Thursday, May 14, 2009


Portland Local Flavor

For Becca - I need an address to send you the show that you requested.

Food and wine, by the book – I have launched a new twice-monthly show on called Delicious Life. In each book-inspired episode I either cook a recipe from a chosen book and pair it with a wine (very often one of our club selections), or explore an ingredient like cheese or mustard. My husband John often joins me for these episodes, and they are a lot of fun so I hope you will check them out.

For golf buffs, our upcoming episode with Annika Sorenstam is a fun one. Annika launched a delicious Syrah called Annika in conjunction with Wente Vineyards, and we had the chance to catch up with her on the links to taste it. I’ve always loved the wines of Wente and now that I’ve seen the place, I’d say it’s a must-visit if you come to San Francisco. Great restaurant, great Greg Norman-designed golf course, and historic winery, all only 45 minutes from the city.

If you are heading to Vegas, check out the episode “Fish Without a Doubt” with chef Rick Moonen of RM Seafood. His book is awesome, and his restaurant in the Mandalay Bay is not to be missed. Get the clams. Get the scallops. And let his sommelier Jeff Eichelberger handle the pairings. He is among the most gifted matchmakers for food and wine that I have ever encountered. If you don’t want to splurge on the fine dining, the bar has a great casual vibe and offers great value.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Chocolate paired with...cheese?

I was skeptical too, except something drew me to try some of these pairings, presented by Katrina Markoff of Vosges Chocolates at the Taste3 conference held recently at Copia in Napa. Maybe it was the fact that I'd tried a couple of chocolates with sea salt, toasted sesame seeds and other savory additions, and found the yin-yang tension of those flavors to yeild a real "opposites attract" yum of a result. The one I remember most was a creamy Mt. Tam cheese with a caramel-chocolate truffle. The texture was almost obscenely decadent and the flavor combo, while sort of weird, was memorable. There weren't any wines nearby to try but I'd think a 10-year-old tawny Port or a Malmsey Madeira would rock with this mixture of flavors. Has anyone else tried this sort of pairing? I'd love to hear your suggestions. I am thinking aged Gouda or Cheddar would work really well with dark chocolate or chocolate-caramel.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


An egg-cellent wine for dark chocolate!!

I've been less of a believer in chocolate and Port pairings than a lot of my sommelier colleagues - I've thought the match was good, not great. But while Hoover-ing a couple of Easter chocolates I decided to take try a match recently recommended to me by the folks at Graham's Port. It's their Graham's Six Grapes Port, a ruby-style "reserve" Port (meaning the wine has passed an official tasting panel assessment for quality). The dark chocolate I tried with it was bittersweet, about 70% cacao. The match was extraordinary for two reasons. First, the wine was not over-sweet, which kept the pairing from being cloying. In fact, the finish flavors on your palate aren't sugary at all, but rather rich and smoky. Second, the bitter edge in the chocolate made a fabulous contrast with the fruit in the wine, really bringing it to the forefront. Perhaps the best news of all is that Graham's Six Grapes is inexpensive - so splurge on the chocolate and get a high-quality one. Enjoy!


Monday, February 05, 2007


Wine is from Mars, Chocolate is from Venus

With all due respect to the candy company that makes M&Ms, this is what I have determined when it comes to matching the two. A lot of pros say wine and chocolate don't go well together, but that is just not the case. The trick is that you need a big, assertive (dare I say manly?) wine to dance artfully with the dusky sensuality of chocolate. And when you get the select the suitors right, this does make a cozy couple. Over the next few days leading up to Valentine's Day, we'll explore a few winners that I've discovered. The first I'll tell you about remains one of my favorites - it is an Andrea's A-List wine club selection and I recently got a bit more that I can make available if you're in a legal ship-to state (send us an email to for help with ordering, or call 707-535-6742 and ask for Doug). The wine is Yalumba Museum Muscat, an Aussie "sticky" (their term for dessert wines) that is like liquid Fig Newtons with Christmas spices on top. It is huge and strapping, and practically purpose-built for chocolate, even milk chocolate that is typically difficult to pair because of its higher sugar content (break out the M&Ms! - aren't the green ones supposed to be aphrodisiacs?!). Or put it with a chocolate dessert such as warm flourless chocolate cake. Click here for my easy and delicious recipe that includes mascarpone cheese.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Bargain bubbles

Italian Prosecco was last year's hot bargain bubbly, but this year I think Spain's cava sparkling wines have them beat on the two most important fronts - price and flavor. Depending on where you live, great cavas are often half the price of Prosecco, and they are easily double the flavor, too. The reason is that they are produced with the same painstaking method as French Champagne and great American sparklers, with a second fermentation in the bottle that gives you bubbles and more. That's because as the fermentation progresses, the yeasts break down, creating all kinds of new aromatics and flavors in the process. Aria Cava Brut from Segura Viudas, and Paul Cheneau Brut, remain two of my all-time favorites. More recently I've come to love a new crop of rosado (the Spanish word for rose) cavas, for tremendous complexity, cherry fruit and spice that drinks like a wine, so it's a beautiful, festive and perfect-pair choice for holiday meals. Two to look for are Freixenet Brut de Noirs Rosado and Codorniu Pinot Noir Rose. I tasted the Codorniu blind against French rose Champagne and it was just as good - wow.


The ultimate wine for Gumbo

The best wine for my (Leftover) Turkey Gumbo, or any gumbo is, bar none, dry rose. And there is no better choice than Miner Family Sangiovese Rosato, which has fantastic peppery, pomegranate, orange peel and herb notes. This wine is actually an amazing choice for all manner of spiced-up holiday dishes. If you would like to check it out, I still have a few bottles left from my A-List wine club - send an email if you would like to order some, and let us know how we can contact you.


The best turkey leftovers dish ever - EASY Gumbo

My family is not a leftovers family - that made the Thanksgiving turkey my big challenge. But I took it on with gusto, probably because growing up with my thrift-minded mom imbued me with the idea that throwing out decent food is, in a word, sinful. Now, we had a lot of turkey because this year it was just three of us at the Thanksgiving table (and my 21-month-old daughter Jesse didn't make much of a dent in the bird, anyway). My husband John dutifully ate several turkey wraps that I made extra special by mixing horseradish into the mayo, using some good cheese, and then toasting the whole thing in a panini press, which works great, just tuck in the ends when you roll it.

But the gumbo rocked, so much so that my husband actually even ate some of it as leftovers! And it was easy. Should you still have a bunch of frozen turkey leftovers, or be planning a bird for Christmas, here is the recipe:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy stock pot on medium high. Add 2 oz spicy bulk sausage (such as chorizo), 1 large diced onion, 3 cloves garlic, 3 ribs diced celery and 2 peeled, diced carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and beginning to brown. Meanwhile, microwave half of a 20 oz bag of frozen okra for 1-2 minutes on high to partially thaw, and slice into chunks. Add the okra to the pot along with one 22 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, cut up, with their liquid (I cut the tomatoes with kitchen shears while they are still in the can - so easy and no mess). Add 1 1/2 teaspoons each dried oregano and dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth and lots of turkey,cut in 1/2 inch pieces (3 cups or so, but the recipe is flexible). Simmer uncovered for about an hour, raising the heat in the last 15 minutes to reduce the liquid until the gumbo is very thick and the bottom begins to brown slightly. Add additional salt and pepper if needed and serve.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

This is where I'll post pairing ideas, recipes and how-tos. Check back next week for my first webcast, just in time for the holidays: How to safely open a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine so you preserve the bubbles. Do it right and the wine stays fresh and fizzy for a week or more.

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