Thursday, February 19, 2009
Here are some wine suggestions for those of you hosting Oscar viewing parties this Sunday. I would base the recommendations according to the nominations but sadly I have not seen any of the movies this year. Although I will say I'm rooting for Kate Winslet as I have thoroughly enjoyed anything I have ever seen her in - she is flawless. Also - I want Mickey Rourke to win because I felt really sad when I heard of the passing of his beloved dog Loki. The unfortunate news made me hug my dog a little tighter.
Sparkling - Aurelo Cabestrero 1 + 1 = 3 Cava $14
Strange name but tasty wine. Plus the label gives your guests something to talk about besides dishing on the hot fashion messes.
2007 Markham Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley $12
I've always really liked this wine as it is versatile in nature and will please a wide range of tastes. It also pairs with all kinds of foods: hummus, spinach dip, Asian takeout, sushi, etc.
2005 Cantele Primitivo Puglia - $11
Primitivo is a kissing cousin to Zinfandel. Ripe flavors of cherries, blackberries, raisins, figs and black pepper. It's the perfect style of wine for pizza.
*Please note prices and vintages will vary according to retailer
I'll be at the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival this weekend and will be participating in two seminars and one dinner. This is my second appearance at the festival and it's a rocking good time! Then again - I don't need much convincing to slip down to South Beach in the middle of a Chicago winter. The food and wine is the delicious icing on the cake. And yes - I'm bringing the computer so check back for updates.
Sushi and Wine Pairing Seminar with Thomas Buckley, Executive Chef of Nobu Miami - Saturday, Feb 21
Chef Thomas Buckley and I are hosting this seminar and we'll be tasting everything from Rose sparkling to cocktails, sake and red wine! Chef Buckley co-wrote the Nobu Miami Party cookbook with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Passage to India Dinner hosted by Madhur Jaffrey - Saturday, Feb 21
I'm the featured sommelier for a dinner titled Passage to India hosted by the amazing Madhur Jaffrey. Participating chefs for the dinner include Floyd Cardoz, Suvir Saran, Adish Jain and Setai Executive Chef Jonathan Wright. Madhur Jaffrey can best be described as the Indian Julia Child. I grew up watching her cooking shows and film appearances and not to mention how much everyone in the Indian community completely worships and respects her. This is a huge honor for me and I'm going to try my best to not act like a blubbering fool.
Sizzle and Swirl: Barbecue and Wine Pairing Seminar with Chef Howie Kleinberg- Sunday, Feb 22
Fans of Top Chef season three will recognize Chef Howie. He recently opened a Barbecue restaurant in Miami appropriately named Bulldog Barbecue. Chef Howie is cooking the food and I'm pairing the wine and we'll discuss the merits of BBQ, how to make it at home and what wines to pair with it.
If you are in the area, tickets are still available for a handful of seminars and events.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Rachel uses the power of pineapples to seduce Don Draper
The release of this flavor is timely considering anything tiki, Trader Vic's, the Brady Brunch go to Hawaii, book 'em Danno related is very hot right now. I have a list of at least 10 friends who want to go to Trader Vic's to have Mai Tais and Pu Pu platters. I think the TV show Mad Men may have something to do with this as we grow nostalgic for that era.
I'm getting a bottle next week and I'm thinking I may need to whip up another batch of Pineapple Upside Down Cake and replace the rum with the pineapple vodka and see how it goes. Stay tuned....
Bottle Service runs every Wednesday in the RedEye - an edition of the Chicago Tribune. Be sure to pick up your copy for more fun wine tips and suggestions.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Here is the recipe for the cake. For a wine pairing any golden, late-harvest Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc based dessert wine will do.
1 - 20 oz can of Dole pineapple slices in heavy syrup (reserve the syrup)
3/4 cups of light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup Swan Down cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons spiced rum (I used Kilo Kai)
5 maraschino cherries sliced in half
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine, add three-four tablespoons of pineapple syrup. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the sugar mixture is bubbly, about 2 minutes. Arrange pineapple slices in the pan and continue to cook for 2 minutes but do not burn. Remove pan from the heat and add two tablespoons of rum. Arrange the pineapples in a 9 inch cake pan (you should be able to fit about 8 slices). Pour caramel mixture over pineapples and place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
In another bowl, cream together the remaining butter and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 batches, mixing at low speed after each addition until just combined. Stir in the rum.
Spoon the batter evenly over the pineapple slices in the cake pan. Depending on how deep your cake pan is, you may have additional batter left over like I did which I used to make a mini-cake. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool the cake on a wire rack for 4 minutes only otherwise the caramel will harden. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and then invert the cake onto a cake plate, keeping plate and cake pan pressed together. I find tapping the bottom of the cake pan helps release the cake. Replace any fruit stuck to the bottom of the pan if necessary.
Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Here are are a few highlights:
Beer - In ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, cereal grains were the basis of the economy and civilians were paid with daily rations of beer.
Wine - In ancient Greece, wine was used to fuel intellectual discussions and lively debates. Plato believed wine was a great way to test a man's character.
Spirits - Distilled spirits were a convenient and compact way to transport alcohol and had a profound impact on the Age of Exploration as Europeans developed new colonies and empires around the world.
Coffee - During the Age of Reason, coffee kept scientists, businessmen and philosophers wide eyed and wired as they discussed and later on established scientific societies, newspapers and financial institutions. The French Revolution actually started in front of a coffeehouse.
Tea - Britain's thirst for tea had a profound influence on British foreign policy which led them to become the world's first global superpower. And of course, a tax on tea led to the American Revolution.
Soda - Today, Coca-Cola is the world's most widely known and distributed product and a symbol of global commerce.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I knew I wanted to do a post on pairing wine with Valentine's desserts but I was debating on what types of sweets to focus on. I remember the time when my husband decided to surprise me by baking cookies and how blown away I was by this gesture - so romantic! First of all, Charles' culinary repertoire includes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal and he makes really good coffee so you can understand why the cookies were a such a big deal to me. He could have gone out and purchased a fancy pastry but it would not have been nearly as special and touching. I figure there are other culinary challenged people like Charles out there who want to surprise their sweetie with an easy to make homemade desserts so I figure why not offer some wine recommendations to go with them.
For the mixes, I'm recommending the The Barefoot Contessa line by Ina Garten. Her cookbooks are fool proof and her ready to go dessert mixes come in quite handy when I don't have the time to make desserts from scratch. The mixes come with easy to make instructions - even Charles can do it and the desserts don't have that "made from a box" taste that not even Sandra Lee can fix. I have found the Barefoot Contessa line at Fox & Obel, Whole Foods and Sur La Table but of course you can always just go with your favorite supermarket brand.
Serve with Saracco Moscato d'Asti from Italy $14.
This is a slightly sparkling white dessert wine, low in alcohol with fresh flavors of apricots, peaches and honey. It's nice and light so it won't overwhelm the airy cake. It has bubbles so you would serve it in a Champagne flute, making it extra romantic.
Caravella Limoncello $18
The lemon lover in your life will get double the dose of lemony action with this lemon flavored sweet liqueur. Serve the limoncello nice and cold in a small dessert wine glass or Champagne flute.
Marenco Brachetto d'Acqui $23
Brachetto is a red grape and the dessert wine made from it is similar to Moscato in style, slightly sparkling but a vibrant red in color with flavors of red raspberries and strawberries. Pairing it with chocolate is like serving chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce. You can also use this dessert wine with chocolate cupcakes, molten lava cakes and chocolate layer cake.
Alvear Asuncion Oloroso Sherry $24
Drop the milk - this is not your grandma's Sherry! This Oloroso sherry is sweet with an almost nutty flavor that is a wonderful match with the buttery crumbly cookie part while the raisin, walnut notes play well with the chocolate chips. A fun pairing worth seeking out! You could also pair this with oatmeal raisin cookies.
Alois Kracher Chardonnay Trockenbeerenauslese No 2 $34
This wine is barrel fermented so there are notes of vanilla, spices and coconuts along with flavors of apricots, honey and candied citrus that will play well with the vanilla flavor in the cake.
If you can't find this then ask your retailer for another Kracher product - they are all stunning and well worth the price. The Barefoot line also offer a coconut cupcake. I've only made the from scratch recipe and it is heaven covered in frosting.
Rosenblum Desiree Chocolate Port $16
Chocoholics can take it all the way with brownies paired with this sweet, Port inspired blend of Zinfandel and two native Portuguese grapes infused with real chocolate. And if nothing else, the name will certainly get your point across on V-Day.
Fattoria Felsina Vin Santo $35
If you don't want to bake then you can always do this classic and delicious pairing. Vin Santo is a slightly sweet dessert wine from Italy and it has an almond like flavor which makes it perfect with Almond Biscotti. The custom is to dunk the rock hard cookies into the wine before eating them. Very simple and very good!
It's time for the quarterly wine list change at Reel Club - Oak Brook (LEYE owned) and we're hosting a wine dinner to celebrate the new selections and of course Valentine's Day! Chef/Partner Mychael Bonner put together the menu, I selected the wines and we will both be on hand to discuss the latest trends and share our thoughts on what's happening in the world of food and wine.
The Reel Club wine list is fairly small and I did this on purpose. I certainly appreciate the merits of a large wine cellar but having worked with a list with over 1600 selections, I found that most of the time I would recommend wines that fell into the spectrum of about 40 selections that were my favorites of the moment. I decided to run with this idea and created a wine list inspired by this pattern. A few of the new wines will be featured at the dinner and I'll tell you why I love them so much right now.
Chef/Partner Mychael Bonner
Obviously value is a big focus point in this economic climate so for this dinner I will offer suggestions on how to get the most bang for your wine buck, offer tips on how to score wine deals and where to find them. We do these dinners fairly often at Reel Club and I may be biased but it seems everyone always has a great time and Chef Bonner does a superb job with the food.
Here are the details & menu - I hope you can join us!
Raw Ahi Tuna with Hudson Farms Foie Gras Toast Points
Adami Prosecco - Italy
Cold Smoked Norwegian Salmon, Honey Crisp Apples, Jalapeno Emulsion
Brander Sauvignon Blanc - Santa Barbara, CA
Almond Ravioli, White Truffle Cream
Meletti Limoncello - Italy
There will also be a couple of surprises along the way that are sure to make this wine dinner memorable as well!
A cocktail reception will begin at 6:00 PM
At 6:30 all guests will be seated for dinner service.
The price for the dinner is $55 per person plus tax and gratuity.
Please call Reel Club at 630 368-9400 to make your reservations.
272 Oakbrook Center
Oak Brook, IL