Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birthday Dinner

Yesterday, my fabulous husband and daughter sent me out for a few hours of cross-country skiing, so they could bake me a birthday cake and prepare a gourmet meal. As you can see, the cake turned out beautifully! I'm not sure if I'm excited or bummed that my husband can make a better cake than I can. I consider myself a baker, but cakes have always been my nemesis. I can bake a killer loaf of bread, even at 10,500 feet, but a moist and beautiful cake eludes me. Well, I had no complaints (except extreme fullness), while eating Brian's chocolate cake with lemon curd filling and chocolate butter cream frosting!

Dinner was wonderful, as well. Although my husband is a classically-trained French chef, he doesn't often have the time or opportunity to go all-out with a meal these days. Last night, he outdid himself. We started with steamed artichokes, a family favorite. The main course was lamb T-bones, coated with Dijon mustard and an herbs-de-Provence infused breading. He seared the lamb first before breading, and then again after. The result was a crispy breading over rare lamb. He served it over a shallot cream sauce. Roasted red potatoes and cauliflower on the side. Fantastic.

For wine, we had a California Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 vintage, which will remain nameless. When starting this blog, I emphasized the fact that I am not a wine critic, and I would not make any negative comments about specific wines. And to be fair, there was nothing wrong with this wine. I think my palate is just changing. This wine would sell for over $100 on a restaurant wine list. It was exactly what it should be, fruit-forward, with firm, but softening tannins, but that was pretty much it. Kind of one-dimensional, I thought. Am I just off California Cabs? I have had the great fortune to be tasting some phenomenal old-world wines recently, and I'm digging them. I recently had the Vina Sastre Crianza, Ribera del Duero 2006. It's a big, juicy Tempranillo, with structure and depth, and a fabulous pairing for grilled meat. Then there's the Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbieres, 2006, a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault from southern France, with all of it's old-world, funky, wet-horse aromas. And the COS Cerasula di Vittoria, 2007, a deep and complex blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato, from Sicily. I am enamored with all of these wines. Am I just developing an old-world palate? I think I am. There are some that believe that you cannot have both an old-world and a new-world palate. I am not one of them. I may be in the honeymoon phase with old-world wines, but I am certainly not giving up my love of California. So, to all my friends who grow, make and sell California wines - I'm still with you! Just loving my wine journey through Europe right now...Join me?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon & Orange Wine (not together..)

How many of you foodies made Boeuf Bourguignon after watching Julie & Julia? I did. I didn't even really have to think about it; just got up the next morning, pulled out Julia's book and went to work. It's actually one of her easier recipes, and delicious! We had it on top of shredded potato gratin and a bottle, not Burgundy. I had a lovely bottle of Italian red open, the COS Cerasulo di Vittoria Classico 2007. It's a blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato from the island of Sicily. With it's dark, plummy, earthy notes and medium-high acidity, it was fabulous with the Boeuf.

But, what I really want to write about today is orange wine. This week I tasted the Movia Lunar, 2006, from the Brda region of Slovenia. It is the most fascinating wine I have ever tasted. Made from the Ribolla grape, it is a completely naturally, biodynamically made wine. After being harvested, the grapes are put into custom-made, oak barriques and put to rest for seven months. No yeast is added, and the barriques are undisturbed until the wine is bottled, unfined and unfiltered. There is oxygen contact throughout the fermentation process. The result is a wine that is distinctly orange in color, and a bit cloudy (due to the lees that is not filtered out before bottling). The nose is of orange, apricots and mineral; it is almost sherry-like, due to the oxidation that has occurred. But on the palate, it is beautifully crisp and refreshing. It developed dramatically over the course of an hour, with the nose becoming less fruity and more almondy.
If you would like to read more about orange wines, the February issue of Food & Wine Magazine
has a story featuring the Movia and a few others.
Apologies to my readers for the lapse in writing. Please keep reading, eating and drinking!