step in the production of domestic olive oil can also help the Brazilian economy, reducing dependence on imports and helping in agriculture.
In the future you can look forward to your table and pantry including a bottle of high quality Extra Virgin olive oil from, yes, BRAZIL!"