Monday, January 30, 2017

The Last Bottle

Claire and I had so much fun picking these wines out for Mike for his birthday.  The Last Bottle has this incredibly fun marathon sale just before Christmas,  It goes on for several days and they feature a different wine every hour.

Mike absolutely loved this Grenache Syrah blend from Paso Robles, Nobelle.  It tasted of chocolate and leather and was rounded and wonderfully delicious. I would buy it again in a heart beat.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mini Tartes Flambées


  • 6 egg roll wrappers
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 1/4 pound smoked slab bacon, cut into 1-by- 1/4-inch sticks
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small onion, quartered lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, stamp out about 30 rounds from the egg roll wrappers. Brush the rounds lightly on both sides with olive oil and arrange them on a baking sheet. Toast in the center of the oven for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pat off any excess oil with paper towels; let the crisps cool.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the bacon and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry.
  3. In a small bowl, season the sour cream with salt and pepper and mix well. Spread the sour cream on the rounds and top with the onion, bacon and pepper. Return the rounds to the baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until the bottom is browned and the bacon is hot. Transfer to a platter and serve right away.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Pre Christmas eve wines - let the cooking begin (2016)

Puzzling with friends: food, wine and friendship

Tackling a puzzle right after the holidays has become a tradition.  This year it has become a marathon. Claire gave me a 2000 piece puzzle for my birthday.  The puzzle is of Cinque Terre a future destination and one that my friend and fellow puzzler, Diane, has already visited.

Below is our puzzling journey which of course includes food and wine.  Mike speculates that the wine has been slowing our puzzling progress.

January 2, 2017
We started with an amazing champagne given to me by Debbie, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label. This is a delicious champagne. Wine Spectator describes it this way.  "Bright and lightly toasty, this elegant Champagne layers flavors of cassis, crushed hazelnut and lemon meringue pie on the creamy bead. Drink now through 2019."

Dianne brought an amazing bread that we enjoyed with butter and olives.

After a little puzzling came a spinach and tomato quiche with bacon, onion and cheddar muffins. I had planned to make a grapefruit salad but just never got to it.  It would have been a good addition.

We also experimented with a French red wine.

After about 5 hours of puzzling we were almost able to finish the border and some of the interior

January 5, 2017
We enjoyed tea as we began our puzzling and then stopped for butternut squash and sweet potato soup with more of Dianne's bread. 

This light wine from Larkmead is perfect for sipping and puzzling. Tocai Friulano, 2015

Our progress after day 2

January 12, 2017
The weather interrupted our plans to puzzle on the 10th and then again on the 11th.  We were dumped with 18 inches or so of snow. We started with delicious orange ginger and tumeric tea then shifted to a wonderful Zinfandel from Tofanelli, 2012. Lunch consisted of a taco salad which was accompanied with Domaine Sainte-Eugenie Red Corbieres wine 2014. Puzzlers loved the zin and not so much the Corbieres. It actually tasted better after it was decanted an tasted very good with the taco salad.  The wine is a blend of Carigan (40%), Geranche Noir (30%) and Syrah (30%), three dark skinned grapes used extensively in southern France.
The taco salad was delicious.  I especially loved the salsa vinaigrette.

As you can see more puzzling to come.  The next date is January 24th.  Below is the menu.

January 24, 2017
Baked eggs with Creamy Leeks
Sour dough bread made by Dianne
Fruit provided by Jan
Dessert made by Beth

Now to decide on the wine :). Will we finish the puzzle? Do we want to finish the puzzle?
Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

So here is how the day unfolded. We sampled two different Pinot Noir wines one from France and one from California.  They were both delicious both very different. The one from Robert James was lighter and fruitier. The one from France was a little deeper and earthier.

The Pinot Noir wine paired well with the amazing sour dough bread from Dianne, a lemon and rosemary boule. The grapefruit and orange salad was delicious as were the baked eggs and leeks.  It was so cool to make this in a crock pot.

As you can see the puzzling continues. I could not imagine a more fun winter afternoon. Thanks Jan and Dianne!

January 31, 2017
Onward we go. The plan is to celebrate the last day of January with another day of puzzling. I am making a crustless quiche, Dianne is bringing more of her amazing bread and Jan is making a Zest Lime and Ginger Fruit Salad with orange, kiwi and pineapple. In addition, we will be sampling some of these wines. I am starting my WSET study and these are the wines for week one. The Reisling and Beaujolais should pair well with the quiche.

The Beaujolais WAS a perfect pairing with the quiche, my favorite of the two. Jan's Lime Ginger Fruit Salad was to die for. Again, amazing bread from Dianne.  This is by far my favorite day of the week, puzzle day. Below is our progress.
We really do puzzle, or at least Dianne and Jan do.  Here are the puzzlers in action.

I am speculating that the puzzle will be complete on February 6th  The wine and food focus is on Italian.  How fitting as the puzzle is of Cinque Terre Italy.

February 6, 2017
After wonderful wine and food and great puzzling 246 pieces still remain. YES!! one more crack at the puzzle!
It was so much fun sampling the wine with the various cheeses supplied by Jan.
Mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto. paired very well with the Soave
Gorganzola. paired very well with the Moscato

Of this array of wines we experiments with the Moscato, the Barolo, Soave and Amarone.  The Amarone was by far my favorite.

Diane made amazing focaccia bread which we had with Tucan Harvest soup. Jan brought some delicious deserts.

February 15, 2017

Here is the draft menu
Dianne brought  variety of Spanish cheeses while visiting her sister in St. Petersburg FL.  They were delicious:

  • Ombra and Garotxa from Catalonia, Spain and 
  • Omorro from Azores, Spain. 
  • Manchego cheese

Olives and Almonds
Bacon wrapped dates. made by Jan
Blackened Salmon with Orange Yogurt Sauce
Valencia Orange, Fennel and Black Olive Salad
Dessert - Raspberry cheese cake

Success!!!!  The puzzle was completed!!!!

Caprese Pizza

We had this in Napa and had to try recreating it for our tapas event.  Simple and delcious!

Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail and champagne are a perfect paring and a great way to start a tapas event!

Beet Deviled Eggs

I wanted a Hungarian connected appetizer for our Christmas eve Tapas event and this is what we discovered.  Not only were they beautiful, they were delicious.

Scallops and Shittake Mushrooms with Gorgonzola Sauce

This appetizer was the star of the 2016 Christmas Eve Tapas celebration. Thank you brother and chef Patrick. WOW!

Christmas Eve Tapas Extravaganza! 2016

First Course
Cheese, sausage and olive tray
Shrimp cocktail
Beet deviled eggs

Wines for first course
Bubbles, Champaigne
Fiddleshead Lalapaloza - Pinot noir, 2012
Chenin Blanc, Samatur from France
White Wines

Second Course
Appetizer from Jan. Cordon Blue: Swiss cheese, ham, cream cheese, mustard, chives on French bread.
Caprese pizza
Scallops prepared by Pat. Corn meal crusted jumbo scallops with Cabernet glazed shiitake mushrooms and Gorgonzola Demi cream. These were incredible and paired so well with the Shiraz.  Definiteley the hit of the night.

Wines for second course
Chardonnay from Robert James, 2014 Ocel
Shiraz - Viognier from Australia, Trelato & Chapoutier (2013)

Third course
To be honest, everyone was pretty full after the amazing Scallop dish.
Pork filled empanadas with corn relish. These are delicious anddefinitely worth the tme to make. They can be made ahead and then warmed up before serving.
Gorgonzola stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. Always on the list.
Spicy meatballs with pineapple. My mom's recipe

Wines for the third course
Revolver Vine/Vein, 2013
Pride Cabernet Franc, 2013. So delicious
Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon (2013)
Artesa Cabernet Sauvignon (2012 Atlas Peak, single vineyard)
Red Wines

Almond joy bars and other chocolates with Prager Port, 10 year, tawny Noble Companion

NOTE: Crab cakes with lemon remoulade was on the menu but we ended up not preparing them until Christmas Day.  This was an amazing pairing with the crab cakes. Chardonnay from Robert James, 2014 Ocel