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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick or Treat: "Boo-tiful Reds" to Enjoy this Halloween!

I don't know about you, but Halloween is definitely one of my favorite holidays of the year! Fall is here, there's a chill in the air, not to mention all the scary movies (The Exorcist gets me every time) and fabulous, creative costumes. It also really gets me in the mood for red wine and what could be better than combining one of my favorite holidays with one of my favorite pastimes? Absolutely nothing!

Here are a few of my favorite "Boo-tiful Reds" to enjoy while trick or treating or, frankly, anytime this Fall season. I hope you enjoy them - Cheers!

2007 Bearboat Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: This reasonably priced offering from the Russian River Valley is a blend of 95% Pinot Noir and 5% Old Vines "Gamay Beaujolais" - a California designation for a particular selection of Pinot Noir. The climate of the Russian River Valley is ideal for growing grapes that thrive in cooler temperatures such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This wine has lovely aromas of black cherry and flavors of strawberry, cherry and spice. It's food friendly acidity makes it perfect for pairing with dishes such as salmon, roasted pork and duck. (Total Wine, $17)

2009 Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvèdre Contra Costa County: Known around the globe as Mataro and Monastrell, Mourvèdre (more-VEHD-ruh) has been a part of California “field blends” for more than a century. This lovely expression of this "alternative" red, best known for its success in Rhone-style blends, is made from the highly concentrated fruit of 80-120 year old vines! On the nose, this wine offers aromas of ripe black fruit and a hint of eucalyptus with flavors of ripe plum, chocolate and supple, well-integrated tannins. This wine will pair beautifully with grilled lamb, mushroom ragout, duck confit or peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin. (Total Wine, $14)

2007 Robert Oatley Shiraz Mudgee, Australia: Robert Oatley Vineyards is built around the Oatley family’s extensive vineyard holdings and modern winery in Mudgee, New South Wales. Mudgee is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and is known for producing deeply colored and intensely flavored Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. This 100% Shiraz has an opaque ruby color with aromas and flavors of plum, blackberry jam, black pepper and spice. This wine is a juicy, full-bodied red with well-integrated tannins, perfect for pairing with a variety of fare including steaks, lamb chops or BBQ ribs. (Total Wine, $18)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chardonnay Around the World: Wines that Embody Qualities of Old Hollywood Glamour!

The Chardonnays Lineup
Last month's installment of "The Art of Wine & Food" at The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale featured a selection of Chardonnays from various winemaking regions around the world. The goal was to showcase the different styles of wine produced from this often misunderstood varietal.

Since we frequently hear wines described using human attributes (i.e. voluptuous, lean, mature), I thought why not tie in my own personal penchant for glamour and compare each wine to an "Old Hollywood" icon based on its descriptors. I have to say, the exercise made for a very fun and interactive evening!

Me & Chef Lenore Nolan-Ryan
Delicious pairings for the array of Chardonnays were created by the very talented and always entertaining Chef Lenore Nolan Ryan. Collaborating with Lenore and her team is always a pleasure. She has such a wonderful understanding of how food and wine work together and her passion and enthusiasm for what she does is always inspiring. Fortunately for Florida foodies, Lenore has a wonderful cooking school where she teaches classes - be sure to check it out!

Without further ado, the Chardonnays for the evening included: 

2009 Joseph Drouhin Chablis Domaine de Vaudon: this wine is a Chardonnay from France's highly acclaimed Burgundy wine region that is best known for its lean, elegant character. It has lively notes of green apple, citrus and elderflower with a crisp acidity and lovely minerality - classic Chablis! Enjoy this selection and other unoaked Chardonnays paired with cheeses, oysters, ceviche, or grilled fish. With its lean, classic and elegant profile, this wine was, by unanimous vote, our Audrey Hepburn Chardonnay of the evening!
Food Pairing: Key Lime and Crab on a Beet Root & Sweet Potato Chip with Fondue Toasts

The Birthday Girls!
2010 Viña MontGras Chardonnay Reserva: this wine hails from Chile's Colchagua Valley, a sub valley of the Rapel Valley, in the Central Region of Chile. It was fermented partially in stainless steel and partially in oak and exhibits aromas of tropical fruit, apricots and honey followed by flavors of citrus, peach and spice. Pair this and other medium-bodied Chards with creamy dishes such as Lobster Bisque, Croque Monsieur or Butternut Squash Risotto. With it's fuller body (relative to the Chablis) and steely elegance, I proposed this wine as our Grace Kelley of the evening. Another suggestion was Brigitte Bardot - a fabulous likeness as well!
Food Pairing: Butternut Squash & Coconut Bisque 

2008 Merryvale Carneros Chardonnay: as the coolest part of Napa County, Carneros is desirable for growing cool-climate grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This full-bodied Chardonnay has enticing notes of hazelnut, ripe pear and tropical fruit complemented by a lovely minerality and sweet toasty oak. It also has a delightfully creamy, rich mouthfeel and luscious long, lingering finish. This wine and other full-bodied Chardonnays are ideal for pairing with decadent dishes such as Lobster Gratin, Duck a l'Orange or Indian/Curry dishes. With it's rich, full-bodied, voluptuous qualities, this wine was almost unanimously our Marilyn Monroe of the evening - other suggestions included Mae West and the comment was also made that, "whoever she is, she sure is a busty broad!"
Food Pairing: Curry Chicken with Caramelized Apple, Pink Peppercorn Goat Cheese and Crostini with Fig Relish  

A big thank you to Republic National Distributing Company for their continued support of "The Art of Wine & Food" series and for providing the Chardonnays for the evening. Please join us Thursday, October 27th when our very special guest host, James Beard Award-winning wine writer, art lover, and local celebrity Lyn Farmer will present "A Sense of Place: a tasteful tour showing how wines differ depending on where they are made." To make reservations, please contact Gail Vilone at or (954) 262-0249. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Boulud Sud: a Mediterranean Gem in the Heart of Manhattan!

Following an evening of vinous decadence at the "Sommelier All-Stars" Dinner at DANIEL recently, we were fortunate enough to fit in lunch before our flight the following day at Boulud Sud, Chef Boulud's latest Manhattan eatery. The restaurant opened earlier this year and is just blocks from Manhattan's Lincoln Center. It also happens to be adjacent to both Épicerie Boulud and Bar Boulud, making this one of my favorite blocks in New York City!

Boulud Sud is Daniel's homage to Mediterranean cuisine and showcases the delicious flavors of France's Cote d'Azur, Spain, Italy, Greece, North Africa and Turkey. As a big fan of this type of cuisine, I was really looking forward to sampling menu! With some expert guidance from Sommelier Michael Madrigale, we ordered a variety of selections that provided a nice representation of what Boulud Sud had to offer.

"Salade Tropezienne"
We started with a glass of Pierre Paillard, "Cuvee Daniel" Grand Cru Brut NV bubbly and two dishes; the "Salade Tropezienne" and Octopus a la Plancha. The "salade" was a delightful combination of artichoke hearts, fennel, celery and frisee. Light and refreshing, this dish had a fabulous crunch factor and the textures were nicely complemented by the lightly creamy, flavorful dressing. The octopus was cooked perfectly and served atop fresh hummus and arugula and garnished with Marcona almonds and Jerez Vinegar. Again, the texture of the octopus with the creamy hummus and the tang of the vinegar were well orchestrated and this dish looked so delicious when it was set in front of us - I completely forgot to take a photo!

"Chicken Tagine"
Next, we ordered two main course dishes, the Chicken Tagine and the Grilled Pork Belly. Chicken tagine is one of my all time favorite dishes. Originating in North Africa, it is a slow cooked stew, braised at a low temperature and cooked in a special signature earthenware pot. Chef Boulud's tagine did not disappoint with perfectly cooked, flavorful chicken served with turnips, spinach and preserved lemon. While I am not the biggest fan of the turnip, the dish was delicious and paired very nicely with a glass of 2010 Enodelta Fiano Di Avellino from the Campania region of Italy.

One thing I always order at Chef Boulud's restaurants is his latest incarnation of the Pork Belly. The man certainly knows his way around a cochon and this dish was no exception! The pork was positively succulent and served on a bed of white bean puree and pepperonata topped with a flourish of bitter greens. The tangy roasted peppers, creamy puree and decadent pork belly harmonized together beautifully. This dish paired deliciously with a glass of 2010 Chateau de Roquefort Cotes de Provence Rose with it's notes of red berries and food friendly acidity.

"Provencal Moelleux"
For dessert, we had the Provencal Moelleux, a selection of Provencal-inspired sweets that included almond-pistachio cake, lemon chiboust, sauteed farmer's market strawberries and calisson ice cream. We enjoyed the assortment with a glass of 2005 Domaine de Souch Jurançon, a delightfully sweet blend of 50% Petit Manseng and 50% Gros Manseng from Southwest France. While have to say I love having dessert with lunch in general, this was particularly special. We savored each bite before having to race for the airport!

Each dish we sampled at Boulud Sud demonstrated a wonderful interplay of flavor and texture. The array of offerings truly captures the essence of the Mediterranean and offers the best of this exotic locale to New York City diners, sans airfare. In addition to the creative and delicious dishes, I greatly appreciate that wine also plays such an integral role in Chef Boulud's cuisine. To this point, he was featured on the cover of Wine Spectator Magazine last month in recognition of his emphasis and dedication to the importance of wine as a part of the dining experience. 

Michael Madrigale and Me
Sommelier extraordinaire, Michael Madrigale oversees the cellar at Boulud Sud as well as neighboring Bar Boulud and Épicerie Boulud. The affable, down to earth Madrigale is known for his affinity for France's Rhône and Burgundy wine regions as well as large format bottles which he opens regularly to pour by the glass. Be sure to follow him on Twitter to get the inside scoop!

Next time you find yourself in New York with a craving for Mediterranean cuisine, swing by Boulud Sud and give one of these delicious dishes a try. Be careful, however, if you have tickets to a show or, for that matter, a flight! It is very tempting to linger over the last of dessert and a fabulous glass of wine.


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