Queso y Vino March 17th enews: Scallops ala Arzak & No Green Beer For Sale

Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!

Article_Spain - Flamenco Poster Spring is in the air... I just read it's going to be 67 on Saturday! The Mobile Chowdown was a lot of fun & it was great to see some of you there amongst the queues. I guess we should be thankful that it was a little chilly instead of the forecast we have for this Saturday. The lines would have been to the stadium. Also had a great time at the Art of the Table anniversary party--I was listed as a food "celeb" sighted at the party :)

And attended an amazing tasting at Via Tribunali with Small Vineyards this week & I can't wait to start selling their Italian line up.

But I have much to tell you about that is available right now. Brought home lots of new wines & have been tasting away. My work is never done :) I now have a Facebook fanpage so please become a fan!!!! It's where to stay ahead of the curve on events, new wines I'm recommending, & general food gossip. I keep up with gourmand Twittering for you... Oh yeah, you can follow me as quesoyvino there too. Into the 21st century I go!

Oh & happy St. Paddy's Day all you O'Hara's... I'm wearing my green garden clogs. A fava is sprouting outside in a determined spring way.

Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds (O'Hara)
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com
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UPCOMING EVENTS

Rest_pic Stay tuned for Harvest Vine wine & tapas April 20th
and other special appearances in the works  
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SCALLOPS WITH PISTACHIO VINAGRETTE from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen

Even my friend Chef D. at Art of the Table loves this cookbook! I made this recipe for my friend & blogger Seattle Tall Poppy (who took this gorgeous shot of food porn) a few summers ago & she was wowed by it's restaurant-like appearance. No surprise, the recipe came from Basque super-star Juan Mari Arzak of San Sebastian. Scallops So while I associate this dish sunny summer weather under our umbrella table on the deck, I was amazed to see scallops on the University Farmer's Market fresh sheet for this week. Here's where you can check out what's Ripe and Ready in town. Ready, set, make your shopping list! They're predicting a balmy 67 degrees for Saturday!

Makes 6    

1/2 cup Txakoli (a Basque white wine) or Portuguese Vinho Verde
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 medium-size garlic clove, crushed with a garlic press
1 Tbs minced shallot
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup light olive oil, plus more for brushing the scallops
1 small pinch of sugar
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) & freshly ground black pepper
18 sea scallops
A handful of baby lettuces, for garnish
2 Tbs minced chives
1/3 cup lightly toasted unsalted pistachios, finely chopped or coarsely ground

Place the wine in a small saucepan over medium-high heat & cook until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the wine to a bowl & whisk into the vinegar, garlic, shallot, & lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then season the vinaigrette with the sugar & salt & pepper to taste. Let the vinaigrette stand while you prepare the scallops.

Light the grill & preheat it to medium or preheat a ridged grill pan to medium-hot over medium heat.

Soak 6 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels & lightly sprinkle salt & pepper over them. Thread the scallops on the skewers through the sides, placing 3 scallops on each skewer. Brush both sides of the scallops with olive oil.

Grill the scallops, working batches if necessary, until just opaque inside & lightly browned on the outside, about 3 minutes per side.


To serve, place each skewer on a small appetizer plate & arrange a few leaves alongside. Stir in the chives & the pistachios into the vinaigrette & dab some vinaigrette on the scallops. Serve at once.
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THIS WEEK'S QUESO Y VINO WINE RECOMMENDATIONS
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. Start a buying club & I'll waive the delivery fee! 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. We're usually there from a window of 10:30 until noon depending on our order requests, and can be around to meet you before or after your market shopping. Farm mkt pick


Don Tiburcio 2006, Mendoza $9.99
Bring on the rub-your-eyes-at-the-price factor--I love direct imports so much. The Benegas-Lynch family immigrated from France & has one of the flagship properties in the Argentine wine industry. Out of all the Benegas wines this one is named after Don (the MAN!), Tiburcio Benegas, who started Trapiche & founded the wine industry in Mendoza, so you better believe it's good. A plush blend of Malbec, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, & Merlot, this is Bordeaux beauty at South American prices. Sumptuous plump black cherry juice & rolling currant liqueur, topped off with roasted vanilla bean finish. My goodness this is wonderful for TEN BUCKS!!!!!

Podere Il Caio Roso Umbria Sangiovese Merlot 2008, Rosso Umbria $11.99

You should see their gorgeous agriturismo. Umbria is a modest wine region (look at this price) east of Tuscany, north of Rome, in the "green heart of Italy". Corbara Perfect for St. Patrick's Day! This Sangio Merlot blend has a little Cab & Montepulciano thrown in for good measure, & it swept me off my feet. It spends a brief 3-5 months in cask which keeps it fresh, but solid with raspberry, black cassis, ground pepper mill, & juicy plum preserves. I happily drank this with last week's recipe for Minestra with cabbage, wheat berries & sausage--perfect pairing, perfect price.

Chateau de Pena Rivesaltes Ambre, Rivesaltes $11.99
This delicious & tres interessant wine is hard to classify as it is recommended as an aperitif, with foie gras, & chocolate tart (not all at once) by the producer. That's a lot of latitude! We served this at Art of the Table with olive oil cake & a sweet orange compote-mmmm. A blend of Grenache Rouge, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris aged for 3 years in large French oak barrels. This comes from the foothills of Corbieres in the heart of the Rousillon in Francce, but is still culturally a Catalan area. Beautiful plump apricot jelly, gingerbread & caramel, butterscotch & toffee, spiced bitter oranges.Lightly nutty & smoky. A steal of a dessert wine that doesn't have to be for dessert.

Fico Prosecco, Veneto $12.99
Bring on Spring! We popped this open to try with some Korean tacos & it went hand in hand, even though that blend of cultures is quite a mouthful. This is ready for a pile of cured meats & cheeses. I've written about the Botter family's achievements in the past & this Prosecco is grown on the hills of Venice, where I hope to return to some day. Their Proseco vines benefit from over 25 years of age, but this bubbly has a lovely youthful vernal feel. Dry white peaches, light on its feet, fine bubbles. Not to be confused with sweeter styles. You could definitely have this with prosciutto-wrapped figs.

Vevi 2008, Rueda $13.99Vevi_08Rueda
Vevi is like the fireworks of forsythia blooming on the crest of my lawn: a golden harbinger of spring. A lovely new Verdejo with some Viura to round it out, this is as clean as its package. Explodes with Pomelo, Buddha's Hand citron, & a zesty punch. Super crisp style, I loved it with saag paneer & a chickpea/eggplant side on our dinner table. Absolutely refreshing, clean, & affordable. Oak lovers, there's nothing for you here.

Hazana Semi-Crianza 2007, Rioja $13.99
This new Rioja tastes as good as it looks. Hazana translates as a literary "heroic feat" & that it is, a tasty Rioja with a handsome price. This is made at Vinicola Real, with its labyrinthine tunnels, where barrels age in the side of a mountain. Everything else about this Rioja feels deliciously modern. The semi-crianza is aged in new French & American oak for 6 months, just enough to give backbone, but not overwhelm the wondrous orchard fruit contained inside. Plums, spice & earth circle the nose, roses on the palate, this is solid & smooth with supple dark cherries. This is a new generation of Rioja not to miss out on.

Benaza_godello Benaza Godello 2008, Monterrei $14.99
I've never seen a wine here from Monterrei, even though it appears to have become a DO in '96. This wine also contains a grape I've never seen listed called "Dona Blanca". Cool! Monterrei borders on Portugal, in the valleys of the Tamega River--it has a different climate than other Galician DO's as it is warm & dry, which can be tasted in the wine. Benaza uses 30-50 year old vines, so this Godello has wonderful weight. Stonefruits, apricot, & white nectarines flood from the glass, with zingy & spicy citrus rind, plus zesty minerals. An absolutely delightful wine I'm taken with, & a great match for this week's almost-Galician scallop recipe.

Borsao Crianza Seleccion 2006, Campo de Borja $14.99Bors big
This was the big hit out of the line up we tried this weekend with my tasting crew. I've gone to visit Borsao & the wonderful thing about these guys is that it is a mass effort--the day I arrived at the winery they took us out in dozens of all-drive vehicles & we went right to the vineyards, ducking grape vines and bumping along instead of examining all their pumps & tanks. Just the way I like it! The nose is pure sumptuous berries, boysenberry freezer jam. This is plump as a pin cushion, but not overly ripe or sweet. #1 at our Sunday evening taste off, & I have to say a handsome new label of Moorish-looking tile adds to the appeal.
"Dense and balanced, this polished red carries plum, blackberry, black pepper and tar flavors. Muscular tannins are well-integrated, and fresh acidity carries coffee, floral and mint notes through the finish. Tasted twice with consistent notes. Drink now through 2014" -92 points, Wine Spectator

Joao Portugal Ramos Falua Conde de Vimioso Reserva 2003, Ribatejo $19.99 (was $27.99)
You don't get more legendary that JP Ramos. Infamous for his Moscatel de Setubal wines, he's also known as a trendsetter & was one of the first to put Alentejo on the map. Now the hottest Portuguese wine region on the map, Alentejo wines are recognized for their deep earthy flavors & structures, but Vimioso from neighboring Ribatejo has a royal elegance about it. A large but undisclosed amount of Touriga Nacional gives itself away with a nose of pure blueberry & garrigue. Very dark plum hue with good acid & elegance, soil tones & a charcoal note.
"Rich, full-bodied palate. Deep, sweet ripe fruit. Great balance." -Decanter

Didn't find your perfect wine this week? Go with a

Specially Selected Six-Pack!
This has been such a successful way to serve you that I say we shall continue this tradition, holidays or not. You pick the theme and price level you want to pay & I'll mix and match from my favorites in the cellar. Limited quantities, thoughtfully selected.

Choose your juice theme & your 6-pack price level:


The Pride of Portugal $60; $75; $100


Savor South America $60; $75


Celebrate Spain $60; $75; $100

Great Grenache $60; $75; $100

Throwing a Party  $50; $60; $75; $100

I have created a tip jar and I hope if you get something from my writing but don't want to order anything--maybe a recipe idea for an upcoming dinner, or wine advice that you put to use elsewhere--I hope you'll slip a couple of bucks in the jar from time to time. It's like sending your pledge money to public radio, only I don't interrupt the airwaves for a fund drive.Thank you & enjoy!!!!!!


Copyright, queso y vino 2010

Queso y Vino March 2nd enews: Greenwich Village Spinach & a Baker's Dozen

Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!

Cherryblf How was Portland? This haiku-esque tweet I wrote on Sunday morning sums it up pretty nicely, "love is waking up slow after a moonlit stroll under the pdx cherry blossoms. rhubarb blush @ whiskeybar, pok pok, pix patis sweetness"
I would love to have some buying clubs down south so I can have an excuse to go more often!

Thirteen exciting wines this week & a recipe to help edge us into spring eating. Many thanks to my friends in Portland for showing me much kindness. My palate is blossoming, and I am infatuated with wine again. I hope you're as thirsty as me, and see you at the farmer's market...

Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com

_______________________________________________
UPCOMING EVENTS

 Art of the Table ... March 10th   Waiting list!
Stay tuned for
Harvest Vine / Txori     next ???
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SPINACH SALAD WITH PEARS, SPICED WALNUTS, & RICOTTA SALATA from The Flavors of Southern Italy by Erica DeMane

Flavors I am so excited about the new cookbooks I got in Portland. As someone who worked in the publishing industry & gourmet retail, I love supporting independent stores such as Powell's & In Good Taste. It was extremely hard to choose a recipe out of this new book, so expect to see more!  I see wild spot prawns are available from Fishing Vessel Hat Trick at the U Market for one more week... This would make a great side with those beauties, & is apparently based on a salad served at Grano Trattoria in NYC.                     

WALNUTS

A few drops of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup very fresh walnut halves
Pinch of salt
4 scrapings freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper

DRESSING
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

SALAD
2 unpeeled ripe pears, cored & thinly sliced (red Anjou are especially pretty for this)
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
1 small chunk ricotta salata

Heat a medium saute pan over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Add all the spiced-walnut ingredients & saute until the walnuts are fragrant & lightly toasted, 3 or 4 minutes.

TO MAKE THE DRESSING: In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice, salt, & pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.

Decorate the rims of 4 salad plates with the pear slices.

Put the spinach & shallot in a medium salad bowl. Remove the garlic from the dressing. Add the dressing to the salad & toss. Divide the salad among the 4 plates. Shave or crumble some ricotta salata over each salad & garnish with the walnuts. Serve right away.

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Hard at work

THIS WEEK'S QUESO Y VINO WINE RECOMMENDATIONS
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. Start a buying club & I'll waive the delivery fee! 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. We're usually there from a window of 10:30 until noon depending on our order requests, and can be around to meet you before or after your market shopping.

La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2009, Venteo special intro price $7.99 (reg. $8.99)
LaFiera_logo  "We're captive on the carousel of time" --Joni Mitchell. Here's to one captivating Pinot Grigio! This is not rocket science, but after tasting this fair Pinot (pardon the pun) and think of how many disappointing PG's I've had in Italian restaurants I wonder, why??? You don't have to pay a lot to get a great Pinot Grigio, you just need a good source. The Botter family knows their stuff. They are 3rd generation wine makers, with a rebirth in 2000 under son Luca who has gone with environmentally friendly practices. What really makes the difference here is that the grapes are immediately pressed and cooled after picking.Very fragrant nose of ice box peaches, soft, smooth, satiny crenshaw melons. Along with one of the $10 Chardonnays I've mentioned of late, this is a sure bet wedding wine of the summer, and generally great quaffer to have around the house. Funny, Zazou just came on the iPod, the gypsy swing band we had at our pastoral wedding in Poulsbo!

Alves de Sousa Estacao 2005, Douro $8.99
This is a lovely little bargain that made me happy to taste this morning, even though I spit. Estacao is a blend of 5 traditional port varietals from an award-winning family winery that has kept with the times and created a wonderfully drinkable red that's as soft as a ripe raspberry dangling on a summer vine. Winemaker Alves de Sousa is known for his style of "honest" wines, & is a founding member of the Independent Wine Growers Association, plus the only vintner to be awarded the "Producer of the Year" twice (1999, 2006) by Revista de Vinhos, Portugal’s prestigious wine magazine. Creamy vanilla bean sweetness, super-ripe roasted strawberries, & a plump/clean attitude make this a stand-out for the money. My mouth was left with the flavor of freshly spread jam on toast. Can you tell I tasted this at breakfast time? Fantastic deal.

Quinta da Prelada 2007, Douro $9.99
Amen, a new Portuguese table wine to recommend for $10. Prelada is known for their port wines, but this tinto is a taste of old world tradition mixed with present-day concentration & nerve. The Quinta was established way back in 1756, but like many Douro companies, it sold most of their grapes to port producers. In 2005, they reorganized & released their first table wine from the Cima Corgo. Dark forest floor aromas, ripe & rich raspberries/black currants with veins of anise. This is a traditional-feeling wine with modern flair & care put into the bottle: hand-harvested with low yields, yet low prices.

Puydeval_Syrah_300dpi_Label_thumb Puydeval "Chevalier" Syrah 2008, Vin de Pays d'Oc $9.99
This dashing Languedoc Syrah is unoaked & has a splash of Grenache... A discovery from Dan Kravitz of Handpicked Selections, this importer has "a knack for finding good wines at great prices" says Robert Parker. Puydeval stands on solid shoulders and compliments any bistro style fare--bring out your roast chicken!!! Floral hints sneak in with raspberry jam and an ashy finish. No oak lets the grapes speak for themselves, along with a refreshingly light 14% alcohol level. From the ancient walled city of Carcassonne, in Southern France. Someday I will hope to visit, until then I will just drink the wine.

Li Veli Passamente Rosso 2007, Salente $11.99
What a difference a year can make! Here's the story of how I initially came upon this wine from my January 2009 newsletter... I've revamped the actual tasting notes to reflect the new vintage, though.
A few blizzardy weeks ago, my husband & I were anxious to celebrate the arrival of the new (& only) pizza place in our neighborhood, Pizzeria Pulcinella, Pulc so much so that we chained up & headed out into the snow trying like heck to avoid all the crazy hills. After taking the long route to get there, we stomped off our boots at the doorway, but much to our chagrin found out that they were hosting a private party & weren't open for business yet. Rats! So we mukluked-it back to the truck & headed for another south-end Italian restaurant whose name I won't mention because it was honestly the worst Italian meal either of us had ever eaten. The only redeeming factor was discovering this wine!!! It actually restored our smiles & weary spirits, & we corked half of it up just so we could enjoy it at home in front of the fireplace.

Eti-passamante Li Veli is situated in Puglia, the heel of Italy's boot, which is also the largest wine-producing region in the country. But in recent years, the focus has begun to shift from quantity to quality, & northern producers have begun to buy up this southern real estate. And that's just what happened at Li Veli. Tuscan giant Aviognesi (who make de-licious Montepulciano's) bought the Masseria in 1999, & brought new life to the dream of its original founder, a famous Italian architect who wanted Li Veli to be a model winery for all of Italy. Their Passamente is 100% Negroamaro (meaning "dark, dark") aged 6 months in barrel & it is a silky smooth concoction. Black cherries fill the glass, a touch of amber oil, raspberries. This vintage is juicy and kicky with a vibrantly pleasing palate. We do a lot of Italian cooking at home, so I sure am glad to have a stash of this now to remind us of our adventures in the snow!


Caparzo Rosso 2007, Toscana $11.99; $9.99 a bottle for case purchases ($120 a case)
Caparzo Sangiovese 2008, Toscana $11.99; $9.99 a bottle for case purchases ($120 a case)Caparzo
I am definitely going global this week... These two Italian reds were an exciting find, which we popped open with a hearty baked pasta dish last evening. Shockingly good values. Both these bottlings were made in the picturesque town of Montalcino, by the famed Tuscan Brunello producers Altesino and a woman who was determined to "gently improve" a classic. "Caparzo is the only estate-bottled producer of Brunello di Montacino to have estate vineyards on all five sides of the hill of Montalcino, ensuring that no matter what climatic challenges effect one side, the other vineyards will more than compensate." The Rosso is a clean and juicy blend of Sangiovese, Cab, Syrah, Merlot, & Colorino which spends 4 months in oak, the Sangiovese is 100% varietally pure. Owner Elizabetta Gnudi Angelini and winemaker Massimo Bracalente have sought "terroir with increased softness & drinkability" which both of these wines have in spades. The Rosso has ripe cordial cherries, is balanced & savory with an earthy finish, plump & supple frame, good acidity--a home run. The Sangiovese is seductive with strawberry, raspberry fruit, pleasantly plump with springy juice, with licorice reins driving this thoroughbred.

Artazuri Garnacha 2008, Navarra $11.99 (reg. $14.99)
Art 08 Artazuri is like the little black dress of wine--it's a staple & something that fits in just about every occasion, never goes out of style. The Artazu project was created by Juan Carlos Lopez de la Calle of Rioja’s famous Artadi estate. The goal was to take the same quest for varietal purity that the estate seeks in Tempranillo to the Garnacha varietal. Of the various locales that were investigated, the small village of Artazu in the most northern zone of Navarra was chosen for its extraordinary vines of Garnacha.
100% Garnacha from 60-80 year old vines, Artadi's Navarran foothold is all about wines with dark fruit and resounding balance with soft tannins, ideal for near-term consumption.
“Vivid red. Energetic, sharply focused strawberry and raspberry aromas are complicated by notes of rose, cinnamon and white pepper; smells like a sexy pinot noir. The very fresh palate offers silky, sweet red berry flavors and suave notes of candied flowers and Asian spices. Gains sweetness on the finish, lingering with good flavor authority and liveliness. This is an outstanding value.” -90pts, Stephen Tanzer’s IWC

Cuatro Rayas 2008, Rueda $13.99
In a time when Verdejo is being increasingly blended to taste, this is a wine that brought me straight back to Rueda, where I was first introduced to Tortilla Espanola the way it's meant to be. "What makes this so good?" I asked the winemakers between forkfuls. "Well, the potatoes are from down the road, the eggs were laid this morning, the local bar made this." My husband has become a master tortilla maker (ask him for his secrets when you get your next wine order!) and this white paired up beautifully with a midweek pobre dinner. Heck, I felt rich! Pomelo, lemon oil, & tangerine make this stunningly vibrant, and we threw in a Caesar salad on the side with some chickpea/meatball soup... Seventh heaven.


El Perro Verde Verdejo 2007, Rueda $14.99
Perro Verdejo lovers, I've got something else new for you!!! I guarantee that once the temperature rises you will see this label around town--it's an eye-catcher. Turquoise hounds chase a monarch across a pastel yellow field... Guava fruit perfume, zesty yet round, this is like catching the juice of a cantelope that's been split open into your glass. Get ready to taste spring!
"Light yellow. Subtle orchard fruits on the nose, with a suave tangerine note emerging with aeration. Nervier lime and orange zest on the palate, which offers good fleshy texture and gentle mineral lift. Gains heft on the finish, which features musky yellow plum and succulent herbal qualities. An impressive blend of power and verve."
 -90 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar


Po de Poeira 2006, Douro $17.99 (reg. $20.99)
I was having a bite in Ballard at Portalis after Sunday market deliveries & savored a glass pour of this sumptuous red with a bowl of mussels & a plate of charcuterie. Winemaker Jorge Moeira was the enologist at Real Companhia Velha for seven vintages, and in 2001 he bought his own quinta. He joined the team at Quinta de la Rosa as chief enologist, but this is distinctly his own project. Despite this bottle's modern appearance, this is a minimalist winery with four traditional stone vats & an old vertical press. Po uses younger vines & is a move away from tannins toward acidity, with a goal to "(seek) its true character in elegance." Luscious blue/black fruit comes from a rich vein of Touriga Nacional & Souzao, a grape that was news to me. Souzao is a renaissance grape, re-emerging in the Douro thanks to its high acidity content & massive color, soft tannins. This wine has a royal purple hue dark as velvet. I sipped & cooed, but didn't take tasting notes, so borrowed notes for you this time around...
"red berry, black cherry, floral and chocolate edged fruit carries through on the palate, very 2006, this is fresh, defined and elegant. Fine grained tannins, mid weight wine." -Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective

 
Black Slate 2006, Priorat $22.99

Black-slate-l This is an absolute not-to-be-missed bottle for wine lovers. Importer Eric Solomon's motto is "place over process" & this wine is the culmination of his dream, to feature wines from the specific regions of Priorat and showcase their individual terroir. Wonderfully pure raspberry and red cassis, fresh & approachable with a mineral schist background. Boysenberry plumpness with purity abounding, streamlined elegance. Exciting exciting exciting! You MUST try this new bottling out.  It's like finding the next "Les Terasses"... Affordable and still a little off the radar.


Artadi Vinas de Gain 2007, Rioja $24.99 (reg. $35) 12 bottles available

Artadi is about purity with almost Burgundian textures; in fact,
critics have often compared these wines to the top wines of Chambolle-Musigny &
other top appellations of Burgundy. The key to this level of elegance comes from
the cold winds of the Pyrenees which blow from the north & mod-
erate temperatures--an absolutely majestic region.
“Artadi’s 2007 Vinas de Gain is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 40- to 60-year-old
vines and aged in 40% new French oak for 12-14 months. A saturated purple color,
it delivers an expressive bouquet of wood smoke, pencil lead, mineral, blueberry, and
blackberry. Layered and full-flavored on the palate, it is nicely balanced with the
structure to evolve for 4-6 years. Drink it from 2014 to 2027. It is one of the better
values in quality Rioja.” -92pts, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Specially Selected Six-Packs!
This has been such a successful way to serve you that I say we shall continue this tradition, holidays or not. You pick the theme and price level you want to pay & I'll mix and match from my favorites in the cellar. Limited quantities, thoughtfully selected.

Choose your juice theme & your 6-pack price level:


The Pride of Portugal $60; $75; $100

Savor South America $60; $75


Celebrate Spain $60; $75; $100

Great Grenache $60; $75; $100

Throwing a Party  $50; $60; $75; $100


I have created a tip jar and I hope if you get something from my writing but don't want to order anything--maybe a recipe idea for an upcoming dinner, or wine advice that you put to use elsewhere--I hope you'll slip a couple of bucks in the jar from time to time. It's like sending your pledge money to public radio, only I don't interrupt the airwaves for a fund drive.Thank you & enjoy!!!!!!



Copyright, queso y vino 2010



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

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)

  
Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com

PS- Subscribe to the Q.y.V newsletter--it's fun, taste-inspiring, & free!!!
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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.

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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.

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

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.


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!


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.

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?

Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com

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 www.madeleine.typepad.com
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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.
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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!

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!!!  

WINES FOR YOUR VALENTINE

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

Queso y Vino Jan. 21st Enews: Pate Escapades, the Last of a Classic, & Post-Obarama Bargains

Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!

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...

Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com

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 www.madeleine.typepad.com
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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!

4 servings
 
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
Salt

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!

Vinedos de El Seque 2006, Alicante $11.99
Another great wine from Juan Carlos Lopez de la Calle, winemaker & owner of famed Rioja estate Artadi. While Artadi focuses on Tempranillo, & Artazuri showcases Grenache, this newest project is all about old-vine higher elevation Monastrell. Alicante has a low rainfall & also extremely unfertile soil which means we get to enjoy old vine goodness that comes from deep in the earth. This has a rich nose of dark currants with traces of iron & minerals along with dark chocolate. Intensely flavored with licorice & a silty texture plus a touch of blueberry, El Seque is certainly something Monastrell lovers should add to their wine rack. I gave this 90 points at a recent blind tasting of $25 & under wines from around the world...

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!!

Copyright 2009, Queso y Vino

Queso y Vino Jan. 14th Enews: Obama Bubblies & Tikki Patties

Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!

As I finish this week's tale of wine & food, the windows are fogging up & the house is being filled with the sweet smell of our Christmas tamales steaming in baskets on the stove... Pretty soon I'll need to throw some Prosecco on ice, as we have our family from the San Juan's here, & more hungry friends arriving for a Mexican feast on a chilly clear January night, a welcome respite from the damp misty days that have been the norm for the New Year. So on with the news!

I'm sure many of us will be celebrating the historic election of our new 44th President, next Tuesday, so I've got some bubbly recommendations for you this week, plus the notable return of Gouguenheim Malbec, & some great deals in the offerings. So read on, & "Yes, we can!"

Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com

PS- Subscribe to the Q.y.V newsletter--it's fun, taste-inspiring, & free!!!
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Olivar_front
UPCOMING EVENTS:

Queso y Vino's Mediterranean Getaway at Olivar
806 E. Roy Street (in Capitol Hill)
Thursday, January 29th at 7:00 pm
$55 a person, including wine (plus tax & gratuity)

OUR MENU~

Tortilla Espanola

carmelized onions, sherry vinegar

Fresh Spanish Sardines Escabeche
pan con tomate

Seared Scallops con
Nuevo Arroz Negro
fried black squid ink rice

House-Marinated Lamb Cutlets
rosemary & thyme, garlic flan

"Chocolate Delight"
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CRISP CHEESE TIKKI PATTIES from Asian Tapas by Cristophe Megel & Anton Kilayko
Inauguration Day is coming up, & I know that there is going to be some serious partying going on, at least in Seattle... Let's bring in the new year with some spiced-up queso! I made this Northern Indian-inspired recipe for New Year's a few years ago, & I still remember the flavors of nutty chickpea flour, the pungency of ginger & cilantro, and piping hot cheese oozing in a delicious wave of Asian flavors. These are best served straight from the pan, but I guarantee they won't last long once they're plated up!

Cook's tip: (
The patties can be prepared the day before  & refrigerated before frying.)

Makes 24 pieces
 
1 cup drained yogurt* (instructions below)
1 cup cream cheese or paneer
1/2 large red onion, diced
4 Tbs minced fresh ginger root
2 tsp minced cilantro leaves
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chickpea flour or breadcrumbs
Oil for deep-frying

Combine the yogurt & cream cheese or paneer in a bowl & mix well with the onion, chilies, ginger, coriander leaves & salt. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to harden slightly.

Pour the chickpea flour or breadcrumbs into a medium bowl. Flour your hands, scoop 1 Tbs of the cheese mixture & form it into a small patty. Coat the patty on all sides with the chickpea flour or breadcrumbs. Repeat until the cheese mixture is used up.

Deep fry the patties in a wok or a saucepan over high heat, turning constantly, for 1 minute or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels & serve hot.

*Hang the yogurt for 1/2 an hour in a piece of cloth or placing it in a paper coffee filter & allowing it to drain out.
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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.

Obama Bubblies!

Graham Beck Brut NV, Stellenbosch $14.99
A.k.a.known as "Yes, we can!" wine... What did new President-elect Barack Obama pop open before he addressed the world at Grant Park?  This fantabulous Brut from South Africa!!!  The Obama's discovered this sparkling wine at the recommendation of a sommelier at their favorite restaurant in Chicago,  Blackbird, (hey, I've been there!) & then ordered six bottles for November 4th. Not only was Graham Beck used to commemorate this historic election in the US, but it was also the celebratory drink at the inauguration of South Africa's first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela.

Winemaker Pieter Ferreira studied his bubble-making at Krug before returning to South Africa & joining Graham Beck--impressive pedigree! This Brut is made in the Cap Classique tradition with Pinot Noir & Chardonnay, & sings with apple & pear, freshly buttered brioche, & ginger biscuits. What a way to celebrate...

European Vines Prosecco Spumante, Veneto  $12.99
I have been getting more & more requests for Prosecco, so my sparkling wine selection is growing to be quite international! This uber-lovely Prosecco is hand-crafted by the Botter family for local importer, Triage Wines, & comes from the Italian commune of Valdobbiadene in the hills north of Venice. I fell for this as soon as I swooned at the perfumed nose of dry peach slices & a well of rosewater... This almost tastes like a Bellini all in itself--fresh hand-squeezed white nectarines with crisp fine bubbles floating underneath. Ahhhh. I start to relax as soon as I *think* about popping open this sparkler!

Cristalino Brut Nature Vintage Cava 2005, $14.99 750 ml, $15.99 Magnums!!!
Okay, so everybody & their brother knows about Cristalino, but I hadn't seen their single vintage bottling since a tasting at their winery in Spain! This is special stuff, as they age for 30 months on the lees, & add 30% Chardonnay, half of which has been aged in oak. Intriguing notes of egg custard, toasty pears, & smokiness--this cava is completely unique. These are serious bubbles with a long-lasting austere grapefruit/lime finish with almost a Manzanilla-ish quality. Wow, pretty cool stuff.
So here's the deal with the magnum price--magnums of the regular Cristalino Brut were supposed to arrive, but didn't, so the distributor had to match the price. Normally the magnums of their Vintage Brut go for $20 wholesale--you'd be silly to pass this deal up!!!

RECOMMENDED "HOUSE" REDS!

Gouguenheim Malbec 2007, Mendoza ARG $9.99
New vintage! I'm head over heels for all the Gouguenheim wines--the price, the flavor, the package--incredible for ten bucks. This extremely popular wine is back in to ring in the New Year! Fresh blackberries & cassis tango with smokey bbq notes & a kiss of mint. Textured & elegant, this Malbec has a smoothness that makes it uber-versatile & amongst my perennial $10 & under favorites. I'm telling you, you can't go wrong with Gouguenheim! 

Ercavio Tempranillo 2005, Vino de la Tierra Castilla $10.99 (reg. $11.99)
More than just a tourist destination, Toledo is beginning to export some fantastic wines. The local varietal Cencibel is a clone of Tempranillo with an earthier dark-fruited feel that had me crowing. Fermented partially in traditional tinajas, clay vessels dating back to 1851, Ercavio speaks the language of coriander, soil, black currants & basil. Loved the melted chocolate essence of this vintage & this is always a fave when I've poured it. This would go hand & hand with a wooden plate of garlicky chorizo & a sultry flamenca by your side. Ole!
-90 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Teofilo Reyes Tamiz 2006, Ribera del Duero $14.99 (reg. $17.99)
According to Robert Parker, "By most accounts, Teofilo Reyes is the most legendary winemaker in Ribera del Duero." This comes as no surprise as Reyes made his first wine in 1950 at the young age of 28, and went on to become the winemaker for famed bodega Pesquera from 1974 to 1993, and finally went off to form his own winery in '94. And I'm partial to graduated renegades these days, okay?

This is a brand new (& I must say, an swirly artistic label that definitely shocked me when I saw it--you go, Teo!) wine that brings Bodegas Reyes well into the 21st century. 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) aged 7 months in American oak, Tamiz offers a sweet shop of tootsie roll, brownie & black cherry aromas to sink your nose into. Cedar & framboise oo la la, fine spices with good strong shoulders. I would be diggin' this with some mole braised short ribs, oh yes I would.

Copyright 2009, Queso y Vino

Queso y Vino's Jan. 7th Enews: Sauternes Sauteed Pork Chops & Save the Date for Olivar!

Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!

Happy New Year, everyone! It's looking normal again out there--who'd think that we'd be happy to have the rain back in Seattle? Our cooking has turned from decadent holiday dishes to homey classics--tonight Nigel Slater's bangers & mash recipe should help us use up some of the butterballs we have lying around, & I've taken Uli's sausage out to thaw. January's a good time to work your way through the freezer, don't you think? It reminds me of all the food adventures we embarked on the year before... The only problem is, when did I make that chanterelle risotto? And how old are those pierogi's?

Restaurant_bar_olivar Anyway, I look forward to sharing new food & wine stories, and hearing what you'll be up to in 2009. Maybe I'll finally make it to Sicily this year? We shall see. One thing that I do know is that it's time for a Queso y Vino wine dinner! For this one I'll be partnering up with my buddy Philippe Thomelin, formerly of Harvest Vine & Rover's, at his beautiful new restaurant Olivar in Capitol Hill. You may have seen the article in the most recent Seattle Magazine where reviewer Allison Austin Scheff named Olivar as her new favorite restaurant... Phillipe's grandmother was Catalan, & he spent years living in Spain where he learned the heart & soul of Mediterranean cooking. I will have a menu soon, but if you'd like me to save you a seat, I'll start making the list!

Queso y Vino's Mediterranean Getaway at Olivar
806 E. Roy Street (in Capitol Hill)
Thursday, January 29th at 6:30 pm
$55 a person, including wine (plus tax & gratuity)

Hope to see you there...

Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com
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IMG_6865 PORK CHOPS WITH GINGER, SAUTERNES & COARSE MUSTARD from Chanterelle by David Waltuck
I love supporting our local farmers, & our freezer is fully loaded with organic meats that I have picked up on our various gourmet road trips. One Saturday after hitting the Olympia Farmer's Market, we decided to finally visit the Meat Shop of Tacoma, the oldest certified organic meat shop in Washington, which I'd always heard murmurings about. Turns out the Meat Shop is not in the city of Tacoma really, but out in farm country, hidden behind a trailer home. It's a teensy mom & pop place, and at first we were a little afraid to go in after seeing a guy in a bloody rubber apron dump a bucket of something out the back door & started to hear the "Deliverance" banjo's in our heads... But the gal inside made us feel welcome, & soon we were loading up on tasty thick bacon & pork chops. This recipe from the gorgeous new Chanterelle cookbook looks like a reason to thaw out some pig!

Serves 4
 
1/4 cup peeled & coarsely chopped fresh ginger
2 cups Sauternes or Muscat
2 cups chicken stock
Four 10-oz bone-in center-cut pork chops, trimmed of fat
Kosher salt
Black pepper from a mill
1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbs grainy mustard
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter

Put the ginger & the Sauternes in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, & reduce, swirling, until it becomes caramelized & syrupy, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl & discard the ginger. Return the reduction to the pan & pour in the stock. Bring to a boil & reduce the sauce to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. (The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof saute pan over high heat until very hot. Season the pork chops generously with salt & pepper. Pour the oil into the hot pan, let it get hot, & add the chops. Brown the meat well, about 4 minutes per side. Drain & discard the oil, then place the pan to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chops to a plate or platter & keep covered & warm while you finish the sauce.

Use a paper towel to carefully wipe any excess oil out of the saute pan. Return the pan to high heat, pour in the Sauternes reduction & bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice & mustard, then whisk in the butter, 1 Tbs at a time.

Put a chop on each of the 4 dinner plates & divide the sauce evenly among the servings, covering the chops. Serve immediately.

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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. Just ask & I'll be your vino bloodhound, sniffing out your favorite bottles!

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 Aragonesas Coto de Hayas Tinto 2006, Campo de Borja $8.99
I often write about all the great values to be found in Grenache from Spain, & Coto de Hayas is no exception. What this cooperative has done differently is to experiment with planting new varietals in their rocky high-elevation vineyards, so not only do you get to taste 40+ year-old Garnacha, but also 25+ year-old Tempranillo, & 10-year-old Syrah and Cabernet. The result is a richly-colored fantastically-fruited quaffer from the "preserve of the beech trees". Enjoy a burst of cassis & cherry pits, finely-grained tannins, & a brioche finish in this tinto... My co-taster piped up, "Nice mouthfeel!" I noted that I thought this would make an outstanding pizza wine, & lo & behold, I found out Wine Spectator voted Coto one of their 2008 recommended "Value Reds to Serve with Pizza". Hey, I guess we're on the same wavelength! I'll take a sausage, mushroom, & black olive slice to go, please...

Bodega Elvira Calle Alberti 154 Cabernet, Mendoza $8.99
Elvira was my grandmother's name, so this wine has some sentimental value to me, but there's plenty of reasons why you're going to get your money's worth with this new Cab. The winery is named after a famous philanthropist, & "Alberti 154" turns out to be the street address for this off-the-beaten path producer. Alberti comes straight from the acclaimed Lujan de Cuyo region of Argentina where granite stone-covered soils radiate warmth in the evenings, ripening the grapes, & providing full-bodied flavors for this small-lot wine studio. I was taken with the aroma of melted caramel & savory black currants, & the rich cherry core. Nutmeg, & other exotic spices grace this bold wine which should help keep you warm through the winter. Pop this open for the family the next time you're making a Sunday Italian feast with sausage, meatballs & braciole!

Quinta Sa de Baixo Palestra Vinho Tinto 2006, Douro $8.99
For those of you who have been enjoying the Berco de Infante, here is the next under $10 Portuguese red to try! From the same folks who make the fantastic Grilos from the Dao, Palestra weighs in at a lovely 13% alcohol, but is jam-packed with juicy goodness. This exudes a rich black cherry perfume, next comes a wave of acidity that suddenly made me think "Sangiovese?"--this is food-friendly wine, folks. Solid all around, there's  a Mediterranean vibe going on, with tart pomegranate juice, brandied-candied cherries, Mexican vanilla, licorice, eucalyptus, & plum cobbler. My notes just kept coming! Fluid, with a dusting of spices, this versatile vinho will be a hit on your table, not on your wallet.

La Veli Passamente Rosso 2005,
Salente $10.99
A few blizzardy weeks ago, my husband & I were anxious to celebrate the arrival of the new (& only) pizza place in our neighborhood, Pizzeria Pulcinella, so much so that we chained up & headed out into the snow trying like heck to avoid all the crazy hills. After taking the long route to get there, we stomped off our boots at the doorway, but much to our chagrin found out that they were hosting a private party & weren't open for business yet. Rats! So we mukluked-it back to the truck & headed for another south-end Italian restaurant whose name I won't mention because it was honestly the worst Italian meal either of us had ever eaten. The only redeeming factor was discovering this wine!!! It actually restored our smiles & weary spirits, & we corked half of it up just so we could enjoy it at home in front of the fireplace.

Li Veli is situated in Puglia, the heel of Italy's boot, which is also the largest wine-producing region in the country. But in recent years, the focus has begun to shift from quantity to quality, & northern producers have begun to buy up this southern real estate. And that's just what happened at Li Veli. Tuscan giant Aviognesi (who make de-licious Montepulciano's) bought the Masseria in 1999, & brought new life to the dream of its original founder, a famous Italian architect who wanted Li Veli to be a model winery for all of Italy. Their Passamente is 100% Negroamaro (meaning "dark, dark") aged 6 months in barrel & it is a silky smooth concoction. Musky notes on the nose make this a match for succulent meat dishes or mushrooms, then there's a bit of cherry coke, dark lush plums, & a grove of eucalyptus. We do a lot of Italian cooking at home, so I sure am glad to have a stash of this now to remind us of our adventures in the snow!

Paul Anheuser Kreuznacher Monchberg Scheurebe 2007, Nahe $11.99
Well, you certainly know from the name of this one that's it's not from Iberia! This lovely little number came home in Ken's sample bag, & I found it so refreshing that I had to share this find with you! My husband is a Riesling pack rat--I think we have more of it in our cellar than anything else--and I am usually partial to top-of-the-line bottlings, like Cuvee St. Catherine of course, but Paul Anheuser has created a bargain that goes wonderfully with all the Asian dishes that Ken whips up. The Anheuser family has been in the business of winemaking since the the 1600's, & one of the family immigrated to St. Louis where he started a little brewery known as Anheuser-Busch. The rest of the family stayed in the wine biz, helping to pioneer the Nahe region, & Paul is now the 13th generation at their estate.

2007 was a benchmark year in perfection for Germany, & flowering was completed one full month ahead of what's normal. The Nahe Valley is a Riesling lover's "insider's secret"--the land of meandering rivers, forests, & a turbulent geological history that provides incredible minerality in the wines. Slightly off-dry, this white has glacier & quartzite tones in spades, with soft white nectarines, fresh quince & hints of allspice. Use a little to make Vikram Vij's Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry & chill the rest for a perfect pairing!

Copyright 2008, Queso y Vino

Queso y Vino Enews Dec.4th: Barrio-Inspired Bacon Tacos, Dinner at Taberna, & Tres Picos is Back!

Well, have you all recovered from your food comas? This week has certainly catapulted me off the couch after I appeared on the front page of the Seattle Times' business section the day after Thanksgiving--Queso y Vino has arrived in style!!! Let's see, we woke early on Friday with a Christmas-morning excitement, & Ken sped off in his truck to pick up the paper at Skyway's 7-Eleven (the most bustling business on the hilltop), then grabbed himself an Americano at Nevzhat's Espresso Stand (no Starbucks in Skyway nosirree.) And wow, was it worth waking up early because my cell started ringing & the emails came pouring in from curious folks, & long lost friends. So if this is your first Queso y Vino newsletter, welcome!

It's a little challenging at first to describe the grass-roots virtual wine store I run out of the workshop under our casa... My philosophy goes against the traditional online wine site where people look at a list, click a shopping cart, enter their credit card information, the order is filled & shipped anonymously--the end. What's the fun in that?

I *love* my customers, & personal interaction is an integral part of the process. Does an electronic shopping cart have a vested interest in selecting wines that you will love back? I don't think so. Besides, as my research has found, those kinds of bells & whistles are expensivo on a website, & my goal is to give you personal service & expertise, great prices, minus unnecessary overhead. I could come up with a list of every Spanish, Portuguese, & South American wine on the planet available in the Seattle, but I'd rather you have the opportunity to read about thoughtfully-chosen suggestions & highly allocated wines I've scooped up (definitely a focus of this week's enews) that I think you should grab while they're around. I am working on a separate wine-focused Queso y Vino blog that will archive my newsletter offerings for your convenience... Have patience & I will serve you well.

So read on, & if for whatever crazy reason you don't feel like ordering a case (or a few inspiring bottles) of wine this week, jot down your favorites & keep a wish list going until you get to the $150 free delivery finish line. I'm not a point-monger by heart, but some new vintages of tried & true favorites have rolled into town & I made sure to buy up the puny allocations available. As I sit enjoying a perfectly lovely glass of ridiculously *cheap* Carmenere from Chile after attending the soft opening of Barrio (enticing details below in the recipe of the week), I think I can actually afford to buy a few of these special bottles for my myself!

Besitos,
Catherine Reynolds
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, quesoyvino@gmail.com

PS- More tasty stories, travel tips, photos, & recipes from this food-obsessed gal are available on my blog Madeleine at www.madeleine.typepad.com
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UPCOMING EVENTS!
An Ultra-Intimate Fireside Tasting Dinner at Taberna del Alabadero, December 19th

  • Save the date! Queso y Vino will be hosting a very special wine dinner at the brand new Seattle location of Taberna del Alabadero on Friday, December 19th. If you're not familiar, Taberna in Washington, DC was designated as the "best Spanish restaurant outside of Spain" by the Spanish government, & has received acclaim from Gourmet & the New York Times as one of the best restaurants, period, in the US.

There's been quite a buzz about the opening (Taberna will take over the former Cascadia space in Belltown), & I am tickled pink to be offered their private dining room, complete with a cozy fireplace, overlooking the entire restaurant. For this tasting dinner, we will be featuring the portfolio of Aurelio Cabestrero who made his way as one of Spain's most heralded sommeliers to becoming one of the most exciting new Spanish importers in the states. This seven-course pre-Christmas feast is a mere $60 (plus tax & tip), which includes a tasting of eight Spanish wine selections, & we should be pulling the cork on some great values as well as some very high end selections to show off. A little more than a dozen seats are available, so email or call me pronto! if you'd like a seat at the table. This should be one heck of a dinner.
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Barrio tortilla pressCRISPY BLACK BEAN-BACON TACOS WITH TANGY ROMAINE SALAD from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless
Being one to never turn down a good party, I was elated to break away from my keyboard & test-drive the menu last night at Purple Cafe's new Mexican showpiece, Barrio, in Capitol Hill.  When we arrived, the luminescent dining room (lit by hundreds of glowing votives) was filled with festive spirit.  With a two page menu that starts at nearly a dozen $4 taco options & maxes out at $16 for spice-rubbed lamb chops atop a creamy, comforting, posole-inspired hominy, it was hard to decide what to choose but easy to keep refilling our table with the next round of flavors.

Barrio opens to the public Friday, so even though it's December, don't miss the sea scallop or Veracruz octopus ceviche, anything with their homemade tortillas (you can watch the wooden press at work from their open kitchen), & start off with a puckery chapala cocktail--it goes with everything...

Makes 12 tacos, serving 4 to 6 as a hefty snack or simple meal

6 slices bacon
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups seasoned, cooked black beans (either canned or homemade), drained of most of their cooking liquid
2 to 3 pickled jalapenos or canned chipotle chiles en adobo, stemmed, seeded & finely chopped
A sprinkling of salt
Vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2 inch for frying
12 very thin factory-made tortillas
2/3 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer's cheese
6 good-size romaine leaves
1 1/2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 large tomato, cored & chopped into 1/4-inch dice

The beans. In a large (10- to 12-inch heavy skillet, lay out the bacon & fry over medium heat, turning when browned underneath, until thoroughly crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but a thin coating of drippings.

Add the onion to the pan & cook, stirring regularly, until deep golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, then coarsely mash with a bean or potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Crumble the bacon & add half of it to the beans along with the chiles; stir over the heat until quite thick, about 5 minutes. Taste & season with salt. Cool.

The taquitos. Clean the skillet, pour in the oil & heat over medium-high. When hot, one by one, quick-fry the tortillas for several seconds to soften, then remove them with tongs & pat thoroughly dry on paper towels. Stack the blotted tortillas together, & remove the oil from the heat.

Spoon 2 Tbs of the black-bean mixture down the center of each tortilla, sprinkle each with about 1/2 Tbs of the cheese, & roll up. Cover with plastic wrap.

Finishing the dish. Return the oil to between medium & medium-high heat, you should have at least 1/4 inch of it in your skillet. Slice the romaine crosswise into 3/8-inch ribbons & toss with the vinegar & a little salt.

When the oil is very hot (it shouldn't be smoking; 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer is just right), fry the taquitos 4 at a time, being sure to lay them into the hot oil flap-side down. When crispy underneath, about 2 minutes, flip them over & fry on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from the oil with tongs or a slotted spatula, drain on paper towels & tip them to ensure no oil is inside. Keep warm in a low oven until all are fried.

Spread the lettuce on top a serving platter (or divide it between individual plates) & top with the taquitos. Spoon the chopped tomato down  he center of the tacos, sprinkle with the remaining cheese & bacon & carry the whole assembly to the table

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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 (thanks for coming up with that Eric!) 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 next Saturday's University Farmer's Market or the West Seattle Farmer's Market next Sunday!

Berco de Infante Reserva 2006, Estremadura $7.99 Back in stock!
Excuse me? A Reserva for eight bucks? If it was from South America, I might be prone to believe it, but I'm pinching myself that this is from Portugal! Turns out this was the #3 wine on Wine Enthusiast's Top Best Buys for 2007 & I can see why--it was one of my favorite discoveries after a long day of tasting close to 100 wines a few week ago. Ouch. By the time that I tried the Berco, my tasting notes were getting pretty slim so I think I'll let good ol' Gary from the Wine Library tell you more about it. I will do my part by giving it two thumbs up for a cheapie with class.

"COLOR-dark; NOSE-very attractive Raspberry jam; little Plum; mud bomb component; very explosive, but not fake; smells dark & rich; TASTE-shockingly good for $5 bones!!; extremely delightful; emphatic body, very rich & polished; nice silky long finish; little SweeTart action on the finish; STUNNING; one of the best buys ever on WLTV; competes w/ most $12-15 wines." -88points, Gary Vaynerchuk

Quinta da Espiga Tinto 2006, Estremadura $9.99
Wines from Estremadura may be some of the best values from all of Portugal, & Espiga fits that bill. This very old quinta was brought into the 21st century by Jose Luis Santos Lima & I am loving his passion for making modern wines with traditional grapes. Right off the bat there's lush creme de cassis/blackberry cream notions running through my head with a juiciness that makes this slightly sweet but peppered with mild spices. Low tannins & soft pillow-like fruit make this a real crowd-pleaser--a top choice for everyday drinking in the Portuguese category.

Legado_Munoz_Tempranillo.bmp Legado Munoz Grenache 2006, Castilla $9.99
Oh Grenache, how I love thee... Another stellar Garnacha to stock up on, this one hails from just south of Madrid rather than from the usual suspects up north. This is that old-fashioned style of Spanish wine that speaks to the classics. The Munoz family purchased a 17th century subterranean cellar which they are restoring to age their wines, & yields are kept significantly lower than other producers in the region. The aromas run the gamut of baking spices, blueberries and figs, & the body cuts a svelte figure. Munoz delivers raisin & date dried fruit appeal with a spicy anise structure, along with smoky strawberries, tobacco & finely groomed tannins. It's easy to see why this has taken off so quickly!

Can blau Can Blau 2007, Montsant $15.99
Can Blau represents the modern side of Montsant & this is always a tremendously popular wine year in & year out. Por que? For $15, Can Blau dishes up a mouthful of liqueur-like berries that rivals the inkiest of expensive Priorats.
"(a blend of carinena, syrah and garnacha) Dark purple. Sexy aromas of blackberry, blueberry, Asian spices and smoked meat. Supple and open-knit, with sweet dark berry preserve flavors, velvety texture and good mineral bite. Manages to be both nervy and concentrated, with very good finishing clarity and cut. Leaves strong blue fruit notes behind and repeats the spicy quality." -91 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Tres picos Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos
Garnacha 2007, Campo de Borja $15.99 Limited!
Borsao consistently produces wines that are both highly rated & pocket friendly & Tres Picos is no exception. Unfortunately, word is out & this is now an allocated wine that cruises at rocket speed out of the distributor's warehouse. 100% mountain-grown old vine Grenache, this has a lavish framboise nose entwined with a smokey perfume in harmony with boysenberry spark & charred vanilla bean. An annual favorite!

"Inky ruby. Highly complex bouquet of cherry, dark berry liqueur, iron, tobacco and dried flowers; reminded me a wine from Graves. Tangy cherry and cassis flavors are on the primal side initially but soften and gain sweetness with air. Fine tannins add grip to the long, spicy finish, which repeats the iron note. This is very promising." -90+(?) points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

CATHERINE'S SUPERSTAR SELECTIONS!
A new Spanish container hit town this week & I was quick to jump on new vintages of spectacular wines that "wow" year after year. Many of these are highly allocated, so let me know if I can set some bottles aside for you before they disappear!

Naia Des 2006, Rueda $23.99 (reg. $26.99)
This is an exotic bird... Verdejo ensconced in sultry oak.  A fascinating Spanish white that can be consumed with abandon now, or put down to rest in your cellar for next Christmas (or the next!)
"100% barrel-fermented verdejo. Exotically perfumed, expressive bouquet of pear, white peach and melon, with toasted nuts and anise adding complexity. Dry and focused on the palate, displaying bitter fruit skin, lime and herb flavors. This was initially a bit clenched but fleshed out with air, finishing with excellent clarity and lingering citrus and pear flavors. These vines are reportedly between 80 and 100 years of age." -91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Casa Castillo Syrah Valtosca 2006, Jumilla $25.99
Syrah from the south of Spain is a growing phenomena, & who better to try it from than the picturesque estate of Casa Castillo. I've walked through Castillo's vineyards & can testify that these vines have been put through the wringer & all the stress and strain produces magnificent wines. If only I had been lucky enough to stay there overnight instead of a fleabag hotel in town...
"(96% syrah and 4% viognier) Glass-staining purple. Textbook syrah on the nose: blackberry, blueberry, dried violet, graphite and cracked pepper. Shows brighter black raspberry and cherry flavors on the palate, with fine-grained tannins lending firmness. A bitter chocolate note arrives on the finish to add depth to the sweet berry fruit. This is already complex." -91
points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Bodegas Alto Moncayo Veraton 2006, Campo de Borja $23.99 12 bottles available!
The wines of Alto Moncayo need little introduction... Full-throttle grenache made by Aussie superstar Chris Ringland, these deliver the goods when you're ready to be seduced by a pleasure bomb of unstoppable fruit.
"(100% garnacha) Saturated ruby. Very spicy on the nose, which displays blackberry, blueberry, white pepper and cinnamon qualities. Sappy dark berry flavors combine intensity with depth, picking up candied licorice with air. Turns sweeter on the finish, which leaves an exotic floral note behind. This went through multiple changes in the glass and is utterly delicious now."
-91 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Bodegas Alto Moncayo Alto Moncayo 2006, Campo de Borja $42.00 12 bottles available!
Ditto!
"(100% garnacha) Deep ruby with a bright rim. Impressively complex, seductive bouquet of dark berry preserves, tobacco, graphite and smoky Indian spices. Pliant black raspberry and candied cherry flavors are enlivened by zesty minerals and firmed by fine-grained tannins. An exotic floral pastille quality emerges with air and carries into the finish, which is strikingly sweet, lively and persistent. I can't believe that this wine bears the touch of the same guy who is partially responsible for inflicting Australia's R wines on us." -93
points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Vinedos Alonso del Yerro Maria 2006, Ribera del Duero $65.00 Very limited!
Newcomer Alonso del Yerro scores high in the power-packed Ribera category, in fact critics advised waiting a full 5-7 years before even popping the cork on the 2005 Maria. Reviewer Jay Miller, thinks otherwise...
"Glass-staining purple. Powerful boysenberry and mulberry aromas are complicated by smoked meat and minerals. A sexy vanilla note gains volume with air and carries onto the palate, joining sweet dark berry and candied cherry flavors. Becomes brighter on the finish, which leaves sweet black raspberry and candied floral qualities behind. This is delicious right now."
-93 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Bodegas Alto Moncayo Aquilon
2006, Campo de Borja $140.00 Very limited!
The ultimate rack crusher! The usual drinking window for Acquilon spans a course of 20 years, if you can wait that long... This would make a whopper of a wine lover's Christmas gift.
"(100% garnacha) Glass-staining ruby. Finely etched raspberry, blackberry, floral and mineral aromas expand in the glass while retaining impressive clarity. Silky and sweet, with pinot-like red berry and cherry flavors, a seamless texture and a big jolt of smoky minerals on the back. Balances racy precision with great flavor impact, picking up Asian spices and candied rose with air. The very long finish repeats the red fruit and floral qualities with conviction. If only the current set of Australian wines from consulting winemaker Chris Ringland had even half the clarity and elegance of these." -94
points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Copyright 2008, Queso y Vino


Queso y Vino is Officially Open for Business!

Times delivery shot The big moment has arrived! After months of planning, dreaming & waiting, I finally received the go ahead from the Liquor Board to open the doors (more like the trunk of my car!) for my new business, Queso y Vino. WHOO HOO!

After graduating from the Spanish Table last spring after six years as their Wine Manager, I knew that I needed to find a way to put my passion to use, selling the wines that I love, but in my own special way.

I've always dreamed of my own gourmet shop, but in crunching the numbers for opening a brick & mortar shop coupled with a troubled time for traditional retail establishments, I summoned up my creative juices (I'm originally a poet by trade) & decided to think outside the box. And so, the idea for Queso y Vino was born!

While listening to NPR business blurbs can scare the bejeebers out of any new small business owner, I know in my heart that people don't want to give up the enjoyment that wine brings them, they just want better values for their money & that's what I've specialized in for years because of my area of expertise. Folks have always been floored by the values that abound in places like Spain & South America, but as a value consumer myself, I've collected quite a list of wines from other parts of the world that really float my boat for the money.

So I have dedicated myself to the pursuit of truth, happiness, & finding great wines for under $15 bucks. A pretty good gig! That's what Queso y Vino is all about...

How does this all work?

  • I have a weekly e-newsletter that divulges all my new wine finds & favorites, complete with bargains, some worthwhile splurges, up-coming events, & a mouth-watering recipe for you to try out at home. Sign up by emailing yours truly at quesoyvino@gmail.com No sharing, no spam. Promise!
  • Anything that piques your interest is deliverable & doable within a week's turn-around in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area. Orders over $150 are good to go, smaller trial selections & special deliveries will include a nominal $10 delivery fee. How convenient is that! Want wine shipped? Let's talk! We can probably make it happen.
  • Come to a Queso y Vino wine dinner--incredible chefs, copious pours, the list just keeps on growing---get on board! I am amazed by how quickly our wine dinners have been selling out, but then again, my goal has been to keep fantastic foodie experiences at reasonable prices & give me a legal tasting room! Dinners have thus far ranged from $35 to $60 bucks, wine included (now where are you going to find that?) After all my years in the foodie business, I've been privileged to befriend many of Seattle's top chefs, no lie. Their enthusiasm to pair up with me on private dinners has me pinching myself. Again, sign up for the newsletter at quesoyvino@gmail.com and check your inbox frequently!
  • Arrange a private wine tasting at your table--if you would like a personal tour through my stomping grounds, talk to me... I'm always up for meeting with enthusiastic wine lovers who truly enjoy being educated, without airs.

Will be compiling a much bigger list of wine that are near & dear to my heart, but here is a list of recent fave's from my newsletter! Glad to be of service & please let me know if I can enlighten your holidays with these wines...

Happy holidays to all, & to all, a goodnight glass of Garnacha or Tempranillo in hand,
Catherine "Caterina" Reynolds, Presidenta, Queso y Vino

CATHERINE'S QUESO Y VINO HAND-PICKS~

CAVA:

Montsarra Brut Cava, $14.99
This has to be one of my favorite affordable sparkling wines from anywhere in the world. Por que? Maybe it's the abundant golden apple & bright citrusy aromas with hazelnut & spice cake flavors. Then there's the deliciously toasty & fresh pear notes, a body that's round, creamy, & crisp with frothy bubbles that reminds me of expensive Champagne. There's even a hint of jasmine pearls. I'm ready to celebrate!

Gramona Gran Cuvee Cava 2004, $21.99
Gramona is one of the last hold-outs for cava producers that are still family run rather than operated by large companies, & my favorite cava for special occasions. A traditional blend of Xarello & Macabeo with the rare addition of Chardonnay, I love the exceptional elegance of this sparkling wine from Spain. Honey & beeswax aromatics float above golden apple fruit & macaroon notes--but let's talk about the bubbles, shall we? Very fine with an extremely crisp mineral side, this does become the creamy, toasty style I crave as it opens in the glass. Fantastic value, really.

WHITES:

Marques de Toldeo Verdejo, La Mancha $7.99
One more thing to love about La Mancha--they give us Manchego cheese & this deal of a Verdejo to go with it! Verdejo usually hails from the northern region of Rueda which fetches a higher price, but in La Mancha, land is cheap & home to many of the best values in Spain. I tasted this on a day where about 100 wines passed my lips--and this little number got a mighty big star when I saw the price. Classic Verdejo lemon drop flavor with a soft & slightly salty finish. It's oyster season, & this quaffer would love to come join you for appetizers...

Gramona Gessami 2007, Penedes $17.99 
This spectacularly elegant white is one of my favorite discoveries from Penedes. Unlike a splashy citrus-wrapped Rueda, or the big-boned Albarino's from the coast that I usually gravitate towards, Gessami (made from Sauvignon Blanc/Muscat d'Alexandria/Muscat de Fontignac) is a delicate departure with poetic notions. Bergamot, rose & cherry blossom underpinnings delight the senses along with tropical starfruit, tangerine peel, but quartz minerals leave you with a lively mouthfeel that is crisp as fresh linens. "Gessami" originates from the Hebrew word for jasmine--a wine as exotic as the flower itself. You'll be sad when your glass is empty, or at least I was!


REDS:

Terra Andina Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Chile $7.99 (reg. $8.99)

Terra Andina Carmenere 2007, Chile $7.99 (reg. $8.99)

Terra Andina Merlot 2007, Chile $7.99 (reg. $8.99)
Need something to serve a crowd of thirsty revelers? These wines are a sweet deal for the money & to introduce them to you I'm taking a buck off so you can try all three to compare! I tasted their Cab, Carmenere & Merlot at a spring tasting & have been anxiously waiting for the opportunity to stock up on them. My notes from the tasting were brief, so I will give you the winery's direct tasting notes to whet your appetite. I really enjoyed them all, especially for the price!

Cabernet: "Aroma: Intense with a sweet first touch. Reminds blackcurrant and plums mingled harmoniously with graphite and toasted coffee flavours.
Palate: Structured and concentrated. It has a soft texture with firm and rounded tannins which give a very long aftertaste."
Carmernere:  "
Aroma: Tasty blend of black currant, blackberry, grilled red pepper and black pepper, those flavors carry over to the palate.
Palate: With a very varietal character, this wine shows balance with volume and soft but present tannins and a pleasant aftertaste."
Merlot: "
Aroma: Very ripe fruit like plums and blackcurrant flavors complemented by black pepper and grilled red pepper. With sweet spice flavors.
Palate: The texture is smooth, rich and well balanced. Pleasing aftertaste."

Gouguenheim Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Mendoza ARG $9.99
"Get out of town!" I thought when I tasted Gouguenheim's Cab. "There's no WAY this wine could be ten bucks!!!" First of all, if you brought this to someone's house for dinner, the bottle & the label will have people thinking that this cost at least $20. Patricio Gouguenheim and a secret Argentinian super-star have teamed up their talents & what a great thing that is. Smoke & violet notes highlight the nose, with savory flavors & velvety tannins that sets this apart from other Cabs at this cost. From high up in the mountains, but grounded in the earth with spearmint & freshly plucked marionberry/huckleberry juiciness. Expressive & impressive for the price!

Vina Alarba Old Vines Grenache 2006, Calatyud $9.99

Don't you want to walk right into their fairytale label? Calatayud is a wonderland of old vine Grenache at ridiculous prices. Vina Alarba has earned its following over the years, & it continues to rock the house whenever I host a wine dinner. No oak keeps things fresh & vibrant with earthy strawberries, sugar plums and a
blueberry pie appeal, all from vines 50 to 70-yrs-old. Ripe but dusted with spices (I caught bit of curry leaves, myself) this is my kind of everyday wine. Whisk yourself away to Aragon tonight & coo

Quo Grenache 2007, Campo de Borja $9.99
I love this wine. How is it that Grenache from Spain can keep getting better & better?
Florencio Lopez-Navarro of Quality Wines of Spain has outdone himself in sourcing out this wonderful new value. I was enamored instantly by the nose of rosy currants, kirsch & white pepper, & the fresh supple body makes this the perfect transition into autumn wines. Herbal essence & a soft ripeness makes this extremely versatile & hard to stop sipping. I will definitely be putting a bunch of Quo in our little cellar because I can afford to open it any dang night of the week.

Merum Monastrell 2006, Jumilla $9.99
Here's a handsome new Jumilla to celebrate! Winemaker Juan Jiminez makes this custom cuvee for Quality Wines of Spain here in the states, but at a very Jumilla-like price. This is actually a blend of 85% Monastrell, 10% Syrah (a new introduction to the area), & 10% Tempranillo to round things out. Dark as a star-less Andalucian night with mocha, dusty earth notes, & concentrated black cherry liqueur... Merum's alive with a fleshy, supple attitude that's peppered with spices, and a dark chocolate shavings/anise finish. Too bad for Spain--they don't get any, it all comes to us!


Ercavio Tempranillo 2007, Toledo $11.99
More than just a tourist destination, Toledo is beginning to export some fantastic wines. The local varietal Cencibel is a clone of Tempranillo with an earthier dark-fruited feel that had me crowing. Fermented partially in traditional tinajas, clay vessels dating back to 1851, Ercavio speaks the language of coriander, soil, black currants & basil. Loved the melted chocolate essence of this vintage & this is always a fave when I've poured it. This would go hand & hand with a wooden plate of garlicky chorizo & a sultry flamenca by your side. Ole!
-90 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate


Bodegas San Prudencio Cueto 2007, Rioja $9.99
A Rioja for $10, get out! The price of Rioja's (along with everything else) has been steadily rising so it was indeed a pleasure to have this Tempranillo come into my life. Wunderkind Ruben Saenz completed enology studies & became a consultant at several wineries in the Rioja before even hitting the age of thirty. His boundless energy shows, & the importer says that during harvest, Ruben is out in the vineyards well into the night to inspect his grapes by moonlight! Ruben selected vineyard sources in Montelaturce, the highest growing region in the Rioja, & the long hang-time makes this joven extra-special. Dark majestic black plum hue but with Tempranillo translucence, Cueto shines through the clouds with blackberry & wild plum fruit. Ripe & approachable, silky & supple with a smattering of black & white peppercorns, this blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, & Mazuelo is the ticket to putting Rioja's back on the bargain table! 

Monte dos Cabacos 2002, Ribatejo $10.99 (reg. $11.99)
As many of you know, this has long been one of my favorite Portuguese wines & the value is astounding. It first entered the market as a $20 wine & the price tag has dropped because the distributor simply bought too much! (Found out this week they took all of this vintage while the the winery was being renovated...)

Local distributor/importer Vinum Wine discovered this wine while they were dining in Sao Rosas, a classic restaurant in Estremoz--turned out it was the "house wine" made by owner Margarida Cabaco. When they found out it didn't have a US distributor they jumped at the opportunity. A modern blend of Syrah, Cab, Touriga Nacional & Aragones, you can't hold a candle to Cabacos' densely purple opaque hue that makes you feel like you're going to high dive into blueberries! All the plush dark raspberries, blueberries & blackberry fruit reminded me of a very attractive Monastrell or Syrah with a definite elegance as its matured--gravel pit earthiness accompanied by a creme de cassis ending. Exotic as it sounds & extremely delicious. This is a LOT of wine for your money.

Quinta das Maias Tinto 2004, Dao $10.99
One thing that I love about wine is that there is always something new to be learned. My happiest recent discovery is that the Portuguese varietal Jaen has been declared to be a direct relation of Mencia, one of my absolute favorite Spanish grapes. Geographically this makes a lot of sense as pilgrims would have had no trouble bringing cuttings from the mountains of Bierzo in northwest Spain into the northern mountains of Portugal. And as usual, underdog Portugal can offer us stellar values as the wines of Bierzo continue to go up, up, up!! This blend of Jaen, Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, & Tinta Roriz has an exotic nose that lured me right in with perfumed French oak nuances... But what really stood out for me can be expressed in one word: elegance. Supple with spice box notes, savory plum & dry cassis, Maias has taken the rustic reputation of the Dao & put it to bed. Looking for a refined "cellar-protector"? Put this at the top of your list.

Vinos de Terrunos Siete7 2007, Navarra $13.99
A new favorite from Navarra, Siete is a juice-laden pleasure wine. Vinos de Terrunos is a project of importer Jose "Pepe" Pastor & famed winemakers from throughout Spain who have crafted these custom cuvees for our enjoyment. All of the Terrunos wines are organically farmed which is something to cheer about... No oak on this one, Siete's savory berry combo bounces from the glass with floral twinings, and just a touch of sweet tobacco. 80% Grenache with 20% Tempranillo provides pure & succulent fruit with a slightly textured grit, & the gentle tannins make this a versatile food fit. (I rhymed!) Definitely a departure from the dusty Navarra wines that I've come to know--a view into the future of this little-exported region.

Ogier Caves des Papes Les Truffiers  2005, Vacqueyras $14.99
Okay, so you don't really think that I live in some Iberian bubble & just drink Spanish wine, do you? I love wine from everywhere, but ironically, I've been prejudiced about Vacqueyras wines. Shame on me! I actually just attended a tasting of 98/99 Rhone Villages wines & I found my usual dislikes emerging in my notes. But I say, "I do" to Truffiers' plump yet silky cassis, that liqueur-like element I revere in Grenache-Mourvedre-Syrah based wines, and am always willing to cross the border for that wild card of brambly fruits off the vine & meatiness this region is known for. Darn it, my last sip was gone before I knew it, so enjoyable was the Truffiers. Good French stuff for fifteen bucks? Love it.

Luna Beberide 2007, Bierzo $14.99
What took you so long? For years, I've read about the wines of Luna Beberide, & now I finally have had a chance to taste what everyone's been talking about. Wines from the mountainous region of Bierzo are certainly no longer a secret, & winemaker Alejandro Luna was wise to return from Madrid to partake in the Bierzo Renaissance at his family's winery in Villafranca. Wines here are made with old-fashioned tender loving care--the grapes are hand-picked, no pesticides are used, & the wines are aged in "a big rambling house of the XVI century". Hopefully I'll see it for myself someday! Made from 100% Mencia, this entry-level wine from Beberide is light on the wallet & heavy on charm. The enchanting bouquet of crushed wildflowers, mineral & graphite lured me into the glass, with lucent boysenberry & spiced blueberry in waiting. This is unfiltered & unoaked so the fruit is left unobscured, and the finish definitely promises potential for enjoying this for years to come. If you are a Chinon-lover, jump right on the Bierzo band wagon!


Teofilo Reyes Tamiz 2006, Ribera del Duero $17.99
According to Robert Parker, "By most accounts, Teofilo Reyes is the most legendary winemaker in Ribera del Duero." This comes as no surprise as Reyes made his first wine in 1950 at the young age of 28, and went on to become the winemaker for famed bodega Pesquera from 1974 to 1993, and finally went off to form his own winery in '94. And I'm partial to graduated renegades these days, okay?

This is a brand new (& I must say, an swirly artistic label that definitely shocked me when I saw it--you go, Teo!) wine that brings Bodegas Reyes well into the 21st century. 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) aged 7 months in American oak, Tamiz offers a sweet shop of tootsie roll, brownie & black cherry aromas to sink your nose into. Cedar & framboise oo la la, fine spices with good strong shoulders. I would be diggin' this with some mole braised short ribs, oh yes I would.

DESSERT:
Quinta de la Rosa Tawny Port, $13.99
Never have I tasted this much quality in a port this price. I've not been wild about many of the basic blended tawnies you can find out there, but boy was I surprised by this one. Quinta de la Rosa is a tiny operation where bottling is done at the estate with vigorous control. This tawny is proof of the pudding. Orange marmalade, hazelnuts, pecan pie, orange zest & white pepper--delicious!! Extremely well-balanced, this outshines any other port in its league.

Broadbent 'Lot 1 Auction Reserve Port', Porto 375 ml/ $12.99, 750 ml $24.99
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.



Copyright 2008, Queso y Vino




Queso y Vino's Gaudi Dinner! Save Room for Paella...

IMG_6801 Okay, this picture exemplifies everything I love about my new business... For years I've looked to hook people up with new food & wine discoveries, & now through my Queso y Vino dinners, I also have the pleasure of bringing incredible people together & showing off the talents of some of my favorite Seattle chefs. Ole!

Some friends begin as strangers at the beginning of the evening, but by the end of a few rounds of bunelos de bacalao (sinful salt cod fritters) & Manzanilla sherry, I daresay that everyone seems like kindred spirits.IMG_6805


My last Queso y Vino dinner took place at Gaudi, which is actually where the wine dinners began back when I was at Spanish Table. My old boss didn't like my idea of hosting private events, but people raved about what a wonderful evening they had & each preceding dinner would sell out even faster...

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When I left Spanish Table last spring, I spoke with Jo & Joan Luna, owners of Gaudi, and they were more than happy to continue pairing up together. Thank goodness, because I don't think I could live without Joan's heavenly airy shrimp croquetas (who knew fried food could seem so light?) & his over-the-top papas bravas covered in a divinely creamy blanket of garlicky goodness. I swear this man is the master of these two dishes--his croquetas beat the pants off any version I've ever had. As usual, Joan kept the tapas coming until everyone cried uncle...


IMG_6808 My husband, Ken, & I have come to feel at home in this old world-style taberna near Ravenna, and it's fun to have a chance to get behind the bar for a night. We circle the restaurant, looking for empty glasses, pouring wine & telling stories, and once in a while we sneak off into the kitchen to grab a hot fritter with guilty grins on our faces.


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It's fun to watch the Lunas work together, & even funnier to think that when they lived in Barcelona they owned a restaurant that served American grub, like gumbo. In fact, Joan shocked the owners of the (now-defunct) Wellington in Columbia City by auditioning for a position as their chef when he first arrived in Seattle. "What does a Spaniard know about cooking soul food?!" they chuckled. But he got the job...

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So ironically, when they moved here, they set their sights on opening a Spanish restaurant. Personally, I am glad that Joan decided to dish up his paella rather than brew batches of jambalaya because Seattle needed a homespun Spanish restaurant that serves classic unfussy dishes, & I applaud the Lunas for the simple fact that I feel like I'm in Spain when I eat there. It's good solid food, made with love, & a lot of hard work. In fact, when do these two ever take a break???


IMG_6814 While all the guests are gathering up their coats & paying their checks, Joan actually makes an entire second meal for us & the restaurant staff which is served Spanish-style at about 11 pm. From the first time we sat down together like this, I felt that I had become initiated into a new family, & now it is the moment I look forward to all night. Happy customers & a job well done celebrated over a table of fine food. What more could one ask? Like I said, I'm really digging my new business. 

It's called doing what I love.



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If you would like to come to one of the upcoming Queso y Vino dinners, sign up for my newsletter by emailing me, Catherine Reynolds, at quesoyvino@gmail.com

Would love to have you join us next time!


Gaudi Spanish Restaurant
3410 NE 55th Street Seattle WA 98105 206.527-3400