Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Provençal Classic: Boeuf Daube with an Earthy Rhone Red

Le Lavandou, a Provençal restaurant in my neighborhood in Cleveland Park in Washington, DC, offers no corkage fee on Monday nights. The owner, Florence Devilliers, usually offers a classic French main course. A red wine boeuf daube (beef stew) provided the perfect meal for this cold, wintery night. After several comments on the pics posted on the Crush and Press Facebook Fan page, sharing the recipe for this classic hearty, comfort dish was a must do.

This version is courtesy of Patricia Wells, “The Provence Cookbook.” I’ve had wonderful success with this cookbook along with her many others. She calls this recipe, “Forgotten Red Wine Daube (pronounced like knob)” or Daube au Vin Rouge Oublié. “Forgotten” refers to the two bottles of red wine that have been forgotten in the cellar and are past optimum maturity for drinking. This is not a problem most of us encounter. Any decent red wine would work, but a Rhone is preferred.

With this recipe, exactness is not imperative. Merely follow the technique and experiment with readily available ingredients. No need to worry if you can’t find an ingredient, except for the beef and the red wine (LOL).

Here’s the recipe:

Equipment: A large sieve; a large heavy-duty casserole, preferably enameled cast-iron, with a lid (my 7 ¼ quart Le Creuset round Dutch oven is perfect); a 6-quart past pot fitted with a colander.

6 lbs. of beef, preferably two or three different cuts, cut into 3-ounce cubes.

The marinade:

2 btls. Red wince, southern Rhone preferred

4 fresh or dried bay leaves

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

5 whole cloves

Several sprigs fresh thyme

½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil

3 tbls. Extra Virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

30 shallots, peeled and trimmed

Grated zest of 4 oranges

2 cups of pitted olives

3 tbls coarse sea salt

1 lb. penne pasta

1. In a large shallow bowl, combine the meat and the marinade ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours, turning the meat from time to time. Place the sieve over a bowl. Pour meat into the sieve, reserving the marinade ingredients in the bowl. Discard the bay leaves; cloves, and thyme.

2. In the heavy –duty casserole, heat the oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add several pieces of meat and brown them over moderate heat, regulating the heat to avoid scorching the meat. Do not crowd the pan and is patient: Good browning is essential for the meat to retain flavor and moistness. Thoroughly brown the meat on all sides in several batches, about 10 minutes per batch. As each batch is browned, use tongs (to avoid piercing the meat) to transfer the beef to a platter. Immediately season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Return all the meat to the casserole. Add the reserved marinade and cover. Bring just to a simmer over moderate heat. Once the liquid has come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, maintaining a very gentle simmer, until the meat is very tender, 3 to 4 hours. Stir from time to time to evenly coat the pieces of meat with the liquid. During the last 30 minutes, add the shallots, orange zest, and olives, and stir them into the mixture. The sauce should be glossy and slightly thick. Taste for season. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pieces of meat, shallots, olives, and orange zest to another large covered casserole, leaving the sauce in the pan.

Wine: A hearty red works best, particularly the earthiness of the southern or northern Rhone valley. Châteauneuf-du-Papes, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Cairanne, Rasteau, Beaumes-des-Venise and Séguret from the southern Rhone and St. Joseph, Crozes Hermitage, Cornas from the northern Rhone are classic choices. I chose Christine and Eric Saurel’s 2004 Domaine Montirius Vacqueyras, “Le Clos” with a 50-50 split of Grenache and Syrah. The aromas exemplify the region’s “garrigues” soil, a French term meaning sun-scorched herbs and earth. Twice I’ve had the good fortune of experiencing their hospitality at their domaine in Vacqueyras. One of my core mantras in life is to buy from nice people only. The Saurels more than qualify and make an outstanding stable of biodynamic wines. Oak is not to be found at the domaine. Their Gigondas and “Le Confidentiel” are stunning.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Grandson's First Magnum: 2009 Ridge Monte Bello

On October 20, 2009, my daughter and son-in-law, Lindsay and Clay, gave me the greatest blessing of all, my first grandchild. He's a big boy and carries the mighty name of Sanders Petty Rhodes. As his grandfather, I decided to start his wine collection. My daughter and son-in-law can handle college. I have the fun stuff covered. In my crazy thinking, everyone should have a few or more bottles (magnums,1.5 liters) of outstanding wine from their birth year to have for those special celebrations--graduations, weddings, new job, new promotion, sunsets... And with his hearty laugh can you imagine the delight that he will be around the dinner table.

As Sanders' self-appointed cellarmaster, today, I acquired the futures (delivery in 2011) on a magnum of the 2009 Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello, one of the original classic California Bordeaux blends. Magnums are best for long term purposes because of the juice ages much slower. "Sanders, your collection has begun!" Votre Sante!

With an outstanding vintage in 2009 in France, age worthy treasurers from Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhone valley will be on my shopping list as they become available. Now, since I need to be there to enjoy this fine wine with my grandson in 21+ years, I'm off to the gym.

Friday, February 19, 2010

U.S Olive Oil Trade Mission to Tunisia

I am excited to be on this olive oil trade mission to Tunisia.

This will be a fabulous opportunity to meet the individual olive oil producers and learn about he culinary heritage of Tunisia. Following my week in Tunisia, I will cross the 62 mile stretch of the Mediterranean Sea to Sicily. From there I plan to work my way north through Italy, then on to France. My itinerary includes stops in Provence, the Rhone Valley, and a few days of visiting many outstanding wine domaines in Burgundy. Of course, the adventure will conclude with a short visit to Paris. There should be an abundance to write about. My new Flip video camera is packed. Please join me for the journey via cyberspace.

Friday, February 5, 2010

More on the Smoke Point of Olive Oil from Richard Gawel

Here's Richard Gawel's comment on a Washington state food writer discouraging her readers to avoid cooking with olive oil. There's no need to include her article. We have enough misinformation circulating as is. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, Australian Richard Gawel, is an internationally acclaimed researcher, taster, consultant and all around guru regarding olive oil. When he speaks people listen. Moreover he's extremely humorous, never taking himself too seriously.

"Good quality low acidity extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has a pretty high smoke point, unlike the low quality EU EVOO that people buy at their local supermarket. The olivey flavor of EVOO might not suit what you are trying to do with it, but that's got nothing to do with smoke point. Not many folks know this, but the artificial fat soluble preservatives added to all refined oils (canola, 'olive oil' aka non EVOO, vegetable, flaxseed etc) such as butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxyanisole add around 15-30F to the smoke point of these oils. Nice if you like eating the stuff. Lastly EVOO doesn't break down any quicker than any other oil with heating. In fact, the natural preservatives called polyphenols that you find in EVOO protect it from heat degradation."

On related point, I asked Richard about the smoke point of refined olive oil. This is the nasty stuff processed with high heat and chemicals from the waste and residue of the pressing of Extra Virgin olive oil. On your supermarket shelf it's often labeled, "Extra Light Olive Oil." Eventually the FDA must stop this labeling. First, "Light" has nothing Extra Virgin. This a total misrepresentation to the consumer.

Here's my question to Richard, "Chefs often state that refined olive oil has a smoke point higher than Extra Virgin. What are the actual facts?"

Richard's response:

"Hi Bill
Yes that certainly is true. By European law, refined olive oils must have a (very low) acidity of no more than 0.03% (as anything more than that suggests that the refining process was incomplete). Anyway low acidity = higher smoke point. Also refined oils have preservatives added to them such as BHT and BHA. These help raise the smoke point of the oil by between 8 and 22C. Obviously extra virgin olive oils are preservative free so they don’t get this artificial leg-up smoke point wise."

For those concerned about preservatives, you might want to consider using high quality Extra Virgin olive oil more frequently.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Smoke Point of Olive Oil: Rubbish

Have you heard celebrity chefs tell you not to cook with Extra Virgin olive oil because of its low smoke point? This is rubbish, according Australian olive oil researcher and guru, Richard Gawel. Here are his scientific, fact-based comments on the subject.

I have written previously that Richard Gawel should be cloned by the olive oil industry. He is a one person truth squad about this magical nectar. Gawel is not alone. Other international researchers are in complete accord with his findings.

Crush and Press' Response to a Reporter's Inquiry About the Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Oilve OIL

For your information and entertainment, here is Crush and Press' response to a reporter's inquiry about the health benefits, etc. of olive oil.

I am thrilled to respond to your HARO inquiry on behalf of Bill Sanders, a widely recognized authority on wine and olive oil and Founder of Crush and Press. Please see Bill’s insights below, and read on for his complete BIO. Please feel free to contact Bill directly for more information or for an interview, or if you prefer, contact me and I can help in the arrangements. Our contact info follows at the bottom of this email.

Is olive oil really all that it claims to be?

  • Yes and No! All Extra Virgin olive oils are not the same. Unfortunately there is too much poor quality olive oil imported into the US. Because the U.S. has never adopted Federal standards for Extra Virgin olive oil, we have become the dumping ground for low quality and adulterated (i.e.hazelnut and canola) olive oils from Europe. These oils do not have the flavor and health benefits purported to be contained in genuine Extra Virgin olive oil. High quality Extra Virgin olive oil meets and can exceed claims about health benefits and flavor.
  • In the US "Extra Virgin" printed on the label is not a good indication of quality. The US. has not adopted the International Olive Oil Council's standards for Extra Virgin. The state of California has adopted standards that are more stringent than the IOOC. These standards relate to levels of acidity, flavor and the balancing of the critical attributes: fruity, bitter and pungency. California olive oils carry a seal, "Certified Extra Virgin." For more information, see the California Olive Oil Council (
  • In the US the act of placing a bottle of tap water on a store shelf having a label with the printed words, "Extra Virgin," is not illegal, except, perhaps, in California.
  • Some olive oils are labeled simply as "olive oil." These are refined oils. Heat and chemicals have been used extract the remaining oil from the waste and residue of the original pressing.
  • Throughout the Mediterranean there are olive trees that have been bearing fruit for centuries. In Tunisia, there are olive trees reported to been planted by the Phoenicians 3.000 years ago. Now, would you like to take advantage of those aging properties?

Why is "Virgin." better?

  • High quality Extra Virgin olive oil has more flavor, freshness and a higher polyphenol component (and other health benefits) than other seed oils and refined olive oil.
  • "Extra Light Olive Oil" has nothing to do with lower calories and offers little flavor and health benefits as compared to high quality Extra Virgin olive oil.
  • Fruity, bitter and pungency attributes are strong indicators of flavor and presence of healthy components.

What are the health benefits of "High Quality Extra Virgin" olive oil?

  • Olive oil is nature's rustoleum!
  • Olive slows oxidation, i.e. aging, i.e. rusting.
  • Olive oil oxidizes slower than saturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Olive oil is the heart of the Mediterranean diet which has been proven to lower incidence of heart disease and cancer.
  • Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, composes 80% of the fat in olive oil which offers established cardiovascular benefits.
  • Oleic acid reduces LDLs, the bad cholesterol without decreasing HDLs, the good cholesterol.
  • Oleic acid as been found to decrease the incidence of artherosclerosis and thrombosis.
  • It has been proven to be beneficial to diabetics.
  • Contains high levels of polypenols, antioxidants which slow the aging or rusting process.
  • Olive oil is liquid Advil or Aleve. Oleocanthal, a compound present in olive oil, is similar to ibuprofen.
  • Contains a powerful form of vitamin E, nature's anti-aging drug.
  • Aids digestion. Next time you are suffering from indigestion take a tablespoon of a high quality olive oil.
  • More on Mediterranean Diets, edited by A.P. Simopoulos and F. Visoli, offers a comprehensive summary of the research regarding olive oil.

And what exactly is cold pressed?

  • Most olive oil experts agree that "cold pressed" is a worthless term and adds no value for the consumer. Asking for a cold pressed olive oil is the equivalent of walking into a wine store and asking for wines with alcohol only. The term offers absolutely no assurance of quality.
  • A major benefit of olive oil is the production process which involves cooler temperatures, little water and no chemicals. It's a nature process. Speed of moving the harvested fruit from the tree to the processing mill without delay to avoid oxidation and sanitation in the mill itself are critical factors in the production of high quality Extra Virgin olive oil.
  • The harvest date on an estate bottled olive oils offers an indication of freshness. Olive oil is not a stable product. Oxidation begins before the fruit is picked from the tree. Air, light, heat and age accelerates oxidation leading to rancidity. Officially olive oil should be consumed within 18-24 months of harvest. Most experts now agreed it's best to be consumed within 12-18 months. Again, this depends on the particular bottle of oil.


Bill Sanders is a widely recognized authority on wine and olive oil and the Founder of Crush and Press, a company designed to “elevate lives through food with love.” The Kentucky-raised gourmet offers a rare combination of culinary expertise and a resume of success across an array of businesses and lifestyle interests.

Bill’s demonstrated his inherent passion for olive oil, wine and cooking over the years by conducting hundreds of tastings and seminars. His proclivity for olive oil ultimately led to University of California-Davis’ Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil where he finished third in tasting tests among fifty industry insiders. A subsequent educational focus on wine prompted a long list of culinary certifications and visits to many of the great olive oil and wine regions of the world.

With a professional life that included a successful sweep through the intricacies of governing in Washington D.C., Bill’ enjoyed a career that includes the business of international thoroughbred racing and breeding, the pressures of managing in high technology manufacturing, event planning and video production. He offers world-class seminars focusing on “living the better life,” and became a regular guest on CBS affiliate WKYT-TV’s AfterNoon in Lexington, Kentucky.

Named recently as the U.S. spokesman for 100% Tunisian Olive Oil (www., Bill continues to share his expertise and flavorful stories about his travels today through his writing and speaking engagements. His blog about olive oil and wine can be found at

And there is more…

· Passed the Master-Level Certification for the Rhone and Provence wine regions from the French Wine Society, 2009;

· Attended the Beyond Extra Virgin Conference, an international conference on excellence in olive oil, from agriculture to sensory evaluation to the culinary arts, sponsored by the University of California-Davis Olive Center, Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone, June 21-23, 2009;

· Completed an advanced sensory evaluation of olive oil course, Raising the Bar on Olive Oil Quality: Views from Down Under (Richard Gawel-AUS and Margaret Edwards-NZ), University of California-Davis Olive Center, 2009;

· Completed Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil at the UC-Davis in 2003 and 2004;

· Studied at the CIA at Greystone professional wine studies program, 2004-2005;

· Trained at the L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland;

· Trained in sensory evaluation of olive oil and Tuscan cooking at Giuseppe Grappolini’s Centro Culturale Olivarte in Loro Ciuffenna, Italy, 2003;

· Executive producer, a two-time TELLY Award winner for video for non-broadcast in government relations, 2007 & 2008;

· And is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Salmon P. Chase College of Law and member of the Kentucky Bar Association.


Founded in 2009 by Bill Sanders, Crush and Press is a company that “promotes the enjoyment of these wonderful nectars by providing consumers and companies with information on the proper and healthy use of olive oil and different ways to explore wines.” The Washington, DC-based firm provides information, training and tips for exploring, using and enjoying olive oil and wine. Crush and Press will soon be enhancing its services by enabling web visitors to purchase olive oil and other gourmet food products through its online store.


Bill Sanders

Founder and CEO

Crush and Press

Mobile: 202.744.2176

Gretchen Kihm-Stegall

PR Representative for Crush and Press

c/o Trifecta Marketing Resources, LLC

W 847.681.0506 | C 847.922.5931

Twitter: PRgretchen

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