Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hidden Gems

You never know what you're going to find when you dig around your favorite wine shop. Yesterday at Joe's on Poplar I found a 1985 Nebbiolo for around $40! The wine was the last vintage made by the original winemaker who died just before its release. They have a little informational sign regarding the wine that, I believe, stated that he died just shy of 100 years old! It's amazing to think what else might be lying around Memphis.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


The Chicago City Council voted Wednesday to ban the sale of foie gras, making Chicago the first city in in the U.S. to do so. California has already passed a law that will end the production and sale of foie gras by 2012. Rick Tramanto, executive chef at Tru in Chicago, stated that "Government shouldn't be dictating what we eat, it's just not right". Mayor Daley feels that Chicago shouldn't be wasting time with foie gras and should be focusing on the "real issues in this city".

This is where the grey area lies. I consider myself progressive, liberal and eco-conscious. I also am a passionate lover of food. Supposedly, there are humane ways of raising ducks and geese to produce the rich, velvety foie gras. If so, then I say it should be allowed to continue. It is rather delicious. Is that heartless?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


My father called me the other night to tell me that he was thoroughly enjoying a bottle of Hayman & Hill Pinot Noir that I had given him. Last Christmas I gave my parents a case of wine. It was comprised of really interesting and delicious bottles such as Foris Gewurztraminer, Castello di Monastero Chianti Classico and Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo along with some others. My parents have everything (except that vacation home in the Caribbean, that's coming Mom) so it's usually an interesting feat when purchasing gifts for them. I get my love of cuisine and wine from the both of them, so a gift of wine seemed natural. Also, they live in a small town in Illinois and therefore do not have access to as much of a selection as we do here in Memphis. I even found two beautiful wooden wine boxes to put them in. Which my dad, being the craftsman that he is, turned into wall art for their bar. Every time they pop open a bottle of wine from that Christmas collection, they call me to express how much they are enjoying it. Sometimes they call me to ask my advice on what wine to open with the meal they are about to have.

I can't express how good it feels to know they are enjoying my gift. My mother and father are the reason why I love to cook good food and drink good wine. The kitchen was always the heart of our home and the room that holds the most memories for me. They instilled in me an experimental palate and a desire to create and share. I'm so passionate about wine and food that it was only right to give back to that original source of passion. My beautiful niece Halei, who just turned 2 in February, already loves to cook and loves to eat. I can already foresee that she will be a great cook and I hope that I will be able to pass along that passion for cooking that my parents passed to me.

Here's to you guys.

Salud y pesetas y tiempo para gastarlas!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Here it comes

Spring, as usual, will probably last about 10 seconds here in balmy Memphis. With that being said, I guess we should prepare ourselves to make the inevitable leap to summertime wines. My list of such wines include riesling and rose.

The New York Times food section published an article in the 4.12.06 issue on German rieslings, one of my ABSOLUTE favorite styles of wine. These wines go with practically all foods, especially spicy Asian cuisine, and can run the gamut from dry to sweet to late harvest dessert style. They are perfect for sipping on a patio on an oppressively hot Memphis day. I recommend picking up rieslings from Rudolf Muller (especially the Kabinett and Eiswein), Dr. Thanisch or J.J. Prum. Great Wines and Spirits in the Regalia shopping center (682.1333) has a good stock of all of these wines, try Joe's on Poplar as well. If you can't find what your after, either shop should be able to special order for you.

For the red wine drinkers who feel they couldn't possibly stoop to drinking white wine (what is wrong with you, I mean really??) there are some INCREDIBLE rose wines out there. Rose gives a red drinker the satisfaction and body that accompanies a red wine with the crispness and cool refreshing qualities of a white wine. My favorites include: Saintsbury Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Susana Balbo Crios Rose of Malbec, E Guigal Cotes Du Rhone Rose, Bonny Doon Big House Pink and Fife Redhead Rose.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Springtime in Harbor Town

I recently was asked to lead a food and wine pairing at a private residence in Harbor Town in downtown Memphis. The host (thanks, Joe!) wanted to have a few friends over for dinner but wanted to do something a little different. I felt up to the challenge so I agreed to do it.

To welcome the guests I had prepared a edamame dip with rice crackers. The dip had lovely flavors of garlic, ginger and a hint of soy to whet their appetites. The first course was red wine poached figs stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts and drizzled with pomegranate molasses. I paired the figs with Castellblanch Rosado cava, a bright and fruity sparkling rose from Spain. The fruit in the cava mirrored the figs, contrasted the saltiness of the blue cheese, and complimented the tartness of the molasses.

Next up were grilled chicken skewers with a pad thai dipping sauce comprised of coconut milk, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy, chilis and lime. This I paired with McWilliam's Dry Riesling from South Australia. The lime zest hints in the wine picked up the lime in the sauce while the spice amplified the fruit in the wine. It was a harmonious pairing of flavors that everyone should try.

The main course was marinated flank steak seared rare and topped with a chimmichurri sauce paired with Antis Malbec from Argentina. The wine's supple tannins complimented the beef while the olive oil in the sauce brought out the wine's red fruit flavors. The slight spice from the chilis in the sauce mirrored the slight spiciness of the wine.

Lastly was a chocolate souffle paired with Clocktower Port and Coturri Chauvet Vineyards Old Vines Zinfandel. What way to end! The sweet fruit of both wines amplified the souffle's chocolatey richness. The souffle also brought out a hint of cocoa that I had never detected in the Zin.

All in all I had a blast preparing the food and pairing the wine. I could definitely tell that the guests enjoyed themselves just as much.

I can't wait to do it again! Bring on a new set of tastebuds!