Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wine Social At Sandy And Dale's

Like I do for every wine social, I made Baklava.  I also made a Fresh Blueberry Pie and an Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler.  As usual I couldn't decide so I made both fruit desserts along with the Baklava. 
 This was a new recipe I tried.  I was trying to find one that was similar to my mama's that she made when I was growing up.  I called her to get the recipe and mama was like, "a little of this and a little of that."  Seriously, I need measurements!  Anyway although this was not exactly it was pretty darn close.  Close enough that I would make it again and again.

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler
Yield: 9X13" pan

2 layer pie crust
2 (29 ounce) cans sliced peaches in heavy syrup
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup tapioca flour
6 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1.   Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Pour 1 can of undrained peaches into a saucepan.  Drain the other can and pour the peaches in.  We only need one can of juice.
3.  Add butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.
4.  Stir over medium low-heat just until sugar is dissolved and the liquid is syrupy.  Set aside.
5.  Divide the chilled pie crust into 2 balls. Roll out a ball on a flour surface until it is about 1/8" thick.  Place it inside a deep dish pie pan.  Sprinkle on some sugar mixture if desired and press it into the crust.  Pour on the peach filling. Roll out remaining crust and place on top of peaches.  Crimp the edges, make some slits so it can breath.
6.  Bake for about 35-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

It was an extraordinary evening as we gathered at Sandy and Dale's house for our wine social.  The alcohol was flowing, there was an abundance of food, and the conservation was never ending.  Maybe that had something to do with the wine.  These gatherings are always fun.  As the evening was coming to an end, the music was cranked up and the dancing began, what a night.  Another successful social was had.

 Our Wines For The Evening

Siduri Pinot Noir 2013 (Santa Rita, CA)  14.1%   $ 30                                   PR 93   WS 90
Medium-deep ruby color. Earthy, spicy aromas, with dark cherry notes. Rich though tight flavors, with savory spice and grilled game notes. Elegant array of spicy raspberry, blueberry, anise, and fine-grained, earth-laced tannins.  Good structure and balance, with long finish.

Evening Land Pinot Noir 2012 (Eola Amity, Oregon)  13.8%   $ 44             WS 90  W&S 90
Deep red color, with a purple edge. The nose is broad and open, with candied red and black fruit aromas, reminiscent of fresh blackberry and huckleberry crumble. As the nose opens up, it defines and refines itself towards red currents, earthy, and lavender notes, sprinkled with exotic cardamom. On the palate, the smooth attack is lush and lends itself to a core of juicy red and black fruit, complemented by dry herbs and violet notes. The palate shows great weight, with coating and refined textures that linger on the elegant and round finish.

Michel Gay BeauneToussaints Pinot Noir 2010 (Burgundy)  13%   $ 60                   WS 93
It opens to an impressionistic scent portrait of wildflowers, crushed stone, and spice, with tannins that create a powerful structure to frame a delicate wine. In the middle, it's bold, juicy, soft, and cushioned, balancing a satisfying depth with a lasting sense of finesse.  Rich with cherry, black currant, spice, and mineral notes. Lively acidity keeps this in check, marshaling the flavors to a lingering aftertaste of fruit, spice, and mineral. A seductive, elegant wine, with refined purity

Yealands Pinot Noir 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)  14%   $ 34                            WS 92   WW 91
Ruby red color. Notes of black cherry, violets, and spice dominate the nose, while the palate is elegant and firm, with flavors of dark, ripe cherry balanced by a fine, mineral acidity. Full, supple, and focused, with zesty red fruit flavors, rosemary, dried rose petal, forest floor, and smoky black tea. Great persistence on the finish, where pepper and citrus peel hints chime in.    

Neely Pinot Noir 2012 (Santa Cruz, CA)  14.5%   $ 45                                      RP 93  V 92
Light ruby red. Nose of cherry, vanilla, flowers, and herbs, with a hint of medicine and spice. Ripe, medium bodied, reminiscent of the Williams-Selyem Pinot, which costs almost twice as much. On the palate, it is intense yet lively through brisk acidity, showing dense red fruits, with cinnamon, clove, nuts, and floral tones. Silky and rich, with chalky minerality on the finish.  

PR – Pinot Report
RP – Robert Parker
V – Vinous
WS – Wine Spectator
W&S – Wine and Spirits
WW – Wilfred Wong for

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Elvis and Anita

This month's book Once Upon A Time is not only a revealing look into the love story of Anita Woods and Elvis and his betrayal, but also a book about the man behind Graceland's closed doors.

The King, Elvis, had fast hips and a baby face.  When I was growing up there were times my mama wouldn't let me watch him if he was on T.V.  She said, "the way he moved his hips was vulgar! "  Hmmm, thats not what I was thinking.  He could snarl and pout, but best of all he sure could sing.  I was in love.  I was one of his many fans and still am today. 

I had just graduated from Fairfield High School that summer and I can remember what I was doing that fatal day, August 16, 1977, when the King Of Rock And Roll was pronounced dead.  The world and I were in mourning.   Stone and I still play his songs as we did this night for our gathering.  The King may be gone but his songs continue to live on.

For our dinner I prepared this fabulous fish soup, Cioppino.  For some reason I was craving it.  We had just returned from a 10 day trip to Alaska where we ate fish daily.  Maybe I just hadn't had my fill of it.  I think this Cioppino took care of it as it was a loaded with clams, mussel, shrimp and chunks of halibut.

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons slat
4 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2-3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups fish stock
1 bay leaf
1 pound manila clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds halibut, cut into 2" chunks
Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium hear.  Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and salute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato past.  Turn heat to high, constantly stirring, until paste darkens slightly about 3 minutes.  It deepens the flavor.  Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.  Add the shrimp and fish.  Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer ( discard and clams and mussels that do not open).  Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.  Ladle the soup into bowl and serve.  Serve with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.  
Can prepare the sauce the day ahead.  Reheat sauce and clams, mussels, shrimp and halibut and cook as instructed.

 This is what happens when the conversation turns to politics!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Birthday In Alaska

For 10 days we toured Alaska.  We flew into Fairbanks, from there we visited Denali, Healy where we stayed for two nights, Seward, Homer, Whittier, Cooper Landing, Moose Pass where we had a room for five nights, Hope a small Gold Rush town (my favorite), Girdwood, where we had lunch one day and lastly Anchorage where we hopped on a plane and made our way home.
 Our adventure began with a train ride aboard the Alaska Railroad Dome Car, from Fairbanks to Denali.


 Lunch on the train, not bad.

 Denali Lakeview Inn in Healy was our accommodations for two nights while we toured Denali National Park.

A few pictures of the view from our room.

 At 6:15 am., Stone and I boarded the bus at the Wilderness Access Center in Denali National Park for our 13 hour Kantishna Experience, which takes you to the end of the road and back, totaling 92.5 miles.

 Early morning clouds hanging over the mountains.

 Stone and I at the end of the road in Denali National Park

Planes are a very common site in Alaska.

Our rail ride from Denali to Anchorage where we rented a car for the remainder of our stay.

For a week, we stayed at the Summit Lake Lodge in Moose Pass.

Homer Split is a town at the end of the Sterling Highway.  It is located on the beautiful coastal waters of Kachemak Bay.  Stone and I spent the afternoon walking the beach and watching the otters. 

 Homer Port & Harbor


I wished I could say Stone and I caught these.

While in Seward, we walked a portion of the trail where the Iditarod began.


 The chilly temps did not keep this family from swimming.

While in Alaska, I learned how beloved this plant, the Fireweed is.  Many people feel bitter-sweet when they see it flower because it foretells the coming of winter.  It begins blooming low in the stem in the height of summer and by the time the blooms reach the very top, the first snow is imminent.

  The Harbor in Whittier

During the week we did a boat tour aboard the Prince William Sound.  Lucky we were able to see 2 whales, although they were pretty far away.  

 Otter basting in the sun.

 One of many glaciers we saw in Alaska.

 Hope was my favorite town that we visited in Alaska.  Although the population is only 192, it was the happening place.  The salmon are running and many where trying their hand at fly-fishing.

 The town of Hope.

 Many were camping the weekend during the salmon run.

 This man and his two brothers spent the day fishing. He walked by many times with a load of fish.  One of his brothers spent the entire time we were there cleaning the salmon.

Russian River Falls begins in Cooper Landing

 The trail is two miles each way.

Russian Lakes Trail