Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Memphis Wine & Food Series

For more information please click here

Cocktail Time

The warm weather is upon us & what better way to toast to it then with some hand-crafted cocktails! Here are a few recipes that we've been enjoying lately. All liquors are in stock now.

Spring Green

1 oz Thatcher’s Cucumber Organic Artisan Liqueur ($19.99)

3 oz Corsair Artisan Gin ($28.99)

½ oz lime juice

2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters ($7.29)

Pour in an iced filled shaker, stir until chilled then pour into an iced highball glass, garnish with cucumber or lime peel or both

Red Agave

1 oz Thatcher’s Blood Orange Organic Artisan Liqueur ($19.99)

3 oz Milagro Reposado Tequila ($30.99)

1/2 oz of lemon juice

1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters ($7.99)

Pour in an iced filled shaker, shake until chilled, then pour into a chilled martini glass. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Euro Blanc

1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino ($28.99)

2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth ($12.99)

1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

squeeze of lemon

Dry Sparkling Wine (Segura Viudas Brut $9.99 or Zardetto Private Cuvee Brut $15.99 or Montaudon Brut Champagne $35.99)

Add first four ingredients to ice filled shaker, shake until chilled, pour into champagne flute or wine glass, top with sparkling wine or champagne. Garnish with lemon twist.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wine Racists

I have wonderful customers, especially the wine club members. These people have no resistance to "going there" with me. Cotes du Rhone blanc? Sure! Washington State lemberger? Bring it! Corvina? Yes please!

I love that. Its what keeps me working so hard, helps fuel my passion, & quite frankly just thrills me.

But there is one thing that makes me cringe, makes me angry, & sends shockwaves of irritation throughout my body: Wine Racism

Wine Racism manifests itself in a few ways.

"I don't drink white wine. I only drink red."

"Uggh, I HATE riesling"

"Rose? eww isn't that, like, white zin or something?"

"I only drink white because all the sulfites in red wine give me a headache"


Look, first & foremost I truly believe you should drink what you like but don't use that as an excuse to not explore other wines.

Open your minds a little & if you trust your retailer then listen to them. Ask questions, be inquisitive, take a chance.

But for the love of god DON'T BE A WINE RACIST!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Overheard At Easter Brunch

"good afternoon ma'am. Do you have a reservation?"

"No! But we are first on the wait list!"

"well ok ma'am. But do you have a reservation?"

"No! I said we are first on the WAITLIST!"

"well ok. I'll go get the hostess."

What in the hell is wrong with people? I truly believe that people should have to take a class on how to behave at a restaurant.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Andrew Will Winery Dinner at Napa Cafe

I wish Napa Cafe was closer to where I live because I would walk there on a weekly basis.

Chef Ben rocked out an absolutely delicious meal for a dinner with Chris Camarda of Andrew Will Winery. Chef is creative & engaged I definitely get the impression that he is always open & wanting to learn & experiment. Chris' wines are some of the most bold yet expressive & lingering wines I've ever tasted. Together the food & the wine sang a beautiful chorus. I had the pleasure of sitting with Chris & Robin Pollard, Executive Director of the Washington Wine Commission. We talked about everything from David Ramey to UC-Davis & Tuscan wine law. Those of you who missed it better start paying close attention to the events coming up in the next few months!

Course 1:Duo of Kumamoto Oysters. Honeysuckle & Mango, Coconut & Lime
paired with Cuvee Lucia Semillon Last In Line Vineyard 2009
Cuvee Lucia Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Velvet Canyon 2009

These oysters were perfectly dressed with bright accompaniments. What the chef topped each one with was a playful take on mignonette. The oysters were never overshadowed, just enhanced. Both wines were brightly acidic with citrus notes, and an especially lanolin like quality in the blend. Absolutely one of the best starts to a meal I've ever had.

Course 2: Handmade Potato Gnocchi with a Tomato Portugaise Sauce
paired with Cuvee Lucia Sangiovese Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2008.

The gnocchi were crisp on the outside & pillowy-creamy on the inside. The sauce played off the acidity & herbaceous qualities of the sangiovese quite nicely. I'm always shocked by how traditional Italian varietals come across from Washington. They shine with beauty.

Course 3: Duck Confit, Delta Grind Polenta, Wild Game Sauce
paired with Champoux Vineyard 2006

I love love love duck. Absolutely adore it. This confit was rich & unctuous which led into the rich, creamy polenta & the earthy suace. It was a little salty but not too overpowering. The red blend from Champoux Vineyard was a lesson in balance. Fruit was there, weight & texture were there, tannins were present & everything was tied together by the acidity.

Course 4: Tea rubbed Lamb Loin, Sunburst Squash, Candy Stripe Beets, Natural Jus
paired with Annie Camarda, May's Discovery Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Wow, this pairing was out of control. The tea & earthiness really matched up well with the grip & tannin of the cab. The acidity cut through the lamb so perfectly. A new flavor was created in my mouth. Excellent.

Course 5: Harris Ranch Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushrooms, Red Wine Sauce
paired with Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2005 & 2006

I don't like tenderloin. It's too soft, no texture, almost flaccid. However, this came out with some nice toothsomeness to it. It was cooked to a perfect medium & was livened up with the earthy mushrooms & bold red wine sauce. The wines were.....perfection. I can't really describe them because I "felt" them more than "tasted" them. They were the kind of wines that made me close my eyes & lose grip on my surroundings for just a moment.

Napa Cafe knows how to do it. Their food is delicious, their wine list is super cool & unique & the service is comfortable yet professional. If you haven't been in awhile you need to go back immediately. If you've never been....well what the hell is wrong with you??!

One last thing. Even though the event was great I was disappointed in the attendance. The smaller crowd made it intimate which is always nice but I wish more people would have gotten on board with this. We as a city need to support our independent restaurants because they are the ones doing the unique events such as this. They are the ones taking risks & keeping true to their passion. They are the ones hosting world class wine makers from around the country & around the world. Yet for some odd reason, they don't get the press. There was a very short & completely bland one or two sentences in the newspaper about the dinner. Nothing talking about how Chris Camarda makes less than 5000 cases a year & produces some of the most sought after wines in the market. Nothing about how down to earth, driven & intelligent he is. Certainly nothing about how Napa Cafe was pulling out all the stops for this event. Yes they used twitter, facebook & email. But if we are truly going to elevate our city to the world culinary stage we as a food loving community need to stop talking about chain restaurants & how expensive a bag of chips are & start talking about what our very own food & wine loving independent restaurants are doing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Chris Camarda of Andrew Will Winery

I had the pleasure of doing a little email interview with Chris Camarda, the brilliant winemaker/owner of Andrew Will Winery. Join us at Napa Cafe on Monday April 11 for a wine dinner with Chris & his amazing wines. More information here.

What is it like being thought of as one of the best wineries in America? What drawbacks are there if any?

"Notoriety is good for sales especially when you are from Washington. I would prefer that people are talking about Washington and not me. No drawbacks"

What is one of the most recent food pairings you had with one of your wines that just blew your mind?

"At my home we had 2007 sorella with a prime rib purchased form Bryan Flannery."

In Memphis we industry professionals don't seem to get as much as hesitation from consumers regarding Washington wines as we did even 5 years ago. Are you seeing that industry wide in other markets as well?

"The place. Washington State.We are starting to get into people’s minds. They are starting to realize that we can produce very fine and even great wines. The challenge is to create a psychology that competes with Bordeaux’s. We already know that we are over all a superior place to grow fruit. Getting others to even contemplate the possibility is a great hurdle. Of the 2500 to 3000 Chateau in Bordeaux only a few hundred are producing wines worth looking for. In Washington we thousands and thousands of acres that can produce wines which can compete with the 250 top Bordeaux ch if the winemakers are up to it."

Monday, April 04, 2011

palaTABLE 4.3.11

Can you still call something underground if it is mentioned in print? No matter how we refer to this supper club-underground restaurant-chef showcase it continues to increase in quality, uniqueness, nerve, creativity & attitude. Joe Morris who is kitchen workhorse at Tsunami & lords over the bar on Sundays at Cafe 1912 was the chef for what he dubbed last night "palaTABLE". I saw a menu in progress but that by no means prepared me for what I was to experience. This man took me on a culinary journey the likes of which I will remember for a very long time.

1: pea, lavender

What a way to start! Beautiful but most importantly-delicious. So creative yet not overpowered with manipulation.

2: spinach, black tea, olive oil, milk

The spinach was meaty & creamy with a bright freshness.

Course 1&2 were paired with Ken Forrester "Petit" Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa

4: beet, young garlic, arugula

I love beets, I love beets, I love beets. As far as garlic is concerned, the younger the better!

5: mushroom, milk, soil

I want a tall glass of this every afternoon as a pick-me-up. It was invigorating & so purely tasted of mushroom.

Course 4&5 were paired with Siduri Pinot Noir 2009

6: duck eggs, mustard green, smoke, whey

This was like duck egg creme brulee or egg re-imagined as it's own custard.

7: cheese, honey, pecan, apple

The cheese with the apple & the pecan butter "powder". Seriously? My my my. So rich & delicious & showcased Joe's talent at molecular gastronomy. He did it right in that he employed techniques but didn't allow the dinner to become ABOUT the techniques. The way in which he presented everything was to amplify the freshness of what he had available to him locally.

Course 6&7 were paired with Alto Almonzora "Este" 2008

Course 8 was rosewater with blueberry & white pepper paired with my cocktail of Creme de Violette, Eva's Limoncello, & Segura Viudas Brut Reserva. Gorgeous.

What a stupendous meal. I want to eat Joe's food on a regular basis.