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My Little Valentine

Valentine’s Day is coming up quickly.  While this traditionally has been a holiday I’ve shrugged off, my husband loves to go all out and give me roses and chocolates.  On one occasion, I got a teddy bear and the flowers.  Last year he gave me custom jewelry with his and my son’s birthstones.

Needless to say, he’s changed my attitude about Valentine’s Day.  I wholeheartedly admit I love flowers and candy.  To be given those things from him makes them even more special.

img_3421Usually I cook him his favorite meal for this holiday.  This year, I decided to do something different.

My husband is Cuban.  There is very little that he loves more than a pastelito.  We live walking distance to Porto’s Cuban Bakery, which has all sorts of Cuban and Cuban-inspired treats.  We used to go there all the time.  It’s cheap.  It’s delicious.  The food is fresh.  The coffee is strong.  The lines are…long.  Oh…that’s right.  It usually takes a minimum of an hour to get in and out of Porto’s, even if the items have been ordered ahead.

Regardless, I wanted to make him something.

Guava pastries are not difficult.  They are basically puff pastry, guava paste, and the optional cream cheese.  While they are always delicious, mine have not always been pretty.  In fact, it seems like no matter how hard I try, they always turn out pretty ugly.  For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make him something beautiful.img_3431

I decided to make my husband a Cuban-inspired guava macaron with a guava paste center and guava/cream cheese frosting around the edge.  Macarons are ALWAYS pretty, right?

I experimented with this macaron during the holidays.  I wanted to gift them to his family and close friends.  However, the humidity and constant rainfall in Atlanta this last December made it so the shells cracked and wouldn’t form correctly.  They tasted great, but weren’t the right texture.  They were the perfect pink color img_3432with a dusting of sparkly rose gold.  Yet, the finished result looked sad.

I was so disappointed.  I tried twice.  I failed twice.  Finally, I gave up.  They got devoured anyway.

I hadn’t made a macaron since then, so I was trepidatious – especially since desert dry Los Angeles has been wet.

I took a breath and started to sift…

Happily, they came together!  My husband was so excited, he couldn’t wait until Valentine’s Day to eat them.  That’s fine with me.

 

BASIC MACARON SHELL (Click here for the recipe)

GUAVA/CREAM CHEESE FILLING

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Match the macaron shells into pairs and lay them out to fill.
  2. Place the cream cheese into a bowl for a stand mixer.
  3. Cut the guava paste into slices and place in a small pot.
  4. Add a splash of water to the guava paste. Heat on medium until most of the paste has broken down into syrup.  Keep stirring until there are no lumps.  Then let it cool slightly.
  5. Pour half of the guava syrup into the bowl with the cream cheese and begin to blend with the whip attachment.
  6. While the cream cheese is blending, place the remaining guava syrup into a piping bag and pipe a small circle in the middle of the macaron shell.
  7. Add the confectioner’s sugar to the cream cheese and blend together until completely combined.
  8. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into a piping bag.
  9. Pipe the cream cheese around the guava paste, leaving some space on the edges for it to spread.
  10. Top it with the matched shell and move on to the next one.
  11. Refrigerate macarons to keep fresh.

 

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The Cure for the Holiday Hangover

It’s January.  Most of us are trying to eat better and work out more.  However, it’s generally cold in the mornings and we’re all feeling a little sluggish from the holidays.

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January may be the time of resolution keeping, but it is also the time of the Holiday Hangover.  For that, I like nothing more than a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

My husband and I have been grinding coffee and brewing it up in our Italian espresso maker.  Add a touch of Splenda and some 2% steamed milk, we have the beginning of a productive day.  It’s our slice of morning heaven.

However, do you know what makes it even better?  A little treat.

That’s right – a treat.  An itty-bitty, something yummy is the perfect way to start the day – even if it isn’t on our diet.  That’s where the Coffee Cookie comes in!

I drink alcohol from time to time, as you may have guessed from the title of my blog.  On

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one boozy night, I had a hankering for some cookies.  It was around 2am, and we all know nothing good for us happens at that time.  That cookie craving I had wasn’t just a desire, it was a necessity.  Not only did cookies sound amazing, I knew we needed to have them to head off that morning hangover.

So, I made cookies.

Only, in my drunken haze, I forgot part of the recipe and put in way too much flour and cinnamon.  When I realized my error, I thought the cookies would all be ruined.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  Instead, the Coffee Cookie was born!

This cookie is denser than your average cookie and it’s not as sweet.  It is truly the perfect pairing for a nice hot cup of java.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter (softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Add Ins: (You can customize your cookie with any of these or add in your favorite cookie additions)

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin (bake for a couple minutes longer)
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup dried blueberries
  • ½ cup shaved coconut

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blend the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until completely combined
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon
  5. Add the flour mixture one spoonful at a time into the butter mixture until all of the ingredients are combined
  6. Stir in any add-ins
  7. Spoon the dough onto cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on a wire cooling rack

Bangladeshi Chicken Curry

Many years ago, in a time that seems more like a dream than reality, I lived in London for a spell.  It was a fantastic time of my life.  I had attended a summer session at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, home to such great actors as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Alan Rickman, and Sir Richard Attenborough.

That summer fueled a desire in me to really hit the pavements as an actor.  Having lived in Los Angeles my whole life, London called to me for a change of venue.  I was young.  I was eager.  I was a starving actor – literally.

Luckily, I became familiar with an area called Portobello Road, in Notting Hill.  Yes, the same Notting Hill as the movie, which showed the street on the weekends, when it became a bustling outdoor flea/antique market. The Portobello Road I knew, was the place to get good quality kosher meats and fresh-from-the-farm vegetables for cheap.

img_3070I discovered this area when a Bangladeshi actor friend helped me rent a small room at Bangladesh Center.  It was close to a Tube Station and was just a stone’s throw away from the market.  The room was about $20 per week.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the lodging in such a great locale.  I hung out with the other tenants and was immersed in their culture.  It was there that I learned how to make curry.  It was a hearty meal that could last for days, stretch the dollar (or the pound, as the case was), and satisfy a rumbling tummy.

Over the years, I’ve altered the recipe a bit and have made it my own.  This is so easy to do with curry, since we never measured ingredients and changed it up, based on what fresh vegetables were available at the time.  I always used chicken for my img_3067curry, but any protein should be fine.  In London, I purchased drumsticks because they were inexpensive and flavorful.  I would dump them into the stew with the skin and bone.  Now I usually buy breast or thigh meat and cube it to make it easier to eat.

This has become one of my favorite comfort dishes.  Not only does it remind me of my London days, but it is tasty and filling.  It is a lovely choice for a cold day.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 3 tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-2 fresh Indian green chilis, diced (optional – you can usually find these in an Indian market)
  • 2 pounds chicken
  • 1 onion, sliced in long pieces
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped in small pieces (you want the broccoli to practically melt into the sauce)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4 eggs, boiled

Directions:

  1. Place all the spices, chilis and oil into a pot and mix into a paste.
  2. Cook on medium heat until it starts to sizzle and you can feel the spices in your nose and the back of your throat.
  3. Add in chicken and stir until coated and the outside is seared.
  4. Add in onions and stir until they start to become glassy.
  5. Add in tomato, broccoli, and potatoes, stir until coated.
  6. Pour in the water until it just covers everything in the pot. Bring it to a boil.
    1. For fast curry, keep it boiling for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Do not cover it.  Simmer until it reduces down to half (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally.
    2. If you have time to develop the flavors, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, uncover the pot and return the curry to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces to half, stirring occasionally.
  7. While the curry is being made, boil the eggs in a separate pot.  Turn off heat, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Deshell the eggs and put them in with the curry.  I like to make small slits in the eggs so the sauce can get inside.
  8. Serve with rice.

Macarons – Those Temperamental Little B!+(#es

French macarons have been a long-time favorite dessert of mine.  I love the colors, flavors, and that slightly chewy, tender cookie with a fragile crust.  I heard they could be fussy, so I never tried to make them.  Instead, I left them to the French pastry experts.

That is, until I caught a video on making macarons.  It looked so easy!  What could go wrong?

Well, as it turns out, a lot of things.

Let’s start with this:  If you read my blog or know me in person, you know I am very bad at sticking to the recipe.  I enjoy “cooking with love.”  In other words, I like throwing things together and making something yummy.

The first time I made macarons, I followed the directions of the video I had watched.  These were very tasty, but the video left out a very important step:

Sift, sift, sift.  Then sift again.  If in doubt, sift.

E31C59FB-B4AC-4D3F-B4CA-016881608D2AAs I said, the first macarons I created were delicious.  However, they were grainy.  They were completely the wrong texture.  They were not smooth.  They were not shiny.  They didn’t have that beautiful, easily fractured crust.  Nor did they finish with a slight, chewy bite that dissolves beautifully on the tongue.  These were dense, with a typical cookie texture.  I was disappointed.

I tried the recipe again, this time sifting through once.  They had a better texture the second time, but still lacked the true qualities of that delicate macaron.

I decided to give up.

However, just as I made this decision, my friend Jenn asked if she could pay me to make macarons for a bridal shower she was hosting.  I was so flattered, I accepted.

Then I panicked.

Then I became obsessed.

I had to up my game!

My husband gifted me a book on macarons.  I “poured” over the pages and familiarized myself with the different techniques.  Apparently, I had used the Swiss technique before – the simplest one.  After talking with Jenn about what she wanted and consulting the book, I decided to try out the Italian method, where the sugar is cooked before pouring it into the meringue.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I am about to enlighten you.

In my research I came to understand that the shell of a macaron (the cookie part) is essentially a meringue, with almond flour (or any nut based flour) added to it.  This explains why the shell is so light and fragile.  This is also why it is absolutely essential to sift that flour and powdered sugar before adding it to the meringue.  Any clump, any larger grain, even any slightly unclean bowl, can change the texture of the shell and ruin that shiny, smooth finish.

Seriously.

As if that isn’t bad enough, I also discovered through trial and error that even something as simple as ridges on a baking sheet can change, not only the appearance of the macaron, but also the rise of it.  It can flatten out.

Exhausted yet?  Well, wait for this…

Then, even if you have sifted five times, cooked your sugar, made sure every bowl was pristine, AND used flat baking sheets, the temperature of the kitchen can botch a batch!

Seriously.

I made the mistake of having dinner prepping in the slow cooker one time.  The whole batch was ruined.  Well, not ruined.  Strangely enough, the macarons were the perfect texture three days later.  However, they were initially hard and many were cracked.01EA55AD-6FCE-4F0A-867A-D98DE5F1806E

Finally, I have a few more tips and tricks:

  1. Buy a food scale.  You need to weigh all of your ingredients for macaron shells to come out right (don’t worry about the filling – that is much less of a science and more of an art),
  2. Make sure you have older eggs, preferably bought the week before you’re going to make the macarons, and have them at room temperature before making the meringue,
  3. If you can, use a silicone baking sheet with circles to guide you. That way each shell should be close in size,
  4. Once the shells are piped, slam them hard on the kitchen counter about 10-20 times to get rid of any air bubbles,
  5. Give yourself time! Make the macarons about 2-3 days ahead of when you want them to be consumed.

In the end, the macarons for the bridal shower both looked and tasted great.  Some were not as perfect as I would have liked, but they were close enough.  Jenn loved them, and asked me to make them again for a Holiday Open House she was hosting for her jewelry business, Bella Sparkle.604DFFA4-22B9-4DE0-832C-AB2F64BE1FFE

Since my first time, I have experimented with a variety of flavors, including key lime pie, raspberry/lemon, and s’mores.  Once I got past the unpredictable and moody nature of macarons, I’ve had a great time coming up with different flavors and designs.  I even created a macaron for Jenn’s party with her favorite flavors (crème brulee) and color (turquoise).  I still think the shells are temperamental little b!+(#es, but I also think they’re fun.

 

BASIC MACARON SHELL – Italian Method

Ingredients:

 

Directions:

  1. Sift the almond flour 2 times.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into the almond flour, then combine thoroughly.
  3. Sift the almond flour/powdered sugar 2-3 more times, put aside.
  4. In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites at medium speed with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  5. While the egg whites are whipping, cook the sugar with the water in a small pot until it reaches 235 degrees, whisking while it cooks (you do not want this to burn). If you do not have a thermometer, you will know the sugar is ready when it is boiling rapidly for about 5 minutes.  Note:  This process will take much longer than you think it will!
  6. When the sugar reaches 235 degrees, quickly pour it down the side of the bowl with the egg whites while still whipping (the heat of the sugar can cook the eggs if you don’t keep them moving).
  7. Increase the speed of the mixer and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. This will take about 8-10 minutes.  You want to be able to turn the bowl over and not have the meringue move.67CA1389-F6D7-451F-A51B-8036B6873874
  8. Create a well (or a hole) in the middle of the almond flour/sugar. Pour the meringue in the center.D5832821-2274-4C80-84F8-4D72772EF1C2
  9. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula. Be sure to completely blend the meringue and almond flour and sugar so it’s flowing, but don’t over mix (those shells will crack!).  A124CC4C-9D8F-4120-8C6E-C7044481225D
  10. Add a couple of drops of food coloring and blend through.
  11. Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a round tip. (Tip:  Put the piping bag in a drinking glass – it will be much easier to fill).
  12. Pipe the meringue onto the silicone mat or baking sheet, making small, circles, about 1 inch wide (try to make them uniform – a guided mat or the squares on parchment paper should help you). Cover any extra batter with plastic until you are ready to pipe it.6C933736-DBDE-4705-9B6A-78786D7AE6BB
  13. Firmly tap the baking sheet about 10-20 times to release any air in the batter.
  14. Let the shells sit for 30-60 minutes, until you can lightly touch them without denting the outside.CC1AECBD-3466-45B9-A938-CBAAF872AE63
  15. Heat the oven to 300 degrees, then bake one sheet at a time, for 9 – 12 minutes, depending upon how hot your oven gets. Vent the oven once or twice throughout the baking process.  You want the air to get in there.
  16. Remove the shells and move the silicone mat to a cooling rack. After a few minutes, gently remove the shells from the mat.

 

For the filling, your imagination is your limit!  Just think:  lemon curd, lime curd, caramel, marshmallow, Nutella, chocolate ganache, guava, or even combinations of flavors!  Just enjoy and delight your senses!  Below is a very easy raspberry buttercream recipe.

EASY RASPBERRY BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • ½ cup raspberry jam with seeds

 

Directions:

  1. Blend together the butter, sugar and raspberry jam until completely combined.
    • If you would like it to be thicker, add more sugar.
    • If you would like it to be thinner, add some milk.
  2. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag.
  3. Pair the macaron shells, matching them by closest size and shape.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto one of the shells, leaving some space on the edges for it to spread.47A796BF-C71F-48FF-BCFE-2F00A256BA3A
  5. Top it with the matched shell and move on to the next one.
  6. Refrigerate macarons to keep fresh.
  7. Take a deep breath… YOU ARE DONE! Pour yourself a glass of wine and put your feet up.  Cheers!DF853D2A-9642-4306-9363-7DF0739B6009

 

 

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Featured Winery of the Week – Story of Soil

 

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Story of Soil is a hidden gem located in a charming bungalow off the main hub in Los Olivos. It is tucked away and has that feeling of being a special place only few people know about. The rustic elegance inside alludes to the wines this place is dedicated to:  a balance of robust flavor with finesse.

The lineup of wines is impressive – not just for their quality, but also for the unusual offering of a few varietals: Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s native grape and a relative newcomer to California, as well as Gamay, a French varietal known for being used in Beaujolais.  All are small batch wines, with grapes sourced from local vineyards.  The average case count is 150 per wine, with a total of about 1,100 cases.d312847f-83c5-412b-8129-5746d65fd561

It’s clear Winemaker Jessica Gasca has dedicated her life to the crafting of wine.  From vineyard internship to apprenticeship to creating her own, her single varietal wines and winemaking style are undeniably a labor of love.

Wines include:

  • 2016 Sierra Madre Pinot Noir
  • 2017 Martian Gamay Noir
  • 2015 Gold Coast Pinot Noir
  • 2016 Duvarita Pinot Noir
  • 2017 Slide Hill Vineyard Grenache
  • 2015 Larner Vineyard Syrah
  • 2017 Mirabella Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2016 JSV Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2016 Duvarita Syrah

Demeter Certified Beckman Vineyards

My trip to Santa Barbara Wine Country began with a stop at Beckman Vineyards. This has been one of my long-time favorite wineries, but it also had been a long time since I visited. My partner in wine, Adrienne and I were also on a quest for knowledge about Biodynamic farming. So since this is one of the better known Demeter Certified producers, it seemed natural to stop by.

We got to sample some gorgeous wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Rosé, a SGMC Blend (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise), and an remarkable 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon that didn’t have the faintest hint of actually being that young. Every one of them was well balanced, expertly crafted and absolutely divine! I had to resist both the temptation to join the Wine Club as well as not buy up every bottle I could (and couldn’t) afford. All told, I walked out with four bottles, but I am highly tempted to order more. And join their Wine Club…what? Yeah…

Anyway, we got some information on Biodynamic farming, but really just enough to whet our palates and leave us wanting more…

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@beckmenvineyards

@adrienneastrology

#beckmanwinery #beckmanvineyards #santabarbarawinecountry #happycanyon #biodynamicfarming #demetercertified #santaynezwine #winecountry #californiawine #partnerinwine #winetime #winetasting #tastingwine #winenotes #wineblogger #viticulture #vines #grapes #winelife #winelifestyle

Palate Fatigue

Posts about my quick trip to Santa Barbara Wine Country are coming…but first!! Let’s talk about PALATE FATIGUE. What are your tricks and tips to avoid it?

There are a few things I do:

🍷1. The first thing I do is share tastings. I know for most of you this might sound like sacrilege. However, I find sharing tastings not only keeps me honest and clear, but I’m able to taste more before my palate decides it’s done.

🍿2. I like to break up tasting with some food or coffee. It doesn’t have to be a lot. A handful of popcorn helps. It’s just nice to refresh and reset.

💦3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I’m sure this is not news to any of you, but drinking a lot of water helps to keep things fresh.

👅4. When visiting tasting rooms, I rarely hit more than 3 or 4 in one day. Wine events and conferences are a different creature (you will see me spitting at those 😮). At tasting rooms, I like to sip, enjoy and really take in the wine along with the ambiance that brand has created. There are only so many hours in the day and so much wine you can actually drink at one go. 3-4 tasting rooms is about all my palate can take.

Spanakorizo with Garlic Shrimp (*or Chicken)

Nobody said being a mom is easy.  However, nobody said it would be extremely difficult to find any kind of time for myself.  My workouts have gone mostly by the wayside since I gave birth two years ago.  At first it didn’t matter.  Between nursing and constantly running on adrenaline, excess weight dropped right off me.  However, once I stopped the breast milk and started walking with a toddler, all that weight I had so easily lost came right back on.  Grrrrr…

Now that I’m beginning to get some sleep back, I’ve decided to get my body and health back too.  I’ve been trying to focus on creating healthier meals that don’t take too long to make.  I have become the queen of one-pot dinners.  Spanakorizo has been a long-time favorite of mine, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to make it myself.  Had I known it was so easy, I would have done it a long time ago.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp, unshelled, with tails off*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen spinach
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup feta
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Salt, as needed

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse the shrimp and place them in a bowl.  Add 1 minced garlic clove, salt, dill, and the juice of 1 lemon.  Let sit.
  2. In a large pot, saute onions and 1 minced garlic clove in the olive oil until soft. Add the spinach and juice from 1 lemon.  Cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the rice, white wine and water. Stir occasionally until it is boiling.  Cover the pot and turn the heat to low.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the rice is soft.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and add the shrimp to the rice. Mix together.  Add any additional salt you need.  Sprinkle feta and dill on top.  Serve with lemon wedges.

*If you don’t like shrimp, you can substitute with chicken, like in the picture.  Just cook your chicken or use already cooked chicken and add in like the shrimp.

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Featured Wine of the Week – Greek Wine!

I stood in front of the Greek wine selection at the wine shop.  I didn’t know where to begin.  I had a few recommendations of Greek wine I should try, but as fate would have it, they were nowhere to be found.  The sales clerk wasn’t any help.  He was clearly out of his element when it came to Greek wines, as was I.  Just when I was about to give up and grab the wine with the label I liked best, I was greeted by a passing customer.

He asked if I was looking to buy a Greek wine,  and when I responded that I was, he seemed surprised.  “Why would you want to do that,” he asked?

I laughed and responded that I was told I should try some, and as a wine blogger and occasional educator, I thought I should.  He then told me he was Greek and could help me.  Then he told me something I will never forget:

“The Greeks basically make wine to GET THE JOB DONE.  Most of the wine is not great.”

This made me laugh, as I thought of Ouzo, the Greek spirit that has an overpowering anise flavor and a knockout punch of alcohol.  Well, okay then…

He helped me through the selection and pointed me towards a wine he thought would be the most palatable and food-friendly.  It had a great price point of $10, which seemed appropriate if it wasn’t great.

I bought it and went home to cook up Spanakorizo, a Greek spinach and rice dish, to pair with the wine.

Description:

Hermes

White Dry Wine

Varietals: Achaia and Savatiano

11.5% Alcohol

Attica, Greece

Tasting Notes:

Pale yellow in hue, this wine has light aromas of lemon, citrus and minerals.  It has a crisp minerality, like licking a wet stone, with hints of lemon and kumquat.  This is a light bodied wine without much acidity.  It paired nicely with the Spanakorizo.

Verdict:

This was a very approachable wine.  It had light flavors and was not complex.  It was great with food and I would pair it was goat cheese, vegetables, fish, and chicken.

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Featured Wine of the Week – White Pinot Noir

One day I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, when I stumbled onto a review of a White Pinot Noir.  I paused and read through it.  A White Pinot Noir?  I pondered it and wondered if it was in the style of White Zinfandel.  If it was, I was not interested.  But if it wasn’t…well, if it wasn’t, this would be a very unique wine!

I’ve noticed a trend lately of taking traditionally red varietals and making them into white wines.  To create these wines the winemakers need to ensure minimal contact with the color giving skins of the grapes.  In the case of the White Pinot Noir I tasted from Left Coast Estate, careful attention was taken by fermenting the grapes in stainless steel at a cool temperature.  No oak was used.  This produced a Pinot Noir that is very clean and is, in fact, a white wine.

09b7b2b3-1e92-4116-aa01-24db51e16774Left Coast Estate’s White Pinot Noir was created when the overcast and chilly “Bummer Summer” of 2011 produced slightly unripe grapes.  On the bottle they say, “Rather than trying to impose our will on the vineyards, we followed our winemaking philosophy of embracing the irregularities of each vintage and created White Pinot Noir.”

 

 

Description:

Left Coast Estate

2018 White Pinot Noir

13.7% Alcohol

Willamette Valley

Oregon

USA

Tasting Notes:

This wine is a very pale straw color, with no hint of any red hues.  There are floral aromas, like walking through a botanical garden on a lovely Spring day.  Light and refreshing with brilliant acidity, it features flavors of honeydew, white flowers, apricot and a white peppered lemon twist on the finish.  This wine is crisp and clean.  This is definitely not your ordinary Pinot Noir.  It lives and breathes as a white wine, and it is absolutely delightful!

Suggested Food Pairings:

I had this wine with sushi, and it was fantastic!  I also recommend salty meats and cheeses, green vegetables, and fried pickles.  Cheers!

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Featured Wine of the Week – Four Vines “The Willing”

It seems I’ve been having a lot of conversations about Chardonnay lately.  Who knew one wine could be so polarizing?  People either love it or hate it.  Honestly, I think those big, over-oaked California Chardonnays have given it a bad rap.  In recent years there has been a trend of lesser oaked, more food friendly Chardonnays.  Then there are the stainless Chards.

Stainless, or naked Chardonnays are an expression of the grape in its purest form.  There is no oak manipulation, so you really get to see what this varietal is like.  Recently I revisited this type of Chardonnay and was not disappointed.  It was lovely and so quaffable.  I could drink it all day (something you will not hear me say about a Chardonnay very often).

Details:

Four Vines “The Willing”

Chardonnay

2016

Monterey County

California, USA

Tasting Notes:

On first glance, this wine is a gorgeous bright golden hue.  A bouquet of tropical fruits awaits: papaya, guava, lychee and pineapple.  It’s telling of what is to come.  On first taste, this wine is slightly sweeter than most Chardonnays.  White floral flavors of honeysuckle and jasmine dance on the tongue.  Juicy tropical fruits linger with a lush and creamy mouthfeel.

General Notes:

This wine was created in Monterey County, California, an area known for being “anti-establishment” with a large population of artists.  Four Vines advertises their wine as being “interesting wine for interesting people.”  This is an interesting wine, and I would drink it again and again.  At $20 for the bottle, this is a bargain.