Screen Door Cellars – 2012 Pinot Noir

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If you’re lucky enough to find it, this Russian River Valley pinot should please even the most discerning palate.

Leather, clove and vanilla accentuate the bright red berry fruit. A velvety mouth feel leaves you craving another sip.

As I understand it this wine is limited in production so you may have troubles Finding it.  The winemaker Bobby Donnell is a Texas native and has hooked up his kin back home sip it may be tough to come by around here.

I know Bobby used to run a Texas style BBC, so it’s no surprise this wine pairs perfectly with the baby back ribs I did up tonight.

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Byron 2009 Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley

We had the good fortune to finally get down to the California Central Coast wine grape growing region this year and spent an awesome day in Los Olivos, tasting through some of the area’s best.  While we were visiting all of the local spots, we asked around with some of the locals as to where were the “must visit” tasting rooms.  Note:  Los Olivos is a quaint little town with what is basically a cross-roads, down each leg of these roads is a multitude of winery tasting rooms (it’s insane how many there are in such a small town).  Anyhow, Byron came up in many of our conversations so we stopped in.  The tasting room staff were great and we took home a few of their offerings.  This one is a great example of the Central Coast Pinot Noirs produced in the area.

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Tonight’s dinner consisted of some grilled pork loin with a Pinot Noir & Cherry reduction/glaze.  Obviously the wine complimented the dish famously.  A supple Pinot with a great ripe red berry fruit character, would have been great on its own but married to pork and blended with cherries made it all the better.

I would suggest that you stop by the Byron Tasting room next time you’re in town, in the meanwhile, here’s a link to their website: http://www.byronwines.com/

Cheers
Norcalwingman

Not Bad for a … Wait what night is it?

Well, regardless of what night it is, it has been way too long since I did a dinner post.  I’ve been very exited to get back to doing some dinner posts with recipes.

Valley End Farm
Valley End Farm

My work has brought in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm who provides us with fresh fruit and veggies every week for pittance! So in my first box from Valley End Farms, I received all sorts of inspiration for a good “Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner.”   So it’s only Tuesday but what the hell, why not just get after it?

Tonight I had a huge hankerin’ for a nice juicy pork chop.  In my CSA box I got some pears and spinach, and for whatever reason I was thinking that those would be two great parts of a really good pork chop dinner.

I didn’t have any pork thawed, so I popped over to the local market (Oliver’s in Cotati) and picked up a couple of center cut, bone-in chops, some organic dried cranberries and bananas.  Never fear, the bananas were just for the wife’s breakfast!

I had started up some wild rice cooking before I left for the store, since it takes so damn long to cook the stuff.

Wild Rice:

1 Cup of rice
2 Cups of water
dash of salt
In a small saucepan, combine rice, water and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 50 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Fluff rice with a fork.

Wild Rice

Gas Grilled, Smoky Pork Chops:

Season pork chops with your favorite seasonings.  I used my “Rib Rub” which includes: Smoked Paprika, Chili Powder, Ancho Chile Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Kosher Salt, Garlic Powder, and Brown Sugar.  Fire up the grill to high heat and once hot, place the chops directly over the fire and sear the chops on both sides (about 3-5 min/side).

Chops on da Grill
Chops on da Grill

Once your chops have nice sear marks move to the other side of the grill or to the top rack and reduce the heat to medium/medium-low.  I prepared some smoking wood chips (apple wood) by soaking in a bowl of water and once the chops were moved to indirect heat I placed my smoker box onto the grill directly above the flames.  Close the lid and come back in about 20 minutes, you should get some good smoke going.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen….

Pear and Cranberry Compote:

2 Fresh Pears, diced
3 oz Organic Dried Cranberries
2-3 oz water
1-2 oz Apple Cider Vinegar

Pear and Cranberry Compote
Pear and Cranberry Compote

In a medium saucepan place diced pears, cranberries, water and apple cider vinegar over medium heat until mixture just starts to boil.  Reduce heat and continue to cook uncovered until pears become mushy.  Mash and mix, cover and remove from heat.

Last but not least the spinach.  I love fresh greens and since the wife doesn’t care for them I was super stoked to get some spinach (and kale…yet to cook) in my CSA box.

Sauteed Spinach:

5-6 bunches of fresh spinach
1-2 oz EVOO (Dry Creek Olive Oil Co.)
Dash Sea Salt
Dash Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Wash your spinach thoroughly and remove stems pile spinach in 12″ sautee pan and drizzle with oil, crack sea salt and black pepper.

Turn on heat to medium and stir occasionally as spinach begins to wilt.  Continue cooking until all spinach is wilted but is still bright green.  Try not to overcook it it would be a shame to cook the vitamins and flavor out of your fresh yummy green leafy goodness!

Plate all of these together and it makes for a great little meal.

Of course with pork my first inkling on wine pairing went to Pinot Noir.  So I started the ritual of perusing through the half dozen or so spaces we store our wine in, looking frantically for a Pinot that wasn’t Sonoma-Cutrer.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it (obviously), I just get more of that than any others… for obvious reasons.  Anyhow, I found one that I hadn’t previously had.  It was a bottle my co-worker brought over for a BBQ we had back in August.  His wife works for an importer of New Zealand wines so he brought over this Marlborough Pinot Noir.  A 2007 Big Barrel, Bird “Old School Vineyard,” Aotearoa, New Zealand.  Check back for that review!

2007 Bird, Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand
2007 Bird, Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand

It has been a really long time since I’ve taken the time to cook a nice dinner and talk about it, hell, it’s been 2 weeks since my last post so I apologize to you for that.  I will try and keep the dinners flowing, they are fun and usually pretty tasty…  But tonight sure qualifies as a “Not Bad for Thursday Night” even if it is only Tuesday!

Not Bad For A ...
Not Bad For A ...

Until next time cheers,
Brian

Lazy Independence Day Post a Recommendation and a Review “Not Bad for the 4th” (Part 3)

I caught a streak of inspiration the other day while checking out a guest post on Tim Hilcove’s Weekly Wine Journal by Mike MacKinnon.  He put together a beautiful pork loin and it must have made an impression, because when “The Wife” mentioned to me that we were hosting some guests on Monday evening I thought to myself, how about doing up some pork loin.

I didn’t follow the recipe that Mike did over on Weekly Wine Journal, I actually did some poking around and found some other recipes with a similar vane.  I came across this post over on SeriousEats and took my inspiration from there.  I did modify it a bit, I went for fresh, Granny Smith apples and sugar cured cranberries instead of dried, but did some similar things with the stuffing and glaze.

Butterfly your pork loin by carefully slicing it 1/2 inch thick down one side then back the other direction.  Stupid me, I didn’t take any pictures of this meat splayed wide open so you only get to see the finished product.   Suffice it to say, that when butterflied this pork loin was the size of my entire cutting board which is about 14″ x 16″.

After straining out the juice from the filling, spread it evenly on the meat, and sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon (another mod by me).  Sprinkle chopped pecans over the fruit mixture then roll up the loin again and tie with cooking twine about every inch or so.  Sprinkle exterior with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, cayenne, and smoked paprika.

Fire up a chimney of coals and prep the Weber for indirect heat grilling.  When the coals are ready place the pork, fat side up, over the coals to sear.  After about 5 minutes rotate the grill and add apple chips to coals for smoke and place cover on the grill.  Cook for 30-40 minutes then flip tenderloin, at which time baste the tenderloin with the reserved, reduced juice from the filling pan.  Continue to cook until an instant read thermometer reads 130 F, remove from grill and let tenderloin rest covered with foil.

pork loin
Fresh off the grill

Internal temperature should rise to about 140 F.

Pork Loin
Look at the juiciness!

The Wife’s friends brought some sides, one of which was an absolutely perfect match for the pork.  It was a spinach salad with sliced strawberry, red onion and sliced almonds.  The dressing was a mayonnaise and milk dressing with sugar and poppy seeds.

I paired this meal with the new Pinot Noir from Sonoma-Cutrer, the 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

2007 Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot
2007 Sonoma-Cutrer, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir

The berry flavors mingled happily with the apple/cranberry filling and were phenomenal with the strawberry and spinach salad!

Pork Loin
Porcine Beauty!

All in all, this was an outstanding holiday weekend, I would like to extend special thanks again to the men and women of the US armed forces who make days like this possible.  Your service and sacrifice do not go unnoticed.  Happy Independence Day to all of you!

Cheers
Brian Wing

Oh and as a follow up.  Leftovers of this are just as awesome.  I cooked up a batch of wild rice along the lines of the post in Weekly Wine Journal’s Loin, I used 1 cup of apple cider and one cup of chicken broth, and just before it was done cooking I chopped up a quarter cup of pecans and toasted them in a skillet and added them to the rice at the last minute for some extra flavor.  Yeah, it was effin’ goo-ood!

Lazy Independence Day Post a Recommendation and a Review “Not Bad for the 4th” (Part 1)

Howdy Y’all, I’ve been feeling exceptionally lazy and unmotivated to do much after finishing up my Summer inter-session class last week, but I did cook some great food over the weekend and definitely wanted to share this recipe for stuffed pork loin with you.  But first,  I don’t think it would be a good 4th of July without some good ass BBQ Ribs.  I was up at the Windsor, CA Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning and one of the vendors we stopped by was a Spicy little shop selling spices and spice blends.  The husband and wife team were fantastic and we chatted about cooking and wine for quite some time.  The husband, Patrick Fallon, Cellar Master over at that little winery Jordan, and his wife Kim, who writes a great little food blog over at http://www.voiceofthefood.com/.  Anyhow, I picked up a couple of mixed rubs, one nice and spicy for ribs (see photos) and one mole (keep an eye out for a future “Not Bad”).

Sunday Night was ribs and 2007 Loxton Sonoma Hillside Vineyards, Sonoma Valley, Zinfandel

I did the ribs just a skosh different this time, I patted them dry with paper towels and then liberally coated the ribs with the “Red Rub.”

Baby Back Ribs
Rub Liberally yeah, rub it in!

The Red Rub is a mix of Ancho, Chipotle, Cayenne, Black Pepper and probably some other stuff (I’m sure it’s a secret).  Drop them an email at info@cooksspices.com to pick some up for yourself.  Anyhow, I lathered up these bad boys, covered them up and let them soak up spice in the fridge for about three hours.

Anyhow, standard cooking here.  Fire up some coals in the chimney and once ready, put them off to one side for indirect heat grilling.  Sear ribs on both sides then put on the side furthest from the coals and cover.

ribs on the grill
Look good don't they?

Cook, turning around (bone side down) every 30-40 minutes, total cook time should be about 2 – 2 1/2 Hours.  Remove from heat, tent with foil and let stand for about 10 min.

Done

I heated up some leftover Woodford Reserve BBQ Sauce, for me, and some Sweet Baby Ray’s for the wife in 3 oz ramekins to dip the ribs in.  Side dish of mashed taters and a side salad.  Paired this one up with a nice little Zinfandel from my buddy Chris Loxton over at Loxton Cellars from Sonoma Valley.  Yum!

not bad part1
Not Bad for a 4th of July (Part 1)

Check back tomorrow for the second part of this awesome weekend, a review of the Loxton Zinfandel.

Cheers
Brian

Make-A-Wish @ Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards – Croquet Invitational

5/21/2010 Just a quick update, I received a thank you letter today from Make-A-Wish, they raised over $760,000 in cash and “in-kind” donations.  Wow!

Once in a while a convergence of powers come together and amazing things happen.

Last weekend was one of these occasions.  Wine and Wishes, the Make A Wish Foundation holds an annual event at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, this coincides with the ” US Open”of Croquet, it is an invitational event where the best Croquet players get together and compete on the amazing courts of Sonoma-Cutrer.

In conjunction with this event Make-A-Wish holds one of their fundraisers.  An auction based on wine and wishes, they gather donations from local Sonoma and Napa County wineries and business and the attendees bid on these great items which benefit the children of Make-A-Wish.  These children are all afflicted with some fashion of terminal disease or condition and they are granted one amazing wish.  The proceeds of events like this allow them myriad possibilities.  We were graced by one such individual who’s wish was to visit Egypt and see the Great Pyramids of Giza.  His story was told and it’s nearly impossible to not hear this and have a dry eye.

This year Make-A-Wish raised over $200,000 at this event alone!  (I’ll see if I can get the final number but the executive director Patricia Wilson said it would be well over that number)

Wine has some amazing pull.  The folks attending this event paid $200 per seat with about 600 attendees, this was just the beginning.  There were 31 live auction lots and many more silent auction lots.  The auctions ranged from collections of wines to a Safari in Africa and a seven night adventure in a Scottish castle.

waiting to bid

I was fortunate to win lot 21, wine education seminar with Tom Simoneau (local wine radio host, and winemaker) with dinner at Girl & the Fig in Sonoma, CA.  (watch for a post on that one!)

Tom Simoneau, Michelle, Me

I got to do some pouring of my own.  My wife put me to work!  Oh well, work like this ain’t bad.  I was pouring some 2003 Sonoma-Cutrer, Founders Reserve Pinot and some just released 2007 Russian River Pinot (Big Bottle 3L Jeroboams).

My Boss, my Wife!

By the way, opening up these big bottles is really challenging 😉

Pouring is hard work!

Along with all of the charity at this event there were some great wines to be had.  I was lucky enough to get a couple of tastes of the oldest white wines I will likely ever have!  Retiring Sonoma-Cutrer winemaker Terry Adams showed us how to properly open a few Jeroboams.

A master at work
Me with Terry Adams

Some 1986 and 1988 Chardonnays…  Yeah, that’s a 24 year old white wine!  These were awesome.  I could hardly believe, not only how well these wines stood up to time, but how amazing they tasted.  The finish on the ’86 was longer than any wine in recent memory.

1986!

There were some great people at this event.  The winemaking crew up at Sonoma-Cutrer are awesome!  Michelle McLendon and Cara Morrison, the Pinot and Chardonnay Assistant winemakers.

Cara and Michelle

The latest addition to the Sonoma-Cutrer is winemaker Michael (Mick) Schroeter and his lovely wife Linda.

Mick and Linda Schroeter

This was a truly amazing event supporting a truly amazing cause.  I can’t wait until next year, I need to practice my Croquet so I can get an invite to the “Open.”

I need more practice.

If you enjoy wine and have the wherewithal, please take a moment and hop over to Make-A-Wish and donate to their cause.  They provide an outstanding service to children who are in need of a break from the pain and suffering of terminal illness, every little bit helps.

Cheers
Brian Wing

2007 De La Montanya Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – Tina’s Vineyard

So some friends of ours are wine club members at De La Montanya and they took us out for the annual BBQ and party they have at the small winery in RRV, although it’s really close to being Dry Creek.  I’ll have to double-check my GPS next time we’re there…  I digress, so we joined the club.  Alas, my lovely bride became pregnant (no coincidence to this party I assure you).  Anyhow, we called up to cancel our club membership to save up some cake for the impending child and they allowed us to reduce our membership to a “once a year” deal.  Thankfully we agreed to this.  We have since received a six-pack of yummy treats on a yearly basis.  Oh, and by the way, the scantily clad “clubmembers” on the labels of their Pin-up wines had nothing to do with this! 😉

Anyhow, here’s one of their awesome wines:

The nose: The first act to this nose is Cherry, fresh ripe Bing, second stage is spice a mix between Clove and allspice, to round out the show there is just a tease of vanilla.

The Taste: Oh yeah, this is exactly what I was craving.  Cherry, fruit is exceptionally predominant, with a quick flash of earth, tart fruit comes through with the spicy notes that are present on the nose.  The taste lingers fresh for a very long (exceptional) finish.

The Mouth Feel: Light and supple but not wimpy, this is a mid to light body Pinot but has enough backbone to stand up and let itself be known.  Really great viscous mouth feel lingers and replays tastes all over your tongue.  This thing begs to be consumed!

The Color: Lighter brick red with a touch of ruby, thinning at the edges.  I’d call this standard Russian River Pinot Color.

The Nitty Gritty:

14.4% ABV (wow! not even noticeable)
75 % Pommard Clonal
25% Dijon Clonal
“Southern Facing Vines”
Russian River AVA
Aged 11 months in French Oak
307 Cases Produced
$40 Retail

The Verdict:

Man this is some damned good Pinot Noir.  At $40 bucks it’s not the worlds least expensive RRV Pinot, but it does show some value.  I am far from a Pinot lover, but this is really freakin’ good.  It’s been a couple of minutes since my last sip and the flavors are still  playing around all over my palate.  Go get some of this wine!

92 Pts.  A-

Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner – #10 – Time to Kick it up a Notch!

Springtime has sprung in Sonoma County and I’ve done too much Chicken and Beef lately.  Barbecue was certainly an option, but I’ve done a fair amount of that too so I really wanted to do something that was a game changer.  I wanted to challenge myself while sticking with the spirit of the season.  I have been on a bit of a Pinot Noir kick lately, so I was thinking of something that would pair up really well with that.  Something that some fresh ripe cherries would grab onto and say… “I just kicked your tongues ass!”  So, for whatever reason, I had a thought that some duck confit would fit the bill.  Thanks to a quick search on the interweb, I found myself checking out some UK style recipes for confit with some side dishes that I’d never tried (or really heard of).

So here we go, Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner –  #10

I had no idea, but apparently confit was a way for people to preserve their meat for long periods of time.  Who knew that storing cooked meat in its own fat was a preservation method?  I sure as hell didn’t.  After a cursory search of the local markets, and not finding “jarred confit” as my first recipe suggested, I found a recipe that just cooks the duck in its own fat (thank you NY Times.com).

So here’s the recipe for “Really Easy Duck Confit”  modified by me.

1 Whole Fresh Duck
3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons of Herb Mixture (bay leaves, oregano, thyme, tarragon, crushed red pepper, dried onion)

The duck I bought was from a Chinese owned family market so it was still walking and smiling at me when I brought it home.  No, it wasn’t alive, but like that Christmas Story movie, still had it’s feet and head attached.  I chopped those off and removed the guts.

Season the duck with the above mentioned ingredients and place in the fridge for 24 Hours.  When you’re ready to start, preheat your oven to 325 F.  Quarter duck, split in half, top to bottom then split front and back halves.  Place into large skillet skin side down, and begin cooking over medium-high heat.

Now I had no idea, but Duck has some seriously fat content.  Your bird will start rendering fat almost immediately.  Continue cooking on the stove-top until approximately 1/4 inch of fat is in the skillet, about 20 min, then turn duck skin side up, remove from heat, cover with foil and place into oven.

Roast duck for 2 hours covered, after which you will remove cover  and return to oven for another 30-45 min until skin is golden brown.

Side Dish:

Celeriac Mash

I had never heard of this side dish before, I had only ever seen celery root in the store in the produce section and always wondered to myself… “self, who the hell buys this sh*t?”  Well yesterday that person was me.  Apparently it mashes up well just like mashed potatoes.  I found several recipes that call for half celery root half potato.

Recipe
1 Lb Celery Root
2 Yukon Gold potatoes
2 Oz Heavy Whipping Cream
3 Oz Butter
salt & pepper to taste

So here’s how I did it.  I washed the root to get most of the dirt off, chopped off most of the straggly roots with a knife and used a peeler to remove the exterior layer.

Once cleaned, chop into cubes.  Peel and chop up potatoes.  Boil both in salted water until tender.  Blend using hand blender  adding butter and cream.  Blend until smooth.

So here’s the deal.  I don’t know jack about celery root, but there is some chunky bits that I didn’t get rid of by peeling and the side had some seriously tough bits of stuff in it, which was unfortunate.  Perhaps I needed to peel deeper or something but, if you make this side, do some more research to find out just how to cook it.  The flavor was really tasty, it had a touch of celery character with the consistency of mashed potatoes (except for the tough bits of course).

The first recipe I found also had a recipe for a cherry glaze/sauce for the duck.  I modified this a bit too.

Recipe
4 oz Cherry Preserves
1 Shallot
3 Oz Port (I used 2007 Sobon Estate, Amador County Zinfandel Port, certified Organic)
1 Oz Red wine Vinegar
2 Oz Butter
10-12 Fresh Bing Cherries, halved and pitted

In a skillet or sauce pan melt butter, finely chop shallot and cook until tender.  Add preserves, port, vinegar, and cherries.  Cook over low heat and reduce to thicken sauce

I cooked some fresh green beans for the veggie side dish, sauteed in some olive oil with salt and pepper.

This dinner was like getting away with sin.  With the amount of fat in it I may pay for it later, but it was soooo worth it.  The cherry sauce on the crispy duck was heaven.  I paired this dinner with a 2007 De La Montanya Pinot Noir, Tina’s Vineyard.  The cherry notes and great acidity of this wine matched the richness of the duck to perfection.  My mouth is watering again just writing this, goddamn it was definitely Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner!

Okay, I hope you try this recipe.  The duck was just awesome, I’m not sure the wifey liked it as much as I did, and the Celeriac mash was a bit of a FAIL but it still tasted really good.

Until next week, Cheers!

Brian

References:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/dining/201arex.html?ref=dining
http://www.discovertheorigin.co.uk/confit-of-duck-with-a-dark-cherry-glaze/

2003 Sonoma-Cutrer, Founders Reserve Pinot Noir

So I got lucky tonight and class let out before 8:00 PM, that’s sweet!  Basically I was given back almost 2 hours of my life.  Anyhow, I popped over to Oliver’s Market Cotati to pick up some brews.  I grabbed a 420 / 35 of 12 ozers of IPA from one of my favorites, Lagunitas Brewery.  I forgot however (and was gently reminded by my wife) that I had some Pinot to drink!  Much to my surprise, I hadn’t reviewed this one yet, it was actually its cousin the 2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot.

So here it is, the Flagship Pinot over at lovely Sonoma-Cutrer.

2003 Sonoma-Cutrer, Founders Reserve, Pinot Noir

The Nose: This is a sucker punch of fruit!  Big spicy, deep red, black cherry vanilla with ripe plum piledrived straight up the nostrils.

The Taste: The fruit is upfront and gets a spicy kick on the front of the tongue, mid palate actually falls a bit short and finishes with a tannic minerality.

The Mouth Feel: For as big as the fruit is, the feel is that of a lighter wine, there is structured tanins (as mentioned above) which give this Burgundian styled Pinot some longevity.

The Color: Deep ruby red with a touch of brick.

The Nitty Gritty:
ABV 14.3%
Bottled Unfined and unfiltered.
Probably barrel aged in new and older French oak for about 8 Months — This is speculation
Price: $60, only available to current wine club members, online @ http://sonoma-cutrer.com

The Verdict: Yeah baby, this wine is goo–ood.  I’m always skeptical of wines over $50 bucks being worth their price tags, just because you can always find something that’s a better value (in my honest opinion anyhow).  This is a great wine, no doubt, even with a $60 price, I’ve seen Pinots for much more than that.  Probably a 90pt or B+ “Steve Paulo Scale”