2011 Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco

2011 Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco

2011 Zuani Vigne Collio BiancoI prepared a light vegetarian risotto and it was such a great match to this bright and fruity wine.

In the glass, this Italian white wine is vibrant yellow. A quick sniff offers fragrant fruity and wet stone aromas. The fruitiness continues on the palate with rich flavors of peach followed by a slightly honey-laced finish.

Pairings: Chicken, pork, light risotto

Style: White Wine

Grape Type(s): Friulano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio

Region: Fiuli, Italy

Price: $24

This wine was provided to me for sampling and I am adding to my repertoire as it is truly enjoyable.

2011 Castello di Amorosa Dolcino Gewurztraminer

2011 Castello di Amorosa Dolcino Gewurztraminer

2011 Castello di Amorosa DolcinoI just love Gewurztraminer. It’s right up there with Riesling as one of my favorite white varietals. The 2011 Castello di Amorosa Dolcino Gewurztraminer offers attractive nutty, spiced aromas with light floral notes. As soon as I took in the first sip, I knew I was going to be a fan. Big unctuous mouthfeel, rich, lightly honey-kissed sweetness, nice level of acidity make this an ideal wine for spicy foods or grilled fish.

Pairings: Thai or Vietnamese food, grilled fish

Style: White Wine

Grape Type(s): Gewurztraminer

Region: Mendocino County, CA, USA

Price: $23

This wine was provided to me for sampling and I am adding to my repertoire as it is truly enjoyable.

Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback PotatoesHasselback potatoes seem to be everywhere on Pinterest lately (are you following my boards on Pinterest?) and I loved the concept so I decided to use leftover cheeses from a recent cheese course to create my own version.

The accordion-fanned potatoes get their name from the Stockholm, Sweden restaurant that first served them – Restaurant Hasselbacken. While I use Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar and some aged Swiss cheese in this version, any kind of flavorful, melty cheese would work.

Ingredients:

  • 4 baking potatoes (I used Russets)
  • 1 stick of butter, very cold and cut into 16 slices
  • 1 8-ounce bar of cheese, cut into 16 slices
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. sour cream (optional)

Hasselback Potatoes 2Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Scrub the potatoes and pat them dry with paper towels.
  3. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully slice the potatoes very thinly, without cutting all the way through.
  4. Tuck butter and cheese slices into each of the slits in the potatoes. Sprinkle each potato with salt and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Place the potatoes in a baking pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 60 minutes or until tender. Remove the foil, baste potatoes with any butter that sits at the bottom of the pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes to crisp up the potato skins.
  6. Remove the potatoes from the oven and serve with sour cream (optional).

Makes 4 servings.

2011 Kellerei Kaltern Caldaro Pinot Bianco Weissburgunder

2011 Kellerei Kaltern Caldaro Pinot Bianco Weissburgunder

2011 Kellerei Kaltern Caldaro Pinot Bianco WeissburgunderMedium yellow in the glass, this Alto Adige Pinot Blanc offers a big noseful of Asian pear. The bright, fresh fruity flavors are of apples, pears and Meyer lemons. Nice level of acidity on the finish.

Perfect to serve summer party guests as they munch on light appetizers.

Pairings: Fish or served as an aperitif

Style: White Wine

Grape Type(s): Pinot Blanc

Region: Alto Adige, Italy

Price: $16.99

This wine was provided to me for sampling and I am adding to my repertoire as it is truly enjoyable.

Local Adventures – Manhattan’s Upper West Side

Local Adventures – Manhattan’s Upper West Side

FISHTAG Hair-of-the-Dogfish

FISHTAG Hair-of-the-Dogfish

Thanks to fellow New Jersey food and wine writer Peter Conway of Mano A Vino for publishing my “Local Adventures” post about eating through the Upper West Side.

Read about it here: http://bit.ly/YVrWpw

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Bundt Cake SliceA couple weeks ago, the nice people at Laura Secord, Canada’s largest Chocolatier, sent me a gift basket (read about it here). In the basket were premium-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips that I decided to use to bake a cake worthy of Laura Secord’s 100th anniversary.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ sticks butter, softened, divided
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • ½ cup whipping cream

Chocolate Bundt CakeCake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using ½ stick of butter, completely coat the inside of a 10-12 cup Bundt cake pan. Using ¼ cup of flour, completely cover the butter in flour.
  3. Add the 2 sticks of butter, cocoa powder, water and salt to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until melted and combined. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together the 2 cups of flour, the sugar and the baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter/cocoa mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one, until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream and the vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the cake batter into the Bundt pan. Sprinkle the chips in the batter around the cake and push them down towards the center, not allowing them to touch the pan walls. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Ganache Directions:

  1. Add 6 ounces of chocolate chips and the butter to a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add the cream to the chocolate and butter and whisk until fully melted and smooth. Allow to cool for 2 minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly.
  2.  Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining chips over the ganache.

Serves 10.

2010 Lucien Albrecht Riesling Réserve

2010 Lucien Albrecht Riesling Réserve

2010 Lucien Albrecht Riesling RéserveI love Riesling. Sweet, semi-dry, dry – it doesn’t matter, I enjoy it all. While I’m partial to German and Finger Lakes Riesling, there’s no denying that the Alsatians do it very well also.

Pale yellow in the glass, this Alsatian Riesling offers aromas of apple and pear. In the mouth, it’s not sweet at all and has Asian pear and floral flavors. Enjoyable dry finish.

Pairings: Shellfish, especially lobster

Style: White Wine

Grape Type(s): Riesling

Region: Alsace, France

Price: $20

This wine was provided to me for sampling and I am adding to my repertoire as it is truly enjoyable.

2011 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley

2011 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley

2011 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc Napa ValleyThis Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne blend offers bright citrus aromas typical of Sauvignon Blanc. The Roussanne rounds out the peach and tropical fruit flavors and softens the acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc. The finish is long and thoroughly enjoyable.

Paired this with Kurobuta pork chops and it was delicious.

Pairings: Chicken, pork, grilled fish

Style: White Wine

Grape Type(s): 88% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Roussanne

Region: Napa Valley, CA, USA

Price: $24

This wine was provided to me for sampling and I am adding to my repertoire as it is truly enjoyable.

Getting to Know Smith Madrone Winery

Getting to Know Smith Madrone Winery

Smith Madrone ChardonnaySmith-Madrone Winery is located in Napa Valley in the Spring Mountain District. The 200-acre estate has vineyards that sit at elevations up to 2,000 feet. Some of the vines are planted on slopes as steep as over 30 degrees.

Two of the Smith-Madrone wines I recently had the opportunity to sample are the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Chardonnay.

  • 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) – nearly black and opaque in the glass, this California Cabernet Sauvignon features incredible aromas of ripe cherries with chocolaty, earthy and oaky undertones. In the mouth, it’s a big and bold wine with dark berry and licorice flavors balanced by just the right level of tannins.
  • 2009 Chardonnay ($35) – medium straw color in the glass, the California Chardonnay offers bright aromas of Asian pear with oaky notes. On the palate, cantaloupe and ripe apple flavors dominate. Toasted bread finish.

As far as idyllic California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon go, these are super examples.

These wines were provided to me for sampling and I am adding to my repertoire as they are truly enjoyable.

2009 Trimbach Pinot Blanc

2009 Trimbach Pinot Blanc

2009 Trimbach Pinot BlancLove the slightly greenish color of this Alsatian wine. Also love the very floral aromas if offers. The 2009 Trimbach Pinot Blanc is rich with flavors of peach and ripe lemons. This French Pinot Blanc makes me crave seafood.

Pairings: Fish, seafood, especially seared scallops

Style: White Wine

Grape Type(s): Pinot Blanc

Region: Alsace, France

Price: $16

This wine was provided to me for sampling and I am adding to my repertoire as it is truly enjoyable.