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National Hot Dog Day

You might think wine and hot dogs make an odd pairing, but since we love wine and hot dogs, we’re sure this is a winning combination. We’re here to help you pair your favorite hot dog with our favorite wines. These wine pairings go well beyond just National Hot Dog Day, these would work for any summer BBQ as well!

Hot dogs and sausages come in lots of varieties, but one thing they have in common is that they are salty and hearty, so they need a wine with acid. Many wines could work but stick to wines with acidity and a touch of sweetness.

Our choices: Rosé, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Grenache.

Starting with the Rosé:

 

WINE: AIX Rose 2017

VARIETAL: Blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Counoise

TASTING NOTES: This is a smooth, beautifully ripe wine. It is well balanced, with crisp red and orange fruits adding a refreshing background to the spice and acidity. This finely made wine is ready to drink.

PAIRING NOTES: For hot dogs, you want a wine that has acid to cut through the fat and minerality to enhance the salty, savory flavors in the meat. Its fruitiness will pair well with the sweetness in ketchup. It’s also low in alcohol with virtually no tannins, so you can load up your dogs with spicy mustard or peppers and the wine won’t exacerbate the heat.

MadWine PRICE: $17.99

 

WINE: Lone Birch Pinot Gris 2016

VARIETAL: 100% Pinot Gris

TASTING NOTES: From 100% Estate Grown fruit, an enticing bouquet of tropical fruit leads to a well balanced, medium bodied mouthfeel with luscious flavors of pineapple, pear, and white peach.

PAIRING NOTES: If your hot dog is spicy, smokey and grilled with spicy toppings, Pinot Gris is the perfect match because it tames the heat of jalapenos and makes the saltiness of any sausage disappear. While Pinot Gris is made from the same grape as Pinot Grigio, it’s made in a more full-bodied, and ripe style that’s heavy on the palate and cuts through the decadence of sausage to leave your palate refreshed and grease-free.

MadWine PRICE: $9.99

 

 

WINE: Foris ‘Rogue Valley’ Pinot Noir 2016

VARIETAL: 100% Pinot Noir

TASTING NOTES: Foris, organic producers since the early 1970’s brand new vintage of Pinot Noir is fabulous. Soft and supple with layers of Bing cherry fruit, and has nuances of cedar and earth with super smooth tannins.

PAIRING NOTES: Pinot noir creates a great contrast for hot dogs that are smoked with a traditional soft white bun with chili on top. This combination while odd, combines the earthy flavors, fruit notes, and hints of spice that match those found in the hot dog.

MadWine PRICE: $13.99

 

 

WINE: Evodia Garnacha 2015

VARIETAL: Grenache

TASTING NOTES: A great value Garnacha with notes of blackberries, black pepper and mocha and a long lingering finish.

PAIRING NOTES: If your hot dog is steamed, grilled and served in a steamed bun topped with relish, mustard, ketchup and chopped raw onion, this is the wine to pair with. Grenache makes a great hot dog pairing because it is medium-bodied and low in tannin. This wine brings out the tang of condiments while cleansing the palate.

MadWine PRICE: $9.99

So with that, Happy National Hot Dog Day and go out and buy some hot dogs and order some wine today!

The Man they call Bubbles by Lenny Rede

When talking about South African wine there is always one name that comes up – Graham Beck. It all started in 1983 when the entrepreneur Graham Beck bought the farm Madeba close to Robertson in order to produce wine and raise horses. They planted grapes in the limestone rich soil and in 1990 they hired Peter Ferreira as winemaker. Within a few years they were already garnering acclaim on the international wines scene. In 1994 Nelson Mandela enjoyed the Graham Beck Brut for his inauguration. Exactly 14 years later Barack Obama celebrates his presidential win with Graham Beck Brut.

Turns out those limestone soils in Robertson were perfect for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, perfect for making South Africa’ homage to Champagne – Cap Classique. Pieter says, “Chardonnay here in Robertson tends to be more forgiving, and more diverse – it’s different limestone than the limestone of Champagne. Robertson gives Graham Beck MCC its backbone of minerality.”   

This remarkably gifted and passionate vintner has undoubtedly had a life-long love affair with all things bubbly. Affectionately known as “Mr Bubbles”,

eats, drinks and breathes bubbles! Pieter has been with the team from the very first vintage and has been instrumental in cementing Graham Beck as one of the world’s leading producers of premium Méthode Cap Classique style sparkling. Cap Classique is made in the method as Champagne, formally known as Methode method Champenoise.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Pieter and taste through his wines with him. What defines a truly outstanding Cap Classique? “It’s when you ask for that second bottle! A truly ‘world class’ Cap Classique is the result of favorable vintage conditions and reflects stricter fruit selection and the utmost care in the cellar in the pursuit of even greater excellence. That’s the academic response, but most importantly to us producers it’s the reaction from the consumer,” explains Pieter.

“Graham Beck Wines and the many other top local Cap Classique producers are proving that South Africa has got what it takes in the bubbly stakes. We’ve developed a uniquely home grown, ‘New World’ style, while remaining true to the essence, technique and tradition of fine fizz,” says Mr Bubbles.

This month we are featuring his Brut Rose. “The Graham Beck Brut Rosé has all the hallmarks of a traditional and carefully crafted bubbly, with the added appeal of being flirtatious and fun. Elegant and structured, it truly is a sparkling wine for all seasons. Made from the traditional Méthode Cap Classique base wines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, its unique silver-pink hue is obtained by an enzymatic reaction during the transport of the Pinot Noir fruit to the cellar. The fine, lively mousse is brisk on the palate, showing hints of oyster shell, fresh lavender and subtle hints of berry and cherry.”

GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSE NV  

“Full bodied and loaded with pinot noir goodness in this toasty, zesty bubbly. Lovely cherry and strawberry notes and clean, crisp finish. Graham Beck is a master of sparkling wines, in my opinion, these are his best. Highly recommended.” – Natalie MacLean

Tim Atkin Master of Wine 2017: 93 points

Brut Rosé NV 90 points Decanter

Brut Rosé NV 90 points International Wine Review

Brut Rosé 92 points, Tanzer

Brut NV 90 points, Robert Parker

Brut NV 90 points, Decanter

This is consistently one of the best sparkling wines in the market and at these prices? it is a no brainer!

Cheers! Lenny

 

Grilled Sausage Pizza

Pizza is my favorite food. Maybe it’s because I am a baker at heart, but I love Pizza. I am not a Pizza snob, I have a very ecumenical approach to flatbread; I love traditional Naples style, Chicago, thin crust, thick crust, bring it on.

A couple of grilled pizza‘s, a big green salad, an antipasti plate and a couple of bottles of a lighter bodied red and you have yourself a party. There are number of great bottles out that are perfect for company and affordable enough for a party! Mason’s Red by Casey Coble is a perfect example.

ROBERT RAMSAY MASON’S RED 2015 $14.99 

 Mason’s Red was created as a “food friendly” wine with generous acidity to complement all foods-except maybe breakfast cereal.  Enjoy Mason’s any night, whether you’re eating a fresh harvest from the farmers’ market, oven-fired pizza, or creamy sauces that demand a wine with a structure that cuts through with a pleasurable balance.  Mason’s is a Cinsault-based blend that changes every year-picking up the flavors and the personality of the winemaker, Casey Cobble

Hightower Murray Cuvee 2014 $14.99 

Hightower’s entry red is a one of Washington State’s best red wine values! Layered and complex, with ripe blueberry and cassis flavors and hints of tobacco, Bing cherry and black currants. Murray a big genial Pup that loved parties!

If you have company pull out some nice stuff like a Bottle of Baer Star from Woodinville. Baer winery is a family run winery in Woodinville that has been making waves for number of years. The Baer Ursa has an almost cult like following, and since receiving 95 points and claiming the #6 spot on the Wine Spectator’s TOP 100, the Ursa has been getting harder and harder to get your hands on. The Baer Star is affectionately called the “Baby-Ursa’ around the shop, this new single vineyard blend from Baer is another Merlot driven blend and just plain delicious.

Grilled Pizza with Sausage 

Dough:
1 Cup Water
2 Tbl Olive Oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 Cup (11oz) OO flour, plus more for work surface
Cornmeal for peal

Topping:
1 14 oz Can Crushed tomatoes
1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 each Garlic clove, Minced or Pressed
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp Oregano

8 oz Sausage
4 oz Mozzarella, low moisture
4 oz Fontina
Red Pepper Julienne, for Garnish
Fresh Sage leaves, for garnish

Dough
1. In large mixing bowl combine water, sugar and yeast. Let bloom.
2. Add remaining ingredients and combine with hand. Let rest 30 min.
3. Punch down dough and need for a few minutes. Lest retard in refrigerator for 20 – 30 minutes.
4. Pull out and divide into two dough balls
5. Roll out dough into 12” circles.
Sauce
6. In bowl combine Tomato, garlic, olive oil and seasoning
Prepare Charcoal fire or preheat Gas grill (medium Heat)
7. Lightly spread pizza peel with cornmeal and place one dough on peel
8. Slide dough off onto grill and grill 1 – 2 minutes
9. Remove from grill and invert onto peel
10. Spread precooked dough with Sauce and top with cheese and fresh sausage
11. Slide back onto grill and close cover and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes
12. Remove from grill and garnish with fresh sage and red pepper julienne

Children of the Vine : Bodegas Lurton Araucano Clos de Lolol

Dynasty noun – a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field.

The Lurton Family can trace its winemaking roots in Bordeaux back to the 17th century. But it was the marriage of Denise Recapet to Francois Lurton in 1923 that the story of this family dynasty begins. Denise and François Lurton had four children, André was born in 1924, Lucien in 1925, Simone in 1929 and Dominique in 1932.

André, married to Elizabeth Garros, received the family home, Château Bonnet. In 40 years he amassed property totaling 600 hectares situated primarily in Entre-deux-Mers and the Pessac-Léognan appellation, of which he was one of the founders in 1987. Today, the fourth and fifth generations of Lurton’s control 27 Bordeaux châteaux. Everything from Bordeaux’s largest producer, Chateau Bonnet which is run by patriarch Andre Lurton to 2nd growth Margaux property Chateau Brane Cantenac to Château Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem.

Today the family has wine interests on most continents and almost all major wine growing regions. In their turn, Andre’s sons, François and Jacques, acquired wine estates in Chile, Argentina, Portugal, Spain and the Languedoc.

 

“If I were a vine, I would choose to be planted in Chile.” François Lurton

François and Jacques Lurton found this “dream land” whilst working as consultants for the San Pedro vineyards. The first bottles of Araucano, the name of the last of Chile’s indigenous people, was first released in 1997. In 2000, François bought 200 hectares of land in the valley of Colchagua. The valley around the town of Lolol, had that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, that combination of high altitude clay-limestone soils, radical diurnal temperature change and the cooling influence of the morning fog.

 

The estate is located in a high valley that runs from East to West, which funnels cold air from the Pacific Ocean. The large temperature differences between the sea and the land causes a white fog “Humo Blanco” to develop, which can be seen most mornings just above the estate vineyards. Hot, dry days and foggy, cool nights, textbook perfect conditions for growing great wine.

The Lurton family bring literally centuries of winemaking knowledge to bear on this project. But, Francois is a forward thinking man with a vision. Francois Lurton employs 10 full time enologist that work across France, Argentina, Spain and Chile. 2012 the Araucano wines obtained organic certification. In 2013, Hacienda Araucano obtained biodynamic certification (Demeter). The winery is also 100% solar powered.

Lolol is one of the new coastal appellations in Chile. This wine represents the essence of the cool climate of Lolol. It is made up of the best plots of four grape varieties that excel in the valley: Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. This blend was put together by Francois himself. The grapes are handpicked, double sorted and then left for a lengthy cold soak to gently extract the fruity aromas and smooth tannins. Once fermented separately the different grape varieties are blended together and are aged in French oak for 18 months. A true Chilean wine with a French touch.

Clos de Lolol Red Wine 2013 (Chile) $14.99 / Save $10

“Woodsy, spicy aromas of herbal plum and berry come with a light coating of chocolate. A round, rubbery palate is tight in the long run. Saturated plum and blackberry flavors are oaky in front of an extracted finish that runs long and doesn’t hold back. Drink through 2022.” 91 pts Wine Enthusiast

92 James Suckling, 91 pts Wine Advocate

“There’s never been a better time to buy Chilean wine.” James Suckling, “Indeed, hundreds of outstanding quality wines are entering the market. It doesn’t hurt that the current vintages available, especially for reds, are fantastic – mostly 2013, 2014, and 2015.”

@Chef_Lenny

Thanksgiving Wine Picks

When pairing to all the flavors at a Thanksgiving dinner there are many strategies – mine is to find wines that will pair to the widest range of foods – from sweet to savory, light and fresh to creamy and rich!
Lighter wines with good minerality, plenty of fruit and good acid have the broadest pairing flexibility; sparkling also helps keep the palette refreshed. But, as in all things drink what you like; you are always better off drinking a wine you like than a wine you are supposed to like.

Thanksgiving Wine Picks:
1. Champagne
Greeting your guests with a glass of champagne will automatically put them into a celebratory mood.

JACQUES CHAPUT BRUT CHAMPAGNE NV $24.99 Reg $39.99 SAVE $15

80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay aged at least 24 months on lees. Light golden color. Fruity nose combining apple and raspberry notes white blossom and citrus. Intense on the palate with soft full fruit and a good length. Crisp and clean with a long finish. This Champagne is Excellent as an aperitif, but could also accompany your meal perfectly.

 

2. Rose
Rose is a profoundly food friendly wine. Light and refreshing with a generous fruit and mineral it makes a great aperitif before dinner and will pairing easily with broad range of foods.

CLOS ALIVU ROSE 2016 $19.99

A profoundly delicious Rose’ from one of Corsica’s top producers. Made from a local variety very reminiscent of Sangiovese, this rose’ is pale salmon in color, bone dry and possesses amazing delicacy and complexity. A subtle salinity graces the wild herbs and spring berries on the nose while the palate is citrusy and utterly delicious on a long finish. Of the ilk of Provence’s top offerings!

3. Riesling
Lighter styled Riesling with lower alcohol, good acid and a touch of sweetness is a perfect default wine for Thanksgiving.

SCHLOSS HOWIE RIESLING BY LONG SHADOWS 2014   $8.99

Made by Gilles Nicault with help from Sommelier Erik Liedholm, this wine shares the same lineage as the famous Poets Leap but made in a softer, lighter more “Kabinett style”. Loads of citrus, lime, orange blossom and apricot. Crazy delicious, a perfect aperitif – this is perfect wine for your holiday gathering. Great accompaniment for appetizers or turkey.

4. Gewurztraminer
Gewürztraminer is an excellent option for it has a natural affinity for the holiday spices and it’s off dry character allows it to pair with a wide range of dishes. A personal favorite is the Gundlach Bundschu out of Sonoma.

GUNDLACH BUNDSCHU GEWURZTRAMINER 2012 $9.99

A beautiful expression of 158 years of Gewurztraminer expertise, this pairs with everything from Asian cuisine, to Thanksgiving turkey! An entirely varietal wine, aged in a majority of stainless steel, this smoothly textured experience begins in peach and apricot with balanced acidity, dry as a bone. It entices with rounded creaminess and inviting floral and lemon highlights. 92 pts WE

5. Pinot Gris
Pinot Grigio is often dismissed as being unsophisticated, but it can be a wine of great elegance and complexity.

J VINEYARDS PINOT GRIS 2016 $12.99

J Vineyards’ version of this variety is crisp with bright fruit and a kiss of minerality. J Pinot Gris combines the best of both New World and Old World styles. They draw fruit from a combination of warm and cool climates for a blend of citrus and tropical notes with a notable fleshiness and firm acidic backbone.

6. Beaujolais
Many people know only of Beaujolais Nouveau, but many a Cru Beaujolais can have the complexity of a Burgundy. Morgon especially is one of my favorite of the Cru’s.

DOM DUPRE MORGON VIGNES DE 1935 2015 $13.99

Planted in 1935, this single vineyard wine is rich and structured. At this stage, it is dominated by firm tannins as much as by the perfumed juicy black fruits. As the wine softens with age, this generous fruitiness will come through to give a deliciously ripe wine. 94 pts WE

7. Pinot Noir
With Oregon’s Willamette Valley right down the road Pinot Noir is a staple on my Thanksgiving Table.

TRISAETUM WILLAMETTE PINOT NOIR 2015 $22.99

This Pinot Noir is a combination of barrels from three estate vineyards. Ruby garnet in color with a striking aroma of freshly ground nutmeg, Marionberry, and wood spices. The palate exudes grace with red fruit flavors that finish with a hint of toasted oak. The lively acidity is balanced by finely-textured tannins and a firm, long finish. 91 pts Wine Enthusiast

8. Grenache
If you really want to impress your guests open a bottle of Chateaunuef-du-pape.

BROTTE LES HAUTS DE BARVILLE CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE 2015  $28.99

Relatively open knit and ready to go, the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Les Hauts de Barville offers outstanding notes of cherries, spring flowers, spice and Provenl garrigue in a full bodied, rounded, already hard to resist style. It is a killer wine to drink over the coming 4-6 years.

9. Nebbiolo
Italian wines are probably the most food friendly wines on the planet.

SIMONE SCALETTA ‘SAN PIETRO’ BAROLO 2011 $29.99

Aromas of oak, coconut and baked plum lead the way. The extracted palate offers stewed plum, steeped cherry, oak extract and dark spices alongside chewy tannins.

10. Barbera
My favorite wine for Thanksgiving is Barbera. Also from Piedmont Barbera has that wonderful mix of Fruit, Acid and minerality that make it a perfect wine for food.

LA SPINETTA BARBERA D’ASTI ‘CA DI PIAN’ 2013 $22.99

“A tasty, entry level wine, the 2013 Barbera d’Asti Ca’ di Pian is juicy and flamboyant from the very first taste. Blackberry jam, creme de cassis, chocolate, violets, lavender and sweet spice meld together in a deep, unctuous wine to drink now and over the next few years. This is a screaming value from La Spinetta.” 90 pts Vinous

 

4th Avenue Repaving Project

4th Avenue South is undergoing a major repaving project for the next few months.   This means the loss of our Street parking on fourth but, there still is 2 hr parking on lander.

During Construction the city is maintaining access to our Parking lot.

For easiest access to our parking lot we suggest heading North on 4th

  • If taking the freeway we suggest getting off  I-5 at Spokane and turning north on 4th avenue.
  • If heading south come down 1st avenue and take a left at   S. Horton and a left onto 4th avenue.  This makes for an easy entrance into the lot which is just to the south of our building.
  • Note: there is generally less traffic and construction on the weekends!
For more information on this project, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pave_4s.html

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.

 

Pasta alla Norma and Tasca D’Almerita Nero D’Avola

Viticulture has existed on Sicily since The Greeks first introduced Vitis Vinifera some three thousand years ago. Sicily was the granary for the Greek Empire supplying the archipelago with grain, olives, and of course grapes and wine. So important was the island that at one point Syracuse was considered the largest city in all of Greece.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. So large and varied is the geography that really it could be considered a mini continent. The southern parts are south of Tunisia and the highest peaks have snow and ice year round. Between the northern mountains and the southern coast lies a large vast fruitful plain that has been fought over and conquered by everyone from the Greeks, to the Phoenicians, the Goths, the Romans and the Moors.

Sicily is famous for grain, but also oranges, lemons, olives, almonds, artichokes and later tomatoes. And Grapes. Sicily is the third largest wine producing region in Italy. For years Sicily was famous for its fortified wine Marsala, created by an Englishman when England was having trouble getting wine from France. A long and complicated history has created one of the greatest cuisines on the planet, but alas that history has made it difficult the Sicilian wine industry to come into its own.

The 20th century was difficult for Italy and Sicily, a couple of world wars, a trouble government and hard economic times were only made worse by the influence of the mafia. When Italy entered into the European Union direct foreign investment elevated the economy. From the 1980’s to the early 2000’s unemployment went from over 25% to a low of 10%. During most of the 20th century the wine industry was controlled by large government owned Cooperatives. Bulk wine was the name of the game. Most of it sold up the peninsula and into France to strengthen weaker northern wines.

During the latter part of the 20th Century many grape growers stopped selling to the Co-ops and started making their own wines. One of the first was Tasca d’Alerita estate in Valleunga. Regaleali was one of the first premium wines from Sicily, starting small back in the 50’s selling to local restaurants and neighbors. Lead by the count Guiseppe Tasca d’Almerita over the last 50 years the wines of Tasca d’Almerita have come to be celebrated worldwide. Count Giuseppe’s son, Count Lucio, is president of the family-run winery, and his two sons, Giuseppe and Alberto, serve as vice president and managing director, respectively.

In addition to the wines, the estate is virtually self-contained, producing most of the vegetables, fruits, wheat, olives, cheeses and meats they need. This inspired Marchesa Anna Tasca Lanza, Count Lucio’s sister, to establish a culinary school, considered one of the best in Italy today. The school has inspired culinary professionals from around the world, including Julia Child and Alice Waters.

Food and wine have always been central to Sicilian culture. Italian food, in general, is always about simplicity. In Sicily this is almost more religion than principle. “Giusto”, just right in Italian, or better said, just enough. The Occam’s Razor of cooking, the simplest preparation is often the best preparation.
With that in mind, I would like to present my take on a classic Sicilian pasta dish – Pasta alla Norma. A tasty and colorful recipe from the Sicilian gastronomic tradition, the Pasta alla Norma is a triumph of Mediterranean flavors and was so called in honor of Vincenzo Bellini’s opera “Norma”. The story says that in 19th century, Nino Martoglio, a Sicilian writer, poet and theater director, was so impressed when he first tasted this dish that he compared it to “Norma”, Bellini’s masterpiece.
And the name lasted ever since.
To pair with this light yet robust dish a Nero D’Avola is perfect.


Tasca D’almerita Lamuri Nero d’Avola Sicilia DOC 2014 $14.99
“The Tasca family hits a home run with this fabulous value wine. The 2014 Sicilia Nero d’Avola Lamùri Tenuta Regaleali is a terrific rendition of this important Sicilian grape. It opens to dark, spicy and savory notes that contrast the wine’s fruity core. This was a very successful vintage for island winemakers and the ripeness of the fruit is spot-on. The mouthfeel offers elegant fruit flavors and a velvety texture.” 92 pts Wine Advocate – Monica Larner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta alla Norma
________________________________________
1 ½ pounds eggplant, cut into thick sticks
Olive oil as needed (at least 1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 to 2 teaspoons dried chili flakes
1 ½ pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon good dried oregano, or 1 tablespoon fresh
1 pound Rigatoni
½ cup chopped basil
½ cup grated ricotta salata (or in a pinch, pecorino Romano)

1. Cut eggplant into large dice and toss with salt to purge.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil
3. Rinse eggplant to remove salt and let dry
4. Heat a large cast iron pan and add olive oil
5. Add eggplant and brown, turning occasionally
6. Add garlic, chili flakes, tomatoes, and oregano bring to simmer
7. Add rigatoni and cook for 8 minutes. Drain.
8. Toss rigatoni with eggplant and fresh basil
9. Top with shaved cheese and serve

 

Red, White and Blueberry Trifle and Treveri Demi-Sec Sparkling Gewurztraminer

Happy Fourth of July!
When planning a party of picnic for the 4th there are many options for dessert – Apple Pie comes to mind. But how about the bounty of summer berries – Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and even more. This to me is what summer is all about. The recipe below is one of the easiest and most delicious I have in my repertoire. A summer berry trifle with a lemon cream Bavarian, I call it Red, White and Blueberry Trifle. Pound cake drizzled with sweet sparkling wine and layered with Cream and berries, it is surprisingly light and served well chilled, it is a refreshing dessert on a summer day.
Paired with an off dry Sparkler and you have perfect 4th of July dessert!
Moscato di asti is a natural but if like to keep it local Treveri makes a beautiful Demi Sec Sparkling Gewurztraminer.

TREVERI GEWURZTRAMINER DEMI-SEC NV 

Off dry gewürztraminer makes for truly spectacular Saprkling wine that plays perfectly with the berries in this dish. The wine is perfumed with notes of lychee, combined with rich tropical fruit, all-spice, nutmeg, and clove are balanced with an underlying acidity for a true expression of the varietal. 100% Gewurztraminer
Treveri Cellars is a family-owned and operated sparkling wine house that produces some of the finest handcrafted sparkling wines in the United States. A relative newcomer to the Washington wine scene, (2010) Treveri has already made its mark on the world stage being served at White House State Department receptions and the James Beard Foundation in New York. Quickly they rose to the attention of sommeliers, aficionados and the press being voted one of the nation’s Top Ten Hottest Brands of 2014 by Wine Business Monthly.


Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

8 oz loaf Pound cake
1 pint blueberries
1 pint straw berries
1 cup Lemon Curd

*** Pastry Cream,
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split
8 yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 Cups Cream, whipped
1 Cup Moscato di Asti or other demi- sec sparkling like Treveri Demi-Sec Gequrtztraminer

1. Heat milk with Vanilla bean. Beat egg yolks, with sugar and cornstarch until light and creamy. When milk comes to boil add egg sugar mixture. Whisk until combined. Custard will come together quickly. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Stir lemon curd into pastry cream. Let cool.
3. Fold into whipped Cream.
4. To assemble the trifle, spoon a layer of the lemon cream into a large glass bowl.
5. Add a layer of pound cake, breaking the slices into pieces that fit. Then soak the cake with Moscato. Add berries.
6. Keep going to make 3 or 4 more layers, depending on the size of the bowl, finishing with a layer of lemon cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh berries when ready to serve.

Lemon Curd
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 tbl butter

1. In a double boiler combine sugar lemon and egg yolks. Cook over low heat until thickened add butter and cool.

Pound cake
4 oz Sugar
2 eggs
½ Cup Sugar
1 cup Cake Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
½ tsp salt

1. Cream butter and sugar to gather. Add eggs mix until incorporated. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture mix until well comined about 2 minutes.
2. Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 for 30 – 45 minutes

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