Man, hope you all enjoyed Obarama! My hubby roused me out of bed early yesterday morning to witness history-in-the-making (I think I watched the beginning with one eye open) but woke up by the time Aretha hit the stage. What a show. We then proceeded to spend most of the day celebrating (or planning on where to celebrate) because Ken's birthday happens to fall on Inauguration Day & we couldn't let that get *totally* overshadowed by the big event... A very nice coincidence indeed.
Aside from all that, the past week has been all about meat! First I was invited to a private lunch in the backroom at Salumi where our gourmet gang spent the afternoon grazing on everything from house-made coppa, to grilled lamb doused with tapenade, & gorgonzola gnocchi with pancetta flecks, washed down with a few glasses of vino of course. We then, wine glasses in hand, were treated to a tour of the curing facilities with Brian D'Amato, who officially took over for his father-in-law Armandino Batali in '07, gazing into the vaults of meat-curing furnaces & wistfully eyed the walls of dangling culatello--the ungodly expensive (& delicious) cut of gold that comes from the heart of the prosciutto leg. I felt a little guilty about taking the day off, but this was an educational experience, right?
This week's recipe was inspired by an incredible Seattle Food Bloggers Meat Party that I attended on Saturday night (I told you it was a meaty week!) where Brit blogger extraordinaire, Matt Wright of Wrightfood, treated a rowdy group of food writers to a massive amount of protein. Matt worked for months planning this parade of pate's, prosciutto, & even a whole roasted pork shoulder from Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon. I have no idea how I got so lucky to score an invitation to this event--oh yeah, I picked out & paired the wines--but if you have an interest in making your own charcuterie (or just feel like drooling), you need to check out the pictures on Matt's blog. Just don't punch me in the nose next time you see me.
Thanks for reading, & hope you need some wine this week! I need to lift a lot of boxes to work off the calories...
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, email@example.com
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More tasty stories, travel tips, photos, & recipes from this food-obsessed gal are available on my blog Madeleine at www.madeleine.typepad.com
AIR-DRIED BEEF WITH FROMAGE BLANC & GREENS from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
One of my dreams is to start making cured meats at home, even though my one attempt to make duck prosciutto resulted an oceanically salty breast that was less than the size of your average hamster. Not too good for a first try, but I vow not to give up! This being said, I was really excited to see blogger Matt Wright's meat-making set up, as he has been getting into all things charcuterie. His curing rack is a crazy chicken coop, surrounded in plastic, suspended above a metal bowl of water--not quite like anything I saw on my tour of Salumi! Matt had been working on a duck prosciutto & a bresaola (dried beef) for the Seattle Food Bloggers Meat Party he was throwing, but unfortunately the prosciutto wasn't quite ready, & the bresaola went awry & ended up in the trash can. Bummer!
This deliciously simple salad is something I enjoy all winter until tomaters, cukes, & all the rest of the vegetable kingdom wakes up from their sleep in the spring. If you can't find fromage blanc, then substitute fresh ricotta, or a soft smearable goat cheese. I find that baby arugula, mizuna, or other greens with a bit of bite make a nice foil for the bresaola. Just don't substitute with those vacuum sealed dried beef packets my mom used to make dip out of--no, no, no. Matt, this one's for you!
About 6 Tbs fromage blanc
12 to 16 thin slices air-dried beef (bresaola), about 2 oz
3 to 4 oz tiny salad greens, carefully washed & dried
About 2 Tbs lemon oil
Smear 1 to 2 tsp of cheese onto each slice of meat, fold over, & pinch closed. Toss the greens with the lemon oil to coat & a pinch of salt. Arrange the pinched meat "turnovers" around a nest of salad.
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. Check out the growing selection of wines available that are listed on my blog, & special requests are always welcome. Why buy at a grocery store when you can support a locally-grown business?
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 Sunday at the Ballard Farmer's Market or the West Seattle Farmer's Market.
THIS WEEK'S WINE PICKS
Herdade do Esporao Alandra Tinto NV, Alentejo $6.99 (reg. $8.99)
Here it is by customer demand!!! And now there are quite a few empty bottles of this in my recycling bin--thanks guys. The thing is it's $7 for goodness sake, so I don't feel badly enjoying this on a nightly basis. Esporao is a fabulous producer in the Alentejo, & I've never tasted a wine from them that I didn't like. Alandra is their entry-level house wine blend of Moreto, Castelao, & Trincadeira which goes down pretty easily. With juicy raspberry brightness on the nose, this red can be summed up in a few words: pleasant, smooth, silky, supple. I suspect that this would pair nicely with a spiced up gumbo, but this could definitely become your Friday night pizza wine!
Fuzelo Vinho Verde 2007, Vinho Verde $7.99 (reg. $10.99)
I know it's cold out, but there's never a bad time to drink Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde's have that little fizz that feels celebratory, but not the full-on bubbles of a sparkling wine.They are also lower in alcohol, so they are a perfect cooking wine--I mean wine to drink while you're hard at work in the kitchen! I do use Vinho Verde's as a background note to sauteed fish dishes, but Fuzelo is a blend of high quality grapes (Alvarinho & Trajadura) that I find hard to pour into a pan. From the fresh apricot nose, and watermelon rind, pomelo, key lime juice flavors--all said "drink me!" This is a slightly more serious style of Vinho Verde, with a seashell spritz, and a lemon bone-dry finish. Bring on virtually any kind of crustacean or mollusk & Fuzelo will pucker up to it.
-90 points, Wine & Spirits
Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2006, Yecla $7.99 (reg. $9.99)
What's up with all the deals this month? Well, it's January & so many distributors are trying to whittle away at their inventory before the big containers of new wine hit their warehouses. Great news for us of course! Bodegas Castano is one of the wineries that revolutionized the wines of Yecla--once thought to be a back-water appellation where the wines were basically thrown into tanks, Yecla is now turning some heads. Monastrell, a.k.a. Mourvedre, from Yecla has an ultra-earthy vibe & you can count on Castano to produce outstanding values that love slow-cooked wintry dishes. Their entry-level wine makes a statement on the table with blueberry & blackberry pie fruits, sizzling spiciness, plus sage leaf essence & signature ashy gravel-like tannins. The perfect wine to go with the theme of this newsletter--meat!
Bodegas Mano a Mano Venta la Ossa 2005, La Mancha $14.99
This is the Tempranillo of the future! Wake up, WA wine lovers, collectors of cult CA cabs--this is going to save you a load of money. Venta la Ossa is one of those wines I was prepared to dislike because it is *so* new world that I would never be able to guess the grape, but the lush creaminess of cherry liqueur & exotic spices managed to seduce me, nonetheless. You know when wine reviews say a wine is sexy? Well that fits this to a T. Maybe I should have saved this for a Valentine's Day recommendation!! This is something people have already been re-ordering as a favorite from my "Omakase" cases...
-90 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Vina Amezola Crianza 2001, Rioja $16.99
This is one of the first wines I bought for Queso y Vino when I got my liquor license, & I'm finally getting around to tell you about it! Vina Amezola is as classic as it gets when it comes to the Rioja, especially since their bodega was one of the first three to be established in the region. 2001 was an exceptional vintage, & let me tell you, it is exceedingly difficult to find any bottles in the affordable Crianza range left from this year... In fact, I wanted to use this in a Tempranillo tasting a week ago, but when I called to order more, I was told that the 2001 vintage is now gone for good. That means the stash in my little cellar is amongst the last you can get your hands on! This Crianza has all the benefits of aging gracefully in the bottle, & continues on the old world path of smoothed out, earthy dried cherry & plum skins, cigar box spices, and yes, a little pickle barrel (that's totally Rioja!) People were buying this by the case at the introduction to Tempranillo class I taught this fall... Don't miss out on this classic!!
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