Monday, September 29, 2008

Getting to drink some great wine

This week I've been a bit absent from blogging due to a district meeting for work.  The week of meetings usually begins with 7:30 am breakfasts, and wraps up around 10:00 pm.  We do planning, product reviews, team building and all that good stuff.  On the last evening (Thursday) this week, my manager had our team over to her house for dinner.  It was a nice change from the dining out we had done most of the week.   Lucky for me, she and her husband are into wine.  OK, that's an understatement, they are into FINE wine.  (For example, they have 4 wine refrigerators in their house.)

So, after a few of us expressed interest in wine, the $25 dollar bottle of red got pushed to the side and Mr. Manager came out with a couple bottles of 2002 Seavey Cabernet.  He told us a little story about how they had visited the winery and went on a little impromtu tour and tasting with the owners.  While he was talking, we were swirling, sniffing, swirling some more.  When he finished talking, it was time to taste.  Wow!  A powerful cab, that had a rich mouthfeel and a lot of tannins.  Mmm... a few minutes later I noticed a little smoke, cocoa and of course, some oak. I asked for a full pour and continued to swirl and taste while waiting for dinner to start. 



  This cab was so delicious and kept getting better through the evening.  Although there were some other spectacular wine brought out, I poured another glass of this and enjoyed the rest of the evening.  This definitely made up for the week of long meeting days! 

I don't think the 2002 is still available, but I can't wait to visit this winery on our next trip to Napa and try some of the more recent vintages. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken (err Tofu) with Spinach, Pears and Blue Cheese


After 2 weeks of traveling, it felt good to be back in the kitchen.   My mom sent back some fresh rainbow chard and herbs from her garden so I while catching up on my favorite blogs this recipe from Joe over at Culinary in the Country, caught my eye.   The combination of the pears and blue cheese sounded like a perfect fall-ish flavor.  And, while it is still in the triple digits here in Arizona, being in the midwest where the nights were in the high low 50's definitely put me in the mood for fall.

Since I already had planned on substituting my mom's chard for the spinach, I didn't mind sub-ing tofu in, since I didn't have any chicken on hand.  I'm glad I did, this was a superb way to make an elegant main dish featuring tofu.  Using tofu, I was able to skip the step of baking and just kept the tofu warm while finish the chard/pears.   Whether you choose tofu or chicken, we thought this dish was a winner.  Scott gave it a solid 9 out of 10.  I concur, as it was also quite easy to prepare. 



The wine for the evening was Dynamic 2006 Red Table Wine form Mendocino.  This is a certified biodynamic blend of merlot (55%), cabernet franc (15%), and cabernet sauvignon (30%.)   We bought a couple bottles of this on a whim while in San Diego.  Glad we did, it's fantastic!  Medium bodied, and velvety soft, it was wonderfully dry, with hints of cherry and chocolate.  It is produced by the Ceago winery and a steal compared to their regular label.  I wish I could find more of it, but upon asking a few local wine shops, it isn't distributed here in AZ. 


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Paso Creek Cab



This past week we have been doing a bit of travel around the midwest.  One of the things I enjoy doing when I travel is seeing what the local wine shops have available.  I find it fascinating to look around and see what distributers and buyers choose to carry, because I always find some treasures that I simply would not be able to get in the Phoenix area.   

We started our trip visiting Scott's parents in Youngstown OH.  Most of the selection there was pretty generic, and something I would find at my local Safeway.  But, on the last evening, we tried a somewhat local wine.   Nittany Mountain White, from Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery in Central Pennslyvania.    This was an off dry blend that we served as an apertif while making dinner for Scott's folks.  Served extra cold, the complexity was not lost, but instead had a lovely bouquet, and was quite refreshing on this warm early evening.  We had it on it's own, but it would be delicious with a spicy Asian dish, or with appetizers like shrimp cocktail.  Don't you just love to go somewhere and find a local wine that's drinkable? 

From, there we flew to Minnesota, but not without a long layover in Philly (thanks to some effects of the hurricanes.)  Fortunately, we spent our time in the US Airways Club which had a few complimentary snacks and more importantly, a bar!  Unfortunately, the best red on the short list was the Yellowtail Cab Reserve.   Well, when traveling and dealing with flights, I look at it as "emergency wine" anyway, so we took it. 

On to the gem of the week...  Paso Creek 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Our first night in MN, we hadn't yet had time to hit the local wine shop, so we depended on my dad's collection.  While he has a great cellar in the basement, it is usually very heavy in the French reds and whites.  We were looking for something a little heavier, and noticed this one.  I pulled it out, and thought, eh, if it's not great, we will use it in a reduction.  Well, it was a rather delightful surprise.  This was a big juicy red, with a lot of oak (although not cloyingly so.)  Smooth, with just the right amount of tannins, it had a nice balance.  It's not a Napa Cab, but could easily hold it's own with a much better price tag.  Looking it up, it retailed for approximately $15.99.  I only hope I can find it when I get back to Arizona.  For this price I'll buy a few.  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Simple Sea Scallops

After a lot of eating out in the past couple of weeks, I was in the mood to make something light and healthy.  We started with a trip to the Phoenix Farmer's Market to see if there was anything inspiring.  Not. so. much.  August in Phoenix is just not conducive to growing much of anything.  BUT, I did find some heirloom tomatoes.  Score! 

Not quite knowing how I would incorporate them into our dinner, I used this recipe that we made a few months ago for inspiration.  Basically, all I did differently was to substitute the heirloom tomatoes for the asparagus.  I also drizzled just a hint of balsamic reduction over the tomatoes.  It was divine!   Even though we've eaten at some of the best restaurants around, we come back to our own little bistro quite often, and can sometimes impress ourselves.  :)