Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beringer Pinot Noir & Eating Local

Beringer Founder's Estate 2005 Pinot Noir
It's hard to find a reliably good affordable California Pinot. This Beringer tastes like the skin of a red apple, with a nose of roses and blackberries. It's smoky, with some decent tannins. A House/Yes wine (definitely a House for Francesca). Price unknown, probably under $12.

[Update: As previously mentioned, if we find a wine rated elsewhere, we will note those ratings – but only after we write our reviews. This was recommended by Smart Money in their August 2007 issue. We don't know what vintage or grape source - a critical issue with Beringer's Pinots.]

Most of us can’t very well eat completely “locally,” as the authors of Plenty (the 100-Mile Diet) did. (And although it’s a great book and a wonderful message, one must remember that it was obviously written by two journalists with a “concept” for a book in mind.) But we really enjoy eating as local as we can. Last night we had corn from the farmer’s market, picked that morning from a field about 8 miles away – amazingly sweet and tender. We accompanied it with a Shaggy Mane Mushroom Alfredo (the Shaggy Manes were from our pasture), spiced with home-grown basil. Yes, the Alfredo noodles were commercial. The wine was a Columbia Crest Riesling (don’t know how far from our Washington home it was grown and produced, but still within the same state). Chocolate-chip cookies from a local bakery (and we really don’t care where they got their ingredients – at least they were “home made” and not from a package at the grocery store). At the farmer’s market we also picked up local tomatoes, peaches, and lettuce mix – all from no more than 20 miles away. For us, it’s certainly about health – for ourselves and for the planet, but it’s also supporting local producers and simply a way to eat the freshest foods imaginable. The sad part is that even a simple meal such as this would be totally unavailable, impracticable, and downright impossible for 90 percent or more Americans - ain’t no wild Shaggy Mane mushrooms growing in New York City.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Columbia Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2005 - Washington

Columbia Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Washington)
Another Sauvignon in the "half-way" style between California and New Zealand. Green apple on the nose; with tastes of green apple and some grassiness. Also a nice bit of acidity. Yes. Pretty sure it was less than $10.

[Update: As previously mentioned, if we find a wine rated elsewhere, we will note those ratings – but only after we write our reviews. The 2006 vintage of this wine received an 85 from Wine Spectator.]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Covey Run Sauvignon Blanc 2005 - Washington

Covey Run Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Columbia Valley (Washington)
A nose of grass and floral notes. The flavors and mouthfeel are half-way between a California and New Zealand style – tart green apples, tangerine. Smooth and pleasant. A House/Yes wine (especially at this price). $6.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Columbia Crest Semillon/Chardonnay 2002 - Washington

Columbia Crest Semillon/Chardonnay 2002 Columbia Valley (Washington)
This has some pear on the nose, and is a buttery, creamy blend. Just not distinguished enough. A Maybe for Francesca, a No for Ken. $4. (At that price, though, it’s certainly worth a sample in case your tastes aren’t the same as ours, as we generally like Columbia Crest wines.)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chateau Ste Michelle Gewurztraminer 2006 - Washington

Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer 2006 Columbia Valley (Washington)
This very slightly soft Gewurz has a citrus, floral nose. It has nice layers of taste – lemon, tangerine, and a hint of cinnamon spice. A House/Yes wine. Price unknown (probably $7-10).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ravenswood Zinfandel 2005 - California

Ravenswood Zinfandel 2005 Vintners Blend California
The label says it again – full, dark, spicy, fruity. Ravenswood has long been one of our House wines, and remains so. We’re obviously Zin fans (as our accolades of Ridge have shown), and Ravenswood is at the top of our reliable, affordable list. Raspberry, pepper, and a nice touch of oak/tannin. Hard to go wrong with this one. A House wine. $10.

[Update: As previously mentioned, if we find a wine rated elsewhere, we will note those ratings – but only after we write our reviews. This received an 85 from Wine Spectator.]

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Redwood Creek Pinot Noir 2005 - France/California

Redwood Creek Pinot Noir 2005 (France, via California)
This Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d’Oc is “produced” in France but imported and bottled by Frei Brothers Vineyards in California. More California winemakers are looking outside their borders, and it’s paying off. We previously found a great Corsican Pinot Noir from Mark West (California), and this Redwood Creek is another example.
The wine has a cherry nose, and lots of layers of flavor and texture – black cherry, some tannins, even some of our preferences for “French dirt” tastes. It’s almost “halfway” between a true French style and a California fruity one. A House/Yes wine. $6 and a fabulous buy.

Famous Fish Tacos

We’ve proclaimed ourselves the masters of Fish Tacos, so thought we’d share the secret recipe.
Fish – our favorite is Halibut, but we had Cod last night, and have enjoyed other flaky fish. We didn’t care for Talapia.
Cooking Spice – a homemade mix (all ground) of:

  • Cumin – 1 tsp
  • Coriander – 1 tsp
  • Smoked Paprika – 1/2 tsp
  • Red Pepper – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – 1/8 tsp
  • Garlic powder – 1/8 tsp
This makes enough spice for several dinners. We grind all with a large mortar & pestle, and store the left-over spice in a tightly closed jar.
We pan sauté the fish in Olive Oil and maybe a teaspoon of the spice mix, until the fish flakes apart.
Tacos – We alternate corn and flour, but generally prefer flour tortillas “soft fried.” We use a 1/8-inch layer of Olive Oil in a large fry pan, and cook the tortillas until they are “not-quite” crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Vegetables – We almost always use chopped onion and cabbage. Usually red onion and green cabbage, but sometimes red cabbage and yellow onion. We’ve also substituted Arugula for the cabbage and it tastes great, but offers a different texture.
Crema/Sauce – We experiment with Cremas a lot. Last night we used:
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • juice from half a lime
  • approximately 1/4-1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • grated 1/4 of a very large green apple (maybe 1/2 cup grated)
  • several splashes of a Tabasco-type hot sauce
  • a few grindings of salt
Other Cremas we’ve made (usually always with the base of sour cream/mayonnaise) have been garlic & lime; sweet red pepper sauce & onion; green onion & green olive. The possibilities are endless.
NOTES: We seldom measure anything (unless we’re baking, which we don’t do much). We experiment and substitute a lot. When in doubt, we think fewer elements are better than many. (For example, we’d rather have our fish tacos with fish, crema, cabbage, and onion, rather than a “normal” taco loaded with meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, onion, salsa, sour cream, black olives, jalapenos, tomatoes, and more.) We don’t worry about pairing any particular wine with any dish. We usually drink whatever wine we opened before dinner with whatever we end up cooking.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Chateau Ste. Michelle Rose 2006 - Washington

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Rose 2006 Nellie’s Garden Columbia Valley (Washington)
Floral, rose notes on the nose. A fizzy strawberry taste, but not sweet. A Maybe for Francesca; a No for Ken. $7-10 (we don’t remember).