Man, it's really coming down!!! The snow glistens outside, the holiday lights are up, & I awake each morning to the smell of Christmas as I come down the stairs to our be-jeweled Doug Fir from the Dunshee House on Capitol Hill (our tradition for the last six years...) I'm not a kid anymore, but I love this special time just the same!
I'm totally behind on buying presents, which is somewhat expected when launching a new business at the craziest time of the year, and the weather hasn't helped matters. But if you're in the same boat, my magnanimous husband made a trip to Staples & bought supplies for handsome Queso y Vino gift certificates & matching saffron-colored envelopes. How cool is that?!
Get your shopping done in a heart beat with a Queso y Vino gift certificate starting at $25--you get to choose the amount--and you'll give an adventure in wine! Gift certificates are redeemable for any of the passionately chosen wines that appear in my weekly newsletters, private wine classes, all of the great finds and favorites I stock here at Queso y Vino headquarters, & any bottles ordered at my on-going wine dinner series... I'm always happy to put an "omakase" selection together for the wine lover on your list, as your trusted roaming sommelier.
Ho, ho, ho! Hope you are enjoying the snow and Queso y Vino's sleigh will be out delivering (with chains on & fingers-crossed!) Saturday through Wednesday, December 23rd with gifts of good cheer!
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, firstname.lastname@example.org
PS- More tasty stories, travel tips, photos, & recipes from this food-obsessed gal are available on my blog Madeleine at www.madeleine.typepad.com
ANCHOVY & PISTO BOCADILLOS from Spain & the World Table by The Culinary Institute of America
Okay, so it was so hard to choose one recipe from this new & inspiringly innovative cookbook last week that I decided to include a second one this week! The humble dish of pisto (Spain's version of ratatouille) brings back fond memories of La Mancha. Life in this region of windmills & sweeping plains tends to be simple--the people there are salt of the earth, & the dishes are as well. This is definitely a fancified play on a traditional dish, but a perfect finger food for holiday entertaining!
8 baguette slices, sliced on the bias 1/4 inch thick
8 to 16 oil-packed boneless anchovies, rinsed
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
10 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided use
1 1/2 cups small-dice yellow onion
1 1/3 cups small-dice green bell peppers
1 1/3 cups small-dice red peppers
1 1/2 cups small-dice zucchini
1 1/2 cups finely chopped vine-ripened tomatoes (skin & seeds removed)
1/2 tsp salt, or as needed
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or as needed
2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the baguette slices on an ungreased baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until crisp & dry on the surface but still a bit chewy & soft on the inside.
Toss the anchovy fillets with the sherry vinegar & 2 Tbs of olive oil. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat & add the onions & peppers. Cook, stirring from time to time, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini & tomatoes, season with the salt & pepper, & cook for another 15 minutes, or until the mixture is very tender & fragrant. Taste & adjust the seasoning with salt as needed. Remove from the heat.
Dry the anchovies. Top each piece of toast with 2 Tbs of the vegetable mixture (pisto). Lay 1 to 2 anchovy fillets, depending on the size, on top of the pisto. Dress with 1/4 tsp of balsamic vinegar & serve.
THIS WEEK'S QUESO Y VINO WINE PICKS
Queso y Vino, your mobile wine shop complete with a traveling expert Iberian sommelier (that's me!) is at your service. Hope you jump on the board to sample these tasty cellar selections & affordable wines... Personally selected "Omakase" cases built around your palate, desires, & budget are my specialty.
I offer a 10% discount on whole or mixed cases, free delivery for orders over $150, smaller orders will be conveniently & gladly delivered to you for the nominal fee of $10. Ask me if you'd like to arrange a free pick up at the Saturday University Farmer's Market or the West Seattle Farmer's Market Sunday!
Cavas Hill Reserva Artesania Brut de Brut Cava, $9.99
Brand-spankin' new & a bargain to boot, pull out your champagne glasses & toast to the holidays! Thank goodness Cavas Hill has done a face lift on their labels... Their sparkling wines are great, but their 70's rainbow-splashed labels always made them a tough sell. The new Artesania is a handsome & tasty $10 treat. Almonds & toast, apples & pears are there to get the party started, but then wham! there's great acidity & the sensation of biting into a salted granny smith apple & a crisp MacIntosh at the same time. A superbly affordable bubbly to have on hand this time of the year!
Quinta dos Grilos Vinho Tinto 2006, Dao $10.99
Jiminy cricket! This is one of the most delicious wines from the Dao I've had for this price. I can usually tell how much I like a wine by the length of my wine notes, & I had a lot to pen about this one. A super-cool blend of Touriga National, Alfrocheiro and Tinto Roriz, this is doused with brilliant aromas of passionfruit & a handful or crushed berries. Silty, textured, & delightful, Grilos is packed with mountain huckleberries, desert dust, jasmine tea, pomegranate molasses, blueberry, plus cloves & cinnamon eastern spices. Totally versatile, and gulpable all on its own--I dig this cricket!!
Marques de Irun Blanco Superior 2007, Rueda $12.99
Just knowing that this estate is owned by famed sherry producer Bodegas Lustau tells you you're about to taste a classic... Let the lion lead the way! This is the softer side of Verdejo, pure & unblended, with lush pineapple & honeyed lemon drops (referring to texture, not sweetness) that keeps to the dry charm of Verdejo but in a slightly richer format. But there's a great quartz streak running through it that brought back instant memories of the chalky soils I strolled through when visiting the region... This is the stuff for heady Indian meals or spicy Mexican Christmas tamales!
Enologica Temera Alodio Mencia 2007, Ribeira Sacra $14.99
Very rarely do any of the red wines from Galicia make their way from Spain, & you should see the pictures of Temera's vineyards! Wow--craggy old vines popping up straight from terraces of river rocks from the Rio Sil in Orense. No wonder this wine tastes so good... The nose jumps right out of the glass with freesia & bold pie fruits, and this had an incredible stoniness that screams terrioir. Really juicy & fresh with fantastic balance, ground white pepper, & lasting crushed minerals. Think pork tenderloin or duck with a reduced cherry sauce & you're on the highway to pairing heaven.
Descendientes Palacios Petalos del Bierzo 2006, Bierzo $22.99
"Delicious, delicious, delicious..." is what went through my mind when we cracked open a bottle of this on Sunday. We were cooking up some Thundering Hooves lamb keftes with saffron rice & a tagine of egglant, chickpeas, red peppers in a harissa sauce, and MAN this wine did the job brilliantly! The latest revelation from Spanish wine impressario Alvaro Palacios. This time Palacios has enlisted his Bordeaux-studied nephew to take on the challenging terroir of Bierzo with its precipitous schist hillsides. Likened to Burgundy's Cote d'Or & Piedmont's Langhe hills, Bierzo makes almost exclusive use of old-vine Mencía, a possible variant of Cab Franc brought down by French pilgrims. Currants & pomegranate seeds evolve like a foreign flavor squad. Minerals explode with garrigue qualities (that's wine talk for rockrose), and a bit of leather seriousness thrown into play. Plump & plush cordial cherries, white pepper, plus pithy slate.
Looking for a Christmas gift for a wine lover? Need something special to put on the holiday table? This wine is one that you should have on hand when you feel like treating yourself to a little something extra. It sure perked up my spirits!
-91 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
-91 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Rocha Ten-Year-Old Tawny, $14.99 375 ml
I love a good tawny this time of the year, & Rocha always delivers when you need a bit of port by a blazing fireplace, a cat on your lap, & a good book cracked open... Can you tell I was an English major?? Hand-stenciled bottles & incredible craft keep the ports from partners Rocha & Kopke on my go-to list year after year. Drink in a little marmalade, melted caramel & palate-coating butterscotch, oh my.... This is an under $20 decadence that should be enjoyed with equally lip-smacking salt caramels.
Broadbent 'Lot 1 Auction Reserve Port', Porto $12.99, 375 ml
This is a PLEASURE to drink. While I usually reserve such enthusiasm for single vintage ports, this one (bottled by Niepoort) seduced me into believing that yes Virginia, great blended ruby ports do exist. On the tongue, you'll find cherries & boysenberries dipped in milk chocolate, pot au creme & a caramel/custardy richness. It's as if you dipped into a box of cordials–the sweet fruit hooks you & then a rich caramel/vanilla sensation glides down your tongue. The flavors make you want to sip it slowly, but the delicious nature of this port is hard to resist.
GOING, GOING, GONE! A MUST-HAVE CELLAR SELECTION:
Bodegas El Nido Clio 2006, Jumilla $45.00 Highly allocated!
Of all the higher-end Spanish selections I have come upon over the years, Clio definitely is the one that brings consumers to their knees asking, "Do you have any bottles left???" Return customers often buy six at a time & allocations seem to become scarcer every year. Now's your chance to taste the future of Jumilla in a cellar-worthy style... No official big-wig reviews out yet, but Clio will be LONG gone before the ratings are released. Here's the skinny on the '05 vintage which is of course, long gone...
"The 2005 Clio, composed of 70% old-vine Monastrell and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, is opaque purple-colored with an enthralling bouquet of pain grille, spice box, violets, espresso, blueberry, and blackberry. Layered, opulent, and full-flavored, this thick wine has superb concentration and balance. It will evolve for 6-8 years and drink well through 2025.
The winemaking at the El Nido project is overseen by renowned Australian vigneron Chris Ringland. After a meticulous selection process, the grapes are basket pressed and fermented in oak. Malolactic fermentation occurs in new French and American oak where the wine remains for 26 months." -95 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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