Archive for the 'Wine' Category

1989 Chateau Margaux

A great wine deserves a great meal to go with it!  On the menu: Filet mignon w/ shaved black truffles and a merlot/porcini sauce; rosti potatoes; roasted Brussels sprouts w/ agrodolce. For dessert: Frost Bitten Ice Riesling w/ assorted cookies and Brie.

wine dinner2 2017

wine dinner1 2017

brie wine dinner 2017 (Brie)

Cheers and Happy Holidays!


A Great Wine and a Great Meal

sardella1 The vino

sardella3 Spice roasted chicken w/ charred Brussels sprouts

sardella2 Bavette steak w/ hasselback potato

I’ve been wanting to try the roasted chicken at Sardella ever since they opened last November. The chef rubs the chickens w/ rice koji and chills them overnight which makes the skin crispier and the meat more tender. My friend had the bavette steak.

I’ve been saving the wine for a few years to let the tannins mellow out.

The evening was one to remember!!

Cheers and bon appetit…


“Green Eggs and Ham” – Prosciutto Wrapped Sea Scallops w/ Wasabi Tobiko on a Bed of Lemon Vinaigrette Dressed Frisee Salad

*click photo to enlarge

Made this appetizer w/ some friends and thought I’d share the photo that one of my friends snapped that evening. This dish used to be on the menu at Remy’s back when Ben Davis and Ivy Magruder were the chefs there. It’s a delicious way to start off a great meal! We had red wine braised swordfish w/ roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed Swiss chard for our main course. Dessert was fresh berries w/ cookies. Wines of evening were a 1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac w/ dinner and a Mount Pleasant port w/ dessert. Thank you Paul and Laurie for bringing these great wines!!

Bon Appetit!



Leg of Lamb Stuffed w/ Morel Mushrooms, Acorn Squash, Garlic and Rosemary

I recently had a few friends over for a birthday celebration. On the menu was stuffed leg of lamb; Swiss chard and leek gratin; rigatoni pasta w/ pureed acorn squash, roasted pistachios, parmesan and brown butter; and last but not least a delicious strawberry shortcake. Many wines were savored w/ the meal as well as a cognac w/ the dessert. The weather was beautiful, and the company was a lot of fun which made the meal even more of a pleasure!!

lamb dinner3

Leg of lamb stuffed w/ morels, acorn squash, garlic and rosemary

lamb dinner1

lamb dinner2

Swiss chard and leek gratin

lamb dinner4

The showcase wine of the evening

lamb dinner6

Strawberry shortcake

Thanks to Bob for photographing the evening while I cooked, and to Mary for bringing dessert so I didn’t have to provide one!

Here’s to being born… here’s to life!!


Layer Cake Wines

layer cake wines

A trio of great wines for a nice price. I usually try to stay within the under $10 range per bottle… more these days given the crappy economic situation we’re in. I decided to splurge a little especially since I found these wines on sale. I’ve tasted each one now and they were definitely worth the few dollars more!  Here’s what Robert Parker had to say about them:

“First and foremost, there are three great value wines I tasted which didn’t make it into the recently released “Parker’s Wine Bargains: The World’s Best Wine Values Under $25.00,” published by Simon and Schuster in November, 2009. They come from the proprietor of Hundred Acre Vineyard in Napa, Jayson Woodbridge. Of course, his Hundred Acres wines sell for well in excess of $200 and get great reviews from me, but the Hundred Acre Cabernets are very limited in its production. Woodbridge’s desire is to produce a $15 wine that tastes like a $50+ wine, and as hard as it might be to believe, he seems to have come very close to succeeding with the following three efforts, all called “Layer Cake.” They are all screw-cap finished, so there will never be a cork issue, and there are about 20,000 cases of each one of them. They all sell at the remarkable price of $15 a bottle. With the glut of high-quality grapes available in California, Woodbridge also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon from the North Coast, and if it is as good as these three wines and priced the same, it will be another fabulous value.” -Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

2007 Layer Cake Primitivo IGT
(Italy, Puglia)

 “The most rustic of these three wines, with lots of pepper, roasted herbs, meat juices, charcoal, and scorched earth, this spicy wine has an inky ruby/purple color and lots of body. It comes across like a rustic Zinfandel, but with loads of character and personality, displaying an almost savage intensity to its flavors. This is a wild, adventuresome wine that should drink nicely for several years. Bring on the pizza! ” -Rated 89/100 Robert Parker 

2008 Layer Cake Shiraz
(South Australia)

“This was not an easy vintage in Australia, but you would never know it from this wine. As one expects from any South Australian Shiraz, it has oodles of fruit, a big, thick, juicy mouthfeel, velvety tannins, and lots of crème de cassis, blackberry, peppery, and tarlike notes in a deep, full-bodied, lush style that should drink nicely for 3-4 years as well.” -Rated 90/100 Robert Parker

2008 Layer Cake Malbec
(Argentina, Mendoza)

“Dense purple-colored with notes of blackberry, earth, roasted meats, and a hint of barbecue spice, this wine exhibits great fruit, delicious, full-bodied texture, silky tannins, and a long finish. It does taste more like a $30-50 bottle of Malbec than one that can be purchased for $15. It should drink nicely for at least 2-3 years.” -Rated 91/100 Robert Parker



A votre sante’!



Grape Harvesting

I had the opportunity to help friends harvest their grapes this year at their vineyard near St. Genevieve, Missouri. They have 3 acres of chambourcin vines planted. The grapes are taken to a winery next door for crushing, aging and bottling. Chambourcin thrives in the hot humid Missouri climate and is resistant to the hard freezes of our winters. This year produced an abundant harvest for their small vineyard even after thinning the grape clusters throughout the summer. The vines produced approximately 7 tons of grapes (almost twice the yield of 2008!). This was my first time harvesting grapes and I had a great time!!

Here are a few pictures from the day:

grape harvest1 The entry sign

grape harvest2 Beautiful clusters

grape harvest3 Harvesting

grape harvest4 Harvest lunch

grape harvest5 Random beauty

grape harvest6 To the crush room

grape harvest7 Crush room

grape harvest8 The winery

grape harvest9 Tasting patio

grape harvest10 The B & B

grape harvest11 The B & B

grape harvest12 Winery cat



A votre sante’!



Jug Wine Find (sort of…)



1 liter jug, screw cap closure (once again socially acceptable). This was a great wine for the price! Typical red zinfandel flavors and aromas. I loved the small jug packaging – it gave me flashbacks to the days when we would chug down cheap red wine that came in a gallon jug. Unfortunately I bought this as a closeout and it is no longer produced according to the website for Three Thieves Winery. If you happen to run across some, I recommend snatching it up!



The Birthday Tour

Unfortunately I had to go on the road during the week of my birthday this year. But, as luck would have it, we overnighted in Monterey, California on the eve of my day. I wanted to eat a special meal on my birthday so we went to a place I tried last year where I ate some great seafood and drank some great California wine – Monterey’s Fish House!


Fish House exterior and interior


more interior shots; the menu


Hama Hama oysters; scallops, scampi style


close-up of scallops; wine of the evening; Sal, our bartender

If you enlarge the picture of the exterior you may notice the police tape on the hand rail in front. I’m assuming someone overdosed on the delicious seafood and wine, then crashed through the railing on their way out (ha, ha)! If I lived in Monterey or in the vicinity, this would soon become one of my restaurant hangouts. Nothing fancy, just damn fine food and wine at a reasonable price; friendly, knowledgeable staff and a laid back atmosphere – definitely my kind of place! They serve some of the biggest oysters I’ve ever seen – Hama Hama oysters from the deep water pacific caught off the shores of Lilliwaup, Washington. For dinner I had the scallops, scampi style which consisted of about a dozen sea scallops perfectly seared then served over fettucini w/ a sauce of fresh garlic, white wine, butter, green onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. Divine!! I broke the rules by having w/ the scallops one of my favorite red grape varietals, Zinfandel. California produces some of the best, so I chose the Boeger 2006 Walker Vineyard Zinfandel from El Dorado, California. Usually I have room for dessert, but not tonight!

 If you happen to find yourself in Monterey, I highly recommend you give Monterey’s Fish House a try!! If Sal’s tending to the bar, tell him Bruno sent you :-)

A votre sante’!


The West Coast Tour – Seattle and Napa Valley

It’s 2008, I’ve got the blues, and I’ve lost my cooking mojo! I’m going to a pie making workshop on Sunday so maybe that will help inspire me.  

Until then, here are some photos from my last work week. I got some great shots of the Seattle skyline but unfortunately we didn’t get to spend any time there. We did however get to spend a few hours in Napa Valley. It was torture going to wine country and not being able to taste any wine! (we were on duty) Thankfully we had the opportunity to eat a nice meal at Mustards Grill and stop by the French Laundry in Yountville to take a look around. I was able to go in the kitchen because the restaurant was closed for a few days for a tune-up. We also had time for a short visit to Copia (the center for wine, food and the arts) in the city of Napa.  

Enjoy the views! (click on photos to zoom in)


Mount Rainier; Seattle skyline


Mustards Grill


 Mustards menu; Larry & Kim (the pilots); Kim & me


hanger steak; seafood tostada; cherry & pear bread pudding


Napa Valley scenery


entering Yountville; The French Laundry


more of The French Laundry


inside the kitchen



Until next time…


Bread and Wine (Sourdough & London Cab)


This is what they served me the last time I was in jail. A big improvement over the time before that when all I got was stale bread and water! Of course this was a jail just outside of Napa Valley, California…

If you believe that, I have some nice swamp land for sale too :-)

Actually, Karen, a fellow St. Louis food blogger at Familystyle Food was kind enough to share her sourdough starter w/ me, so I decided to try my hand at making some sourdough bread. I had intended to make the bread for World Bread Day 2007 hosted by Kochtopf but I missed the deadline. Oh well, better late than never! 

The wine is one that I’ve been wanting to do a post on because it is very good and not outrageously expensive like some California cabernets can be.

 Notes on London Cab:

2003 London Cab


You never know what to expect. But boy, what a ride! A little wild, a little reckless, and a whole lotta red. This cab starts off slow and easy, but revs up into a fun, full-bodied, fruit-driven wine in no time. Flavorfully rich, cherry red, and oh-so-berry, it’s nothing short of ready for action, and one of the greatest finds in all of old country . . . and new, for that matter.

Varietals: 100% estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation: Russian River Valley

pH: 3.56     TA: .484     Brix: 24

Oak: French

Alcohol: 13.8%

Production: 1300 cases

Vinted & bottled by Chateau Felice Winery

NO-KNEAD SOURDOUGH (recipe courtesy of Sourdoughs International)

After Mark Bittman’s feature in the New York Times (November 8, 2006) on Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread, I received many inquires asking if it is possible to make no-knead sourdough. It took just one look at Lahey’s recipe to focus on the 12 hour “rest”. It seemed pretty obvious.  Lactobacilli in a sourdough culture “fermenting” for 12 hours should produce a far better flavor than ¼ teaspoon of instant yeast and no lactobacilli. It is only necessary to modify the recipe for the extra flour and water added by the sourdough culture.  Here’s what it looks like.

Recipe (see note)
Produces one 1½ pound loaf
1 cup fully active sourdough culture
440 grams (3 cups) all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 cup water
1½ teaspoons salt

  1. In a large bowl briefly combine sourdough culture, flour, water and salt. The consistency should be very firm and shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and proof 12-18 hours at about 70° F. At 70-75 degrees the bread leavens well and has the distinct sourness and flavor of sourdough.  At more than 75 degrees the dough becomes too acidic which inhibits the wild yeast and leavens poorly. At much less than 70 degrees the dough leavens well but has a mild flavor.
  2. After the 12-18 hour fermentation this is very sticky dough. Use a plastic spatula to ease it away from the edges of the bowl onto a lightly floured board.  Sprinkle the surface with additional flour and let the dough rest 15 minutes or so.
  3. With minimal handling and additional flour (not more than ¼ cup) form a ball which is placed directly in the baking container to rise (or placed between cotton cloths as described by Lahey) and proofed until ready to bake, double in bulk (about 4 hours).  The baking container can be almost any small covered pot (avoid willow baskets since the sticky dough is difficult to remove).
  4. Lahey bakes the dough in an oven and container both preheated to 450° for approximately 1 hour. To obtain better oven spring place the risen dough in its container in a cool oven, set the oven at 450°, turn it on and bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.  You will never knead a better sourdough!

Note:  In developing the above recipe, I used our Original San Francisco culture. There are several additional recipes for no-knead sourdoughs in the section on batter breads in Classic Sourdoughs.

** The bread is one of the best I’ve baked. The crust and crumb were fantastic, and Karen’s homemade sourdough starter added such a great flavor to the end product! I highly recommend this recipe. The only thing I will do differently next time is doing the rise in the baking container as suggested. I let my bread rise in a seperate bowl and it was difficult to transfer to the preheated dutch oven.

I hope you give this bread and wine a try!

Until next time…