Inniskillin Pinot Noir: clear, vibrant red in the glass with sour cherry, blackberry, earth, and a little tobacco on the nose; crisp and tart on the palate with a juicy finish; good with food ($14.95).
It's hard to pair wine with fiery, spicy foods. The easiest thing to do is to choose a white wine that has a little sweet to it, something like an off-dry Riesling or a Gewürztraminer. But what if you are eating a meaty dish with red chile heat? Sure you can drink whatever you like with it, but white wine seems a little too delicate. In their book What to Drink with What you Eat, Dornenburg and Page quote Jill Gubesch (the sommelier at Frontera Grill in Chicago): "green chiles tend to work best with white wines, while dried chiles work best with red".
Dave made a very meaty chili on the weekend with homemade chile powder from ground, dried chiles and we and wanted a red wine with it. Our options were either light, acidic and fruity, like Beaujolais, or deep, full and fruity, like Zinfandel. We went the way of the French.
A good value wine ($10.95) with lots of red cherry fruit, perfumy lilac aromas, and something like candy apple; this simple wine didn't overpower the complex flavours of the chile and, slightly chilled, it balanced out the heat nicely. It has an acidic finish that would work well with lots of food. Charcuterie? Grilled ribs?
Chile Powder -adapted from America's Test Kitchen
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried habanero chiles
2 dried cascabol chiles
2 tsps cocoa
2 tsps dried oregano
2 tsps cumin seed
1/4 cup cornmeal
-de-stem and de-seed the chiles and slice them into large strips
-toast the chiles, turning frequently, in a sautée pan for about 10 minutes
-throw everything in a blender or food processor and grind until powdery
NOTE: you can use any dried chile that you like; in Ottawa there isn't always a great selection, but check out the Mercado Latino store on Montreal Road (if you go on Saturday morning they have homemade tamales on offer and they are delicious).
Oh dear lord I ate a chicken wing this weekend. I know this might not seem like much to you, but it was a revelation to me, a hurdle, a just-short-of-a-miracle event. And it made me extremely happy. Now, granted I cooked the living daylights out of it, so it would be soft and easy to masticate, but I see it as a hop, skip, and a jump to solid food with my new metal mouth. Have I mentioned that the chocolate, creamy cheese, and wine has been going down with no problems thus far? I'm not really that hard off, but I have been missing meat. I'm the girl who ate beaver, remember?
These were inspired by an Easter Sunday party we attended at our lovely neighbours' Chad and Sean's. They served a platter of fall-off-the-bone wings and ever since I have been wishing I had stopped talking for five minutes and eaten more of them.
This is a very reasonably priced bottle of good rosè at $12.95. It's everything you want in a rosè. A lovely pale salmon colour with subtle aromas of lemon and rhubarb follwed by a slight earthiness; balanced and not too complicated. I quaffed the bottle with the wings and it was all good.
I'm not sure how all those teenagers do it without booze.
Easy Sweet and Sticky Wings
1 pound chicken wings
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine
2 heaping tbsps brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsps minced ginger
-bake the wings at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes (to get rid of some grease)
-meanwhile, mix all the above ingredients until the sugar has dissolved
-toss the warm wings in the soy sauce mix and bake, covered for 30 - 40 minutes at 325 degrees
-bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes and you're done
I tend to house clean frequently. It's not that I particularly love to be dusting, vacuuming, moving the piles of paper, and scrubbing the toilet. No, I'd much rather be lying on the couch watching a film, or ensconced in my bed reading a book, or cooking even. It's more like a disease I have, this cleaning. If I see a scuff on the floor I NEED to grab a rag and clean it. Then I have to clean the floor around the scuff that I've just cleaned to be sure I got it all. Then I have to clean the whole floor because, well, I'm already on the floor. Which brings me to the mess of living through construction. It's everywhere. There is concrete dust on the second floor behind the toilet from when they cut into the basement floor. There is drywall dust in the cutlery drawer. There is sawdust under the couch. You get the idea. So, I give up. Completely. It's bliss. I mean, why bother? The day will come when I'll have to go through our space and make everything shiny again, but for now I have a free pass to lounge about and drink more of this.
This is a big, lush bottle of Cabernet for the indulger in you. Like a wine that's seen a lot of sunshine, this is dark and pruny and full. The fruit gets rounded out with some chocolate, spice and a little earth on the nose. The tannins are mellow and the finish has a hint of sweetness. It's the kind of wine that makes you feel good you've put your feet up and said to hell with it all ($23.95).
PS. Savvy Company has a million things going on these days: a couple of cheese tastings, wineries from Niagara-on-the-lake and Prince Edward County are coming to town, a craft beer tasting. Check it out, if you live in Ottawa.
I've been on a mushy food diet this weekend. Eating kind of hurts now that I have braces, and I'm a little freaked out to tell you the truth. Oh the dental floss that I've wasted. The wine goes down just fine though, thank god! And since I can't live on chocolate and red wine for the next two years, I made felafels on Sunday night as my first foray into the firmer side of food.
I make these little things often. They are easy and along with a few salads, make for a healthy, not too calorie-laden dinner. They washed down just fine with the help of this bottle of Sauvignon Blanc I opened as a treat.
I love Sauvignon Blanc. Have I said that before? This is a great bottle of the New Zealand version, which to me is always about the passionfruit and the slight bit of body to the wine. This bottle definitely has that passionfruit aroma along with some gooseberry, apple and a little grass, or greenbean depending upon your nose. The texture is smooth, but it finishes with a crisp, acidic bite and a lasting impression of citrus fruit. It's only $15.95.
Felafel Balls -adapted from Saveur Magazine
2 cups of raw chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp bulgur
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cumin
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsps cold water
-soak the chickpeas in water over-night
-drain and set aside
-in a food processor blend the bulgur and spices for a few pulses
-add the onion and garlic and blend into a rough paste
-add the chickpeas and pulse until the mixture begins to stick together
-remove the chickpea mash into a bowl and stir in the cilantro, baking powder and water
-allow this to rest in the fridge for about an hour
-roll into balls and bake for about 20 minutes in a 325 degree oven, on a well-oiled baking sheet, until browned (you may want to turn them half way through the cooking process)
Serve with pickled turnip, pita, hummus and any other condiment, or veg you like.
I haven't been much interested in cooking lately. Since our construction project began our already minute kitchen has become even smaller. We've lost the one and only cutlery drawer; we now only have one upper cupboard; most of our dry goods are on a shelf in the living room; it's cold because of the big hole in the wall. But that's okay. I know it's a little pain for the big gain kind of thing.
So, our meals these days tend to look a little like this: one bowl with a bunch of ingredients tossed together, maybe some rice, maybe some pasta. I might break out and make polenta tonight.
I couldn't begin to give you any kind of recipe for that. I just guessed and tasted as I went along. A bunch of vegetables, and some leftover pork tenderloin in a salty, sweet, sesame sauce. That's how I'm doing it these days. Nothing too complicated.
I can tell you that there is something to those traditional food and wine pairing matches. We drank this bottle of Gewürztraminer with the noodles. A bottle that my friend Randy, who owns Petite Bill's Bistro, gave me. The salty in the noodles was perfect with the sweet in the wine. Salty and sweet, it works.
This is a really nice bottle of Gewürztraminer; very typical of what the grape is supposed to be. There's honey and lychee, guava and jasmine on the nose. It's silky on the palate, but with a crisp acidity that makes it very balanced, and then there's the tell-tale hint of lime bitterness on the finish.
Now I need to go and psych myself up for the metal braces that they are slapping on my teeth this afternoon. I've been sure to stock up on big, alcoholic reds to get me through the night!
Hey! I'm very pleased to tell you that I'm guest blogging at Natalie MacLean these days. I'll be writing - for as long as she'll have me - on grapes and wine regions that are not so well known. Follow the link and find my latest piece on Arneis.
And hey! I'm still on the Kacaba wine train; one good turn deserves another.
I think I am more partial to the Gypsy White, but the red was light, refreshing, and fruity. I decided to drink it lightly chilled. The crisp profile of the wine would be good with charcuterie on a sunny, summer afternoon. You know, one of those days that are in our very near future?
And then, my friend Kate poured me a little of this oaked Chardonnay. It has a bit of a buttery, caramel, apple pie thing going on. Really delicious and good with the roasted veggies and the bacon snacks.
I had a craving last night, after a bottle of wine, for a glass of beer. So, up from the recesses of our cellar came this Sleeman Dark Ale. It's a simple beer, but refreshing with a bitter, hoppy aftertaste, and I think I was catching some ginger and orange peel flavours. About halfway through my glass, I realized that it was the last of a collection of bottles that came from Jack's booze closet. Every day, at lunch, Jack would open a bottle of Sleeman's and take his time with it. I think it was one of the things that kept him going until a ripe old age.
And it was one of the things I liked about Jack. He was always open to sharing a nip of beer or wine in the middle of the day. I can't remember what we were doing over the Easter long weekend last year, but I know that it's been just over a year, almost to the day, since we said goodbye to my father-in-law.
Is it strange to be remembering someone through a bottle of beer? Or is it just that it's the unexpected little things? Jack liked his beer (and his wine). I miss that about him.
It's an oh-my-god good deal from Niagara at only $11.95. A blend of Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer, this happy white wine is very aromatic with floral, grass, peach, quince, and lime all mingling about in the glass. A fine balance between body and acidity makes it a nice sipping wine, and it finishes very pleasantly with some lime and quince on the palate. It's my new favourite white.