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Lenny’s Weekend Wine Pairing: Chicken Afritada and Petalos Mencia

The cuisine of the Philippines’ represents some of the most delicious and fascinating food around. The style of cooking has evolved over the centuries from the Austronesian roots to a mélange of Chinese, Spanish, Indian and more recently American influences. Local ingredients mixed with diverse cooking techniques have created a cuisine that is once familiar and distinctive.
The Chinese brought Soy sauce, fish sauce, techniques like stir frying and noodle making. Trade opened up even more ingredients and techniques from close neighbors like Mallacca and Java to as far away as India and Arabia that all made their mark on cuisine. Spanish colonizers brought with them the produce of their empire, the Americas. Chile Peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes along with techniques like cooking with garlic and onions. Spanish and Mexican dishes both make their way into the cuisine.
There are many classic dishes: from Lumpia to Adobo. A particular favorite is Afritada. This is a dish that applies Spanish technique, American ingredients and touch Asian influence and Filipino flair.


There are many ways to pair a dish like this. It’s not too spicy and just a little sweet and savory. You are going to want a wine that is has some intensity, good acidity and little fruit. For white, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is an almost ideal match. For red a Spanish Garnacha or Tempranillo would work nicely but a Mencia from Bierzo is just about perfect.

CROWDED HOUSE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 $11.99 btl / save $4
This wine blew our socks off! A quintessentially Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with bright aromas of guava, citrus fruits, and sweet crushed herbs. The palate is elegantly proportioned with lovely soft acid carrying the fruit flavors to a long, pure finish. This wine keeps you coming back for more; and at price you can afford to.

VINA HERMINIA CRIANZA 2013 $11.99 btl / save $4
“Talk about a stunning value!” – Arnie Milan. “An elegant and intense nose comprising black fruit, blackberry and herbs, with a real medicinal edge is followed deliciously by a well-structured palate of licorice, plums, tobacco and black fruit notes, which also has round meaty tannins, a lovely texture and a beautiful long finish.” 95 points Decanter

Or if you want something really cool try a Mencia from Bierzo.

JOSE PALACIOS ‘PETALOS’ BIERZO 2015 $19.99 btl / save $5
A fine representation of what is possible in both the Bierzo region as well as with the grape Mencia. Delicious tart red strawberry, Bing cherries, anise and impressive earthy aromas. Crisp red fruit on the palate, savory, smooth and caressing without sacrificing structure. All from vines ranging between 40 and 90 years of age on slopes (half of the grapes around the village of Corullón and the remainder in the rest of Bierzo). It’s a showy, approachable, aromatic and open version of Pétalos. 92 pts Wine Advocate

This Pineapple Chicken Afritada features chicken and tons of vegetables simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce. Vibrant, colorful, super delicious!

INGREDIENTS
2soy bean oil tablespoon
2 lbs chicken thighs, deboned and cut in serving pieces
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound Linguiça or Longganisa sliced
4 cloves garlic coarsely
1 small onion, julienne
1 red pepper Julienne
1 yellow pepper Julienne
3 bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz can Pineapple chunks
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 potato, peeled quartered
1 carrot cut into chunks
1/4 cup green peas
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoon Fish sauce

1. Trim chicken thighs of any excess fat and season with salt, pepper and paprika
2. In a large skillet heat oil and brown chicken pieces on each side move to platter.
3. Add Linguiça onions and peppers stir to soften. Add garlic and bay leaves.
4. Add tomatoes, pineapple, stock and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer add potatoes, carrots and peas.
5. Return chicken to pot, cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Add cider vinegar, sugar and fish sauce
7. If the sauce is to thin remove chicken and simmer to reduce.
8. Serve with rice.

Cheers!

@Chef_Lenny

 

Truffle Mushroom Risotto and Sangiovese

I love this time of year. Although the changing of the seasons can seem a little schizophrenic. 80 degrees one day; raining and overcast the next. But this is harvest time, the final bounty of summer. True, it can be hard to plan for dinner just because of the bounty. Here is a dish that is ideal for the cooling weather.

Truffle Mushroom Risotto. Made with sautéed mushrooms and spiked with truffle and porcini this is a rich creamy side dish or Primo for an elegant dinner. I always make a little extra so I can have it for lunch the next day.

One of things I really like about this dish is that it pairs well with an array of wines. It plays well with nice Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay when served as a starter but also holds its own alongside fuller bodied reds. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the added umami of the Grana Padano make for a perfect match to a rustic styled Sangiovese.

I am a big fan of Sangiovese and I think that Chianti doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Sangiovese and Chianti in particular, is a food loving wine. Italians drink wine with food and make wine to go with food; every meal; every day. So there is a lot of really great Italian wine that you can afford to drink every day. You can get yourself a great Chianti for not a lot of money. Take for example the Collazzi I Bastioni Chianti Classico 2013, a wine that Antonio Galloni called, “… a jewel of a wine from the Frescobaldi family.”  The Frescobaldi are a prominent Florentine noble family that have been involved in the political, sociological, and economic history of Tuscany since the Middle Ages.

Collazzi I Bastioni Chianti Classico 2013 $14.99 

“The 2013 Chianti Classico I Bastioni is terrific. Bright red berry, rose petal, mint and anise are some of the signatures in a refined Chianti Classico that exemplifies the style of wine that is typical of the northern reaches of the appellation. The 2012 also shows the potential at Collazzi, which appears to be considerable. Merlot and Malvasia Nera round out the blend.” 92 points Antonio Galloni, Vinous

If you are planning on serving this dish with something more robust like Brasato or Bistecca Fiorentina you could step up to a “Super Tuscan”. These are wines made with international varietals like Cabernet. These wines make for a great conciliation between old world and new. If you are entertaining people who are familiar with Napa than Siena, this makes for great compromise.

I have favorite go to “Super” – Montepeloso A Quo. This wine is a balance of Cabernet, Montepulciano and Sangiovese with a little Alicante Bouschet from one of Tuscany’s most exciting winemakers.

Quietly over the past decade, Montepeloso’s Fabio Chiarelotto has emerged as one of the towering winemakers of the Tuscan coast. His windy site sits above the famed Tua Rita estate in Suvereto, producing red wines that are among the region’s most refined. When he purchased Montepeloso in 1998, it was already well on its way to international stardom. Chiarelotto could have rested on that reputation, but he felt that as the vines and been planted and trained, the site would never reach its full potential. And so he spent years reshaping the vineyards.

For eight long years, Chiarelotto painstakingly reshaped the estate’s vineyards. With each vintage, he experimented with blends and techniques that would harness the latent power provided by the terroir, but temper it so that the terroir could fully express itself.

Looking back, he made the right decision, as today Montepeloso has few rivals on the Tuscan coast for producing wines of riveting complexity and great elegance. Proprietor Fabio Chiarelotto succeeded in capturing the best elements of these sites while also shaping his wines with a level of finesse that is remarkable.

Montepeloso A Quo Rosso 2013 $16.99 

“The 2013 A Quo is a robust red blend based primarily on Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. The quality of the primary fruit is succulent, plump and rich. So are the background aromas of cinnamon, vanilla bean and toasted almond. This was a good vintage across Tuscany. The finish is exceedingly rich and supple with firmly yielding tannins.” 92 Pts Wine Advocate

 

So no matter if you how you serve this Truffle Mushroom Risotto there is a wine out there for your mood, company or menu.

 

Truffled Mushroom Risotto
________________________________________
Ingredients:

2 cups Water, or more if needed
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small Onion, Diced
2 cups Arborio Rice
2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
1 Dried Whole Bay Leaf
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 sprig Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
Ground White Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 truffle finely grated
4 ounces Crimini mushrooms, or combination of seasonal mushrooms
2 tablespoons Butter
2 ounces Marsala
2 scallions sliced
Grada Padano Cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
1⁄2 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped fine

 

  1. Combine 2 cups water and dried porcini mushroom in a small sauce pan and simmer to reconstitute.
  2. In a large pan sweat onions in olive oil add Arborio stir to coat with olive oil
  3. In small batches add chicken stock adding just enough to cover the rice.
  4. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and white pepper
  5. Using a microplane finely grate truffle into rice.
  6. Strain porcini and reserve the liquid. Finely dice the porcini and add to risotto.
  7. Slowly cook risotto over medium heat adding stock and reserved porcini water. Cook until rice is al dente, cooked to be firm to the bite. Add more water if necessary.
  8. Add cream and continue to stir remove from heat add about 1 cup of Grana Padano and chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  9. Garniture: sauté fresh mushrooms in butter until brown and soft, deglaze with Marsala and add fresh scallions set aside.
  10. To serve garnish with mushrooms and serve with extra Grana Padano

lenny@esquin.com

@Chef_Lenny

Corn Chowder with Dungeness Crab and California Chardonnay

It is Corn Season and around town in farmers markets and produce stands you see bushels of fresh corn. Summer is full of iconic produce – watermelon, cherries, blueberries. Fresh grilled corn on the cob is about as summer as you can get. If you haven’t tried Mexican Style Grilled Corn, Elote, you should. I have a friend who always requests it when we BBQ. There a million recipes and ways to use corn – Corn Chowder, Corn Salad with grilled peppers and Cilantro Vinaigrette, Grilled Chicken with Corn Salsa, a Seafood Boil with Corn and Potatoes .

When it comes to pairing there are many choices, but one always comes first to my mind and that is Chardonnay. Here is a little secret, one of the descriptors for Chardonnay is sweet corn, but it isn’t one your likely to see on a shelf taker or descriptor. But that sweet corn taste is echoed in many chardonnay. Add a little smoke from a grill and it plays well with a little oak, a little butter on the corn? You get the idea.

A truly classic pairing is Blanc de Blanc Champagne and Pop Corn, add a little truffle salt and you have highfalutin/ low brow combo that practically everyone loves.

Chardonnay can go from light, mineral and crisp to full bodied, buttery and oaky. This gives you a range of wines to choose from for pairing. A crisp Chablis will class up your Low Country Seafood Boil with a rich creamy corn chowder a more traditional California Chardonnay is the bomb.

Full disclosure, I am California kid and a soft spot for well-made, well-balanced California Chardonnay. Today I would like to present one of my new favorites.

Grayson Cellars Chardonnay ’16 (CA) $9.99 btl / save$3

If you like chardonnay you will fall head over heals in love with Grayson. 100% Chardonnay and shows loads of tropical fruit, especially mango, pineapple and tangerine, crisp acidity, and an elegant, mid-weight central casting California Chardonnay. “Best Buy!” 11 years in row from Wine Advocate.

Mike O’Connell, owner of Grayson Cellars, believes in using their Napa Valley location and combined winemaking skills to create some of the highest quality wines available at the by-the-glass price point. O’Connell has degrees in Business and Industrial engineering and these skills come in handy when you want to make a lot of really good wine inexpensively. But his real skill is in managing people and hiring the right people. In this case it is Larry Levin.

“Larry Levin, who is among the most experienced winemakers in the Napa Valley. After completing his Enology degree at UC Davis, Larry spent seventeen years at Dry Creek Vineyard. Larry then spent nine years as head of winemaking at Icon Estates, where he oversaw wineries such as Franciscan, Mt. Veeder, Estancia, Ravenswood, Quintessa and Ruffino (making 100 point wines!)” Larry knows good wine. We don’t usually get these kind of winemaking skills at this price point.

“A frequent entry into these best buy pages, winemaker Larry Levin knows how to fashion flavorful, authentic tasting whites and reds at bargain-basement prices.” -Robert Parker (Nov. 2014)

If you are looking for good Chard for next weekend BBQ, fish Boil or Sunday supper look no further.

This wines pairs beautifully with my corn chowder, if you want to fancy it up for company add some fresh cracked crab or avocado or both to the top! Then some fresh crusty bread and good bottle of Chardonnay and call it a day!

Lenny@esquin.com

Corn Chowder with Dungeness Crab

Ingredients

 

1 medium yellow or white onion

1 stalk celery

1 tablespoon butter

4 ounce bacon

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth or clam juice

2 cups water

2 red or Yukon gold potatoes

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

4 ears fresh sweet corn or 4 cups frozen corn (fresh is better)

½ cup Cream

Salt to taste

Parsley to garnish

16 oz Dungeness crab meat



Method

 

  1. Peel corn and using a sharp knife cut kernels off cobs.
  2. Finely dice onion and celery.  Peel and thinly slice then dice the potato and set aside. Dice bacon.
  3. Heat a heavy stock pot and add the butter. Add the bacon and sweat add the onion and celery, stirring often until onions and celery softens.
  4.  Add flour and cook until a roux forms.
  5. Add chicken broth and water, stir until velvety and thickened.  Add diced potatoes. Add white pepper, thyme and bay leaf.
  6. Simmer gently for twenty minutes
  7. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes
  8. Remove from heat partly puree with emersion blender.
  9. Return to heat, add cream and slowly heat.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Simmer till soup thickens. Pour in bowl, add crab meat (2 tablespoons per bowl) and garnish with Parsley.

 

Serve with a gerat Chardonnay.

Yield 6 – 8  servings

 

 

Grilled Pork Chops with Grilled Peaches and Balsamic

It’s time to grab that few weeks of summer. This time of year I am grilling almost every night! There are lots of ways to grill that are quick, easy and delicious.

Perfect dish for a casual dinner on a warm summer night. Pork chops love the sweet and tangy of the Peaches and Balsamic and the touch basil adds just a bit of herbal freshness. Paired with a chilled bottle of Chardonnay or Rose and you have a quick yet elegant dish for a Tuesday night for two or for company on the weekend. I love this with a full bodied Rose like Seth’s Upside Down Nebbiolo Rosé -whole cluster pressed and aged on the lees for 3 months. Picked at 22 brix, this wine is beautifully distinct with bright fruit and a subtle minerality.

“The one thing we might love more than a chilled glass of rose on a hot summer day, would be rescue animals! If you follow us on Instagram then you know we love our rescue pup Turk. The only thing that makes rosé taste better, is knowing you’re helping save animals while drinking it! ” #AdoptDontShop

20% of the proceeds go to support various rescue organizations. #RESCUErosé

 

Grilled Pork Chops with Grilled Peaches and Balsamic Vinegar
________________________________________
For the pork chops:
2 (1-inch-thick) bone-in pork rib chops
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

For the Peaches
2 peaches, sliced in half
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2 teaspoons Honey
Salt and pepper

Fresh basil
2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. Season pork chops and let come to room temperature while grill heats up to medium high.
2. In a bowl, combine the peaches, honey and olive oil. Season with pepper and toss to coat evenly.
3. Place chops on the hottest part of grill for 2 – 3 minutes until you have a nice scoring. Turn and move to a cooler part of grill cook for another 3 – 4 minutes depending on thickness of chop, until cooked through but not dry.
4. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill, or preheat a cast-iron grill pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.
5. Place the peaches over direct heat and sear, until you have a nice color. Chop the peaches into smaller pieces.
6. Transfer the chops to a platter and top with peaches and basil drizzle with balsamic and serve.

 

Asparagus Tamales and Ross Andrew Celilo Pinot Gris

“Last chance on local Asparagus” the sign and the fruit stand read. so just grabbed a bunch, I can always use a bunch of asparagus – as a side, in a salad, as an appetizer with coddled eggs and prosciutto. It’s asparagus. But just having returned from Yakima I decided to try my hand at a local favorite – Asparagus Tamales.


Asparagus tamales have been made famous by Los Hernandez tamale shop in Union Gap, Yakima County. Owner Felipe Hernandez has become a local legend and international celebrity for his family’s tamales. He has been running the modest little shop for over 25 years and started making the Asparagus Tamales on a whim one night with some leftover masa. The secret ingredient he says is Pepper jack cheese. So below I have my own take on asparagus Tamales. I add some fresh chile verde to give it a little kick.


Any wine professional will tell you that pairing to a asparagus is tricky, but the secret is to have a wine with enough acidity to handle the chemical mercaptan that give asparagus it’s unique flavor (and experience). Then there is the chile verde you have be wary of even a little spice so a little hint of sweetness is a great help. Pinot Gris to the rescue!

2016 Ross Andrew Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris $15.99
Made from a Pinot Gris block planted in 1975 in Celilo Vineyard, a prized high-elevation site in Columbia Gorge near the town of Underwood, WA. It is arguably one of the greatest white grape sites in Washington with its cool climate, wonderfully mineral rich soil and high winds that move the 50″ of annual rainfall off the canopy.

The aromatics and palate of this wine really showcase what vine age can do to a wine. Asian pear, white flowers and nectarine. The palate is vibrant and crisp with a touch of minerals on the finish. A perfect food wine. especially tricky foods.

Ross got his start as a Sommelier at Canlis under MS Rob Bigelow and learned winemaking at the right hand of the Master, of Wine Bob Betz. Ross’s style is reminiscent of Betz, being both polished and complex. He went on to make the highest scoring Cabernet ever from Wine Spectator. Saturday August 12 we will be tasting his latest releases including his Celilo Pinot Gris, Boushey Syrah and his award winning Red Mountain Cabernet.

Cheers!
Lenny

Asparagus Tamales
________________________________________
18-ounce package dried corn husks

1 1/2 cups lard (or vegetable shortening), slightly softened
1 ½ Teaspoons Salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon chile powder
3 1/2 cups dried masa harina
2 1/4 cups hot water
1 to 1 1/2cups chicken broth

1 bunch Asparagus, blanched
8 ounces pepper jack cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ large yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chicken stock or water
3 each poblano Chile peppers, seeded and chopped
1 each jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 pound Tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1. Separate husks and submerge in hot water place a plate on top to keep submerged. Bring to simmer and let stand for at least an hour.
2. Grill or roast peppers and tomatillos until blistered and a little charred. Place into plastic bag and let cool. In a large sauté pan heat olive oil and Sauté onions and garlic until soft add salt and cumin. Add chicken stock and reduce to simmer, set aside. Peel cooled peppers and tomatillos and place in bowl of food processor or blender. Add cooled onion mixture and cilantro then puree until well combined.
3. For Masa: In a large bowl combine salt, baking powder, chile powder, Harina flour and hot water. Adding chicken stock a little a time work dough until light and fluffy. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover and let rest.
4. Set up steamer: in a large stock pot place a collapsible steamer basket, add an inch or so of water.
5. To make tamales: separate out the largest and most pliable husks, at least 6 inches across on the wider end and 6 inches long. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of masa onto a husk, spread with a spatula out to the edges of each side save for the narrow top. Spoon a teaspoon of verde sauce onto center of masa add a couple of blanched asparagus, top with pepper jack cheese. Roll up the tamale and fold the bottom up. Place in steamer folded side down. Layer the finished tamales in the same fashion open end up. Watch carefully that all the water doesn’t boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary. Tamales are done when the husk peels away from the masa easily. Let tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up.

 

Tacos al Pastor and Fidelitas Malbec

I recently ventured up to Red Mountain to taste some wines, walk some vineyards and see old friends. There are few places in Washington that produce better wine, some say, some of the best in the world. But, for me it’s the people. The Williams’ family, the Holmes’, the Hedges’, the Hightower’s, the Frichette’s, the Pearson’s – Red Mountain is the smallest AVA in the state and it feels more like a neighborhood than an appellation.

If Red Mountain had football team Charlie Hoppes would be the head coach. He is the sergeant at arms, the baby whisperer, Charlie Hoppes is the Wine Boss.

Charlie Hoppes is one of the most respected winemakers in Washington State. A Yakima Valley native with a degree from UC Davis he got his start in 1988 working with Mike Januik at Snoqualmie Winery and followed him to Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1990 becoming the head red wine maker until 1999. After stints at Waterbrook in Walla Walla and Three Rivers he started his own winery Fidelitas. In 2007 he purchased his first 3 acres on Red Mountain and built a tasting room.

Did I mention that he has a degree in economics? Instead of taking up prime vineyard land on Red Mt he has a 30,000 sq ft production facility in nearby Richland – “Wine Boss”. There he produces his wines plus makes wine for a half dozen clients. The tasting room on Red Mountain has a beautiful panoramic view of the valley.


I first visited Charlie and the tasting room shortly after it was built. Tasting the wines with the “Wine Boss” himself and eating some of the best tacos I have ever had is one of my fondest memories. Charlie is one of the most generous, easy going and intelligent people working in the Washington wine industry. 2017 marks his 30th vintage, and in that time he has made quite a name for himself including being named Seattle Magazines Winemaker of the Year in 2013. His wine continue to garner high ratings from press – his 2012 Ciel du Cheval Cab rated 94 from Parker and the 2013 Quintessence was ranked #4 in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine Top 100. Recently 6 of his 2014 releases received 93 -95 pt scores from the Wine Advocate!

Did I mention every time I go to Red Mountain I end of having tacos? Just thinking about Red Mountain makes me crave Tacos.

So today I give you my  simplified recipe for Tacos Al pastor. Paired with some of Charlie Red Mountain Malbec and you have winner!

FIDELITAS MALBEC RED MOUNTAIN 2014 

Tacos al Pastor
________________________________________

*****Marinade
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried ground cumin seed
3 chipotle peppers, packed in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoon adobo sauce
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon Paprika
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
3 whole cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup pineapple juice from canned pineapple
½ cup water

3 pounds boneless Pork Shoulder

To Finish and Serve:
1 14 ounce canned pineapple diced
20 small flour or Corn tortillas, heated and kept warm
1 medium red onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 ounce Cotijo cheese
1 cup Pico de Gallo, salsa
3 to 4 limes, cut into 8 wedges each for serving

1. In bowl of blender combine the ingredients for the marinade. Puree until smooth about 3 minutes.
2. Cut Pork roast into 4 or 5 large pieces toss with marinade. Place into large roasting pan or Rondeau and cover.
3. Place into 275 degrees oven and roast for 4 hours.
4. Remove and let cool. When cool use two forks to pull pork apart. Stir to combine.
5. Serve meat and garnishes immediately with warmed tortillas, pineapple, onions, cilantro, salsa, cotijo, and lime wedges. Meat will be very moist and should be packed into double-stacked tortillas for serving

 

Weekend Wine Pairing – Churrasco Style Pork Ribs and Prazo de Roriz

The story of wine in Portugal is at its heart a paradox: home to some of the world’s oldest greatest and best known wines, yet years of poor political leadership and oceans of plonk wine have all but destroyed the once great reputation. Portugal has a history of winemaking that goes back thousands of years. Long before the Romans and Moors came through the native people of the southwestern Iberian Peninsula were making wine with indigenous grapes. During the Age of Discovery Portugal became a major world power, with Prince Henry the Navigator, sending his armada around the globe.

Most famous for Porto, the fortified wine of the Douro, Portugal has some of the oldest recognized wines in the world. The wines of Portugal were famous throughout the world, Madeira was favorite of the young American colonies, and was even used to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

With the decline of colonial power the wine industry in Portugal fell on hard times. During the 20th century the wine industry was hit with the double blow of fascist dictatorship and cheap jug wine (Mateus and Lancers). In 1974, “The Carnation Revolution” put an end to 5 decades of dictatorship and in 1986 Portugal entered the European Union. With membership came foreign investment and complete overhaul of the wine industry.

Today, Portugal represents one of the Best Value wine producing regions in the world. The combination of ancient wine growing traditions and modern technology means that you can buy a wine with outstanding pedigree made from ancient vines for a relative bargain. The Prazo de Roriz is a great example of what I am talking about. Crafted by Prats & Symington family, Port producers since 1882, and Bruno Prats, former owner of the famed Chateau Cos d’Estournel. The wine demonstrates the incredible potential of combining winemaking expertise from the Douro Valley and Bordeaux, two of the world’s best wine regions.

QUINTA DE RORIZ “PRAZO DE RORIZ” DOURO 2015 $14.99 

The 2015 Prazo de Roriz is a roughly equal blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca, with small bits of Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela, aged for six months in used French oak. This is typically a good value. This might be my favorite in some time. There isn’t a lot of concentration in the mid palate and it isn’t the type of wine you want to age for 20 years. It’s not $50, either. It’s a very nice bargain with many virtues. The fruit here is just gorgeous, vivid, pure and clean. The structure lifts it and delivers it beautifully to the palate. The texture is silky and the finish is just a bit tight. Overall, it is hard to lean up more on this since it doesn’t have a lot of upside potential, but if you drink it over the next few years, you might like it even better than the score would suggest.

It’s summer so I am grilling everything. A wine like the Prazo beckons for grilled meat. The traditional dish of Costelas Vinho d’alhos, roasted spare ribs, transfers well to the American barbecue grill.

Churrasco Style Pork Ribs (Costelas Vinho d’alhos)
________________________________________
4 – 6 pounds meaty pork spare ribs

Marinade:
3 Tablespoons piri-piri sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Soy
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup orange Juice and zest
¼ cup lime juiced
¼ lemon juiced
1 cup onion, minced
2 teaspoons oregano
½ cup Red wine
1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper
More oil for grill

1. Prep the ribs by removing any meat or fat that dangles from the bone side. Also trim any tough sinew (silver skin) on the meaty side. Remove the membrane on the bone side of the ribs. Cut into 3 bone segments.
2. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in the bowl of a blender and puree until well combined. Reserve a cup for basting.
3. Place prepared ribs in large container or Ziploc bag and cover with marinade. Marinate for 2 hours.
4. Prepare charcoal for grill and move coals to one side, you can put an aluminum pan on one side to catch drippings.
5. When grill is 250 degrees place ribs opposite side of the coals for indirect heat. Cook turning every 30 minutes for 3 hours. Brushing with marinade occasionally. If necessary add a few more coals to the fire.
6. Wrap ribs in foil and Cook for 1 or more hours until ribs pull away from meat.
7. For Oven: reheat the oven to 350 or 325 degrees F. according to the method of cooking.
8. To roast, reserve the marinade and place the pork in a roasting pan and cook at 350 degrees F. for about two hours, not more. Baste periodically with the marinade.
9. Serve with Potatoes, a big salad and a nice big red.

Grilled T- Bone with Lemon and Parsley and Barbera D’asti

During the summer months I cook almost every meal outside. When I have time I Barbecue but many nights it is easy to fire up the grill for dinner. Salmon, Chicken, pork all work well, and there is something spectacular about grilled vegetables. Asparagus is so simple and quick I grill them up almost every chance I get. And then there is steak.

Around the globe, for as long as we have been around we have cooked over an open fire. If there is one thing quintessential dish that seems the grill was invented for is steak. There are many variations of the dish as there are languages on the planet. In Italy it is customary to serve a grilled steak simply with just salt and pepper and maybe a squeeze of lemon, alla Fiorentina. The simplicity of the dish is characteristically Italian so use the best ingredients for the greatest results

Here is my simple version that cooks quickly and makes quite an impression.

Grilled T-Bone with Lemon and Parsley
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 ea 1 lb (1 ½” – 2” thick) T-Bone
¼ Cup Olive Oil, plus more for serving
Sea Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Rosemary sprigs

*** For Serving

Lemon wedges
2 Cups Arugula
Roasted Potatoes
2 lb Asparagus

1. In a bowl large enough for steak place rosemary and steak and drizzle with olive oil. Let the steak rest outside the refrigerator for at least an hour before cooking.
2. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat (450 -500).
3. Using tongs, lay steak over the hottest part of the fire, cook 2 – 5- 7 minutes. Turn the steak and sprinkle with salt. Cook on the second side until browned, 2 – 3 minutes more.
4. Remove the steaks to a carving board and let rest for at least 5 minutes before carving.
5. Cut the steaks away from the bone and carve into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the meat on warmed plates season with salt and pepper.
6. Garnish with lemon wedges and arugula
7. Have more sea salt and pepper available at the table
8. Serve with Roasted Potatoes and grilled asparagus

Now in Florence they would have drink a nice Chianti or Brunello. But I like go even lighter in the summer, and a perfect summer red is Barbera. Barbera has ancient origins, the first documented mention of the grape is in 1798, in a letter by Count Giuseppe Nuvolone-Pergamo of Scandaluzzo, deputy director of the Società Agraria di Torino (Agrarian Society of Turin). Barbera-based wines were well regarded even then, for their rustic yet generous character.

Barbera wines are esteemed for their deep color, low tannins and high levels of acidity. When young they offer fresh flavors of cherries, blueberries and raspberries. Relatively rich, bold and flavorful, the most powerful examples might just be compared to Barolo or Barbaresco. Barbera is a great summertime wine. Serve it slightly chilled and it makes a great afternoon supper wine, especially on a hot day.

One of our favorite producers is Renatto Ratti. Founded in 1965 about Renato himself and now his nephew Massimo runs the operation. The original winery was built in an old abbey located halfway up the hill in the valley of Barolo. Here buttressed by steep slopes lined by orderly vineyards, lies a precious jewel from the 15th century: the Abbey of Annunziata. From the 100 acres of vineyards, the Renato Ratti winery produces Barolo, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba.

Gin & Tonic paired with Gin cured Gravlax and fixings

For many people Summer is all about Rosé . I like many of friends drink Rose all year round. There are many drinks that conjure images of sunshine and sunny days – Margaritas, Sangria, Mojitos. But, there is one drink that I really only drink in the summer – Gin and Tonic. A tumbler with a splash of gin, a good quality tonic and wedge of lime, at the end of work day sitting on my deck, my feet up and good book- now that’s what I call relaxation.

G & T is happy hour. It is also a simple and almost perfect aperitif. For cocktail party or as a warm up act to a nice dinner, G & T’s lend themselves to many traditional appetizers – Pâté Campagna, smoked salmon, Crab Cakes, Cucumber Sandwiches, Blini & Caviar. But a perfect pairing Salmon Gravlax.

Gravlax is one of the first dishes I learned how to make in professional career. I only takes a couple days, a good quality (fresh) salmon some salt and sugar. Juniper is a traditional spice used in making Gravlax, but since I rarely have juniper berries lying around, even in my kitchen, I have turned to using a splash of ubiquitous Gin.

For a pre-funk to night out or dinner party I would serve right off the cutting board a side of gravlax accompanied by Cornichon, capers, diced red onion, fresh mascarpone or crème Fraiche, mustard sauce and pumpernickel rye bread.

As for The Gin? There are many good quality Gins to choose from – Martin Millers is the benchmark as far as I am concerned. Bombay Sapphire is a good default. Locally we have great gin producers: Big Gin, Batch 206, Sun Liquor Gun Club, Voyager, Halcyon. But, I do a favorite Local and That is BelleWood Gin.

What makes BelleWood good is that it has a refreshing light clean base of apple derived spirit. At BelleWood they use a traditional blend of seven botanicals that are vapor infused into their Gin. What makes it unique is that this is one of the few Farm to Table Gins, I have ever heard of. BelleWood is an Apple Farm just north of Bellingham. They grow the Apples, press into cider, ferment and distill right on the property. You can’t really get much more local than that.

Gin and Tonic

Ice
1 part Gin
2 -3 Parts Tonic
Squeeze of lime
Lime wedge for garnish

Gin Cured Wild Salmon Gravlax
________________________________________
1 2 to 3 pound, wild Coho Salmon, deboned, skin removed
6 ounces kosher salt
4 ounces brown sugar
2 tablespoons Coarse ground Black Pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill (1 teaspoon Dried)
2 ounces (BelleWood) Gin
13 x 9 baking dish
1. Remove any pin bones from salmon side
2. Combine kosher salt and sugar in bowl. Place half of this mixture in bottom of Baking dish
3. Lightly toast fennel and caraway seeds in dry pan until aromatic cool and coarsely grind with mortar pestle. Combine with black pepper and dill.
4. Drizzle Salmon with gin pour any remaining gin into baking dish.
5. Season both sides of Salmon liberally with spice mix and place in baking dish cover with remaining sugar salt mixture
6. Wrap with plastic wrap and cure overnight in refrigerator. The next day turn over salmon, wrap and return to refrigerator
7. Day 3 remove salmon from marinade and rinse gently. The salmon should feel firm to touch. Wrap in plastic and return to refrigerator if not using immediately.
8. Using a sharp nice slice the Gravlax as thinly as you can.
9.
Serve with Cornichon, capers, diced red onion, fresh mascarpone, mustard sauce and pumpernickel rye bread

Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Honey
1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or Tarragon

Combine the mustard, honey and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and stir in the chopped herbs

Grilled Chicken Provençale and Bandol Rose

When it comes to summer there is nothing like lounging on my deck with a nice glass of Rosé. Refreshing and delicious it is a great porch pounder. But many people don’t realize that Rosé is one of the most food friendly wines out there. Because, there are made with red grapes the wines can be a touch more substantive than a lot of white wines but without the troublesome tannins can make some reds tricky to pair. Everything from vegetables and vegetarian foods, spicier cuisines, herbal and aromatic dishes can be easily swayed by the power of Rosé.

Rosé is made all over the world in virtually every wine growing region from just about every grape it seems. But, Roses true home is in the south of France – Provence to be specific, Bandol to be precise. Here something like 90% of the wine produced is pink! So when it comes to pairing I look to Provence for inspiration – Ratatouille, Salad Niçoise, Bouillabaisse are classics. But a personal favorite is Chicken Provençale- chicken marinated in olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs grilled and served with a sauce of fresh tomatoes, Niçoise olives fennel and a touch of anchovy and capers. Served up with some haricot vert and chilled Rosé et viola!

http://bit.ly/2sz3nmZ

Bandol is a personal favorite. There are many greats –Tempier, Bastide Blanche,   . My personal favorite is Domaine Sorin Bandol Rose 2016 and at $17.99 it is truly a steal for Bandol Rosé. With all the extra richness that comes from a Bandol rose, this is a full wine, rounded with a touch of watermelon as well as generous berry fruits. The blend is 60% Mouvedre, 25% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Carignan. The acidity gives a lift to the concentration of the wine.

Chicken Provençale
Serves 8
Ingredients:

3 pounds Chicken Breast – Boneless, skinless and butterflied

*****Marinade
¼ cup Olive oil
1 teaspoon each fresh Rosemary, thyme and sage
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Garlic, chopped

***** Provençale Sauce
¼ cup Olive oil
1 each Onion, Diced
1 each Fennel, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
½ cup White Wine
Salt
1 teaspoon Red pepper flake
2 Tablespoon chopped Parsley
1 Tablespoon Herbs du Provence
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme
1 cup olives – Nicoise, Picholine, Kalamata, etc.
2 tablespoons capers
2 each anchovy, Minced
1 Pound Fresh Tomato, diced
14 ounces Tomato Puree

1. In large bowl combine ingredients for marinade
2. Butterfly chicken breasts: Put your chicken breast on a chopping board and, with your hand flat on top of it, use a sharp knife to slice into one side of the breast, starting at the thicker end and ending at the thin point. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the other side. Open out the breast so that it resembles a butterfly.
3. Place into marinade and toss to coat. Place in zip lock bag, you can do this a day before.
4. To make sauce: In a large pot heat olive oil and add Onion, Fennel and garlic stir to soften. Add spices and herbs stir to sweat add white wine. Reduce.
5. Add olives, capers, anchovy, tomatoes, and puree.
6. Cook until sauce is thickened, remove from heat.
7. Preheat grill: clean and brush with oil
8. Place breast butterflied side down. Cook 3 minutes turn ¼ turn cook 2 minutes
9. Flip and cook another 2 – 4 minutes remove from grill and let rest a few minutes
10. Serve with Haricot Vert, roasted potatoes, and Provençale sauce.

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