Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dessert for Dinner

There's nothing quite like the aroma of sliced bananas simmering in white truffle oil and chocolate wine...what did I just say? Yep, a late night hankering for a quick bite somehow evolved into the most off-the-wall dish I have ever concocted in the kitchen...
and somewhow the ChocoVine chocolate wine, a blend of Dutch chocolate and red wine from Holland, ended up being the least random ingredient of all.
 Added to this eclectic dish were chocolate bon bons...yep, I said bon bons...directly from the freezer to the frying pan...then enter the chili powder, sea salt, cracked black pepper and cayenne folded into low carb pasta.
The trick was in the pairing, which was an '06 Castillo Rioja, a Spanish Crianza (for reds, aged two years with at least six months in oak). This wine was sultry and inviting, and I tasted sour cherries and pepper, which melded well with the chili powder in the dish and was a really nice counterbalance to the rich sweetness of the chocolate and banana.
To be honest, this was one of the best things I have ever tasted, and has inspired me to ponder a possible culinary skill enhancement via cooking classes. Now what to pair with Caramel Apple Chicken...
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vino Chick Partners with for Close Up on Wine and Words in Walla Walla

As part of my partnership with, I wrote an article recapping my unforgettable adventures in Walla Walla during the 2010 North American Wine Blogger's Conference.

Here's the link:

Thanks to editor Jeff Leve, and here's to many more collaborations in the future!

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Late Night Rhone and Ribeye

Its no secret that Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CDP for short) is my favorite I'm always looking for an excuse to pop the cork on this Treasure of the Southern Rhone, and a late night meal provided that opportunity recently.
I opened a delicious and extremely affordable ($22 retail) '06 CDP from Domaine de Cristia, which is mostly Grenache and loads of blackberry fruit. I discovered this little gem on a recent visit to The 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro in Palm Desert, and was impressed with its quality and value. 
Well balanced, this vintage was a great match for a juicy ribeye steak topped with charred garlic and seared in olive oil and some of the Cristia. The slight spice in the wine was a nice accompaniment to a side of chili powder-dusted snow peas, and the perfect last-minute meal on a chilly winter's night in the desert.
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sangiovese & Sauce: Italian Vino Meets Up with a Popular Chain's New Pie Recipe

What to nosh on for a casual Sunday night dinner? Sometimes there's nothing easier or tastier than pizza and red wine.
I quickly discovered that Santa Cristina Sangiovese REALLY likes Domino's Pizza, especially the thin crust variety topped with extra sauce and onion.
The popular chain's newer recipe for pie seems to have more flavor and zip to its peppery sauce and smoother-than-usual and slightly-browned cheese, a great match for the bold fruit and hint of earth I found in the wine.
Add some Sunday Night Football into the mix and I had a first down...down the hatch, that is.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Day of Vineyards, Friends and Secondary Fermentation in Temecula Wine Country

Wine tasting with friends is one of my treasured activities, and a recent trip to Temecula Wine Country proved to be a refreshing change of scenery and a day of new discoveries.
At Mount Palomar Winery, the Castelletto Cortese, an interesting white full of rich pear and citrus was a standout favorite amongst our group.
An '08 Winemaker's Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel at Calloway was spicy and full of dark fruit, with "General Tso's Chicken" on the nose (I swear)...needless to say, there were a new good laughs had at my expense over the unconventional comparison.
Our final stop of the afternoon was Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards, a favorite spot for those looking to relax in a bucolic outdoor setting while sipping.
Here, winemaker Bill Wilson explains the origins of his acclaimed almond champagne, a sweet liquid that has attained cult status here in Southern California:
As the quality of the wines from this region continue to improve, I have a feeling my visits will become more frequent as well...
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Some Phabulous Vino, Cheesesteak, Cheesecake and a Phantastic Phillies Victory...

What can I say? I am a diehard Philadelphia Phillies fan, and Game 2 of the National League Championship Series was as nervewracking as it was gonna get for us. To combat my extreme sports-induced stress, I employed the expert assistance of one of Philly's own, Greg Foster.
Greg is now known as 'Chef Cheesesteak,' in lieu of his magnificant abilities to meld grilled meat and cheese into a beautiful East Coast-inspired delicacy.On this night, our dinner was made to order, whether it was Provolone and onion, or veggies and Swiss.

For our wine, I chose a Manina Cabernet, a great value from Chile's Valle Central. With dark red fruit and tobacco, the earthiness of this bottling was a great match for the grilled meat, mushroom and onion we were devouring at a rapid pace. 
For dessert, a Cote du Rhone was a smooth pairing for some decadent cheesecake, courtesy of a friend with a penchant for the sweet confections of Manhattan in the Desert. 
The Phils did pull off a win that night, only to lose to the eventual World-Series Champs in the next round. But on this night, our Phillies' hearts, and bellies, were happy. Can't wait for next season!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Smoky Superhero October

There's nothing I like more than the smell of Fall: that delightful chill in the morning air, a soft breeze at night and smoky, fireplace-inspired wine and food to match.
On this night, it was an '08 Tulip Hill Petite Sirah, full of dark red fruit and damp earth. Trader Joe's smoked oysters met up with this leathery, sandalwood-redolent beauty and fell in love.
The meaty, wood-smoked bivalve's were a substantial friend to this wine, which I envision myself sipping beside a warm hearth in an Aspen ski lodge. Suddenly, Wonder Woman (1970's Lynda Carter version-best outfit, for sure) appears and tosses her truth lasso around Vino Chick, demanding that I reveal the source of these culinary treasures, all as she deflects the intense flavor of each sip and bite with her vintage bullet-proof bracelets......yes, I do have an active imagination... and yes, this stuff is THAT good...
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Epicuro and Champagne Uncorked On An Epic Night in the History of Phillies Baseball

It is no secret I bleed red...well red and white, that is. And I'm not talking the vino variety, although there has been some speculation that if a needle were to prick my skin, a lightly-oaked Syrah may spill forth. No, I am a die-hard Philadelphia Phillies fan, and our ace Roy Halladay was on the mound, the National League East Championship at stake. 
Naturally, I needed a good wine to accompany me as I watched this epic night in the history of the Fightin' Phils unfold. I chose a Salice Salentino from Epicuro, a terrific value red from Trader Joe's, and a wonderful companion during this two-hit shutout, title-winning performance.
This wine is full of big juicy fruit and earth, not unlike my salt-of-the-earth Phillies. It also has attitude and character, just like outfielder Jayson Werth, who racked up four RBI's on this historic night.
I whipped up some portobello mushroom ravioli topped with shaved black truffle cheese (my new food obsession) to accompany my bottle and ball game.
The combination of woodsy spores and forest-like berries were a great match for a classic finish, as seen in the video below: 

Thanks to Jayson and Roy Halladay...who uncorked their own piece of baseball lore tonight...and to my Broad Street boys, I'll be seeing you in October!!
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Burger and Some Wine, From Venice to Bali Ha'i

I'm totally and helplessly in love with old films, specifically those that air on Turner Classic Movies.
So on a recent day off, I decided to treat myself to a bottle of Merlot and splurge on a smoky cheddar bacon patty and sweet potato fries from Grill-A-Burger in Palm Springs.
Turner was featuring a series of films starring Rossano Brazzi, a hunky Italian actor with blazing eyes and a smoldering screen presence. First up was Summertime (1955) with Katherine Hepburn.
This particular Merlot was from Echelon on the Central Coast, and full of blueberries and warm, smoky vanilla.
It was a great match for my juicy, chargrilled burger, and a terrific companion for the intense scenes between Brazzi and Hepburn, followed by his wartime chemistry with Mitzi Gaynor, leading lady in the epic and wondrous musical South Pacific (1958).

"I'm as corny as Kansas in August, I'm as warm as blueberry pie..."
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Have You Any Dreams You'd Like to Sell? A Night of Mac and Wine

It is no secret that wine is my passion, but something else that gets my blood pumping is music; specifically the sweet sounds of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.
I enjoyed the best of both worlds recently when PS Wine hosted a tasting and screening of the band's 1997 reunion tour concert DVD The Dance. The DVD was courtesy of loyal PS Winers Dale and Tanya; the Joel Gott Zinfandel spicy and full bodied, much like my 'Gypsy' Stevie.
There's something special to me about these classic 70's rockers and a nice glass of vino. Both are smooth and sultry, always hinting at something and leaving you wanting to share in more of their's one partygoers take on the magic:

 'I can still hear you sayin' you will never break the chain...'
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Truffle and Wine, So Divine

Sometimes the most memorable meals are those that are most simple: fresh ingredients, an inventive recipe and a little passion go a long way when crafting that special repast.
An impromtu dinner with friends started with sliced Jersey tomatos drizzled with blueberry balsamic vinegar, a dash of salt and pepper and topped with fresh basil and grated Italian truffle cheese.
Their hunger temporarily kept at bay, I turned to creating our main dish as they sipped on a snappy and lemony Pinot Grigio from Contadino.
I seared scallops and shrimp in olive oil and butter, then added garlic, white wine and crushed red pepper. Served over linguini, I topped it all off with that same addictive truffled wonder.
Our wine was an '01 Payva Crianza, a blend of Tempranillo and Graciano grapes. Full of red cherry and cinnamon, it was great match for the earthiness in what has become our favorite cheese. The carmelized flavors of the sea were skillfully extracted by the warm, brandy-like flavors in the wine.
Smiles all around, with a built-in anticipation for our next feast.
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