What’s the Norcalwingman been up to?

Hanging out at wineries and barbecuing!

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BBQ at Sonoma-Cutrer
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Have you had wine in China?

Dateline: Nanjing, China

In a “5 Star” Hotel, in the capital city of Jiangsu Province, the Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers, one might expect to be able to find a drinkable wine, however, you would be mistaken.

Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers
Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers

I had the fortune of having my first visit to the country of China a few weeks back.  I have heard much about China becoming one of the largest markets for fine wine, and thus, was unconcerned that I would be able to find something to drink for the #Cabernet day being put on by Rick Bakas on September 2nd.  I had even seen a review of one of the other Sheraton hotels on the “SPG” channel where the host had a chat with the hotel sommelier and they discuss how outstanding the wine selection is and enjoy a glass over some conversation and gourmet snacks.  So when the evening of September 2nd rolled around, I happily boarded the elevator, bound for the forty-first floor (where the cigar and wine bar are located) and marched in.  I found myself a spot at the bar (which was completely empty BTW) and asked for the wine list.

Now, a side note.  The girl working the bar this particular evening had waited on me on previous evenings at the hotel’s Irish Pub, and she was always exceptionally helpful and courteous.  There was clearly a language barrier but she was always willing to try her hardest to serve the customer properly.  Her English name is Cassy.  Now back to the story.

I looked over their wine list; which for being touted as an extensive list was seriously lacking, but anyhow… I chose a Chilean Cabernet, which I know to be one of the best value Cabernets in the marketplace.  After all, I didn’t really want to blow my expense reports out of the water by picking a super expensive wine.  No luck!  The bartendress said it was out of stock…  Okay, back to the list for a second choice.  Since that Cab wasn’t available, I thought I’d keep it in the Bordeaux varietal club.  There was an Argentinian Malbec on the list and I’d had some good Malbec on my flight over from the states, so I thought I’d settle for this.  I happily ordered up a bottle of that, again, I was dashed.  This too was out of stock.  Slightly more dejected this time I buried my nose back into the wine list.  By this time I had eliminated most of the less expensive options and was down to some seriously expensive French Cabs and a few Californian Cabs.  Now, I don’t know about you but I thought that it would be ridiculous for a guy, from Sonoma County, to travel Six Thousand miles (A 12 Hour Flight) and order a Cabernet from less than 20 miles from his home.  But, it was either that, or order some seriously expensive (even for Chinese standards) French stuff, so, I did it.  I found a Sonoma County Cab that was on the list and ordered away.  The Barkeep checked her list and confirmed, it was available…  or so she thought.  She pulled down bottle after bottle from her wine rack, she showed me the ones she couldn’t read and asked if that was okay, none were what I had asked for.  She finally came back with one, a Napa Cabernet.  2001 Beringer, Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now, here’s the funny part.  The wine list showed only a 2005, but I figured if she was willing to give me the 2001 for the same price, it was either that or forget #Cabernet Day, so I bit.

Table Tent featuring some interesting wine reviews
Table Tent featuring some interesting wine reviews

Cassy opened my wine and poured me a glass.  As usual I gave it a whirl and a sniff… eh, cough.  Well, it smelled a bit off but, again, it was #Cabernet day so it was my duty to drink some damn Cab on this day or die trying.  I muscled through about 1/2 of the glass before I couldn’t drink any more.

Now I’ve heard from my friend, Dominic Foppoli of Foppoli Wines, that the Chinese wine palate is very “young” and “undiscerning,” that they usually mix their wine with cola or 7-up, even really expensive Bordeauxs.  That drinking expensive wine is just a status symbol and that they don’t actually enjoy wine for its intrinsic characteristics, yet…  So this wine was spoiled.  It was terrible at best, and disgusting at face value.  I imagine that it had sat on some customs dock, in the sun, cooking in its own bottle.  Disappointed, I gave up on having a good #Cabernet day.  But, somehow, a little part of me was glad for the experience.

Now, here’s where the rubber should meet the road.  An open comment to the management of the Sheraton Kingsley, Nanjing, China.  Your wine selection seems decent, however, your staff are untrained on wine and if wine is spoiled, you should not charge your customers for it!  You should not advertise on your “Starwood Preferred Network” that your Chinese based hotels offer an excellent wine experience.  They do not.  I’m disappointed with your wine list not being up to date with what you actually have in stock and perturbed that you boast about your wine offerings.

I know that at some point, trade with China will become simpler.  That fragile agricultural products will not have to rot on some customs dock, while someone waiting to be bribed sits on product bound for eager consumers, and that the palate of the new generation of Chinese young urban professionals will grow to appreciate wine for its multifaceted character.  Until then I will stick to Chinese Budweiser…  Sad, I know.

The King of Beer
The King of Beer

Tom Simoneau, “The Wine Guy” – A Make-a-Wish Charity Auction Lot

A few months back I attended the annual Make-a-Wish event at the Sonoma-Cutrer vineyards and was lucky enough to win one of the live auction lots, the Wine Experience with Tom Simoneau “The Wine Guy.”

Make-A-Wish May 2010
Make-A-Wish May 2010

The stars aligned and we were finally able to schedule this event and get together to taste some great wine, eat some great food, and have some amazing conversations about the juice we all love.

Here’s a little background on Tom, I snagged this clip from his website, http://www.tomsimoneau.com/ (I’ll add some personal color from our experience).

Tom Simoneau, the KSRO Wine Guy for the past thirteen years, knows the wine business. A grape grower, a winemaker, a wine marketer, wine educator, wine judge and wine critic, Tom Simoneau is the walking definition of “Wine Guy”.

Born in Maine and educated in Boston, Tom shunned graduate school at Boston University to form a country rock and roll band. It was his musical career that eventually placed Simoneau in wine country. “We based our California operation in Healdsburg because it reminded us of Maine and it was close enough to San Francisco, so we could pursue our dream of a record deal.”

Since Tom is “The Wine Guy” here is a his syndicated wine minute from our Make-A-Wish Event:  Click Here to play audio – Make-A-Wish072910.

Tom Simoneau - The Wine GuyNorcal Wingman on-air Live this Thursday!

I will be on the radio with Tom Simoneau this Thursday, July 29th around 4:30 PM, on KSRO’s The Drive with Steve Jaxon.  You can listen live by visiting KSRO.com and clicking on “Listen Live” or tuning into 1350 AM, if you live in the greater Sonoma County area.  The Drive is on daily, from 3:00PM to 6:00PM (Pacific Time of course) and usually features local Sonoma County luminaries, of a much higher caliber than myself.  Check it out HERE.

Tom and his wife Brenda really put out the red carpet for us. We decided upon a Cabernet Sauvignon tasting and Tom said he had something creative he’d put together for our group.

Our group, was not an ordinary tasting group, I can’t remember what Tom said exactly, but he said he was going to really have to put something special together.  Included in our tasting crew were Sonoma-Cutrer’s new winemaker, Mick Shroeter (formerly of Geyser Peak & Penfold’s) his lovely wife Linda, my wife’s Aunt and Uncle who are also wine grape growers and home winemakers, and me and “the wife.”

TastingCrew
The Tasting Crew - Pictured (from left to right): Brian & Michelle Wing, Mick & Linda Schroeter, Sharon & Bob Duste, Brenda & Tom Simoneau

Upon our arrival we were greeted with glasses of Chandon bubbly and we began getting acquainted over some fantastic hors d’oeuvres, prepared by Tom’s wife Brenda.

Chicken Salad on Fresh Cucumber
Chicken Salad on Fresh Cucumber

Now, just to be clear, Tom and Brenda’s house, “Simoneau Ranch,” has one of the most spectacular views of the Alexander Valley that I’ve ever seen.  They’re located just east of Hwy 101 in Healdsburg and the view from their back porch looks across the Simoneau vineyards, and up toward the Geysers and off to the right in the distance you see Mt. St. Helena, a truly stunning spectacle!  Anyhow, I digress.  We chatted about wine and toured the property.  Tom showed us his vineyards and gave us a nice look at his cellar where he has cases upon cases of wines stacked to the ceiling, ribbons and awards for his wines, and some empty bottles, “trophies” of past experiences, each with a story.

After the tour it was back up to the house where we enjoyed some more snacks and tasted Tom’s two wines, a Chardonnay, “Brenda Lee’s,” a lovely, lightly oaked Chard, with about 10% malolactic fermentation, and his Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Oh, I forgot to mention, Tom used to sell his grapes to Silver Oak up until recently when the economy tanked so now he just makes his own Cab (it’s great by the way).  Well after some tasty snacks, a goat cheese flan (see recipes below) and some bacon wrapped figs stuffed with blanched almonds, we got on with the main event.

Tom and Brenda had set up a double-blind, Sonoma versus Napa, no-holds-barred Cabernet Sauvignon battle royale!

Double Blind
Six Cabernet Competitors

The Cabernet Contenders:

From the West (Sonoma County):

2005, Jordan, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvigon, $52
2005, Chateau St. Jean, Cinq Cepages, Sonoma County, $75
2004, Robert Young, Scion, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, $58

From the East (Napa County):

2006, Oakville Ranch, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, $60
2006, Swanson Vineyards, Alexis, Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
, $75
2005, Revana Family Vineyards, St. Helena, Cabernet Sauvignon, $149

All Set for a great Tasting
Table for 8 with 48 Glasses

We each tasted though the wines together and discussed the characteristics and qualities we saw, smelled and tasted.  It was quite an educational experience for me.  Having both Tom Simoneau (who also teaches wine tasting/judging at the local community college) and Mick Schroeter discussing and dissecting the wines and then sharing what they experienced and comparing that to what I was getting out of them was really cool.

A Great Tasting
Blind Tasting Crew at Simoneau Ranch

It gave me insight into what a world-class wine maker looks for when tasting and judging wines.  It also made me feel pretty good about my own palate and overall sensory capacity for wine, I’m making some incremental improvements (if I do say so myself).

So when it was all said and done, we had a clear winner and two wines that were so close that second and third place could have been combined into a tie for second.  Here are some of the scoring details:

First Place: 2006, Swanson Vineyards, Alexis, Oakville, Cabernet Sauvignon. Big and Juicy with grainy tannins, hints of licorice.

Second Place: 2004, Robert Young, Scion, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Coffee and Cocoa cover this Alexander Valley beauty, great tannic structure that is well representative of the AVA.

Third Place:  2005, Chateau St. Jean, Cinq Cepages, Sonoma County Red Wine.  Soft and supple, ripe red fruit and easy drinking tannins make this Sonoma Valley Red shine.

And the Winner is...
The Favorite Cabernet Is...

A great time was had by all and I can’t wait for next year’s Make-A-Wish event so I can try and win again.  Not only did we have some great wine and great conversation but the money made from Tom’s donation and my winning bid goes to help out a great cause.  The Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.  Please support them if you can, it’s an amazing organization.

Again, I want to extend a heart felt thank you to Tom and his wife Brenda for being such gracious hosts.  This was truly an exceptional experience and it could not have been possible without their generosity to both the Make-A-Wish foundation, and to us.

Cheers!
Brian
norcalwingman

Below are the recipes of a few of the outstanding treats Brenda Simoneau prepared for us, Enjoy!  Be on the lookout for a cookbook by Brenda in the not to distant future.

Savory Goat Cheese Flan

Recipe by Brenda Simoneau

1 cup half-and-half
8 oz. sour cream
3 eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. Bucheron goat cheese
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp. of unsalted butter at room temperature

Depending on the size of your ramekins (custard cups) generously butter 6 – 8.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

While the goat cheese is cold remove the rind, place goat cheese in your mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it come to room temperature. Once at room temperature, mash with a fork. Add one egg at a time mixing well. Add the sour cream and mix well. Finally, add the salt, thyme, and half-and-half. Mix well.

Divide the custard among the ramekins, place them in a baking dish, and add very hot water to the pan so it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until the custards are set, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Place the ramekins on a cooling rack and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Serve warm in the ramekins or run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, turn them out, and serve with a simple green salad.

Kalamata Olive Breadsticks

Recipe by Brenda Simoneau

1 tsp. active dry yeast
5 oz. warm water
1 tbs. olive oil
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
30 pitted kalamata olives roughly chopped

This recipe makes about 76 skinny breadsticks. You’ll want to set up more than one baking sheet, so you can quickly rotate them in and out of your oven.

Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil.  Add the salt, chopped olives, and 1 cup of flour. Stir until everything comes together. Add half cup flour and stir until the dough comes together. Add a ¼ cup of flour and stir until the dough comes together. Lightly sprinkle some of the remaining flour on your work surface and knead the dough. Sprinkle and incorporate more flour as needed until the dough is smooth and soft.

Pat the dough into a rectangle (roughly 6” x 14”) on a surface that you can use a knife on. Lightly brush with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

The dough should be very elastic now making it very easy to shape your breadsticks. Cut off a piece of dough about as thick as a finger. Lay it on your work surface, roll back and forth as your hands work out to the ends. This stretches out the dough to the desired length. Remember they will puff up in the oven to about twice the thickness that you rolled them out to. Lay them about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. Continue baking and checking every 3 minutes or so until they’re crisp and golden.

Chicken Salad

Recipe by Brenda Simoneau

1 poached boneless, skinless chicken breast
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ sour cream

Slice the chicken against the grain, and then chop into small pieces. You want about one cup. Place the chopped chicken and all other ingredients in a bowl. Mix together. Taste and then adjust the salt and pepper.

Serve on cucumber slices, crackers, or toast.

Not Bad for a Thursday Night – Saturday Summer School Edition #2

Another week of summer school is down, thank god!  I’m tired.  I volunteered to help out “the wife” this weekend at her winery’s wine club pick-up party.  Let me tell you, I have the best of both worlds, that of a wine consumer and living on the fringe of being “in the industry.”  I was recruited to do some pouring, help with set-up, and general support of the party.  Here’s where it gets cool.  The party included a cooking demonstration with Chef Mateo Granados;

Chef Mateo

and wine tasting seminar with Sonoma-Cutrer’s new winemaker Mick Shroeter.

Sonoma-Cutrer Winemaker Mick Schroeter

The wine seminar was a side-by-side tasting of three of Sonoma-Cutrer’s 1999 Vintage Chardonnays, The Founder’s Reserve, The Cutrer, and Russian River Ranches.

A Great Lineup

So this won’t be a post with anything I’ve cooked (Yet!)  It will be a gratuitous plug for the Sonoma-Cutrer winery and wine club, as well as for Chef Mateo and his catering business.

Chef Mateo’s focus is on Yucatan cuisine utilizing fresh, local, sustainably and organic or bio-dynamically farmed produce and meat.  Let me just tell you, It is amazing!  In addition to catering, Chef Mateo has a mobile restaurant that sets up in random spots around Sonoma County (mostly in the Healdsburg area).  Here’s a great post from Heather Irwin (Bite Club Eats) on some of the latest gossip on Chef Mateo’s Mobile restaurant. (http://www.biteclubeats.com/2010/06/mateo-on-the-move-again.html)

Chef Mateo and "the wife" (Michelle)

So Today’s menu included four great dishes, each paired with one of Sonoma-Cutrer’s awesome wines.

1.  Tacones, Olive oil Guacamole with Carne Asada – Paired with “The Cutrer”
2. Papadzules, an Egg Stuffed Tortillas with Pumpkin seed and epazote sauce – Paired with “Founder’s Reserve”
3. Ceviche curado with chicharone – Paired with “Russian River Ranches”
4. Empenadas stuffed with fingerling potato and fava – Paired with “Les Pierres”

The cooking demonstration covered the Ceviche Curado and Papadzules.  Chef Mateo is really into cooking with what’s in season.  He said he would normally use some tomato with the ceviche but they are not currently in season so he used rhubarb to add some tartness instead.

Here’s the recipe courtesy of Chef Mateo Granados.

Cured Bolinas halibut, chicarrones, & market greens—severs 4 people

Ingredients:

1 lb. halibut or your favorite white fish

5 Meyer lemons

¼ lb. pork back fat

1 bunch radishes

½ lb. curly cress or watercress

Good quality olive oil

Sea salt

Cure halibut:

-on a sheet pan place a layer of plastic to coat the bottom of the pan

-thinly slice fish

-add the juice of the 5 Meyer lemons

-cure 45 min. at room temperature

Chicarrones:

-dice pork fat into 2 inch dice

-generously salt the diced pork and let stand for 10 min.

-slowly render pork until crispy

-remove to cool

Market Salad:

-shave radishes

-pick cress

-mix together in a small bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt to taste.

Plate:

-arrange 4-5 slices of cured fish (do not dry) on a 10” plate

-garnish with market salad

-sprinkle chicarrone for texture

Ceviche Curado

The food and wine pairings were all fantastic and it was fun to hang out with some wine club members, drink some great wines and play some croquette.

Norcal Croquette

I’m kind of partial, but I have to say that being a wine club member over at Sonoma-Cutrer actually has some pretty serious benefits. This event was no cost to the wine club members!  I highly recommend checking out this club, they do events across the US to accommodate their non-norcal members, so even if you don’t live in wine country you can enjoy the benefits of membership.

Well, I’m sorry I didn’t provide you a “Norcal Wingman” prepared Not Bad, hopefully this will be a viable substitute.   The ceviche is an awesome warm summer day dish, it’s cool and refreshing especially when paired with a great Chardonnay.

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

Not bad for a Thursday night dinner 2

BBQ Baby Back Ribs:

Fresh rack from Oliver's Market

Barbecuing baby back ribs is just about the best thing in the world.  I have been trying to perfect my dry rub.  Currently it consists of the following:

Brown Sugar
Garlic Powder
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Chili Powder
Smoked Paprika
Allspice
Cayenne Pepper
Cumin
and this time I added some Chipotle

I’d love to hear from any of you on what you use.

So pat these bad boys dry, then load up the rub.  I have it in a shaker and use it generously.  I let them sit with the rub on it for about an hour.  So open up the ribs, pat them dry with some paper towels and load’em up with rib rub.  Massage the rub into the meat (like you love your ribs, oh yeah baby!).  Wrap them back up and put them back in the fridge for about an hour.

I’m sure BBQ purists will have a different opinion on what the best method for queing these is, but I’ve had great success with my Weber grill.  I usually use Kingsford charcoal, but occasionally I’ll splurge for the good stuff.  Real charcoal, not the briquettes, but the burnt mesquite wood.  Whatever you’re comfortable with that you can reasonably control temperature with.  Even using a propane/gas grill is cool, whatever gets you out and grilling!

So about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start cooking fire up your coals in a starter and when they’re glowing and have a layer of white ash on them dump them out so they are piled up on one side so you can do some indirect cooking.

Grilling Babybacks
Ribs on the side

Put the grate back on the grill and let it get nice and hot.  Place your rack (heh, I said rack) directly over the coals bone-side down.  Let them sear for about 3-5 minutes, flip them over to the meat side and do the same.  Be careful because the fat will start dripping and you don’t really want to burn them with the flare-ups.  Once they’re nice and seared (cool looking grill lines) move them to the other side of the grill away from the coals.  Close down the bottom and top vents just a bit to lower the airflow, this will cool the grill down a bit, put the cover on and check them every 10 minutes or so.

Here’s a great option for you.  If you have some smoking chips you can add them at this point.  You can buy bags of hickory or mesquite at any good grocery store, most big box home improvement stores, or a barbecue store.  If you’re really lucky, fresh apple wood, pear, peach, cherry wood is an awesome choice for smoking.  But, I’m not usually that lucky, so I use the chips.  Soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes prior to use.  Anyhow, grab a handful and put them on the hot coals, this will get some good smoke going and really kick your ribs up a notch.

Smoking is optional, you can still kick out some killer baby-backs without it.  So, back to cooking.  Ideally you should cook your ribs over indirect heat for at least an hour and a half, two hours if you can manage to keep the heat on the grill low.

Sweet!

About 15 minutes before you’re ready to pull them off the grill is when you should add the barbecue sauce.  I have been using Sweet Baby Ray’s,  I prefer the spicy kind, but the rest of the fam isn’t super keen on the spice, so I’m usually stuck using the regular (not that there’s anything wrong with it).  Slather it on nice and thick then put the lid back on your grill.  The sauce should start to caramelize a bit and you should have  a sweet yummy layer of smoking hot BBQ sauce.

For dinner Thursday I also picked up some sweet corn on the cob.  I paired the barbeque with 2006 Fetzer Coro Mendocino.  Which is a nice big red blend based on Zinfandel, the perfect match to some sweet, spicy, and sticky ribs.

Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner, 2nd edition.

DinVenture1: It’s what’s for Dinner

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Major Wine Pairing FAIL:

So I did exactly what I set out to do.  I wanted Chicken Piccatta and that’s what I made.  The Piccatta was legit, the wine choice of Riesling to go with it was not.

Saturday afternoon (after laboring over some Organizational Behavior case study) I ventured out into sunny downtown Santa Rosa for a pint (or two) with my buddy at one of the favorite haunts, Third St. Aleworks.  I enjoyed a nice margherita pizza and some IPA.

Afterward, I headed back to the neighborhood and stopped by the newish little wine shop in downtown Cotati (http://www.cotaticorner.com/worth stopping by).  I popped in and chatted with the saleslady who was “filling in” for the owner, we discussed my thoughts on dinner and Riesling and she said she was more of a Chardonay girl.  Undeterred, I made my selection:

An aside here:  Riesling is an under represented varietal in the store, their focus is definitely on the Reds.

I found a nice 2007 Esterlina Cole Ranch Reisling, and since the register wasn’t working right I got it for a steal at $14.50  (price tag said $17 and saw it at Oliver’s for $20).  Happy with the purchase I was off to Oliver’s for groceries.

I picked up some fresh Rocky’s Roasters boneless/skinless, fresh broccoli, eggs, basil, cappellini and a bottle of Sauv Blanc (we’ll talk more about that in a minute).

Prepping for Dinner:

Ready to get cookin!

Ingredients:

All purpose flour
Butter
Olive Oil (the extra virgin good stuff!)
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
3 Lemons halved and squeezed (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup depending on your preference)
some lemon zest (easier to zest before you squeeze BTW)
Capers 1/3 cup rinsed and drained
Dry White Wine 1/3 cup
Chicken Stock 1/2 cup

1.  using a meat tenderizer/hammer pound the breasts flat to about 1/4″ thickness.  I put the chicken on a good cutting board, cover with saran wrap and beat the hell out of them.

2. in a large skillet 12″ melt 2 tblspn of butter with 3 tblspn of olive oil over high/medium-high heat until it starts sizzling.

3. in 2 9×9 pans or whatever works for you, beat 2 eggs in on, fill the other with flour and add salt and pepper (you can salt/pepper however you want, but this worked pretty well for me).  Dip chicken breast in egg then dredge in flour mixture, place into hot skillet.

4. Brown chicken on both sides (should cook about 4-5 min on both sides), meanwhile fire up the oven to about 250 to keep chicky hot while you’re doing the sauce.

Grilled Chicken Ready to become piccatta

5. After chicken is done cooking (fully cooked) put on a plate and put in over to keep hot.  Pour lemon juice, wine, chicken stock, 2 more tblspn butter, 2 more tblspn olive oil, and capers stir and scrape up brown bits for more flavor reduce a bit.

6. After sauce starts thickening add chicken back to pan and simmer for another 5-10 min.

7.  Pasta:  I used cappellini which was pretty good, but you can use any I’m sure.  Get this ready (maybe this should be step 4 or something, I ain’t no Chef)

8. Veg:  I had broccoli, but thought about green beans (they didn’t look good at the store so I skipped em)  Asparagus might be yummy with this too.

9.  Okay, dinner should all be pretty much ready at this point.  Put chix on the plate, some pasta and veg next to it.  Pour remaining sauce over pasta and chicken.

Dinner:

Chicken Piccatta con Cappellini e Broccoli

Now, on with the mangia.  The chicken was awesome, perfect lemon flavor, not too overpowering,  just right.  First sip of the Riesling…

D’OH! I don’t know what I was thinking.  I totally blew it.  The Riesling chasing the lemon from the piccatta came across insanely sweet.  I should have known better.  Fortunately, I picked up a great Sauvignon Blanc, Honig Napa Valley.  I used this for cooking (some might think that’s a waste, but why not cook with good wine?).  Anyhow, this paired very well.  The light and crisp grassy notes blended superbly with the lemon and capers.  Fwew!

Anyhow, all-in-all another yummy dinner at the Wing house.

Mangia!

I want some chicken picatta.  So, I’m off to some markets today to go get what I need.  I’ll be updating this post with pictures (maybe some video too).  Tweet me some suggestions for wine, I’m thinking Reisling

What do you call a bull masturbating?

Beef Stroganoff.

So I tried to do the beef short rib recipe herre http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/beef-stroganoff-with-buttered-noodles-recipe/index.html. I watched the program on my flight to NYC a couple weeks ago. I clearly didn’t give myself adequate time to cook the shortribs. A good deal of the comments regarding this recipe lambaste the chef for utilizing this cut of meat.

Anyhow, Moving on.

Tonight I attempted this recipe with one substitution. I used some ribeye steaks for the beef instead of shortribs. In this episode, the chef says he uses the herb rub for his prime rib so I figured, why not ribeyes!

Oh aye! I grabbed a bunch of rosemary from the garden, and the rest of the thyme from my poor attempt of the shortribs about a week ago.

So I fired up the oven at 305 for a while and about 3 hours later had some super yummy pulled prime rib. I’m thinking this would have been friggin awesome on some garlic bread as a po’ boy sandwich.

I used a good bit less shrooms and cut the cream/sour cream in half and instead of regular Dijon mustard, I used a stone ground with horseradish (oh yeah). I also substituted the cognac with some gentleman Jack (gotta support the wife’s company).

We served it up on some yolk free egg noodles (damn Olivers for being so hippyish!). And paired it up with a ceasar salad and paired it with some Alexander Valley Merlot from Sebastiani.

Damn this was a good dinner. If I don’t say so myself.

later
Wing