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Queso y Vino Feb 4th Enews: Turkish Pizza & Save the Date for Art of the Table!

Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!

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.

IMG_7068 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!IMG_7035

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)

Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166,

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 it
ching 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?

Makes 10
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
sea salt
freshly ground white pepper
1 quantity Turkish Pizza Dough (see below)
olive oil

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
olive oil

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.


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.


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.

Castel del Remei Gotim Bru 2005, Costers del Segre $13.99
An annual customer favorite, it's not hard to see why this landed in the top three!
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


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.

Bodegas Alto Almanzora Este 2006, Almeria $9.99
New vintage! If you love chocolate, berries, & Andalucia then this is the wine for you... I call this the "kitchen sink wine" as it's a sampling of Grenache, Cab, Syrah & other varietals anchored by old-vine Monastrell, all from the coast between Granada & Almeria. The mountains here were home to the first people of Andalucia, & the winery chose an ancient drawing of a fertile mare to symbolize their wine, as that image was believed to bless the fields for centuries. The garnet hue might lead you to think of Tempranillo's taste, but this is all berry-licious strawberry freezer jam and earthy, ashy, spiced marionberries on your tongue. It's rare to find reds from Andalucia, but this makes me hopeful we'll start seeing more!
-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!


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.

Copyright 2009, Queso y Vino

Queso y Vino Jan 28th Enews: Sweets for the Sweet, Cheese Gossip, & Gypsy Garbanzos

Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!

Aren't you loving having a little more daylight time in your day? For me, this week has been all about a chance to breathe in fresh air, celebrate hearing some positive news, & watch a romantic (not catastrophic) amount of snowflakes gather in our flowerpots outside. While making deliveries & walking around the local farmer's markets this weekend I was struck by a sense of nostalgia...

You see, my mother had her own small business, and on the weekends my mom & I traveled throughout upstate New York, setting up our tent & table, hawking holiday crafts & listening to bluegrass bands. From a very early age I grew to love cider doughnuts and the satisfaction of selling something that came from the heart--it makes perfect sense that I ended up doing what I do now! Thanks mom for pointing me in the right direction. (But I will say that craft shows move indoors during the winter, & I give it up to all the farmers and artisans who are out there in their long underwear making sure we can get a dose of fresh greens and hand-crafted cheese.)

Speaking of cheese, on the food front I just heard the most amazing news--Artisinal is coming to Bellevue!!!! Pinch me, am I dreaming? We weren't able to squeeze in a trip to Artisinal Bistro on our last trip to NYC, but I peered longingly into the windows wishing you could eat 8 meals a day when you're in the city. There will be 300 seats at the new Bellevue location, so I bet we'll be seeing you there when it opens! And last week at tiny Frank's Oyster House & Champagne Parlor I discovered my new favorite small bite--goat cheese deviled eggs. Oh, man! Frank's just opened & has plenty of kinks to work out with service & such, but at $4 for 3 of these addictive morsels of ingenuity, I can forgive some growing pains. What's your favorite affordable indulgence?

Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166,

PS- Subscribe to the Q.y.V newsletter--it's fun, taste-inspiring, & free!!!
More tasty stories, travel tips, photos, & recipes from this food-obsessed gal are available on my blog Madeleine at

CHICKPEA STEW WITH CHORIZO & MEATBALLS from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen
...these are a few of my favorite things! I know more than a few people who swear by this cookbook, & I can personally attest that this recipe is something that makes us gleeful, especially during sweater-wearing months. I do diverge from the directions a bit, though, so here's my kitchen tips--

*I don't boil the chorizo before adding it, as there's actually not a lot of fat in this recipe      despite its name, so why would "drain it" & lose that wonderful flavor?

*And why stew the chorizo whole & slice it later? I guess this might make more sense if you were using a soft sausage, but my preference is always for true dry-cured Spanish chorizo.

Serves 4 or 5

For the chickpeas:
1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight or quick-soaked
1 bay leaf
6 oz sweet Spanish-style chorizo sausage

For the meatballs:
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
10 oz ground pork, not too lean
1/4 cup grated onion
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

For finishing the stew:
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size carrot, finely diced
4 medium-size garlic cloves, minced
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)

Prepare the chickpeas: Place the chickpeas in a heavy 4- to 5-quart pot, add cold water to cover by 2 inches, & bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bay leaf, reduce the heat to low, & simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, periodically replenishing the liquid with more water.

After 1 hour, cook the chorizo in boiling water for 2 minutes to drain it. Add the chorizo to the chickpeas & continue cooking until the chickpeas are tender but still a little al dente, about 30 minutes longer, adding more water to maintain the level of liquid.

While the chickpeas are cooking, make the meatballs: Place the bread in a small bowl, add cold water to cover & let soak for 5 minutes. Drain & squeeze out the excess liquid, then finely crumble the bread. Place the bread, pork, onion, egg, salt, & pepper in a bowl. Gently kneed the meatball mixture with your hands just until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. If the mixture is too moist to form the meatballs, refrigerate it for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. With oiled hands, shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a cherry tomato. Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet & bake, shaking the pan once or twice, until they are lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

To finish the stew: Heat the olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, & half of the garlic & cook until soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, stir for a few seconds, then stir the tomato mixture into the chickpeas. Cook the stew until the chickpeas are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a cutting board. Cut into 1/2 inch slices & return them to the pot. Gently stir in the meatballs & simmer them in the stew for about 5 minutes.

Place the remaining garlic, parsley, &  a pinch of salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, crush them to a paste. Stir the parsley mixture into the stew & let it cook until all the flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Let the stew cool for about 5 minutes, then ladle into bowls & serve.

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.


Bodegas Borsao Viña Borgia 2007, Campo de Borja $6.99
I'm convinced that everything Bodegas Borsao touches turns to gold... With smart & sexy labels, super-solid juice, & rock bottom prices, Borsao is one of the leading examples of why Spanish wine is simply hard to beat in this price range. Vina Borgia is unoaked & carefree Grenache, with seductive Asian spice fragrances, berries galore, and it easily galavants from bottle to glass. I am in full agreement with the International Wine Cellar which penned, "To call this a bargain would be a severe understatement."

Quinta do Correio Branco 2007, Dao $8.99
Portuguese wines are fascinating, don't you think? I mean where else on earth are you going to find a blend of Malvasia Fina, Sercial, Bical, & Encruzado??? The name of the wine means, "farm of the post office", hence the clever postage stamp label. Correio is owned by Quinta dos Roques which is one of the most regarded & revolutionay producers in the Dao. This provides fruit & structure for a pittance, along with a charismatic nose of apricot, peach, and Crenshaw melons. Correio finishes with long strides of lime peel & minneola pith--it deserves to be taken seriously despite its price! I paired this with hamachi crudo drizzled with sage oil & hibiscus salt at the Seattle Bloggers Meat Party, & it was a smashing success...

Quinta de Tourais Touronio 2005, Douro $12.99
Guys!!!! You have got to see this wine for yourself. This week I was at a trade tasting at Triage Wines & when I spotted this wine in the Portuguese row I chanted to myself, "Please let the wine be good, please let the wine be good..." There's nothing worse than being disappointed by a handsome illusion. But NO! I was absolutely taken with Touronio. This Douro is a direct import by Triage & it is made by a young couple, Fernando & Susana Coelho, who run a bed & breakfast in an ancient monastery. In the past they sold their grapes to local port producers, but started their own winery in 1999, and the grapes are actually stomped by feet in traditional lagares. Touronio is a study in contrasts as it has some of the bulging muscles of the Douro Valley, but a fresh & juicy side that teeters on the other side. Espresso & voluptuous blueberries, chunky tar are knit together by a wave of clean cassis. And the silk-screened label? I told you, you have to see it for yourself!!!  


Conde de Subirats Rose Brut Cava $11.99 (reg. $14.99)
"What a cool bottle!" exclaimed a wine friend of mine yesterday when I was giving him a tour of the "shop" yesterday. "How much is that?" I look forward to the day when I can lead you around an actual storefront or warehouse, but for now, let me tell you about the "inner-beauty" of Subirats rose... This is made from high altitude vineyards that were once owned by the Subirats castle, & imported by the tremendously talented wine sleuth, Aurelio Cabastrero.  90% indigenous Trepat & 10% Pinot Noir for added complexity, this brut fills your glass with blood orange & raspberry elixirs, caressing bubbles, & a kiss of clove. Just the right way to kick off a romantic evening...

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.

Gran Barquero Oloroso, Montilla-Morilles $24.99 500 ml
This is a treasure! Even though Perez Barquero is one of the oldest & most respected bodegas in Montilla-Moriles, their "sherries" (only wines from Jerez & Sanlucar de Barrameda can be called sherry in Spain) have just now made it to the States. One thing that makes the wines of Montilla completely unique is that the wines are made with Pedro Ximenez rather than Palamino Fino, & I find it fascinating to taste this grape before it goes through the sun-drying process which is why normally PX tastes like liquid raisins. In fact Pedro Ximenez, can range from bone dry to ultra-sweet, & this Oloroso is a profound example of the complexities of solera-aged wines. This 15+ year-old solera enchants the senses with hazelnut & browned butter, crushed English shortbread cookies, and salted caramels. Lovely, soft, smooth, this oloroso can be sipped & savored once open for months!

Copyright 2009, Queso y Vino