Friday, August 22, 2014

August 20, 2014 My Typical Day and Fish Chowder with Espiral Vinho Verde


Today’s meals were fairly typical of my normal diet.

A 10 mile bike ride to Montano and back at 7:00.

Breakfast – a bowl of granola with a cubed ½ of a fresh Manila mango with European yogurt eaten around 10:30.

A bit of drama around 2:00 when the director and staff of “Better Call Saul” came to view our living room as one of the locations for the TV series.

 Lunch – A late lunch at around 3:30 to 4:00 of organic salad greens garnished with the last cup of PPI faro, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes, 1 sliced tomato, 1 diced stalk of celery, 12 kalamata olives, and five diced slices of salami with a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of about ¼ lemon.  Sort of an antipasto salad.

Dinner - When I arrived home from meditating and stopping to pick up bottles of tonic water and club soda to replenish our drink mixer larder at around 8:20 Suzette had heated the fish chowder she had made on Sunday.  She toasted a piece of French Sourdough bread and we ate a bowl of hot fish chowder and the bread with a glass of Espiral Vinho Verde White wine from Gaia, Portugal (Trader Joe’s $5.99).  I usually do not buy Vinho Verde, but we toured the Espiral Winery when we visited Portugal this spring and I bought it for sentimental reasons.  The thing that requires getting used to with Vinho Verde is the slight gaseousness of the wine and the tart carbonated flavor.   In other words, when you open the bottle there is a stream of bubbles that rises to the top.  This is due to the fact that the wine is bottled before it is fully fermented and the bubbles are due to the formation of the CO2 formed in the final stages of fermentation. 

Although we did not fancy their wine, we loved visiting Espiral.  It is a 350 year old winery with 12 acres of garden and park and great old house and tasting room along with a highly sophisticated production facility that produces approximately 25,000,000 bottles of wine per year.  

Here is the story on Vihno Verde from Wikipedia:

Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine that originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of the country. The modern-day 'Vinho Verde' region, originally designated in 1908, includes the old Minho province plus adjacent areas to the south. In 1976, the old province was dissolved.
Vinho Verde is not a grape varietal. The name literally means "green wine," but translates as "young wine", as opposed to mature wine. It may be red, white or rosé, and it is meant to be consumed within a year of bottling.[1] In its early years of production, the slight effervesce of the wine came from malolactic fermentation taking place in the bottle. In winemaking this is usually considered a wine fault but Vinho Verde producers found that consumers liked the slightly sparkling nature. However, the wines had to be packaged in opaque bottles in order to hide the unseemly turbidity and sediment that the "in-bottle MLF" produced. Today, most Vinho Verde producers no longer follow this practice and instead complete malolactic fermentation prior to bottling with the slight sparkle being added by artificial carbonation.[2]

The region is characterized by its many small growers, which numbered more than 30,000 as of 2005. Many of these growers train their vines high off the ground, up trees, fences, and even telephone poles so that they can cultivate vegetable crops below the vines that their families may use as a food source.[3] Most countries limit the use of the term Vinho Verde to only those wines that come from the Minho region in Portugal. In Europe, this principle is enshrined in the European Union by Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8e/Vinho_Verde_and_bottle.jpg/170px-Vinho_Verde_and_bottle.jpg
http://bits.wikimedia.org/static-1.24wmf16/skins/common/images/magnify-clip.png
White Vinho Verde.
The Vinhos Verdes are light and fresh. At less than one bar of CO2 pressure, they do not quite qualify as semi-sparkling wines but do have a definite pétillance. The white Vinho Verde is very fresh, due to its natural acidity, with fruity and floral aromas that depend on the grape variety. The white wines are lemon- or straw-coloured, around 8.5 to 11% alcohol, and are made from local grape varieties Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal. Vinho Alvarinho is made from Alvarinho grapes, from a small designated sub-region of Monção and Melgaço. It has more alcohol (11.5 to 14%) and ripe tropical aromas. The reds are deep red and tannic, and are mostly made from Vinhão, Borraçal and Amaral grapes. The rosés are very fresh and fruity, usually made from Espadeiro and Padeiro grapes.

The secret to enjoying Vinho Verde, in my opinion, is to let the wine gas off the carbon dioxide, which takes a few minutes.  The wine tastes fairly pleasant after it becomes still.  We are particularly fond of the white albarino grape (Alvarinho in Portuguese) that is grown in the far north of Portugal.

So we had a fun dinner reminiscing about our time in Portugal this summer and why we do not like vinho verde, but then how likable it was, after the gas subsided.


Bon Appétit 

August 21, 2014 Lunch with Peter Eller at East Ocean Dinner, Grilled Salmon Steaks, fresh corn on the cob and steamed asparagus and Caprese salad


Peter Eller called today and we went to lunch at East Ocean (3601 Carlisle NE) because he said he was happy to eat seafood and I wanted to introduce him to what I consider the most delicious, least expensive seafood lunch in Albuquerque.  I ordered my favorite lunch dish, Scallops in Lobster Sauce with sweet and sour chicken ($5.50 or $6.50, depending upon who your waitress is).  Basically I select No. 8, which is Shrimp in Lobster Sauce, and I then substitute scallops for the shrimp and substitute sweet and sour chicken for the eggroll.  Perhaps I should call this a, “Bob’s No. 8”.  The scallops are always fresh deep sea scallops that have been each sliced into three or four rounds.  My favorite preparation is when the scallop slices are put in at the end of cooking and cook in the sauce releasing a puddle of scallop juice around each slice that I then mix with the.  Heaven.    

We were talking about Peter’s recent selection to serve on the Board of the Holocaust Museum and he mentioned that one of its board members was a child in the Kindertransport, which I had never heard of before.  Peter explained the Kindertransport briefly and I looked it up in Wikipedia later when I went home.  
That led me to more extensive musings in the middle of the night in a series of emails to members of my family. 

Here they are:   
On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:46 PM, <rsimon7@aol.com> wrote:
Sometimes horrific events create a major movement in response, like the beheading of an American Journalist in Syria.

Here is an example from before WWII that Peter Eller mentioned to me today at lunch.


Love, Dad 

-----Original Message-----
From: Luke Simon <lukeprakash@gmail.com>
To: Robert Simon <rsimon7@aol.com>
Cc: Willy <wsimon8136@gmail.com>; Suzette Lindemuth <suzette@nmagelessliving.com>
Sent: Thu, Aug 21, 2014 9:49 pm
Subject: Re: Kindertransport
Wow, heartbreaking, but always beautiful how Love shimmers through war. ;(
Thanks for sharing.


Later in the middle of the night I wrote,

I think I can tie the reactions to Kristalnacht in Germany before WWII, the Ferguson, Mo. demonstrations and the beheading of the American in Syria together.  

It may seem slightly different to compare the massive international reaction to blind religious and ethnic violence (Kristalnacht and ISIL beheadings) to the dynamics in an internal revolution (Fergusson, Mo. or the Arab Spring), but I think I see a commonality in both.

I recall what I heard on the radio recently when the author of a recent study of violent revolutions was interviewed.  She said that when the success of violent revolutions is compared to the success of peaceful revolutions, peaceful revolutions win out by a factor of 10 to 1.  She said that in her opinion, the reason for that is that in successful peaceful revolutions, more and larger segments of the populace (such as the military, the judiciary, religious and ethnic groups, etc.) are committed to changing the perceived oppressive political leadership.  The example she gave of peaceful revolution was the essentially peaceful over throw of Milasovic in Serbia.  I guess you could now add the recent revolution in the Ukraine.  She said that the army was ordered to shoot to kill to disburse the peaceful demonstrators, but it stood silently, rather than fire.  When asked why they did not fire on the crowd several of the soldiers said, "Because my children may have been in the crowd" she said.  

I think the basic human response is similar in both situations.  It is like Obama said when he spoke about Trevon Martin's killing in Florida, "If I had a son, he would have looked like Trevon."

It seems to me that the unifying factor is that at some level, we put ourselves in the position of the persons for and against the actions we observe and judge and react based upon how we would be affected by their actions on us and our loved ones.

That is why I am hopeful that some of the great divide between the attitudes of conservatives and liberals on the issue of police violence and possibly gun violence may change soon, just as it has on gay marriage.

More people are touched by mindless indiscriminant violent behavior, especially when it is targeted indiscriminately at specific groups of people, like Jews or Christians or Americans or Europeans or blacks, and willingly accept a peaceful change writ large away from such behavior. 

I think that that common reaction toward indiscriminate violence is one of the forces that moves society toward becoming more inclusive and liberal or homogenized.   Just as mobs lynching blacks or beheading Europeans is no longer considered socially acceptable and society takes peaceful action to stop it as it did in the Civil Rights movement of the 60's, what we are seeing in Ferguson, Mo. now is peaceful action to stop unfettered violence of police against blacks and Huffington Post reporters and I predict that soon we will see that such actions will be deemed socially unacceptable.  

ISIL in Syria and the police in Ferguson, Mo. have exposed a cancer in our midst that will start a revolutionary change in societal standards to rid our society of such behavior.  I think that peaceful societal reaction is a peaceful revolution and that change in social norms is pretty much the same as change in political revolutions.  

That is why the Arab Spring will succeed in overthrowing oppressive dictators in the Middle East, as it already has in Tunisia and Libya and is starting to in Syria, thanks to ISIL.  Although the peaceful demonstrations in Cairo are quantitatively different than the reaction of the world society to ISIL's oppression of diverse religious populations in Syria and Iraq, they are the same at their core.  Just as international tribunals and laws were passed to legislate against genocide after the Nazi destruction of European Jewry after WWII. I see the change as the same.  

As Attorney General Holder said, "Change is on the way."

I bet the Kurds in Irbil and the moderate revolutionaries in Syria are saying the same thing right now, just as the politicians in many Western capitals are.

What I think we are seeing in both instances is the action of massive peaceful revolution/change overpowering indiscriminate oppression and violent revolution.  I like to think that the result of such action and reaction, is the evolutionary action of society moving toward a healthier, more inclusive and liberal society, whether at the national or international level, by destroying or changing a harmful diseased part of its body politic.       

Love,

Robert

Suzette has started a big project at the house, converting our side yard into an orchard by tearing down the existing fence and building a new fence 3 feet from the sidewalk which will enclose another 2000 to 3000 square feet of yard within our back yard.

I am also struggling to get the Candy store finished and trying to get a federal action commenced in the LRG water case, so we are very busy.  At around 6:00 I asked Suzette what she wanted to do for dinner and she said she wanted weed the garden. I said I wanted to go to Sprouts Farm Market to get some corn (on sale at 4 ears for $1.00), but I would pick up a pizza on the way home and we could eat pizza and a salad, which she agreed to.

When I arrived at Sprouts Farm Market it was crowded.  I made my usual circuit, fresh meats, vegetables and bulk goods.  Tonight turned out to present an exceptional array of high quality items.  At the meat counter I saw beautiful fresh salmon steaks on sale for $5.99/lb.  I bought two large 12 oz. belly steaks. 

Then I rolled to the vegetable section and saw that the corn special had been picked over.  I asked the produce assistant if there was more corn and he took off to the back of the store for more corn, I hoped.  

Next to the corn was fresh lovely asparagus at $1.98/lb. so I got a bunch of it.  I looked around a bit at other vegetables and saw medium avocados at $.98 each and picked up one of them.  In a couple of minutes, the produce guy returned with four boxes of fresh corn and began by cleaning up the debris in the corn section and putting the fresh corn out.  I bagged 12 ears from one of the boxes and the display as a pesky woman said I could go ahead of her, as if she had some special priority.  I almost told her I had asked for the fresh corn and had been waiting for it for several minutes longer than she had, but I held my tongue and continued to select ears of corn as she patiently or not so patiently waited for me to finish.

I then rolled over to the bulk section and hit pay dirt again; natural granola (I hope that means less sugar) for $1.98/lb. I took a 1.33 lb. bag of it.  Then I rolled to another side of the section and found chocolate covered raisins on sale for $3.99/lb.  I bought a bag of mixed dark and milk chocolate covered raisins.  Is the reason they call them raisins, because they are sinful to eat if you are on a lowered sugar diet?  I guess I became a little giddy from all of my great purchases.

When I got back to the car I called Suzette and told her I had bought fresh salmon steaks and would like to prepare dinner at home.  She graciously agreed to make a meal at home, so I drove directly home.

She liked the look of all the produce and fish. We quickly decided to steam the asparagus, boil ears of corn, grill the salmon steaks and make a caprese salad with slices of fresh mozzarella (Costco), two species of yellow tomatoes and basil leaves from our garden drizzled with a balsamic and olive oil dressing.  The meal seemed to be a perfect California Cuisine meal, so I suggested that we drink a good California Sauvignon Blanc.  Suzette agreed and I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc; my favorite moderately priced California Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99 at Costco).  

I then broke the tough ends off the asparagus and put the tips into the steamer, while Suzette made the Caprese Salad and shucked four ears of corn and started a pot of water boiling for the corn.  Then Suzette put the salmon steaks on the grill on slices of lemon and said, “We have lovely cilantro in the garden, how about a cilantro and lime butter sauce on the fish?  I said, “Yes, great”. So off she went to make the sauce.

It seemed like in about twenty to thirty minutes we had made a beautiful meal. 


We enjoyed the meal beside the pond under our gazebo watching and listening to the fountain that Suzette recently remodeled.  After our hard day’s work, we ravenously devoured our dinner.   The salmon seemed really fresh, almost as fresh and succulent as the salmon steaks we bought at the Philo Market in Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, California, fresh caught on their own boat. Suzette grilled the fish to just the point where there is a warmed center and the rest of the fish is cooked to the point that it contains its maximum moisture and still is fully grilled.  Delicious.

I then fetched the rest of the bottle of Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc and we enjoyed sipping it as we discussed our plans for plantings in the new orchard area, such as the possibility of adding two more gazebo frames to create grape arbors.  Suzette loves having sitting and dining areas in the garden area.  We are up to four or five depending upon whether you count the bench we made along the side of the raised beds that can seat about 45 people.  As a result of the new orchard construction we could add an additional three more areas.  

Then we can have some awesome garden parties.
   
Bon Appétit
   


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 19, 2014 Garcia’s Kitchen Machaca/Huevos Locos and PPI Dinner of Bobby Flay chicken, Tabouli, tzatziki and string beans

I received a call from Buddy around 8:30 this morning about our meeting with a new client.  I was getting into the shower after a bike ride with Suzette, so I said I would call him after I showered and he said they would go to Garcia’s Kitchen for a cup of coffee.  I returned his call at 9:00 and I said I would join them.  So I drove the five blocks to Garcia’s Kitchen at 1736 Central SW, www.garciaskitchen.com.

When I arrived Buddy was finishing a plate of Huevos Rancheros. As we began discussing Eric’s legal issue, I became hungry, so when the waitress asked me what I wanted to eat I asked, “Do you have machaca?  She replied, “With beef or ham?.

I had never heard of machaca with ham, but wanted beef anyway, so I answered, “With beef, please” and described the dish I wanted and mentioned that I wanted corn tortillas with it.
In a few minutes she brought me a plate filled with an egg omelet filled with fresh chopped jalapenos, tomatoes, beef brisket, and onions on one side and refried beans and fried potatoes on the other side and a small plate covered with aluminum containing three warmed corn tortillas.  I loved it and we came to a satisfactory conclusion for Eric’s legal problem.  When I received the check I saw that my dish was identified as “Huevos Locos”. Upon re-examination of the menu, it appears that the dish I ordered as machaca is on the “Breakfast Anytime” portion of the menu identified as Huevos Locos ($7.00), so I have a new breakfast joint to go to. 

I loved Garcia’s Machaca/Huevos Locos.  It was a sufficiently large portion to power me through the whole day until Suzette arrived at 6:00 as I was finishing up an incorporation for another client.   

At around 6:30 we decided to use up the PPI Bobby Flay chicken from Thursday evening and the tabouli, caprese salad and tzatziki from last night’s meal and steam the string beans I bought at Sprouts Farm Market last Thursday ($.98/lb.).

I de-stemmed the green beans and washed them and Suzette heated up the chicken and steamed the green beans and we were ready to eat in about ten minutes.


We smeared the last of the  Bobby Flay recipe's honey mint sauce on the chicken and Suzette drank a beer and I drank a glass of the PPI J Winery Pinot Gris. The J’s Pinot Gris is the lightest pinot Gris I have tasted, which puts it into the elegant French category for me. Unfortunately, it lacks a fruity flavor.  My favorite American Pinot Gris is still Elk Cove from the Willamette Valley.  J’s is grown in the Russian River district of northern California, just south of Healdsburg and next door to Rodney Strong Vineyards. . We visited J’s Winery a couple of years ago and I see from its current website that it still specializes in food and wine paring tastings.   Here is the website address and a bit of info on its pinot gris wines: http://www.jwine.com/en/Wines/Pinot-Gris.

I bought the bottle of J California Pinot Gris at Costco last Friday for $11.99.  According to J’s website J makes two better grades of Pinot Gris.  Perhaps they have more fruit flavor?
Here is a picture of the bottle of pinot gris I bought.




Our big TV finally died, so I went to bed after dinner.

My most recent weight loss regime seems to be to eat only two meals a day, to reduce my sugar intake and to ride the bike as many days of the week as possible.  It actually seems to be working.


Bon Appétit    

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 17 and 18, 2014 Rack of lamb, Mint sauce, Tabouli, and Tzatziki

August 17 and 18, 2014  Rack of lamb, Mint sauce, Tabouli, and Tzatziki

On Sunday we had our traditional bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches for brunch.

Around 3:00 Suzette made fish chowder for a late lunch with the fresh corn she bought on Saturday.  I ran to Pro’s  Market to buy milk, an avocado, yogurt, and another couple of potatoes.  Suzette made a simple chowder with PPI frozen pieces of salmon and Mahi Mahi; simple and delicious.  We drank beers with the chowder.


We were not hungry for dinner so we made a cheese plate with the fresh wedge of Le Delice from Costco ($10.99/lb.), toasted slices of Costco Sourdough bread and a sliced fresh peach from Suzette’s Center for Ageless Living.  I opened a bottle of Pennywise Pinot Noir I found in the basement.  The light fruity pinot noir went well with the creamy slightly acidic French cheese.

On Monday I ate the last of the noodle soup I made on Friday.  I am going to start describing what I put in my noodles soups because they are a magnet for interesting PPIs.  This latest soup included PPI broccoli and cauliflower flowerets and Bobby Flay sautéed chicken, plus mushrooms about 10 oz. of tofu, an egg, three kinds of noodles (mung bean, buckwheat, and egg), a heaping tablespoon of white miso, 1/3 of a yellow onion and a few other things.  I also added the sautéed rub we had put on the Bobby Flay chicken that was left in the skillet, which gave the soup a strong flavor of paprika and a distinctly reddish color.

We had invited Cynthia and Ricardo for dinner.  Cynthia and I discussed the menu on Sunday.  She told me she was making a Greek menu for Ricardo’s family and would bring a bowl of Tzatziki for Monday night.  Cynthia arrived at 6:45 with a large bowl of Tzatziki made with fresh local Japanese round cucumbers, yogurt, a bit of olive oil, chopped fresh dill and some garlic. 

Tabouli

At 5:00 I started making Tabouli.

First, I covered 1 cup of No. 2 Bulgur wheat with warm water to hydrate it.  I then went to the garden and picked two cucumbers, a handful of mint, two stalks of lovage and about six or seven sprigs of parsley.  I peeled, deseeded and cubed the cucumbers and sprinkled a bit of salt on thee cubes.  Then I chopped a total of 1 cup of parsley, lovage and mint and added that to the bowl of cucumbers.  I then sliced four green onions.  When Suzette came home at 5:30 she put more hot water on the bulgur to speed up its softening.  

At 6:00 I drained as much water from the bulgur as I could and added about ½ cup of olive oil and the juice of two lemons.  This made the mixture a bit sour, so I added a bit more olive oil.  Then I added the cucumbers, herbs and onions and at 6:15 covered the Tabouli and put it into the fridge to mellow.  Ricardo arrived a few minutes after 7:00 and by then the Tabouli had absorbed most of the olive oil and lemon juice and tasted fine.

Suzette made a Caprese Salad with fresh tomatoes from our garden, slices of fresh Mozzarella (Costco) and fresh basil leaves from our garden. After Ricardo arrived and we had a drink and were ready to eat, she made a vinegar and olive oil dressing and drizzled that over the salad.
 
Cynthia, Ricardo and I were hungry, so I put out a small appetizer plate with slices of Swiss Gruyere cheese (Costco $10.99/lb.), salami, Kalamata olives and caper berries.  Suzette added a handful of crackers and we nibbled and talked for a few minutes while Suzette organized the effort to grill the rack of lamb that I had bought at Costco on Saturday (11.99/lb. less a $2.00 discount).   Suzette set the table in the gazebo and I took out two PPI bottles of wine; the Penny Wise pinot noir and the Clos du Val Cabernet Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Cynthia brought a bottle of Big Bend Pinot Noir produced by R2, which is a new wine for me.  It is a big pinot with a dark deep flavor.  Here are the notes on it and its rating, along with other pinots made by Roger and Richard Roessler.  I first met Roger when he owned Ogilvies at the corner of Louisiana and Central, when I was reviewing restaurants for Albuquerque Monthly about twenty-five years ago. Since then he brought his nephews into the business and they opened Seasons, Savoy and Zinc and Roger and he and his brother Richard moved to California to make wine.  Here is an article describing their recent history and their wines.  We have seen Roger several time at the Anderson Valley Pinot Festival and I think he makes great wines.
R2 Wine Co. Opens Tasting Room
We have a new winery tasting room in town, and while the name and location is new, the two guys behind it should be familiar to many of you.
The R2 Wine Company (R Squared) is the new wine venture of Roger Roessler and his brother Richard Roessler. I’ve written about Roger and his Roessler Cellars brand before. The brothers recently sold the Roessler Cellars brand and business to Hall Wines over in Napa Valley.
Roger and Richard have taken a different tack with R Squared. Where Roessler Cellars focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – mainly vineyard designated bottlings priced in the $40 to $50 price range – R Squared has a broader lineup of Rhone-style blends as well as a Pinot and a Chardonnay and the wines are really reasonably priced, ranging from $18 to $29 per bottle. Roger and Richard have set out to create wines that are great expressions of their place of origin and great values. The current wine lineup, available for tasting, includes Black Pine Pinot Noir, Rhapsody En Blu Rhone Red blend, Big Bend Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Hannah Rose and the Vin Blancs Rhone White blend.
The new R Squared tasting room is located at 654 Broadway, south of the Plaza. The official grand opening for the tasting room which started last Friday, June 10, and runs for two weekends through Sunday, June 19, features complimentary wine tasting, special seminars, discounts, food and prize drawings. Erin Leveroni is the tasting room manager.
I recently tasted through the lineup and here are my notes:
2009 Vins Blancs Santa Barbara, $22: A blend of Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, this is a crisp, clean wine with really nice floral aromas and flavors.
2010 Grenache Blanc Santa Ynez Valley, $24.50: A bit of a rarity in California, this is my favorite of the white wines. It has bright aromas and flavors of melon and citrus, with nice structure and crisp acidity.
2009 Big Bend Chardonnay Carneros, $26.50: The grapes for this wine come from Roger’s vineyard located south and west of Sonoma. It was such a favorite under the Roessler label that he decided to hold on to it for his new venture. Rich, ripe pineapple and citrus flavors greet you with just the right amount of oak to round out the taste experience.
2010 Hannah Rose Santa Barbara, $18: This is a Grenache-based rose and in general I think Grenache makes the best roses. It’s bright and crisp with nice strawberry aromas and flavors. Chill this down and it’s the perfect summer picnic and party wine.
2008 Black Pine Pinot Noir California, $24: This is a blend from several different appellations and has some really nice layers of flavor from dark cherry and spicy aromas to a rich core of cherry fruit and earthy complexity in the mouth. Great all-purpose Pinot.
2009 Rhapsody “En Blu” Santa Ynez Valley, $23.50: Again, Grenache is the star here, making up the majority of the blend with the balance made up of Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignane. The nose has nice plum and black pepper notes; rich, ripe flavors follow with a lush, silky texture. It’s big enough for a steak, but definitely not overdone — probably my favorite of the red wines.
The R2 Wine Company Tasting Room is located at 654 Broadway in Sonoma, about two blocks south of the Plaza. The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit r2winecompany.com or call 933.1330.
Here is a description of their pinots:
http://www.r2winecompany.com/assets/client/Image/10RedBirds_139.jpg
From PinotReport, Issue #77, February 15, 2012, "In The Market" by Gregory S. Walter
SMART BUY!
"Bright and full of flavor..."
R2 Wine Company Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Red Birds 2010: Medium-deep ruby color; ripe, rich red cherry aromas with spicy, herbal notes; ripe, bright red cherry flavors with spicy, cinnamon notes; lush, silky texture; good structure and balance; long finish. Bright and full of flavor, this Pinot would be great with roasted chicken. 289 cases made, $30. Score: 93
SMART BUY!
"Rich and ripe..."
R2 Wine Company Pinot Noir California Black Pine 2010: Medium-deep ruby color; deep ripe cherry and earthy aromas; rich, deep red cherry and plum flavors with earthy notes; silky texture, nice oak notes; good structure and balance; long finish. Rich, ripe Pinot that's a nearly perfect blend of full fruit and earthy complexity. 1,033 cases made, $26. Score: 93

MAKE ROOM IN THE CELLAR!
"Complex and many layered..."
R2 Wine Company Pinot Noir Carneros Big Bend Reserve 2010: Deep ruby color; deep, complex earthy aromas with chery and herbal notes; complex, earthy and rich cherry and plum flavors with some sage and anise notes; sweet oak; good structure and balance; long finish. Complex, many layered Pinot that really needs some time in the glass and in the bottle to open up; perfect paired with a grilled steak or slow-cooked short ribs. 98 cases made, $30, Score: 93

From the San Francisco Chronicle, August 19, 2011
Chronicle Recommends, by Jon Bonné
2009 R{+2} Wine Co. Rhapsody en Blu Santa Ynez Valley Red ($23.50, 14.7%): You might know Roger and Richard Roessler from their Sonoma-based Pinot label, but they sold last year to St. Helena's Hall Winery and moved on to this new effort. Stylish wood tones arrive first, melded with pretty wild strawberry (it's mostly Grenache, plus Syrah, Carignane and Mourvedre) and licorice, and a root-like earthiness. Big and chewy.

   I am proud when Albuquerque and New Mexico folks are recognized for their wine.  I can hardly wait to try the Grenache Blanc. 

 When the lamb was done I pulled it from the grill and sliced it and we were ready to eat.  We each took two lamb riblets and filled our plates with Tabouli, tzatziki, and caprese salad.  Ricardo described his new job, which is designing sets for Digg, which is a mystery surrounding archeological excavations in Israel.  Cynthia is very busy with her landscape design and garden work.  She worked at a garden in the North Valley and they had to leave early because she has to drive to Gallup tomorrow morning for a design for an apartment complex.

The mosquitoes were bad and we decided to move inside for dessert.  Suzette had planned to make sundaes with fresh and brandied peach slices. We all chose to eat them with vanilla ice cream rather than yogurt.  Also, everyone wanted to drink a sweet dessert wine so I went to the basement and fetched a ½ bottle of 1996 Château Pineau du Rey Sauternes that we had bought in Sauternes in 1999 or 2000.

The sauternes had a deep golden color and tasted exceedingly nutty. Like it had slightly oxidized, but it still had a very vibrant fruity flavor, with just a touch of citrusy botrytis flavor.  Ricardo really liked it because it had lost that sickeningly sweet flavor that sauternes sometimes have.

The peaches and ice cream were lovely; a light summer dessert and the creaminess of the ice cream was a wonderful complement to the nutty, slightly sweet flavor of the sauternes



By 9:30 we were all done and said goodnight to our dear friends.


Bon Appétit 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 16, 2014 Deborah Madison Luncheon, Dinner Crab Claws, Corn on the cob and Faro Cucumber Salad

August 16, 2014 Deborah Madison Luncheon,   Dinner  Crab Claws, Corn on the cob and Faro Cucumber Salad
 We had invited Penny Rembe to join us for the Deborah Madison luncheon and she arrived at around 10:30.  After a quick look at my art and shell collection, we drove to the Center for Ageless living in Los Lunas.

When we arrived the Education Building was filling up with the 40 people who had signed up for the lunch.

We were shown to a table marked “Reserved” and soon Deborah Madison arrived and joined us.  Then Suzette joined and introduced Deborah to the group and discussed the Center for a minute or two.  After Deborah spoke for a few minutes about her life in food and her authorship of 14 books on food and cooking the first course was served.

It was a glass salad bowl filled with a large scoop of Faro Salad with chopped cucumbers and flavored with lovage.  Deborah spoke about the dish in that easy dismissive Buddhist way.  The faro is a groats made from Spelt and is good for those who can not eat gluten.  The lovage is a wonderful herb that can be used in salads like the faro salad.  At the table I asked about purslane and Deborah mentioned golden purslane, which grows taller and is more of a culinary type of purslane that she uses in salads.

Penny and Deborah were old friends so the conversation was lively and interesting.  Deborah and Penny are both long time locally grown New Mexico produce growers and advocates and Deborah uses Penny’s locally produced lavender cosmetics produced at Los Poblanos (Penny’s family owns, rehabilitated and developed Los Poblanos into what it is today, which is one of the premier farming and hospitality centers in Albuquerque).  On the drive down Penny had told me they had just harvested 1200 pounds of chili, which they use in their products and in the restaurant, and bottled 200 pounds of pickles from their cucumbers.  I felt like I was sitting with a triad of local food leaders.

Anne and Derren cooked a great luncheon selected from Deborah’s new Cookbook, The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a signed copy of which was being given to each attendee at the luncheon.  After the cool Faro Salad we were served an entrée of baked cannelloni with mozzarella garnished with cubes of tomato sautéed in balsamic vinegar with a scoop of fresh zucchini drizzled with lemon with a little basil.  Penny and Deborah drank glasses of Campalou Vouvray.  Suzette and I drank the Kermit Lynch Beaujolais. 

Soon the dessert arrived of local pears from Wagner’s Farms and fresh peaches from the Center’s tree in a honey Riesling wine sauce and garnished with a bit of whipped cream.  Everything was fresh and delicious and although eh portions were not large my hunger was amazingly satisfied, even though I had not eaten any breakfast.

I took Penny on a tour of the Center and we drove back to Albuquerque and I showed her the garden at the house.

After Penny left, I drove to Costco to get gas and shop.  One of the neighbors at last night’s Neighborhood Cocktail party said they had seen French Brie at Costco, so I wanted to go buy some.  Unfortunately, it was the same small round from Normandy that does not age well, so I avoided it and bought Le Delice and Swiss Gruyere instead.  I saw Dan Behles in the wine section and he recommended J Winery’s Pinot Gris so I bought two bottles of it and a bottle of Sancerre and a bottle of my favorite Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc. 

Then I saw that lamb riblets were on sale ($11.99/lb. less $2.00 per package)  I bought a package with eight riblets for about $16.00.

Suzette arrived home at around 5:00 and we were both hungry, so we quickly decided to eat the crab claws I had bought at Sprouts on Thursday ($5.99/lb.) with ears of fresh Schweinbach corn from Moriarty, Suzette had bought at the Farmers’ Market in the morning and the PPI Faro Salad from lunch combined with the PPI cucumber salad I had made a couple of days ago.  I wanted to try the 2013 J pinot gris so I chilled it in the fridge and then the freezer.  I like light white wine served at around 50 to 52˚.
   
We made our favorite sauce for crab, combining about ¾ cup of mayonnaise with 1 shallot minced, a dash of salt, about 1-2 Tbsps. white wine vinegar, 2 tsps. fresh tarragon leaves chopped,  the juice of ½ lemon, 1 tsp. French Dijon Mustard and 1 tsp. of olive oil.  I usually combine the vinegar, lemon juice and shallot and let the acid ferment/pickle the shallot a bit, but today we were going to eat as soon as the sauce was finished and we needed to dispel some of the harsh edge of the vinegar, so Suzette added about 1 Tbsp. of local honey to the sauce to balance the bitterness of the vinegar.

Suzette toasted four slices of Bosque baguette and then plated up the plates with an ear of boiled fresh corn, half of the faro/cucumber salad and a couple of slices of baguette on each plate and I poured glasses of pinot grs and we carried them to the garden table under the gazebo and ate a lovely fresh dinner.  We decided that we did not like the crab claws as much as we liked the Dungeness crab at Costco and that the 2013 J pinot gris was exceedingly light but pleasant with the crab. The J pinot gris has a light honey pink color that is appealing also.



After dinner we watched “White House Down” on TV and Suzette had sliced some peaches from the Center and put a bit of sugar on them and let them sit for a bit to allow the sugar to go into solution and she then ate peaches and vanilla ice cream.  I took out the mayonnaise and brought in the PPI clafoutis and Italian meat sauce and we put those into containers and I ate a bit of the meat sauce that was dotted with bits of purslane and fresh tomatoes.  I am trying to reduce my carbo and sugar intake and found that the small bowl of delicious meat sauce made a great alternative dessert snack.


Bon Appétit

Friday, August 15, 2014

August 14, 2014 New Recipe Grilled Fresh Halibut with Lemon-Butter Sauce and Steamed Cauliflower and Broccoli in Cheese Sauce

August 14, 2014 New Recipe   Grilled Fresh Halibut with Lemon-Butter Sauce and Steamed Cauliflower and Broccoli in Cheese Sauce

After my annual doctor’s check-up near Academy and Wyoming I decided to shop for food.  I first stopped at Whole Foods to see what kinds of cheese they had and saw nothing interesting except for Spanish Valeron.  Since we had bought a blue cheese at Costco a few days ago, I drove down Academy to Nantucket Shoals and saw lovely fresh filets of fish.  I particularly liked the Bluenose Sea Bass and Halibut.
Since I know how much Suzette loves Halibut ($25.95/lb.), I bought a .87 lb. filet of Halibut for $22.58. 

Nantucket Shoals has the best quality fish in town.  I have been buying fish from Nancy since she and Eric opened their first store at Edith and Central over 20 years ago.  We talked a bit and Nancy said she is now a grandmother with three grandchildren.  Nantucket has always had the best and freshest fish in town.  Although I have never had a bad piece of fish from Nantucket, Suzette thinks they receive fresh fish on Thursday, so she thought it cannot be fresher than today.  I also bought a frozen 1 lb. bag of crawfish tails ($14.95) for crawfish étouffée.

I next went next door to Sprouts and bought string beans ($.98/lb.) and a green bell pepper ($.50 each) and 1 ½ lb. of crab claws ($5.99/lb.).

I went home and worked until 6:00 and Suzette came home around 6:30.  She was thrilled to see that I had bought a good piece of fish.  We quickly decided to add the rest of the broccoli and cauliflower to the last night’s PPI cauliflower and broccoli in cream sauce, so I cut off the rest of the flowerets and steamed them and heated the PPI cauliflower and broccoli in cream sauce and added milk and grated ¼ cup of Pecorino Romano cheese into the sauce to extend the sauce and make it cheesier.  When the rest of the broccoli and cauliflower flowerets were cooked, I folded them into the by now expanded sauce.  I also added a clove of garlic, a dash of Italian Seasoning and a dash of fresh nutmeg and, at Suzette’s suggestion, 1 Tbsp. of the fresh mint sauce we had made last night to the cream sauce to give the cheese sauce added fresh herb flavor. 

While I was playing with the sauce Suzette grilled the Halibut.  She made incisions into the flesh side of the fish and stuck pads of butter into them and then squeezed fresh lemon juice on the flesh side and laid the filet skin-side down on the vegetable baking pan on slices of fresh lemon, which is the same method she used a couple of years ago to great success.  Less is more when it comes to grilling fresh fish, because you want it to retain the fresh sea flavor.  It took about fifteen to twenty minutes to grill the thick filet to tender.  You do not want to under-cook Halibut.  It must be fully cooked to turn tender and release its juices lodged between the flakes.  Of course, you do not want to over-cook it either or it will dry out.  Therein lies the skill of the griller and Suzette is great at it.    


I decided I wanted the best bottle of wine I could find for this fresh grilled fish, so I went to the basement and was lucky to find a bottle of 2001 Domaine du Rochoy produced at Domaine Laporte in Sancerre in the Loire region of France.  I looked like I paid $25.99 for the bottle at Quarters about 10 years ago, probably because I saw that it was imported by Martine’s Wines.  We love Martine because her selection of wines is impeccable.  She usually attends the Winter Wine Festival in Taos with an impressive array of French wines of the highest quality but that are produced by less well known producers, so they are usually a little less expensive.     





Here is what the NY Times Wine Club says about the wine:








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Origin
“Laporte Sancerre Domaine du Rochoy

Year
Vintage
2010

Varietal
Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc

Style
Style
Crisp

Origin
Appellation & Country
Sancerre, France

Pairing
Pairing
Vegetables

$30.00

Flowing over 600 miles to the Atlantic Ocean from its source in the Cévennes mountains, the Loire is the longest river in France. Along its banks, huge variations in soil, climate and grape varieties account for one of the world’s most diverse winegrowing regions. But of all the abundance and diversity found in this “garden of France,” little is more celebrated than the Sauvignon Blanc of the famous village of Sancerre, where the wines from this grape, many believe, achieve their purest form.
Pairings
As the quintessential expression of Sauvignon Blanc, in all its flinty, racy glory, a Sancerre like the Domaine Laporte fares well with higher-acid preparations, especially those involving lemon or grapefruit. The judicious use of fresh herbs will complement its innate herbal quality. It loves shellfish and lighter seafood, but can also be used as a counterpoint to dishes featuring rich, creamy sauces. For example, Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops with a lemonbutter sauce) is considered a classic pairing. Of course, no pairing would be more classic than serving the wine with a plate of crackers or bread surrounding a perfectly soft round of fresh chèvre.

Serve well chilled (47°F).
Winemaker
Serge Laporte’s family has been working the slopes around the hill town of Sancerre for many generations and, thanks to longevity and persistence, they are now in possession of some of the region’s most highly regarded terroir, based in the famous wine village of Chavignol. It’s a little-known fact that Sancerre features two very different soil types, each making a unique and distinctive version of Sauvignon Blanc. Domaine Laporte lies right on the edge of the valley and is fortunate to have vines in both soils.
The Wine
This wine comes from Domaine du Rochoy, a unique 25-acre vineyard on the flinty side of the valley, overhanging the Loire. Perpetually known for its rockiness, in Roman times Rochoy was a quarry called Rochetum. And today that rock plays an important role, as it absorbs sunlight during the day and reflects warmth back onto the grapes during the cool nights, allowing them to ripen early and at high ripeness. All of that is on display in this wine, which offers disarming amounts of brilliant lime and grapefruit flavors and aromas. There’s an almost honeyed richness that’s perfectly undercut by the zing of taut acidity and an iron mineral core.”

So we seemed to have put together a perfect meal for this wine.  The vegetables in cream sauce and the fish with the lemon, butter sauce perfectly complemented the wine and v.v.

This wine is rated 89 points by Wine Spectator and the 2010 sells for $30.00 and the 2001 sells for $37.50 on one site.   The wine was still very good.  It was approaching that point in its aging just before turning into sherry, but retained all of its original exquisite softness and slight lemony flavor.  It had an exquisite bouquet with just a hint of minerality, less lemony than a Vouvray and less minerality than a Savennieres.

This is the kind of great French wine I call 'elegant".  It does not have the gravitus or character of a big white chardonnay from Burgundy, but it is not meant to, it is supposed to be the perfect complement to delicate fresh seafood and it achieves that purpose perfectly.  I do not know if it is because of its age, but this 2001 bottle lacked that overwhelming fruity, grapefruity pop that the best California Sauvignon Blancs like Mary Edwards seem to have.  I think that big fruity wines seem to clash with the food when I am trying to enjoy the subtle flavor of a fresh fish that does not have a lot of oiliness, like halibut or sea bass/grouper.

To say the least, this was the best Halibut dinner we have had in years.  So I think we may now be stuck on better wines and fresher fish.  Neither could have been better than tonight’s dinner; a real food treat.      

The fish was tender and succulent, flaking easily, without lots of excess moisture, like previously frozen fish; just fresh and delicious.

Suzette made a lemon and butter sauce by melting butter in the microwave and adding lemon juice to it.  This enhanced the flavor of the fish, like lemon-butter sauce does for another rich seafood, lobster.

We dipped flakes of halibut into the lemon/butter sauce and sipped Sancerre and nibbled forkfuls of vegetables in cream sauce as the day dimmed to night.


Since the evening was cool and peaceful, we sat and sipped the last of this great bottle of Sancerre and relaxed as the new solar lights beside the pond turned on to illuminate the fountain spouting water as rivulets of water drizzled out of the giant sea clam shell sending ripples across the pond. 
  
Bon Appétit