Tuesday, March 30, 2010

'Momofuku-gasmic' Translates- Good Pork Rolls

In and out of New York City in the past week has allowed me to eat at a few really good restaurants. Momofuku, and Gina la Fornarina really made an impression on me! Hubby coming home from a business trip with a free loading bug has me grateful I did eat out. No cooking going on here this past weekend, so its back to the memories, and lets just say one was 'Momofuku-gasmic'!

Gina la Fornarina, a Milanese influenced eatery off  279 Amsterdam Avenue @ 73 Street (two locations)Partners In Wine Club was so nice for the early lunch meeting had in the city last week with Iron Horse Vineyards- Kim recommended a few things to share. She frequents Gina's, and ordered for us:

Sampler Platter-
Crepes with Spinach & Ricotta, Semolina Gnocchi Gina
Daily Pasta Special- Penne Bolognese
Chicken Salad- Thyme Rosemary Marinated Free Range Chicken atop Mixed Greens
Wine & Spirits: Pinot Noir & Water

The food and company was fantastic, as well as the walk around the area before we headed back to NJ!

Now in the same, well, weekend I met up with some fellow poetry blogs in the city for The Rainbow Book Fair at City University of NYC, and there was no dinner 'set in stone' plans. Now and then, hubby and I play it by ear, but usually he does have an agenda. His job in this relationship- to keep me up on the trendy places popping up in New York City. Evidently there is one place that has been open for the past year; it is very hard to get reservations for if you do not make them the Tuesday before you want to go, 10 AM on the dot, for that following Saturday, if you are lucky...

We were not so lucky, but Momofuku (means 'lucky peach') has an alternative, and pretty much the same menu (if you want the 'Fried Chicken Dinner' you call ahead, lol, if you know me- you understand). Momofuku Noodle House and Milkbar right next door, 207 2nd Avenue, East Village.

You just have to be at their door before, or 5 PM on the dot, because the line is long, and it stays packed. After a year? That must be good. We were first this past Saturday. As soon as the book fair was over we hopped on the subway and headed there.

The one attraction to the place, Steamed 'Pork Buns'. Something I have wanted to try for a while. Pigpigscorner, and Selba write about them, and other great Asian foods. Honestly they look tasty! I am all about some good pig and beef when it comes to BBQ. Smoked, grilled, or oven roasted- its all about the flavor and sauce; unless you are smoke sensitive, then I would stay away from the barbecue scene.

Back to the DELICIOUS food- Well, I have to also mention the table they did not want to seat us at, I believe because many do not want to sit by the kitchen. This was open stadium kitchen viewing, but with plexi-glass about two feet up. Right away we said we would love to sit there. Can you guess why? Part of the entertainment for me. The smells however, do hit you like a ton of bricks, and there was an issue with Spanish Mackerel at the end.

Here is what we ordered, and lets just say...'Momofuku-gasmic' barely touches the surface of this wonderful meal. I even had a birch beer as part of our dessert!

Raw Bar- Shigoku Oysters (WA)  /w kimchi
Steamed 'Pork' Buns- pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions
Small Dishes- BBQ Rib Sandwich(es, because there are two) (Newman's Farm, MO) /w red onion slaw
Santa Barbara Uni- whipped tofu, black pearl tapioca, shrimp crackers

Seasonal- Fried Baby Artichokes /w pistachio, sunchokes, bottarga
(a hint of spiciness to all of this, but not overwhelming, just builds slowly, and a good thing for my taste buds!)

Offal- (Hubby's meal, I did not touch this!) Cavatelli- pigs head
Dessert- Queen Anne Stilton- pear sorbet, pickled pears, pumpkin ganache (to die for!)
Birch Beer- by the can

Wine Pairing- We sampled a bit of each; it was long walk back to the train!
domaine barmés buecher, riesling tradition ‘07 (alsace, fr)
viña godeval, godello ‘08 (valdeorras, spain)
red hook winery, chardonnay ‘08 (long island, ny)
domaine guillot-broux, gamay ‘07 (mâcon-cruzille, fr)
les baux de provence, mas de gourgonnier ‘07 (provence, fr)
domaine st. pierre, syrah ‘07 (côtes du rhône villages, fr)
latitude 50, pinot noir, ‘07 (rheingau, ger)

More on the wines over at 'Partners In Wine Club', 'Momofuku-gasmic' review...

I also brought home some Kimchi Butter from Milkbar next door, and will share what I did next-

Disclaimer- The title is my own interpretation, Momofuku means 'lucky peach'...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Asian Soup with Orange Meatballs

In a quest for trying Asian recipes, an idea sparked- a new and unique meat ball and noodle combination. A few ingredients were available when my search began, but one of the most unusual ingredients I had bought were three Meniolla oranges at the market. These were nice to peel and were sweet like clementines, but I hate seeds. I adore eating them, but hate wasting the zest, so I decided to make use of the fragrant exterior.
  • Meniolla Oranges
- Mineola is a cross between tangerines and grapefruit, and also called tangelo honeybells, and have that funny bump on the top (see photo).
  • ground pork and beef
  • mushroom stock
  • red onion
  • fish sauce
 Along with these ingredients I made the most divine bowl of soup I have yet to create...

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
5 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 quarts water
1 cup baby portaello mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

I took the oranges and grated one Meniolla's zest into- 1/2 pound of the pork and 1/4 pound of the beef; along with 1/2 teaspoon ginger root, 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic. reduced soy sauce, and paprika and combined well. Then forming 1 inch balls I heated a soup pot on medium high with 2 tablespoons oil, and browned half of the meatballs with the mushrooms and 1/2 cut thinly sliced red onions.

Once you have browned the ingredients, then add the rest of the garlic, ginger, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, water, and 1 cup mushroom stock. Begin boiling these ingredients and slowly add in the remaining meatballs and rice wine vinegar, cooking for about thirty minutes (or until meat is cooked through), and then simmer another fifteen minutes or so.

The flavors are reminiscent of a light hot and sour soup, but with a touch of orange when biting into the meatballs. This dish can be Filling with Somen noodles (often used for cold noodle salads, and cook quickly)- adding a small broken hand full of Somen noodles to the bowl, then pour over a cup of the hot liquid; let sit until noodles are soft, which take about three minutes or so.

Back when I had made the Tuna Tartare and had quail eggs, a few were left over, so I used up the last three for an extra touch! I am making this soup again!

Many people find soup taste better the next day when flavors meld. Only add noodles when soup is made, otherwise they become too mushy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Does The Glass Make The Wine'? & Food Review

Due to weather, and time constraints Partners In Wine Club has only now gotten to our 'Does The Glass Make The Wine' review. I am briefly going to discuss what and how, but a larger piece will be up over at our official Wine, Beer, Spirits and Food E-Zine site. A concept that is taking hold in the hybrid journal/magazine-blog world, and an exciting way to get the buzz about what is going on in the food industry and restaurant reviews.

First though let me get a restaurant review out of the way- We chose to host our glass testing soiree at a not so new, but 'new' restaurant in Lawrenceville, New Jersey- Dennis Foy's Lawrenceville Inn. This once 'on the map-destination eatery' has changed ownership four times in the past two years, but now is now under ownership of Dennis Foy. The outside still supports the old signage. Mr. Foy had made a name for him self as a restaurateur back in the 80's, and you can read more via the internet.

Partners In Wine Club decided we would make this the 'Glass' testing/tasting destination, and hopefully enjoy a nice dinner, with for warning to them of course. After arriving and carting in endless boxes of stemware we opened a nice bottle of Newton 'Lightly Oaked' Chardonnay, order, and then begin the comparisons. Hubby and I ordered soups- Mushroom and Butternut squash- our guest ordered salads. Food came, were lacking, and not so great- hubby still talking about it burning his tongue.

The overall feeling as you enter the restaurant is quaint Inn, with outdated Ikea style tables and chairs (I read this on Chowhound after the fact) from his other restaurant, and the place seems more like an art gallery- the owner is a painter.

Then the main course came down to two orders of Duck, and two New York Strips specials with roasted root vegetables and scalloped potatoes for the table to share. Our entrees eventually came out- not even luke warm. Suddenly the pit of my stomach was queasy- did we just find ourselves in a children story- Goldy Locks and the Three Bears (Adrienne being the only Goldy at the table). Because the wine- Was just right!

Sure it all looked good on the surface, but inside- One bite of the steak that was suppose to be Med-rare, was RARE/cold, and the other steak suppose to be Medium, was Med-Rare/cold, and honestly was more on the rare side. Overwhelmed with balsamic vinegar (en-crusted), and so sad, because it was one of the most tender NY Strip steaks I had ever had, but where was the meat flavor. Keep it simple- EVO, and a little salt and pepper before grilling. The duck was too salty due to an overwhelming soy marinade, and we were told it was a Peking Duck style, but cold. Even the side dishes were cold. Okay you get the message. Not happy, and we all agree we would never return. This is a warning for Princetonians only- negative sorry...

Now our conclusion on the glasses were great! The Ravenscroft Chardonnay and Bordeaux glasses we received to try out, were fantastic. We put them up against Riedel Vinum,  Riedel Vinum Extreme, and stemless restaurant red and white glasses. Sure not apples to apples, but we wanted to see if they were worthy to recommended for a medium range crystal stemware on our website, and to our friends.

Here are our notes, and also let me add that the Newton 08 'Lightly Oaked' Chardonnay that we first had at Spice Market in NYC only five or six months ago, was just as splendid as our first taste! A keeper! A great bargain, and most retail wine stores will order it for you at $22 a bottle!!! We also tasted a Barollo and a Pinot Noir that I had just purchased for $23 a bottle, again superb!

Hubby and I KNEW when we opened the Ravenscroft stemware boxes they were keepers. Light weight, slim and trim crystal that did not tip over easily when filled or otherwise. The Tinsele strength seemed to be in good order.

Stemware Comparison:
  • Ravenscroft Chardonnay- Great bouquet, room to swirl, light crystal, beautiful stemware
  • Ravenscroft Bordeaux- Good bouquet, room to swirl, light crystal, beautiful stemware
The entire testing crew agreed- up against the Riedel, they were great- although the Riedel Vinum Extreme out weighed the Ravenscroft Bordeaux on all accounts, but apples to apples it was not a contest.

For a beginner set of wine glasses, or if you do not want to spend the money for more expensive stemware available on the market, we give them a thumbs up! Even compared to the restaurant quality stemware we own for catering and stemless glasses we own, and the ones sitting on table at Dennis Foy's. The restaurant stemless were bulky and made the Chardonnay taste like water- no bouquet, mouth feel, or finish was comparable- like water? Yes, it was unbelievable...water!

You may purchase these glasses soon through our Partners In Wine Club on-line market, but if you would like to purchase a set now for a gift, email: info@partnersinwineclub.com, and I will set you up!

The moral of this story is go with your gut feeling when it comes down to choices!

Disclaimer: The Ravenscroft glasses were given to us as a free promotional gift to try from- CSN Promotions

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Taste Of Kentucky Derby Party- Blog/Twitter

Join blogs around the world in an event put on by CookAppeal, 'Partners In Wine Club' and Fun and Fearless In Beantown- 'Taste Of Kentucky Derby' Party, April 29th, 7 PM.

Haven't you ever wished you could wear one of those hats and be sitting at the Kentucky Derby while sipping on an exotic drink?

...Well Join In!

  • Plan a get together with friends (home/restaurant/bar with Wi-Fi) April 29th, 7 PM, wear a fun KDerby hat (men/women), join us on twitter (this is your change to learn) April 29th, the official restaurant night of  'Taste of the Kentucky Derby', or not, blog about it instead- 
  • Create a 'Taste of Kentucky Derby' recipe in the form of an appetizer, main course, dessert, wine tasting/drink recipe...then-
  • You will submit a photo to elizabeth@cookAppeal.com of yourself in a Kentucky Derby Hat, with your recipe in hand no later than April 28th (optional if only Tweeting that night)- 
  • Tweet 'Taste Of Kentucky Derby' Party on Twitter, directing them back to this post until the day of
Around the Globe- 7 Pm on, April 29th sharing on Twitter will be one big 'Taste of Kentucky Derby' Party dialogue via internet, and blog. This has to be submitted no later than Wednesday, April 28th.
  • Photos and recipes should be on your blog post before the event, then a parade of photos and links will be on Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!, Chef's E blog the morning of Thursday, April 29th.
Get creative with this, take it and run your own race to get with the theme of the Kentucky Derby!

Tweeting will take place under the (#-hashtag), #TOKDP (Taste Of Kentucky Derby Party), as well as during the live event on Twitter that night.

So Far We have Parties going in-
  • New Jersey, Princeton
  • Massachusetts, Boston
  • Indiana, Indianapolis
  • Arkansas, Little Rock
  • Florida, Tampa

Go check out a guest post on 'A Quick Guide to Craft Beer For The Wine Lover' on our Partners In Wine Club E-Zine...

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Mother, A Memory- More Irish Tator Talk

This month has a lot of green memory in all directions for me- with my daughters birthday to begin it off, St. Patrick's Day Parade over at our friend Spudsy- AKA The Daily Spud, my mom's birthday today, and spring popping up green everywhere we look!

This was not my favorite color, but was my favorite month, because green does mean 'new life', but I have to say most of us in New Jersey were happy to see some sunshine!

Growing up in my Irish house in Texas, we ate a lot of potato dishes. I am not sure why, but maybe (yes, an Irish storyteller/chef is about to go crazy) because my mom did not know how to cook well when she met my father, she cooked like she was feeding an army. Well, maybe a navy crew to be exact. My father was a cook in the navy, and between he and his mom, Virginia (mom) got by. Boy, could she make mashed potatoes. One of my favorites. Why? Because I was thin as a rail and a bottomless pit eater. Potatoes were filling, and abundant in our kitchen. What she did with them afterward was another story. You also did not complain when you peeled potatoes in my house- if you did you had to listen to my father tell stories of peeling hundreds each day on his ship!

She would make pancakes, desserts, yes ewww, and make croquettes, fritters, whatever you may call them. I might have liked them, but they were like (sorry Mom, I loved your goulash) most of her cooking, bland. Why? My dad was to blame. I always found it odd that he loved spicy Tex-Mex, and chilies of all kinds, but she would say he like his food prepared the same way. No creativity was allowed, not even me in the kitchen to cook. Later I discovered, or uncovered the real truth. She was insecure when it came to making recipes out side of the box, so she stuck with what she had been taught. She was an awesome baker however, thanks to Betty Crocker! No complaints there.

I also may gross some of you out, but I ate ketchup on my mashed potatoes. Yes, everyone who ever ate with me in my adolescent days, were also grossed out. I am happy to say that today no condiments but mustard, and few Asian bottles of this and that for cooking line the side door of my fridge.

Many uses of potatoes strand across the world as they were introduced into kitchens a century ago...

One dish my mom did not made, and I am only sure that it was due to the dislike of my dad (he is not here to rebut my complaining, sorry pop!) was Shepherds Pie. I first had this dish in Ireland. I am not really sure why it took me thirty three years to have this tasty dish, but alas my taste buds were finally introduced in the proper country. Caven Ireland in a local pub (up north from Dublin to be exact). A ground lamb, gravy, peas, and topped off with mashed potatoes.

Now this dish was lacking in presentation, as it was brought out basically slopped on a plate with bread, and a beverage of choice. Shepherds Pie is one of those not so pretty recipes that actually to me taste better the next day. Like soups and chili, after having a chance for the flavors to meld it becomes a flavorful leftovers dream.

My dish contained a base of meats- ground lamb, pork, and veal cooked in a gravy; along with spinach, seasoned creamed potatoes, and an extra touch of two Irish cheeses grated on top- (Kerry Gold) Aged Cheddar, and Irish Stout. I heated heavy cream with an addition of butter, parsley, garlic powder, New Zealand Flake Sea Salt (salt give away details) pepper to taste.

My mother never had a chance to taste this great dish with its use of potatoes, but she would have approved- No ketchup Maw!

Happy Birthday Virginia! I love you...

Upon the suggestion off twitter from YNChick AKA Jaclyn Stuart, Certified Sommelier & WSET-Certified, Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wine & Food Pairing, WineVentures Consulting- I opened a bottle of Cotes du Rhone.

Every savvy wine and food fan should put the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation in their repertoire, and I will discuss a few in upcoming post, and on my 'Partners In Wine Club' site...

Perrin & Fils, Côtes du Rhône Villages, France, 07 $14.99: The Perrin family, owners of the famous Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf du Pape, leases and manages two favorably located vineyards to produce the grapes for this tasty wine. Made from a blend of Grenache (50 %) and Syrah (50 %), the dark ruby color offers ripe black cherry and violet aromas with smoky notes. Firm black cherry flavors with lively acidity and smooth tannins carry through the dry finish that well matched the meat and potatoes of this dish!

PS- I have recently found posts written on both of my sites on other various sites, disregarding my 'Contents are owned by CookAppeal...', but with out usage of my photos. This is why I watermark many of my photos, even the one with the ugly white lines of my light box, so be careful. Complaints were made, and they removed our content; unless they track back to your site, then we allow this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Miso Chilean Sea Bass over Collard Greens

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone! This is my submission for The Daily Spud's 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' post where she announced her 'St. Paddy's Parade' of food.

I am sixth  generation Scotch-Irish, with my maiden name 'Akin'. Three brothers left Ireland, came through New York and settled in the Appalachain Mountains. The oldest chose Kentucky as his home, the middle son chose to stay in Virginia, and the youngest a minister settled in Maury Country Tennessee. This brother had three children, and the oldest son chose to head south to Texas where land was free for the taking, and the wilds of the west needed to know religion.

His son had my great grandfather, and his middle son was my father's father. I loved hearing the stories of the three Irish Brothers Akin when I was growing up. I took a trip to Ireland when I was 33, and have not forgotten the bond I felt with everyone I met. I might have met Spudsy in a local pub, or passed her on the streets, but I know one day I will go back. Ere is such a beautiful place! I have heard the food has risen in culinary expectation in the past years, but I would be happy with the pub grub I had back then. Matter of fact Pub Food did not come about until the 1980's, just before I even arrived on her shores.

Scotch-Irish Immigration to America: 1740-41. Famine struck Ireland in 1740* and was certainly the principal occasion for the third large wave, which included numbers of substantial Ulstermen. An estimated 400,000 persons died in Ireland during 1740-41; for the next decade there was a tremendous exodus to America. This third wave marked, on the American side, the first movement of Scotch-Irish in any numbers beyond the confines of generous Pennsylvania to the southwest. Following the path through the Great Valley, many Ulstermen now went into the rich Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, whose southern extremity opens out toward North and South Carolina. Eventually a large population of American citizens are either German or Irish, as this was the largest concentration of immigrants to land on the shores of the U.S. at any given time.

Have you been told stories by a Leprechaun? This one fooled a fish. The Leprechaun was hungry so he told the fish that he had a nice bed of green for to lay down his head, and it was safe in the pot of water. The fire would keep it warm, as it took a rest...

Miso Chilean Sea Bass over Garlic Collard Greens

1/3 cup sake
1/3 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
1/3 cup light yellow miso (fermented soybean paste)
3 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped green onions  
4 6-ounce sea bass fillets (each about 3/4 inch thick)

Mix first 6 ingredients in shallow glass baking dish. Add fish and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

Preheat broiler. Remove fish from marinade. Place fish on rimmed baking sheet. With broiler door slightly open, broil fish 6 inches from heat source until just opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Transfer to plates. Sprinkle with green onions serve.

This fish was sweet, but yet the sea bass density and flavor was a great match with the bitter garlic flavor of the sauteed collard greens, a dish my family made often. So I considered it Irish growing up. My potato dish will come next- 'Leprechaun Gold(en) Fritters', another dish we ate often growing up...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday- Sip & Tweet News

Yet another marriage made in heaven, and my cooking was not even involved.

Partners In Wine Club attended last Thursday's New Jersey Sip and Twit- Now unless you know about this, you are now asking yourself "What is a Sip and Twit"? Last week in Sweet, Sour, and Salty Rant- I spoke about being overwhelmed with social networking, well lets learn together, because this is the fun part where you can relax I did not mention.

Iron Horse Vineyards, Wine Twits and The Wine Loft partnered together to showcase wines from Iron Horse Vineyards at a Sip and Twit event in Long Branch, New Jersey. The event was a demonstration of a powerful union between social media, technology and wine enthusiasts all under one roof.

How does Sip and Twit work?

Wine enthusiasts gathered at The Wine Loft in Long Branch, New Jersey to sample some of Iron Horse Vineyards showcase wines. Tasters were able to tweet their wine tasting notes in real-time while posting to a designated hashtag- #sptwnj. Tweets were made visible on the large plasma screen at the bar area where hands on tweeter were present, and those in the global audience were able to view.

What was the outcome? One big viral conversation was taking place.

The event took place from 5-7 PM, and what a better way to express your passion about wine than by taking part in a new twist on the traditional wine tasting party. Wine enthusiasts from around the globe can now participate with only a couple of stokes of the keyboard or IPhone.

Hence your impressions are made known globally.

Just remember you don’t even have to be present at the event to partake, but you would miss out on the wine!

All you need is the designated hashtag (#) to follow and with a couple of retweets via your fellow Twitter friends the event becomes viral. It is becoming a powerful tool for the wine industry to market their portfolios.

A fellow blog was present and helped spread the word via Twitter- Jersey Bites

Showcased Iron Horse Vineyards wines :

* Iron Horse Vineyards Chardonnay (unoaked) 2006
* Iron Horse Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007
* Iron Horse Vineyards Wedding Cuvee 2006
* Iron Horse Vineyards Russian River Cuvee 2003

Being partial to Pinot Noir, PIWC found the 2007 a very Burgundian in style. This wine would pair well with a great Salmon dish.

Let's Back Up A Minute- A New Social Media Market?

Twitter Taste Live. Yet another way to use Twitter, and what better way to express your passion about wine than by taking part in a new twist on the traditional wine tasting party. Oenophiles from around the globe can now participate in tastings with either a couple of stokes of the keyboard or mobile device using their Twitter applications. It’s virtual and better than taking out your notebook and scratching out tasting notes. Sit back, relax, tweet and watch the magic of viral marketing take place. Retailers, wine distributors, wine bloggers and just regular old winos can now connect globally through the magic of technology.

How does an on line wine tasting work? And how do you find one?

Twitter Tate Live is the ground breaking format launched by Bin Ends wine retailers. The Twitter Taste Live series is a now a recurring event. Taking part in an event is simple. Register and create an account at Twitter Live and you’ll be told about the wines and where to locate them. Fellow tweepers then get together for a fun evening of wine talk. Grab a laptop or other mobile device with Twitter apps and enjoy.

Where can I find a Twitter Taste Live Event? It’s easy. Just search- hashtag #TTL (Twitter Taste Live) using one of your Twitter apps and away you go. Find a wine tasting you enjoy, go find the wine and follow along at TasteLive.com.

This can only be done on the internet browser twitter account, not the Tweet Deck. You will see a box with the magnifying glass search engine, put the hashtag (#) there and hit enter on your keyboard.

Now if you have not launched a Tweet Deck onto your computer, go get one. There are free, and it helps you monitor and manage your Twitter Account!

Now go check out this weeks Partners In Wine Calendar!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wine-Down Wednesday: Oak Or Not To Oak

You either love the flavor of oak in wine, or you do not. I just happen to love wines aged in french oak, or any oak for that matter! While having a beautiful glass of golden raisiny Oaked Chardonnay one evening, I was inspired and began a poem with this phrase...

"I love the ride of a splintery oak barrel while I am drinking its juice...", and it has stuck with me since.

Chardonnay Grapes are of the white wine grape varietal, and are grown all around the world. They produce one of the most widely loved wines, although at one point they were considered passe due to it popularity and wine enthusiast preferred. These grapes once fermented can take on so many flavors and is easily paired with many dishes.

The most popular region for growing Chardonnay Grapes is Burgundy in France and it is thought that this is where Chardonnay wine originated. Most people believe that Chardonnay grapes were first cultivated by ancient vineyards when they began cross-pollinating between Pinot grapevines and Gouais Blanc grapevines.

One bottle that ranges $25 and under is Neyers Chardonnay. We've enjoyed past vintages of the Carneros regions of this wine. This wine scored 93 Points by the Wine Spectator, and 90 by Robert Parker.

I believe they ever have not lost their allure to food and wine enthusiasts around the world because of their compatibility with so many dishes. Especially 'Oaked' Chardonnay's. These wines can go with heavier sauces, as well as hold up to heavy ingredients, as opposed to lighter white wines. They are great sipping wines. Oaked bottles of Chardonnay are know for their buttery flavor. Making them perfect for my high butter fat sauce in this recipe for White Chocolate Saffron Scallops, and White Chocolate Saffron Braised Fennel Bulb.

This sauce was made with a white chocolate saffron bar from Chocbite.com, extra saffron threads, heavy cream, and a method similar to Bavarian Cream. Placing the chocolate in a glass measuring cut into a warm bath, heating the cream, and tempering the chocolate, but whisking it until it is smooth. Let the ingredients meld on counter for a good half hour or more. Braise shallots, fennel, pieces of spinach, and Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt until fennel is soft, or chocolate sauce is thick.

Once plated some Black Truffle Carpaccio (free sample from la Boutique, and the best truffles ever!) was added as an extra flavor. Surprisingly it did not overwhelm the sauce, scallops or the fennel. The flavor profile for everything was far from good, it was great! The Neyer Chardonnay was also a great match, and we will have this dish many times over.

If you are interested in receiving some Sea Salts, complimentary from MySpiceSage.com, then go to my 'Sweet Somethings' section of the Sweet, Sour & Salty Rant post to read details.

Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt-

Alaea is the traditional Hawaiian sea salt used to season and preserve. Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt is non-processed and rich in trace minerals, all of which are found in sea water. A small amount of harvested reddish Hawaiian clay (‘Alae) enriches the salt with Iron-Oxide.

Traditionally Hawaiians use Alaea salt in ceremonies to cleanse, purify and bless tools and canoes, as well, in healing rituals for medicinal purposes.

Savor a unique and pleasant flavor while roasting or grilling meats. It is the traditional and authentic seasoning for native Hawaiian dishes such as Kalua Pig, Hawaiian Jerky and Poke.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Quail Eggs & A New Salmon Tartare

Hubby and I love salmon tartare. So much I made many many pounds of it for our wedding reception years ago, along with a rather large bowl of avocado dip placed in the center for a nice presentation. Since the two of us arrived late to the reception, and we were told the crowd went through the platter in a matter of minutes. The compliments on our buffet went just as well. To make up for not getting his share that night, I make it at least once every couple of months. Sometimes I alternate it with various ceviche, another dish we love!

The recipe I use is always the same, but I wanted to try something different. This time I made a Caperberry Salmon Tartare with ripe avocado dip, and threw in some Quail Eggs for a surprise. Telling hubby we were having seafood, and only handing him a bottle of Neyers Chardonnay made for a perfect date night!

We've enjoyed past vintages of the Carneros regions of this wine. This wine scored 93 Points by the Wine Spectator, and called, among other things, "delicious". We'll settle for that -- anytime, any wine. Neyers Winery makes this wine in the traditional French Oak winemaking practice used for over a century.

While quail eggs are so small (10-12 g,1 3/8 inches in height), they are packed with many biologically active substances, as they are an abundant source of useful trace elements and vitamins. Their nutritional value is 3-4 times higher than that of chicken eggs. They contain 13% proteins while chicken eggs provide a bit more than 11%. Quail eggs contain 140 μg vitamin B1 compared to 50 μg in chicken eggs, and they contain twice as much vitamins A and B2. They provide five times as much iron and potassium as chicken eggs, and are richer in phosphorus and calcium.

Due to their amazing content, quail eggs are considered as a dietary food. The thing is quail eggs do not have “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and are very rich in “good” (HDL) cholesterol, so even seniors can eat them. Unlike chicken eggs, they do not cause allergy and diathesis. What’s more, they can help fight allergy symptoms due to the ovomucoid protein that is even used in the production of some anti-allergic drugs. Regular consumption of quail eggs may help against many diseases. -Information taken from Genius Cook

I have read that Quail Eggs have been around, and used in Asian medicinal remedies for thousands of years, and many who came into my health food store cafe said it helped with Asthma. There was a period of time when body builders swore by the protein of raw eggs in their diets during the eighties, but not being a medical professional, I can only say that the flavor is richer than regular eggs, and eating a few rather than chicken eggs (many have allergies to chicken eggs) would not hurt. Many people raise Quails to sell and consume the eggs, because they are rather expensive in the market place.

Cooking Quail Eggs-

Shooters- raw Quail eggs came on the Japanese Sushi restaurant scene

We found fried Quail eggs very tasty, but it took me three before I got the nice one in the photo above.

Taking a small serrated knife and 2/3 of the way up the egg begin to gently tap around as evenly as you can to break away the shell, then at the beginning of the break lightly slice into the egg, and pull away the top shell. This will leave you room to pour out the egg for a shooter, or for placing in medium hot oil and fry for about three minutes. Gently lift from oil and drain on paper towel, and then place on top of your favorite ingredients!

Soft boiled Quail Eggs- Soak your eggs in warm water for a few minutes and clean. Place eggs in a pan, cover with cold water (at least 1" above the eggs). Bring water to a rolling boil before removing from heat. Allow eggs to stand in hot water for 10 minutes. Gently stir them occasionally to prevent the yolk from settling to one side. After they cool again gently tap with knife to remove shell. Serve.

Due to their smaller size, it was pointed out to me they are the perfect portion size! Thanks Doc!

Caperberry Salmon Tartare

1/2 lb fresh salmon fillet- sushi grade, remove skin)
fruity, high-quality olive oil
1 small jar pickled Caperberries
1/2 lime
Kala Namek fine sea salt (myspicesage.com)
Chinese fine white pepper

Rinse salmon fillet and pat dry. Cut salmon fillet into small pieces, and place in non-metallic bowl. Drizzle enough olive oil on salmon till pieces become shiny. One squeeze of half lime juice (1 teaspoonful), 1 tablespoon caperberry juice from jar, about 12 smaller caperberries (I smashed a few before adding), sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of Kala Namek fine sea salt, as well as a pinch of Chinese white fine pepper, and toss. Let sit for about 1/2 hour before serving.

Kala Namek fine sea salt is normally used in Indian dishes, and has a slight eggy smell, but the flavor does not intrude on the flavor of the salmon; it is complimented by the Quail Egg addition.

I read that each Quail have their own unique pattern that appears on the eggs they lay. Can this be true?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sweet, Sour, and Salty Rant

I have finally started exploring more Asian dishes as promised in my comments on Asian inspired blog post. The dish pictured is more well known in Chinese cuisine, but the recipe I followed has an added Thai element, Thai Sweet and Sour Pork. And of course with my own touch of maple butternut squash and snow peas on the sweet side addition. The pork had more of the sour tone to fit my mood a few days ago.

Do you find you cook according to your mood about thirty percent of the time? All the rest is about cravings? What we do each day reflects our food choices. Like stress. Eating a bag of chips, skipping the gym, so we can tweet all afternoon kind of mood.

Social Media is taking up so much of my time these days. Therefore not enough time for planning healthy menus for home meals, I feel a little sweet and sour today. Top me off with some salt, like a snail creeping up the front porch. I drop, melting into the pavement, but I still manage to crawl over the thresh hold of my door frame. Home, finally home.

"You have to get into Facebook and Twitter if you blog" I was told by an experienced New Jersey blogger over a year ago.

Geez! I thought I was slowly moving into retirement when I left the professional kitchen full time. I began doing this to relax and 'play' in the kitchen. Ha! I stuck with that plan re-starting my wine club and cross your fingers will have a new kitchen very soon.

Finally my friend and partner in wine, Adrienne talked me into setting up Tweet Deck. Now I am on facebook less and less. I juggle three social networks, work, cook at home, keep house, and say hello to hubby now and then. What was his name gain? I thought having kids made my life flash by. Who has time to relax? I want the sweet parts of life more often. Is it vacation time yet?

Which leads me to the sour part of my post- do you ever wonder why people do not leave comments? Do they really come over and read out posts from Twitter? I am okay with this, I have researched the statistics, and whys? of how it all works. We adapt. If someone likes what you have to say they will come back. I quickly glance, read, and if time I leave a sincere comment. Google analytic tracker (others as well) is available for your site. Great way to keep track of traffic.

I would rather have no comments than have negative remarks left on a piece. Believe you me we all get them. There are those out there that feel they do it better than me, and feel they have to point out mistakes. Blog police, trolls, attention seekers, cyber stalkers, the list goes on.

Having a bad day? Please purchase a punching bag, and if you feel the need to add my photo or blog post to make yourself feel better, please do. I may have beat you to the punch.Ahhh venting feels almost as good as my Thai Sweet and Sour Pork tasted.

Since I started using twitter on a regular basis, my hits have gone up tremendously, and I have met so many great people. My comments have stayed the same. New blood replaces old, but its all good. I do this because I enjoy sharing what I have learned, as well as what I feel was a good food experience.

Relax and be yourself. Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t have to fit in. Like it or not most recipes for a good life are sweet and sour, even a little salty. There are no bad dishes out there. In reality we are doing this for our selves.

Something Sweet: I have received a box of assorted salts from My Spice Sage, and the extra box they sent me is yours if you do these following things-

Follow Me: 
Food ~ Wine ~ Fun, Partners In Wine Club, and CookAppeal on Twitter
Retweet this post on Twitter, and Facebook- with @myspicesage @cookappeal attached in message
Leave a comment on how you would use your set of salt during the month of March!

The winner will be announced the first week of April, on Wine-Down Wednesday.The names will go into a hat, my 'inherited' grandfathers Irish cap in honor of St. Patrick's Day!

I will be posting various recipes and information on each salt included in my set! Murry Sea Salt was used in the above recipe for Thai Sweet and Sour Pork. Psst! There are at least 12 bottles, large bottles of salt!

Murry River Sea Salt-

The Murray River is the greatest of Australia's rivers. The source of its water is the snowy Australian Alps. Salt is a natural feature in many Australian landscapes. The Murray-Darling Basin’s low rainfall and high evaporation have combined to concentrate salt in the groundwater. This salt is produced naturally from the underground brines in the Murray Darling Basin. A red pigment, carotene, is secreted from the salt tolerant algae. The underground saline waters have been laying dormant for thousands of years. By utilizing these waters the environment is improved and a beautiful salt is produced.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wine-Down Wednesday- Let's Talk Casual

Not very often do I get in the mood for a hamburger at home or eating out. I try and stay away from fast food joints, and prefer a good steak. I had the opportunity to take some photos at a friends place, with good lighting, I decided what I wanted to start my photo session with a good juicy and sloppy cheese burger with some good caramelized onions and a fried egg.

Eating casual food with beer and wine is not unheard of; its a down right needed comfort meal if you ask me!

A Kobe beef patty, bacon, caramelized onion, fried egg, pickles, lettuce, and tomato on a brioche roll. Served with seasoned white sweet potato fries. Would a beer or a glass of wine be the perfect match for this dish? Of course both will work, but which ones?

BEER: Palm Belgium Ale, 5.2% alc/vol was imported into the US in 2007, and distribution has slowly made its way across the north east by way of Connecticut. Now offered on draft in many restaurants, and can be found in Whole Foods in bottles.

Tasting Notes: A top fermented beer, gives off a typical bitter sweet aroma and dry refreshing taste. Palm is not a bad ale if you want something unobtrusive and gentle; it has a reasonable flavor, but is rather on the bland side of the Belgian scale (my girlie taste buds agree, only because I normally prefer wine, but have enjoyed Hoegaarden with an orange slice). I have been told during Christmas another version of this beer can take on a more promising appearance- slightly stronger version Palm Dubbel, but a marginal improvement in their opinion.

Brewing style: Speciale Belge. This designation is strictly reserved for amber beer brewed in the Provinces of Brabant, Antwerp, East Flanders and Hainault. PALM dominates this segment in Belgium.

Taste profile: Toasty, maltiness, some spice and orange notes and very clean finish- great with fattiness of the beef!

Caramelized flavors of Brown Ale, or Pale Ales will also pair nicely with a good char on a burger.

Fun Fact: The Japanese are pairing German and Belgium style beers with Sushi.

Wine Pairings: Barbera, Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valpolicella, Zinfandel

Many of you in the past, as well as myself do not find a Beaujolais the popular choice as we do these other listings. Due to the fact as I have mentioned before the first growth bottles that come out the 3rd week of November have to be drunk immediately, but would work with this because it is young and fruity. Beyond the first of the year it will take on other flavor notes that would not make a good match.

The better choices: Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais Crus- will work fine with this dish.

Heavier Red Wines (chewy on the mouth feel) pair well with the fattiness of beef, and or meat, caramelized onions (sweet pairs well with fruitiness), as well as the cheese on the burger. Nothing too young or tannic (preferably aged), or it will over power the whole dish. The balance should be that neither over power the others flavors- a rule for most pairings. I omitted raw onion, as it tends to be strong on the palate and would be an overpowering flavor, but sometimes that is how you might roll.

My pick- Cabernet Sauvignon; it is the dominant red grape variety on the left-bank of Bordeaux; is popular in many other countries including Argentina, Australia, Chile, and South Africa. Cabernet Sauvignon is widely grown in the United States and is the signature grape of California’s Napa Valley.

I was never fond of sipping casually on a Cab; it always does however go great with food. Meats are the choice if you plan to serve up beef. They hold up with their strong bold mouth feel, and the bold ripe fruit flavors of currant. Chilean, South African, New Zealand and Australian are reasonably priced and good bargain Cab based at $25 and under per bottle. Finding them for $12 a bottle like the New Zealand Pillar 'Padthaway' Box Red I paired with lamb is an excellent find.

Shoot a good bowl of stew, smothered steak, or even a chuck roast cooked in a red wine sauce (comfort favorites in this 'snowmageddon') would suit my mood right now.

Wine and beer are a matter of taste, so go try one and share what you think!

A Partners In Wine Club post...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Things We Long For

Today I want to share this wonderful chocolate that you can order online, Chocster.com. The website is fun; it reminded me of a game where you pick your hero- Dark, Semi-dark, Milk, or White Chocolate, and then add armor sweet, savory, nuts, or decorative tops for each bar!

So many fun and crazy toppings, and when it arrives it comes with this cute bite taken out!

You go check it out!

Hubby liked the white chocolate I picked out for him with goji berries.

I ordered five bars of mixed toppings, and it was hard to stop myself from wanting more!

What are the benefits of eating chocolate?

What is it that makes chocolate so irresistible?

A large part of chocolate's allure, of course, lies in the taste - a deliciously rich concoction that satisfies the most intense craving. But several chemical reactions are also at work. For one thing, chocolate stimulates the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation similar to the "runner's high" a jogger feels after running several miles.

Chocolate also contains a neurotransmitter, serotonin, that acts as an anti-depressant. Other substances, such as theobromine and phenylethylamine, have a stimulating effect. However, the truth is that scientists are still not positive how the over three-hundred chemicals contained in chocolate make us feel so good.

Why do I like chocolate? Well I like dark bitter chocolate because of the intense flavor. To me it is almost as enjoyable as those who love coffee. My favorite of the five bars I purchased from Chocster.com...was the Dark Chocolate bar with Wasabi Pea!

I am also planning on making something fun with one of the bars, but with the snow hitting us again over the weekend, and then today being a special day, I am taking a few days off to catch up.

Anelisa Diane Dillion 3/1/86-7/14/00