Oh the glorious return of the sun & wine events has given me a much-needed excuse to get out of the house & commune with the rest of the world. Last week I was able to enjoy tapas at Taberna del Alabardero twice (thanks Jaime!), first for some lunch, then for an impressive tasting with Florencia Navarro & his good-humored crew of Spanish winemakers. There's nothing like a Friday afternoon with over 50 wines to try!
The dinner at Olivar was a huge success & we had so much fun that Philippe and I have already been talking about when to plan the next one. Before the party got started, Ken & I sat down and tried some of the excellent specials off the chalkboard menu and I have to say that the grilled wild garlic with romanesco is out of this world!!! Easily worth a trip across town, this seasonal dish is not to be missed--the Loveless Building seems to have finally found the perfect fit.
So you've been asking & here it is, drumroll please. The next Queso y Vino wine dinner will be at... Art of the Table! I had a blast working with Dustin & make sure you check out the photo album on the left so you can get a feel for AotT's cuisine and ambience. Folks who went to our December dinner said that it felt like I had found the perfect fit for my events--I guess Dustin & I both operate on the same wavelength (only he's cooler because he has a gong). This time we're going free-style--we'll taste Dustin on our favorite new wines from around the globe & he will create one of his famous seasonal menus around the flavors. His spot is teensy, so make sure to get your seats reserved ASAP!
Queso y Vino's Sunday Wine Supper at Art of the Table
1054 N. 39th Street, Seattle between Wallingford & Fremont
Sunday, February 22nd @ 6 pm (dinner starts at 6:30 pm)
$65 per person including a flight of six specially-paired wines (plus tax & gratuity)
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, email@example.com
PS- Subscribe to the Q.y.V newsletter--it's fun, taste-inspiring, & free!!!
HALOUMI, CREME FRAICHE & SPINACH PIZZAS from Turquoise by Greg & Lucy Halouf
I was wondering when it was going to happen... Last week I was called out by "Tofu Boy" who more or less said, "Hey, enough with the chorizo! What about something I an cook?" Okay, okay, T.B... For February I will try pick more vegetarian (I used to be one myself), pescetarian, & poullettarian recipes. I've been itching to try out this recipe anyway & already have a tub of creme fraiche in the fridge. Now where the heck in Renton am I going to find halloumi?
1 1/4 pounds spinach leaves, washed
1 shallot, finely diced
1 small clove garlic, finely diced
finely grated zest of 1/3 lemon
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/3 lb haloumi, washed & finely grated
1/4 cup creme fraiche
freshly ground white pepper
1 quantity Turkish Pizza Dough (see below)
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil & blanch the spinach leaves in batches. Refresh in cold water, then squeeze firmly to extract as much liquid as you can.
Place the spinach on a large chopping board & put the shallot, garlic, zest, & mint on top. Use a very large knife to chop & mix everything together as fine as you can get until well combined. Put the spinach mixture into a large bowl & stir in the haloumi & creme fraiche. Season with salt & pepper.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Knock back the dough, then put it onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 10 portions. Roll each portion into a round, 6 inches in diameter. Brush lightly with oil & spread with the spinach topping. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (a convection oven may take as little as 4 to 5 minutes) & serve piping hot.
Turkish pizza dough:
1 Tbs dried yeast
3/4 tsp sugar
2 Tbs warm water
5 oz Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz bread flour
1/2 sea salt
Dissolve the yeast & sugar in warm water & set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes until frothy. In another small bowl, whisk the yogurt & extra-virgin olive oil.
Sift the flour & salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center & add the yeast & yogurt mixtures. Use your fingers to work in the flour & form a smooth ball. Transfer to an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook & kneed on a low speed for 10-15 minutes until very smooth & shiny. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, then cover with a damp tea towel & leave to rest at room temperature for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
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.
TOP 3 WINES FROM THE OLIVAR DINNER:
Louis Perdrier Rose Sparkling Brut, Beaune $9.99
Yes, this French bubbly was the best-seller of the night!
I love cooking with a glass of bubbly in hand, & this pink sparkler is just the ticket. Andre Boisseaux bought his estate in the heart of the Beaune in 1941 & has been producing outstanding wine since. His brut rose is full of red currants & July watermelon freshness, plus a terrific minerality & a squirt of citrus. At this price, you can celebrate with a glass of sparkling wine everyday! The perfect choice for Valentine's Day...
Inspiracion Pampano 2007, Rueda $10.99
This brand spankin' new white from Rueda was the talk of the town at Olivar, especially with Spanish sardines!
Agricola Castellana is a cooperativa that's grown to 400 members in the town of Vallodalid in northern Spain. I met a representative from the winery last week at a trade tasting & asked her about the unusual blend they've come up with--60% Verdejo & 40% Viura. She concurred that Viura is rarely grown in that region, but with such successful results, I'm hoping we see more people plant vines! Pampano has a knockout nose and a lightweight champion's zingy zesty moves in the ring. Explosive hits of grass & grapefruit on the nose and textbook Rueda flavors. Extremely refreshing with loads of personality, this white knows no season.
We opened a bottle of this recently & I thought to myself, "Who wouldn't like this wine?" Pleasurable and with great character, this offers something for everyone. From one of Spain's oldest family-owned wineries, Gotim Bru is a classic Catalan combo of Tempranillo, Cab, Merlot & Grenache. Castel de Remei deftly blends the four varietals resulting in great dusted minerality, relaxed tannins, star anise spice, with friendly plum/cherry fruit, and a toasted caramel finish. It's unbelievable to me that this wine has stayed the same price. Good all on its own or with Mediterranean meals such as a saffron-spiked bouillabaisse.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED HOUSE WINES!
Vina Ijalba Almagre Tinto 2006, Rioja $8.99
What a refreshing change of pace... We're seeing a lot of homogenized Spanish wines these days with that "Mondo Vino" taste, so this was a welcomed find in the bargain category. Vina Ijalba's bodega in Logroño turned to organic farming in 2000 which is another reason to celebrate! Translucent plum hue with tasty aromas of dried black cherries & cocoa beans, Almagre has old world charm in spades. Nice acidity, savory plums, with meaty/toasty notes from six months in oak all make this a bang-up wine for the money, plus low tannins make this one of the most versatile Rioja values out there. French Pinot lover's take note & give this a try for a change of pace.
-90 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Burgans Albarino 2007, Rias Baixas $12.99
Back in stock with a fresh new vintage!
Albarino's are increasingly difficult to find in this price range, & Burgans is here to save the day. Every bit as bright & minerally as the more expensive Albarino's out there, with the fruit of tangerines & fuzzy nectarines. Wines from Rias Baixas have a touch of the ocean in them, like sea salt & a crispness that makes you feels like a day at the beach with a refreshing breeze. Clean as a whistle, this is an incredibly food-friendly wine, or a great all-around sipper. This is our house go-to wine for any kind of seafood, spicy meals--we even served it at our wedding!
ONE FOR YOUR VALENTINE!
Valdespino El Candado Pedro Ximinez Sherry, Jerez $22.99 375 ml
Well, I stand corrected. For those of you that attended the Olivar dinner, this luscious dessert wine *is* from Jerez which is why it says sherry on the label! But I can almost guarantee you that the grapes came from Montilla-Moriles which is where almost all of the Pedro Ximinez from Spain hails from. But let's talk about how this wine tastes, shall we? This might be my favorite PX on the market, & I gave this four stars. This is sinfully delicious but not sappy sweet in the least. Flavors of liquid raisins, gingerbread, molasses, figs and dates are wrapped in a bow of creamy captivating mouthfeel. Candado means "padlock" in Spanish, & each bottle comes with an actual little padlock & key on the cap... Muy Dulce! Trust me, this is the key to unlocking your sweetheart's sweet tooth & El Candado looooves chocolate.
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